Thursday, September 13, 2018

‘Airplane of opportunity’? Richard Russell raised pilot’s suspicions a year before Seattle-Tacoma International Airport plane heist

Richard Russell, a Horizon ground-crew worker, stole an airplane from Sea-Tac Airport last month and eventually crashed on Ketron Island in Puget Sound. 

Newly released emergency-dispatch recordings reveal details that could shed light on how Horizon Air employee Richard Russell was able to steal an airplane from Sea-Tac Airport before crashing and killing himself. 


A commercial airline pilot says he encountered Richard Russell — the Horizon Air baggage handler who stole a passenger plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and took it for a wild 75-minute flight before crashing last month — at the helm of an unoccupied aircraft a year earlier, according to interviews and emergency-dispatch audio recordings obtained by The Seattle Times.

Joel Monteith, a pilot for SkyWest Airlines, told an emergency dispatcher in August that after he saw Russell and a second man “pointing and flipping switches” inside the empty SkyWest jet at the airport last year, “I went over and confronted them, and I said, ‘Hey, what are you guys doing in here?’ ”

The men told Monteith they were training to use the plane’s auxiliary-power unit so they’d know how to tow it as part of their jobs, he said, “but they kind of … started to get up and then leave the airplane when I confronted them. So, that was kind of suspicious.”

Monteith’s conversation with the dispatcher about his previous encounters with Russell is among dozens of audio recordings of emergency-dispatch communications recently obtained by The Times under a state Public Records Act request that provide more insight into the Horizon incident from the time it was unfolding and during its immediate aftermath.

Monteith also reported to the dispatcher that he recalled Russell had been “inside my cockpit” of an Embraer 175 jet airliner on at least one other occasion, “asking questions (and) wanting to do my flows, which is the preflight preparation I do for takeoff.”

“I don’t think the thing with this guy is like a plot that this dude just came up with like overnight,” Monteith added. “I think that maybe this guy had been thinking about doing this for a long time and then maybe the Q400 that he took was just an airplane of opportunity.”

During an interview Tuesday, Monteith, a 55-year-old Tacoma resident with 30 years of piloting experience, confirmed making the report, but he said no investigator has since followed up with him.

“I’m actually kind of surprised about it,” Monteith said. “I haven’t heard back from Pierce County, and the FBI hasn’t contacted me, either.”

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment about the pilot’s report, citing in an email Tuesday an “ongoing investigation.” A spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air did not respond to The Times’ request for comment.

Monteith reported the encounters to an emergency dispatcher in Pierce County the day after Russell’s solo flight in the Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 that he’d commandeered from an airport cargo area, taxied onto a runway and lifted off on the evening of Aug. 10.

Russell, a married 29-year-old Alaska transplant who lived in Sumner, pulled off several aerobatic stunts during the unauthorized flight before the plane crashed into the woods on sparsely populated Ketron Island in South Puget Sound.

During a rambling, recorded conversation with ground control, Russell described himself as a “man in crisis,” but also calmly chatted about such observations as Mount Rainier’s beauty and how to find an orca that for days had garnered national attention while carrying its dead calf in Puget Sound.

The unauthorized flight shut down Sea-Tac Airport traffic, prompted two F-15 fighter jets in Portland to break the sound barrier while scrambling to the scene and drew dozens of awe-struck witnesses to call 911.

It also left pilots and other aviation experts speculating as to how Russell, a low-paid ground-services employee with no apparent pilot experience, knew how to fly the 76-seat passenger turboprop plane and pull off the jaw-dropping aerial maneuvers.

The chaotic joy ride also exposed a serious breach at one of America’s busiest airports that could have nationwide ramifications on airport-security procedures.

“I think this episode speaks to a bigger security problem for the industry as a whole,” Monteith said Tuesday. “What’s to keep a terrorist from gaining a security clearance under the veil of airline employment and hijacking an airplane? That’s a bigger concern for the FAA and NTSB.”

The FBI and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continue to investigate exactly what happened, but so far have revealed few details publicly.

Other recordings obtained by The Times include a firefighter’s radio transmissions from the crash site, informing dispatch that at least one of the airplane’s flight recorders appeared to be destroyed or missing, and another report made by a former co-worker to inform authorities about Russell’s prior training in moving the airplane.

A spokeswoman for the FBI’s Seattle office noted Tuesday the agency previously released a statement that the aircraft’s flight-data recorder and “components of the cockpit voice recorder” were recovered from the crash site and have since been taken to the NTSB’s laboratory in Washington, D.C., for processing. Investigators have been able retrieve information from both devices, an FBI spokeswoman said.

During the recording of the call from Russell’s former co-worker, he told a dispatcher that Russell was “not a maintenance guy, he’s just a ramper.”

But the man added Russell recently had been trained for the Tow Team, which would’ve taught him “how to turn the airplane on and work some of the systems so that you can get it towed from one gate to the other.

“That’s how he knew how to turn on the airplane and start the engines and all that,” the man said.

In a phone interview Tuesday, the 27-year-old man, who asked not to be named for fear it might harm his aviation career, said he called authorities to “set the record straight” on misinformation in early media reports that described Russell as a maintenance worker, and to further explain how Russell knew how to move aircraft.

“I was expecting somebody to call me back,” the man said. “But nah, no one ever did.”

Monteith also provided further details Tuesday about his encounters with Russell, saying he immediately recognized Russell’s photo during news reports of the Horizon flight incident.

During the first encounter, Monteith said Russell “seemed unusually friendly and chatty” when he followed Monteith to the aircraft he was piloting about a year before he stole the airplane.

“So then he asks, ‘Do you mind if I watch your flows?’ And at that point, I got a little hair or hackle up on my back and thought, ‘You know, there’s no reason why he would need to know how to set up this aircraft,’ ” Monteith recalled.

The pilot said he began stalling on other tasks until other members of the flight crew showed up and Russell finally left.

On a later occasion last year, Monteith said he saw Russell in the captain’s seat of another SkyWest jet joined by a fellow Horizon ramp agent, prompting him to confront them.

“To see anybody in the cockpit of one of our airplanes without a SkyWest representative present is highly unusual,” he said. “So I kind of just went over and said, ‘Hey, what are you guys doing in here?’ ”

After they told him they were training to tug the aircraft, Monteith said he told them: “You look like you’re doing more than that and don’t need to be there.”

Monteith said he didn’t report the incident at the time because “it’s kind of a delicate issue.”

“We don’t have a specific security mandate saying those with clearance can’t be in a plane’s cockpit,” he said. “And if these really were legitimate guys and they’re authorized to be there, I would potentially be creating an abrasive situation.”

After reporting his encounters with Russell to authorities last month, Monteith said he also relayed them to his employer and believes SkyWest is reviewing the reports.

Story and audio ➤ https://www.seattletimes.com

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, N7223J: Accident occurred September 13, 2018 at Spanish Fork Airport (KSPK) Utah County, Utah

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah

https://registry.faa.gov/N7223J

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA553
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, September 13, 2018 in Spanish Fork, UT
Aircraft: Piper PA28, registration: N7223J

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Crashed due to unknown circumstances.

Date: 13-SEP-18
Time: 21:15:00Z
Regis#: N7223J
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA 28 140
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: SUBSTANTIAL
Activity: INSTRUCTION
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 91
City: SPANISH FORK
State: UTAH




SPANISH FORK, Utah, Sept. 13, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — An instructor and student pilot suffered non-life-threatening injuries Thursday morning when their small craft, being flown by the licenced pilot, crashed on the side of the Spanish Fork Airport runway.

The incident happened at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, according to information from the Lt. Brandon Anderson, Spanish Fork Police Department.

“Police, Fire and EMS were dispatched to the Spanish Fork Airport on a report of a Piper Cherokee PA 28 that had crashed just off the runway on takeoff,” a statement from Anderson says.

“The plane was being flown by an instructor with a student pilot as a passenger.

During the process of taking off the plane became airborne and for an unknown reason veered to its right. The pilot attempted to right the plane but was
unsuccessful and the plane crashed off the side of the runway coming to a rest in a ditch.”

The pilot and student were able to exit the plane. Their injuries consisted mostly of cuts and bruises, Anderson’s statement says.

