Recent Developments

Speiser Krause in the News and Recent Developments

Friday, August 27, 2021

Update Regarding Southeast Aviation N1249K De Havilland Beaver Sightseeing Crash near Ketchikan, Alaska on August 5, 2021

The National Transportation released its Preliminary Report into the crash of the Southeast Aviation sightseeing de Havilland Beaver that occurred on August 5, 2021, approximately 18 miles from Ketchikan, Alaska. Tragically, the Preliminary Report indicates that the crash was another example of an accident involving controlled flight into terrain (“CFIT”) in poor visibility during an Alaskan sightseeing tour.

Although not mentioned in the Preliminary Report, the pilot of the accident aircraft had been involved in an accident in Alaska approximately one month before the crash. During a water taxi to takeoff, the aircraft struck a buoy, flipped over, and suffered substantial damage. The pilot, who was alone at the time, was uninjured.

The aircraft, owned and operated by Southeast Aviation, departed the Ketchikan Harbor Seaplane Base at approximately 9:39 am for the sightseeing tour to the Misty Fjords National Monument. This was the second sightseeing flight of the day conducted by the pilot, and the flight to Misty Fjords was unremarkable, landing on the Big Goat Lake at 10:18 am. The aircraft was equipped with a Spidertracks flight tracking system, which provides real-time flight data on one-minute intervals.

The aircraft spent approximately 10 minutes at the lake and departed at 10:27 a.m. for the return flight to the Ketchikan Harbor Seaplane Base. At 10:48 a.m., approximately one minute before the crash, the fight tracking system recorded the aircraft at an altitude of 1,730 feet mean sea level (msl) on a heading of 261 degrees.

Two minutes later the United States Coast Guard received an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal assigned to the accident aircraft. A search was begun, and the aircraft was located on the side of a steep range approximately 30 minutes after the ELT signal was received. Rescue personnel reached the accident site a few hours later and confirmed that unfortunately, there were no survivors.

The wreckage was located in steep tree-lined mountainous terrain at an altitude of approximately 1,750 feet msl. Other sightseeing tour operators who conducted flights on the morning of the accident reported that there were low clouds in the vicinity and rescue personnel noted that the weather was overcast, and the mountain tops were obscured by cloud cover. In addition, the valley where the wreckage was located reported cloud cover at 600-800 above ground level.

All major aircraft components were located within the vicinity of the wreckage and sustained significant impact damage. Although the wreckage will be examined in detail later, the metallurgical signatures on the propeller indicated that the propeller was receiving power at the time of the crash.

Tragically, given the release of the Preliminary Report, this appears to be another crash caused by a sightseeing flight operated in poor visibility while traversing mountainous terrain. Although the NTSB has recently focused on improving Alaskan aviation safety, until the regulatory authorities take steps to address the specific problems associated with sightseeing flights in Alaska, accidents similar to this may continue to occur – especially in the busy Alaskan tourist summer months.

The partners at Speiser Krause have specialized expertise in litigating these types of cases in Alaska, having recently concluded the litigation arising from a mid-air collision between two sightseeing flights returning from the Misty Fjords National Monument. There are a host of issues that are particular to this type of litigation, including the insurance issues regarding liability coverage maintained by the operator of the accident aircraft.

We will provide additional updates as more facts become available.

Archived Posts


© 2024 Speiser Krause, A Professional Corporation
800 Westchester Ave, Ste. S-608, Rye Brook, NY 10573
| Phone: 914-220-5333

Professionals | History | Areas of Practice | Our Work | Testimonials


© Speiser Krause, A Professional Corporation | Attorney Advertising | Disclaimer | Law Firm Website Designby Zola Creative