News release

Watchlist issue identified in May 2012 floatplane accident near Peachland, British Columbia

Richmond, British Columbia, 9 August 2013 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released today its investigation report (A12P0070) into an accident involving a de Havilland DHC-2 (Beaver) that struck trees and collided with terrain in May 2012, close to the Okanagan Connector (Highway 97C) in British Columbia.

On 13 May 2012, a privately-operated de Havilland amphibious floatplane departed on wheels from the Pitt Meadows Airport for a flight to Okanagan Lake, British Columbia, with the pilot and 3 passengers on board. After 20 minutes on Okanagan Lake where it dropped off 1 passenger, the aircraft departed toward Peachland. While en route, the aircraft struck trees and collided with terrain close to Highway 97C. Most of the aircraft was destroyed by a post-impact fire. The 3 occupants were fatally injured.

The investigation determined that there was no indication of an aircraft system malfunction, no drastic changes in the aircraft’s flight path, and no emergency calls from the pilot to indicate that an in-flight emergency was experienced. The constant ground speed and flight path suggested that the aircraft was under the control of the pilot. Forward visibility was likely hindered because the aircraft was heading towards the sun; therefore, the pilot was likely following the highway looking out the left window. After turning northbound, the pilot’s vision was probably still affected by glare. Being in a shadow, the tree tops were likely not visible until contact was made.

As a result, Transport Canada is planning to provide better information to reduce the risk of collisions with terrain in this mountainous area. This includes a new preferred route with cautions annotated on the aviation chart.

In June 2012, the TSB released its Watchlist identifying the safety issues investigated by the TSB that pose the greatest risk to Canadians. Collisions with land and water occur when an airworthy aircraft under the control of the pilot is inadvertently flown into the ground, water, or an obstacle. In these cases, pilots are unaware of the danger until it is too late. This type of accident often happens when visibility is low, at night, or during poor weather. Such conditions reduce a pilot's situational awareness of surroundings and make it difficult to tell whether the aircraft is too close to the ground. The risk is even greater for small aircraft, which venture further into remote wilderness or into mountainous terrain, but are not required to have the same ground proximity warning equipment as large airliners.

Collisions with land and water are a TSB Watchlist issue. Watch the TSB video!

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation 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