Sad story, but let us hope somebody learned something.

  NTSB---Report out today on 2015 shore excursion accident in Ketchikan-  "A floatplane pilot for a Ketchikan-based air tour operator and the company's safety "culture" were directly responsible for the 2015 crash that kiled the pilot and eight Holland America cruise-ship passengers on a shore excursion, the National Transportation Safety Board found Tuesday."   "Board members also discussed competitive and time pressures among air tour operators in Ketchikan, including the fact that Promech's flights were running too late on the day of the crash to return by the 12:30 p.m. "all-aboard" time for Westerdam passengers to leave Ketchikan. Missing the deadline meant Promech would have to transport the passengers to their ship's next port of call at its own expense.   "Lives depended on the pilot's decision making," Sumwalt said in the NTSB statement. "Pilot decisions are informed, for better or worse, by their company's culture. This company allowed competitive pressure to overwhelm the common-sense needs of passenger safety in its operations. That's the climate in which the accident pilot worked."



Tags: Alaska Ketchikan

10 Answers

I remember reading about this awful incident.

Company culture is what lead to my company's fatal accident years ago. We have a totally different culture now as a direct result of it. Based more than ever on safety first.

Hope this company will turn into a safer company as well.

I guess one could do some research before booking a flight on one of these tours to try and find out which ones run the safest.

That is terrible. One of the reasons I skip excursions. They are money grabs in my humble opinion

Unfortunately, the 2015 Otter accident was almost a repeat of the 1994 Otter accident up near Juneau. If I recall correctly many of those passengers were off cruise ships who took a day excursion up to Taku Lodge for lunch, etc. I remember that accident sending chills up my spine as I used to hate it when I took clients somewhere and had to wait for them to finish whatever (In that case, lunch) while weather conditions were beginning to turn to snot. I always wanted to say, let's go now, forget eating.

"On 22 June 1994, a float equipped Dehavilland, DHC-3 Otter, N13GA, registered to and operated by Wings of Alaska of Juneau, Alaska crashed into the Taku Intlet, 12 miles east of Juneau. The Air Taxi flight, operating under 14 CFR Part 135 by a Commercial Certificated pilot, last departed the Taku Lodge located on the Taku River, and the destination was the Juneau downtown dock. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and a company flight plan was in effect. The airplane received substantial damage. Six passengers received fatal injuries, one passenger is missing and presumed dead, and the pilot and three passengers received serious injuries.

Five aircraft departed a lodge, one behind the other. Fog and drizzle were encountered, and the pilot of the first aircraft radioed to the pilots of the other aircraft to cross the river to the east shoreline. A passenger in the fourth aircraft (N13GA) stated that when the aircraft was over the middle of the river, she could not see either shore due to fog. The pilot of N13GA (a floatplane) stated that he encountered deteriorating weather & started a descent, intending to make a precautionary landing. He began to level, expecting conditions to improve. Subsequently, the floatplane hit the surface of 'glassy water' and crashed.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "VFR flight by the pilot into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and his failure to maintain altitude (clearance) above the surface of the river. Factors related to the accident were: the adverse weather conditions, and the surface condition of the river (glassy water)."

Makes me think of how music producer Bill Graham died. Yet another case of money over safety. The FBO I was with at the time worked avionics on his helicopter. I had met that pilot twice. My boss would work the 'copter, wouldn't let anyone else do it. Anyhow, Graham had to get to an event during IFR conditions. Instead of the pilot saying no way I'm flying in this soup, go rent a limo. The pilot went scud running and hit power lines.

So sad, especially when it is completely preventable.

Yes, this is all so sad & didn't have to happen.

Sad, and makes my afraid to take flight excursions.

Certainly does make one wonder if to do it or not. I plan on doing it but will research the different tour companies first. Don't think I'll necessarily take the flight excursion connected with the cruise line.

Not to disparage any pilots on board here, but from what I have read, the Alaska Bush Pilot is an unusual breed. I think I will pass.

I agree, flying in both small aircraft and helicopters in Alaska is indeed statistically safe. I don't hesitate in taking flights-sees most of the time. I spent 12 years flying commercially on the coast of Alaska and in the interior without ever having an accident or injuring a passenger. My brother did the same for a much longer period as well. We all know the story of skud running pilots and the associated competitive pressures placed upon them to push weather.

Much has been accomplished to improve this problem. However, I do question contemporary cruise line shore excursion practices and procedures in Southeast Alaska today. I believe the cruise ship industry ought to begin focusing on this as their requirements obviously exacerbate the hazard. They should begin working with air taxi firms in making adjustments.


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