British Columbia

Carson Air Flight 66: Plane believed found in B.C.'s North Shore mountains

An extensive air and ground search will resume at first light on Vancouver's North Shore for survivors of Carson Air Flight 66 after rescue crews located enough of a debris field to conclude it's likely the missing flight.

RCMP inserts 6-person extraction team to hold scene overnight, declares 'this is a rescue operation'

A member of the North Shore Search and Rescue's ground crew approaches a Talon helicopter near the search staging area at Bone Creek, North Vancouver. (CBC)

An extensive air and ground search will resume Tuesday on Vancouver's North Shore for survivors of Carson Air Flight 66 after rescue crews located enough of a debris field to conclude it's likely the missing flight.

The small cargo plane with two pilots aboard went missing around 7:08 a.m. PT Monday.

Bill Yearwood with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada says searchers have found what they believe is the plane along with part of a wing, and some papers and other debris, in a remote area of the North Shore mountains.

An RCMP extraction team compares notes prior to joining the search area overnight. Police say this is still very much a rescue operation.

"Ground crews and air crews have found debris and sufficient pieces of the aircraft to suggest they have found the main wreckage site and they were trying to get into it just before sunset and were hoping it would be accessible tomorrow [Tuesday]," he said in a phone interview. 

"It [the wreckage] is below where the aircraft went missing on radar."

Yearwood said determining the cause of the crash won't be easy.

"There was no distress call. I don't believe there was any recording device on the aircraft, so it will be a challenge for us to determine the cause."

"It's snowy in that area so it will be some time before we get the wreckage to examine it clearly," he added.

At an evening news conference, RCMP said it would be putting a six-person extraction team into the area overnight to begin work at first light.

The missing aircraft is a twin-engine SA-226 Metro II, like this one. (Carson Air)

"At this time we are doing everything that is humanly possible to successfully compete a rescue operation here," said North Vancouver RCMP Insp. Davis Wendell. 

Mike Danks with North Shore Rescue says about 25 ground crew are focused on an area north of the North Needle in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park.

Steep terrain a factor in search

Danks said some of the teams are searching in fresh, deep snow and weather conditions are deteriorating.

"We have heavy snowfall in the area, and we're talking about steep, technical terrain. So our crews are taking no unnecessary risks, but we are doing our best to try and locate this aircraft as soon as possible."

The search is focused on an area in the North Shore Mountains, about 10 kilometres north of Vancouver, where the twin-engine SA-266 Metro II was last seen by air traffic control radar, said an official with Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

The flight from Vancouver to Prince George went missing on Monday morning with two pilots aboard.

North Shore Rescue is assisting the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria with the ground search and has set up a staging area near Bone Creek in North Vancouver.

Two Cormorant helicopters, a CC-115 Buffalo and a CP-140 Aurora were employed in the search for the missing plane.

Officials said the missing plane took off from Vancouver International Airport at 6:43 a.m. PT and was supposed to land at Prince George Airport at 8 a.m.

Air traffic control lost radar contact with the cargo flight at 7:08 a.m., when the plane was northeast of Vancouver, said Robertson.

MAP: Location of staging area at Bone Creek, North Vancouver

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