British Columbia

Alaska floatplane crash investigators call in Canadian, Australian experts

A member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board says both of the planes involved in a mid-air collision on Monday were built in Canada.

Preliminary report expected in 2 weeks, U.S. official says

A coast guard boat searches for survivors in George Inlet near Ketchikan on Monday. The bodies of the two missing people were found Tuesday, officials said. (Courtesy photo from Ryan Sinkey/U.S. Coast Guard )

Canadian and Australian experts will assist the investigation into Monday's deadly collision of two float planes in southern Alaska.

Jennifer Homendy, a member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, said the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau would be involved in the investigation into the mid-air collision near Ketchikan, Alaska.

The crash killed six people: four Americans, one Australian and one Canadian. Ten others were injured.

Homendy said the Canadian and Australian experts would provide technical advice to investigators but would not officially be part of the investigation.

"They will have access to the facts around the collision," Homendy said. "We have a lot of work to do."

Officials said earlier that both planes involved in Monday's crash were built in Canada: a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver with five people aboard, and a de Havilland Otter DHC-3 with 11 on board.

She explained that if an American plane was involved in a crash in another country, U.S. officials would provide advice to that country's investigators.

B.C. company to assist

Homenday said Canada's adviser would come from Viking Air, a company based in Sidney, B.C.

Viking's website prominently advertises its experience and familiarity with de Havilland aircraft.

Emergency response crews transport an injured passenger to an ambulance at the George Inlet Lodge docks in Ketchikan, Alaska. The passenger was from one of two float planes reported down in George Inlet early Monday afternoon and was dropped off by a U.S. Coast Guard 45-foot response boat. (Dustin Safranek/Ketchikan Daily News via AP)

CEO David Curtis said, since 2006, his company has owned the planes' design and is considered to be the manufacturer. The planes involved in the crash were built in Ontario.

He explained that his company's representative will be looking at the airworthiness of the planes.

He said there's no reason to be concerned about Beaver or Otter planes, which are widely used.

"It's just, obviously, an unfortunate, tragic accident," Curtis said. "Just look at Vancouver harbour. There's Beavers and Otters flying there every day. ... They're very popular in Alaska as well."

Preliminary report in 2 weeks

Homendy provided a few other details on the investigations second day.

She presented reporters with a graphic showing preliminary flight tracking data for both planes that showed where they collided.

Jennifer Homendy of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board presents a graphic of preliminary flight tracking data that shows the paths of the two floatplanes before the collided at the point the two lines meet. The line angled toward the top of the screen shows the flight path of the Taquan Air plane. The Mountain Air plane is closer to the bottom. (CBC)

Investigators, she added, have interviewed the surviving pilot, an employee of Taquan Air, along with some other passengers.

Wednesday's work, however, was largely focused on recovering the downed planes.

The Taquan Air plane landed closer to shore — only about 15 metres away — and that craft has been removed by barge.

The other plane, operated by Mountain Air, created a "much larger" debris field in the water. She added some debris from one of the planes was found some distance away on a mountain.

Homendy said a preliminary report into the incident was expected in approximately two weeks.

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