Wind was a contributing factor in last week's mishap that saw a Sea to Sky Gondola cabin fall off the line during testing, B.C. Safety Authority officials said this week.
No one was injured in the incident, which occurred last Tuesday (Feb. 4) morning, Jayson Faulkner, Sea to Sky Gondola general manager, said in a statement issued on Wednesday (Feb. 5). The lift, which is scheduled to open to the public this May, was undergoing an early-morning line check when one of the eight-passenger cabins fell off the line, officials said.
“The lift is currently under construction and as such, is not open to the general public,” the statement said.
Faulkner told The Chief that the cabin was only about three or four metres off the ground when it fell near Tower 7 onto the rocks below. The affected cabin, which cost about $50,000 each, was damaged beyond repair, he told Pique Newsmagazine.
“It fell on a hard surface,” Faulkner told The Chief. “It's all Plexiglas and aluminum and it doesn't bounce well.”
BSCA and officials with the lift manufacturer, Doppelmayr, were investigating the cause of the mishap.
“The safety and well-being of our employees and contractors is our first and highest priority,” company officials said. “We will continue to take every precaution necessary to ensure the testing and final construction of the lift is completed in a safe and timely manner.
“From our point of view, this is no different than when the crane fell” during construction of the gondola top station, Faulkner said. “It's a construction-place incident and we're investigating it as such.”
There was one person on the line at the time the cabin fell, but the person was not in a cabin close to the one that came down, Kelly Moon, BCSA spokesman, wrote in an email to The Chief on Tuesday (Feb. 11).
The investigation into the mishap is ongoing, she said, adding that a “preliminary investigation” determined that wind was a factor. BCSA officials planned to meet with gondola officials on Tuesday to review operating procedures. Gondola officials are currently permitted “to temporarily use the gondola for construction purposes only,” Moon said.
Faulkner said the Doppelmayr detachable lifts, of which the new conveyance is one, have “multiple redundancies” built into the finished product.
Moon didn't give a timeline for completing the BCSA investigation. The mishap isn't expected to delay the scheduled opening of the gondola in May, officials said.