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Crash of a De Havilland DHC-3T Otter in Coon Cove: 1 killed

Date & Time: May 13, 2019 at 1221 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N959PA
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Ketchikan - Ketchikan
MSN:
159
YOM:
1956
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
10
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Circumstances:
The single engine airplane departed Ketchikan-Waterfront Seaplane Base in the morning on an on-demand sightseeing flight over the Misty Fjords, carrying 10 tourists who had been on a Royal Princess cruise ship that left Vancouver on May 11. While flying over the George Inlet at an altitude of 3,200 - 3,300 feet, after descending from 3,800 feet, the airplane collided with a Mountain Air Service De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver registered N952DB that was carrying five passengers and a pilot. The Beaver crashed into the sea and all five occupants were killed. On board the Otter, a passenger was killed while 10 other occupants were injured. At the time of the accident, sky was high overcast.

Crash of De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver in Coon Cove: 5 killed

Date & Time: May 13, 2019 at 1221 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N952DB
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Ketchikan - Ketchikan
MSN:
237
YOM:
1952
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
4
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
5
Circumstances:
The single engine airplane departed Ketchikan-Waterfront Seaplane Base in the morning on an on-demand sightseeing flight over the Misty Fjords, carrying four tourists who had been on a Royal Princess cruise ship that left Vancouver on May 11. While flying over the George Inlet at an altitude of 3,200 - 3,300 feet, the airplane collided with a Taquan Air De Havilland DHC-3 Otter registered N959PA that was carrying 10 passengers and a pilot. The Beaver crashed into the sea and all five occupants were killed. On board the Otter, a passenger was killed while 10 other occupants were injured. At the time of the accident, sky was high overcast.

