Troopers identify pilots killed in plane crash near Togiak

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - THURSDAY 4 p.m. UPDATE:

From Alaska State Troopers

The two pilots who died in Sunday's plane crash near Togiak are identified as Timothy Cline, 43 of Homer, and Drew Welty, 29 of Anchorage, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Relatives of both men have been notified.

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE:

The passenger killed in a small plane crash near Togiak on Sunday has been identified as 49-year-old Louie John from Manokotak.

The two pilots on board the Cessna have not yet been publicly identified pending notification of their family members, troopers say.

MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:
Investigators arrived today at the steep, rocky site where a Cessna 208 crashed Sunday in Western Alaska, killing all three people on board.

The crash is the second fatal accident this year for Hageland Aviation, doing business as Ravn Connect, following a deadly mid-air collision Aug. 31 near Russian Mission. The operator, along with parent company HoTH Inc., was the subject of an urgent safety recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board surrounding a series of accidents between late 2012 and 2014.

At that time, the NTSB called on the Federal Aviation Administration to audit HoTH Inc. – a collection that represents the busiest commuter airline in Alaska and included Hageland, Frontier Flying Services and Era Aviation and does business as Ravn Alaska, Ravn Connect and Corvus Airlines. Safety investigators had found shortcomings in the implementation of operator’s risk assessment program, such as flights being approved without proper safeguards, as well as flaws in how the FAA handled oversight of the carriers.

[NTSB issues ‘urgent safety recommendation’ to improve oversight of Alaska operators]

“I have to say, since that time, Hageland and Ravn have installed a state-of-the-art control center in Palmer,” said NTSB Alaska region chief Clint Johnson. “It's one Alaska has never seen the likes of.”

HoTH Inc. and affiliated air carriers reported no flight accidents from the time the NTSB published its recommendation until the August mid-air collision with a Renfro’s Alaska Adventure Super Cub, according to a review of NTSB records.

“I believe after the audit came out, and the inspection came, the company took some very unusual steps and made some remarkable tools to reverse the trend,” said Harry Kieling, of the Alaska Aviation Safety Foundation.

The investigation into the Monday crash, meantime, is just beginning.

“We look at each one of these events on a case-by-case basis, and that's exactly what we're doing in this case,” Johnson said. “(It’s) way too early to see if there are any similarities between this accident and the other accident that happened with Hageland or Ravn Connect.”

ORIGINAL STORY

Three people are dead following a small plane crash near Togiak on Sunday afternoon, Alaska State Troopers say.

The Cessna 208 was travelling from Quinhagak to Togiak carrying three people on board, two of which were Hageland Aviation pilots, troopers wrote in a dispatch posted online.

Troopers in Dillingham were notified at around 1:26 p.m. yesterday that the plane’s emergency locator beacon had been activated. A trooper helicopter responded and successfully located the crash site about 12 miles West of Togiak. No survivors were located, troopers said.

“The National Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration have been notified and will be responding to the crash site to assist in the investigation already being conducted by the Alaska State Troopers,” troopers wrote.

According to NTSB regional chief Clint Johnson, two NTSB investigators will travel to Dillingham at daybreak on Monday. Troopers will the transport the investigators to the crash site which is located on very steep rough terrain that is only accessible by helicopter, Johnson said.

The aircraft was operated by Hageland Aviation Services doing business as Ravn Connect flight #3153, the airliner confirmed on Sunday.

As of Monday morning, authorities have not yet publicly identified the victims pending notification of family members. Efforts to recover the bodies and the wreckage will begin on Monday. Troopers say the investigation is ongoing.

Togiak is a village in Western Alaska about 130 miles south of Bethel.

Another Cessna 208 operated by Ravn was involved in a fatal mid-air collision with a Super Cub last month.

BELOW: Photo from Alaska State Troopers

Correction: Ravn Connect flight #3153 was traveling from Quinhagak to Togiak at the time of the crash, not from Togiak to Quinhagak as was previously reported.



 
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