Tuesday, May 21, 2019

de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, registered to Blue Aircraft LLC and operated by Venture Travel LLC doing business as Taquan Air under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a scheduled commuter flight, N67667: Fatal accident occurred May 20, 2019 off the coast of Metlakatla, Alaska

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Juneau, Alaska
Taquan Air; Ketchikan, Alaska 

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

https://registry.faa.gov/N67667


Location: Metlakatla, AK
Accident Number: ANC19FA019
Date & Time: 05/20/2019, 1556 AKD
Registration: N67667
Aircraft: De Havilland DHC 2
Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Scheduled 

On May 20, 2019, about 1556 Alaska daylight time, a float-equipped de Havilland DHC-2 (Beaver) airplane, N67667, overturned and partially sank during a landing in Metlakatla Harbor, Metlakatla, Alaska. The commercial pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to Blue Aircraft, LLC and operated by Venture Travel, LLC, dba Taquan Air, Ketchikan, Alaska, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a scheduled commuter flight. Company flight following procedures were in effect and visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated from the Ketchikan Harbor Seaplane Base (5KE), Ketchikan, about 1540 as Flight 20, and was destined for the Metlakatla Seaplane Base (MTM) in Metlakatla.

According to company dispatch documents, Flight 20 was a scheduled flight with one passenger, U.S. mail, freight and packages destined for Metlakatla, which is a community on Annette Island about 16 miles southeast of Ketchikan.

A preliminary review of archived Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control track data revealed that after departure from Ketchikan, the flight traveled southeast over an area known as the Tongass Narrows, then south to Metlakatla Harbor. The end of the flight track indicated a right turn to a westward track in the southern portion of the harbor.

Three eyewitnesses provided statements to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC). All three witnesses reported that the airplane made a normal approach to the water, in a westerly direction.

Two of the witnesses awaiting the arrival of Flight 20, stated that before touchdown on the surface of the water, the wings rocked to the left, and then to the right. One of the witnesses observed the right wing strike the surface of the water, and the airplane nosed over rapidly. After the airplane nosed over, the cockpit and cabin partially sank. The third witness, who was in a fishing vessel north of the accident site, said that as he watched the airplane land, he observed the right float "dig into the water" and then the airplane nosed over.

One of the witnesses photographed the approach, initial touch down, and post-accident events. Refer to figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1. N67667 landing during the accident sequence.
 (Photograph compliments of Nicholas King)

Figure 2. N67667 after the accident. 
(Photograph compliments of Nicholas King)

Two boats in the area immediately responded, followed by a Metlakatla Police vessel with volunteer emergency medical technicians (EMTs) onboard. According to statements provided by the first responders, the airplane's empennage was hoisted slightly out of the water by the fishing vessel, and good Samaritans together with the EMTs removed airplane seats, mail, packages and cargo netting. The occupants were removed from the airplane and transported to the Annette Island Health Center where they were declared deceased.

On May 21, during the NTSB IIC's on scene examination of the wreckage, it was revealed that the right wing and right lift strut separated from the fuselage in a rearward direction. Witnesses stated that the right wing and strut sank, as well as the passenger's seat after removal, and those components remain missing. All other major aircraft components were intact and accounted for. Several avionics components were subsequently recovered from the wreckage and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, D.C. for further examination.

According to Taquan Air management personnel, the accident pilot was a new seasonal pilot hired for the 2019 season, and he held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, single-engine sea, and instrument airplane ratings. According to the operator, when the pilot started company orientation on April 22, he had a total of 1,606 flight hours, of which 5 hours were in float-equipped airplanes. He completed the company CFR Part 135.293 and 135.299 check rides in a float-equipped DHC-2 on May 3, and he completed CFR Part 135.244 initial operation experience requirements on May 11, 2019.

