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Improper fuel management led to La Tuque accident

July 18, 2013, Gatineau, Que. - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (A11Q0136) into the engine stoppage and forced landing on water of a Cessna A185E, operated by Air Tamarac Inc., which occurred on July 18, 2011 near La Tuque, Que.


July 18, 2013
By Carey Fredericks

The Cessna floatplane was providing sightseeing flights in the area of La Tuque. During the third flight of the day, the aircraft's engine stopped due to a fuel starvation of the left fuel tank. After deciding to conduct an emergency ditching on the Bostonnais River, the pilot unsuccessfully attempted to restart the engine. The terrain surrounding the river forced the pilot to take a sharp left turn. The aircraft then stalled, nose-dived, and struck the water. Of the five people on board the aircraft, one passenger died as a result of the accident.

The investigation determined that the fuel quantity had not been measured before the occurrence flight. Furthermore, as the fuel quantity indicators on this type of aircraft are known to be unreliable, it was difficult to predict the precise moment when the tank would run dry. The investigation also determined that the pilot did not use the auxiliary electric fuel pump to restart the engine.

The investigation identified important safety issues related to the operation of floatplanes. In this occurrence, Air Tamarac did not distribute to passengers the Transport Canada guides related to passenger safety on board floatplanes, and the passenger safety briefing was incomplete. In addition, the passengers and the pilot did not grab a personal flotation device in the aircraft before evacuating.

Since the occurrence, Air Tamarac has implemented new safety measures: all floatplane occupants are now required to wear a personal flotation device; passenger safety briefings must be provided before engine start-up; and pilot training now includes initial mandatory training in underwater evacuation from a submerged aircraft, as well rescue training.