A Canadian plane that crashed in Antarctica appears to have been on course but may have turned too early while flying through a mountain range, says an official with the agency that confirms the aircraft has been found.
Chris Henshaw, a search and rescue officer with the New Zealand Rescue Co-Ordination Centre, says the wreckage of the Twin Otter lies along the route the plane was intending to fly between the South Pole and an Italian base in Antarctica's Terra Nova Bay.
The plane, operated by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air, was reported missing after it failed to reach its destination on Wednesday.
Search crews in aircraft have confirmed that the wreckage has been sighted on a steep slope near the summit of Mount Elizabeth on the Queen Alexandra range, but New Zealand officials said the impact appears to have been direct and would not have been survivable for the three crew members on board.
"From looking at the maps, it is a logical route for it to fly through the mountain range," Henshaw said about the location of the crash.
"There is a path that they actually sort of follow through. And it looks like the pilot made a turn too early. We don't know at this stage," he added.
New Zealand officials say the next of kin of the three men have been informed.
The pilot has been identified by friends as Bob Heath of Inuvik while media reports have identified a second crew member as Mike Denton, a newlywed from Calgary whose photographs of planes appear on the Kenn Borek website.
The third crew member had not yet been identified.