UPDATED 1425 MST – A pilot and five passengers have been airlifted back to Yellowknife after an Air Tindi flight was forced to land on Great Slave Lake in poor weather.
All six had evacuated the Caravan aircraft, which was operating a scheduled flight to Fort Simpson, shortly after 7am on Thursday.
A search and rescue mission, which featured local emergency services alongside a Hercules aircraft dispatched by the Royal Canadian Air Force, reached them just before noon.
Three helicopters from Air Tindi’s sister company, Great Slave Helicopters, were dispatched to bring the pilot and passengers safely back to Yellowknife.
All have now returned to the city – the airline and rescuers say there are no major injuries. (Air Tindi had initially reported six passengers aboard the aircraft, but later revised that number down to five.)
The Hercules aircraft, which had two specialist search and rescue technicians on board, has returned to its Winnipeg base.
Captain Alexandre Cadieux, speaking on behalf of the Royal Canadian Air Force, said “icing conditions” after takeoff had forced the pilot to perform a “controlled, forced landing” on the lake, around 40km west of Yellowknife.
Cpl Todd Scaplen, with the RCMP, told Moose FM: “We’ve employed emergency resources from both the Yellowknife and Behchoko detachments.
“I haven’t confirmed if we have actually found the aircraft or not, as of this time.”
Freezing rain in Yellowknife on Thursday morning had hampered a number of flights preparing to depart, with some operators choosing to ground aircraft.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has sent a team of investigators to Yellowknife, to “gather information” about the accident.
CJCD Moose FM News