“The names of the pilot and student pilot are not being released at this time. The pilot is a 28-year-old male and the student pilot is a 35-year-old male.

“The FAA and NTSB were contacted and are investigating the cause of the crash.”

Original article can be found here ➤  https://gephardtdaily.com


A flight instructor and student pilot walked away with only minor cuts and bruises after their plane crashed on a runway Thursday morning in Spanish Fork.

The Spanish Fork Police Department reported that the two men had barely taken off from the Spanish Fork airport at 8:30 a.m. when the plane unexpectedly veered to the right.

"The pilot attempted to right the plane but was unsuccessful and the plane crashed off the side of the runway, coming to a rest in a ditch," a press release stated.

The 28-year-old pilot and 35-year-old student were able to escape the blue Piper PA-28 Cherokee plane on their own, officials reported. They suffered minor injuries including cuts and bruises.

The plane was being flown by the instructor and the student was riding as the passenger during the time of the crash.

Both men were transported to a local hospital. Officials are not releasing the names of the student or pilot at this time.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating the cause of the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.heraldextra.com







SPANISH FORK — Two men were cut and bruised Thursday after crashing a small plane during takeoff at the Spanish Fork Airport, police said.

According to a news release from Spanish Fork Police Department, the pilot, 28, and his student, 35, had just become airborne around 8:30 a.m. when their Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee veered to the right "for an unknown reason."

"The pilot attempted to right the plane but was unsuccessful and the plane crashed off the side of the runway coming to a rest in a ditch," the release stated.

The men, whose names were not released, were able to get out of the plane on their own and were taken to a local hospital to be treated for their injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.deseretnews.com

Varying oxygen levels in cockpit sickened pilots, Air Force says



The Air Force training command said Thursday that a problem with varying levels of oxygen concentrations in the cockpit was identified as the major factor in unexplained physiological events that have sickened dozens of T-6 Texan II pilots this year.

The San Antonio-based command, which has investigated malfunctions in its onboard oxygen generation system since it grounded the T-6 in February, also revealed how it plans to fix the problem.

“So far, technical efforts to date and analysis of data collected have determined that pilots have been exposed to significantly changing levels of oxygen concentration,” Lt. Gen. Steve Kwast, head of the training command, said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

He said the system sometimes was producing more oxygen than a pilot needs, which caused problems for some aviators.

Problems with the onboard oxygen generation system, or OBOGS, on the training plane had prompted as many as 11 pilots with the 12th Flying Training Wing to refuse to fly the aircraft. They took the action after aviators had suffered unexplained physiological episodes — called UPEs by the Air Force — that can incapacitate pilots and even lead to their deaths.

Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, recently told the San Antonio Express-News that investigators had found the root cause of the problem and would begin making fixes.

Kwast said symptoms experienced by some of the pilots were similar to a lack of oxygen, lack of carbon dioxide or other related conditions.

The Air Force Materiel Command created an independent review team to investigate the problems. Investigators learned that the OBOGS filter and drain valves failed at a much higher than anticipated rate. These parts were repaired or replaced.

The Air Force has said that the OBOGS shutoff valve, which funnels air from the engine into the system, failed at a much higher rate than expected. Inspections showed that 85 percent of the shutoff valves inspected failed in the open position, allowing unrestricted air flow. Investigators also found that the same percentage of inlet filters had evidence of moisture but with no significant effect to airflow.

Given that some oxygen system components failed at higher than expected rates, the T-6 Program Office on Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, directed inspections on a more aggressive timeline. Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, commander of the 19th Air Force, said that purging excess moisture from the system appears to keep the OBOGS operating more efficiently over time.

Texan II pilots, meanwhile, have been given extra training and procedures to help them respond to possible oxygen system malfunctions. The training command will add study materials for T-6 aviaiors that will focus on identifying symptoms, responses and corrective procedures for all types of events, not just hypoxia.

More fixes are on the way as well. The Air Force has started a redesign of the T-6 OBOGS system to stabilize the variation in oxygen levels pilots breathe — a process likely to take from two to four years. Experts also are working with the plane’s manufacturer to adjust the OBOGS software algorithm to stabilize oxygen concentrations.

The Air Force said those measures should reduce physiological events, but more will be done, including a broader redesign. New maintenance procedures drawn from several different Air Force and Navy T-6 bases also will be introduced.

Brig. Gen. Edward L. Vaughan, who leads the Air Force Physiological Episodes Action Team, will collaborate with Air Force officials and other military branches to determine if the OBOGS measures planned for the T-6 will be applicable across other aircraft that use the oxygen system.

The OBOGS failures resulted in at least 61 reported unexplained physiological episodes during the first six months of this year. The Texan II resumed flight in March as the Air Force announced a more frequent cleaning, testing and maintenance schedule for the oxygen system while the search for a root cause ensued.

The Navy grounded its T-45 Goshawk, a jet trainer, after pilots suffered similar physiological episodes. Hypoxia, a lack of oxygen that is potentially fatal, was suspected when an instructor pilot and student bailed out of a T-45 from Naval Air Station Kingsville that crashed Aug. 14, 2016.

Other possible causes of UPEs involve hypocapnia, a state of reduced carbon dioxide in the blood, and hypercapnia, excessive carbon dioxide in the blood, usually caused by inadequate respiration.

The T-6A grounding came after 22 physiological episodes were recorded in January, the most ever seen in the single-engine, two-seat turboprop since it was introduced in 2000. The training command declared it safe.

Pilots harbored doubts and complained that months of investigation by the Air Force, Navy and NASA had yet to explain why the system failed or how it would be fixed. Some argued that they were not told about the severity of reported physiological episodes.

The Air Force, though, has said it is keeping pilots in the loop.

“Since our T-6 operational pause, we have made every effort to communicate with every instructor and every student exactly what we’ve found,” Doherty, the 19th Air Force commander, said in the statement Thursday. “Transparency remains of utmost importance to use as we all work together to ensure that our pilots are safe and know the way ahead.”

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.expressnews.com

Tapanee Pegazair-100, N129LZ: Fatal accident occurred December 02, 2016 in Mount Vernon, Posey County, Indiana


Duane Alan Daws, 64, of Mt. Vernon, Indiana 


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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Indianapolis, Indiana

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N129LZ 


Location: Mt Vernon, IN
Accident Number: CEN17FA046
Date & Time: 12/02/2016, 1237 CST
Registration: N129LZ
Aircraft: Gordon PEGAZAIR P 100
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 2, 2017, about 1237 central standard time, an experimental amateur-built Pegazair P 100 airplane, N129LZ, impacted a field near Mt Vernon, Indiana. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Carmi Municipal Airport (CUL), Carmi, Illinois, about 1150.

A witness stated that the airplane was flying overhead at about 400 - 500 feet above ground level, westbound, when he heard the engine quit running. The airplane then initiated a descending right turn, north bound, and then the engine started running again. The airplane maintained a northerly heading, for about ¼-1/2 mile, and then the engine quit a second time, started a decent, pitched up, rolled right, and then pitched nose down impacting the ground. The witness said that he went the accident site and there was a strong odor of gasoline and immediately called 911.

A second witness stated that he saw a similar flight path for the airplane but that the engine was running on impact. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/21/2012
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/12/2012
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 2000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 118 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. He reported a total flight experience of 2,500 hours, with 0 hours in last 6 months, at the time of his last airman medical exam on March 21, 2012, when he was issued a third-class medical certificate that expired on March 31, 2014.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot did not hold an airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate nor did he hold a repairman certificate for the airplane. The pilot had no FAA record of previous accidents, incidents, or enforcement actions.

The first and last entries in the pilot's logbook were dated December 2, 1978, and June 29, 2014, respectively. The logbook indicated that he received a private pilot check ride on June 22, 1980. The first logbook entry for flight in the accident airplane was dated March 18, 2012, and indicated that it was 25-minute local flight from CUL with two landings. The remarks section for this entry stated, "High speed taxi + lift (no pattern)." All the subsequent flight entries were for flights in the accident airplane.

