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Last updated: 28 February 2020
Status:Preliminary - official
Date:Tuesday 10 July 2018
Type:Silhouette image of generic DH3T model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
de Havilland Canada DHC-3T Vazar Turbine Otter
Operator:Taquan Air
Registration: N3952B
C/n / msn: 225
First flight: 1957
Engines: 1 Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-135A
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 10
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 11
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Mount Jumbo, Prince of Wales Island, AK (   United States of America)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Domestic Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Steamboat Bay Seaplane Base, AK (WSB), United States of America
Destination airport:Ketchikan-Waterfront SPB, AK (WFB), United States of America
A DHC-3T Vazar Turbine Otter float plane impacted rocky, mountainous, rising terrain of Mount Jumbo on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, USA in low cloud conditions. The aircraft sustained substantial damage. Of the 11 occupants on board, the pilot was uninjured, four passengers sustained minor injuries, and six passengers sustained serious injuries.
The float plane had departed Steamboat Bay Seaplane Base about 07:47 and was headed for Ketchikan, Alaska. The area between Steamboat Bay and Ketchikan consists of remote inland fjords, coastal waterways, and steep mountainous terrain.
The accident pilot reported to the NTSB that while in level cruise flight at about 1,100 ft mean sea level (MSL), and as the flight progressed into an area known as Sulzer Portage, visibility decreased rapidly from about 3-5 miles to nil. In an attempt to turnaround and return to VFR conditions, he initiated a climbing right turn. Prior to completing the 180° right turn, he saw what he believed to be a body of water and he became momentarily disoriented, so he leveled the wings. Shortly thereafter, he realized that the airplane was approaching an area of snow-covered mountainous terrain, so he applied full power and initiated a steep, emergency climb to avoid rising terrain ahead. As the steep emergency climb continued, the airspeed decayed, and the airplane subsequently collided with an area of rocky, rising terrain. During the initial impact, the airplane's floats were sheared off. The airplane wreckage came to rest in an area known as Jumbo Mountain, sustaining substantial damage to wings and fuselage.
The pilot stated that the Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) was in the inhibit mode at the time of the accident.

A "First Alert" was received from the accident airplane's onboard emergency locator transmitter (ELT) at 09:11. About the same time, 911 dispatch in Ketchikan talked to a survivor who provided GPS position and elevation based on data from her iPhone. At 10:47 two US Coast Guard helicopters arrived in the search area and one helicopter obtained a weak direction finding (DF) bearing from the ELT at the crash scene. The DF bearing, and the survivor's description of the accident area were used to direct search assets in close proximity to the accident site, so the survivors could hear the USCG helicopters. Two-way radio communications were established between the survivors and USCG by utilizing the accident airplane's radio. The USCG located the accident site at 11:56. At 13:08 all 11 survivors had been hoisted into the USCG's rescue helicopter and transferred to the staging area for transport back to Ketchikan,.
The accident site was located on a rock face on the east side of Jumbo Mountain at an elevation of about 2,557 ft msl. All the airplane major components were located at the accident site.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation ongoing
Accident number: ANC18FA053

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

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photo of DHC-3T-Vazar-Turbine-Otter-N3952B
accident date: 10-07-2018
type: de Havilland Canada DHC-3T Vazar Turbine Otter
registration: N3952B
photo of DHC-3T-Vazar-Turbine-Otter-N3952B
accident date: 10-07-2018
type: de Havilland Canada DHC-3T Vazar Turbine Otter
registration: N3952B

This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Steamboat Bay Seaplane Base, AK to Ketchikan-Waterfront SPB, AK as the crow flies is 126 km (78 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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