NTSB finds probable cause in 2016 Togiak crash

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The investigation of a deadly plane crash near Togiak comes to a close. After months of consideration by the National Transportation Safety Board It has reached a conclusion.

Chairman Robert Sumwalt says major infrastructure changes need to come to Alaska to prevent more crashes.

“Good things will happen from this,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

Poor training and bad weather led to a plane crash in Togiak in 2016 that left three dead, according to the NTSB.

“There was no evidence that the crew’s performance was affected by medical conditions, toxins, alcohol, or other drugs,” said investigator-in-charge Shaun Williams.

Williams found shortcomings in Hageland Aviation Services’ pilot training. He came to the conclusion that in this particular crash, pilots turned off their Terrain Awareness and Warning System. Investigators interviewed other pilots who say the systems make a distracting sound when they fly low, a common practice in Alaska because of bad weather.

“We’re here to take something tragic and to learn from it so that other things like this don’t happen in the future,” said Sumwalt.

Hageland operates under Ravn Connect. Ravn’s president and CEO Dave Pflieger
says the airline “has invested even more in company and aircraft safety programs and equipment, pilot training improvements, safety culture initiatives, and information sharing.” Beyond training, Chairman Sumwalt says infrastructure solutions in Alaska could help reduce the number of crashes.

“We want to make sure the government is doing everything it can do to facilitate the safest possible flying environment.

The NTSB came up with six recommendations following its investigation, including bringing better communication, navigation and weather tools to Alaska. As for when these upgrades will happen, Sumwalt couldn’t give us a timeline. The NTSB now takes the findings, probable cause and recommendations and file it into a final report.