Investigation underway after Alberta plane crash kills 6 people

Investigation underway after Alberta plane crash kills 6 people

Investigators are looking into the cause of a plane crash that left all six people on board dead Friday night.

The plane was heading to Salmon Arm, in B.C.’s Southern Interior, from Calgary and lost contact about 30 minutes into its journey.

On Saturday, RCMP said, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ont., tasked a Winnipeg-based Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130 Hercules from the 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron with the search, after reports of the plane not arriving at its destination were received.

“The crew honed in on the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) to the crash site on Mount Bogart. Alberta Parks Mountain Rescue responding with Alpine Helicopters and a Comox-based RCAF CH-149 Cormorant from the 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron were dispatched to assist,” police said.

Alberta Parks Mountain Rescue were also assisted by Alberta Health Services (AHS), Kananaskis Emergency Services and Alberta Conservation.

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Responder crews said it was very cloudy at the time, reducing visibility.

The Edmonton-based investigators will be in the area for a couple days and will determine if weather was a factor. It is still being determined whether they will go up on the mountain where some pieces of the plane — a Piper PA32 — remain. Larger pieces of the plane are now in a secure facility, they said.

TCB investigators set up a staging area at the bottom of Mt. McGillivray following fatal plane crash, Sunday, July 30. 2023.

This plane model was very popular because for a small plane it could still carry six people plus baggage, explained David Rohrer, former TSB investigator from Ontario.

While there aren’t any specific red flags for this aircraft, Rohrer said, “When you’re flying in a mountainous region in a single-engine, light aircraft, it can be a challenging environment.”

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“You’re at high altitudes, the temperatures can be warm, you can run into weather. So, there are a number of challenges that a light airplane is less capable in performance to deal with than perhaps a larger corporate jet or commercial jet,” he explained.

Considering the crash from an investigator’s perspective, Rohrer said you’re trying to rule out a number of factors by independent methods, the first being weather. Next, investigators consider the qualifications, training and record of the pilot, and the weight the plane was carrying, including baggage and passengers and fuel.

Names of the victims have not yet been confirmed.

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