The memoranda section of the pilot's logbook included an endorsement, dated May 12, 2012, by a flight instructor, stating that the pilot received a flight review. The only flight entry dated May 12, 2012, was for a 45-minute local flight from CUL in the accident airplane. The remarks section of this entry contained an individual's name and did not cite that a flight review was performed. There were no subsequent flight review endorsements in the pilot's logbook. Title 14 CFR 61.56 requires pilots to obtain a flight review every 2 years to act as pilot-in-command and flight reviews must include a minimum of 1 hour of flight training and 1 hour of ground training.


Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Gordon
Registration: N129LZ
Model/Series: PEGAZAIR P 100
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 9908108
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/15/2013, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1320 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 194.65 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Corvair
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: 190
Registered Owner: Deregistered
Rated Power: 120 hp
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The airplane was a Gordon Pegazair P 100 model, which was manufactured in 2007 and was equipped with a Corvair 190 automotive engine.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration website, FAA Registry, Aircraft Inquiry, the airplane was originally registered to the previous aircraft owner, who was also the builder of the airplane. That registration expired May 14, 2013. The pilot, who was the owner of the airplane, had not reregistered the airplane after he had purchased it, and no subsequent application was made for registration.

Aircraft records obtained during the investigation had a special airworthiness certificate issued July 14, 2007 to the aircraft builder/previous owner. There was no current airworthiness certificate or an application for an updated airworthiness certificate in the aircraft records or in the FAA aircraft records database.

The last two logbook entries of the airframe logbook were dated April 2, 2012, at a tachometer time of 26.2 hours for a "completed annual conditional inspection" and July 15, 2013, tachometer time 194.65 hours for a "completed annual inspection." There were no subsequent maintenance entries in the logbook. Both entries were signed by the same the A&P who held an inspection authorization (IA).

The engine logbook had the last two entries for an "annual inspection" by the A&P IA, dated July 15, 2013, at a tachometer time of 194.65 hours. There were no subsequent inspections entered in the engine logbook that were signed by an A&P, but there were 10 later entries dated from July 15, 2013 to November 24, 2015, that cited maintenance work involving engine oil and filter changes, engine compression check, spark plug changes, the replacement of ignition points, and engine timing checks. The last entry dated November 24, 2015 had a tachometer time entry of 489.23 hours. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: CUL, 388 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1235 CST
Direction from Accident Site: 345°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 4 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 270°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.27 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 7°C / 0°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Carmi, IL (CUL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination:
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1150 CST
Type of Airspace:  Class G


Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  37.933333, 167.772500 (est)

The accident site was located in a flat dirt field about 17 nautical miles southeast of CUL. The power lines and trees adjacent to the field were undamaged.

The engine was separated from the airframe and was about 20 ft south of the airframe. A ground scar consistent in shape and length to the wing's leading edge was oriented lengthwise north/south on each side of the separated engine. [SG1] The fuselage was upright, and the tail-to-nose orientation of the airplane was approximately north/northwest. There was no evidence of fire or soot on the engine or airframe.

Examination of the flight control system revealed that the wing flaps and both leading edge wing slats were in the retracted positions. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the control surfaces to the cockpit controls.

The left- and right-wing fuel tanks were empty, and the fuel lines from the tanks to the fuel selector and from the fuel selector to the engine were broken open. The fuel selector panel was damaged by impact forces, and the fuel selector was positioned between the "LEFT" and "BOTH" positions. Both fuel tanks exhibited outward expansion consistent with hydraulic forces. There was an odor consistent with fuel present at the accident site.

The engine did not exhibit any evidence of mechanical failure. Engine control continuity to the cockpit was confirmed through overstress separations of the controls. The cockpit engine control positions could not be determined due to impact damage. Both propeller blades were broken off at the blade roots and displayed features consistent with overstress.

The airplane was equipped with an MGL Avionics EFIS display that contained an SD memory card. The display and memory card were sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorder Division for download. No data pertinent to the event were recovered due to the extent of the damage to the SD card. 

Medical And Pathological Information

On his most recent medical certificate application, the 64-year-old pilot reported a history of a neurology evaluation in September 2011 for memory issues, but no records of the evaluation were contained in the FAA records. On that application, he denied any other medical concerns or the use of medications.

The pilot's personal medical records documented a history of a progressive neurodegenerative disease beginning in 2011. His symptoms included significant visual-spatial and language dysfunction, and he was diagnosed with alterations of consciousness and encephalopathy. In August 2015, he was prescribed the Alzheimer's treatment medication donepezil. His most recent record of altered consciousness was April 2016 when the pilot reported transient episodes of altered mental status, loss of balance, slurred speech, and weakness. At that time, he was no longer using any medications. No records of a detailed neurologic evaluation after April 2016 were located.

The Posey County Coroner's Office, Mt Vernon, Indiana, performed an autopsy of the pilot and determined that his cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. No natural disease was identified.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing and detected ethanol at 0.070 gm/dl in vitreous and 0.038 g/dl in blood. No carbon monoxide or tested-for-drugs were detected. Ethanol is the intoxicant commonly found in beer, wine, and liquor. It acts as a central nervous system depressant. After ingestion, at low doses, it impairs judgment, psychomotor functioning, and vigilance; at higher doses it can cause coma and death. Title 14 CFR 91.17(a) prohibits any person from acting or attempting to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft while having 0.040 gm/dl or more ethanol in the blood. Because ingested alcohol is distributed throughout the body, levels from different postmortem tissues are usually similar. Ethanol may also be produced in body tissues by microbial activity after death. However, vitreous humor from an intact eye and urine do not suffer from such production to any significant extent in relation to blood.


NTSB Identification: CEN17FA046
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, December 02, 2016 in Mt Vernon, IN
Aircraft: Gordon PEGAZAIR P 100, registration: N129LZ
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 December 2, 2016, about 1237 central standard time, a Gordon Pegazair P 100, N129LZ (deregistered N-number), impacted a field near Mt Vernon, Indiana. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight originated from Carmi Municipal Airport (CUL), Carmi, Illinois about 1150.

Beech 95-B55 (T42A) Baron, N413D: Fatal accident occurred September 17, 2016 in Broadus, Powder River County, Montana

Timothy Scott Brown, 64
Tricia Marie Verhelle Brown, 45
Theodore Robert Brown, 13


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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Helena, Montana
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors Inc; Mobile, Alabama

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N413D 

Location: Broadus, MT
Accident Number: WPR16FA182
Date & Time: 09/17/2016, 1236 MDT
Registration: N413D
Aircraft: BEECH 95 B55 (T42A)
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Unknown or undetermined
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 17, 2016, about 1236 mountain daylight time, a Beech 95-B55 airplane, N413D, impacted terrain about 30 miles southeast of Broadus, Montana. The airline transport pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal cross-country flight. The flight departed from the Billings Logan International Airport (BIL), Billings, Montana, about noon, and was destined for Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota.

The airplane wreckage was found by a ranch caretaker as he was returning to work from lunch, about 1300. The caretaker reported hearing an airplane during lunch (between 1130-1200), but he did not go outside to look for it nor did he hear the airplane impact the ground.


Figure 1 - OpsVue flight track of the accident airplane.


Track data for the flight was obtained from Harris OpsVue, which uses Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radar data and applies an altimeter correction to estimate altitude. The altitude data may have an error of +/-300 ft.

The OpsVue data indicated the airplane departed BIL, about noon, squawking a transponder code of 0456, and made a right turn toward the southeast. About 6 minutes later, the airplane had climbed to an altitude of 5,500 to 5,600 ft. and began squawking a transponder code of 1200. Track data consistent with the accident airplane continued for about 13 minutes.

No data was available between 1213:13 and 1225:03; data consistent with the airplane's course then resumed at an altitude of about 5,800 ft and continued on the southeast course for about 36.5 nautical miles (nm). No data was available between 1233:04 and 1235:28; another track then began at an altitude of 5,800 ft, still heading southeast and about 7.3 nm from where the track stopped. At 1235: 57, the track started a left turn with data ending at 1236:04 at an altitude of 5,800 ft. The last data point was located about 43.35 nautical miles southwest of Broadus, Montana.

