CBC Dings Transport Canada On Failing To Act

Dings Transport CanadaCanadian Press Image of Seair Beaver Submerged

CBC Dings Transport Canada On Failing To Act

Opinion Editorial written by Jason J. Baker – Deadly Seaplane accidents are quite rare, but in a recent investigative piece CBC in Canada wandered into conspiracy land by suggesting Transport Canada to be failing to act, by not creating regulations forcing seaplane operators to equip their passengers with life-vests. The article seems to have a bit of a spin, leaving readers wondering if the stakeholders rejections may be entirely based on greediness.

Image: Screenshot CBC – Click to get to Article

The article digs into the aftermath of a Seair Beaver accident in 2009, which allowed only two of the eight occupants of the plane to escape and survive. Over the years some 70% of fatalities in aircraft that crashed in water were from drowning due to difficulties with safe egress. In fact, 50% of people who survive the crash and remain mobile within the aircraft cabin after impact end up drowning. That’s bad odds to start with, one may think.

Image: Courtesy of Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives (baaa-acro.com)

Logically, TSB suggested the installation of “quick egress doors and windows”. An opportunity jumped on by Seair and Harbour Air who stepped forward and voluntarily upgraded their seaplane fleets. However, the Transport Security Board also suggested to mandate the wearing of personal flotation devices, which the industry seems to be hesitant to comply with. Premature inflation of a PFD in the cabin spells disaster and unit lifetimes may be greatly affected by constant donning and removal.

Within the seaplane industry it seems widely accepted knowledge that properly briefed passengers and pilots who complete frequent egress training appear to be the most promising recipe to come out of an upset situation with a seaplane. Stressing and scaring passengers out of their mind prior to flight isn’t anyone’s favorite duty, however being briefed on how to get out is (or should be) standard operating procedure whenever we carry passengers.

Image: Graphic showing status of exits in relation to passengers. Source: TSB Accident Report

What the consumer news media likes to ignore is, that – in the case of an upset with a seaplane – things happen terribly quickly. Look around during your next commercial flight. Passengers on airplanes often completely ignore the safety instructions while snapping pictures or scrolling through the latest on social media.

Meanwhile, even highly experienced pilots report feeling completely consumed by panic and disorientation or shock after an upset has happened. Crashing isn’t something we can really practice in an airplane, is it? Still, like clockwork, pilots who have completed egress training classes speak highly of the experience and find the money well invested. Most realize that homo sapient just won’t rise to occasion by magically turning into a MacGiver – but instead we tend to be falling back on trained reaction patterns which have been practiced over and over. Why not do this in a pool, with experienced instructors and in a controlled setting?

Verbal and visual instructions as well as demonstrations certainly help, but providing a safe and quick way out of the cabin, as well as crew training is of high importance. That’s difficult to do with aircraft which were designed to fly and float, but not to withstand high velocity impact which – in general – isn’t followed by the the crumpling- and popping-door behavior of automobiles.

Jason Baker works as a freelance writer, marketing & advertising consultant and translator. He holds a commercial pilot certificate (SEL/SES/MEL), instrument rating as well as advanced & instrument ground instructor certificates. Jason is the owner & managing editor of Seaplanemagazine.com. For more information about consulting services offered, click on Consulting & Services. Advertising spots for 2019 are being offered now. If your company wishes to appear here in 2019, the time to get in touch is now.

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