String of crashes causing unease with travellers

Two people were killed in a passenger plane crash on Oct. 4 approximately 30 kilometres outside of Lutsel K’e.

The Air Tindi Cessna 208B aircraft was carrying four passengers from Yellowknife to Lutsel K’e when it went down at approximately 2 p.m.

RCMP confirmed that there were two survivors who were taken to Stanton Territorial Hospital for treatment. 

The extent of their injuries is unknown.

An investigation has been conducted with “G” Division Major Crimes Unit and the Transportation Safety Board.

This is the third fatal aviation crash in recent weeks.

According to the RCMP, the crash is not suspected to be criminal in nature.

Whether commuting to and from Yellowknife or heading up to the mines, many locals depend on flying for their jobs and the recent string of crashes has added an element of unease to the normally routine commute – for some.

Peter Magill travels daily on the Buffalo Airways passenger flight to work at the hanger in Yellowknife.

His daily flight from Hay River to Yellowknife and back again has become a routine, but he said that the recent events can cause one’s mind to wander.

“Traveling in the North often requires flying to get to where you want, or need to go,” he said.

“The recent tragic accidents make you think about flying, not that I don’t feel safe, but just that my mind starts thinking about what could happen. When I took a job in Yellowknife I had to remove those thoughts from my mind and treat the daily trip from Hay River and back as a bus ride.”

He added that over time he will not dwell on the things he cannot control.

“I hope that there are no further tragedies for friends and families to deal with and we can all get back to the day-to-day routines of our lives.”

But for some, the recent events are not causing unease over flying.

Hay River resident Chris Shaw works for Diavik and flies in and out of the mine site every few weeks.

He said that the thought of what could happen always sits at the back of his mind and the crashes have not made him any more uncomfortable on flights.

“It’s definitely in the back of my head any time I get on to a plane whether it’s going to work or going on a vacation,” he said.

“Every time I go to work I tell my daughter I love her, give her a hug and tell her I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.”

During Thursday’s sitting at the House of Commons, Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington made a statement regarding the recent events.

“On Tuesday, Northerners were devastated by the fourth airplane crash in only weeks,” said Bevington.

“For Northerners, flying is something they do all the time due to the isolation of our communities. They have no other choice. Understandably, they are concerned about the safety of Northern aviation. Last year, government officials promised to beef-up Transport Canada’s aviation safety inspection arm. My constituents want to know if the government has kept its promises.”