SEATTLE — The floatplane that crashed into Puget Sound on Sept. 4 has a long history in the skies over western Washington, and so 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, former NTSB senior Air Safety Investigator Gregory Feith said that doesn't necessarily mean the plane was not safe.
Records from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) show the plane received an airworthiness certificate in May 2014, likely meaning that the plane's owner, Northwest Seaplanes, installed a new turboprop engine.
Feith said changing out the old engine that used to be on the front end of that airplane and installing a higher horsepower turboprop engine is something you would typically see on a commuter-type aircraft.
A Facebook post from Northwest Seaplanes states that Otter received an annual maintenance check up.
Seaplane companies are heavily regulated by the FAA, according to Feith. It's a regulatory tier just below commercial airlines.
Seaplane Northwest is a sister company of Friday Harbor Seaplanes. Feith said he know of no 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, roughly 30 miles northwest of downtown Seattle and about halfway between Friday Harbor and Renton. Data posted on Flight Aware shows the plane last observed near Oak Harbor, which was 18 minutes into what is normally a 50-minute flight.
The floatplane didn't send a distress call, according to the Coast Guard.
Officials said nine adults and one child were aboard the aircraft. The Coast Guard released the names Tuesday morning of the 10 people who were aboard the floatplane.
Scott Giard, director of search and rescue with the Coast Guard, said they have found "very little of the aircraft." They have found about four pieces of aluminum, a plane 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 "substantial" and it's possible the pilot or plane suffered a significant event that prevented a controlled emergency landing.