An Alaska Crash Story #5
Taquan Air FAR Part 135 air taxi & commuter
July 10, 2018
10 injuries
PIC total time 27,400 hrs; 360 hrs make/model
DHC3T N3925B
Jumbo Mountain - 9 miles east of Hydaburg

Investigation closed. /1
The Probable Cause of this crash was the pilot’s decision to fly under visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions aka “VFR into IMC”.

This is a closer view of the aircraft - the floats were sheared off during impact. (Both photos via NTSB.) /2
The charter flight departed a fishing lodge on Noyes Island with ten passengers flying to Ketchikan about 7:45AM. The area forecast was scattered clouds 2500’, overcast 5,000’ isolated broken at 2500’, light rain and “mountains obscured in clouds/precipitation.” /3
Multiple passengers told the NTSB that they were in and out of the clouds throughout the flight. /4
All of the passengers say variations of the same thing - “it was bad, it got worse, the pilot didn’t land on the water even though he could have….” /5
The aircraft impacted the rising terrain of Jumbo Mountain at about the 1,000 foot level at 8:35AM. There were 6 serious injuries & 4 minor - only the pilot was uninjured. /6
Things got strange during the investigation when the NTSB discovered that Taquan’s Director of Ops was not physically located at the company’s base in Ketchikan. He lived in Anchorage, where he was also the DO of another, larger company, Grant Aviation. /8
Taquan’s POI did not know that the DO was also working for someone else. The Grant POI did know but didn’t talk to anyone about it, nor did he think he should. This is a bit of the exchange between the Taquan POI & investigators: /10
In his interview with the NTSB, the Grant POI said the DO told him in May that he was being replaced at Taquan, so he was unconcerned. He didn’t follow-up much to make sure that was happening. He never spoke to the Taquan POI. /11
While Grant may have been covered by the DO, Taquan was not. The DO was barely there once a month even though he told the NTSB “I look at safety as my number one responsibility, just to keep the operation safe.” /12
In his interview with the NTSB it was pretty obvious that Taquan’s president was fine with the DO working elsewhere. /13
The Chief Pilot was utterly and completely overwhelmed. How everyone thought this was okay is a mystery to me. /14
Ultimately, the NTSB could not prove the absence of the DO & CP's struggle to cover for him contributed to the crash. Should they have done things differently? Who could say? The pilot took all the blame. /15
FYI - Taquan was a Shield carrier in the Medallion Safety Foundation. Star & Shield carriers advertised themselves as operating at a higher degree of safety than nonmembers. Make of that conclusion what you will. /16
You can read the Jumbo Mountain accident report here. The 2019 crashes involving Taquan Air are still under investigation. /fin
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