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seaplane Collides with Boat Vancouver Harbor

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seaplane Collides with Boat Vancouver Harbor

Old 10th Jun 2024, 18:30
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The "give way to right" etc rule has long been modified to take account of vessel's size - and distance needed to change speed/direction.
I've no experience of aircraft on water, but think they should be treated as large unmanoeuverable vessel's.
Or as trawling or towing vessels.
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 18:35
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Ultimately I suspect if you're going to mix seaplane ops at up to 90mph with the sort of goons that hoon around obliviously in speedboats on the same stretch of water the occasional collision must be inevitable.
What I do find astonishing is the difficulty of discovering the extent, location and regulations pertaining to seaplane ops in the area. If I, as a reasonably aware (though Europe-based) aviator can discover nothing whatsoever about the location and rules of the seaplane operating area what chance does aviation-oblvious Buck Schmuck have when planning (do they ever 'plan'?) a picnick trip in his Binliner?
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Old 10th Jun 2024, 19:04
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I suppose this event is a rarity, so "fixing" it is problematic.

1) Add a chin camera to the plane with a video screen so they can see forward when the nose is blocking the view
2) Have a boat with a spotter just off to the side in radio communication to give the all clear.

Suggestions about what boaters might be required to do would not deal well with drunks, new boaters, teens at the wheel. This boater was nearly decapitated for not paying attention to a plane bearing down on him. A booklet with cautions isn't going to confidently produce better behavior.

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Old 10th Jun 2024, 19:26
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Originally Posted by meleagertoo
........... What I do find astonishing is the difficulty of discovering the extent, location and regulations pertaining to seaplane ops in the area. ........
The shipping charts have the area marked but I'm with you on the fact your average weekend boater is unlikely to pay attention as we've witnessed. It's not helped in that there seem to be loads of moorings to the West and the only way in/out takes you into the area of seaplane ops. I did find a sailing guide which did highlight the area too. But I've not seen much at all on the aviation side!
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 00:53
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But I've not seen much at all on the aviation side!
"Area Alfa" is published as a depiction on a map in the VFR Flight Supplement as the landing and takeoff area, and is presented in more detail in the Canadian Water Aerodrome Supplement. The use of the proper area of the water is clear (and the pilots know). The harbour tower is one of the most accommodating towers I've ever spoken with, and I'm sure would give "guidance" to an unsure pilot. For my experience, some boaters just do not have their mind in gear while operating a boat. Though they may be the "stand on" vessel, they still have an obligation to keep watch, and maneuver so as to prevent a collision! You can give the right of way, but you cannot take it! Toronto Island Airport also has a water aerodrome (though very little aircraft traffic these days), and a bouyed zone of exclusion for boats off the end of the runway in the harbour, but I have still had to dodge a mast of a sailboat which blundered into the exclusion zone off the approach end of the runway.

The video makes it appear that the pilot could have seen the boat in time, But, I have not walked in that pilot's shoes. Though the boat approaches from the right, making it less visible to the pilot, the pitch attitude on the water would not preclude being able to see the boat once it was not being hidden behind a doorpost or such. Once on the step, large direction changes are less easy. I pay particular attention to any boats which might cross my takeoff path before I begin, not only to prevent a risk of collision, but more practically to prevent my having to cross a wake. There are still fools who like to "play" with airplanes on the water.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 08:23
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Colregs are clear that a) seaplanes are vessels and b) all vessels are required to keep clear of vessels whose ability to manoeuvre is restricted.

That leaves us with the question: is a seaplane taking off a vessel with restricted ability to manoeuvre? If it is, the seaplane has ROW. If it isn't, the powerboat had ROW.

I have seen a few references to the seaplane area being marked clearly on the chart.

Here is Navionics: https://webapp.navionics.com/#boating@13&key=muzkHngknV

It is quite hard to see the seaplane operation area outlined with a dashed green line. I know from experience that boats entering or leaving Coal Harbour do not avoid that area, so it is important to know who has ROW.

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Old 11th Jun 2024, 09:31
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Originally Posted by Pilot DAR
"Area Alfa" is published as a depiction on a map in the VFR Flight Supplement as the landing and takeoff area, and is presented in more detail in the Canadian Water Aerodrome Supplement. ....
Thanks Pilot DAR and dash34, I was sure there would be given just how much seaplane activity takes place all along the coast there and onwards right up that part of the West Coast in BC and how important seaplane ops are, not just for sightseeing, but for many other businesses and people living there. The seaplane terminal in question at Vancouver looks quite a set-up too and any commercial ops will have all the risk mitigation in place in such a busy area and I'm sure based operators and ATC will have a good working relationship in that sort of community.

