air canada flight
The landing gear from the Airbus A320 that slid off a runway at the end of Air Canada Flight 624 lie in the snow at Halifax Stanfield Airport in Enfield, Nova Scotia, March 29, 2015. The Air Canada plane slid off a runway and suffered heavy damage while landing in the east coast city of Halifax on Sunday, sending more than 20 passengers and crew to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Reuters/Mark Blinch

A Canadian Transportation Safety Board (TSB) investigator said that passengers of Air Canada Flight 624, which touched down short of the runway on Sunday, were “pretty lucky,” adding that the result could have been much more serious. The plane touched down over 300 meters short of a runway and crashed through an antenna array before coming to a stop.

Mike Cunningham, a TSB official, told reporters that the cockpit voice recorder and data recorder had been recovered, and sent to Ottawa so that preliminary analysis could begin, CBC reported. “It's a very great concern to us and we will be putting our maximum effort into determining what happened … with the intention of advancing safety,” Cunningham said.

After crashing, the Airbus A320, which was coming from Toronto, moved another 335 meters forward down the runway at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Cunningham said the aircraft had lost all its landing gear when it crashed into an antenna array in the area. The plane’s nose cone and an engine had detached, and a wing had been severely damaged. He said that the investigators’ current goal is “site documentation” and that 15 officials are expected at the airport tomorrow morning.

Airport officials said 23 people on board had been taken to the hospital, but none had critical injuries. The plane was carrying 133 passengers, along with five crew members.

Cunningham said that weather may have been behind the crash but cautioned that it is too early to draw conclusions about the cause of the crash, adding that it is a complex investigation with many “underlying factors.”

Klaus Goersch, Air Canada executive vice president, told CBC that landing conditions were safe, despite the fact that it was snowing. He added that both pilots involved in Sunday’s crash had worked with the company for about 15 years, and had ample experience piloting A320s.

“All of us at Air Canada are greatly relieved that there have been no critical injuries as a result of this incident,” Goersch said.