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Ketchikan Float Planes Crash

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Here are links I found on the Princess forum. 

There are 6 deceased, all recovered. 

Of the 10 injured and sent to hospital 3 were released, 3 were admitted and are in hospital in Ketchikan, 4 were medevaced to Seattle.  I read comments posted by a coworker of family of two of the injured that informed that Princess paid to transport the family members to Seattle, I assume to be with their family medevaced to Seattle.  The names of the deceased were released, see lower link.  m--

 

https://www.facebook.com/kgbak.us/photos/a.470012513333005/844056975928555/?type=3

 

https://www.wtae.com/article/2-floatplanes-collide-in-alaska/27459419

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2 hours ago, TiogaCruiser said:

Is this TCAS system something that can be installed and used effectively on a single plane, or do all planes in the vicinity have to be equipped?

 

It only works between aircraft that have the system. 

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When my daughter was flying in Alaska they only had VFR; she wasn't flying float planes, but the company she worked for closed - for safety reasons.  Her boyfriend was killed, also another pilot.  I was overjoyed when she switched to ATC!  This brings back some really bad memories.

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5 hours ago, RMLincoln said:

Here are links I found on the Princess forum. 

There are 6 deceased, all recovered. 

Of the 10 injured and sent to hospital 3 were released, 3 were admitted and are in hospital in Ketchikan, 4 were medevaced to Seattle.  I read comments posted by a coworker of family of two of the injured that informed that Princess paid to transport the family members to Seattle, I assume to be with their family medevaced to Seattle.  The names of the deceased were released, see lower link.  m--

 

https://www.facebook.com/kgbak.us/photos/a.470012513333005/844056975928555/?type=3

 

https://www.wtae.com/article/2-floatplanes-collide-in-alaska/27459419

 

Thank you for this information and the links.

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9 hours ago, TiogaCruiser said:

Is this TCAS system something that can be installed and used effectively on a single plane, or do all planes in the vicinity have to be equipped?

TCAS must be installed on all large turbine powered aircraft.  Airlines all have it installed.  A flight carrying passengers for hire is considered a commercial flight, and the pilot must have a commercial pilot license.  However the smaller aircraft used for many air tours are not mandated by the FAA to have TCAS and mode S transponders installed.   The system works great for planes that have TCAS installed.  If a smaller aircraft doesn't have it installed, then that plane does not show up on the TCAS display in the cockpit.   For those unequipped aircraft, we rely on the ATC radar to call out nearby traffic.   

I also did a lot of aerial photography for a local TV station in Tampa in the 1980's.   When the old Sunshine Skyway bridge collapsed into Tampa Bay when it was hit by the Summit Venture Cargo ship in May of 1980, I flew news crews out to shoot the scene.   I was in constant contact with Tampa Approach Control who was controlling all the news helicopter and fixed wing aircraft all vying for the best shot.  TCAS was in its infancy at that time.  Even with Tampa Approach's radar assistance, I had my head on a swivel keeping away from all the other aircraft.   As someone mentioned, in Alaska, most of the airspace is uncontrolled, meaning no radar coverage.   I have never flown in Alaska, so I can't be sure of that.

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8 hours ago, RMLincoln said:

There are 6 deceased, all recovered. 

Of the 10 injured and sent to hospital 3 were released, 3 were admitted and are in hospital in Ketchikan, 4 were medevaced to Seattle.  I read comments posted by a coworker of family of two of the injured that informed that Princess paid to transport the family members to Seattle, I assume to be with their family medevaced to Seattle. 

 

#1:  I am thankful that the bodies of the Australian and Canadian citizens were recovered that were missing.  Closure for those families involved ought to be more complete than if one continues to wonder what happened to their loved ones.  God rest the souls of all who perished in this accident.

 

#2:  It's good news that Princess assumed responsibilities that maybe are above and beyond what might be expected to transport family members for their injured guests that were flown to Seattle.  

