PC-12 Crash Is Third Guardian Flight Fatal Accident

 - February 28, 2023, 2:00 PM
Guardian Flight operates a fleet of 60 medically-equipped air ambulance aircraft including King Airs. (Photo: Guardian Flight)

The crash of a Pilatus PC-12 on February 24 that killed all five aboard was the third fatal accident for air ambulance provider Guardian Flight and its second in just three months. In previous accidents, King Air 300s operated by the South Jordan, Utah company each killed three in mishaps on Jan. 29, 2019, and Dec. 15, 2022. 

According to NTSB vice chair Bruce Landsberg, the turboprop single broke apart in flight some 15 minutes after a 9 p.m. departure from Reno-Tahoe International Airport. ADS-B data shows the PC-12 was at 19,400 feet msl before entering a spiraling descent, reaching more than 30,000 fpm. Parts of the right wing and tail section were found at least a half-mile from the main crash site, Landsberg said.

Landsberg noted that Guardian Flight has 60 aircraft in its fleet. In a statement, the company said it has instituted a “passive stand down for all Guardian flights across the company. We will work with each of our operations to ascertain when they are able to return to service.”

A sigmet at the time of the accident reported moderate turbulence and icing from the surface to FL200 and light snow. “These [class of] airplanes are designed to fly in that type of weather conditions,” Landsberg said. Killed in the accident were the pilot, flight nurse, patient, paramedic, and patient's family member.