Capstone Technology Saves Pilot

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Capstone has completed its first real-world test and saved a life in the process. Launched in 1999, the program has installed $19,000 worth of special navigation equipment on 189 commercial airplanes operating in Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The goal of the program is to reduce aviation accidents in the region where there is no radar, the terrain is rough and weather can very quickly turn from bad to worse. On October 30, Erick Gutierrez flew from Bethel 75 miles north to the small village of Marshall. After dropping off passengers and cargo, he departed in his Cessna 207 for a return trip to Bethel, but crashed along the way. Searchers were able to contact the FAA for the Cessna's last Capstone transmission to help locate the plane. Capstone equipment includes a computer screen that displays detailed moving maps, the location of other planes flying in the area and weather data. The equipment sends out a signal with its aircraft's location that is then relayed by satellite to ground-based terminals in a dozen or so villages. Gutierrez was found and transported to Anchorage's Providence Alaska Medical Center for treatment.