Wednesday, April 09, 2008

PenAir cargo flight crashes in Alaska

PenAir logoThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a preliminary report on a recent accident in Alaska in which a Piper PA-32 aircraft, operated by Peninsula Airways (PenAir), crashed into terrain. The pilot, who was the sole occupant of the aircraft at the time of the accident, sustained minor injuries. Damage to the aircraft was listed as "substantial."

According to the NTSB report, the PenAir accident happened on the afternoon of April 1, 2008. The aircraft (registration number N8327S) was carrying cargo and mail. It originated at the Dillingham Airport, Dillingham, Alaska, at about 15:10 local time, en route to Koliganek, Alaska, operating as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country air taxi flight under Title 14, CFR Part 135. It "collided with snow-covered terrain while in cruise flight, about 10 miles south south-west of Koliganek."

More from the NTSB report:
During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on April 2, the director of operations for the operator reported that the pilot was on the first segment of his flight from Dillingham, then to Koliganek, then to New Stuyahok, Alaska, and return to Dillingham. The pilot did not arrive in Koliganek, and an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal was received from the airplane. The pilot was located by search and rescue personnel about 2040, and transported to Koliganek by snow machine.

In a written statement from the pilot on April 3, he reported that he was in cruise flight about 700 feet agl, and the visibility was good until about 20 miles from Koliganek. The weather began to deteriorate rapidly, and the pilot decided to turn around. The airplane then collided with terrain.

Personnel from the operator reported that when they arrived at the accident scene to begin recovery operations, they found that the airplane collided with almost featureless snow-covered terrain on a northwest heading. They reported the right main landing gear separated first, followed by the left main gear, followed by an impact that separated the right wing.

At 1540, a special observation at Koliganek was reporting in part: Wind, 130 degrees (true) at 15 knots; visibility, 2 statute miles in mist; clouds, 400 feet broken, 1,300 feet broken, 8,500 feet overcast; temperature, 34 degrees F; dew point, 32 degrees F; altimeter, 29.67 inHg. Remarks; ceiling variable from 200 to 900 feet. [NTSB ID: ANC08LA046]
PenAir is headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska. In addition to flying cargo, PenAir provides scheduled passenger service throughout Southwest Alaska.