Sunday, May 13, 2018

Piper PA 28-180 Cherokee, N7061W: Fatal accident occurred May 12, 2018 in Whittier, Alaska

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Whittier, AK
Accident Number: ANC18FA036
Date & Time: 05/12/2018, 0940 AKD
Registration: N7061W
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On May 12, 2018, about 0940 Alaska daylight time, a Piper Cherokee PA-28-180 airplane, N7061W, sustained substantial damage after impacting remote, mountainous, snow-covered terrain about 1 mile south-southeast of Whittier, Alaska. The student pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 visual flight rules solo cross-country flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the departure airport and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Merrill Field Airport (MRI,) Anchorage, Alaska, about 0859, and was destined for the Valdez Pioneer Field Airport (VDZ,) Valdez, Alaska.

The purpose of the flight, according to family members, was for the pilot to reposition his airplane from MRI to VDZ for the summer. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control records, the airplane departed MRI at 0859 and preceded to the Turnagain Arm waterway where the pilot reported Bird Creek point at 0916. No further radio communications were received from the pilot. The area between Anchorage and Valdez consists of remote inland fjords, coastal waterways, and steep mountainous terrain which requires flight through numerous mountain passes.

Archived images from the FAA aviation weather cameras on the morning of May 12 at Whittier and Portage Glacier depict low cloud ceilings with obscured mountain tops in the area near the accident site.

According to the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center (AKRCC), an emergency locator beacon (ELT) signal was received about 0940 on May 12, 2018. The ELT was not registered to the airplane owner and there were no overdue airplane reports in Alaska. The AKRCC coordinated a ground and air search with the Civil Air Patrol throughout the day, however weather at the accident site prevented access to the location in the mountains. After a concerned family member reported an overdue airplane to the Kenai Flight Service Station, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an alert notice (ALNOT) at 1516. The AKRCC coordinated the launch of an Alaska Air National Guard (AKANG) HH-60 helicopter and a U.S. Coast Guard MH-60T helicopter from Cordova to continue the search in the Whittier area. About 2100, the USCG helicopter located the wreckage on a steep snow-covered mountain at 2,000 ft elevation. The AKANG helicopter lowered a pararescueman to the site and he observed that the pilot had received fatal injuries. The following day, the Alaska State Troopers search and rescue command coordinated the recovery of the pilot by the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group and the Alaska Department of Public Safety Helo 3.

The airplane was outfitted with an Artex 406-megahertz ELT that was designed to instantly transmit a distress signal to search and rescue satellites, thereby alerting rescue personnel within minutes of the location of the crash, and specifically to whom the ELT was registered. However, the registered owner on file was a foreign government entity and the recovered ELT unit was placarded with a country code for Ireland. Title 47 CFR Part 87.199 requires that all U.S. ELTs be registered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) when an airplane or ELT changes ownership and every two years thereafter.

A detailed examination of the airplane wreckage is pending.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N7061W
Model/Series: PA-28-180
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Unknown
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PATO, 103 ft msl
Observation Time: 1753 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 6°C / 1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 2800 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots/ 18 knots, 100°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3400 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.25 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: ANCHORAGE, AK (MRI)
Destination: VALDEZ, AK (VDZ) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 60.763889, -148.715833 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

Brett Anthony Andrews

Brett Anthony Andrews, 30, of Alaska, passed away May 12, 2018 following an airplane accident.

Brett was born in Springville to Kathie and Gerald Andrews, both of Anchorage, Alaska. Brett graduated from Dimond High School and Operating Engineers Registered Apprenticeship. He was a proud fourth generation Operating Engineer Local 302.

He lived in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Valdez, Alaska.

Brett was an avid adventurer and traveler. His interests included rock climbing, hunting, camping and most importantly: flying. His warm heart was felt by all. Although Brett had many companions ready to take on his next big adventure, he really began to live after meeting his love, Katie Wilkerson. He was a competent and certified crane operator and worked throughout the state of Alaska. Undoubtedly, his first best friend was his brother Ben and he was a proud uncle and role model to his nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, brother and girlfriend, Brett is survived by his step-mother Kathlynn, of Anchorage; sister-in-law Elizabeth Andrews; nieces and nephews Elsie, Adalyn and Bennett, of Anchorage; step-brother and sister-in-law, Jason and Brenna Frost and family, step-sister Kelly Frost and family. Grandparents are Betty Bybee, Wayne and Linda Ingram, Don and Michelle Jaco and John Andrews. Brett is also survived by many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

A funeral mass will be held at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church at 8110 Jewel Lake Road at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 19. A celebration of life and reception will follow from 1-6 p.m. at the Local 302 Operating Engineers Union Hall at 4001 Denali Street.

Alaska State Troopers on Wednesday confirmed the identity of the pilot as Brett Andrews, 31, of Anchorage, after positive identification by the State Medical Examiner's Office. Andrews had been listed as the registered owner of the plane.

Original story:

A pilot's body was recovered on Sunday from the wreckage of an airplane crash near Whittier, an official said.

The student pilot had been flying solo to Valdez, where he was planning to keep the Piper PA 28-180 single-engine airplane for the summer, when the accident occurred, said Noreen Price, aviation accident investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska Region.

The pilot took off from Anchorage's Merrill Field around 9:05 a.m. on Saturday, Price said.

