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Arctic plane crash: Airline sues Canada's defense department

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic
istockphoto

The airline First Air is suing Canada's Department of National Defence for negligence in the August 2011 crash in Resolute, in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, that killed 12 passengers and crew and injured three passengers.

The First Air Boeing 737 crashed into a hillside close to the community's airport as it was preparing to land.

In a statement of claim filed with the Nunavut Court of Justice in February, First Air states the accident was caused or contributed to by the negligence of the Department of National Defence, which was responsible for air traffic control at the Resolute airport at the time of the crash.

It states DND had established a ground-based radar system, which was in operation at the time of the accident and was capable of providing air traffic control personnel with information on the location and speed of the aircraft.

It also states the air traffic control personnel were in communication with the crew and "were or ought to be providing pilots with detailed information pertaining to aircraft location."

First Air is suing for damages "in an amount to be determined" including amounts it may be liable for from claims by passengers and families of deceased passengers, as well damages resulting from the destruction of the aircraft, removal of the wreckage and site remediation.

In two other lawsuits, the survivors and some family members of the victims in the crash are suing the airline, NAV Canada and DND for negligence.

The lawyer for First Air in Toronto would not comment.

The government had 25 days to respond with a statement of defence or appear in court. That deadline has passed but no response has been filed by the federal government.

This report is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.