The closest weather reporting facility is located at the Annette Island Airport (PANT), about 6 miles south of the accident site. At 1553 an aviation routine weather report (METAR) reported wind from 160° at 10 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, ceiling and cloud cover clear, temperature 55° F, dew point 48° F, and altimeter 29.71 inches of mercury. Witnesses near the accident site stated that the wind conditions were from the southeast, from the direction of Purple Mountain, at 13 to 15 mph, and that the water conditions were less than choppy.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: De Havilland
Registration: N67667
Model/Series: DHC 2
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Venture Travel, LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Commercial Air Tour (136); Commuter Air Carrier (135); On-demand Air Taxi (135)
Operator Does Business As: Taquan Air
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PANT, 109 ft msl
Observation Time: 2353 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 160°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.71 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Ketchikan, AK (5KE)
Destination: Metlakatla, AK (MTM) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  55.131667, -131.570556 (est)

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.

Sarah Luna

Ron Rash



ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The day after a deadly plane crash near Metlakatla details about the two people on board who were killed are being released.

The Taquan Air Beaver airplane with a pilot and passenger on board crashed at about 4 p.m Monday afternoon. Taquan Air is the operator of one of two planes that collided near Ketchikan last week, killing six people between the 16 on board both planes.

This is the second Taquan Air crash in just over one week.

The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium confirmed that Sarah Luna, a 31-year-old epidemiologist, died in the Metlakatla crash and the police department in Metlakatla says the pilot was Ron Rash, 51, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Officials say Luna was working on behalf of ANTHC, for about a year, as part of the diabetes team on her way to the small village near Ketchikan.

"Our most sincere condolences go out to Sarah's family and colleagues and we send our thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time," ANTHC wrote in a statement.

ANTHC thanked the community and the first responders for their help.

"Sarah joined the ANTHC family nearly a year ago as a Senior Epidemiologist in the Liver Disease & Hepatitis Program. As a person who was truly committed to improving the health and well-being of Alaska Native people, she was an up and coming research professional. Sarah embodied the characteristics most valuable to our team, as a person committed to improving the health and well-being of Alaska Native people," ANTHC wrote.

Luna had recently purchased a home on the lower Hillside in Anchorage. Peonies line the walkway. A woman who answered the door declined to talk.

The National Transportation Safety Board says several family members are flying to Anchorage.

Meanwhile, Taquan flights have been suspended. The company's public relations firm referred all questions to the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

"As you can imagine the past 24 hours have been incredibly overwhelming and we are reeling from not only the incident yesterday, but also from last week. It’s been a really heavy and heartbreaking time for us. Our priority has been our passengers and their families and our internal staff, and pilots," the company posted on its website. "We have voluntarily suspended all of our operations until further notice. We are grateful for your patience and the outpouring of community support and we will update you as soon as we have more information to share."

According to a Facebook page that appears to be Luna's, this was her first float plane ride. Luna also lived and worked in Rwanda at one point and appears to have had several friends who were pilots in Alaska.

"If Alaska were the size of a piece of paper, the amount accessible by roads would be the size of a postage stamp. Planes big and small are essential here, which means pilots are too," Luna wrote on Facebook.

The National Transportation Safety Board held a press conference about the crash Tuesday afternoon.

"We also offer our sympathies to the staff of Taquan Air. The losses this organization has faced in the past week have been devastating. We stand with Taquan Air, in appreciation of all this company does for South East Alaska in general, and Metlakatla in particular," Mayor Karl Cook of Metlakatla Indian Community wrote in a statement posted on Facebook.

The NTSB is required to investigate fatal aircraft incidents. Generally, it will release a preliminary report within a few days, and that will then be replaced with a final description of the crash and its probable cause, if determined.

"It is way too early draw any conclusions," Clint Johnson, the director of the NTSB's Alaska office, said. He said the agency is, "very much in the early stages in the accident investigation."

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



The leadership and staff of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium extends our condolences to the family and loved ones of Sarah Luna and the pilot who perished in yesterday’s tragic accident. We send our thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time to the families of all involved, as well as the people of Metlakatla.

Sarah was traveling to Metlakatla to see patients at Annette Island Service Unit with other ANTHC staff. Sarah joined the ANTHC family nearly a year ago as a Senior Epidemiologist in the Liver Disease & Hepatitis Program. She was an up and coming research professional, who embodied the characteristics most valuable to our team and was truly committed to improving the health and well-being of Alaska Native people. This is a devastating personal loss for many of our staff and partners.

