Monday, February 18, 2019

Cessna 208 Caravan 675, Seair Seaplanes, C-GURL: Fatal accident occurred July 26, 2019 in Addenbroke Island, British Columbia

Pilot Al McBain

NTSB Identification: ANC19WA043
14 CFR Non-U.S., Commercial Seair Seaplanes Ltd
Accident occurred Friday, July 26, 2019 in Bella Bella, Canada
Aircraft: Cessna 208, registration:
Injuries: 4 Fatal, 5 Serious.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On July 26, 2019, about 1100 pacific daylight time, a Canadian registered Cessna 208 airplane, C-GURL, owned and operated by Seair Seaplanes Ltd., was destroyed when it collided with terrain in the vicinity of Addenbroke Island, British Columbia (BC), Canada, under unknown circumstances. The airplane departed Vancouver International Water Airport (CAM9), Vancouver, BC, and was destined for a remote lodge about 29 nautical miles (nm) southeast of Campbell Island Airport (CBBC), Bella Bella, BC. The pilot and 3 passengers received fatal injuries, and the remaining 5 passengers received serious injuries.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the Canadian Transportation Safety Board. This report is for informational purposes only and contains only information released by or obtained from the Canadian government. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from: 

Transportation Safety Board of Canada
200 Promenade du Portage
Place du Centre, 4th Floor
Hull, Quebec K1A 1K8
Tel.: (1) 819-994-4252
(1) 819-997-7887 (24 hour)
Fax: (1) 819-953-9586

Pilot Al McBain died July 26, 2019 when the Cessna 208 Caravan 675 he was flying crashed crashed on Addenbroke Island. Three of the plane's eight passengers also died. 

A float plane that crashed on Addenbroke Island on Friday was bound for a popular fishing lodge in Hakai Pass.

When contacted Sunday, a woman who answered the phone for Ole’s Hakai Pass Fishing Lodge said “no comment” when asked if the plane was carrying its guests bound for the remote but popular lodge.

A statement provided via email Monday confirmed the plane’s destination.

“Ole’s can confirm that the float plane that crashed on Addenbroke Island was destined for Ole’s Fishing Lodge,” the statement read. “Our thoughts and prayers are with our guests and their families.

“We have no details to provide at this time to allow our guests and their families time to process this tragedy.”

The Cessna 208 Caravan left Vancouver and was bound for Ole’s on Friday before crashing around 11 a.m. while carrying one pilot and eight passengers.

To date, four people have been confirmed dead. Two were airlifted to Vancouver in critical condition, while three others were in serious but stable condition and remain at local hospitals.

On Sunday, Al McBain, the pilot of the float plane, was identified as having died in the crash.

Nathalie Chambers, a councillor with the District of Saanich on Vancouver Island, says her older brother was a lifelong adventurer who loved nature, could fix any engine and had flying in his blood.

She says their late father, Maj. John Harold McBain, had been a pilot for the Comox 442 Rescue Squadron that was dispatched after the crash to investigate and rescue the five others who were injured.

Through tears, Chambers says it was strangely fitting that the rescue squadron her father was once part of was sent to find her brother.

Chambers says she doesn’t know why the crash occurred but has learned the weather in the area was extremely poor. Weather records show it was raining at the time the plane crashed.

Ole’s Hakai Pass Fishing Lodge is near Calvert Island; the company’s website advertises fishing for trophy salmon and halibut in fishing packages that begin with a two-hour float plane ride from Vancouver to its picturesque location.

Many of Ole’s guests are returning visitors who make fishing in Hakai Pass an annual tradition; Ole’s celebrates its return guests by inducting them into the Decade Club, with at least five members joining the prestigious 20 Years Club.

A Facebook page associated with the lodge featured an image of a Seair float plane as recently as July 19.

The B.C. Coroners Service provided an emailed statement Monday, updating the status of its investigation into the deaths.

“The recovery of the deceased is now complete and they are being transported by federal agencies for examination by a coroner to confirm identification,” spokesman Andy Watson said in an email. “Until that process is complete, we will not be able to provide age ranges or hometowns of the decedents.”

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is now investigating. A three-person team arrived Sunday to the uninhabited island, about 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy. The TSB is an independent agency that investigates incidents to improve the safety of air, marine, rail and pipeline transportation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the efforts of Canadian Coast Guard crews who responded to Friday’s crash.

Trudeau, who’s in Vancouver to mark the completion of renovations at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, says his thoughts are with those involved, their families and their friends, and he thanked the members of the coast guard who helped at the scene.

