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TSB releases report into fatal Vancouver Island floatplane crash

The TSB published this photo of the plane that crashed, which it said was provided to it by a "third party." (TSB) The TSB published this photo of the plane that crashed, which it said was provided to it by a "third party." (TSB)

A floatplane crash that killed two people on the west coast of Vancouver Island last summer was caused by a collision with a boat wake or an object in the water, according to an investigation report published by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada Wednesday. 

The privately registered Quest Kodiak 100 plane was attempting to land in the Tahsis Inlet on the afternoon of June 20, 2023, when the collision with something on the surface of the water caused it to bounce to a height of approximately 30 feet and bank to the right, according to the TSB report.

The pilot attempted a "go-around," but during the initial climb necessary for the manoeuvre, the aircraft "contacted trees" and then crashed.

The TSB report indicates investigators were unable to determine what the plane's left float collided with that caused the aborted landing.

According to the TSB, the aircraft departed Masset Airport in Haida Gwaii around 11:20 a.m. and was headed to Tofino/Long Beach Airport on the west coast of Vancouver Island, though this turned out not to be the ultimate destination.

Partway through the flight, around 12:45 p.m., the pilot contacted air traffic control to cancel the "instrument flight rules" flight plan, the TSB report reads. The flight continued under "visual flight rules," making its way toward the final destination, which was a cabin on the Tahsis Narrows approximately 60 nautical miles northwest of the Tofino airport.

The TSB published this map of the plane's flight path leading up to the crash. (TSB)

The crash occurred shortly before 1:40 p.m., according to the TSB.

The pilot and one passenger died, while two other passengers were injured. The TSB report indicates one suffered serious injuries, while the other's injuries were "minor."

The aircraft was destroyed in the crash and post-impact fire.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline and rail transportation occurrences.

The purpose of its report is to improve transportation safety, not to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

The Civil Aircraft Register Database shows the downed plane was registered to a Cameron Robinson in Sherwood Park Alberta. It says Quest Aircraft Company manufactured the airplane in 2009.

"The investigation did not identify any issues related to the aircraft’s equipment or maintenance that would have prevented it from operating normally during the occurrence flight," the TSB report reads.

According to the TSB, the pilot held a valid licence that was endorsed for both night and visual-flight-rules flying. He had accumulated approximately 1,200 total flight hours, including 250 flight hours on amphibious aircraft, with about half of the landings on water.

"Most of the pilot’s water-based takeoff and landing experience occurred on lakes rather than the ocean," the report reads. "The pilot had landed once before at this location, five days before the occurrence."

The report notes that investigators found "no indication that the pilot’s performance was affected by medical or physiological factors."

While weather conditions for the time and location of the crash were not available, the TSB report notes that it's possible that "wind shear" or downdrafts were present due to the mountainous terrain.

The report concludes with the following "safety message":

"It is important that, before landing, floatplane pilots evaluate their intended landing site for hazards. This includes assessing the area for water surface conditions and potential wind shear and downdrafts; ensuring that both the approach and departure paths are free of obstructions; and considering options in the event of a go-around." Top Stories

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