Seaplane vessel collision, Vancouver Harbour

The friendliest place on the web for anyone who enjoys boating.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.
Reminds me of all the driver safety ads from days gone by.

Yeah, you may be in the "right", dead right.
 
Yes! It is. Thanks! I note this statement by the author: “And, as far as maritime law is concerned, a floatplane is a watercraft unless it’s flying. It’s governed by maritime rules when it’s on the water.”

Jim
And exactly what is the definition of flying? Is it touching or not touching water? Is it only out of ground affect? Don’t you just love the gray areas.
 
One of the comments was from someone who flies those planes and he said the visibility is actually OK at all times.
I flew Beavers too. There is zero visibility on the take off roll unlike what that poster apparently said and somewhat more so when you push the nose forward to get on the step. But you’re only on about 2’ of the float then. I believe there were 5 in the plant I think I heard so that’s a lot of weight in back which moves the CG further aft once again making it plow (nose up) even longer.

We are taught to do a clearing turn first or at least a few S turns to get good visibility to check for traffic. The issue is that the commercial operators like Harbour are on a tight schedule and may just take off straight without S turns. Having the boat on the right just makes it more imperative as no way to see that on the slide.
 
Thanks NS..... good link as it answered many questions.

I find it mentally incredible and totally morally reprehensible to have such a complex system of rules and tech but leave out a key component of risk management.

Every pilot knows that takeoff is often the most critical part of an aircraft flight and yet here is a situation where 2 moving objects are not under the same control at this critical moment. How can anyone think this is different than a regular airport where there would be no control over taxiing aircraft? 2 solution paths....maintain absolute tower control or separate traffic where "taxiing" objects CAN'T cross the active runway. Even near misses at a regular airport are a big deal..... imagine if this was a collision between an airplane and say a fuel truck killing hundreds at an airport?

Just because it rarely happens is never the right answer when the solution may not be all that hard or expensive. The "management" of this operation was lucky this time as no one died. Otherwise I could easily see a lot of finger pointing and in my opinion not so much at either the pilot or boater.

(PS - yes I know there are uncontrolled airfields out there...operated out of many as a USCG pilots including flying VERY low around many a busy airport/harbor area.... but no uncontrolled field I ever visited was as busy as this and busy harbor areas probably never had that much floatplane traffic)
 
Last edited:
Just curious... If a seaplane has to follow maritime regulations when on the water, does the pilot of a commercial seaplane also need a CG master's ticket? I know that's how it works with duck boats; they need a bus driver license and a master's ticket.
 
Just curious... If a seaplane has to follow maritime regulations when on the water, does the pilot of a commercial seaplane also need a CG master's ticket? I know that's how it works with duck boats; they need a bus driver license and a master's ticket.
My guess is no....couldn't find anything on the net quickly.

So little boating info is required to operate a float/seaplane in the mere minutes of a plane operating like a boat, the USCG probably accepts the FAA seaplane rating as an alternative.
 
There is now an audio on the news, so we know that the Beaver was told by the tower to watch for a West bound boat, just before takeoff.
According to that audio, the track of the boat was Westbound and the Beaver was taking off to the Northwest. Visibility between the two was hampered, for the Beaver, by the big Radial engine up front, for the boat, by the angle, with the plane being behind the helmsperson's shoulder. The boat engine noise would have cancelled out the noise of the Beaver.
The boat was "stand on" but if neither was aware of the other before the collision, that counts for nothing.
There is a 5 knot speed zone there too, inside a line from Brockton point to the Burnaby Shoal marker, the speed zone includes the Seaplane Landing area, but of course the seaplanes land and take off at considerably higher speeds. And no, that speed zone is not observed by many, only west of the Seaplane landing area does the wash from boats exceeding 5 knots matter, so only there have I heard of any enforcement whatsoever of the speed limit. Heck, even the VRC racing shells go faster in their practice lanes.
From the video, the boat looks to be exceeding 5 knots, though I doubt that would have made a difference.
In the latest news report on Global, a similar collision about 25 years before resulted in a "Neither party to blame" TSB conclusion.
2 passengers on the boat were hospitalized, all on the plane escaped unhurt.
I have flown HA Beavers in Coal Harbour many times, including sitting in the rt front. Never saw any indication of a VHF Radio. During takeoff the pilot is on the tower frequency. If the pilot didn't see the boat before starting takeoff, visibility would only get worse as the plane accelerated, with the radial engine obscuring more and more of what was directly in front.
That "Seaplane Landing" area shown on the chart above, is also a Cruise Ship backing zone and the only way to go east from Coal Harbour in a pleasure craft moored west of the Seaplane dock, so a very busy place.
The last time I flew in, at 6:15 PM April 30, 2024, there were 2 cruise ships and some pleasure craft in that area and the Harbour Air Otter had to land in the farthest west corner of that area. Of course getting a bird's eye view while landing is far better than the view this pilot would have had while taking off.
 
