Beacon has reportedly stopped transmitting
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 5:57AM MST
Last Updated Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:31PM MST
A rescue beacon from a missing plane in Antarctica carrying three Canadians, who are possibly from Calgary, has apparently stopped transmitting.
The report comes from officials in New Zealand who are trying to locate the craft.
The beacon apparently went out about three hours ago.
Officials say that this is not an unusual occurence and speculate that the battery on the device may have just run out.
The plane was travelling from the South Pole to an Italian base in Terra Nova Bay when it disappeared on Tuesday night.
A frantic search and rescue operation has since been called off due to bad weather with low cloud and high winds making efforts very difficult.
The Twin Otter plane is owned by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air, a company well known for its years of experience in rescuing people from Antarctica and the Arctic.
There are more than two dozen De Havilland Twin Otter planes in its fleet.
An American rescue plane recently flew over the area where the beacon was supposedly transmitting from, but it didn’t see anything.
The rescue coordination centre in New Zealand reports that winds clocking in at 170 km/h and heavy cloud and snow have forced them to cancel all efforts at finding the plane for now.
“The wind is coming from all directions so that makes it really difficult for small aircraft to get in and assist,” says Michael Flyger with the New Zealand JRCC.
A large C-130, several other Twin Otters, and a DC-3 loaded with mountain climbers and their gear are all standing by, waiting for a break in the weather to get in and find the missing plane.
The beacon was transmitting from the north end of the Queen Alexandra Mountain Range.
Kenn Borek Air has not yet identified who was on board the missing plane, but a number of reports say that Bob Heath, a veteran polar pilot with more than 25 years experience, was on board.
In 2001, the airline made headlines with the daring rescue of an American scientist from the Amundson Scott Polar Station.
In 2007, a Kenn Borek Air Twin Otter crashed shortly before take off, and all 12 people there survived.
Flyger hopes to have similar success. “We’re just hoping that we get lucky a little later on with some nicer conditions.”