I was more interested in what the boaters had to warn them and the official Nautical Charts I have seen have the area marked (so something missed on Navionics as noted by dash34) and I also found a "guide" which appears to be one of those things issued to all water users as it covered all sorts of useful stuff including the operation of seaplanes but several searches on good old "G" didn't lead me to anything much on the aeronautical side. Normally I can find all sorts of stuff very quickly but, on this topic, I couldn't find much in the time I looked. Your average boater would probably not even think to look at Aeronautical stuff - I have come across many who look upon Charts as something to obstruct a flat area best suited to holding beer or wine glasses!

What I did note (as both an ex-sailor and ex-pilot!) was the number of marina berths just to the West in Coal Harbour itself such as Bayshore West Marina and that, really, the only way in/out takes you through the seaplane area. To avoid it you'd have to really hug the coastline and head North to Brockton Point so that sort of suggests that cutting into/through the seaplane area marked on the charts would be frequent despite the warnings.

What I did clock in the video of the T/O looking NNE was another powerboat heading East (L - R to the pilot) which had passed the boat involved but could/would have crossed the T/O path less than a minute earlier. Someone said ATC mentioned a boat heading West to the pilot as he was about to depart. My only thought is that he saw that W - E boat when it was on his side, missed the "heading West" bit (or thought ATC said something like "from the West") and thought "Ah, there it is steadily clearing to my right (towards the East) so that's no longer an issue any more". Even if he'd then seen the West-bound boat when up on the step, it would have taken a few seconds to do a "There it is ...... hang on, that's close! Bu&&er, that's coming this way!!!! What the......??????".

Anyway, that's just an idle observation - not a statement as to what actually happened! I'll let the professional Accident Investigators do their thing! Cheers, H 'n' H
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 10:36
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An aspect which needs to be considered, about the captain of the boat that was hit, was the closure picture. They may well have seen the aeroplane in the distance starting it's takeoff run, and considered that they (the boats) would pass well in front due the to aspect angle and low speed. Now, throw in a craft (in this case, the Beaver) constantly changing it's speed by a magnitude of say 8 (10kts to 80kts) and the constant-aspect collision aspect view would be changing constantly. It's easy, in a boat, to "miss" another boat, provided the other boat is doing a constant velocity; same as in the air. But throw in a gross speed change though and all bets are off, you don't know whether you're going to clobber them or not. Throw in the startle factor and I can see them freezing.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 13:24
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Originally Posted by Maoraigh1
The "give way to right" etc rule has long been modified to take account of vessel's size - and distance needed to change speed/direction.
I've no experience of aircraft on water, but think they should be treated as large unmanoeuverable vessel's.
Or as trawling or towing vessels.
I am both an airplane and boat pilot. Seaplanes are give-way to all boats according to the FAA. That makes perfect sense when you are landing, you have perfect visibility and can easily choose your landing spot or go around. Taking off is different, depending on the airplane visibility can be limited certain directions and sudden turns quite dangerous. Also note many seaplanes do not have reversing props, so a quick stop is not always possible.
To add to the confusion in this specific case, the boat may have been in an area designated for seaplanes to be stand-on.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 13:27
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Originally Posted by saislor
[Disclaimer: I am a sailor not a pilot]

I looks like Vancouver set a local rule, but the Seattle rule is vague and in conflict with the "Amalgamated International and US Inland Navigation Rules" that I know. That said, if you are going on the water you need to know those rules, local or otherwise.

There is no notion of "right of way" in either the international (COLREGS) or inland rules. These stress that avoiding collision is the responsibility of both vessels (and blame if a collision occurs). There is the "give-way vessel" that needs to do something and the "stand-on vessel" that needs to hold course and speed. The roles can change during an encounter. Outside of the dedicated seaplane corridors, rule 18(e) applies to seaplanes and they are generally the give-way vessel (cited as 18(d) in an earlier post). Regardless of the dedicated corridor, rule 17(a)ii and 17(b) apply to the boat where it becomes the give-way vessel and under 17(b) must maneuver to avoid collision if the seaplane does not maneuver. Our boater also seemed to forget rule 5 (lookout).

Everybody was very, very lucky here.
In a USCG hearing, the boat AND the airplane would get blamed. The boat had a clear chance to avoid the collision and did not. I am not sure offhand if the FARs have that exact wording, but in no case does "stand on/right of way" mean close your eyes and hit the other guy!
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 14:09
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Originally Posted by Maoraigh1
The "give way to right" etc rule has long been modified to take account of vessel's size - and distance needed to change speed/direction.
That is not true. Nothing in the steering or sailing rules reference a vessels "size" or "distance needed to change course" for the very simple reason that these are unknowable on observation and cannot be used to give a definitive precedence. The rules do establish a unambiguous hierarchy for stand-on and giveway based on ability to maneuverer, but these are very specific (constrained by draft, not under command etc) and invoked by clear day and night signals. Avoiding collisions is easy if you know what the other vessel is going to do.

