Transport Canada Director General Martin Eley says his department is committed to making personal flotation devices mandatory for floatplane passengers and crew but finding the right fit isn’t easy.
In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Eley said his staff is now going through the various types and styles of PFDs available to determine which will work best in which aircraft. He said the broad range in size and type of seaplanes makes the process a challenge.
“Obviously a single-engine Cessna 185 is very different from a Twin Otter,” he said in a video that accompanied the story.
Eley said there are two main criteria involved in selecting the PFDs. They must, of course, keep people afloat but they also can’t get in the way in the emergency evacuation of the aircraft.
He said he’s hoping to have the regs finalized in the next year or two but in the meantime his department is doing a lot of education work.
“We’ve done a lot in recommending best practices for floatplane operators,” he said. Many already offer PFDs and are using upper body restraints for front-seat passengers. Many crew members have undergone egress training, too.
The focus on floatplane safety came after the 2009 crash of a float-equipped Beaver off B.C.’s Saturna Island in which all eight aboard survived the impact but six drowned.