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News release

Gusty crosswind conditions led to May 2016 hard landing on water of Inland Air DHC-2 Beaver floatplane in Kitkatla, British Columbia

Richmond, British Columbia, 22 January 2018 – In its investigation report (A16P0078) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that the attempt to land in gusty crosswind conditions led to the hard landing of a floatplane in Kitkatla, British Columbia.

On 24 May 2016, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver seaplane operated by Inland Air Ltd. was conducting a crosswind landing at Kitkatla Water Aerodrome, British Columbia, with the pilot and six passengers on board. The aircraft landed on its left float with sufficient force to cause the aircraft to bounce back into the air. Its right float then struck the water, causing the float structure to collapse. The aircraft nosed over and came to rest inverted. All seven occupants evacuated the aircraft as it became submerged, and local boaters were able to rescue them immediately. One of the passengers was seriously injured.

The investigation found that the decision to carry out a water landing in gusty crosswind conditions, when lower-risk options were available, placed the aircraft occupants at an increased risk of a landing-related accident. In this occurrence, four of the ten most frequently cited factors contributing to seaplane accidents identified in the TSB's Safety Study of Piloting Skills, Abilities and Knowledge in Seaplane Operations (SSA93001), which pertain to the landing area selection, wind conditions and aircraft control, are applicable.

While Inland Air Ltd. had voluntarily implemented a safety management system (SMS), there were no formal processes for documenting and assessing hazards or risks such as those associated with this occurrence. Approximately 90% of all Canadian aviation certificate holders are currently not required by regulation to have a SMS. The TSB had previously issued a recommendation (A16-12) calling for Transport Canada to require all commercial air operators in Canada to implement a formal SMS. Safety management and oversight is also on the TSB Watchlist.

Numerous factors as to risk related to emergency preparedness and search-and-rescue were also identified in this investigation. Although the passengers received a briefing from the pilot, some critical information, such as the location of available exits, was not included in the briefing. The pilot also did not confirm that the occupants understood their role in the event of an emergency. These factors increased the risk of injury or death during the evacuation from the aircraft.

The passengers were not wearing personal flotation devices (PFDs), nor were they required to by regulation. If pilots and passengers are not required to wear suitable PFDs, as called for in the outstanding TSB Recommendation A11-06, they are at increased risk of drowning once they have escaped the aircraft.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053