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NTSB Calls for Terrain Avoidance Training for Fixed-Wing Part 135 Pilots
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 NTSB Calls for Terrain Avoidance Training for Fixed-Wing Part 135 Pilots

WASHINGTON (April 10, 2018) — The National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday issued five new recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration and reiterated eight previously issued recommendations, based upon the NTSB’s investigation of an Oct. 2, 2016, plane crash in Alaska.

Two commercial pilots and a passenger aboard a Cessna 208B, operated by Hageland Aviation Services, Inc., died when the plane collided with mountainous terrain near Togiak, Alaska.

As a result of its investigation the NTSB again called for fixed-wing Part 135 pilots – aviators who operate commuter and on-demand aircraft – to receive the same controlled-flight-into-terrain, or CFIT, avoidance training oversight as their rotary-wing counterparts. Currently, only Part 135 helicopter operators are required to train their pilots using an FAA-approved CFIT avoidance training program. While Hageland offered CFIT training based on guidance from the non-profit Medallion Foundation, the investigation found the training was outdated and did not address specific CFIT risks Hageland pilots face while flying under visual flight rules near Alaska’s mountainous terrain.

Two more safety recommendations were issued to the Medallion Foundation and one to Hageland as a result of the NTSB investigation.

The investigation also found that while Hageland aircraft were equipped with a terrain avoidance warning system, or TAWS, Hageland pilots routinely turned off the aural and visual alerts while flying at altitudes below the TAWS alerting threshold to avoid receiving nuisance alerts, preventing the system from providing the intended protections.

“This crash involved a well-equipped airplane with not one but two professional pilots on board,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “But the many layers of protection against controlled flight into terrain failed to protect the pilots and their passenger.’’

This accident was the subject of an August 2017 investigative hearing in Anchorage. The NTSB also investigated five accidents and one runway excursion involving Hageland Aviation Services flights from December 2012 through April 2014. The NTSB issued an urgent recommendation May 1, 2014, for the FAA to audit aviation operations and training for operators owned by Hageland’s then-parent company, HoTH, Inc., as well as a recommendation for an audit of FAA’s oversight of HoTH, Inc.-owned operators. Although these recommendations were closed after the FAA reported acceptable action, this investigation found gaps in Hageland’s crew resource management training and the FAA’s oversight of that training.

The complete accident report will be available in several weeks. The executive summary, including the findings, probable cause and safety recommendations, is available at

Additional information related to this investigation, including news releases, photographs, videos, and a link to the accident docket containing more than 2,000 pages of factual material, is available at

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Contact: NTSB Media Relations
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594