Ice buildup was not removed from a passenger aircraft before the plane crashed in Fond-du-Lac last December, according to an initial investigation report.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released an update Monday on its investigation into the Dec. 13 crash, which led to a number of serious injuries.
One passenger, 19-year-old Arson Jr. Fern, later died due to injuries sustained in the crash.
In its report, the TSB said the flight took off with “ice contamination” remaining on the aircraft. The board noted it remains too early to be certain if this was what caused the plane to go down.
According to the TSB, the ATR 42-320 aircraft, operated by West Wind Aviation, collided with trees and terrain shortly after takeoff, leading to the destruction of the aircraft.
Although a significant amount of work has already been completed, the TSB said its investigation remains in the “examination and analysis phase.”
“An investigation team including air investigators from various TSB offices and technical experts from the TSB laboratory in Ottawa were deployed to the accident site,” the federal agency said in a statement.
“A site survey was completed and the wreckage was transported to an off-site location for further investigation.”
The aircraft experienced ice buildup as it landed in Fond-du-Lac to pick up passengers and cargo, the TSB said.
Although the plane’s de-icing systems were activated during the descent, “residual ice remained on portions of the aircraft,” according to the TSB update.
West Wind Aviation had de-icing equipment available at the Fond-du-Lac airport, but the TSB report said it wasn’t used.
“The aircraft was not de-iced before takeoff, and the takeoff was commenced with ice contamination on the aircraft.”
The TSB said the plane’s captain and first officer were both properly certified and qualified. The plane was also properly balanced and operating within acceptable weight limits.
The TSB said the next steps in their investigation will “examine the factors underlying why the aircraft was not de-iced before takeoff,” as well as numerous other factors which may have contributed to the crash.