Plane that went into B.C.'s Fraser River hit power lines before crash: TSB

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RICHMOND, B.C. — A Transportation Safety Board report says a small plane that vanished in British Columbia's Fraser River last June hit a power line before sinking into the river.

The Cessna 172M left Boundary Bay Airport on June 6 with two men aboard, an instructor and his student.

The report says the plane was flying in Abbotsford, B.C., along the river at a low altitude and was just 38 metres above the water when it clipped a power line.

Witnesses who called 911 reported seeing a low-flying plane, a splash and then the partially submerged plane on the river.

When emergency responders arrived, the plane had disappeared and a search over several months using divers, underwater imaging and other equipment has found no trace of the plane or its occupants.

The report's conclusion says low-altitude flight always presents a higher risk with hazards, such as power lines that aren't physically marked, difficult to see in time to avoid a collision.

"Flying at low altitude also reduces the margin of safety in the event of engine failure, a loss of control, or any other unexpected circumstances, and increases the risk of an impact with the ground or an obstacle," says the report released Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press