Aviation Investigation A15P0081

In-flight break-up

The occurrence

On 13 April 2015, the Carson Air Swearingen SA-226-TC Metro II (serial number TC-325), operating as Carson Air flight 66, was carrying freight from Vancouver International Airport (CYVR) to Prince George Airport (CYXS), British Columbia, with a crew of two pilots on board. Shortly after departure, approximately 15 nautical miles north of the airport, when the aircraft was at about 2400 metres above sea level, lost altitude rapidly and disappeared off radar. A communication search was started immediately. Air and ground search started soon after.

North Shore Rescue ground search crews found aircraft wreckage in steep and heavily wooded terrain southeast of Crown Mountain before nightfall. More wreckage, including the cockpit, and the crew was found the next day. The two pilots sustained fatal injuries. There was a small fire in the area of the right engine nacelle. The emergency locator transmitter activated, but did not transmit (no signal was received).

Map of the area

Crown Mountain, British Columbia

What we know

The plane was not equipped with cockpit voice or flight data recording systems. The crew did not declare an emergency. The aircraft dropped from an altitude of 2,400 metres to about 900 metres — the height at which the wreckage was found — in less than 20 seconds. This with the wreckage dispersal and the lack of terrain damage is consistent with an in-flight break-up.

Next steps

The investigation is ongoing and the next steps include the following:

  • remove the wreckage from the site
  • collect data and information from various sources including the aircraft manufacture, Transport Canada, NAVCANADA, Environment Canada and the operator
  • complete a detailed examination of the wreckage collected at the TSB’s regional examination facility

Relevant active Recommendation A13-01

Objective data are invaluable to investigators in understanding the sequence of events leading up to an accident and factors that may have played a causal role. The absence of cockpit voice or flight data recording systems makes it impossible to confirm the nature of crew communications. In addition, without this information, it is often difficult to eliminate extraneous factors that did not contribute to the accident. Transport Canada and the air industry needs to take immediate action so that investigators can uncover safety deficiencies more quickly and make the system safer.

In the 2013 TSB Investigation Report (A11W0048), the Board made a recommendation calling for cockpit voice or flight data recording systems on smaller aircraft. It recommended that:

The Department of Transport work with industry to remove obstacles and develop recommended practices for the implementation of flight data monitoring and the installation of lightweight flight recording systems for commercial operators not required to carry these systems.
TSB Recommendation A13-01


Photo of Jason Kobi

Jason Kobi, Regional Senior Investigator, Operations (Air), has 24 years of experience in civil aviation. He recently joined the TSB after a period of 5 years as a civil aviation inspector with Transport Canada. Before that, Mr. Kobi spent 12 years as a pilot, flying a number of types of aircraft including Bombardier CRJ, Dash 8 and British Aerospace Bae-146 aircraft. In addition to working as a line pilot, he was a line-training captain for the Dash 8 and was a ground-training instructor for the Bombardier CRJ.

Prior to his airline experience, Mr. Kobi flew extensively in British Columbia (BC) as a courier pilot on various types of aircraft. He also owned and operated a small charter company and flight school in BC where he held the position of chief pilot and chief flight instructor. Mr. Kobi holds an airline transport pilot licence with approximately 9,900 hours' flight time.


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Transportation Safety Board investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation:

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.


Deployment notices

TSB deploys team to aircraft accident in British Columbia's North Shore Mountains near Vancouver
Read the deployment notice


TSB Media Update - Investigation Next Steps: Crash of a Carson Air aircraft
Read the media advisory