Officials Call For Tofino Safety Enhancements

The chief of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in Tofino, B.C. is calling for federal action to regulate floatplane traffic in the town’s harbour after two serious accidents there in the last four months. Judith Sayers was aboard an Atleo Air aircraft that flipped after hitting a sandbar while taking off in July. On Oct. 18, a Tofino Air plane collided with a water taxi in the harbour. In both mishaps there were injuries but no deaths. There is no tower and operations are see and avoid in compliance with the regs from the appropriate authorities. Sayers says there has to be more structure.

“There has been a lack of follow through by Transport Canada,” said Sayers. “It’s very concerning … the safety of our people is the most important thing. We use water taxis and floatplanes to travel to get to our communities. They’re just necessary.” But a Transport Canada official told the Toronto Star that new rules are coming. Among the options being considered is requiring water aerodromes to become certified if they are in “the built-up area of a city or town, or have a scheduled passenger service.”

Tofino Air owner Josh Ramsay said his company wants the feds to install a strobe light activated by a pilot keying a mic in the aircraft to warn boat traffic that a plane is about to land or take off and a speed limit for boats when the strobe is on. “Tofino Air has been operating in this harbour for over 40 years with this being our first incident,” said Ramsay. “We are working in conjunction with harbour users and the appropriate regulatory authorities to create a safer harbour.”