Last edited:
Not sure about the boats engine drowning out the planes engine. The boat looked as if it had a black (probably Merc) outboard ad the boat didn't appear on plane suggesting the engine may have been pretty quiet compared to a screaming radial on the aircraft trying to takeoff.
 
This thread reminds me of another TF thread, "Autonomous marine travel."
While ANY responsible person at an open helm would consider a seaplane bearing down, what about juvenile AI controlled boats?

A seaplane low on fuel must move up in 'right of way' for landing I should also think. ;)
 
This thread reminds me of another TF thread, "Autonomous marine travel."
While ANY responsible person at an open helm would consider a seaplane bearing down, what about juvenile AI controlled boats?

A seaplane low on fuel must move up in 'right of way' for landing I should also think. ;)
No, there is no maritime application of low fuel priority for landing of a seaplane rising to the "stand on vessel"...except at the discretion of the pilot who will take the necessary chances. But just like a takeoff, a boat operator has to be out of their mind to cut in front of something that is probably moving around a100 knots with limited maneuverability.

As far as autonomous boats....most likely in this case one or several sensors may have prevented the boat from staying its course contributing to the collision.
 
Can keep on guessing until we hear from the pilot. As I review the various video I am reminded of a blind spot in most cars.
A pilot in the left seat with reduced visibility, that low to the water boat appears to me to be in constant blind spot once the plane powers up.
I still cannot understand how four people in the boat did not see a plane approaching. The there were 5 passengers in the plane. Does not appear that 10 sets of eyes noticed a crash about to occur.
 
The blind spot obscuring the driver’s vision in a car does not exonerate them from being responsible for an accident. I cannot see how it would exonerate the pilot of responsibility in this case. Same with the vessel operator—“I didn’t see the plane”.

Jim
 
Can keep on guessing until we hear from the pilot. As I review the various video I am reminded of a blind spot in most cars.
A pilot in the left seat with reduced visibility, that low to the water boat appears to me to be in constant blind spot once the plane powers up.
I still cannot understand how four people in the boat did not see a plane approaching. The there were 5 passengers in the plane. Does not appear that 10 sets of eyes noticed a crash about to occur.
Nor how the pilot failed to locate the boat before starting his takeoff, and proceed in a way clear of it. Especially since he was told it was there by the tower. As Jim put it, lots of peanut butter to go around on this one. Both parties failed pretty completely in their duties.
 
Still a lot of holes to fully weigh who was doing what and why they both missed each other's proximity.

May come out as simply as a couple of boneheads driving or there could be more to the story.
 
The blind spot obscuring the driver’s vision in a car does not exonerate them from being responsible for an accident. I cannot see how it would exonerate the pilot of responsibility in this case. Same with the vessel operator—“I didn’t see the plane”.

Jim
Exactly. A blind spot is not an excuse, it's something to be compensated for. Doing so is part of the operator's job, whether a car, boat, or plane. And more specifically, it's not a boat's job to be aware of and compensate for the plane's blind spot, nor the plane's job to be aware of and compensate for the boat's blind spot. Being aware of someone elses blind spot is good, and a nice extra precaution, but can't be relied on. How many boaters know that a Beaver sea plane has a blind spot because of its radial engine? How many boaters even know what a Beaver or a radial engine are?
 
