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Plane was conducting bird survey before crashing

March 9, 2010, Yarmouth, N.S. – An official says a small plane that crashed in Nova Scotia's Yarmouth county on Sunday, sending the pilot to hospital with serious injuries, was taking part in a bird survey.


March 9, 2010
By The Canadian Press

March 9, 2010, Yarmouth, N.S. – An official says a small plane that crashed in Nova Scotia's Yarmouth county on Sunday, sending the pilot to hospital with serious injuries, was taking part in a bird survey.

Mike Cunningham of the Transportation Safety Board says the four-seat Cessna 172 was chartered so the two passengers _ Environment Canada employees _ could conduct their work.

The passengers suffered minor injuries when the aircraft struck a tree during an emergency landing attempt on a two-lane highway in Argyle.

The 26-year-old pilot remains in a Halifax hospital with serious head injuries.

Meanwhile, Doug Bliss, regional director for Environment Canada's wildlife service, says both employees were based in the organization's regional headquarters in Sackville, N.B.

He says one employee has some bruises while the other, who broke some bones, has been transported to a hospital in Moncton to be closer to home.

Bliss says Environment Canada chartered the flight to conduct coastal bird monitoring surveys, something its wildlife division does routinely.

"We have the responsibility for the conservation and protection of migratory birds in Canada so part of that, of course, is understanding what is out there,'' he said in an interview Tuesday.

Bliss had no details about what happened to the flight, other than it was on its way to refuel in Yarmouth after several hours in the air on Sunday.

"During a typical survey day you might have to refuel once or twice, because you are up in the air for hours at a time doing these observations,'' he said.

He says the flight was chartered with Central Valley Aircraft Inc., based in Waterville, N.S.

Cunningham says investigators removed the aircraft's engine, but "nothing apparent" has jumped out.

He says the engine will be inspected at a test facility, and investigators hope to speak with those who were on board the plane.