TSB officials are launching an investigation into the cause of the deadly Alberta plane crash

Nabil Anas
Nabil Anas

Global Courant

The Transportation Safety Board has begun investigating the cause of a minor plane crash that killed six people in the Rockies west of Calgary.

Spokesman Liam MacDonald said a team of investigators arrived in the area late Saturday and began work Sunday morning.

“They are conducting several interviews and gathering information about the plane,” he said, adding that the investigation would also look at the weather at the time of the crash.

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RCMP said Saturday the plane with a pilot and five passengers on board took off Friday night from Springbank Airport, just west of Calgary, and was bound for Salmon Arm, B.C.

Their names have not been released, but police said all the people on board were on their way to a church service.

In a statement to CBC, TSB said it is currently collecting data and assessing the accident.

“The incident has not yet been classified. We will review the incident and make a decision whether or not to conduct a full investigation.”

A helicopter flies near Mount Bogart in Kananaskis Country on July 29, 2023, following a plane crash that killed six people. (Mark Prystajecky)

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Didier Féminier, a former aircraft accident investigator at TSB, said the plane, which was a privately owned Piper PA-32, is a single-engine aircraft.

“It’s always a bit delicate when you’re flying a single-engine plane in a mountainous area at night. So these are the concerns the researcher will have,” he said.

He said the TSB will collect as much data as possible and look at whether the engine was producing power, the condition of the aircraft, maintenance, weather conditions and “human factors”, including why the pilot was flying at night.

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“It’s always a heartbreaking situation,” he said.

The plane was reported late Friday by the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Trenton, Ontario, and police said the center contacted them about the plane at 1 a.m. Saturday.

Planes are at Springbank Airport in Alberta, where the flight departed Friday. (CBC)

Police said a Winnipeg-based Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules aircraft was dispatched to search for the missing plane and found it in Kananaskis Country, a mountainous region west of Calgary, by zooming in on an emergency transmitter.

Seekers with the Alberta Parks mountain rescue responded with Alpine Helicopters and a Comox-based RCAF CH-149 Cormorant from the 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron.

All six bodies were recovered on Saturday in what police said was “difficult terrain”.

A statement from the Calgary Airport Authority, which manages and operates Springbank Airport, gave no further information about the plane or the crash.

“We are saddened by the tragedy and our hearts go out to those who lost their lives and to the family and friends who lost loved ones,” the authority said on Sunday.

Alberta Parks said “due to an ongoing incident” only the western half of the parking lot at the Heart Creek day use area and the McGillivray Bunker Trail head is open.

TSB officials are launching an investigation into the cause of the deadly Alberta plane crash

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