Around 9:40 a.m., the Rescue Coordination Center got a signal from an emergency locator transmitter. The center began coordinating with the Alaska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, Price said, but they weren't sure whether the emergency signal was valid.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, a family member called the FAA to report the overdue plane, Price said. At that point, an Alaska Air National Guard helicopter was launched, followed by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, Price said.

The plane was found around 9 p.m. on Saturday, Price said. One helicopter lowered a person to the site, who was able to determine that the pilot had died.

The pilot crashed about a mile south of Whittier. He impacted a mountain at about 2,000 feet altitude, Price said.

The pilot was near a flight path that follows Turnagain Arm and Portage Pass, a commonly-used route to Valdez, Price said.

The man's name has not been released. Alaska State Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters said Monday the agency was awaiting a positive identification on the body.

The plane's FAA registration number, provided by Price, shows the registered owner as Brett A. Andrews of Anchorage. Price was not able to say whether Andrews was the man who died.

Price said the airplane suffered significant damage to the nose section, which indicates a high speed of impact. The plane was found upright, and it appeared to have taken a slight right turn before the accident.

On Sunday, Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group made it to the site, and recovered the pilot's body.

The airplane is located in an avalanche-risk area of deep, wet snow, Price said.

The insurance company will organize the plane's removal from the mountain, Price said. Then, the airplane manufacturer, FAA, National Transportation Safety Board, and maybe the engine manufacturer will conduct an investigation to see if anything malfunctioned on the plane that may have contributed to the accident.

Student pilots are able to fly solo, Price said, so long as they have an endorsement from their flight instructor. The investigation will include a review of the pilot's training and whether that endorsement had been made, Price said.

A preliminary report will be out in seven to 10 days. The final report could take upwards of a year, depending on what information investigators uncover, Price said.

WHITTIER, Alaska (KTUU) - Days after a plane went down, killing the pilot and sole occupant aboard, authorities investigating the crash have released the identity of that man.

Brett Andrews, 31, of Anchorage, was flying the plane on Saturday when it plummeted into the mountainside near Whittier, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

Andrews was a student pilot, and was registered to the plane, though officials say no flight plan was filed. It originated from Merrill Field and was headed for Valdez when it went down.

The plane, a Piper Cherokee PA-28-180 airplane, tail number N7061W, sustained "substantial damage" in the crash, the NTSB reported.

Andrews' body was recovered earlier this week by a recovery team operating a helicopter on May 13. The plane's emergency locator in Whittier helped the rescuers find the crash site about half a mile south of town.

Initially, weather delayed response to the crash site, preventing access to the mountains there. The plane was later found at about 2,000 ft elevation, the NTSB said.

His body has been taken to the State Medical Examiner's Office, troopers say, while the investigation into what caused the crash continues on.

The NTSB will be conducting a complete flight investigation, with preliminary results published Thursday, ahead of the final determination which could take months.

The airplane had an Artex 406-megahertz ELT that was designed to "instantly transmit a distress signal to search and rescue satellites, thereby alerting rescue personnel within minutes of the location of the crash," the NTSB reported.

However, they stated, the registered owner on file was a "foreign government entity" and the recovered ELT unit was placarded with a country code for Ireland.

Original article can be found here ➤

Alaska State Troopers say the pilot of the overdue aircraft they were searching for Saturday died in a plane crash near Whittier.

The remains of the pilot, who was the sole occupant of the aircraft, was recovered early Monday morning, troopers wrote in an online dispatch. 

Noreen Price, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board said it appears the pilot, who was flying plane number N7061W, was heading east around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday when the plane crashed head-on to the side of a mountain about a half a mile south of Whittier at an altitude of 2,000 feet. 

According to troopers' online dispatch, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center was signaled by the aircraft's emergency locator transmitter in the Whittier area around 11:30 a.m.

Lt. j.g. Rian Ellis, with the Coast Guard's 17th District Command Center, said the center was alerted to "an overdue aircraft in the Portage Glacier area" at 3:38 p.m.

That call was relayed to the 11th Air Force’s Rescue Coordination Center in Anchorage, Ellis said, which took over the case and has sent a search helicopter to the area.

Troopers say a couple of search crews found the crash site, however, weather conditions hindered them from being able to access the area on Saturday. 

Clouds were obscuring the crash site, making the search difficult, Price said. Recovery was challenging because of the steepness of the mountain and spring snow. With deep, wet snow, Price added that an avalanche risk was also high in the area. 

Early Monday morning, DPS Helo 3 and AMRG were able to recover the pilot's remains which were sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office, according to troopers. 

According to the Federal Aviation Administration's registry, the plane was registered to Brett Andrews. 

The person flying the plane was a student pilot, Price said. They left Merrill Field with Valdez as the intended destination.  Next of kin has been notified. Troopers have not yet confirmed the identified the pilot.

The remains of the pilot who died in a plane crash near Whittier on Saturday, whose name remains un-released, were recovered from the crash site on Sunday morning, the Alaska State Troopers revealed.

The  Department of Public Safety’s Helo-3 and the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group were able to access the crash site and recover the remains of the pilot and transfer them to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Anchorage.

The pilot and lone occupant of the Piper PA 28-180 departed Merrill Field on Saturday morning intending to fly to Valdez when he crashed near Whittier. The cause of the crash is currently unknown. The NTSB will inspect the wreckage in an effort to determine the cause.

The USCG and RCC located the crash site on Saturday afternoon. Poor weather conditions delayed the DPS response.

Original article ➤

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