Monday, January 09, 2012

Engine trouble forces floatplane to make emergency stop

Ganges Coast Guard boat brings in some passengers from a Harbour Air​ plane that made an emergency landing in Ganges Harbour Thursday afternoon.

The investigation continues to determine what forced the pilot of a Harbour Air seaplane loaded with 13 passengers to make an emergency landing in Ganges Harbour on Thursday afternoon. “What you see in a CSI program in one hour is about a year’s worth of work,” said Bill Yearwood, manager of air investigations for the federal Transportation Safety Board​.

The investigation into what caused the de Havilland Turbine Otter’s engine to fail while en route between downtown Vancouver and Victoria Harbour is being investigated by Harbour Air staff under the observation of TSB personnel. Yearwood said results will be compiled and released within a matter of weeks.

“If at any time we feel there is something that is systemic that could impact the fleet, we have the opportunity of raising our investigation status but, at this time, we feel that the company is doing a good job,” Yearwood said.

The pilot, a seven-year employee at the airline, glided the plane into Ganges Harbour at approximately 1 p.m. on Dec. 29. Passengers on Flight 215 were transferred to another plane by Ganges Coast Guard personnel and Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers. None of the passengers sustained any injuries during the incident.

“It was scary, a bit freaky but we were lucky it happened where it did,” said Deric Vanstaden, who was flying with wife Alison, both 33.

He said they heard “a big noise” and then the plane started to go down.

The Vanstadens praised the quick action of Coast Guard and Harbour Air officials.

One passenger, a woman in her 70s, gamely climbed out of the coast guard inflatable and directly into the plane that was to take them the rest of the way.

Passengers were loaded onto another Harbour Air Otter and on their way to their destination within minutes of getting back to the dock, virtually unshaken by their narrow escape.

In a Tuesday interview, Harbour Air executive vice president Randy Wright said the plane has been taken out of service while the investigation proceeds. Harbour Air’s flight schedule has not been affected by the incident.

In the 11 years he has worked with the company, Wright said, this is the first time he’s encountered such an incident at the airline.

Yearwood said the investigation will include a look at the failure of turbine blades caused by metal fatigue in the aircraft’s PT-6 engine, a factor that resulted in the crash of a Cessna with a similar engine near Port Alberni in 2006.

1 comment:

  1. Judging by the noise these Harbour air planes make it is my opinion they are being overloaded , they are far to old to be allowed to be used for any thing but salvage
    Harbour air is concerned with bottom line only!!
    Salt Spring Island;
    Harbour Air conducting its own investigation give your head a shake!!!!!