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2nd of June 2009

A de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 200 was operating an aerial photographic flight over the Helaveli Resort Lagoon in the Maldives on this day in aviation history Onboard the aircraft was a crew of 3 and 4 passengers.

The wreckage in the lagoon (Source © AICC Maldives)

The sky was clear this day and visibility was good and the aircraft departed from the floating platform at 09.45 local time (lt) for the (approximately) 40-minute flight. The aircraft took off in a westerly direction. Once the aircraft was established in level flight, the copilot gave his seat to one of the passengers and took a seat in the cabin. The aircraft flew several righthand orbits around the lagoon at the initial height the aircraft levelled off. The aircraft then descended and made a few more orbits around the lagoon. After the passengers informed the pilot in command they had taken the pictures they wanted and they could return and land. The passenger in the co-pilot seat could remain in the cockpit while the pilot in command started a descending right turn to set up the aircraft for a landing back at the resort. Before the turn could be completed the right-wing and/or float hit the water, and attempts by the pilot in command to level the aircraft were unsuccessful and the aircraft hit the water in a skidding motion. The left float was torn from the fuselage and the right float was jammed between the fuselage and the right engine, blocking the co-pilot exit, The tail section was twisted and ended up inverted. All the passengers and crew escaped through the available exits safely into the lagoon, which had a depth at the accident site of ~1 meter.

1 crew member and 1 passenger received minor injuries.

The inverted and twisted tail (Source © AICC Maldives)

The accident was investigated by the Accident Investigation Coordinating Committee (AICC) of the Maldives, In their report, they identified the following Causal Factors;

  • The pilot in command's decision to fly the aircraft, other than for take-off and landing, lower than an altitude allowed by the Aviation Authorities.

  • A passenger in the co-pilot seat.

  • No effective means were established by the operator to ensure that amendments to the regulations, guidance, and procedures are communicated to the crew appropriately and in a timely manner.

The full report as published by the Accident Investigation Coordinating Committee (AICC) of the Maldives is available by clicking here.

The final flight path (Source © AICC Maldives)

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