Air tanker crashes in B.C.

UPDATE @ 1:53 MT, Aug. 2, 2010

More information from the Winnipeg Free Press:

LYTTON, B.C. – The company that operated an air tanker that crashed while fighting British Columbia’s wildfires has identified the two pilots who died when the plane when down.

Conair says 58-year-old Tim Whiting of Langley, B.C., and 36-year-old Brian Tilley of Edmonton died when their water bomber crashed in B.C.’s Interior on Saturday evening.

Conair spokesman Rick Pederson says Whiting was a veteran pilot who had worked at Conair for nearly three decades and had experience flying around the world, including working for a company connected to the United Nations.

Pederson says Tilley joined Conair last spring, but he says the younger pilot had flown thousands of hours before he was hired.

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UPDATE @ 5:35 MT, Aug. 1, 2010

After not being able to access the crash site due to the fire that was caused by the crash, the Lytton RCMP and the B.C. Coroner Services on Sunday were able to visit the site and confirm the deaths of the pilot and co-pilot of the air tanker that crashed Saturday evening. Their names have not been released, pending notification of the families.

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On Saturday July 31, an air tanker crashed in British Columbia. The Convair 580, operated by Conair, went down in central B.C.  just before 9 p.m. local time 160 kilometers northeast of Vancouver.

Another air tanker was following the aircraft and was able to pinpoint the location. The crash ignited a fire that made it impossible for rescuers to access the scene Saturday night, approaching only to within 350 to 500 meters. Since no one has been at the crash scene yet, the fate of the pilot and co-pilot cannot be confirmed, contrary to what you may read elsewhere. However there are reports that it is unlikely that there were any survivors.

The air tanker was under contract with the B.C. Ministry of Forest and Lands when it crashed while working on a new fire near Siwash Road about 18 kilometers south of Lytton.

We will update this story as it develops.

Our condolences go out to the families and coworkers.

Convair air tanker
Convair 580 file photo by Conair.

Conair, established in 1969, is located at the Abbotsford Airport in southwestern British Columbia near the US border. Their 150 employees operate and maintain a fleet of 51 fixed-wing aircraft for fire protection agencies across Canada and in Alaska.

The Convair CV 580 carries 2,100 US gallons and is powered by two turboprop engines. According to Wikipedia, it is a conversion from the Convair CV-340 or CV-440 with the turboprop engines replacing the original piston engines. The family of CV-240 aircraft replaced the DC-3’s, and was produced between 1947 and 1956, which means the air frame of the air tanker that crashed could have been 54 to 63 years old.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+