The accident site was located about 58 miles southeast from the last identified radar track at an elevation of 3,751 ft. (about 30 miles southeast of Broadus). 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/03/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 4116 hours (Total, all aircraft), 0 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The 64-year-old pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multi-engine land. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine. On the pilot's most recent FAA medical application dated March 3, 2016, he left the total flight time question box blank. However, on his FAA medical application dated March 4, 2014, the pilot reported 4,116 total flight hours. The pilot held a third-class medical certificate with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: BEECH
Registration: N413D
Model/Series: 95 B55 (T42A) A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1974
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: TC-1726
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats:
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines:
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer:
ELT:
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The 1974 twin-engine Beech 95-B55 (T42A), serial number TC-1726 airplane, was powered by two Continental Motors, Inc., IO-470-L21A engines (left: serial number 454399; right: serial number 454385). The engines were equipped with Hartzell Propeller, Inc., model BHC-C2YF-2CHUF propeller assemblies.

According to logbook entries dated May 25, 2016, annual inspections had been completed and signed off for the airframe, engines, and propellers. Total airframe and left engine time in service was 4,337.5 hours; the left engine had 653.2 hours since overhaul and 16 hours since the last annual inspection. The right engine had 4,326.3 total hours, and 1,410.3 hours since overhaul and 16 hours since the annual inspection. During the annual inspection, an overhauled cylinder was installed at the No. 2 cylinder position on the right engine. The propeller logbook entry reported 80.5 hours since overhaul. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBIL, 3581 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 154 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1753 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 287°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 10000 ft agl
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 13 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 250°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 3°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Billings, MT (BIL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Unknown
Destination: Rapid City, SD (RAP)
Type of Clearance: Unknown
Departure Time: 1200 MDT
Type of Airspace: 

A National Transportation Safety Board Meteorologist reviewed the weather for the area at the time of the accident. The accident site was in a warm air sector of a front with westerly wind of 15 to 20 knots over the region, with clear skies. A review of the National Weather System national weather radar composite for the period depicted no weather echoes over the region at the time of the accident.

The closest official weather observation was located at Dawson community Airport (GDV), Glendive, Montana, located about 9 miles east of the accident site at an elevation of 2,458 ft. The observation reported wind from 220o at 13 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear below 12,000 ft above ground level (agl), temperature 26o Celsius (C), dew point 7o C, altimeter 29.77 inches of mercury.

No specific turbulence was reported near the accident site below 12,000 ft.

Airport Information

Airport: BROADUS (00F)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 3282 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  45.119167, -105.035833 

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, an FAA inspector, and a representative from Textron Aviation, the airplane manufacturer, responded to the accident site. The airplane came to rest on flat open land covered with tall grass on a 143° magnetic heading. The main wreckage was confined to the impact area, with all major components identified at the accident site. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to all primary flight control surfaces.

Both the left- and right-wing bladder fuel tanks had been breached; however, the smell of 100 low-lead fuel was evident. The nose landing gear was retracted and pushed up and aft into the cockpit where it impacted the front carry-through spar.

The left wing was canted forward and had leading-to-trailing edge crush damage the length of the wing. The ground scar was consistent with the width and length of the left-wing leading edge. The left engine was canted down and partially separated from the wing, and the propeller assembly separated from the engine and was located about 10 to 15 ft forward of the main wreckage. The propeller blades had light chord-wise scratches. One blade was bent aft mid-blade but remained attached at the hub; the other blade was loose in the hub. The propeller spring was buried vertically in the ground aft of the left wing leading edge ground scar.

The right wing was canted forward and sustained damage from the wing root to the engine nacelle; the outboard portion of the wing remained intact. The right engine remained partially attached to the wing. The engine case was cracked forward of cylinders Nos. 5 and 6. The propeller assembly separated from the engine and was located underneath the right-side cabin fuselage. One blade was bent aft at the hub and slightly curved and was loose in the hub; the other blade had minimal damage and remained in the hub.

Ground scar signatures indicated that both the left-side and right-side propellers impacted the ground in a near-vertical attitude and separated from their respective engines.

The airframe, engine, and propellers were examined on October 25-27, 2016, at Osterman's Auto Service in Belgrade, Montana.

Visual examination of the left engine revealed that the bottom of the crankcase had been fractured due to impact damage. Crankshaft and camshaft continuity were established during a compression check, with thumb compression obtained at all cylinders. The cylinders were borescoped with no foreign debris observed. Both magnetos were manually rotated and produced spark at their respective ignition systems. The engine-driven fuel pump, throttle body/metering unit, and the fuel manifold valve were disassembled and examined with no discrepancies noted.

Visual examination of the right engine revealed that the crankcase, camshaft, and No. 6 connecting rod had been fractured; however, the fracture surfaces did not display any signs of lubrication or operational distress and were consistent with impact forces. The oil pan was crushed and removed to facilitate examination of the internal components of the engine. Because of the damage, a compression check was not performed; however, borescope examination of the cylinders revealed no preimpact anomalies. Both magnetos separated from the engine but remained attached to their respective ignition harness. The magnetos were manually rotated and produced spark through their respective ignition systems. The engine-driven fuel pump, throttle body/metering unit and fuel manifold valve were disassembled and examined with no discrepancies noted.

The damage to all propeller blades were similar. One blade from each propeller denoted as L2 and R1 exhibited chordwise/rotational abrasion; the majority of the striations were on the camber side of the propeller blades. The hydraulic unit on each propeller had fractured and separated from the propeller assembly and the pitch change rods were bent. The preload plate opposite to the L2 and R1 blades were marked near the high end of the normal operating range. The L2 and R1 propeller blades had fractured pitch change knobs. The R1 propeller blade bearings were fractured on the camber side of the blade with ball imprints visible on the blade.

The physical damage to both the left and right propeller assemblies were consistent with the development of power from each engine at the time of impact. The propeller manufacturer stated that the damage and blade angle impact marks suggested a low-power range of operation and sudden stoppage (less than one revolution) during the impact sequence. There were no discrepancies noted that would have prevented normal operation.

There were no discrepancies with the engines or propellers noted that would have precluded normal operation.

Medical And Pathological Information

The Department of Justice Forensic Science Division, Missoula, Montana, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt force injuries due to a light [air]plane crash, with the manner of death as an accident.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed forensic toxicology testing on specimens of the pilot. Cyanide testing was not performed; carbon monoxide, volatiles, and tested-for-drugs were not detected.

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA182
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 17, 2016 in Broadus, MT
Aircraft: BEECH 95 B55 (T42A), registration: N413D
Injuries: 3 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 September 17, 2016, about 1300 mountain daylight time, a twin-engine Beech (Baron) 95-B55 airplane, N413D, impacted terrain about 20 miles east of Broadus, Montana. The owner/Airline Transport Pilot operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight departed from the Billings Logan International Airport (BIL), Billings, Montana, about noon, with an intended destination of Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota.

The airplane wreckage was found by a ranch caretaker as he was returning to work from lunch, about 1300. The caretaker reported hearing an airplane during lunch, but he did not go outside to look for it nor did he hear the airplane impact the ground.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, and a representative from Textron Aviation, the airplane manufacturer, responded to the accident site. The airplane came to rest on a 143-degree magnetic heading on flat land. The main wreckage was confined to the impact area, with all major components identified at the accident site. The airplane's control surfaces remained attached; the left propeller had separated from the left engine and was located just forward of the main wreckage. The right propeller separated and was located underneath the right side cabin fuselage. The nose landing gear was retracted, and pushed up and aft into the cabin where it impacted the front carry through spar.

Both the left and right wing bladder fuel tanks had been breached; however, the smell of 100 low-lead fuel was evident. Both the left and right wings were canted forward, with both engines partially separated from their respective wings. The left propeller blades had light chord wise scratches. The right propeller blades had no chord wise striations.

The airplane was recovered and is in a secured storage facility.

Aérospatiale AS 350B2 AStar, registered to and operated by TEMSCO Helicopters Inc, N94TH: Fatal accident occurred May 06, 2016 in Skagway, Alaska

Christopher Anthony Maggio

CW2 Christopher "Chris" A Maggio was a Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) member who died after his tour in Vietnam on May 06, 2016 at the age of 66.9 from rotorcraft accident.

