A four-seater Cessna 172 making a round trip from Langley to Tofino crashed in North Vancouver during its return flight, just before 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The plane went down in an industrial area at the foot of Phillips Avenue, near the intersection with McKeen.
While the pilot said there was ample gas on board, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has determined the aircraft crashed because it ran out of fuel.
There were four occupants, a pilot and three passengers.
TSB spokesperson Alex Fournier said two investigators found the right wing tank of the plane was empty and the left wing tank had a “very small amount of fuel” causing it to lose power.
Fournier said one passenger suffered serious injuries when the plane made a forced landing.
The TSB is an independent federal agency that investigates occurrences in marine, pipeline, rail and air modes of transportation.
A message posted to theLangley Times Facebook page by Octavio Hernandez Van Steenberghe early Monday morning said the plane had ample fuel on board when the engine failed.
When the plane took off from Langley heading to Tofino, he said there was five hours and 15 minutes worth of fuel onboard.
The flight took one hour and 50 minutes, and after landing, Hernandez Van Steenberghe said he carried out a walk-around to verify the condition of the aircraft and check the fuel.
There was 20 gallons or about two-and-a-half hours remaining, he said.
During the return flight, he said the engine “started sounding rough” about one hour and 10 minutes after leaving Tofino.
“… right after passing by Lion’s Gate bridge is when we lost power.”
He said he tried to re-start the engine three times without success, then radioed air traffic control and declared a state of emergency.
“(I) immediately started looking for a safe place to land, at first I thought on landing on the highway eastbound but (decided against it) since it was rush hour and Sunday which made it a very busy time (so I) had to deviate to look for other options while I was already descending.”
He said he saw parks on either side “but unfortunately they seemed too busy with families having BBQs, kids playing and running around and had to look for another place…”
” … the only possibly place left I had was W 1st Street and then started a right turn towards it but I noticed there were numerous power lines across the street plus a fuel truck was turning ahead of me and (so I ended up) doing a left turn towards a parking lot I saw at the very last moment …”
He said the plane hit a utility cable on landing, “ … I think this actually helped us out by absorbing the impact.”
No one was seriously hurt with the exception of one man who “covered his girlfriend with his arm (during the landing) getting it broken” Hernandez Van Steenberghe said.
“The reason why some people didn’t hear the engine sound is because I had to shut it down intentionally as part of the forced approach procedure, by cutting off the fuel supply (turn) electrical systems off, and basically (do) all this to avoid any possible spark that could start a fire on the landing. He said he was happy with the outcome “because I know the result could have been way (worse) if the plane would have crashed on someone’s car, house or even on someone. I wouldn’t be in this state of mind I am now.”