The Carson Air twin-engine aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff earlier this month near Vancouver had been safely in service for 38 years prior to the incident.
The Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II had been in service since 1977, according to documentation from the Aviation Safety Network.
It was carrying cargo bound for Prince George. The plane went down in the North Shore Mountains on April 13, killing both crew members. A rescue search party found the wreckage the following day on a snowy, wooded hillside, southeast of Crown Mountain.
Carson, based out of Kelowna, bought the plane in 2006.
The U.S. manufactured plane was originally delivered on July 29, 1977 to Southern Airways. From there, it continued in service with Republic Airlines, Britt Airways, Continental Express, Berry Aviation and Superior Aviation.
While with Britt Airways, both turboprop engines were replaced after damage from a bird strike in 1986.
In 2011, while owned by Carson, the outer glass ply of the windshield failed following electrical arcing.
Metro II aircraft have been in service since their introduction in 1972. Production ended in 2001, and almost 700 are estimated to have been built.
During that time, there have been 92 hull loss occurrences, meaning the hull of the aircraft was either destroyed or damaged beyond economical repair. Cargo flights accounted for 21 of those, and passenger flights for 45 of the total. Not all losses were because of crashes. In some, aircraft were damaged while on the ground.
All together, there were 213 fatalities.
The worst case was in 1988, in Germany, when 21 people died after a lightning strike caused an electrical system failure and the right wing broke off in an uncontrolled descent.
The Transportation Safety Board reported the Carson flight dropped from an altitude of 2,400 metres to about 900 metres – the height at which the wreckage was found – in less than 20 seconds, “consistent with an in-flight break-up.”
The number of fatal accidents involving planes (civil aircraft with 19 or more passengers) has dropped significantly worldwide, since a high of 40 such incidents in 1971 and another spike of 35 in 1989.
Recent data on Plane Crash Info shows there were only six incidents last year – the lowest amount on record since information began being tracked in 1950.
About one quarter of these types of incidents occur during the landing phase of the flight, but air travel continues to be one of the safest modes of travel, with data showing the odds of being on a flight with at least one fatality is one in 3.4 million.
The two Carson Air pilots were identified last week as 34-year-old Robert Brandt and 32-year-old Kevin Wang, both from Vancouver. Their plane disappeared from radar approximately 15 nautical miles north of YVR.
A TSB investigator in charge of the crash has determined there was a small fire in one of the engines, however the crew never declared an emergency and the plane was not equipped with cockpit voice or flight data recording systems.