Saturday, October 1, 2016

de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, Kenmore Air, N6781L: Accident occurred September 30, 2016 in Lopez, San Juan County, Washington


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Seattle FSDO-01

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA189
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, September 30, 2016 in Lopez Island, WA
Aircraft: DEHAVILLAND BEAVER DHC 2 MK.1, registration: N6781L
Injuries: 2 Serious, 2 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 30, 2016, at 0837 Pacific daylight time (PDT), a Dehavilland, Beaver DHC-2 MK1, N6781L, unintentionally impacted the water near Lopez Island, Washington, while descending through a break in a cloud layer. The airplane was registered to and operated by Kenmore Air Seaplanes under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135. The commercial pilot, and one passenger sustained minor injuries, two passengers sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence, and subsequently sunk. The scheduled commuter flight departed Lake Union (W55), Washington, about 0800 with a planned destination of Fisherman Bay (81W), Washington. Visual and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed along the route of flight, and a company visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that after departing Lake Union he flew the normal route which was northbound on the west side of Whidbey Island toward the destination of Fisherman Bay. He stated there was no significant weather for the first portion of the flight, with high cloud ceilings, or none at all, and unrestricted visibility.

In the area of Smith Island, the pilot reported encountering a lower stratus layer. He continued flying over the low clouds until he started his descent; the airplane subsequently impacted the water.

The pilot and passengers were able to exit the airplane and the passengers were able to ultimately don life vests. They were rescued about 30 minutes later by a passing yacht.

The airplane wreckage sank and at this time has not been located.

A medical airlift helicopter takes off for Harborview Medical Center with two victims of the Kenmore Air plane crash.

A plane-crash survivor is tended to by emergency medical technicians at Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, on Friday. The patient, one of four people who survived the crash of a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver off Lopez Island, was treated for hypothermia and minor injuries.

Emergency medical technicians attend survivors after their arrival at Friday Harbor. A float plane crashed near the south end of Lopez Island with four people aboard Friday morning, and all survived.  

Plane-crash survivors are assisted by emergency medical technicians at Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, on Friday. All four passengers aboard the float plane survived the crash and were rescued by the crew of the vessel Northern Rose.

FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. - Four people were rescued by a couple on a fishing boat after a Kenmore Air float plane crashed in the waters near the San Juan Islands on Friday morning.

Kenmore Air's operations director, John Gowey, says the plane left from its dock at Seattle's South Lake Union for the 45-minute flight to the San Juan Islands. Its first stop was to be Lopez Island but crashed around 8:50 a.m. near Cattle Pass.

The Coast Guard reports a mayday call came in from the crew of the vessel Northern Rose at 9:13 a.m. reporting the plane crash.

The Northern Rose was able to make it to the crash scene and plucked the one woman and three men on board from the water. Coast Guard officials said the plane sank on impact.

The four victims were brought to waiting medics at Friday Harbor where they were treated for minor injuries and hypothermia, Coast Guard officials said. The woman and a man have since been flown by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. A hospital spokesperson said they're awake and alert and while no exact conditions were provided, the two were expected to recover.

"Everybody's safe and that's the best thing you can hope for," said Kenmore Air Chief Pilot Chuck Perry.

'They were all shivering violently'

The four on board likely owe their lives to the couple on the Northern Rose.

Dan and Kathy Schwartz were motoring slowly through the fog when they spotted a kayaker waving her arms. They approached to see what was wrong.

"We noticed four yellow objects right next to her in the water," said Dan Schwartz. "As we got closer we realized it was four people in the water wearing their bright yellow aviation personal flotation devices."

The pilot and his three passengers managed to climb up a ladder to the deck, where the Schwartz's game them dry clothes and blankets.

"They were all shivering violently, they were quite cold," Schwartz said. "And we got their wet clothing off and into the cabin where we had a heater on."

Kenmore Air said the plane that crashed was a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, of which it has eight in its fleet. And though the planes are decades old, Kenmore managers say the Beavers are meticulously maintained and prized for their reliability.

There is no word yet what caused the crash, but Perry notes there was time for all on board to prepare for a water emergency.

"Whatever happened wasn't so violent that they weren't able to get the life jackets out of the pouches and get them on," Perry said. "Either after they got out of the aircraft or before they got out of the aircraft."

Coast Guard vessels have responded to the scene to check for debris and any possible pollution.


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