Air Creebec staff are in mourning after a crash took the lives of two pilots during an ill-fated attempt to land at Chibougamau Airport October 25.

It is still unclear at this time what caused the crash. Air Creebec President Albert Diamond would not speculate on possible causes until an investigation is completed.

“Upon landing the aircraft crashed,” Diamond said. “The two pilots, Denis Dubeau and Paul David Couto, died in the crash. There was positive identification [on the bodies] and they have been flown to Montreal for an autopsy.”

The accident occurred around 8:30 am as the King 100 aircraft flew into Chibougamau to pick up three passengers for a charter flight.

As per procedure, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the crash. Air Creebec was also asked to prepare a report to help determine what happened.

Both pilots started working for Air Creebec last spring after the King 100 was purchased for Air Creebec’s most recent expansion.

Information on their work history and flying experience before joining Air Creebec was unavailable at press time. Diamond said that it was the Human Resources Director who hired the pilots and he did not have any background information on them.

“We had a couple of incidents over the years similar to this, but this is the first time there have been fatalities,” said Diamond. “It’s pretty tough. It’s really affecting everybody, from our board of directors down to all the employees.”

Diamond said that in the 25 years that Air Creebec has been in operation, he always feared this could happen one day.

“I was in shock,” he said. “It’s terrible. Everything we did was so something like this wouldn’t happen. But when I thought about it, there were all these things I learned about crisis management and through different seminars and I was always told if it ever happened, this is what I needed to do. There are all these procedures and policies in place and that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Diamond’s concern right now is to help the families of the deceased and to make sure his employees are able to cope with the tragedy.

“We’re paying a lot of attention to the effect this will have on our employees. We’re all bothered by it and affected by it. We’re trying to make sure they get the support they need,” said Diamond, who added that counselors would be brought in to help his employees.

“We have to keep going and go about it in a professional manner and hopefully we’ll get over this in time.”

Flights will continue as scheduled, but at press time the airport in Chibougamau was closed for an indeterminate amount of time.

“It’s such a tragic event,” Diamond said somberly. “Our hearts go out to the families of Denis and Paul. We want to make sure we let people who fly with us know that we will do everything we can so this doesn’t happen again. We consider ourselves a safe airline to fly.”