Three people died in the plane crash on Gabriola Island on Tuesday, which happened after the Nanaimo Airport got a report of an “equipment issue,” a preliminary report by Nav Canada says.
The aircraft hit the ground with such force that investigators struggled to even verify the plane’s registration, according to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).
The TSB has confirmed the plane was on a private pleasure flight that had taken off from Bishop, Calif., and was headed to Nanaimo, B.C.
Aviation experts say the evidence suggests there was some kind of mechanical or technical trouble before the plane could land.
Alex Bahlsen, 61, has been identified as the pilot. Bahlsen owned the plane and had decades of experience both flying and instructing. The passengers on the plane have yet to be identified.
Aviation experts who reviewed the crash photos and radar approach of the plane on the evening of Dec. 10 say the details of how it suddenly seemed to fall fits the scenario of some kind of instrument failure.
“If you lost those instruments it’s pretty much like losing your eyes,” said former TSB investigator Bill Yearwood.
“I can tell you I certainly feel anxiety even thinking about it. I am a pilot and being in that situation and losing critical flight instruments … to think about it scares the hell out of me.”
Transport Canada publishes a report of Civil Aviation Daily Occurrences in a report called CADORS.
In the Gabriola Island crash, the aircraft was approaching Nanaimo on track for a landing using an instrument landing system when an “equipment issue” was reported and the pilot turned away from the approach, according to the CADORS report. Within minutes, the aircraft dropped off the radar.
Nav Canada is the company that owns and operates Canada’s civil air navigation service.
CADORS reports are preliminary and are subject to change.
The TSB remains on the large crash site on Gabriola and continues to collect data and survey the wreckage, much of which has disintegrated.
The BC Coroners Office is making a further announcement later today.