On September 6, the NTSB will host a roundtable at the University of Alaska in Anchorage to discuss Alaska-based Part 135 operations. Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt will lead a discussion among local Part 135 operators, safety experts, associations, and the FAA about ways to improve the safety of Part 135 aircraft flight operations. The issue is included in the NTSB’s latest "Most Wanted" list of items that require priority safety attention.
“Since 2008, we have investigated 182 accidents involving fixed-wing scheduled/non-scheduled Part 135 operations in Alaska, resulting in 74 fatalities,” the NTSB said. “Unique terrain, challenging weather, and congested airspace are factors, but available solutions exist for mitigating Part 135 risks. Identifying them and putting them to work to save lives is the goal of this roundtable.”
The latest fatal Part 135 accidents involve a midair collision on May 13 near Ketchikan by two different operators that resulted in the deaths of six people. Just seven days later, one of the same operators involved in the May 13 accident had another Part 135 fatal crash that killed two people. Since 1996, that same operator has had five Part 135 fatal accidents killing a total of 10 people. The operator was also involved in a serious nonfatal accident last year.
“Many of these accidents could have been avoided if operators had implemented safety management systems, installed flight data monitoring devices, and ensured pilots received comprehensive CFIT avoidance training—all the subject of recommendations we have issued in the last few decades,” the Safety Board said. “If the FAA and industry do not address these safety gaps, we will undoubtedly see more accidents involving the traveling public in Alaska.”