A new Transportation Safety Board (TSB) report found that in-flight oxygen deprivation played a role in a fatal plane crash last summer near the B.C. and Alberta border.
On August 1, 2018, a plane crash was reported north of Elkford to Search and Rescue, although the plane was later reported to have crashed in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country.
RCMP said two people were killed when a twin-engine aircraft crashed into Mount Rae.
The TSB report said the plane completed two hours of surveillance activities in an Aries Aviation International Piper PA-31 aircraft when they started to make their way to the Calgary/Springbank Airport at 15,000 feet above sea level.
“Approximately 40 nautical miles southwest of the airport, air traffic control began sequencing the aircraft for arrival into the Calgary airspace. At this time, for reasons that could not be determined, the right engine began operating at a significantly lower power setting than the left engine,” reads the TSB report. “About 90 seconds later, at approximately 13, 500 feet, the aircraft departed controlled flight. The aircraft collided with terrain near the summit of Mount Rae at 13:36 (MDT).”
The TSB report said that although a portable oxygen system was available on the plane and activated, it was not continuously used by the pilot, as is required when flying more than 4,000 metres above sea level.
The pilot likely became hypoxic as a result, leading to the crash.
“Although hypoxia can cause pronounced performance degradations, its onset can be slow and gradual, making it likely the pilot did not recognize the symptoms, and thus took no action to restore his supply of oxygen,” said the TSB report.
As a result, the plane collided with Mount Rae. The TSB said a brief impact explosion and fire occurred as both the pilot and the survey technician were fatally injured.