Monday, November 17, 2008

Pacific Coastal Airlines Grumman Goose crash in British Columbia

Pacific Coastal AirlinesSeven lives were lost yesterday, November 16, 2008, when a Grumman G-21 Goose aircraft operated by Canadian carrier Pacific Coastal Airlines crashed in British Columbia. Those who perished included the pilot and six passengers. A seventh passenger was injured but survived. He was rescued and transported to a hospital where he is being treated for burns and other injuries. The aircraft was completely destroyed.

According to Pacific Coastal Airlines, the accident aircraft was operating as a charter flight for Peter Kiewit Sons Co. and Plutonic Power Corporation. At approximately 10:15 AM local time, the flight departed Vancouver South Terminal with seven passengers and one pilot on board, bound for the Toba Montrose run-of-river hydroelectric project, north of Powell River, British Columbia. The aircraft crashed into a hillside on Thormanby Island, off the coast of British Columbia, about 50 kms. northwest of Vancouver. The airline confirmed seven fatalities and one survivor, but did not release any names.

News reports say that the accident occurred shortly after 10:30 AM local time. The aircraft apparently broke up on impact. The survivor told rescuers that the wreckage burst into flames shortly after he escaped. Though injured, the survivor was able to make his way down the hillside to a beach, where he was rescued by a Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel.

The cause of the accident is unknown at this time. A team from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada reached the accident site this morning to begin their investigation.

An article about the crash on quoted Spencer Smith, a spokesman for Pacific Coastal Airlines, who said that they were grounding all sea planes until staff could be debriefed about the accident.
"This is a pretty emotional time for everybody right now and the trauma of this is pretty significant, so we want to make sure everyone is OK and in a comfortable position to get into an airplane again," he said.

Smith said the pilot was extremely experienced and while the weather was low visibility it wasn't considered unsafe to fly.
Condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of those who perished in this accident. Best wishes to the survivor for a full and speedy recovery.

UPDATE Nov. 19, 2008: The names of the pilot and passengers who were on board the Pacific Coastal Airlines Grumman Goose that crashed at Thormanby Island, BC, have been made public. The pilot has been identified as Peter McLeod, 54.

Pacific Coastal Airlines announced that float plane operations had resumed this morning. The carrier had voluntarily suspended float plane operations immediately after the accident.