Float plane makes emergency landing

A Seair Beaver DHC2 float plane was forced to make an emergency landing following an in-flight incident on Monday afternoon.

On June 24 at approximately 1:40 p.m., Sunshine Coast RCMP and Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) were dispatched to a float plane floating powerless in Halfmoon Bay.

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According to RCMP, the Vancouver-bound plane from Toba Inlet, north of Powell River, was forced to make an emergency landing in Halfmoon Bay after the plane allegedly lost its propeller while in-flight.

Both pontoons were damaged as a result of being struck by the propeller, however the float plane was able to stay afloat upon landing. The pilot and three passengers were not injured as a result of the incident. The float plane was safely towed ashore by RCMSAR and two civilian operated vessels.

"Losing a propeller is certainly an uncommon occurrence," said Cpl. Steve Chubey, media spokesperson for the Coast RCMP detachment. "Luckily, the pontoons have several compartments, which contributed to the sea plane staying afloat."

The incident has been turned over to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada for investigation.

Bill Yearwood, regional manager for aviation with the TSB said their investigation will run on cooperation with the company.

"We have had an opportunity to look at photographs. The damage to the prop is consistent with the engine stopping and the propeller continuing," said Yearwood. "The focus of the investigation is to determine how the engine stopped resulting in the propeller falling off. We're gathering data now. I don't expect this to be a full-blown investigation, but if we do see some systematic problem, then we will do more."Yearwood said this type of accident is rare.

"There have been two other cases in this region in the last 15 years, but none involving this type of aircraft," he said. "The emergency was carried out apparently textbook. The circumstances were good and that's what we all hope for."

Angus Minard, who works for Blackfish Marine in Vancouver, was on the Sunshine Coast visiting his parents who live in Secret Cove when they saw the Coast Guard boats in the water.

"We noticed the three Coast Guard boats following in the propless plane, so went over to take a look. It is quite a shocking thing to see," he said. "Thank God everyone was OK."

Peter Clarke, Seair president and owner, said the pilot of the aircraft didn't want to be interviewed.

"He was just doing his job, he says," Clarke said. "He's trained to handle situations like that. He did all safety precautions before the flight, during the flight and after the flight."

The incident seems to have been caused by a propeller problem, Clarke also said.

"The metal was no good there in that section of the aircraft," he said.

Everything worked out, Clarke added, and there were no injuries.

"We'll be investigating why that metal part broke," he said.

Toba Montrose General Partnership, a subsidiary of Alterra Power Corporation, chartered the plane, said Jay Sutton, Alterra's vice president of hydro projects. It was carrying contractors and engineers who were working on repairs from a rockslide last December that damaged the penstock on the Montrose run-of-river facility.

"I can imagine it was frightening, but none of them actually realized the propeller was off until they landed, because the engine was still running," Sutton said. "Until they landed on the water, even the pilot didn't know that."

There was violent shaking on the aircraft when the propeller came off, Sutton added. "They lost their forward momentum, so he was able to glide down and land the plane safely."

It was fortunate that the incident turned out the way it did, he said.

- With files from Laura Walz/Powell River Peak

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