The Kitsilano coast guard base was shut down by the former Conservative government in 2013, then reopened shortly after the Liberal government took power in 2015.

Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, also thanked the rescuers: “This has obviously been a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts are with those involved and with their families, their friends and their communities.”

The pilot of a float plane that crashed on Addenbroke Island Friday has been identified in online tributes.

Pilot Al McBain has been flying with the Seair Seaplanes family for more than 15 years at the time of Friday’s crash, said company spokeswoman Kim Haakstad in an email.

“We are awaiting information from authorities and not in the position to provide any additional information at this time,” she wrote. “This is out of compassion for the families and loved ones of those involved.”

While authorities have not officially identified any of the crash victims, Facebook memorial posts about McBain began circulating Sunday, with one friend calling McBain “truly one of the nicest guys.”

“I guess I’m at peace knowing he passed doing the thing he loved most,” wrote one friend. “Flying.”

Another friend wrote that they had been dreaming about a cruise together later this year.

“He worked hard and loved to fly. He talked about what he wanted to do in the future and the places he still wanted to visit,” the post read.

The memorials came as a team of three Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived Sunday morning to the remote, uninhabited B.C. island, about 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy, to begin their probe into the crash that killed four of nine people on board.

“We’re expecting to begin our work this morning,” said TSB spokesperson Chris Krepski in a call Sunday. “From what I understand, it’s a pretty remote site.”

The Transportation Safety Board is an independent agency that investigates incidents to improve the safety of air, marine, rail and pipeline transportation.

The Cessna 208 Caravan departed from Vancouver and was bound for a fishing lodge in Hakai Pass on Friday before crashing around 11 a.m. Inside, there was one pilot and eight passengers on board.

Of the nine people, four have been confirmed dead. Two others in critical condition were airlifted to Vancouver while three others in serious but stable condition were taken to local hospitals.

Weather data from the Hakai Institute showed intense rain between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Friday, around the time of the crash.

The single-engine aircraft, with capacity for 14 people, was heading to Calvert Island, a popular recreational site that’s home to the Hakai Land and Sea fishing lodge and a Hakai Institute coastal research station. The charter flight was not bound for either destination.

Friends and coworkers are paying tribute to a man believed to be the pilot of a float plane that crashed on a remote island north of Port Hardy on Friday.

The chartered flight took off from the Lower Mainland and was on its way to a remote fishing lodge when it crashed around 11 a.m. on Addenbroke Island.

Four people died and five people survived; two of them have serious injuries while the three are in stable condition.

One of the victims has been identified online as pilot Al McBain, although officials have not formally identified any of the deceased.

"[He was] a very passionate man in aviation. He was a very highly motivated individual," former co-worker Neil Diaz told CTV News. "Very sad that he passed away this way. He lived his life to the fullest."

Many on social media echoed the sentiment that McBain was a passionate and skilled pilot.

"You died doing what you love," wrote Rob Hilditch in a social media post. "Your skills certainly saved the five survivors. You will be missed greatly."

A friend who attended flight school with him in Richmond said McBain comes from a family of pilots.

"His father was a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot stationed in France," Jean-Pierre Riffard said from his home in Milwaukee, Wis. "I guess he wanted to go in the footsteps of his father and he loved flying."

Riffard said typically, pilots who are trying to become commercial airline pilots would start off as a float plane pilot, but McBain has been a float plane pilot for more than 20 years, showing his love for the job.

"He was a really dedicated pilot, very safe, not taking any risks. I don’t understand what happened in this crash … I'm sure the passengers were in the safest hands possible as he had excellent decision making."

Friends said he was a ramp worker for Air Canada and also a float plane captain for Seair Seaplanes.

The company confirms McBain has worked as one of its pilots for more than 15 years, but would not say whether he was on that chartered flight.

"We can confirm Al McBain has been a Seair pilot with the Seair family for several years," the company said in an email to CTV News.

"Out of respect for loved ones and emergency response authorities, Seair is not in the position to comment on the identities or status of any of those involved in the accident. We await confirmation from these authorities and continue to provide all possible information in order to assist during this difficult time." 

The company has not confirmed its pilot was killed in the crash.

"We are deeply saddened by the devastating accident on Friday, and our hearts are heavy," it wrote in an Facebook update Sunday. "We are continuing to work with authorities in any way that is helpful to the investigation."

On Friday, Seair suspended all its flights. It has since resumed its scheduled flights.

Three investigators with the Transportation Safety Board have arrived at the crash site Sunday morning to begin its investigation.

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