NTSB Cites ‘Punitive Culture’ In 2013 Alaska Crash


The NTSB said Wednesday a “punitive culture and inadequate safety management” along with poor weather caused the crash of an Alaska Department of Public Safety helicopter on March 30, 2013. The single-engine Eurocopter crashed in wooded and snow-covered terrain east of Talkeetna, killing the pilot, another state trooper and the snowmobiler they had just rescued.The board said in a statement that the Alaska DPS “lacked policies and procedures to ensure that risk was managed, such as formal weather minimums, formal training in night vision goggle operations and having a second person familiar with helicopter rescue operations involved in the go/no-go decision.”

Contributing to the crash was the pilot’s “exceptionally high motivation to complete search and rescue missions,” the NTSB said.The DPS’s investigation of a previous accident involving the pilot was “too narrowly focused on the pilot and not enough on underlying risks that could have been better managed by the organization,” the NTSB said, adding that there was a “punitive culture that impeded the free flow of safety-related information and impaired the organization’s ability to address underlying safety deficiencies relevant to this accident.” The board’s recommendations include the use of flight risk evaluation programs.