Air tanker crashes in British Columbia lake

A single engine air tanker crashed in a lake in British Columbia Friday afternoon, July 10. The Air Tractor 802-F Fire Boss amphibious air tanker was scooping water from Puntzi Lake (map) at about 2:15 p.m. when the Conair plane had some sort of difficulty and sank. The pilot was not injured, according to Bill Yearwood with Transportation Safety Board.

Mr. Yearwood said,“We are quite familiar with the aircraft and its operation and there is no information to suggest there’s been any problems in advance of this.”

The fire that the aircraft was working on is on the west side of Puntzi Lake, about 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of Williams Lake. At the last report it had burned about 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres).

Puntzi Lake air tanker crash
The pointer marks the location of Puntzi Lake, the site of the air tanker crash in British Columbia.

This was the 4th crash or serious incident involving a Conair single engine air tanker in the last 13 months.

On May 22, 2015 another Conair 802-F Fire Boss crashed in Alberta, killing the pilot.

An engine failure on Conair’s Air Tanker 699, an Air Tractor AT-802A, during training resulted in damage to a float upon landing. The incident occurred April 11, 2015 on Harrison Lake, BC, 33 nm NNE of Abbotsford.

A Conair Air Tractor 802-F Fireboss crashed and and sank August 14, 2014 while scooping water on Chantslar Lake in British Columbia, Canada about 30 kilometers west of Puntzi Mountain. Jeff Berry of Conair said the pilot was able to exit the Single Engine Air Tanker, but was held overnight in a hospital in William’s Lake and released Friday morning.

AT-802F Fire Boss
File photo of one of Conair’s AT-802F Fire Boss air tankers. Photo by Peter Unmuth.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Chris.

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11 thoughts on “Air tanker crashes in British Columbia lake”

  1. Oh good, Matt. Sounds like you’ve already isolated the cause of this accident. Any idea how many float hours and time on type this pilot had? Please contact the TSB and advise them of your findings, in order to save them the hassle & expense of an investigation.

    1. When the same company has that many crashes of the same type of aircraft in that short of a time. A refresher training for all maintenance personal and aircrews is common since in my mind. That also ensures everyone is up to date on the latest training stright from air tractor.

  2. Actually Chris, since you work at Conair; give us as many details as you and/or the company allows please. There seems to be an issue with the Fireboss operations and not just at Conair. Thanks.

    1. No, I don’t work at nor for Conair. Any details you seek will be made publicly available in the form of a formal TSB Aviation Report, once their investigation is complete.
      I’m not sure which other FireBoss operations you feel have issues?

      1. My mistake Mike, thought you were a Conair pilot.
        I know of issues w the Fireboss itself I should have said. Not specific operator’s issues.

  3. Who else operates this aircraft? Are they experiencing a high accident rate? The article says 4 accidents in one year – that seems like a pretty high accident rate.
    Chris says there is no problem with the aircraft – then one must assume that the operation of the aircraft by the operator needs a tweaking.
    Regardless, glad to hear that the pilot walked (swam) away from this one.

    1. “Chris says there is no problem with the aircraft”

      Hope you didn’t mean me. I said no such thing.

  4. I would be interested in any information regarding these crashes,only from type rated pilots actively working on the Fireboss. We are all still learning and all experience passed on is a positive.

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