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News

1. Flight 624

Photo: Photo: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

I reported yesterday that two backup generators that power the airport terminal building in the event of a power outage failed eight minutes after they came on when Flight 624 hit a antenna array and associated power lines, taking out power to the airport:

With the power out at the terminal, the electrical gate that allows emergency vehicles into the secured tarmac area where the crashed plane sat could not be opened; on a recording of emergency dispatches and scanner traffic obtained by the Examiner, emergency responders are heard asking how to enter the airfield. Additionally, emergency responders scrambled to find someplace to bring the 138 people who had been on the plane, ultimately finding a nearby hangar, but the passengers and crew had spent nearly an hour on the tarmac. Emergency responders also could not set up a command centre at the terminal building, but were quickly able to set up at the Alt Hotel, which did not lose power.

You can hear the recording here. This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers; to purchase a subscription, click here.

Neither here nor there, but the failure of a backup generator was also a precipitating cause of the 2008 sewage plant failure.

The power line that was clipped by the plane does not supply power directly to the airport, reports the CBC. Rather, “the line’s disruption did cause issues for a nearby Nova ScotiaPower substation, which feeds electricity to the airport.”

“The crash of an Air Canada plane at Halifax’s Stanfield airport has characteristics of what investigators call an approach and landing accident, a situation similar to a fatal air crash in Nunavut in 2011, and a long-time concern of the TSB,” reports this morning’s Globe & Mail:

It is too early to know where the investigation will lead, but controlled flight into terrain – CFIT, in the jargon of accident investigators – is the most common cause of major accidents in big airlines. It involves an airworthy plane under control of a pilot being accidentally flown into the ground or a mountain. A worldwide Boeing study of commercial jetliner accidents over the past two decades said CFIT accounts for nearly half of all major crashes. It was blamed in Canada’s most recent fatal jet crash, when Air North pilots attempting to land in bad weather in Resolute, Nunavut, crashed a Boeing 737 into a hillside, killing 12 of the 15 people on board in August, 2011.

“The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has been warning about the potential for runway accidents at Canada’s airports since 2010, calling it one of the ‘issues posing the greatest risk to Canada’s transportation system,’” reports the National Post:

Capt. Dan Adamus, who has been piloting commercial flights since 1985, said that while Canada’s runways are generally safe, there are some specific issues that need to be addressed.

For instance, the runway on which the crash occurred appears to have lacked what is called a precision approach. Precision approaches make use of a variety of ground-based instruments to give pilots a specific angle and path to follow to ensure they land safely.

“In large airports such as Toronto, they’ll have precision approaches at both ends of the runway,” Capt. Adamus, who is also the Canadian board president of the Air Line Pilots Association International, said in an interview.

“But some of the smaller airports, including Halifax, don’t have a precision approach on all the runways. … There’s a cost to maintaining the precision approaches and it’s a risk analysis that they do.”

That view was echoed by an unnamed retired pilot interviewed by the Chronicle Herald:

He said what the public can’t see is an absent ILS (instrument landing system) for Runway 05.

“It can lead to disaster because they don’t have it,” said the pilot, who retired seven years ago. “It’s an international airport, they should have that component (ILS), preferably on both runways that don’t have it — but particularly 05.”

[…]

“This is really serious business,” he said. “A number of people have been after them for ages to put an ILS on that runway.”

[Airport spokesperson Peter] Spurway said runways 23 and 14 have what he refers to as the glide-slope transmitter system.

“Two of the four have the glide-slope based on the level of traffic that we have. Those two get the abundance of our traffic.”

Upgrading the other two approaches has been discussed, he said.

“Maybe not all four because we could argue that the expense involved is not justified by the level of traffic.”

MacGillivray Injury and Insurance Law says it is lining up clients for a class action lawsuit against Air Canada and the airport, but this has more the feel of opportunistic advertising for the firm than an actual case.

Peter Ziobrowski has photos and diagrams that help explain what happened Sunday morning.

2. Liana’s Ransom

Photo: U.S. Coast Guard District 1

A US Coast Guard release from yesterday:

BOSTON — Coast Guard search and rescue crews from Station Gloucester, Air Station Cape Cod and the Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke rescued nine crewmembers from the Canadian tall ship Liana’s Ransom 58 miles east of Gloucester, Monday. 

