Seaplane operators discuss on-board life jackets

Members of the West Coast Seaplane Association met on May 18 and one topic of discussion was the use of life jackets stowed under the seat, and it is something that those in attendance didn't view favourably.

Members of the West Coast Seaplane Association  met on May 18 and one topic of discussion was the use of life jackets stowed under the seat, and it is something that those in attendance didn’t view favourably.

After a discussion among the members, which focussed on “the shortfalls and failings” of the stored lifejacket system, members concluded that they are not effective. Already a number of seaplane operators involved in the association are now providing their passengers with personal floatation devices (PFD’s) which are worn onboard the aircraft while another has put in a formal request to Transport Canada to have the old style life jackets removed from the planes. However that request was made last year and the operator in question has not heard back from the government.

Gene Storey, manager of North Pacific Seaplanes, says the lifejackets themselves are not the problem and that there are other solutions for safety.

“The issue is in the event a life vest or jacket is inflated in the confined area of the seaplane cabin the exits would be blocked and if the cabin is submerged obviously the passenger would be unable to escape,” he explained.

“The approach we have taken is to install the door windows which can be quickly ejected as well as the installation of an advanced door handle system for improved access to passengers.”

As well as examining the use of flotation devices in the seaplane, members concluded that satellite tracking of aircraft is an available resource that definitely improves the level of safety, that changes to the webcam system at lighthouses are needed to make them more usable and that the group should pursue changes to the Environment Canada automated weather stations, as they are often offline for long periods of time.

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