A cargo plane that crashed in Vancouver's North Shore Mountains yesterday fell from the sky in an uncontrolled descent, the Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday at a news conference.

Search crews found the main fuselage of Carson Air Flight 66 with the bodies of the two pilots still inside, in steep and heavily wooded terrain southeast of Crown Mountain around 1 p.m. PT, said investigator Bill Yearwood.

The remains of the pilots, aged 33 and 35, have been removed from the wreckage of the twin-engine SA-226 Metro II and their families have been notified.

Yearwood said all indications are the two pilots suddenly lost control of the aircraft, dropping from an altitude of 2,400 metres to about 900 metres — the height at which the wreckage was found — in less than a minute,

Carson Air SA226 plane

The crashed plane is a twin-engine SA-226 Metro II similar to this one. (Carson Air)

"The radar track showed a very steep descent," he said. "The crew did not call, declare an emergency or have any stress, which gives us an idea that whatever happened, happened suddenly. The radar track gives us information on how fast it was descending ... and that is consistent with uncontrolled flight."

Yearwood praised North Shore Rescue's ground crews, saying that without them, the search would have taken many days if not weeks, as the wreckage would have been virtually impossible to spot from the air.

"The trees are not damaged that I can see," he said of his aerial tour of the crash site. "There are no scars on the ground and no visible evidence from the air of disruption to the terrain."

Yearwood said the plane was not equipped with cockpit voice or flight data recording systems. As a result, the cause of the crash will have to be pieced together from the physical evidence, which he said will take time.

The identities of the two pilots are not being released at the request of the families, police said.

The missing cargo plane took off from Vancouver International Airport at 6:43 a.m. Monday heading for Prince George Airport. But air traffic control lost radar contact with the flight at 7:08 a.m., when the plane was crossing the North Shore Mountains.

Crews from North Shore Rescue team and Talon Helicopters first located debris from the missing plane late Monday afternoon.

The investigation has been turned over to the B.C. Coroners Office and the Transportation Safety Board.

missing plane graphic

A graphic shows the departure time and last known location of missing Carson Air Flight 66. (CBC)