Vancouver harbour plane crash sparks safety concerns for boaters

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is reminding boaters to be extra vigilant after a seaplane and boat collided in Coal Harbour over the weekend. Angela Bower speaks to a boating expert on how to stay safe.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is reminding boaters to be extra vigilant after a seaplane collided with a boat in Coal Harbour over the weekend.

Just before 1 p.m. Saturday, a Harbour Air seaplane collided with a pleasure craft boat just as the plane was attempting to take off. There were several people on both the plane and the boat. While the plane ultimately sank in the harbour, nobody aboard was injured.

The passengers of the boat suffered injuries, officials say. Although, the severity of the injuries and number of people affected are unclear.

Vancouver’s Harbour Master, Sean Baxter says Area Alpha — the site of the crash — is both an established navigational route for sea vessels, including recreational boats, and for ski planes to take off and land.

“We advise people to follow the ‘look, listen, and act’ principle,” said Baxter.

“Be aware of your surroundings. It’s important for [recreational] boats to yield to deep sea vessels, as well as seaplanes.”

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) says it is working with its aircraft recovery team to determine how to proceed. As well, it is working with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, Nav Canada, local police, and Harbour Air to investigate the incident.

The TSB says it began conducting witness interviews Sunday.

“We will take the recommendations presented by the TSB and address any gaps within our own practices and procedures,” said Baxter.

Bruce Hayne, executive director of the Boating BC Association says the collision over the weekend is proof that an accident can happen any second.

He recommends all boaters take a training course and obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator card as a safety precaution.

“While it’s not mandatory, we think it’s certainly the best idea that everybody has at least their Pleasure Craft Operator card,” said Hayne.

The TSB tells CityNews they have recovered the plane, and in the coming days, the investigation team will attend the aircraft and examine the wreckage.

—With files from Emma Crawford.

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