Crash of a De Havilland DHC-3T Otter on Mt Jumbo

Date & Time: Jul 10, 2018 at 0835 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N3952B
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
Yes
Site:
MSN:
225
YOM:
1957
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
10
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:
On July 10, 2018, about 0835 Alaska daylight time, a single-engine, turbine-powered, float equipped de Havilland DHC3T Otter airplane, N3952B, sustained substantial damage during an impact with rocky, mountainous, rising terrain about 9 miles west of Hydaburg, Alaska. The airplane was registered to Blue Aircraft, LLC and operated by Taquan Air as a visual flight rules (VFR) on-demand commercial flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 when the accident occurred. Of the 11 occupants on board, the airline transport pilot was uninjured, four passengers sustained minor injuries, and six passengers sustained serious injuries. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight departed Steamboat Bay about 0747 destined for Ketchikan, Alaska. The area between Steamboat Bay and Ketchikan consists of remote inland fjords, coastal waterways, and steep mountainous terrain. During an initial telephone interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on July 11, the accident pilot reported that while in level cruise flight at about 1,100 ft mean sea level (MSL), and as the flight progressed into an area known as Sulzer Portage, visibility decreased rapidly from about 3-5 miles to nil. In an attempt to turnaround and return to VFR conditions, he initiated a climbing right turn. Prior to completing the 180° right turn, he saw what he believed to be a body of water and he became momentarily disoriented, so he leveled the wings. Shortly thereafter, he realized that he airplane was approaching an area of snow-covered mountainous terrain, so he applied full power and initiated a steep, emergency climb to avoid rising terrain ahead. As the steep emergency climb continued, the airspeed decayed, and the airplane subsequently collided with an area of rocky, rising terrain. During the initial impact, the airplane's floats were sheared off. The airplane wreckage came to rest in an area known as Jumbo Mountain, sustaining substantial damage to wings and fuselage. The pilot stated that the Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) was in the inhibit mode at the time of the accident. According to the passenger seated in the right front seat, after departure, they proceeded to Klawock and then made what he perceived to be as a 180° turn. He said there were numerous course deviations as they maneuvered around weather, and at times all forward visibility was lost as they briefly flew in and out of the clouds. He said he became uncomfortable and was thinking it would be prudent to just land on the water. Shortly thereafter, he observed a large mountain loom directly in front of the airplane, knowing they could not out climb the mountain he presumed there must be a pass through the area. As they continued to approach the mountain they entered a cloud and he observed the pilot add power and pitch up, but the airplane impacted the side of the mountain. According to a second passenger seated towards the back of the airplane, the weather at Steamboat Bay when they departed was rain and low clouds. During the flight he could occasionally see the land and water below, but sometimes he could not. He said that there was consistent serious fog all around. After they passed Waterfall Resort he became very concerned that they were headed in the wrong direction. He texted the right front seat passenger (a friend) and asked him to ask the pilot to land and wait for the weather to improve. He said that he did not see the mountain until they were right on it, and observed the pilot add power right before impact. At 0843, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Sector Juneau received a report from the Alaska State Troopers (AST) that a float plane had crashed near Sulzer Portage on Prince of Wales Island. Two MH-60J Sea Hawk helicopters were launched from USCG Air Station Sitka, and AST activated the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad (KVRS) and other rescue personnel utilizing Temsco Helicopters, Inc. of Ketchikan. Five helicopters were dispatched from Temsco to the search area and a staging area was established near the believed to be accident site. One of the helicopter pilots stated that he was unable to search the upper levels of the mountainous area due to a low cloud ceiling and poor visibility. After receiving word that the USCG was approaching the search area, he returned to the staging area. A "First Alert" was received from the accident airplane's onboard emergency locator transmitter (ELT) at 0911. About the same time, 911 dispatch in Ketchikan talked to a survivor who provided GPS position and elevation based on data from her iPhone. At 1047 both USCG helicopters arrived in the search area and one helicopter obtained a weak direction finding (DF) bearing from the ELT at the crash scene. The DF bearing, and the survivor's description of the accident area were used to direct search assets in close proximity to the accident site, so the survivors could hear the USCG helicopters. Two-way radio communications were established between the survivors and USCG by utilizing the accident airplane's radio. The USCG located the accident site at 1156. At 1308 all 11 survivors had been hoisted into the USCG's rescue helicopter and transferred to the staging area for transport back to Ketchikan by Temsco Helicopters. The accident site was located on a rock face on the east side of Jumbo Mountain at an elevation of about 2,557 ft msl. All the airplane major components were located at the accident site. The closest weather reporting facility was Hydaburg Seaplane Base (PAHY), Hydaburg, Alaska, about 9 miles west of the accident site. At 0847, an METAR from PAHY was reporting, in part: wind from 110° at 13 knots; visibility, 5 statute miles in light rain and mist; clouds and sky condition, few clouds at 900 ft, overcast clouds at 1,700 ft; temperature, 57° F; dew point 55° F; altimeter, 30.16 inches of mercury. A detailed wreckage examination is pending.

