Thursday, May 04, 2017

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, N803TH: Fatal Accident occurred May 01, 2017 in Chignik Lake, Alaska

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; FAA Denali CMO; Anchorage, Alaska 
Grant Aviation Inc.; Anchorage, Alaska
Pratt and Whitney Canada Corp.; Montreal, QC

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Grant Aviation:

NTSB Identification: ANC17FA021 
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Monday, May 01, 2017 in Chignik Lake, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 208B, registration: N803TH
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 1, 2017, about 1350 Alaska daylight time, a turbine-powered Cessna 208B Grand Caravan airplane, N803TH, sustained substantial damage after impacting steep, mountainous terrain about 8 miles south of Chignik Lake Airport, Chignik Lake, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as Flight 341 by Grant Aviation, Inc, Anchorage, Alaska, as a scheduled commuter flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 and visual flight rules (VFR). The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the airplane's point of departure, and company flight following procedures were in effect. Flight 341 departed Port Heiden Airport, Alaska, at 1305, destined for Perryville Airport, Perryville, Alaska.

Flight 341 originated at the King Salmon Airport, Alaska, with one passenger who disembarked at the Port Heiden Airport. The scheduled flight continued to the Perryville Airport, which was about 80 miles away, with 1,322 lbs. of mail and no passengers. According to the director of operations for Grant Aviation, at 1353 he received a notification from the US Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) Juneau, of a signal from a 406 megahertz (MHz) Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) that was registered to N803TH. The Director of Operations initiated the company's overdue aircraft procedures. 

According to the US Coast Guard District 17 Command Center, the initial ELT signal was received from the COSPAS/SARSAT system at 1353. RCC Juneau initiated a search mission that included a HC-130 airplane and MH-60 helicopter from Air Station Kodiak, which is located about 275 miles northeast of the initial ELT position. At 1730, the wreckage was located and a rescue swimmer was hoisted down to the site. The crewman determined that the pilot was deceased. The crew could not extricate the pilot due to limited resources, time, fuel and deteriorating weather.

The Alaska State Troopers coordinated a recovery mission conducted on May 4 that included a Coast Guard MH-60 from Air Station Kodiak, and volunteer members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group. The remains of the pilot were removed from the scene and transported to a secure location. The wreckage will be recovered and examined at a future date.

According to information and photographs provided by the recovery crew, the wreckage came to rest in deep snow at about 2,993 feet on the west face of a treeless, steep mountain in the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge of the Aleutian Range. It is located about 500 feet from the top of the mountain ridge and partially submerged in the snow on its left side with the nose section under the snow pack. The fragmented wreckage was contained in an area of about 100 feet by 40 feet, on a heading of about 030 ° magnetic, with the right wing separated and located about 40 feet forward of the main wreckage. The wings and fuselage sustained substantial damage. 

At 1239, an aviation special weather report (SPECI) from the Chignik Airport (the closest weather reporting facility) reported, in part: wind variable at 4 knots; visibility 10 statute miles, light rain; sky condition, overcast at 1,700 feet; temperature 39 ° F, dewpoint 36 ° F; altimeter, 29.51 inHg.

 Gabriele Cianetti

The pilot and sole occupant of a Grant Aviation plane was killed Monday in a crash on a Southwest Alaska mountainside, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The pilot was identified Tuesday morning by Alaska State Troopers as 54-year-old Gabriele Cianetti of Anchorage. Grant Aviation President Bruce McGlasson described Cianetti as an experienced bush pilot who worked at several other Alaska aviation companies before spending about 2 1/2 years with Grant.

An emergency locator transmitter signal from the Cessna 208B prompted the launch of an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, the Coast Guard said in a post on its Alaska Facebook page.

"The Jayhawk crew lowered a rescue swimmer to assess the wreckage but unfortunately the pilot did not survive," the Coast Guard wrote.

Cianetti was a dual citizen of the United States and Italy, where his family resides, McGlasson said. He was not married and did not have kids, but Cianetti was close with employees and customers, particularly those out of his home base of King Salmon and the crew in Dillingham, he said.

Petty Officer 1st Class Brent Flanick, with the Coast Guard's 17th District command center, said the Cessna was on a flight from Port Heiden to Perryville when the locator signal was detected just before 2 p.m.

"They spotted the wreckage at about 3,000 feet on one of the mountains," Flanick said.

McGlasson said Cianetti was on an "extra session flight." The pilot was taking mail to communities on and around the Alaska Peninsula, he added, "he was heavily loaded with cargo, mostly mail, some commodities."

A single passenger had been flying with Cianetti but got off the plane at Port Heiden, McGlasson said.

The helicopter crew was able to electronically confirm the plane's location, about 225 miles southwest of Kodiak, by about 4:20 p.m. Cloud cover prevented the Jayhawk crew from lowering a rescuer for another two hours.

Clint Johnson, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska chief, said the crash site was in steep, snow-covered terrain roughly 8 miles south of Chignik Lake. Investigators and Alaska State Troopers were hoping to travel there Tuesday, but cloudy weather may continue to hinder their efforts.

"Right now, we're trying to form a plan on how to get there and get this done," Johnson said.

Grant's Dillingham and King Salmon facilities were closed Tuesday in response to Cianetti's death, the company said on its Facebook page. Counselors will visit the locations Wednesday, McGlasson said.

"As the NTSB investigates the cause of the crash, we at Grant Aviation encourage our employees and customers to reach out to one another to share comforting words and memories of Gabe," Grant officials wrote.

Cianetti's remains were not recovered Monday, Flanick said.

Troopers have identified the deceased as 54-year-old Gabriele Cianetti, of Anchorage. His next of kin has been notified.

Updated at 10:05 a.m. on Tuesday, May 2

The pilot and sole occupant in a Cessna 208B operated by Grant Aviation was found dead south of Chignik Monday evening, according to an updated Tuesday Alaska State Trooper dispatch.

The wreckage was discovered at a 3,000-foot elevation about “228 miles southwest of Kodiak,” Petty Officer John Paul Rios with the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The plane was headed from the small, Alaska Peninsula village of Port Heiden to Perryville when the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) went off south of Chignik around 2 p.m., according to Clint Johnson, Alaska region chief for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Troopers said that Grant Aviation confirmed they had an overdue aircraft.

The Coast Guard launched a C-130 Hercules airplane and a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to search the area.

The wreckage was discovered at 5:49 p.m., on a steep mountain slope near Perryville.

Troopers said efforts to recover the body and wreckage are ongoing. In a Tuesday morning phone call, Johnson said because of the terrain, the recovery was going to be a challenge.

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