No life vest exists that fits all passengers, making the idea of mandatory life vests a difficult goal to reach for float plane operators, says an airline that routinely flies passengers in and out of Nanaimo harbour.
The B.C. Coroners Service recommended making wearing life vests mandatory on float planes after investigating the crash of a Seair float plane in 2009.
Six passengers died when the plane plunged into Lyall Harbour off Saturna Island. The coroner believes life vests may have changed the outcome Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Wendy Tadros told the Vancouver Sun last week she is committed to amending transport regulations to make it mandatory to wear life vests during flights, and to make escape training a requirement for pilots.
Harbour Air already requires exit training for all its pilots and most of its staff members Harbour Air also supports the TSB position on life vests, in principle but "we have some challenges," said Eric Scott, Harbour Air vice-president. The problem is a lack of availability of a product that fits any and all passengers.
"It's not one size fits all," Scott said. "There are restrictions to age, weight and chest size, so finding, or having a selection of products that covers the full demographics of our clients - we don't have that yet."
He said while Harbour Air supports anything that can improve crash survival rates, the ultimate goal is to prevent crashes.
"What we decided to do is try to educate our people better in life jackets and egress techniques - we put that in a video."
The video is shown to passengers to ensure they know what to do in an emergency.
"We view ourselves as an airline, we want airline standards. .. You just have to look at the weather the last few days - we haven't been flying."
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