Alaskan airline and tour company Taquan Air has suspended all flying activities after a fatal crash just a week after another of its De Havilland Beaver seaplanes was involved in a midair collision on May 14 that killed a total of six people. On Monday, a Taquan Air Beaver was involved in a second fatal accident, this time in Metlakatla Harbor. Witnesses say the Beaver flipped over on landing and came to rest inverted.
Rescue crews were unable to save the passenger, identified as Sarah Luna, and the pilot, Ron Rash. The NTSB’s Clint Johnson elaborated, saying, “Witnesses watched the airplane landing to the west and there was a wind, about 10 knots, and sometime during the touchdown, a float got caught. The aircraft then cartwheeled and landed inverted. It eventually came to rest upside down. The folks who saw the incident are shaken up.”
Taquan Air posted this message on its website: “As you can imagine the past 24 hours have been incredibly overwhelming and we are reeling from not only the incident yesterday, but also from last week. It’s been a really heavy and heartbreaking time for us. Our priority has been our passengers and their families and our internal staff, and pilots. We have voluntarily suspended all of our operations until further notice. We are grateful for your patience and the outpouring of community support and we will update you as soon as we have more information to share.”
The NTSB has published the prelimiary investigationof the May 14 crash.
According to the NTSB, the airplanes collided about 3,350 feet MSL near the west side of the George Inlet, east of Mahoney Lake. “The DHC-3 [Taquan turbine Otter] pilot stated the flight from the Misty Fjords area had proceeded normally, and he had descended and was maneuvering the airplane to show passengers a waterfall near Mahoney Lake when the collision occurred. He had not observed any potential conflicting traffic on his flight display that included Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system data. He last recalled looking at his ADS-B display when he was flying over Carroll Inlet.
“Just prior to the collision, he saw a flash from his left side, and experienced a large, loud impact. According to the pilot, the DHC-3 airplane then rolled right and pitched about 40 degrees nose down toward the water in George Inlet. He stated that he was able to maintain some control and flare the airplane prior to impact. The pilot estimated that the airplane impacted the water about five seconds after the collision.” One passenger died aboard the Otter, nine had serious injuries, and one had minor injuries.
All four passengers and the pilot aboard the other aircraft, a De Havilland Beaver, were killed when it broke up after the collision. According to the NTSB report, “Examination of the DHC-2 [Beaver] wreckage showed the right wing had several mechanical cuts from the right aileron inboard to the wing root. Each successive cut penetrated further inboard and forward into the wing structure. Each cut had distinct downward deformation of the upper and lower wing skins, consistent with impacts from propeller blades.”
The NTSB is investigating the most recent landing crash now.