Watchstanders at the Sector Boston Command Center received notification at 12:35 a.m. that the vessel’s engines were disabled and its sails were wrapped around the mast.  

As the weather deteriorated, and seas reached nearly 10 feet, Sector Boston launched two 47-foot motor lifeboat crews from Station Gloucester to tow the vessel back to Gloucester. Once on scene, the boat crews connected the tow, but the rough sea conditions caused the tow line to break. 

The motor lifeboats crews directed the crew of Liana’s Ransom to don immersion suits and to prepare to abandon ship about 30 miles east of Gloucester and a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod was diverted to assist. 

The nine passengers were transferred from Liana’s Ransom to the Coast Guard motor lifeboats. One man suffered a head injury when leaping from Liana’s Ransom and was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital by the Jayhawk helicopter crew.

The Station Gloucester crews returned to the station with the eight remaining crewmembers. A locator beacon was left on Liana’s Ransom for tracking and the Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke is en-route to evaluate towing the vessel to port. 

“It was fortunate for the crew of the vessel that the owner reached out to us,” said Jay Woodhead, the command duty officer at Sector Boston’s Command Center. He said with winds gusting to 30 knots, it was unsafe for them to stay aboard.

The Liana’s Ransom, a “replica pirate ship,” is a “gaff rigged, square Topsail schooner” registered in Halifax, and is owned by Joseph Tilley, who operates out of Eastern Passage. The ship can hold 70 people.

The ship has a really crappy website, and a Facebook page, where Tilley wrote this morning:

Schooner Liana’s Ransom departed Nova Scotia Friday evening, 27 March 2015 bound for the Caribbean. Enroute she suffered a full power failure, and yesterday, approximately 34 miles east of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Captain Ryan Tilley, in consultation with the US Coast Guard, made the decision to evacuate the crew for their safety. 

One crew member suffered a concussion during the evacuation. Arrangements have been made with Towboat USA to have the vessel towed into the nearest harbour.

My thanks to the professionalism and promp response of the US Coast Guard who had been montoring the situation for some time. Captain Ryan Tilley made the the right call in the best interests of his crew, and as a father I am very proud of the way he and his crew handled the situation. 

As befits a Captain he was the last crew to depart the vessel, ensuring all water tight doors and hatches were closed before he disembarked. 

Thank you to everyone for your concern! At this time we can happily report that everyone is safe and secure ashore! We are hopeful that the tow operation goes well!

In December, the ship lost its mast off Cape Sable Island.

The Liana’s Ransom, in happier days. Photo: Facebook
The Liana’s Ransom, in happier days. Photo: Facebook

3. Corporatizing universities

The provincial government’s report on the results of its consultations about the future of Nova Scotia’s universities was largely a cynical, pre-scripted exercise in producing a wanted result, reports Moira Donovan. Namely, to turn higher education more towards a corporate training ground and away from its historic role of providing a liberal arts education.

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers; to purchase a subscription, click here.

4. Crosswalks

Pedestrians in crosswalks really do have the right-of-way, ruled Justice Arthur W.D. Pickup last week. Pickup had heard an appeal by the self-represented Najibullah Uzbak, who had been previously convicted of endangering a pedestrian in the crosswalk on Nantucket Avenue in Dartmouth.

I don’t know what’s more astounding about this decision: that Uzbak was convicted or that a cop actually stopped someone for running through that crosswalk in the first place.

5. Cash

A police release from yesterday:

On March 28, officers responded to Scotia Square after an employee located a sum of money under a chair outside of Starbucks at 11:20 a.m.. The money was contained in a sealed envelope and the bills were held together with a silver paper clip. Officers followed-up with mall security but were unable to obtain more information to assist with locating the owner.

The owner or anyone with information regarding the owner is asked to contact Halifax Regional Police at 902-490-5016. In order to claim the money, the person must be able to specify the amount of money and in what denominations.  

6. Library

A couple of people walking by the new library at 2am Friday found the doors unlocked, so they wandered around the empty building, taking selfies, before leaving. That’s not supposed to happen.

