After a take-off run of approximately one mile, the aircraft became airborne near the end of the lake. It struck tree tops on the shore and continued to fly over rising ground until it struck trees on a ridge 1,300 feet from the lake. The aircraft crashed inverted and was destroyed by fire. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any malfunction of the engine, airframe or controls. It was estimated that the aircraft was overloaded by approximately 200 lbs.
Between 1976 and 1990, there were 1,432 seaplane accidents in Canada. During this period, 452 people died in 234 seaplane accidents. Figure 1 shows the seaplane accident experience by year.
Since there is no requirement for seaplane operators to report the number of hours flown, the accident rate (number of accidents per one hundred thousand hours) is unknown. Seaplanes account for 19% of the Canadian aircraft fleet and 18% of the total number of accidents. However, in most parts of Canada, seaplanes operate only about six months of the year. Thus, the number of seaplane accidents would appear to be disproportionately high. Unfortunately, different annual utilization rates for landplanes and seaplanes are unknown.
It is observed, however, that aeroplanes which are most frequently float equipped, such as Piper Cub "derivatives" (J3, PA11, PA12, PA14, PA18, PA20, PA22), Cessna 172, Cessna 180, Cessna 206, Beaver, and Otter, have more fatal accidents on floats than on wheels. When these aeroplanes are on wheels, 10% of the accidents are fatal, but when on floats, 17% are fatal.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) conducted an examination of these 1,432 seaplane accidents in order to identify areas of seaplane operations where safety deficiencies might exist and which might require further study.
For analysis purposes, accident investigation agencies around the world, including the TSB and its predecessors, use the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Accident/Incident Data Reporting (ADREP) system. Under ADREP, accidents are assigned standardized contributing factors4. During the initial examination of the seaplane accidents, it appeared that contributing factors which could be associated with the pilots' levels of skills, abilities, and knowledge had been cited in a significant number of cases. Contributing factors such as "improper operation of...," "pilot selected unsuitable area," "operation beyond ability," "pilot failed to...(abort take-off, maintain control, follow procedures)," and "improper decisions" were frequently cited.
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