National Transportation Safety Board member Tom Chapman held a media briefing Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Six investigators on a NTSB Go Team arrived on scene Monday, September 5 to investigate the September 4 fatal crash of a DHC-3 Turbine Otter aircraft into Mutiny Bay near Whidbey Island. Ten people including the pilot are believed to have died in the crash. One body of a female was recovered by boaters shortly after the crash.
Photo of N725TH from FlightAware.com.
Here are the facts conveyed by Chapman:
ASSISTANCE SOUGHT: NTSB has been interviewing witnesses. Anyone who has photos or videos of the crash is encouraged to email witness@NTSB.gov or call 866.328.6347.
AIRCRAFT: DHC-3 Turbine Otter aircraft operated by West Isle Air doing business as Friday Harbor Seaplanes. It is a scheduled commercial commuter airline that is authorized for day flights under visual flight rules.
Graphic from FlightAware.com.
FLIGHT - The flight was approximately 35 minutes long. It left Friday Harbor at 2:33, crashed at 3:09 p.m. according to FAA tracking data. It was a scheduled commercial commuter airline flight. The tragic flight was one of several legs scheduled throughout that day. Pilot Jason Winters flew all of the legs that day. The data appears to show the flight did not get higher than 1,000 feet. There are some indications a nose dive was the case, some indication in the data. No signal or beacon was activated or picked up. There was no radio traffic. It isn't known at this point if there was an emergency transmitter on the plane. One of the investigators told Chapman: Even if it had activated, it would be difficult to track underwater.
TIMING OF INVESTIGATION - Chapman said this is the first step in the investigatory process. Investigators won’t determine the cause while on scene and will not speculate while on scene. 18 to 24 months is the typical length of time for an investigation. This one is different because of the recovery effort underway to find and hopefully salvage the wreckage. The team is confident it will be located.
SEARCH FOR WRECKAGE: NTSB is leading the search for the wreckage with Fish and Wildlife personnel and sonar. Asked if the Navy should be called in. Chapman said, "Not at this point. We will look at the possibility of bringing in other resources as appropriate." As to how it will be brought to the surface, "How it will be recovered will be dependent on condition of the aircraft and terrain where is is located. It is in deep water, 100 feet deep. We don’t know the condition of the aircraft. It may have broken up. We don’t know what type of wreckage we are looking for. It is a challenge," Chapman said.
INVESTIGATION PROCESS: The investigator in charge, Doug Braisy, has 30 years of experience. The Go Team investigators have been divided into three investigative groups - Operation, Airplane Structures, and Airplane Systems. Maintenance records, pilot records, training records are being collected from the operator. The FAA's Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data is being analyzed by investigators. ADS-B records the aircraft's position and altitude. Investigators and staff in DC are also analyzing the data, and collecting weather and air traffic control information.
Additional information is being gathered from FAA, West Island Air, GE Walter engines, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. Viking Air, a Canadian company, is the type certificate holder on this aircraft design and will be a technical advisor to TSB Canada.
NTSB MISSION: It is an independent federal agency that investigates every civil aviation accident in the U.S. Its mission is to understand not just what happened but why it happened. And to recommend changes to prevent it from happening again.
Chapman thanked the agencies and personnel involved - U.S. Coast Guard, Custom and Border Protection, numerous Sheriff, EMS, fire departments, WDFW, and the Tulalip tribe.
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