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Jet buffeted by winds before overshooting Halifax runway: investigator

A SkyLease Cargo plane skidded off a runway at Halifax Stanfield International Airport and stopped near a road early on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. The airport activated its emergency operations centre and suspended all flights after the incident where the 747 cargo plane with five people on board went off the runway. NADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says the 747 cargo jet that overshot a Halifax runway on Wednesday had touched down in rainy conditions while being buffeted by a crosswind with a potential tailwind.

The four crew members suffered minor injuries when the empty SkyLease Cargo plane slid 210 metres off the end of Runway 14 at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, which means the big jet was headed in a southeasterly direction.

Lead investigator Austin Adams says weather data recorded seven minutes before the aircraft landed showed the wind was gusting at 33 kilometres per hour from the west at 250 degrees.

He says the “strong westerly winds” created a crosswind for the aircraft, which included the potential for a “quarterly tailwind.”

Aviation analyst and former safety board investigator Larry Vance says it appears the plane landed with a tailwind, something he called an “immediate red flag.”

Flight KKE 4854, which had arrived from Chicago just after 5 a.m., was to be loaded with live lobster destined for China.

As the plane slid down a slight embankment covered in grass, its landing gear collapsed, two of its four engines were torn off and there was a small fire under the tail section.