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Last-second transfer of control led to 2013 Twin Otter landing accident in Canada
25 April 2014
The aircraft, after coming to rest off the side of the runway (Photo: Royal Canadian Mounted Police)

The aircraft, after coming to rest off the side of the runway (Photo: Royal Canadian Mounted Police)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that a last-second transfer of control contributed to a March 2013 nosewheel failure on landing of a de Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter aircraft in St. Anthony, Newfoundland and Labrador.

On 27 March 2013, an Air Labrador Twin Otter was landing at St. Anthony Airport, with 2 crew members and 8 passengers on board. On approach to runway 10, the captain and first officer discussed approach and landing considerations due to the strong crosswinds, and it was decided that the first officer would continue the approach. Immediately prior to landing, the first officer experienced difficulty, so control of the aircraft was transferred to the captain. The transfer of control was completed less than 2 seconds prior to landing. The aircraft touched down on the left main wheel, bounced, and landed hard on the nosewheel; the nose landing gear collapsed due to overstress failures. Directional control was lost, and the aircraft skidded on its nose and came to rest 96 feet off the north side of the runway. There were no injuries, and the aircraft was substantially damaged.

The investigation determined that, when control of the aircraft was passed to the captain, there was insufficient time to position the aircraft for a successful landing due to the substantial crosswind. The Air Labrador Twin Otter standard operating procedures (SOPs) do not state when the captain should permit the first officer to act as pilot flying or relieve the first officer from that role. When allowing the first officer to fly in challenging conditions, the captain must be prepared to take control of the aircraft in adequate time to ensure the safety of the flight. Also, there is an increased risk of a landing accident if a required briefing is not conducted. Crew members may not share a common plan for the approach and landing, and, as in this case, transfer of control may not be conducted in a timely manner.

Air Labrador has since amended the company SOPs for the Twin Otter to require that all landings with crosswinds in excess of 10 knots be conducted by the captain, unless the captain believes that the first officer is capable of performing the landing.

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