After 10 days of searching, JRCC Trenton has made the difficult decision to suspend the search for a missing Piper Comanche with 2 people on board this afternoon. Their tweet read: “Our thoughts are with family and friends at this difficult time.” The aircraft was reported missing on April 14, 2022 with John Fehr and pilot Brian Slingerland on board. They were returning to Alberta from Delhi, Ontario, where the aircraft had recently been purchased. Bad weather and terrain hampered search efforts, but the numerous aircraft and personnel made every effort with all available technology to locate the missing aircraft and men.
April 24, 2022 – Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – National Defense / Canadian Armed Forces
After ten days of intensive efforts, the search for two people aboard a plane that went missing on Thursday April 14 on a flight from Delhi to Marathon, Ontario, has been suspended.
The effort was coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Trenton and involved a total of five members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, one member of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), one member of the Guard Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and five civilian air search and rescue members. Lifesaving Association Aircraft (ACRSA). The Air Task Force flew 360 hours and covered approximately 17,300 square kilometers during the search. The effort involved more than 100 military, coast guard and civilian searchers as well as coordination and support personnel.
The search will be turned over to the Ontario Provincial Police as a missing person case.
“On behalf of everyone involved in the search efforts, I would like to extend my thoughts and prayers to both families. It is with them in mind that we have worked tirelessly, despite difficult weather and geographic conditions over the past few days with our search and rescue (SAR) partners to find any indication of the aircraft. All the information we have collected during the research will be passed on to the Ontario Provincial Police. Captain Martin Zimmer, Search Master, 1 Canadian Air Division/Joint Rescue Coordination Center Trenton
- RCAF search masters only request the suspension of an aerial search after determining that the likelihood of survival is no longer viable based on survivor patterns; after all reasonable efforts have been made; and, all avenues of investigation were carefully exhausted in an effort to locate the missing aircraft and those on board.
- Unless new information comes to light indicating a likelihood of finding survivors, no further Joint Rescue Coordination Center search activity will be conducted and the case will be forwarded to the OPP as a case of missing person.
- A search headquarters with additional RCAF personnel and a Sault Ste. The Marie-based Air Task Force was dedicated to search efforts.
- In the case of the search for the missing Piper Comanche with two people on board, 75 flights over the defined search area were conducted over a ten-day period.
- The search was conducted in accordance with the Canadian Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual, which details procedures for conducting effective aeronautical searches.
- At its height, the search involved five RCAF aircraft (CC-130H Hercules, two CH-146 Griffons, a CP-140 Aurora and a CH-149 Cormorant), a CCG helicopter, a Police helicopter provincial government, one Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources helicopter and five CASARA aircraft flown by volunteers. Up to 25 CASARA observers served on RCAF, CCG and CASARA aircraft.
- RCAF personnel and aircraft came from: Joint Rescue Coordination Center Trenton / 1 Canadian Air Division; 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton; 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 19 Wing Comox (based at 17 Wing Winnipeg), 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 14 Wing Greenwood; 405th Long Range Patrol Squadron, 14 Wing Greenwood.
- The search used a number of technologies, including night vision, forward-looking infrared cameras, synthetic aperture radar (RCAF CP-140 Aurora), and satellite imagery. New technology in the form of photo search with color recognition software was also employed (CASARA Skymaster aircraft).
- The Ground SAR OPP investigated around the aircraft’s last known position, but difficult terrain and snow hampered efforts.
- SAR incidents under the federal SAR mandate are defined as all aircraft incidents and all maritime incidents in waters under federal jurisdiction. With the exception of federally owned national parks, overall responsibility for search and rescue on land and in inland waters rests with provinces, territories and municipalities.