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Smoking seaplane lands safely in Victoria; passengers OK

Passengers on a Victoria-bound seaplane that had filled with smoke endured a tense but safe landing shortly after noon today.
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A Kenmore Air Single Otter plane landed safely in Victoria Harbour on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, after the pilot had to shut off some electronic systems due to a smoking generatorr relay.

Passengers on a Victoria-bound seaplane that had filled with smoke endured a tense but safe landing shortly after noon today.

The Kenmore Air pilot was forced to turn off some of the plane’s electronics 18 kilometres from Victoria Harbour due to a smoking generator relay.

Pilot Dan Millar, inbound from Seattle, notified the Victoria Harbour air traffic controller, who called 911. The call came through to the fire department at 12:14 p.m., said Doug Carey, acting battalion chief for Victoria Fire Rescue.

“The pilot did everything he could and should have done,” Carey said. “He was able to keep the engine running the whole time because it was on a separate circuit.”

Three police officers in a police boat escorted the de Havilland Single Otter as it taxied in under its own power to the Harbour Air Seaplane Terminal at 1000 Wharf St., Carey said.

Although the cockpit and cabin were filled with smoke, there were no flames. The smoke was emitted by a small component in the electrical control box behind the right front seat.

“When the passengers disembarked, one said, ‘All of us just took up smoking,’ ” said Carey, who was at the scene. “They were all in good spirits and grateful to be on land.”

There were six or seven people on board including the pilot. The plane seats 10 plus a pilot. Firefighters checked the passengers’ well-being and found none was in need of assistance.

Carey said he has never encountered a similar situation in his 22 years on duty, but noted that firefighters are trained to respond on water.

The fire department had two engines, a rescue truck and a command vehicle, along with nine firefighters at the scene. The fire department boat was mobilized but not needed.

The plane was taken out of service and tied up at the dock pending an inspection and repairs by Kenmore Air.

Ten passengers scheduled to be on the return flight to Seattle were briefly delayed while another aircraft was procured.

Kenmore Air could not be reached for comment.

kdedyna@timescolonist.com

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