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11 hours ago, rkacruiser said:

 

#1:  I am thankful that the bodies of the Australian and Canadian citizens were recovered that were missing.  Closure for those families involved ought to be more complete than if one continues to wonder what happened to their loved ones.  God rest the souls of all who perished in this accident.

 

#2:  It's good news that Princess assumed responsibilities that maybe are above and beyond what might be expected to transport family members for their injured guests that were flown to Seattle.  

 

Very well said.

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On 5/14/2019 at 7:14 PM, TAD2005 said:

As a retired commercial corporate pilot, I have issues with the single pilot helicopter and fixed wing tour flights.   An aerial tour in an aircraft is not like cruising straight and level for hours at flight level 380 in a commercial transport aircraft.   A tour usually involves flying at very low altitude, making constant 360 turns and altitude changes, in mountainous terrain, with many other small aircraft doing the same thing in the same area.  The single pilot has many jobs.  He must first fly the plane or helicopter.  Next he must be on constant lookout for other tour aircraft in the area.  Then he is expected to give a running narration to his passengers, answer their questions,  and make continuous turns so that both sides of the aircraft get equal picture opportunities.   That is one hell of a workload on a single pilot, no matter how experienced he/she is.   When my tail is on the line, I want my pilot to be doing one thing..... flying the plane and looking out for other tour aircraft who are doing the same thing.   I know it would increase the cost of aerial tours, but the job of dealing with the passengers, the narration, and the questions should be left to 2nd person, a tour guide.  And yes, it would take up another seat in the small aircraft.   But after a mid-air collision like this,  how much is a life worth ?   The actual cause of this tragedy is still to be determined, but a mid-air collision between 2 tour aircraft means one or both pilots were distracted,  with non-pilot duties.  When I take an aircraft tour, I want my pilot to be doing one thing.... flying the plane.  

 

I have NEVER taken an aerial tour like this for the EXACT reasons you outline - and I'm just a know-nothing tourist! Just in recent memory, I think about a tour plane that crashed in Alaska several months ago in an inaccesible area where the victims's bodies remained for weeks. The helicopter tour in NYC that ended up with the helicopter submerged with the passengers unable to unstrap themselves.  I remember being in Charleston, SC with a boy scout troop - they wanted the kids to go up in a small helicopter for a tour of the bay  - i wouldnt let my boy go. The troop leader said  "he has  a greater chance of dying on the interstate on the way home" -- yeah, I know ... statistics. But he has ZERO chance of dying in a helicoptor b/c he wont be in it!

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I flew with Randy Sullivan last year on a tour of Misty Fjords along with five members of my family.  We had a magnificent time, and it was one the top highlights of a wonderful Alaskan cruise. He was an excellent pilot, proud of his well-restored de Havilland Beaver, and demonstrated a commitment to safety.  I was in the co-pilot seat for both legs of the flight.  He was in constant contact by radio with another tour plane in the area.  He saved most of the narration until we landed in the park and got out of the plane to walk around.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Randy's family and the families of the others lost in this tragedy.  

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On 5/15/2019 at 7:29 PM, TAD2005 said:

TCAS must be installed on all large turbine powered aircraft.  Airlines all have it installed.  A flight carrying passengers for hire is considered a commercial flight, and the pilot must have a commercial pilot license.  However the smaller aircraft used for many air tours are not mandated by the FAA to have TCAS and mode S transponders installed.   The system works great for planes that have TCAS installed.  If a smaller aircraft doesn't have it installed, then that plane does not show up on the TCAS display in the cockpit.   For those unequipped aircraft, we rely on the ATC radar to call out nearby traffic.   

I also did a lot of aerial photography for a local TV station in Tampa in the 1980's.   When the old Sunshine Skyway bridge collapsed into Tampa Bay when it was hit by the Summit Venture Cargo ship in May of 1980, I flew news crews out to shoot the scene.   I was in constant contact with Tampa Approach Control who was controlling all the news helicopter and fixed wing aircraft all vying for the best shot.  TCAS was in its infancy at that time.  Even with Tampa Approach's radar assistance, I had my head on a swivel keeping away from all the other aircraft.   As someone mentioned, in Alaska, most of the airspace is uncontrolled, meaning no radar coverage.   I have never flown in Alaska, so I can't be sure of that.

