Opinion

EDITORIAL: Airlines taking safety seriously

There's a good reason passengers don't wear personal flotation devices while on board a floatplane.

That's because to date, there's no device specifically designed or deemed appropriate for floatplane use. And unless it's appropraitely designed and approved, a PFD, while intended to save lives, could actually do more harm than good. In short, an inflated PFD could trap a passenger inside a plane and substantially increase the safety risk.

It's no surprise then that Transport Canada has yet to implement the Transportation Safety Board previous recommendation that floatplane passengers be required to wear PFDs.

What is surprising is that, given the TSB's clear concern on the issue -- it's issued similar recommendations several times, including again last week -- Transport Canada has neither investigated nor identified a device that would render the suggestion viable.

In the absence of such action by our federal transportation regulator, it's been left to the industry to find an alternative, something Nanaimo-based Harbour Air is now undertaking.

Likewise with pop-out windows for the de Havilland Beaver aircraft, which are near ubiquitous within the coastal floatplane business, it's been left to the industry to come up with a solution.

Victoria-based Viking Air developed that solution, and now much of the B.C. industry has already implemented the windows ahead of the latest recommendations from the TSB and any pending regulatory changes from Transport Canada.

Most airlines are also installing new, easier-to-use door latches designed to enhance passengers' ability to exit the plane in emergency situations.

In each case Transport Canada appears to be dragging its heels while the industry shows the way. At least one side is taking safety seriously.

– Nanaimo News Bulletin

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