The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Investigators can't find cause of Antarctic plane crash that killed 3 Canadians

  • Print
ANTARCTIC PLANE CRASH

EDMONTON - Investigators have been unable to pin down the cause of a plane crash that killed three Canadians high on an Antarctic mountainside.

The men died in January 2013 when their Twin Otter, owned by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air, crashed into a crevasse-filled and avalanche-prone slope on the side of one of the frozen continent's highest peaks.

The bodies of Bob Heath, 55, of Inuvik, N.W.T., Perry Andersen, 36, of Collingwood, Ont., and Mike Denton, 25, of Calgary remain on Mount Elizabeth, entombed in the wreckage of the plane in which they died.

A Transportation Safety Board report released Friday details as much as is known about the fatal flight, which departed from South Pole Station with a load of fuel for an Italian research team at Terra Nova Bay.

Everything seemed normal for the first two hours of the flight.

But sometime between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., something went wrong.

Attempts to reconstruct the weather in the area at the time suggest a heavy layer of cloud hung around Mount Elizabeth. Flight records indicate Heath — who had eight seasons of flying experience in Antarctica — turned his plane to the left in a direct route to his destination.

But the plane didn't have enough altitude to clear the peak and crashed into it at about 4,000 metres above sea level.

Because the cockpit voice recorder was not working at the time, the board was unable to say definitively what caused the crash.

But it points out that although the plane had a sophisticated system for warning pilots about terrain hazards, the electronic database that system relies on isn't available for Antarctica. A GPS in the plane may have given the pilots some warning, but not enough for them to climb out of trouble.

"At 45 seconds prior to impact, it appears that (the plane) entered a climb, which may correlate with receipt of a 30-second terrain advisory," the report says.

Heavy cloud and high winds prevented searchers from finding the plane for two days. A rescue team reached the site a day after that, but concluded it was too dangerous to mount a recovery.

The tail of the plane continues to stick out from the snowy mountainside. A board spokesman said Friday a recovery operation is not planned.

The board says Ken Borek Air made a number of changes after the accident, including improvements to navigation charts for the Antarctic.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Drew Willy says team couldn't get anything going

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling flaps his wings after taking a bath in the duck pond at St Vital Park Tuesday morning- - Day 21– June 12, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google