 

I've often wondered about the news helicopters. When there's a fire or a big accident, they're all on (above) the scene. It's amazing that they don't hit each other and add to the disaster on the ground.

 

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I haven't shared our own "float plane story" because I don't like being a fear-monger, but I think I may as well.

DH took a float plane in Alaska a few years back when he was on a salmon fishing trip with a buddy.  They were up there and the engine cut out.  They lost altitude...and the pilot was able to restart the engine.  A few minutes later -- repeat of the engine cut out, altitude loss, and repeat of the restart.

The pilot immediately turned the plane around and headed back in.  He said it was a case of "bad fuel."

 

Lots of different things can happen.

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On 5/14/2019 at 7:14 PM, TAD2005 said:

As a retired commercial corporate pilot, I have issues with the single pilot helicopter and fixed wing tour flights.   An aerial tour in an aircraft is not like cruising straight and level for hours at flight level 380 in a commercial transport aircraft.   A tour usually involves flying at very low altitude, making constant 360 turns and altitude changes, in mountainous terrain, with many other small aircraft doing the same thing in the same area.  The single pilot has many jobs.  He must first fly the plane or helicopter.  Next he must be on constant lookout for other tour aircraft in the area.  Then he is expected to give a running narration to his passengers, answer their questions,  and make continuous turns so that both sides of the aircraft get equal picture opportunities.   That is one hell of a workload on a single pilot, no matter how experienced he/she is.   When my tail is on the line, I want my pilot to be doing one thing..... flying the plane and looking out for other tour aircraft who are doing the same thing.   I know it would increase the cost of aerial tours, but the job of dealing with the passengers, the narration, and the questions should be left to 2nd person, a tour guide.  And yes, it would take up another seat in the small aircraft.   But after a mid-air collision like this,  how much is a life worth ?   The actual cause of this tragedy is still to be determined, but a mid-air collision between 2 tour aircraft means one or both pilots were distracted,  with non-pilot duties.  When I take an aircraft tour, I want my pilot to be doing one thing.... flying the plane.  

 

I've been thinking about this post. With this in mind, thinking back to my floatplane excursion in Anchorage, it occurs to me that the pilot was chatty while we were flying toward the mountains, but much less so when we were over the glacier and flying between the mountains. At the time, I was impressed at how well she tried to position us to see Denali while she watched the mountains and kept an eye on the clouds, as the ceiling was getting lower. Fortunately, there was no other plane near us, so she didn't have to deal with that worry.  Having flown in a friend's small plane many times, I was aware of all she was doing. My friend was a very careful pilot, and I think he'd have given her top marks. 

 

That day, we saw only one other plane (also from Regal) taking off from the floatplane base, so there wasn't a lot of traffic to worry about when we were flying. Perhaps in more crowded areas they need to stagger tour schedules and make sure everyone  follows a flightplan/route more strictly. 

 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

I've been thinking about this post. With this in mind, thinking back to my floatplane excursion in Anchorage, it occurs to me that the pilot was chatty while we were flying toward the mountains, but much less so when we were over the glacier and flying between the mountains. At the time, I was impressed at how well she tried to position us to see Denali while she watched the mountains and kept an eye on the clouds, as the ceiling was getting lower. Fortunately, there was no other plane near us, so she didn't have to deal with that worry.  Having flown in a friend's small plane many times, I was aware of all she was doing. My friend was a very careful pilot, and I think he'd have given her top marks. 

 

That day, we saw only one other plane (also from Regal) taking off from the floatplane base, so there wasn't a lot of traffic to worry about when we were flying. Perhaps in more crowded areas they need to stagger tour schedules and make sure everyone  follows a flightplan/route more strictly. 