Read more here: https://www.vhpa.org

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Juneau, Alaska
Transportation Safety Board of Canada; Gatineau, Quebec
Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses; Le Bourget, FN
Airbus; Grand Prairie, Texas
Safran; Grand Prairie, Texas
Latitude Technologies; Victoria, British Columbia
TEMSCO Helicopters; Ketchikan, Alaska

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N94TH 



Location: Skagway, AK
Accident Number: ANC16FA023
Date & Time: 05/06/2016, 1900 AKD
Registration: N94TH
Aircraft: AIRBUS AS350
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: VFR encounter with IMC
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Other Work Use

On May 6, 2016, about 1900 Alaska daylight time, an Airbus (formerly Eurocopter) AS 350 B2 helicopter, N94TH, collided with snow-covered mountainous terrain about 4 miles southeast of Skagway, Alaska, after departing from a remote landing site on the Denver Glacier. The commercial pilot received fatal injuries, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to and operated by TEMSCO Helicopters, Inc., Ketchikan, Alaska, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a visual flight rules (VFR) internal-cargo company flight. Instrument meteorological conditions were reported on the Denver Glacier at the time of the accident, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight originated from a heliport at the operator's headquarters in Skagway about 1840, landed at the remote site for several minutes, and departed for the return flight about 1852.

Alaska Icefield Expeditions, Inc., contracted with TEMSCO to provide helicopter support for the movement of personnel, dogs, and cargo. The purpose of the flight was to transport dog camp company personnel (mushers) and dogs (Alaskan Huskies) from the operator's headquarters in Skagway to a remote dog camp on the Denver Glacier in the Tongass National Forest, about 5 miles southeast of Skagway. TEMSCO and Alaska Icefield Expeditions conducted heli-mushing operations for the Alaska tourism industry using a helicopter glacier landing permit issued by the US Forest Service. 

The pilot was scheduled for seven continuous roundtrip flights (without shutting down the helicopter) to the dog camp on the day of the accident. All flights scheduled for the day of the accident fell under the operational control of the base manager, who was located at TEMSCO's headquarters in Skagway. The pilot was ready to begin flight operations at 0800, but low ceilings prevented flight operations. The pilot attended company orientation training at 0900, and, at 1300, he provided helicopter loading training for new TEMSCO employees. At 1530, the pilot completed the training and evaluated the weather for flight operations. The pilot determined that the wind conditions were unsuitable at the time but were forecasted to improve later in the afternoon. 

The dog camp manager, who was located at the dog camp on the Denver Glacier, was responsible for managing operations of the dog camp. He reported that, on the day of the accident, from about 0600 to 1200, the weather in the dog camp was cloudy, snowing, and foggy, and the visibility was "a few hundred yards." At 1200, the clouds broke, the snow stopped, and visibility was such that he could see through Paradise Valley across the Taiya Inlet. He reported that flight operations were cancelled because of the wind; the wind on the glacier was between 10 and 15 mph. About 1630, TEMSCO informed the dog camp manager, that flight operations would begin to deliver mushers and dogs to the camp. 

At 1645, the wind speed had dropped significantly at the base, and the pilot decided it was safe to launch. The pilot completed two roundtrips, each with 1 musher and 10 dogs on board the helicopter. The dog camp manager stated that it was snowing as these flights arrived. At 1738, the pilot called inbound from the Denver Glacier to the base, and the base manager asked the pilot about the weather conditions. The pilot reported to the base manger that there was turbulence around the toe of the glacier and that he was keeping his airspeed down for a smoother ride. Based on the pilot's report, the base manager decided to cancel a scheduled external load flight that he had planned to fly and load the cargo internally in another helicopter.

At 1747, the helicopter departed from the base for the third trip, again with 1 musher and 10 dogs onboard. En route to the glacier, the pilot reported to the base manager that he "experienced a little bit of inflight icing" at 3,000 ft mean sea level (msl). The base manager asked the pilot what kind of precipitation he was experiencing, and the pilot reported "wet snow." The base manager told the pilot "to do what he thought was best." The pilot responded that he would evaluate the icing conditions as he flew on the subsequent flights. The fourth and fifth roundtrips were completed uneventfully; the fourth carried 1 musher and 10 dogs, and the fifth carried 1 musher and 11 dogs. 

At 1840, the helicopter departed for the sixth trip with 1 musher and 12 dogs onboard. As the helicopter passed through Paradise Valley, the passenger reported that the valley itself was "wide open" with a rainbow present, but he and the pilot could see that the clouds were "moving in" as the helicopter approached the Denver Glacier. The passenger reported that the clouds were "thick," and he could not see up the glacier toward the dog camp. The passenger further reported that the western mountain wall near the glacier was visible at the time, so the pilot elected to follow the wall into the dog camp "very slowly." He stated that the helicopter was "very low" with regard to the bluff and was closer to the wall than he had ever been on previous flights up to the dog camp. The dog camp manager reported that just before the sixth flight arrived, the wind speed was up to 20 to 30 mph, and it was snowing. The clouds had moved in and covered the bluff; visibility was about a 1/4 mile looking toward Paradise Valley. The helicopter landed at the dog camp, and the musher and 12 dogs were unloaded. 

Before the pilot left, he signaled for the dog camp manager and told him that he was "not coming back in this weather." The dog camp manager verbally agreed. The dog camp manager told the pilot to be safe, and the pilot said to the dog camp manager, "but don't give up on me yet." The pilot then departed from the dog camp at 1852 and headed toward Paradise Valley. 

According to the dog camp manager, the helicopter traveled about 1/8 mile toward Paradise Valley, turned around, and then turned north. The dog camp manager reported that the visibility looking north from the dog camp appeared to be about 1/4 mile. He noticed that the snow rate had picked up "considerably," and the wind speed was still between 20 and 30 mph. 

A review of Harris OpsVue track data was conducted during the timeframe of 1815 to 1915. The OpsVue data indicated the accident helicopter was making multiple 360° turns before turning to the north and east and continuing to make turns. As the helicopter was tracking toward the east, the altitude was trending up in a slow climb before descending near the accident site. 

About 1900, the TEMSCO base manager noted that he had not heard any communication on the radio for a few minutes, so he asked about the status of the accident helicopter and noticed on the flight tracking computer that the helicopter's position was northwest of the dog camp at an elevation of about 6,200 ft msl, about 2,000 ft above the dog camp's elevation. He made several radio calls to the pilot, and no responses were received. After repeated radio calls with no response from the pilot, the base manager decided to launch in a helicopter with an observer on onboard. The company emergency response plan was activated. At 1914, the base manager departed to the last known coordinates of the missing helicopter. The base manager reported that he was unable to fly over the dog camp via Paradise Valley at 1924 due to low ceilings, blowing snow, and turbulence. 

At 1942, the base manager reported that he was maneuvering near the North Denver Icefall area, and he was unable to climb higher than 4,000 ft msl due to low ceilings, blowing snow, and "mechanical" turbulence. By 1948, the base manager reported "improving" ceilings and being able to maneuver around 5,000 ft msl. At 2009, the base manager and observer visually confirmed the wreckage of the accident helicopter lying on its left side with the tailboom separated in steep, mountainous terrain near a frozen glacial lake, about 2 miles northeast of the dog camp.

After the base manger confirmed the location of the wreckage, he asked if the dog camp personnel could travel to the wreckage site. The dog camp manager and several other workers rode two snow machines toward the wreckage; they noted the wind speed was between 30 and 40 mph and visibility was between zero and "a few hundred feet" in blowing snow. As they proceeded toward the wreckage, the wind speed increased to between 50 and 70 mph. The dog camp personnel were unable to proceed any farther due to the steep terrain and the possibility of avalanches. 

The base manager attempted multiple times to land at the accident site but was unable to land due to high wind and flat light conditions. About 2200, a US Coast Guard helicopter attempted to access the accident site but was unsuccessful due to the wind conditions. After dumping fuel, the Coast Guard helicopter was able to access the accident site, and an aviation survival technician (helicopter rescue swimmer) confirmed one fatality in the wreckage.



Christopher Anthony Maggio

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 66, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/27/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/19/2016
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 7190 hours (Total, all aircraft), 5700 hours (Total, this make and model), 6690 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

The pilot, age 66, held a commercial pilot certificate with a rotorcraft-helicopter rating and held private pilot privileges for airplane single-engine land. The pilot did not have and was not required to have a helicopter instrument rating. His most recent second-class medical certificate was issued on February 27, 2016, with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses.

