The release Wednesday of the preliminary report for the NTSB’s investigation of the May 13 fatal midair near Ketchikan, Alaska between a float-equipped de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and a float-equipped de Havilland DHC-3 Turbine Otter was accompanied by Safety Board criticism of for-hire operations.
Both aircraft involved in the accident were operating under Part 135 in VMC. “This is one in a string of recent accidents involving for-hire aircraft,” the Safety Board said. “So was the Beaver that crashed Monday in Alaska and the helicopter that crashed in Hawaii April 29.”
Probable causes have not been determined in any of the accidents cited, but NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said, “Each crash underscores the urgency of improving the safety of charter flights by implementing existing NTSB safety recommendations. The need for those improvements is why the NTSB put Part 135 aircraft flight operations on the 2019-2020 Most Wanted list of transportation safety improvements.”
The NTSB’s recommendations call on Part 135 operators to implement safety management systems, record and analyze flight data, and ensure pilots receive controlled flight into terrain-avoidance training. “A customer who pays for a ticket should trust that the operator is using the industry’s best practices when it comes to safety,’’ said Sumwalt.
Both aircraft were transporting passengers to Ketchikan from the Misty Fjords National Monument area. Flight track data revealed the Otter was traveling southwest about 3,700 feet msl and gradually descending at 126 knots when it crossed the east side of the George Inlet. The Beaver was traveling west/southwest about 3,350 feet msl at 107 knots when it crossed the east side of the George Inlet. The airplanes collided at about 3,350 feet msl near the west side of the George Inlet. The Otter pilot said he was maneuvering the airplane to show passengers a waterfall when the collision occurred.