Actually, according to the COLREGS/NAVRULES it is ALWAYS both parties to avoid a collision. No, as posted before...heck the boater probably wasn't even aware of most of the COLREGS (just remembered this didn't happen under the jurisdiction of NAVRULES).

But as some point (extremis), both parties should be following steps to avoid a collision whether there are reasons or excuses, etc.

I just have a lot more sympathy (probably wouldn't help in court) for the pilot versus the guy in the boat. Weighing all the responsibilities and duties the pilot was under and the near impossibility of altering the situation safely at some point during takeoff...the boater has little excuse unless I hear a story I have never heard before.

At some point during takeoff, every pilot has seconds surrounding the go/no go decision of spiking stress. Never happened to me on a boat, sure plenty of tough decisions, but never that critical or in the wide open, perfect conditions like this boater had. It's like when the light turns yellow and you are driving something big and heavy down a steep slope with the red light coming up right at the bottom.....never a fun decision to keep going or try and stop...but not sure you will make it.
 
One question - I don't think a designated landing area changes any of the rules, and is just cautionary. Is that correct?
That's my understanding. It's advisory and boats are permitted to transit through. Good article in the Vancouver Sun about it. There is a paywall. From the article:

"Though boaters are legally permitted to go within the takeoff and landing zone, port authorities ask boaters to keep clear because of the heightened risk associated with aircraft traffic, said Sean Baxter, acting director of marine operations at the Port of Vancouver. The most advisable course of action is to avoid this area altogether,” he said."


-tozz
 
Possibly due to the vessels being Canadian?
Just to be technical, it’s not that the vessels were Canadian, it’s that the incident occurred in Canada.
 
"Though boaters are legally permitted to go within the takeoff and landing zone, port authorities ask boaters to keep clear because of the heightened risk associated with aircraft traffic, said Sean Baxter, acting director of marine operations at the Port of Vancouver. The most advisable course of action is to avoid this area altogether,” he said.
But impossible if your home port is inside of that zone.

I’m sure ultimately there will be recommendations. The histories of Rowing Club (1986) and the Royal Van Yacht Club (1903) predate floatplane usage of the area.

Jim
 
Last edited:
But impossible if your home port is inside of that zone.

I’m sure ultimately there will be recommendations. The histories of Rowing Club and the Royal Van Yacht Club almost certainly predate floatplane uses age of the area.

Jim
Agreed. We go through it to get to Coal Harbor. In fact we will be there in July. But I just noticed something interesting. You posted a screenshot of your charts showing the landing area as a box tilted a bit and leaving no area to get around the landing area. On multiple chart apps I see more of a trapezoid shape with room to the south. But of course you have to travel right across the seaplane facility anyway so yes....it's impossible to avoid!

-tozz
 

Attachments

  • Screenshot 2024-06-11 at 2.21.32 PM.png
    Screenshot 2024-06-11 at 2.21.32 PM.png
    602.4 KB · Views: 28
Yes. That might be because the CHS charts on my iPad are older (Edit: a 2015 revision). I will check my Coastal Explorer.

Jim

Edit: interesting. It has been redrawn. This one is current.

IMG_7501.jpeg
 
Last edited:
I've stayed at the Rowing Club several times (Oh Canada!) and have made a point of crossing nearer the southern shore where it is easier to see and avoid the slower moving aircraft. Crossing the north end, or worse, rounding Brockton Point and heading to the fuel barge or Coal Harbour with your back to the arrival stream is particularly ill-advised.
 
Last edited:
The Regs seem to be in conflict in that the boat is the stand on vessel and is obligated to maintain a steady course, but is also required to do what is necessary to avoid a collision. It can't do both!
 
The Regs seem to be in conflict in that the boat is the stand on vessel and is obligated to maintain a steady course, but is also required to do what is necessary to avoid a collision. It can't do both!
You need to study the rules, yes they cover both situations.
 
Back
Top Bottom