Distress beacon intentionally activated on aircraft at Springbank, Alberta airport; “could have endangered lives and caused significant harm”

Springbank, Alberta – On Aug. 26, 2021, Cochrane RCMP were dispatched to assist the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre out of Trenton, Ont., with an active aircraft distress beacon in the area of the Springbank Airport. The investigation has determined that on Aug. 25, 2021, at approximately 11 p.m., a suspect gained entry into an unoccupied Antonov AN-2 aircraft that was parked at the Springbank airport, and intentionally activated the emergency signal.

When an emergency signal is activated, a distress tone can be heard by all aircraft in the area. Pilots of all aircraft entering and leaving the Calgary area heard the distress tone and were required to immediately report it in order to pinpoint the location and source of the emergency signal. Cochrane RCMP, Rockyview Fire Services, and airport staff had to force entry into various hangars until the source of the distress signal was found and it was deactivated. During this time, search and rescue response across the country could have been impeded. If any other aircraft had a legitimate emergency, their emergency signal could have been masked by this active signal.

Cochrane RCMP have conducted a thorough investigation into this matter that includes several witness statements and video surveillance from the area. The investigation is ongoing with potential charges under the Criminal Code and the Aeronautics Act. Under Section 77 of the Criminal Code, it is an indictable offence to endanger the safety of an aircraft in flight by communicating false information.

Distress Beacon Activated
Distress Beacon Activated

“This was not a minor act of vandalism or mischief,” said Inspector Dave Brunner, Officer in Charge of Cochrane RCMP Detachment. “We are investigating this as a deliberate act that could have endangered lives and caused significant harm. We are taking this matter very seriously and continuing with this investigation as a high priority.”

Cochrane RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance for any information in relation to this incident. Please contact Cochrane RCMP at 403-851-8000 or your local police. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at www.P3Tips.com or by using the “P3 Tips” app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.

File 2021-1269084

Cochrane RCMP

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