Canada’s Transportation Safety Board says drunk passengers aboard a short charter flight off the country’s West Coast likely caused the crash of a float-equipped Cessna 185 in May of 2010. In its report the TSB postulates that a rear-seat passenger pushed the pilot’s seat forward with his or her feet and held him and the control column pinned to the panel until the Atleo Air Services aircraft dove at a 45-degree angle into ocean off Ahousat, an isolated community on the west coast of Vancouver Island. “It is likely that passenger interference caused the pilot to lose control of the aircraft whereupon it descended in a steep nose-down attitude until it struck the water,” the report says. “It is possible the passengers’ level of intoxication contributed to their inability to recognize the gravity of the situation and stop the interference in time for the pilot to regain control of the aircraft before impact.” The board also noted that the pilot could have refused the charter if he thought the passengers might be drunk enough to be a safety hazard.
The passengers, all young residents of Ahousat, chartered the plane to fly six minutes to nearby Tofino where they bought a case of beer and several bottles of liquor. They took the plane because a local water taxi operator refused to take them because it has a policy against transporting liquor to the community. The TSB noted the seatback in the aircraft does not have a locking mechanism but it did not offer any recommendations in releasing the report.