According to the operator, the pilot's total aeronautical experience was about 7,190 hours of which about 5,700 hours were in the accident helicopter make and model. In the 90 and 30 days before the accident, the pilot flew 5 and 3 flight hours, respectively. This was his 25th season with TEMSCO.

The operator's pilot training records showed no deficiencies and indicated that the pilot had completed all required training, including a competency check ride on March 19, 2016.

The Skagway base manager, age 30, held a commercial pilot certificate with a rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter rating. His total aeronautical experience was about 3,445 hours, and this was his eighth season with TEMSCO. All of his eight seasons were in Skagway.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: AIRBUS
Registration: N94TH
Model/Series: AS350 B2
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1991
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 2548
Landing Gear Type: Emergency Float; High Skid
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/17/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 4961 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 10190.5 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Safran (formerly Turbomeca)
ELT:  C126 installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: Arriel 1D1
Registered Owner: TEMSCO HELICOPTERS, INC.
Rated Power: 760 hp
Operator: TEMSCO HELICOPTERS, INC.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Commercial Air Tour (136); Rotorcraft External Load (133); On-demand Air Taxi (135) 

The 1991-model-year helicopter was equipped with a Safran (formerly Turbomeca) Arriel 1D1 turboshaft engine. According to the operator's records, at the time of the accident, the helicopter had accumulated 10,190.5 flight hours, and the engine had accumulated 4,281.6 hours. The most recent inspection of the airframe and engine was completed on December 17, 2015. An examination of the helicopter's maintenance records revealed no evidence of uncorrected mechanical discrepancies with the airframe and engine.

The helicopter was originally manufactured as an AS 350 B and was converted to an AS 350 BA in 1992 and then to an AS 350 B2 in 2003. The helicopter was configured to be flown from the right front seat, which was a non-energy attenuating, fiberglass seat. The left front seat that was installed in the helicopter was a single-place, non-energy attenuating, fiberglass seat. 

The helicopter was not equipped with a radar altimeter, nor was it required to be at the time of the accident. The helicopter was equipped with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Capstone Project avionics package. The skid system of the helicopter included snow/tundra boards mounted on the aft ends of both skid tubes along with an emergency floatation system on both skid tubes. 

TEMSCO configured the helicopter cabin to facilitate the transportation of internal cargo. The rear seat assembly was folded up against the cabin wall, and two wood, dog transportation boxes were placed behind the front seats. A tarp, blanket, and wood shoring were placed between the lower box and the cabin floor. The dog boxes were stacked vertically and secured using two cargo straps attached to a total of four seat belt attachment rings installed on the floor of the cabin. Both cargo straps were secured to the rear seat belt attachment points in front of the aft cabin wall, routed over the top of the stacked boxes, and secured to the pilot and front passenger seat belt attachment points. With the configuration of the two cargo straps, forward restraint was present; however, no lateral restraint was present. Neither dog box had a placarded weight value on the outside of it. 

The make and model of the cargo straps, as well as the maximum load rating of the straps, could not be determined. The two cargo straps had abrasions at various locations along with unknown stains throughout the length of the straps. 

The Airbus AS 350 B2 rotorcraft flight manual (RFM) discusses required placards in the limitations section and states that a loading instruction placard is to be mounted on the side face of the control pedestal. On the accident helicopter, the placard was found mounted on the rear of the control pedestal. This placard listed the "distributed loads maximum" for the rear cabin floor as 682 pounds. 

The combined weight of the two wood dog boxes was 190.5 pounds; the wood boards used for shoring on the cabin floor weighed 9.5 pounds; and the blanket, tarp, and two cargo straps weighed 5 pounds. The total weight of 205 pounds was not included on the cargo manifest documents for the day's flights or the helicopter's weight and balance record.

On each of the first four flights from Skagway to the dog camp, the total dog weight entered on the cargo manifest form was 500 pounds (10 dogs on board). On the fifth flight, the dog weight entered was 550 pounds (11 dogs on board). On the sixth flight, the dog weight entered was 600 pounds (12 dogs on board). For all six flights from Skagway to the dog camp, the weight of the dog boxes and related items (205 pounds) combined with the dog weight resulted in the structural limitation of 682 pounds being exceeded. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAGY, 20 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0253 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 271°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 8000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR): 
Wind Speed/Gusts: 19 knots / 28 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 210°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.8 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 12°C / 3°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: SKAGWAY, AK
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: SKAGWAY, AK
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1840 AKD
Type of Airspace: Class G

The closest official weather observation station to the accident site was located at the Skagway Airport, Skagway, about 4 miles northwest of the accident site. At 1853, the reported weather conditions were wind 210° at 19 knots gusting to 28 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 8,000 ft, temperature 53°F, dew point 37°F, and altimeter setting 29.81 inches of mercury.

Refer to the Meteorology Group Chairman's Factual Report in the public docket for further weather information.

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:  59.450278, -135.205556 (est) 

On May 8, 2016, the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC), along with an additional NTSB investigator, an aviation safety inspector (ASI) from the FAA's Juneau Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), and a representative from TEMSCO traveled to the accident scene via helicopter.

All the major components of the helicopter were found at the main wreckage site. The accident site was in an area of steep, mountainous terrain covered with deep snow, at an elevation of about 4,200 ft mean sea level, near a frozen glacial lake. The impact point of the helicopter was on about a 090° heading (magnetic). Scattered downslope from the helicopter were small portions of wreckage debris, broken Plexiglass, and personal effects.

The helicopter fuselage was lying on its left side with the nose oriented to the south. The Artex ME406 emergency locator transmitter (ELT) antenna wire had separated during the accident sequence. 

The cockpit was severely damaged with extensive deformation. The canopy was segmented and separated with all canopy glass windscreens and overhead transparencies shattered or missing. 

The cockpit levers and switches appeared to be configured for normal flight except for the guarded HYD TEST (in position), BATT/EPU (off position), and HORN switch (out position) on the center console, which had sustained impact damage.

The aft cabin was bent and buckled inward along the upper roof area. Both cargo straps used to secure the dog boxes were found separated. The top dog box was lodged in the forward cockpit area against the rear of the pilot's seat. The pilot's seat sustained multiple fractures to the rear and base of the seat, and the seat was separated from the floor. 

The bottom of the fuselage exhibited severe deformation with a large section of the skin missing just below the fuel cell.

The left skid remained relatively intact and was buried in snow. The right skid tube separated from the two crosstubes.

The tailboom separated from the fuselage just aft of the fuselage. Both tail rotor blades exhibited damage consistent with multiple terrain strikes under power.

The yellow main rotor blade remained attached to the Starflex assembly and was lying downhill from the fuselage. The red and blue main rotor blades, including part of the Starflex assembly, were partially buried beneath the snow and underneath the fuselage. All main rotor blade portions visible above the snow exhibited damage consistent with sudden stoppage associated with multiple terrain strikes while under power.

The main rotor system, transmission, and engine areas displayed damage consistent with rolling over while under power after the initial impact with terrain. The left side of the main rotor system, transmission, and engine were lying against the snow-covered terrain. No evidence of preimpact mechanical anomalies with the airframe and engine were found during the onsite examination.

The wreckage was recovered from the accident site and transported to a secure hangar at the Juneau International Airport, Juneau, Alaska. On June 9, 2016, a wreckage examination and layout were done under the direction of the NTSB IIC. Also present were an ASI from the FAA Juneau FSDO, an air safety investigator from Airbus, an air safety investigator from Safran, and three representatives from TEMSCO. During the examination, no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airframe and engine were noted. 

Flight Recorders

The helicopter was not equipped and was not required to be equipped with a cockpit voice recorder, flight data recorder, or image recorder. A Latitude Technologies S200-001 flight tracker, a Garmin GDL 90 datalink transceiver, and an AKV ETM 1000 engine and rotor system monitoring device were recovered from the wreckage. These electronic devices were not designed for crash resistance or survivability.

The Latitude Technologies Corporation S200-001 flight tracker, which was used by TEMSCO for flight tracking purposes, was transported to the manufacturer's facility in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, for an examination of the unit and subsequent data download. According to the manufacturer, the unit had the original firmware installed from when the unit was released in February 2009 with no subsequent firmware updates. The manufacturer additionally reported that this build of firmware had a previously unknown "bug" resulting in the data being captured in the background log being identical to the data that were transmitted while the helicopter was in flight with no additional GPS data in between the transmitted logs being captured. At the time of the accident, the operator had the "ping rate" set to every 120 seconds.

