Plane that crashed near Whidbey Island has long history in the skies over Washington

The de Havilland DHC-3 Otter seaplane that crashed near Whidbey Island killing at least one person was built in 1967.

SEATTLE — The seaplane that crashed into Puget Sound on Sept. 4 has a long history in the skies over western Washington, as does the Renton company that owns it.

The de Havilland DHC-3 Otter floatplane that crashed near Whidbey Island killing at least one person was built in 1967. Despite its age, Gregory Feith, a former NTSB flight safety investigator, said it didn’t necessarily mean the plane was unsafe.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records show that the plane received an airworthiness certificate in May 2014, which likely means the plane’s owner, Northwest Seaplanes, installed a new turboprop engine.

Feith said that replacing the old engine that used to be on the front end of this plane and installing a higher powered turboprop engine is something you would normally see on a commuter plane.

RELATED: Coast Guard suspends search for 9 missing people after seaplane crashes in Puget Sound

A Northwest Seaplanes Facebook post states that Otter has received an annual maintenance review.

Seaplane companies are heavily regulated by the FAA, according to Feith. It is a level of regulation just below commercial airlines.

Seaplane Northwest is a sister company of Friday Harbor Seaplanes. Feith said he was not aware of any violations in the company’s history.

According to the latest information, the plane was flying from Friday Harbor, a popular tourist destination in the San Juan Islands, to Renton Municipal Airport when the crash was reported at 3:10 p.m., according to the Coast Guard. The plane crashed in Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Seattle and about halfway between Friday Harbor and Renton. Data released on Flight Aware shows the aircraft last spotted near Oak Harbor, which was 18 minutes into what would normally be a 50-minute flight.

According to the Coast Guard, the seaplane did not make an emergency call.

Officials said nine adults and one child were on board the plane.

Scott Giard, the Coast Guard’s director of search and rescue, said they “found very little of the aircraft.” They found about four pieces of aluminum, an airplane seat and a small number of personal items they believe belonged to people who were on board.

Based on what he knows of the crash so far, Feith said it appears the impact was “significant” and it’s possible the pilot or the plane suffered a significant event that prevented a controlled forced landing.

CLOCK: The Coast Guard provides an update on the Whidbey Island seaplane crash

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https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/plane-crashed-whidbey-island-history/281-3291a29b-a6c6-49e0-95b1-dca5ebe962c5 Plane that crashed near Whidbey Island has long history in the skies over Washington

Alley Einstein

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