TSB investigating why First Air flight went off course

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Yellowknife, NWT – It’s not on the scale of the missing Malaysian Airliner, but the North now has its own aviation mystery.

The Transportation Safety Board is looking into just how a First Air flight ended up hundreds of kilometres off course late last month on its way to Iqaluit.

The flight, which reportedly originated in Yellowknife, ended up some 265 kilometres off course.

TSB investigator Peter Hildebrand says they’re looking at pilot error and instrument failure as possible causes.

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“You don’t want airplanes to be flying off course because you want to be able to organize aircraft on a certain track and make sure they’re not in proximity to other airplanes flying around. The other situation is, of course, that being off course adds to the time on-route and that will add to the fuel required. In this situation though there was no problem, the airplane had plenty of fuel to make it to Iqaluit.”

Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington was the NDP’s Transport Critic from 2008 to 2011.

He says allowing airlines to safety regulate themselves in the North could lead to disaster.

“We don’t have operational inspectors in the north for the department of transportation. There is none there at all. I still believe that part of that has to be operational inspectors that take an active role and show up in the cockpit every now and then to work with the pilots.”

The two pilots in this case have reportedly been suspended by First Air until its investigation into what happened is complete.

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