 

Very true.  When there are only a few planes in the key tour areas, be it a glacier, or a volcano like in Hawaii, it is fairly easy to maintain separation from other aircraft.   We all talk to each other on a common frequency to maintain separation.   But with 4 or 5  monster ships, with 4000 passengers on each ship, all in a single port on the same day, there is very limited time to accommodate all the passengers who want aerial tours.  The tour operators increase the number of aircraft and the total number of simultaneous flights, all vying for the best view of the glacier.   That multiplies the number of aircraft in a single area, all trying to keep their paying passengers happy.   That sets up a dangerous situation, and all it takes is one pilot under pressure to make that unexpected 360 turn so everybody can get a great picture, and you have a disaster.

I don't like being the "wet blanket",  but when I am a passenger in any aircraft, I want the pilot to be paying strict attention to flying the aircraft and maintaining separation from other aircraft, and leave the passengers and tour narration up to a qualified tour guide.

Edited by TAD2005

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I regret the loss of lives in these Alaskan accidents.  NTSB will, I am confident, determine what went wrong and remedies will be found to prevent such.

 

I had to screw up my courage to take my first floatplane tour.  And, I have done another one.  Both were memorable experiences that I am glad I spent the money and put my "fears" to bed.  

 

I hope these accidents don't discourage too many people from experiencing a different Alaska than can be seen by sailing along the coast.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

 A few years ago another float plane crashed into the side of cliff in the Misty Fjords NP all on board where lost and it was I think a Princess tour group of passengers. We've taken the Misty Fjords float plane tour and really loved it. But after a rash of these incidents I wouldn't suggest it to anyone, and I love flying. I must have over 2500 hours of PC flight simulator experience. 

 

As many have noted smaller planes don't have TCAS, and for it to work both aircraft must have it and it must be turned on to Transponder B mode.

 

http://www.sitnews.us/Kiffer/CrashHistory/082507_fatal_crashes.html

 

 

Rest in Peace victims.

 

-Paul

Edited by kangforpres

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19 hours ago, kangforpres said:

 As many have noted smaller planes don't have TCAS, and for it to work both aircraft must have it and it must be turned on to Transponder B mode.

-Paul

Transponder modes for civilian aircraft.

Mode A -   Basic mode that transmits the 4 digit code that ATC assigns.  Code 1200 for VFR and varying codes for IFR flights.  Special emergency codes are in the 7*** area.

Mode C  -  This mode will transmit your altitude if you have an encoding altimeter, which is required for all flights in controlled airspace such as TCA's.

Mode S -  This mode is required for TCAS and can be used for ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast)

Mode B -  Has been discontinued in the US years ago.

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We are doing a flight to Denali from Anchorage (as an excursion). Does anyone know what company they use (I don't think it is listed in the excursion description). I was a little hesitant to book it and now I'm more nervous.

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5 minutes ago, cruises42 said:

We are doing a flight to Denali from Anchorage (as an excursion). Does anyone know what company they use (I don't think it is listed in the excursion description). I was a little hesitant to book it and now I'm more nervous.

 

HAL does not identify the company, but you can figure out who the vendor is by checking the websites of the companies that fly out of Anchorage and comparing the blurbs to the HAL excursion descriptions. They're often word-for-word the same. Also look at the photos. The photo in HAL's excursion list is often supplied by the vendor. The excursion I took was with Regal and they were excellent. 

 

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Posted (edited)

OMG - a third fatal crash in Alaska yesterday!  

https://www.ktuu.com/content/news/Coast-Guard-responding-to-plane-crash-near-Valdez-510247741.html

 

I'm nervous too and I've been on two previous float planes and two helicopters.  We're booked on a bear viewing tour to fly from Juneau with Ward Air to some falls over near Hoonah in August BUT I just told my DH that with this many fatal crashes in a week, I'm rethinking that plan.    

 

In answer to your question, I'm guessing your flightseeing tour will be with Rust's or Regal - https://www.flyrusts.com/flightseeing/discover-denali-national-park/

https://regal-air.com/alaska-shore-excursions/alaska-shore-excursions/

 

You can call both companies and ask if they provide the tour for HAL and they should tell you.  You can also  Google safety records for every company that flies pretty much anywhere if you want to check them out.  Good luck!

Edited by zelker

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