Tuesday, August 7, 2018

de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver Mk I, registered to Rust Properties LLC and operated by Rust's Flying Service Inc doing business as K2 Aviation, N323KT: Fatal accident occurred August 04, 2018 in Denali National Park and Preserve, Talkeetna, Alaska

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Wasilla, Alaska
K2 Aviation; Talkeetna, Alaska
Federal Aviation Administration; Washington, District of Columbia

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

K2 pilot Craig Layson

Location: Talkeetna, AK
Accident Number: ANC18FA063
Date & Time: 08/04/2018, 1753 AKD
Registration: N323KT
Aircraft: De Havilland DHC-2
Injuries: 5 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled - Sightseeing 

On August 4, 2018, about 1753 Alaska daylight time, a single-engine, de Havilland DHC-2 (Beaver) airplane, N323KT, sustained substantial damage during an impact with steep, high altitude, snow-covered terrain about 50 miles northwest of Talkeetna, Alaska, in Denali National Park and Preserve. The airplane was registered to Rust Properties, LLC and operated by Rust's Flying Service Inc, doing business as K2 Aviation as a visual flight rules on-demand commercial air tour flight, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 when the accident occurred. The commercial pilot and four passengers sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight originated at the Talkeetna Airport (TKA) about 1705.

According to K2 Aviation, the purpose of the flight was to provide the four passengers a one-hour tour flight. This tour was to consist of an aerial tour of multiple glaciers, which included a flyover of the Denali Base Camp located on the Kahiltna Glacier, at 7,200 feet mean sea level (msl), and then return to Talkeetna.

According to archived global positioning system (GPS) track data from K2 Aviation's in-flight tracking system, at 1746, as the flight passed over the Denali Base Camp, the airplane initially turns south, and travels down the Kahiltna Glacier. As the flight progressed southbound, it then turns to the left, and towards Talkeetna on a southeasterly heading. As the airplane continues on the southeasterly heading, the track terminates near a knife-edge ridge above the Kahiltna Glacier on Thunder Mountain.

At 1753, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) received the first alert from the accident airplane's 406MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT). At 1756, K2 Aviation was alerted that the accident airplane's satellite tracking had stopped moving, and lost aircraft procedures were immediately initiated.

About 1800, a satellite phone call from the accident pilot was received by personnel at K2 Aviation. The pilot stated that they had impacted a mountain and needed rescue. The call only lasted a couple minutes before the connection was lost. After several attempts, contact was once again made with the accident pilot, and he stated that he was trapped in the wreckage and there were possibly two fatalities. No further information was received before the connection was once again lost.

At 2008, the National Park Service (NPS) high altitude rescue helicopter based in Talkeetna, was dispatched to the coordinates transmitted from the accident airplane's 406MHz ELT. However, due to continuous poor weather conditions in the area, the helicopter crew was not able to reach the accident site. Search and rescue assets from the National Park Service (NPS), the RCC, the Alaska Air National Guard, the Alaska Army National Guard and the U.S. Army joined in the search and rescue mission.

On August 6, about 0717, the crew of the NPS's high altitude rescue helicopter located the airplane wreckage in an ice crevasse, at an altitude of about 10,920 ft msl, on a hanging glacier on Thunder Mountain, which is located about 14 miles southwest of the Denali Summit. The airplane was highly fragmented, and the right wing had separated and fallen several hundred feet below the main wreckage. Subsequently, an NPS mountain rescue ranger was able to access the accident site utilizing a technique known as a short-haul, which allows transport of rescue personnel to otherwise inaccessible sites while suspended beneath a helicopter using a long-line. Once on scene, and while still connected to the helicopter, the ranger was able to locate the deceased pilot and three of the passengers in the forward portion of the fuselage, but the fifth occupant was missing. The fuselage was fractured aft of the trailing edge of the wings, and the fuselage was splayed open with blown, packed snow inside.

Rapidly deteriorating weather conditions limited the initial on-scene time to about five minutes.

On August 10, NPS launched another short-haul site assessment mission. During this mission, the fifth occupant was located in the aft section of the fuselage and was confirmed deceased.

According to NPS management personnel, given the unique challenges posed by the steepness of terrain, ice crevasses, avalanche danger, and the instability of the aircraft wreckage, it was determined that recovery of the occupants remains, and retrieval of the aircraft wreckage, exceed an acceptable level of risk and therefore a recovery will not be attempted.

The airplane is equipped with a Pratt and Whitney R-985 series engine.