The Garmin GDL 90 and the AK ETM 1000 devices were submitted to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory in Washington, DC, for examination and download. No track or navigation data was stored on the Garmin GDL 90. Various engine and main rotor system parameters were recorded for the accident flight on the AK ETM 1000.

Refer to the Recorder Specialist's Factual Report in the public docket for further information regarding the Garmin GDL 90 and an AKV ETM 1000 devices. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Alaska State Medical Examiner, Anchorage, Alaska, conducted an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on specimens from the pilot that were negative for carbon monoxide, ethanol, and drugs. Cyanide tests were not performed. 

Survival Aspects

The pilot was seated in the front right seat and was wearing a 4-point restraint system at the time of the accident. The pilot did not wear and was not required to wear a flight helmet.

Tests And Research

The caution-warning light panel from the helicopter was submitted to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for examination. The panel was x-rayed to determine the filament status of the light bulbs within the panel. The examination determined that none of the filaments exhibited hot filament stretching. 



Organizational And Management Information

TEMSCO Operations


The TEMSCO Operations Manual discusses icing conditions and states:

Helicopter flights during icing conditions are prohibited. TEMSCO shall not fly into known icing conditions. If icing conditions are encountered, the Pilot-in-Command will deviate from course to avoid and navigate around any encountered icing conditions.

The Airbus AS 350 B2 Rotorcraft Flight Manual lists "flight in freezing rain or icing conditions (visible moisture and temperatures likely to produce ice)" as a prohibited maneuver in the limitations section.

The TEMSCO Operations Manual discusses operational control and states:

Operational control with respect to a flight, means the exercise of authority over initiating, conducting, or terminating a flight. The Director of Operations and the pilot in command are jointly responsible for the initiation, continuation, diversion, and termination of a flight. The Director of Operations may delegate functions to other trained personnel, but retains responsibility for initiation, continuation, diversion, and termination. The final authority over conducting or terminating a flight rests with the pilot in command. The following persons have "operational control" with respect to flight in descending order: director of operations, chief pilot, pilot in command, second in command, director of maintenance, base managers, base lead pilot, and trained flight followers.

The FAA's Order 8900.1, Flight Standards Information Management System, identifies one of several failure modes of operational control and states:

Loss of operational control within the air carrier – hands-off management results in inadequate controls over its own operations. Management of operations should never be inattentive, distracted, or careless. Hands-off management is not a legitimate excuse for failing to maintain operational control.

FAA Operations Specification A008 Operational Control states that non-management personnel exercising operational control shall be specified in the general operations manual (names, titles, duties, responsibilities, and authorities). A review of the TEMSCO Operations Manual showed that, for the operational control chain of command, the base lead pilot positions were listed "as assigned" with no names listed, and the trained flight follower positions had no names listed.

A formal flight risk assessment was not conducted by the pilot for the accident flight, nor was it required by the operator at the time of the accident. The TEMSCO Safety Management Systems Manual states that flight risk assessments are to be conducted for emergency medical services and tour operations.

The TEMSCO Operations Manual discusses company VFR weather minimums and states that, for the local operating area (within a 30-nautical-mile radius from the base of operations), a 500 ft ceiling or greater and 1 statue mile visibility or greater is required. The manual states that the lowest of the ceiling or visibility shall be the limiting factor for dispatch.

A review of the TEMSCO Operations Manual found no operational procedures listed for flight operations in deteriorating VFR weather conditions (such as reduced visibility and ceilings), inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions (IIMC) avoidance procedures, or IIMC recovery procedures.

TEMSCO Internal Cargo Operations

The TEMSCO Operations Manual discusses internal cargo carried in passenger compartments and states:

Will be secured by means approved by the FAA. Will be carried in accordance with each of the following: Will be properly secured by a safety belt or other tie down having enough strength to eliminate the possibility of shifting under normally anticipated flight and ground conditions. Will be packaged or covered to avoid possible injury to passengers. It will not impose any load on seats or on the floor structure that exceeds the load limitations for those requirements. It will not be located in a position that restricts the access to or use of any required emergency or regular exit, or the use of the aisle between the crew and the passenger compartment. It will not be carried directly above seated passengers.

This document further discusses the limitations of carriage of cargo in the passenger compartments and states:

Each bay or bin will be able to withstand the load factor as applicable to passenger seats of the aircraft. The maximum weight of cargo that each bin or bay is approved to carry will not be exceeded. Each bay will be loaded to insure proper weight distribution when using cargo load schedule. The load will not impose any load on the floor or other structure of the aircraft that exceeds the limitations of that structure. The maximum concentrated load for each compartment will not be exceeded. The bin or netting for loose cargo will be attached to the seat tracks or to the floor structure of the aircraft and its attachment must withstand the load factors applicable to the passenger seats. The cargo will not restrict access to or use of any required exit or aisle in the passenger compartment. It will be the responsibility of the Pilot-In-Command to check and ensure that all cargo and passenger doors are properly secured prior to any flight.

The operator reported that before the accident, the company conducted internal cargo load training for contract, charter, and utility pilots at company headquarters in Ketchikan, which was hands-on training that was both mission-specific and aircraft-specific with no training syllabus or published curriculum at the time. The training was not conducted with the tour pilots.

After the accident, the operator developed internal cargo loading guidelines for all company Airbus AS 350 pilots. This document covers cargo strap standards (what type to use), the various helicopter floor weight limitations, and the various limitations of the mooring rings. The document also highlights the importance of not exceeding any limitations of seat-belt-based mooring rings when a ring is used to restrain cargo and the seat is occupied.

Tour Operators Program of Safety

At the time of the accident, the operator was a member of the Tour Operators Program of Safety (TOPS). The most recent TOPS compliance audit on the operator before the accident took place from August 8 through August 10, 2015. All the audit areas (management, safety, flight operations, pilots, flight coordination, heliport, maintenance, maintenance personnel, and ground support personnel) along with base visits and flight observations were classified as "meets TOPS standards." 



Additional Information


Carriage of Internal Cargo in Airbus AS 350 Series Helicopters


The NTSB IIC submitted multiple inquiries during the investigation to the FAA Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention, Washington, DC, regarding the carriage of internal cargo in the Airbus AS 350 series. On March 28, 2017, the FAA responded, in part:

The FAA does not require original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to publish information regarding cargo loading. The certification assumption is that the helicopter will be used to carry people, unless indicated otherwise by the applicant. In the case of the AS350, Airbus did not indicate that anything other than passengers will be carried.

In its March 28, 2017, response, the FAA also stated:

Any "approved" cargo installation will be explained in the rotorcraft flight manual (RFM) limitation or supplement section – (what tie-downs are used, what straps are used, etc.); loading instructions (what areas in the cabin get loaded first, second, etc.); and procedures (walk around procedures will mention to verify cargo secured). Operators do not have certification approval to install cargo in the cabin unless it is mentioned in the RFM or [RFM supplement] RFMS (part of the [type certificate] TC or an STC) – installation instructions are provided in the flight manual. It is possible that there may be some operators that have been using existing tie-downs/seat rails to tie down cargo in the cabin, and incorrectly assuming that this is a "certified" installation when in fact it is not. … The RFM or RFM supplement will be clear as to what is approved regarding internal cargo (if it does not mention how and where to install cargo, then it's not certified).

In a response on August 25, 2017, the FAA stated, "our position is the same as in the other queries from the NTSB regarding cabin cargo – operators should not be securing cargo in areas unless doing so has been FAA approved (basic design, design change, field approval, etc.)." In a letter dated August 29, 2017, the FAA stated, in part:

Also, while a definition for a cargo/baggage compartment in rotorcraft does not exist, the FAA has interpreted this as a compartment (enclosed area) that is separated from the cabin (passenger area). … Additionally, the FAA is not aware of any documentation that would prohibit Part 27 rotorcraft from carrying cargo in the cabin, even if a certification does not exist for that helicopter.