As others have said, both vessels were at fault, but the seaplane pilot is likely to carry the majority of the responsibility for the collision.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 15:16
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Reminds me of How to Avoid Huge Ships by Captain John W. Trimmer, currently selling new for $290 in paperback with some used at $160.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 16:40
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Originally Posted by MechEngr
Reminds me of How to Avoid Huge Ships by Captain John W. Trimmer, currently selling new for $290 in paperback with some used at $160.
That book has generated 1001 hilarious reviews and memes, but it is actually a very good book. Many skippers of smaller craft, for one example, don't know large diesels have no transmissions, to go in reverse you stop the engine and restart it in the other direction. Past a certain speed water pressure on the prop makes that impossible.
Many boaters also probably have no idea that many seaplanes have no reverse and can't do a quick stop.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 16:42
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Originally Posted by Recc
That is not true. Nothing in the steering or sailing rules reference a vessels "size" or "distance needed to change course" for the very simple reason that these are unknowable on observation and cannot be used to give a definitive precedence. The rules do establish a unambiguous hierarchy for stand-on and giveway based on ability to maneuverer, but these are very specific (constrained by draft, not under command etc) and invoked by clear day and night signals. Avoiding collisions is easy if you know what the other vessel is going to do.

As others have said, both vessels were at fault, but the seaplane pilot is likely to carry the majority of the responsibility for the collision.
You do have "not under command" and "restricted maneuverability" categories that have day shapes and specific lights, but just being big and hard to steer does not get you in either category and neither does towing a barge.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 21:04
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Originally Posted by Capn Bloggs
An aspect which needs to be considered, about the captain of the boat that was hit, was the closure picture. They may well have seen the aeroplane in the distance starting it's takeoff run, and considered that they (the boats) would pass well in front due the to aspect angle and low speed. Now, throw in a craft (in this case, the Beaver) constantly changing it's speed by a magnitude of say 8 (10kts to 80kts) and the constant-aspect collision aspect view would be changing constantly. It's easy, in a boat, to "miss" another boat, provided the other boat is doing a constant velocity; same as in the air. But throw in a gross speed change though and all bets are off, you don't know whether you're going to clobber them or not. Throw in the startle factor and I can see them freezing.
I have flown (as a passenger) on seaplanes out of Vancouver Harbor several times. There is a large boat harbor west of the seaplane terminal - and every boat arriving and departing must cross the takeoff area at some point. Most of the time - seaplanes depart along the path seen in this video - other times they take off to the right (Northeast). There is a Cruise terminal immediately next to the Seaplane port - it is a very busy Harbor (but nothing like Victoria!). Very generally - seaplanes aren't airborne until the reach the point of Stanley Park - which is where the second video is taken from. So - this may have been an inexperienced boater (to the area) - or someone just not paying attention. You cannot access the Boat harbor in a way that doesn't cross the active aircraft departure area. Given the geography - it's really not possible.

I have a video of one of my departures somewhere - I'll see if I can find it. I probably have a pic of the visibility from the pointy end of one of those Harbor Air Beaver's somewhere too . . .
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 21:11
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Well - can't attach a video (too big) - but this is waiting to takeoff from that same location.


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Old 11th Jun 2024, 21:14
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Originally Posted by WillFlyForCheese
You cannot access the Boat harbor in a way that doesn't cross the active aircraft departure area. Given the geography - it's really not possible. . . .
That is true, but the charted landing area does leave a narrow passage just seaward of the seaplane base where the harbour authority restrictions do not apply. Even if that were not the case, common sense would lead you to make the transit close to the base where aircraft would be moving slowest.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 21:15
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Almost all boat traffic in and out of the (large) boat harbor passes between the fuel dock and the point of Stanley Park to the left.



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Old 11th Jun 2024, 21:16
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Originally Posted by Recc
That is true, but the charted landing area does leave a narrow passage just seaward of the seaplane base where the harbour authority restrictions do not apply. Even if that were not the case, common sense would lead you to make the transit close to the base where aircraft would be moving slowest.
Interestingly enough - most landings occur along the cruise terminal / cruise ship area to the right.
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Old 11th Jun 2024, 21:23
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And - for what it's worth - those maps don't really reflect real world operations at that terminal. Every time I've flown into that Seaplane terminal - the approach is from the east. Parallel to and just about 100 yards off the starboard side of those cruise ships.


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