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Sudden Dive Preceded Metro Crash

Carson Air Metroliner on the ramp at home base in Kelowna.

A Carson Air Metroliner dove vertically into a North Vancouver mountainside and it seems likely that some sort of in-flight catastrophe led to the crash, which killed two pilots, aged 35 and 33.

“The radar track showed a very steep descent,”  Transportation Safety Board investigator Bill Yearwood told the CBC. “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.”

The cargo flight was on a normal profile on its way to Prince George about 7 a.m., climbing through 8,000 feet, when it dropped like a stone to the mountain face at about the 3,000-foot level northeast of North Vancouver.

The identities of the pilots are not being released at the request of their families. Their bodies were recovered on Tuesday.

Yearwood said the aircraft plunged through the forest canopy leaving virtually no visible trace from the air.

Viking Looks to China

Viking has cut production rates of the Series 400.
Viking has cut production rates of the Series 400.

Viking Air says it hopes its pending certification for the Series 400 Twin Otter in China will improve the company’s fortunes.

Earlier this month Viking announced it was cutting production and laying off a total of 116 employees, most of them at its Victoria plant.

Viking President Dave Curtis told local media that the double whammy of a slower pace of orders and customers who aren’t able to finish paying for aircraft that have been partly built.

“We forecast we would sell 100 airplanes there over the next 10 years. But we now have customers who have aircraft on order that we are producing and some of them haven’t been able to meet their financial commitments to us,” Curtis told the Victoria Times Colonist.

Curtis said the softer Russian market was a big factor in the layoffs. Economic sanctions resulting from the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine have hurt the Russian economy and the downturn in the oil and gas sector all over the world have also had an impact on the sorts of customers drawn to the Twin Otter.

China has plenty of remote areas that make the rugged twin an attractive option. Certification is expected in the next few weeks.

CanJet Lays Off Most Flight Staff

CanJet is laying off most of its flight crews.
CanJet is laying off most of its flight crews.

Halifax-based CanJet will lay off 47 of its 62 pilots 68 of its 100 flight attendants as it gets out of the  European vacation flight business.

The carrier, which is part of the IMP Group said it can’t make money with the service and it’s also losing a contract with Air Transat, further shrinking its business.

Company President Stephen Rowe said all options for the continuation of the business are being explored, including a return to scheduled service on both domestic and international routes.

The tight economy of the last six years has strained vacation companies and prices have dropped as the industry fights to fill seats.

The Airline Pilots Association said the layoffs came as a shock because pilots were previously reassured about their future with the company.

Coast Guard Buys Seven Bell 412s

The Coast Guard is buying seven Bell 412EPI helicopters.
The Coast Guard is buying seven Bell 412EPI helicopters.

As expected, the Canadian Coast Guard will replace its 30-year-old fleet of Eurocopter helicopters with Bell 412EPI aircraft.

The contract is worth $156 million and the helicopters will likely be at least partly built at Bell’s Mirabel plant. The first aircraft will be delivered in 2016.

The helicopters will be used for security, fisheries and environmental protection and will replace Eurocopter (now Airbus) MBB-105s that were bought between 1983 and 1987.

The 412EPI is the modern update of the medium-sized twin that is commonly used in industry, resource and government roles throughout Canada. It has a modern avionics suite and offers a three-axis stability control system. It will carry up to 13 passengers.

This is the second contract Bell has won from the Coast Guard. It’s now building 15 Bell 429 light helicopters from a controversial award that came about when rivals Airbus and Agusta Westland dropped out, saying the competition was biased in Bell’s favour.