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Loss of oxygen likely caused fatal airplane crash in Kananaskis

The right engine of the twin-engine aircraft began operating at a significantly lower power setting than the left engine prior to the crash, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
Airplane crash
First responders were called out to deal with a twin engine plane crash near Rae Glacier in Kananaskis Country on Aug. 1, 2018. The bodies of two men were recovered by Kananaskis public safety specialists. RMO File Photo.

KANANASKIS – A lack of oxygen likely played a role in an airplane crash that killed two men in Kananaskis Country last summer, according to a report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Investigators determined the pilot and a survey technician were on their way to Springbank Airport in Calgary on Aug. 1, 2018, when they ran into engine trouble.

According to the report, the two men had just finished completing two hours of survey work at an altitude of 15,000 feet when the right engine of their twin-engine aircraft began operating at a significantly lower power setting than the left engine.

Investigators couldn’t determine why the engine began to have troubles, however, 90 seconds later, at approximately 13,500 feet, the aircraft lost control before colliding into Mount Rae around 1:30 p.m.

The pilot and technician, who were not identified in the report, were both killed in the crash.

The investigation determined that although a portable oxygen system was activated and available, the pilot was not continuously using oxygen while the aircraft was flying above 13,000 feet as is required by federal regulation, likely causing oxygen deficiency. 

While the lack of oxygen can inhibit a pilot’s ability to perform their duties, the report stated it can be a slow and gradual process, making it likely the pilot did not recognize the symptoms and therefore didn’t take any action to restore his oxygen supply.

The report concluded that the airplane did not have a flight data recorder, or cockpit voice recorder, however, the equipment is not legally required.

Investigators said they were able to determine what happened because the aircraft was equipped with a flight data monitoring system that included a camera.

The plane was owned and operated by Aries Aviation International and had departed from Penticton, B.C., earlier in the day.  

A telephone call to the company was not immediately returned.


Paul Clarke

About the Author: Paul Clarke

Paul Clarke has spent the past four years working as a community news reporter in Jasper, Banff and Canmore.
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