All float plane doors and windows should be modified to come off easily after a crash, the Transportation Safety Board is recommending in its report into the deadly float plane crash on Saturna Island, B.C., more than a year ago.
The report recommends the Department of Transportation change regulations to require the installation of pop-off doors and windows on all new and existing commercial seaplanes.
It also recommends that all passengers be required to wear devices, such as inflatable life vests, that would provide flotation after they exit the plane in an emergency.
The recommendations are not binding and would have to be adopted by the Department of Transportation.
The report, released Thursday morning in Vancouver, examined the Nov. 2009 fatal accident in Lyall Harbour, B.C.
Investigators found the single-engine de Havilland Beaver operated by Richmond-based Seair Seaplanes experienced an aerodynamic stall before crashing into the water.
The pilot and a female passenger managed to escape the plane, but six passengers were trapped in the sinking aircraft. Divers later recovered their bodies, along with the plane.
Focus on increasing survival
The TSB's investigation focused on increasing the chances of survival after a crash, according to board chair Wendy Tadros.
"For many on the British Columbia coast, float planes are a part of the daily commute. But float plane travel is not without its risks and there have been far too many accidents," she said in a statement released on Thursday morning.
"We want to give passengers every chance to get out quickly and stay afloat until help arrives," said Tadros.
"We are calling for doors and windows that come off easily after a crash and for everyone to wear a personal flotation device. These two recommendations are simple in concept — common sense really," she said.
In Canada, from 1989 to 2010, 76 people have died in 109 float plane crashes. In recent history, 15 have died along the B.C. coast, according to the TSB.