Sealand Aviation Blog

Grim facts, TSB recommendations and the new DHC-2 windows and door handles

 The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has just released their report on the November, 2009 crash of a DHC-2 at Saturna Island, BC.  Their findings state:

"Over the last 20 years, some 70% of fatalities in aircraft that crashed and sank in water were from drowning.

Many TSB investigations found that the occupants were conscious and able to move around the cabin before they drowned. In fact, 50% of people who survive a crash cannot exit the aircraft and drown.

It has been shown that those inside a sinking aircraft either do not have enough time to locate and don a life vest or overlook doing so. Of those who do not survive following escape, 86% drown.


The Department of Transport require that all new and existing commercial seaplanes be fitted with regular and emergency exits that allow rapid egress following a survivable collision with water.

The Department of Transport require that occupants of commercial seaplanes wear a device that provides personal flotation following emergency egress.

The full Report is available at

Viking Air has developed a pop-out window and a new door handle to better allow passengers to exit a DHC-2 in an emergency.    

 The new door handle is actually two: the existing single latch handle (rotating style) at the rear of the door is replaced by one pull style latch handle at the same location and a second pull style latch handle in the forward portion of the door. This allows passengers in the forward and rear cabin seats to open the cabin doors in an emergency.  We installed some in C-FASA.  They are also shown in the Video from A Channel attached below.

We can order and install the windows and door handles for you.

Some of the BC floatplane operators, such as Air Cab and Bella Coola Air are supplying user-friendly inflatable life jackets to their customers to wear. The customers like them. We recommend them.  In their report, TSB says: 

  Some operators, notably Transport Canada with its fleet of aircraft, require those in aircraft taking off or landing on water to wear approved life vests. Such a requirement eliminates the need for occupants to search for their life vest and, after they escape from the aircraft, the life vest is ready for use. Without a personal flotation device, and in the absence of other rescue capabilities, there is higher risk that survivors of water impact would drown.

The TSB has previously recommended (A94-07) that seaplane occupants be required to wear personal flotation devices during flight. A number of objections to this solution have been raised by the regulator and industry, including emergency inflation before egress hampering the wearer and impeding the egress of others, sizing issues, especially over thick outer clothing, and discomfort. These objections may have some validity when considering traditional life vest models. Recent developments in personal flotation device design include such things as manually-inflated belt packs, which are donned only after inflation. When combined with an appropriate and well-understood passenger briefing, such devices would effectively counter those objections.



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