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Seaplane sinks at new Vancouver terminal

A B.C. seaplane company is investigating after one of its planes partially sank at a new terminal in downtown Vancouver Friday night.
Officials say the seaplane was found partially submerged Saturday morning. (Harbour Air)

A B.C. seaplane company is investigating after one of its planes partially sank at a new terminal in downtown Vancouver Friday night.

The Harbour Air-owned single-engine Otter seaplane was loaded with barrels of water to simulate passengers to test the facility's safety and sustainability for seaplane use as part of a review engineered by PavCo, the provincial agency that oversees the terminal.

Officials say the plane was found half-submerged in the Vancouver harbour early Saturday morning.

"We have had long-standing concerns about the design, safety and exposure of the VHFC (Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre) terminal to waves and wakes," said Greg McDougall, CEO of Harbour Air/Westcoast 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 one was on board the plane at the time.

Harbour Air is currently operating out of a temporary facility in Coal Harbour, to the west of the VHFC terminal.

The new $18.5-million terminal has faced controversy since it opened earlier this year. Only two airlines moved to the terminal, while Harbour Air — the province's largest seaplane operator — has refused to land at the new facility because of safety concerns and increased fees.