Factors affecting visual perception resulted in aircraft and water taxi collision in Tofino harbour, BC
Richmond, British Columbia, 30 March 2023 — Today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its joint air/marine investigation report (A21P0111/M21P0290), which highlights that, if busy harbours that have both marine and air operations do not have designated aircraft landing areas, means for aircraft to signal their presence, and vessel speed limits, there is an increased risk of collision as a result of vessels and aircraft operating in close proximity.
On 18 October 2021, a Tofino Air float-equipped de Havilland DHC-2 MK. I (Beaver) aircraft, with five passengers and one pilot on board, and a water taxi, known as the Rocky Pass, collided in the vicinity of the First Street dock in the Tofino harbour, British Columbia. The six occupants on board the aircraft were able to safely exit, and within 2 minutes 30 seconds of the collision, the aircraft had completely inverted with just the floats above the surface of the water. Three of the aircraft passengers received minor injuries. The vessel sustained minor damage and one passenger on it received minor injuries.
The investigation found that the aircraft pilot’s and the vessel operator’s visual perception were each affected by several factors leading up to the collision, including:
- the aircraft’s lowered left wing during the turn to final, coupled with the pilot’s seating position, interfered with the pilot’s view out the left-side window, and the Rocky Pass’s entry into the harbour, which was unexpected in an otherwise clear area;
- the pilot’s attention, which was primarily focused straight ahead, combined with the little or no relative movement of the vessel in the left windscreen and the obstructions caused by the aircraft’s nose and left window post; and
- the speed at which the vessel was travelling and the relatively stationary position of the aircraft in the vessel operator’s peripheral vision.
As such, neither recognized that their routes would conflict until it was too late for evasive action to be effective. As a result, the aircraft and vessel collided, causing significant damage to the aircraft that required the occupants to conduct an emergency egress.
Following the accident, the TSB issued Marine Safety Information Letter MSI 01/22 advising Transport Canada that there are no speed limits for vessels in the Tofino harbour and that the local authorities in Tofino were unaware of the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations and the procedure for implementing speed restrictions.
See the investigation page for more information.
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.
For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada