Investigators recover voice recorder, talk to lone survivor of N.W.T. plane crash

lone survivor

Investigators probing a plane crash that killed six people in the Northwest Territories have recovered the cockpit voice recorder and talked to the lone survivor.

The investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is in its early stages and has faced some weather hurdles, but progress is being made, said Jon Lee, the board’s western regional manager.

“We’ve recovered (the cockpit voice recorder) and it has reached our lab today and it’s in the process of being downloaded — the data — and analyzed,” Lee said Wednesday.

“We understand that the data is good, that the accident was recorded on the cockpit voice recorder. So that’s good news for the investigation because that is going to provide a lot of good information going forward.”

The plane was not the type of aircraft that requires a flight data recorder to be on board, he added.

The charter plane, operated by Northwestern Air Lease, crashed just after takeoff last Tuesday in Fort Smith, a town on the boundary with Alberta. It was headed to the Diavik Diamond Mine, some 300 km northeast of Yellowknife.

Investigators have said the plane hit the ground just outside Fort Smith and caught fire.

Four mine workers and both flight crew members died, while another mine worker survived and was airlifted to hospital in Yellowknife.

Investigators have talked with the survivor, Lee said.

One hurdle so far has been the weather. Freezing rain has hampered efforts by a salvage company to get a helicopter to the crash site to retrieve the plane wreckage, which is then to be transported by truck to the board’s offices in Edmonton.

“That’s put on hold right now due to weather.”

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