Feds release probable causes in 2 fatal crashes

ANCHORAGE — Pilot error and flawed safety procedures by an Alaska commuter air company contributed to a fatal plane crash in 2013 outside the village of St. Mary’s, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report released Friday.

In addition, the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration to hold Hageland Aviation accountable for correcting known operating deficiencies also contributed to the crash, the NTSB said in a probable cause report.

The report was one of two released Friday on fatal Alaska crashes. In the other, the safety board concluded two Hageland pilots died in a 2014 training crash after a newly hired pilot delayed recovering control of the aircraft after the trainer had placed it in a simulated in-flight emergency.

Hageland is under the corporate umbrella of HoTH Inc., which also does business as Ravn Alaska, Ravn Connect and Corvus Airlines. The fatal crashes and other incidents played a part in the NTSB in 2014 recommending that HoTH companies undergo a comprehensive safety audit and that FAA oversight of the company be reviewed.

The FAA in a statement released by spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the agency has worked closely to make significant permanent changes in the way HoTH companies conduct flight operations. The FAA also restructured its Alaskan Region Flight Standards Division for enhanced oversight of commuter air carriers, the agency said.

“The oversight program includes new safety management systems, which help identify potential problems early on, ensure operators address them, and ensure operators’ measures are effective,” the agency said.

Messages left Friday with the media spokesman listed on the Ravn Alaska website were not immediately returned.

The company in a statement Wednesday said it has worked diligently with the NTSB and the agency in the report acknowledged changes, including a new company operations control center to handle release and dispatch of flights.

The Nov. 29, 2013, crash outside St. Mary’s killed pilot Terry Hansen, 68, and three passengers. The airplane left Bethel for Mountain Village and began icing up in thick, cold fog. The pilot tried diverting to St. Mary’s, overflew the village and crashed on a ridge.

Hansen’s decision to use visual flight rules as he approached St. Mary’s in conditions that called for an instrument approach contributed to the crash, the NTSB concluded. The failure by Hageland flight coordinators to discuss flight risks that night resulted in the pilot “experiencing a loss of situational awareness,” which the FAA defines as accurately perceiving what is happening in the environment, understanding the implications of what has been perceived, and the ability to project into the future.

The April 8, 2014, crash also originated in Bethel and killed pilots Derrick Cedars, 42, of Bethel and newly hired Greggory McGee, 46, of Anchorage during McGee’s first company training flight in a Cessna 208B Caravan. After interviews with other pilots who had trained with Cedars, the NTSB concluded the crash likely occurred after simulation of an emergency and a rapid descent.

The board concluded Cedars likely delayed a recovery procedure as the airplane dove until it was too late to regain control of the airplane.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

Glory Hall Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk points out some of the features of the homeless shelter’s new location a few days before it opens in July of 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Mariya Lovishchuk stepping down after 15 years as executive director of the Glory Hall

Leader who oversaw big changes in Juneau’s homeless programs hopes to continue similar work.

Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people gather in Juneau for the opening of Celebration on June 5. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Federal judge considers lawsuit that could decide Alaska tribes’ ability to put land into trust

Arguments took place in early May, and Judge Sharon Gleason has taken the case under advisement.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, June 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, June 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Workers stand next to the Father Brown’s Cross after they reinstalled it at an overlook site on Mount Roberts on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Hugo Miramontes)
Father Brown’s Cross is resurrected on Mount Roberts after winter collapse

Five workers put landmark back into place; possibility of new cross next year being discussed.

KINY’s “prize patrol” vehicle is parked outside the Local First Media Group Inc.’s building on Wednesday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau radio station KINY is using AI to generate news stories — how well does it get the scoop?

As trust and economics of news industry continue long decline, use and concerns of AI are growing.

An empty classroom at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on July 20, 2022. (Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska faces consequences as federal education funding equity dispute continues

State officials offered feds a $300,000 compromise instead of $17 million adjustment.

Most Read