High winds caused gondola fall

Operator inexperience also factor in Feb. 4 incident: report

The Sea to Sky Gondola accident in February was primarily a result of high winds combined with operational error, according to a new report.

The BC Safety Authority (BCSA) investigation report into the 14.7-metre fall of the empty cabin on Feb. 4 cited northerly outflow winds that exceeded 75.6 kilometres per hour and operators’ inexperience.

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The report, released Friday, Nov. 14, also cited other environmental factors, such as the carrier being empty and therefore more susceptible to the winds.

 “This resulted in unacceptable carrier swing that exceeded the swing clearance required by the design standard,” said the report, titled “Sea to Sky Gondola Incident.”

The provincial safety manager made recommendations to prevent further occurrences, including installing additional and improved wind monitoring of the passenger ropeway to provide better data. 

According to a Sea to Sky Gondola representative, all the recommendations were under way at the time of the accident and completed before the gondola officially opened in May.

 “We were required to before we could get our operating permit to open, so all the steps that were implemented before we opened. The report did come out today, but all the steps that were required, that the reports commented on, were implemented back in February and March of last year,” general manager of operations Trevor Dunn told The Squamish Chief.

The report also notes that the gondola is not permitted to operate during winds greater than 40 km-h or during forecasted arctic outflow winds.

There have been no safety incidents since the gondola opened to the public, Dunn said.

“We had a great year of operating without any incidents,” he said.

The lift was still under construction at the time of the incident and was not open to the general public. No one was on the carrier that fell and there were no injuries involved.  One person was on the line in another carrier at the time of the accident, but that person was not in a cabin close to the one that came down, a BCSA spokesperson told The Chief at the time of the incident.

The $50, 000 cabin, however, was damaged beyond repair.

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