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Accident description
Last updated: 21 November 2017
Status:Final
Date:Monday 13 April 2015
Time:07:09
Type:Silhouette image of generic SW4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II
Operator:Carson Air
Registration: C-GSKC
C/n / msn: TC-235
First flight: 1977
Total airframe hrs:33244
Engines: 2 Garrett TPE331-10UA-511G
Crew:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:11 km (6.9 mls) N of North Vancouver, BC (   Canada)
Crash site elevation: 900 m (2953 feet) amsl
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Cargo
Departure airport:Vancouver International Airport, BC (YVR/CYVR), Canada
Destination airport:Prince George Airport, BC (YXS/CYXS), Canada
Flightnumber:CA66
Narrative:
The Carson Air Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II was operating as flight 66, a weekday cargo flight between Vancouver International Airport (CYVR) and Fort St. John (CYXJ), British Columbia, Canada, with planned stops in Prince George (CYXS) and Dawson Creek (CYDQ).
On the morning of the occurrence, CA66's first officer arrived at the airport at approximately 06:00. The first officer appeared to be in good spirits and spent about 5 minutes in the flight planning room before going to the aircraft to prepare it for that day's flights. The captain arrived at approximately 06:15 and went directly to the flight planning room to begin preparing the morning's flight plan. He appeared to be in a positive state of mind and spent a few minutes speaking with other company pilots who were also preparing to operate flights. He used a company computer to access weather information and placed a telephone call to NAV CANADA to file an instrument flight rules flight plan. No abnormal behaviour was observed by anyone with whom he had contact. The captain then walked to the aircraft and spent about 10 minutes in the flight deck before assisting the first officer with loading the flight's cargo. Final flight preparations were carried out by both flight crew members before they boarded the aircraft and started the engines, at about 06:45.
At 07:03, CA66 began its take-off run. The aircraft lifted off after an approximate ground-run distance of 2800 to 3000 feet. This was within the expected normal performance for the aircraft type.
Shortly after takeoff, CA66 contacted CYVR terminal departure control and was cleared to 9000 feet above sea level (ASL). A short time later, the air traffic controller assigned the flight a northbound heading. At 07:07, CYVR terminal departure control instructed CA66 to change radio frequencies and contact CYVR centre control. Upon initial contact with CYVR centre control, while climbing through 7500 feet, CA66 was again cleared to the aircraft's final flight planned altitude of flight level 200. At 07:08, the crew acknowledged a clearance to climb to flight level 200; this was CA66's last radio transmission. One minute and 20 seconds later, while climbing through an altitude of 8700 feet on an assigned heading of 350° magnetic, the aircraft disappeared from secondary surveillance radar displays at air traffic control.
CA66's radar track, from the time it first became visible on radar at 07:02 until a steep descent toward ground, was approximately 7 minutes. The track showed an apparently routine climb from CYVR, at an average climb rate of 1500 feet per minute. Aircraft speed during the climb increased gradually until a ground speed of approximately 185 knots was reached.
The last 3 radar returns from CA66 showed the aircraft beginning an abrupt, steep descent. At 07:09, a radar return showed that the aircraft was at 8700 feet; this was the highest altitude it reached. The 2 subsequent radar returns showed that the aircraft had dropped rapidly to 7600 feet and then 5000 feet while continuing in the direction of flight. There were no further returns.
During the initial stage of the descent, the aircraft pitched down at about 6° per second, and its vertical acceleration reached -0.6g. The descent to 5000 feet likely occurred within 10 to 14 seconds. During that period, the aircraft's descent rate exceeded 30 000 feet per minute, and aerodynamic forces caused structural disintegration of the aircraft (in-flight breakup). There was no Mayday call or other communication from the aircraft during this period.
Deteriorating weather conditions with low cloud and heavy snowfall hampered an air search; however, aircraft wreckage was found on steep, mountainous, snow-covered terrain by ground searchers at approximately 16:45. Both pilots had been fatally injured.

Investigation showed that the captain had 0.24% blood alcohol content [BAC]. To obtain this, the captain would have had to consume approximately 17 to 20 standard drinks over a 12-hour period.
An autopsy also identified focal severe coronary artery atherosclerosis and both steatosis and hepatitis in the captain’s liver. Finding these conditions in a 34-year-old person suggests excessive alcohol consumption over a significant period.
The captain had recently applied for the position of Vancouver base chief pilot for the company’s cargo operation. On 26 March 2015, the company advised him that the position had been awarded to another candidate. Around the same period, on 24 March 2015, 20 days before this accident, a first officer who had been having symptoms of depression and psychosis deliberately flew a Germanwings Airbus A320 into terrain, killing all on board.
Although there were several coincidental factors, the investigation could not make any conclusions about the captain’s predisposition to committing an intentional act. Other scenario's like pitot system blockage or crew incapacitation were also considered, but deemed not very probable.

Probable Cause:

Findings as to causes and contributing factors:
1. For unknown reasons, the aircraft descended in the direction of flight at high speed until it exceeded its structural limits, leading to an in-flight breakup.
2. Based on the captain's blood alcohol content, alcohol intoxication almost certainly played a role in the events leading up to the accident.

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: TSB Canada
Status: Investigation ongoing
Duration: 2 years and 7 months
Accident number: A15P0081
Download report:

Classification:
Flightcrew member's alcohol, drug usage


Loss of control

Sources:
» Flightaware

METAR Weather report:
13:46 UTC / 06:46 local time:
SPECI CYVR 131346Z 09008KT 15SM -RA FEW033 SCT056 OVC069 07/04 A2989 RMK SC2SC2AC4 SLP123

14:00 UTC / 07:00 local time:
CYVR 131400Z 15004KT 090V190 15SM -RA FEW033 SCT042 BKN054 OVC069 07/04 A2990 RMK SC2SC2SC3AC1 SLP124
Wind 150 degrees at 4 knots, carying 90-190 degrees; visibility: 15 miles; rain; Few clouds at 3300 feet; Scattered clouds at 4200 feet; Broken clouds at 5400 feet; Overcast at 6900 feet; Temp. 7°C; Dew point 4°C


Follow-up / safety actions

TSB issued 1 Safety Recommendation

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations

Photos

photo of Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II C-GSKC
photo of Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II C-GSKC
photo of Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II C-GSKC
photo of Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II C-GSKC
photo of Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II C-GSKC
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Aircraft history
date registration operator remarks
29 July 1977 N61Z Southern Airways delivered
1 July 1979 N61Z Republic Airlines airliner merger
July 1980 N61Z Britt Airways bought
5 April 1986 N61Z Britt Airways Bird strikes on short final Cape Girardeau, MO. Both engines replaced due to damage.
1 September 1990 N61Z Continental Express airliner merger
June 1992 N61Z Berry Aviation merged
July 1993 N235BA Berry Aviation new registration
May 1996 N235BA Superior Aviation bought
October 2006 C-GSKC Carson Air bought
16 February 2011 C-GSKC Carson Air outer glass ply of windshield failed following electrical arcing

Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Vancouver International Airport, BC to Prince George Airport, BC as the crow flies is 520 km (325 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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