Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cessna 207 Skywagon, Yute Air, N1653U: Accident occurred May 30, 2015 in Bethel, Alaska

NTSB Identification: ANC15FA032
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 30, 2015 in Bethel, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 207, registration: N1653U
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 30, 2015, about 1130 Alaska daylight time, a Cessna 207, N1653U, sustained substantial damage after impacting trees about 40 miles southeast of Bethel, Alaska. The airplane was being operated by Yute Air, Bethel, Alaska as a visual flight rules (VFR) postmaintenance flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions were reported in the area of the accident, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The accident flight originated at the Bethel Airport, Alaska about 0830, with an expected return time of 1200.

About 1415, flight coordination personnel from Yute Air in Bethel notified the Director of Operations (DO) that the accident airplane was overdue. About 1435 the DO notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who issued an alert notice (ALNOT). About 1532, an aerial search was initiated by Yute Air, Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Air National Guard as well as other air operators and Good Samaritans. On May 31, about 1730 searchers discovered the airplane's submerged and fragmented wreckage in a river slough. 

On June 1, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), along with an additional NTSB investigator, an inspector from the Anchorage Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), and members of the Alaska State Troopers, traveled to the accident scene by helicopter and river boats. 

The main wreckage was located submerged in a fast flowing braided river that was surrounded by trees. An area believed to be the initial impact point was marked by a broken treetop, atop about a 30 foot tall birch tree. From the initial impact point the airplane traveled northbound, about 350 feet, coming to rest on its left side, and in the fast moving river water. The engine separated from the airplane and it was located submerged upstream and in the main river channel. The pilot's body was discovered still restrained within the submerged fuselage. 

An on-scene documentation of the debris field was completed, and a detailed wreckage examination is pending following recovery of the airplane. 

The accident airplane was equipped with automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) technology. In typical applications, the ADS-B capable aircraft uses an ordinary Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to derive its precise position from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) constellation, and then combines that position with any number of aircraft parameters, such as speed, heading, altitude, and aircraft registration number. This information is then simultaneously broadcast to other ADS-B capable aircraft, and to ADS-B ground, or satellite communications transceivers, which then relay the aircraft's position and additional information to Air Traffic Control centers in real time.

A preliminary NTSB review of ADS-B data archived by the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) showed that the accident airplane was transmitting data for portions of the accident flight. At the last recorded ADS-B position, which was about 6 miles southwest from the accident site, the airplane was flying at an altitude of approximately 475 feet mean seal level (msl), while traveling in an easterly-northeasterly direction. A detailed NTSB analysis of the archived ADS-B data is pending.

The airplane was equipped with a Continental Motors IO-520 engine. A detailed NTSB examination of the engine is pending.

The closest weather reporting facility was Bethel, about 40 miles northwest of the accident site. At 1053, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) was reporting, in part: Wind 210 degrees at 10 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, few at 12000 feet, scattered at 2000 feet; temperature, 16 degrees C; dew point, 9 degrees C; altimeter, 30.12 inHG.

FAA FSDO:  FAA Anchorage FSDO-03


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The body of a missing Yute Air pilot was found inside the upside-down wreckage of a small plane that had just been equipped with a new engine, Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday.

 Responders tentatively identified the body found in the Cessna 207 on Monday as 47-year-old Blaze Highlander of Olympia, Washington. The aircraft was found in the Kwethluk River about 40 miles southeast of Bethel, but challenging conditions are slowing efforts to recover the submerged body and wreckage.

Highlander, who survived an earlier Yute Air plane crash, was last seen leaving Bethel Saturday morning. Troopers said he was breaking in a new engine for the plane. He was the only person on board.

The wreckage was spotted by another Yute Air pilot Sunday evening, but recovery efforts have been stymied by adverse weather and river conditions. Responders on the scene found the plane in pieces and submerged in up to 8 feet of water, according to Clint Johnson, head of the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska office.

"This is a very fast-moving river," Johnson said. "And when there's a fair amount of rain upstream, there's pretty much a wall of water."

Johnson said it's unclear if the plane broke apart because of the impact or the river conditions, Johnson said.

Yute Air's Bethel station manager Andrew Flagg referred questions to company operations manager Dan Knesek, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

In December 2011, Highlander survived a plane crash near Kwigillingok, escaping with only minor injuries. Highlander was the only person on board the Yute Air-owned Cessna 207 when the crash occurred about 80 miles southwest of Bethel.

The cause of that crash was determined by the NTSB to be the pilot's decision to continue flying in bad weather that iced up the wings.

It's too early to say what caused the weekend crash, which occurred when the weather was clear and calm, at least in Bethel, according to Johnson. He said weather is not a top priority in the investigation at this point. NTSB investigations also look at pilot error and mechanical problems as possible causes.

Yute Air serves more than 22 communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of southwest Alaska, providing scheduled air service and charters.

Update, 10:30 a.m. Monday: A Yute Air plane missing after flying out of Bethel Saturday was found crashed in the Kwethluk River at 6:45 p.m. Sunday, according to the Alaska National Guard. 

"Wreckage was initially spotted by a Yute Air pilot who was flying a company aircraft during the search," said National Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead Monday. "The Civil Air Patrol flew over the area moments later and were able to confirm the aircraft wreckage."

Rescue and recovery efforts are underway, authorities said. 

A preliminary FAA incident report posted Monday says that the missing Cessna 207 was found 40 miles from Bethel.

The preliminary data says the status of the pilot -- the lone person aboard the Cessna -- is "unknown." 

Olmstead said that Alaska State Troopers headed to the scene in a jet boat early Monday morning, along with a trooper helicopter and  investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and FAA. 

Original story: A major search is underway in Western Alaska for a Yute Air pilot who didn’t return from a post-maintenance check flight out of Bethel on Saturday.

The pilot, flying a Cessna 207, left from the regional airline’s hub in Bethel Saturday morning at about 8:30 a.m., said Clint Johnson, Alaska chief for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The pilot planned to head east of Bethel for a three-and-a-half hour flight, said Daniel Knesek, director of operations for Yute Air.

“He was considered overdue at 12:30 p.m. and we have been actively searching for him and the aircraft thereafter,” Knesek wrote.

The pilot was the only person aboard the aircraft.

Johnson said it was too early for his agency, which investigates aircraft accidents, to be actively involved.

“We don’t know if it’s an accident yet,” Johnson said.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center is heading up a search, said Alaska State Troopers spokesman Tim Despain, with trooper aircraft assisting Civil Air Patrol and military aircraft in the search.

Several local air carriers and pilots operating in Western Alaska have also joined the search.

“Hageland Aviation, Grant Aviation, Ryan Air and Renfro’s Alaskan Adventures and the State Troopers have all provided pilots and aircraft to help since the search began,” Knesek said. "Our efforts will continue." 

Yute Air serves more than 22 villages in the area of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, with scheduled air service and charters on a fleet of Cessna 207 and 172 airplanes.


No comments:

Post a Comment