Harbour Air Seaplanes

Media Advisory

Media Advisory

Harbour Air Looks For Answers To Seaplane Partial Sinking At Proposed Convention Centre Dock

VANCOUVER — Harbour Air is investigating the overnight sinking of one of its aircraft at the Vancouver Harbour Flight Center (VHFC), the seaplane dock that has been built on the north-end of the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Harbour Air docked a $1.6 million seaplane at the VHFC dock to test the facility’s safety and suitability for seaplane use. The DeHavilland single Otter, fully serviced before being place at the VHFC dock, was found in the early morning half-submerged in Vancouver Harbour.

“We have had long-standing concerns about the design, safety and exposure of the VHFC terminal to waves and wakes,” said Greg McDougall, CEO of Harbour Air. “This morning, we were told that the aircraft we were asked to place at the dock was sinking. In our 30-year history of operating out of Vancouver Harbour, we have never had an aircraft sink at our docks. We will be working with investigators to determine the cause of this incident.”

The aircraft had been taken out of service by Harbour Air, and placed at the VHFC docks to facilitate the testing of the new floatplane facility. No passengers or personnel were on board the aircraft at the time of the incident.

Harbour Air currently operates out of a temporary facility in Coal Harbour, to the west of the VHFC terminal. The same aircraft was docked at Harbour Air’s facility for more than two days before the tests, under near identical weather conditions. There were no incidents and the aircraft was sound.

The testing of the VHFC dock is being carried out by the engineering firm Ausenco-Sandwell. Harbour Air will continue to cooperate with this third-party assessment of the VHFC docks.

Saturday’s incident was preceded by another incident on the evening of Nov. 3, when the ropes holding the same Otter aircraft snapped, an incident that may have been caused by wave or wake action.

“Our maintenance personnel are investigating the incident, to determine the cause of the aircraft sinking,” said McDougall. “In the first two days we have placed an aircraft at this new facility, for testing, we have had two serious incidents. We believe rigorous testing of the VHFC seaplane docks should continue to determine its suitability for use.”

Harbour Air/Westcoast Air is the world’s largest seaplane airline. It flies more than 400,000 passengers annually, with a fleet of 50 aircraft that service seven B.C. communities, including downtown Vancouver’s Coal Harbour.

Further Information:

Greg McDougall/CEO
Harbour Air Group

Meredith Moll
Harbour Air Group