Calls For Greater Safety Measures For For-Hire Flights

The National Transportation Safety Board has released the preliminary report for its investigation of the May 13, 2019, fatal mid-air collision near Ketchikan, Alaska, one in a string of recent accidents involving for-hire aircraft. 

The collision between a float-equipped de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and a float-equipped de Havilland DHC-3 Turbine Otter occurred about seven miles northeast of Ketchikan, Alaska. The DHC-2 commercial pilot and four passengers sustained fatal injuries and the DHC-3 certificated airline transport pilot sustained minor injuries, nine passengers sustained serious injuries and one passenger sustained fatal injuries.

Both aircraft involved in the mid-air collision were operating under Part 135 of FAA regulations, which govern the operation of business and charter flights. So was the airplane that crashed Monday in Alaska and the helicopter that crashed in Hawaii April 29.

“While these tragic accidents are still under investigation, and no findings or causes have been determined, each crash underscores the urgency of improving the safety of charter flights by implementing existing NTSB safety recommendations,” said Robert L. Sumwalt, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. “The need for those improvements is why the NTSB put Part 135 aircraft flight operations on the 2019 – 2020 Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.”

The NTSB’s safety recommendations call on Part 135 operators to implement safety management systems, record and analyze flight data, and ensure pilots receive controlled-flight-into-terrain avoidance training. Major passenger airlines, which operate under Part 121, have adopted these measures and have seen a great improvement in safety.

“A customer who pays for a ticket should trust that the operator is using the industry’s best practices when it comes to safety,’’ Sumwalt (pictured)said. “And it shouldn’t matter if the operator has one airplane or 100. Travelers should have an equivalent level of safety regardless of the nature of the flight for which they paid.”

The preliminary report on the investigation of the May 13 mid-air collision does not discuss probable cause. The report contains information gathered thus far in the investigation.  Determination of probable cause and the issuance of any safety recommendations comes at the end of an investigation. Investigations involving fatalities and other major NTSB investigations currently take between 12 and 24 months to complete.

(Source: NTSB news release. Images from file)

FMI: go.usa.gov/xmfmQ