The second fatal crash of a flightseeing
plane near Ketchikan, Alaska, in less than a month has prompted a
federal investigation of the area's flightseeing operations.
Both planes were
flying with cruise passengers onboard, both were single-engine
DeHavilland Beavers and both crashes resulted in five
On July 24, four
Princess Cruises passengers and a pilot were killed when a plane
operated by Taquan Air crashed during a sightseeing tour of the
Misty Fjords National Monument.
On August 16, five
passengers on a Holland America Line cruise were killed when a
plane operated by Seawind Aviation collided with tree-covered
terrain while on a bear viewing excursion in Traitor's Cove,
according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The pilot
and three passengers survived with serious injuries.
Peter Knudson, a
spokesman for the NTSB, said that the agency investigates every
accident, but given the circumstances they would look into the
area's flightseeing operations in general.
"When we have two
accidents so close together involving these air tours on these
charters, we wanted to take a look if there are any issues
connecting them," Knudson said.
public information officer for the Alaska State Troopers, said that
the accidents had brought increased scrutiny to local flightseeing
businesses, posing questions related to whether the companies are
pushing safety limits and possibly flying even if the weather is
"The NTSB wants to
make sure that companies aren't letting lots of money determine
whether they are going into the air," she said. "It should be
safety that determines that."
Peters pointed out
that while the two flightseeing crashes were tragic, small-plane
accidents are comparatively common in Alaska. Small planes are
often an alternative to cars for the local population, much of
which lives in towns that are not connected by roads.
According to the
Federal Aviation Administration's statistics, there are 10,672
aircraft registered in the State of Alaska for a population of
670,053 people. New York State, by comparison, has 8,970 registered
aircraft among its more than 19 million inhabitants.
contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].