Crash of a De Havilland DHC-3T Turbo Otter near Ella Lake: 9 killed

Date & Time: Jun 25, 2015 at 1215 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N270PA
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Ketchikan - Ketchikan
MSN:
270
YOM:
1993
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
8
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
9
Captain / Total flying hours:
4070
Captain / Total hours on type:
40.00
Aircraft flight hours:
24439
Circumstances:
The airplane collided with mountainous, tree-covered terrain about 24 miles east-northeast of Ketchikan, Alaska. The commercial pilot and eight passengers sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was owned by Pantechnicon Aviation, of Minden, Nevada, and operated by Promech Air, Inc., of Ketchikan. The flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 as an on-demand sightseeing flight; a company visual flight rules flight plan (by which the company performed its own flight-following) was in effect. Marginal visual flight rules conditions were reported in the area at the time of the accident. The flight departed about 1207 from Rudyerd Bay about 44 miles east-northeast of Ketchikan and was en route to the operator’s base at the Ketchikan Harbor Seaplane Base, Ketchikan. The accident airplane was the third of four Promech-operated float-equipped airplanes that departed at approximate 5-minute intervals from a floating dock in Rudyerd Bay. The accident flight and the two Promech flights that departed before it were carrying cruise-ship passengers who had a 1230 “all aboard” time for their cruise ship that was scheduled to depart at 1300. (The fourth flight had no passengers but was repositioning to Ketchikan for a tour scheduled at 1230; the accident pilot also had his next tour scheduled for 1230.) The sightseeing tour flight, which the cruise ship passengers had purchased from the cruise line as a shore excursion, overflew remote inland fjords; coastal waterways; and mountainous, tree-covered terrain in the Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness. Promech pilots could choose between two standard tour routes between Rudyerd Bay and Ketchikan, referred to as the “short route” (which is about 52 nautical miles [nm], takes about 25 minutes to complete, and is primarily over land) and the “long route” (which is about 63 nm, takes about 30 minutes to complete, and is primarily over seawater channels). Although the long route was less scenic, it was generally preferred in poor weather conditions because it was primarily over water, which enabled the pilots to fly at lower altitudes (beneath cloud layers) and perform an emergency or precautionary landing, if needed. Route choice was at each pilot’s discretion based on the pilot’s assessment of the weather. The accident pilot and two other Promech pilots (one of whom was repositioning an empty airplane) chose the short route for the return leg, while the pilot of the second Promech flight to depart chose the long route. Information obtained from weather observation sources, weather cameras, and photographs and videos recovered from the portable electronic devices (PEDs) of passengers on board the accident flight and other tour flights in the area provided evidence that the accident flight encountered deteriorating weather conditions. Further, at the time of the accident, the terrain at the accident site was likely obscured by overcast clouds with visibility restricted in rain and mist. Although the accident pilot had climbed the airplane to an altitude that would have provided safe terrain clearance had he followed the typical short route (which required the flight to pass two nearly identical mountains before turning west), the pilot instead deviated from that route and turned the airplane west early (after it passed only the first of the two mountains). The pilot’s route deviation placed the airplane on a collision course with a 1,900-ft mountain, which it struck at an elevation of about 1,600 ft mean sea level. In the final 2 seconds of the flight, the airplane pitched up rapidly before colliding with terrain. The timing of this aggressive pitch-up maneuver strongly supports the scenario that the pilot continued the flight into near-zero visibility conditions, and, as soon as he realized that the flight was on a collision course with the terrain, he pulled aggressively on the elevator flight controls in an ineffective attempt to avoid the terrain. Although Promech’s General Operations Manual specified that both the pilot and the flight scheduler must jointly agree that a flight can be conducted safely before it is launched, no such explicit concurrence occurred between the accident pilot and the flight scheduler (or any member of company management) before the accident flight. As a result, the decision to initiate the accident tour rested solely with the accident pilot, who had less than 2 months’ experience flying air tours in Southeast Alaska and had demonstrated difficulty calibrating his own risk tolerance for conducting tour flights in weather that was marginal or below Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) minimums. Further, evidence from the accident tour flight and the pilot’s previous tour flights support that the pilot’s decisions regarding his tour flights were influenced by schedule pressure; his attempt to emulate the behavior of other, more experienced pilots whose flights he was following; and Promech’s organizational culture, which tacitly endorsed flying in hazardous weather conditions, as evidenced (in part) by the company president/chief executive officer’s own tour flight below FAA minimums on the day of the accident.
Probable cause:
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was (1) the pilot’s decision to continue visual flight into an area of instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in his geographic disorientation and controlled flight into terrain; and (2) Promech’s company culture, which tacitly endorsed flying in hazardous weather and failed to manage the risks associated with the competitive pressures affecting Ketchikan-area air tour operators; its lack of a formal safety program; and its inadequate operational control of flight releases.
Final Report:

Crash of a De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver near Port Johnson

Date & Time: Mar 13, 2012 at 1040 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N82SF
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
Yes
Site:
Schedule:
Niblack - Ketchikan
MSN:
839
YOM:
1955
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
1
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
23000
Captain / Total hours on type:
12000.00
Aircraft flight hours:
17574
Circumstances:
The pilot departed from an off-airport site in marginal visual flight rules conditions. Shortly after departure, the weather worsened, and flight visibility dropped to near zero in heavy snow. He attempted to follow the shoreline at a low altitude but was unable to maintain visual contact with the ground. He stated that he saw trees immediately in front of the airplane and attempted a right turn toward what he thought was an open bay. During the turn, the right float contacted a rock outcrop, and the airplane impacted the water. The pilot did not report any mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause:
The pilot's decision to depart in marginal visual meteorological conditions, and his continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions.
Final Report:

Crash of a De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver in Ketchikan: 1 killed

Date & Time: Jul 23, 2010 at 0727 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N9290Z
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Thorne Bay - Ketchikan
MSN:
1387
YOM:
1959
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
5300
Captain / Total hours on type:
4500.00
Aircraft flight hours:
21065
Circumstances:
The pilot had been advised by the Federal Aviation Administration flight service station (FSS) specialist to remain clear of the destination airport until the specialist could issue a special visual flight rules clearance. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the airport, with a strong southeasterly wind. About 8 minutes after initial contact, the FSS specialist attempted to contact the pilot to issue the clearance but received no response. A witness about 0.5 mile southeast of the accident site said he saw the accident airplane flying very low over the treetops. He said the weather conditions consisted of low clouds, rain, and gusty southeasterly wind estimated at 30 to 40 knots. He said that, as the airplane passed overhead, it turned sharply to the left. As he watched the airplane, the wings rocked violently from side to side, and the nose pitched up and down. As the airplane passed low over hilly, tree-covered terrain, it rolled to the right, the right wing struck a large tree and separated, and the airplane descended behind a stand of trees. Pilots flying in the accident area reported strong wind with significant downdrafts and turbulence. A postaccident examination of the airplane did not disclose any preimpact mechanical malfunctions. Given the lack of mechanical deficiencies and the reports of turbulence and downdrafts, as well as the witness’ account of the airplane’s physical movements, it is likely that the pilot encountered significant terrain-induced turbulence and downdrafts while flying at low altitude. The area surrounding the accident site and portions of the pilot's earlier flight path were bordered by large areas of open and protected water, several of which were suitable for landing the float-equipped airplane.
Probable cause:
The pilot’s decision to continue the flight toward his destination in significant turbulence and downdrafts, and his subsequent failure to maintain control of the airplane while flying low over rising terrain.
Final Report:

Crash of a De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver in Traitor's Cove: 6 killed

Date & Time: Aug 16, 2007 at 1730 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N345KA
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
Yes
Site:
Schedule:
Traitor\\'s Cove-Ketchikan
MSN:
1306
YOM:
1959
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
8
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
6
Captain / Total flying hours:
17000
Captain / Total hours on type:
7000.00
Aircraft flight hours:
22409
Circumstances:
The single engine aircraft was performing a sightseeing flight from Traitor's Cove to Ketchikan over the south Alaskan region with 8 members of a US family leaving in Oregon and California. After departure, while cruising at low altitude, the aircraft hit tree tops and crashed in a wooded area. 5 passengers were killed while the pilot and 3 other passengers were seriously injured. An infant died 30 days later.

Crash of a De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver in Ketchikan: 5 killed

Date & Time: Jul 24, 2007 at 1405 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N995WA
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Ketchikan-Ketchikan
MSN:
1100
YOM:
1957
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
4
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
5
Captain / Total flying hours:
5273
Captain / Total hours on type:
178.00
Aircraft flight hours:
17356
Circumstances:

In unknown circumstances, the single engine aircraft crashed 30 miles east of Ketchikan, Alaska. All five occupants were killed.

Crash of a De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver in Ketchikan: 1 killed

Date & Time: Sep 29, 1997 at 1747 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N4787C
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Ketchikan-Ketchikan
MSN:
1330
YOM:
1959
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
2071
Captain / Total hours on type:
1200.00
Aircraft flight hours:
24267

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500 in Ketchikan: 2 killed

Date & Time: Sep 6, 1997 at 1300 LT
Operator:
Registration:
N543AN
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Wrangell-Everett
MSN:
500-908-17
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
1
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
2577
Captain / Total hours on type:
81.00
Aircraft flight hours:
6679