We thank the people of Metlakatla Indian Community as well as the Metlakatla Volunteer Fire Department, the Metlakatla Police Department and the many, many community volunteers who responded to the accident and took heroic efforts in an attempt to save the passengers. We thank those who continue to care for our other staff in the community during this difficult time. We also extend our thanks to Guardian Flight and the U.S. Coast Guard for sending aid and support to the scene.

On behalf of everyone at ANTHC,
Andy Teuber, ANTHC Chairman and President



ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - National Transportation Safety Board officials appeared in a press conference Tuesday afternoon following the fatal floatplane crash that killed two in Metlakatla on Monday.

“There were lots of players involved in the rescue attempt,” said Clint Johnson of the NTSB. About an hour-and a-half after the crash, the two deaths were confirmed, he said.

Johnson also said an NTSB investigator has met with the top management of Taquan Air, the company that owned the plane involved. The investigator then headed straight to the scene to begin on-site research. She is in the process of interviewing witnesses.

“Witnesses watched the airplane landing to the west,” Johnson said, “and there was a wind - about 10 knots - and sometime during the touchdown, a float got caught. The aircraft then cartwheeled and landed inverted. It eventually came to rest upside down.

“The folks who saw the incident are shaken up,” Johnson said.

The right wing was severed in the crash and is missing at this point, but other wreckage has been accounted for; a barge is in Metlakatla to take the plane back to Ketchikan, where most of the detailed documentation will take place. The investigative team will also be meeting with top management personnel, looking at qualifications and others to figure out why the flight may have gone down.

After the agency immediately launched the primary investigation into the crash - as required by law - it also launched a secondary investigation into Taquan Air after the fatal crash in Metlakatla, which happened just a week after a plane operated by the same company was involved in a mid-air collision that killed six near Ketchikan.

NTSB officials launched an investigation into Taquan Air over that fatal flight, as well. The investigations are all being done separately, according to agency officials. All are "very much in the early stages," the NTSB said before Tuesday's press conference.

Preliminary reports are expected to be released in the next few days.

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



ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A Taquan Air Beaver airplane with a pilot and passenger on board crashed in Metlakatla at about 4 p.m. on Monday according to Deanna Thomas, the spokesperson for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

Both people died, and the circumstances of the crash were not immediately available. One of the victims was identified by her employer Tuesday as an epidemiologist.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release a statement about the crash Tuesday afternoon.

The NTSB director for Alaska said the agency had received word of the incident at about 4:30 p.m. An investigator was on her way to Metlakatla Monday, the NTSB's Clint Johnson said, as part of its follow-up to the crash.

"Very, very preliminary information here," Johnson said. "We're hoping to have a little bit more clarity right after this tragic accident, hopefully by mid-day tomorrow."

Johnson said two investigations were launched: One into the fatal crash itself, and another into Taquan Air. The investigations launched Monday, he said, will remain - on the NTSB's end - completely separate from any investigations into the fatal Ketchikan-area crash that happened a week ago.

"It is way too early draw any conclusions," Johnson said. "Very much in the early stages in the accident investigation."

The NTSB is required to investigate fatal aircraft incidents. Generally, it will release a preliminary report within a few days, and that will then be replaced with a final description of the crash and its probable cause if determined.

The Coast Guard had sent a helicopter from Air Station Sitka and a response boat from Ketchikan to try to rescue the plane's occupants, but a Coast Guard spokesperson said Metlakatla Police, Good Samaritans, emergency medical services and Troopers had all responded.

Thomas, with the Borough, said a seining boat was the first to reach the scene of the crash. A Good Samaritan boat towed the plane to shore until it could be secured.

Taquan Air is the operator of one of two planes that collided near Ketchikan last week, killing six people between the 16 on board both planes. A public relations spokesperson hired by the company reached Monday evening said he didn't have any further information at the time.

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

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