Floatplane makes emergency landing off Masset

  • Sep. 30, 2010 3:00 p.m.

by Alex Rinfret-Five passengers and a pilot were fine after their North Pacific Seaplanes flight from Masset to Prince Rupert Saturday morning (Sept. 25) was forced to land in McIntyre Bay just minutes after taking off. One of the passengers, Kris Leach of Tlell, said the forced emergency landing was so smooth she didn’t realize what was going on at first, and praised the pilot for his calm attitude. “The pilot did a really good job,” she said. “I felt a little lurch but I didn’t really understand what had happened.” Ms Leach said the plane landed in the ocean about 300 yards from the beach by the military installation. The weather was good at the time. The pilot called for help and the passengers were picked up by a Department of Fisheries and Oceans boat and a fishing vessel, the Haida Hurricane. “We didn’t feel unsafe at any time,” she said. “Everybody was really calm. Like the pilot said, it’s a good day when you can have an emergency landing and no one is hurt and the plane is okay.” Ms Leach got the pilot’s autograph once everyone was back at the seaplane base, then she and the other passengers took another flight to Rupert, courtesy of North Pacific. She said she wasn’t at all scared to get on another floatplane, but she did wear her lifejacket the entire trip. According to Doug Yearwood, regional manager for aviation for the Transportation Safety Board, the plane took off successfully from Masset around 11 am. The pilot switched fuel tanks when he reached his planned cruising altitude of 1,000 feet, about three minutes into the flight, and at that point the engine stopped. “He turned around and did a forced landing onto the water,” Mr. Yearwood said. “This was the best course of action for these circumstances.” The Transportation Safety Board is not planning to investigate the incident any further, he said. After talking to the pilot and others, the board suspects that the engine stopped because the fuel was contaminated, he said. The plane was not able to fuel up in the usual way because the power was out in Masset Saturday morning, Mr. Yearwood said, and it’s believed that this caused the fuel problem. The situation was unusual, he said, but it was not dangerous. Every aircraft should be able to land without its engines working, he said. The plane has three fuel tanks and the pilot could have switched tanks, he said, but in this case the plane was too low to do that. “It’s a good news story, it all worked well,” he said. “We’re happy that everyone was okay.” Four of the passengers were rescued by Masset fishery officers Beth Guptill and John Currie in a rigid hull inflatable boat and taken back to Masset, while the fifth was rescued by a family member in a fishing boat, said Masset RCMP Sgt. Grant MacDonald. The pilot flew the plane, a DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver, back to Masset.