Fatal plane crash near Tofino raises possible safety issues: TSB

A Transportation Safety Board investigation into a fatal plane crash north of Tofino, B.C., last December has raised potential safety issues for other pilots. The privately registered Cessna 172H went down on a steep,wooded mountainside above Stewardson Inlet as the pilot, a man in his 70s, was conducting air sampling for a U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration project examining greenhouse gasses.

The pilot had taken similar flights approximately every 12 days since 2002, said the report. 

Investigators were unable to pinpoint the cause of the crash, saying there was enough fuel aboard, the aircraft had been maintained and passed its annual inspection, and the engine was still working on impact.

They could not determine if weather was a factor, but did say the plane was flying in conditions likely to produce thunderstorms, hail or possible icing. Lightning was detected in the area around the time of the crash

The reports said pilots should assess all weather information before leaving.

The plane, which left from Courtenay Airpark, didn't have an emergency locator transmitter that could have been detected by the upgraded satellite search system, a situation the safety board says is common in more than half of all Canadian-registered aircraft.