A short while ago, I wrote about the problem with float planes — the fact that there’s normally no way to get out when they flip upside down or sink — and about the war of words between the Canadian Transportation Safety Board (who want an airworthiness directive requiring the installing of escape hatches) and Transport Canada (who claim they are unable to issue one, since many of the type certificates are not Canadian).
This morning, unfortunately, we saw another example of the problem here in Ottawa on Constance Lake, which has a floatplane base and a floatplane training facility. A Cessna 185 flown by a very experienced pilot flipped upside down in gusty winds and, presumably, the cabin filled with water. The plane didn’t sink, though, and there were people at the scene right away trying to help. They dove repeatedly trying to free the pilot, but for 20 minutes they were unable to open a door or window to get at him — fortunately, there was a fire department near by, and firefighters were able to cut the pilot out. At the time of posting, he was in critical condition in hospital, after having CPR performed on him at the scene.
I hope there’s some legal way to order — or at least to allow — modifications on float-planes to add a quick-release belly escape hatch.