7. Now-say

Don’t look outside.


Views

1. Fear of flying

I was hoping John Demont was going to discuss the Erica Jong novel, but instead he went on about the stuff of my nightmares, so I stopped reading halfway in. (And I will not discuss last night’s horrors. Don’t ask.)

I sure hope they remove that airplane carcass before I have to fly out of Halifax next month.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

In the wake of the crash-landing at Halifax International Airport, a reporter I saw on TV did not ask questions I would have liked to have heard answers to, such as:

Why would passengers travel in shorts and flipflops to a city that has been inundated with snow for weeks? Why did the passengers expect to see buses to pick them up right away at an airport outside the city late at night? Why doesn’t anyone think that maybe they had a good pilot who was able to control the plane in its skid so that no one was seriously injured? Why doesn’t anyone look at the instruction pamphlet at every seat on what to do in the event of trouble landing — like put your head down and protect it?

I wish TV reporters would ask more “uncomfortable” questions.

Mary MacMillan, Cornwallis


Government

City

City council (10am, City Hall)—council has scheduled three hours today to the fire services realignment issue, so we might get some resolution. My guess, or maybe my hope, is council will approve the capital purchases for technology upgrades and a new Bedford West area fire station, and kick decisions about closing fire stations down the road a piece. That would be the best course of action, as it would give some time for further public education and discussion on the issues, perhaps taking us past the knee-jerk “fire stations are sacred!” reaction we’ve been dealing with since the plan was first put forward. Maybe by the fall the plan can be discussed rationally, and we can get to better deploying fire resources, including closing redundant stations.

I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s twitter account, @hfxExaminer.

Province

Standing Committee on Human Resources (9am, Room 233A, Johnston Building)—appointments to boards and committees.

Legislature sits (1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Tracking global change in the oceans (Tuesday, 11:30am, LSC, Psychology Wing, Room 5263)—Boris Worm will talk.


Noticed

Slate’s Phil Plait points us to the alarming loss of sea ice in the Arctic:

Ever year around the end of February, after a long winter, Arctic ice reaches its maximum extent. This year that happened around Feb. 25, when it encompassed 14.54 million square kilometers of ice around the North Pole.

Sound like a lot? It’s not. Really, really not. This year’s maximum extent was the lowest on record.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:15am Tuesday. Map: marinetraffic.com

ZIM Haifa, arrived at Pier 42 this morning, will sail to sea
Oceanex Sanderling, St. John’s to Pier 41
Seamuse, tanker, Port Arthur, Texas to Imperial Oil
Iron Point, chemical tanker, Quebec to anchor, then sails to sea
Independence II, car carrier, Fawley, England to Autoport
APL Cyprine, container ship, Colombo, Sri Lanka to Fairview Cove West
Atlantic Conveyor, ro-ro container, Liverpool, England to Fairview Cove West


Footnotes

Gotta trudge through this mess to get to City Hall.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. From your article on Mr. Uzbak’s lost appeal,

    “I am 100% sure that what I did, was the right reactions to the situation. Stopping my vehicle would have been exactly 100% wrong reaction. When I saw the other pedestrian pass the crosswalk I started accelerating to the point where I was situated 30 cm to the crosswalk that I heard the sound of push of button, which activated the light.”

    To this I say a hearty, “BULLSHIT”. Pushing the button at that crosswalk does not automatically activate flashing lights; it merely establishes there is a need for pedestrians to cross and initiates the timed green-yellow-red sequence you mention earlier in the article.

    While it is certainly possible the second pedestrian entered the crosswalk while the “don’t walk” indicator was active, what Mr. Uzbak attempts to portray as an instantaneous signal change is flat-out impossible.

    All that being said, the constable giving evidence also testified that the lights at that crosswalk were “illuminated and flashing”. If true, this gives more credibility to Mr. Uzbak’s statement (although it does not relieve him of his obligation nor provide grounds for overturning the conviction). Is it possible that the green-yellow-red sequence hadn’t yet been put in place on May 26, 2014?

    1. I live nearby, so travel through this intersection all the time. I wrote about the changed signal in 2012, for The Coast.