The NTSB submitted a follow-up question to the FAA asking: From a regulatory aspect: If an aircraft is not certified for a particular task, does it mean that the task is prohibited? The specific example that is being investigated is the carriage of cargo in the main cabin of helicopters certified under Part 27. Most rotorcraft operating manuals don't address the carriage of cargo. Most Part 27 helicopters do not have certification for the carriage of cargo. Does that mean the carriage of cargo in these helicopters is prohibited?

On January 25, 2018, the FAA responded, stating, in part:

The FAA's Aircraft Certification Service (AIR) certificates designs that are compliant with the applicable airworthiness standards. AIR does not approve operations (i.e. particular tasks); operational approvals are issued by the FAA's Flight Standards Service (AFS). When AIR certificates a design for a certain operation, the certification only ensures the design meets the design requirements set forth by the FAA. Approved cabin cargo designs include pertinent safety information such as maximum weight of the cargo, location of the cargo in the cabin, and how the cargo is secured to the airframe. … As previously stated by FAA, if an FAA-approved cabin cargo configuration has been published for a specific aircraft, the flight manual for that aircraft is where the information will be found.

As previously stated, review of the Airbus AS 350 B2 RFM found that it discusses required placards in the limitations section and states that a loading instruction placard is to be mounted on the side face of the control pedestal. No other information regarding the carriage of cargo in the cabin was found in the RFM.

Regarding internal cargo, the Airbus AS 350 Systems and Descriptions Manual states, "further to removing the front [left seat] and folding back the rear benches, the cabin floor can be used to transport cargo. The eleven mooring points are embedded into the floor and are also used to attach the seatbelts." The manual also lists the "limit permissible force on a mooring ring" as 620 dekanewtons or 1393.7 pound-force.

On April 21, 2017, Airbus stated in an email to the NTSB IIC that "it is the responsibility of the operator to define an adapted cargo, freight, or baggage securement that is in respect to the limitations permissible force on the floor stowing mooring rings." On June 26, 2018, the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile reported to the NTSB IIC that Airbus has developed a "cargo installation in cabin" procedure for the Airbus AS 350 series, which is currently in the certification process.

Helicopter Internal Cargo Securement


The US Army's Training Circular 3-04.4, Fundamentals of Flight, discusses the securement of internal cargo in helicopters and states:

Aircraft are subjected to G-forces resulting from air turbulence, acceleration, rough or crash landings, and aerial maneuvers. Since the cargo is moving at the same rate of speed as the aircraft, forward movement is the strongest force likely to act on cargo if the aircraft is suddenly slowed or stopped. Other forces which tend to shift cargo aft, laterally, or vertically will be less severe. Restraining or tie-down devices prevent cargo movement that could result in injury to occupants, damage to the aircraft or cargo, or cause the aircraft center of gravity to move out of limits. The amount of restraint required to keep cargo from moving in any direction is called restraint criteria and is expressed in Gs. The maximum force exerted by an item of cargo is equal to its normal weight times the number of Gs specified in restraint criteria. Restraint criteria are normally different for each type of aircraft and provided in the operator's manual. To prevent cargo movement, the amount of restraint applied should equal or exceed the amount of restraint required. Restraint is referred to by the direction in which it keeps cargo from moving. For example, forward restraint keeps cargo from moving forward and aft restraint keeps cargo from moving aft.

A search revealed no regulatory guidance or best practices available from the FAA regarding the care, inspection, and maintenance of cargo straps used for internal cargo operations with helicopters.

Self-Induced Pressure


The FAA's Helicopter Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-21, discusses effective aeronautical decision-making and, with regard to operational pitfalls, states, in part:

There are numerous classic behavioral traps that can ensnare the unwary pilot. Pilots, particularly those with considerable experience, try to complete a flight as planned, please passengers, and meet schedules. This basic drive to achieve can have an adverse effect on safety and can impose an unrealistic assessment of piloting skills under stressful conditions. These tendencies ultimately may bring about practices that are dangerous and sometimes illegal and may lead to a mishap. Pilots develop awareness and learn to avoid many of these operational pitfalls through effective single-pilot resource management training.

Aviation Safety in Alaska

The NTSB's safety study, Aviation Safety in Alaska SS-95/03, discusses aviation safety issues with weather and risk taking in Alaska and states, in part:

Flying weather in Alaska can be quite variable depending on the climate zone and time of year. Although all parts of Alaska experience periods of instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), such conditions are frequent in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska Peninsula, southeast Alaska, and the Arctic Coast during the summer and early fall. Weather conditions can change rapidly in Alaska, and the vast distances between some reporting points will often conceal significant local variations in the weather. VFR flight into IMC usually involves poor pilot decision making, whether in initiating the flight or continuing it into adverse weather.

Training Device and Simulator Usage

The operator was asked by the NTSB IIC if any aviation training devices (ATD), flight training devices (FTD), or full flight simulators (FFS) for training Airbus AS 350 pilots in Alaska in areas such as flight operations in flat light conditions, flight operations in degraded visual meteorological conditions, and IIMC recovery were utilized. The operator reported that they use the actual helicopter and real-world training scenarios when training their pilots for operations in flat light conditions and degraded visual meteorological conditions. The operator has their pilots use instrument hood devices to train for IIMC avoidance and recovery. Additionally, the operator uses the actual helicopter and an FAA Capstone Project training device to assist in training terrain avoidance. The operator further reported that they are in the process of acquiring a level 5 FFS for the Airbus AS 350.

The NTSB has published Safety Alert SA-031, "Safety Through Helicopters Simulators." This document discusses the benefits of utilizing helicopter simulators and states in part:

Through simulator training, operators can provide pilots a valuable tool to ensure proficiency in emergency procedures, including autorotations, use of night vision goggles, recognition of degraded visual conditions, and recovery from unusual attitudes. Consistent, standardized simulator training will help prepare pilots for the unexpected and will decrease the risk of an accident. Simulators can be a helpful tool for operators to provide pilot training on degraded visual conditions, safe decision-making skills, and IIMC encounters. By practicing potential emergencies, pilots will be better equipped to handle emergency situations.



Chris Maggio and Becky Silvers Mull pose for a photo in 2015. 


NTSB Identification: ANC16FA023
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, May 06, 2016 in Skagway, AK
Aircraft: AIRBUS AS350, registration: N94TH
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 6, 2016, about 1855 Alaska daylight time, an Airbus AS350B2 helicopter, N94TH, collided with snow-covered terrain while en route to Skagway, Alaska, about 4 miles southeast of Skagway. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by, Temsco Helicopters, Inc., Ketchikan, Alaska, as a day, visual flight rules (VFR) flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on-demand charter flight. Marginal visual meteorological conditions were reported on the Denver Glacier at the time of the accident, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight originated from the operator's heliport in Skagway, about 1840.

During an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on May 9, the operator reported that the pilot departed from the operator's heliport to drop off one passenger and 12 dogs at a remote dog sledding camp situated on the Denver Glacier. The pilot dropped off the single passenger and the 12 dogs and departed to return to the heliport with the dog crates onboard the helicopter. The helicopter flew towards the previously used aerial return route to the southwest, and then the helicopter turned and flew to the north. Visibility was reported for the previously used aerial return route as about 1/4 mile, and to the north of the dog sledding camp visibility was reported as about 1/2 mile. 

The helicopter was classified as overdue by the operator and a second company helicopter departed from the heliport at Skagway to check on the status of the overdue helicopter. The second helicopter aircrew discovered the overdue helicopter resting on its left side with the tailboom separated in steep mountainous terrain in close proximity to a frozen glacial lake, about 2 miles northeast of the dog sledding camp. 

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor system, the fuselage, the tailboom, and the tail rotor system. 

On May 8, the NTSB IIC, along with an additional NTSB investigator, an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration's Juneau Flight Standards District Office, and a representative from Temsco Helicopters traveled to the accident scene. The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for future examination of the airframe and engine.

The closest official weather observation station is located at the Skagway Airport (AGY), about 4 miles to the northwest of the accident site. At 1853, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting, and stated in part: Wind 210 degrees (true) at 19 knots, gusting to 28 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, few clouds at 8,000 feet; temperature 53 degrees F; dew point 37 degrees F; altimeter 29.81 inHg.