The closest official weather observation station to the accident site was located at the Talkeetna Airport, about 50 miles to the southeast. On August 4, 2018, at 1753, the station was reporting, in part: wind 170° at 6 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; ceiling and clouds, 8,000 ft. scattered, 10,000 ft. broken; temperature 72° F; dew point 54° F; altimeter 29.87 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: De Havilland
Registration: N323KT
Model/Series: DHC-2
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: K2 Aviation
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: TKA, 365 ft msl
Observation Time: 1753 ADT
Distance from Accident Site: 50 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 12°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 8000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 170°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 10000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.87 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Talkeetna, AK (TKA)
Destination:  Talkeetna, AK (TKA)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 4 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 5 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:

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

This photo from the National Park Service shows the site of a plane crash into the side of a mountain near the top of Thunder Mountain in the Alaska Range, near Denali.

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Recovery of the plane that crashed into a mountain in Denali National Park Saturday may not be possible for another couple of days, at least, say some of the agencies involved. The National Park Service and National Transportation Safety Board are still working up their plan of action, which is also dependent on weather, for the recovery of the plane, and those killed in the crash.

The plane, piloted by Craig Layson flying for K2 Aviation, also had four Polish passengers on board when it crashed within Denali National Park. Officials say that all on board are presumed to have died in the crash. Four were confirmed dead by a National Park Mountaineering Ranger who was hauled to the scene by helicopter. The ranger was unable to see the fifth person in the plane due to his short time at the plane and limited access, but presumes that person was in the plane as well.

Katherine Belcher, spokesperson for the National Parks Service, said the agency is still in the planning process Tuesday, meeting throughout the day to determine the next course of action for recovering the bodies of those who died.

Belcher said there's no plan to approach the plane Tuesday, due to poor weather conditions, and that action taken by NPS would likely need to wait until Thursday or Friday, as weather permits.

Clint Johnson, Chief of the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska district, told KTUU that this investigation is unusual.

"Our office is very used to dealing in very remote, challenging areas, however, this accident, and where the wreckage came to rest, is even over our heads," Johnson told Channel 2 Tuesday afternoon.

"This one is a unique situation because the wreckage is at altitude, and a very precarious location, so we're working right now very closely with the National Park Service, to see if we can gain access to the accident site," Johnson said. "I think that's unlikely, given the pictures that we saw yesterday of the airplane, that we probably won't be launching investigators to the actual site."

Johnson said that two separate recovery missions would likely be planned: one for the bodies trapped on the plane, and one for the plane itself.

While the Park Service will spearhead the main recovery effort of getting the bodies out of the downed plane, NTSB is focused on retrieval of the plane, which will take place after the bodies are recovered.

If recovering the bodies proves too difficult or impossible, Johnson said the NTSB would likely then try to recover both the plane and those on board in one trip. Johnson said two NTSB investigators were planning on flying to Talkeetna Wednesday to begin a preliminary investigation. The ultimate recovery of the aircraft would be in cooperation with K2 Aviation's insurance provider, Johnson said.

While Layson has been named by officials, the four Polish nationals have not. Belcher said that the NPS is working with the Polish consulate in Los Angeles to notify family members of the deaths first.

Story and video ➤ http://www.ktuu.com

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Talkeetna is mourning the loss of a pilot and four passengers who are all presumed to have perished in a plane crash in Denali National Park.

Air travel is one of Talkeetna's biggest attractions, as it draws in thousands of tourists flying in and out of the town. Many who take to the air will return safely but that wasn't the case for K2 pilot Craig Layson and four Polish flight-seers, when their plane crashed into a mountain on the Alaska Range.

"There is always an inherent risk when you're flying around a mountain that makes its own weather and that weather can change really fast," said David Lee of Sheldon Air Service.

While Layson may have worked for a competing air service, together as pilots, Lee says they were colleagues and when a deadly incident happens to one, it impacts all.

"You know you don’t wish this on anybody even though sometimes it’s competitive around here it does affect the whole industry, really the whole state of Alaska," said Lee.

Inside the Talkeetna Roadhouse, one of a handful of iconic businesses that tourists fill during these popular summer months, Trish Costello greets and serves guests with a smile on her face. While she's smiling externally, internally she's still mourning the loss of a fellow colleague in the tourist town she calls home.

As someone in a service industry, Costello says it’s difficult to deal with a loss like this because she still has to cater to the needs of every visitor while trying to process the impact this crash has had on her beloved community.

"They don’t really know what’s going on and they don’t realize that our staff is trying to operate completely shocked, processing their emotions, and dealing with the loss," said Costello.

Costello said she worked with pilot Craig Layson's wife, Maggie, so this tragedy hits very close to home for her and her staff. But says she’s trying to keep her emotions in perspective knowing the grief and shock the staff at K2, and the victims' families, are feeling.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.ktuu.com

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