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Air transportation safety investigation A17F0052

The TSB has completed this investigation. The report was published on 4 June 2018.

Table of contents

Risk of collision with terrain

Boeing 737-800, C-GWSV
Princess Juliana International Airport, Sint Maarten

View final report

The occurrence

On 07 March 2017, a WestJet Boeing 737-800 aircraft (registration C-GWSV, serial number 37158), operating as flight 2652 (WJA2652), was conducting a scheduled instrument flight rules flight from Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Ontario, to Princess Juliana International Airport, Sint Maarten. During the approach to Runway 10, the aircraft deviated from the normal descent path. At 1534 Atlantic Standard Time (AST), the aircraft was 0.30 nautical miles from the runway threshold and had descended to an altitude of 40 feet above the water. The crew then initiated a missed approach. Given that visibility was below the limits for conducting a second approach, the flight was cleared to hold until conditions had improved. After visibility improved, the crew conducted a second approach and landed at 1618 AST without further incident.

Media materials

News release


Misidentification of runway in reduced visibility contributed to the March 2017 risk of collision with terrain of a WestJet flight in Sint Maarten
Read the news release

Investigation information

Map showing the location of the occurrence


Photo of Nora Vallée

Nora Vallée is a senior investigator with International Operations and Major Investigations (Air) at the TSB. Nora has more than 30 years of experience in aviation. After graduating from the aviation program at Collège de Chicoutimi (Centre québécois de formation aéronautique [CQFA]), she began her career in northern Quebec as a professional helicopter pilot. She then left helicopters to pursue her career on airplanes by conducting charter flights on various light multi-engine aircraft. Later, she became an instructor at Collège de Chicoutimi (CQFA). Passionate about aviation safety, she accepted the responsibilities of chief instructor and the safety program of the Collège.

In 2003, she joined Transport Canada, where she held various positions over the years, including enforcement investigator, air crew examination specialist, and Minister’s observer and technical advisor on aviation occurrence investigations.

  Download high-resolution photos from the TSB Flickr page.

Class of investigation

This is a class 3 investigation. These investigations analyze a small number of safety issues, and may result in recommendations. Class 3 investigations are generally completed within 450 days. For more information, see the Policy on Occurrence Classification.

TSB investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.