Judge rules Air Canada Flight 624 victims can sue Transport Canada

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A judge at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court yesterday ruled victims of Air Canada Flight 624 can sue Transport Canada over the crash, which injured more than twenty.

The aircraft involved in the accident, pictured several years ago.
Image: Aseem Swarup Johri.

The action alleges Transport Canada was liable for a failure to enforce regulations under the Aeronautics Act. The authority is accused of failure to install an instrument landing system on the airport's main runway. According to Ray Wagner, lawyer for the plaintiffs, the authority's responsibility for safety gear — including navigational systems at the airport — was behind Justice Denise Boudreau's ruling certifying the class action against all defendants.

Transport Canada is the airport's former owner-operator.

Last year's crash saw the domestic flight from Toronto, carrying 133 passengers and five crew, hit the ground short of Runway 05 at Halifax International Airport. The jet ran 225 metres over the ground, hitting antennas, before sliding more than 500 metres along the runway. The aircraft was written off.

Suing passengers allege they waited exposed in blizzard conditions for 50 minutes before being moved to a cold hangar. The airport's terminal suffered an unexpected loss of power shortly after the crash.

The other defendants did not oppose yesterday's ruling certifying the case against them. They are Air Canada, the airport's authority, owner and operator of Canada's civil airspace navigation service NavCanada, and aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

In April last year, days after the accident, Air Canada sent victims cheques for C$5,000 each. Wagner at the time called it "a gratuity" that "certainly doesn't cover anywhere close to the losses," saying injuries included "deep psychological injuries."