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Air service involved in two recent fatal Southeast Alaska crashes resumes cargo flights

Two people died when a Taquan Air de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver floatplane crashed while landing near Metlakatla. (Photo by Aerial Leask )

The Ketchikan air service involved in two fatal crashes since mid-May is flying cargo again and has requested the resumption of passenger service, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Taquan Air was involved in crashes that killed a total of eight people: a midair collision with a Mountain Air Service flightseeing plane on May 13 that killed Mountain Air pilot Randy Sullivan and four passengers as well as one of 11 passengers in the Taquan plane; and a commuter flight crash in Metlakatla harbor Monday that killed pilot Ron Rash and the passenger, an epidemiologist on a work trip.

The midair collision injured 10 people; all but one had been released from hospitals in Ketchikan and Seattle as of Thursday. One person remained in “satisfactory” condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the hospital said.

Taquan Air commenced cargo-only operations Thursday, FAA officials confirmed. The company made the decision after discussing risk-reduction measures with the Juneau FAA Flight Standards District Office, and the agency agreed with the measures.

Taquan released a statement Thursday afternoon confirming it had resumed freight services, “maintaining cargo schedules for surrounding communities and villages."

Taquan also presented FAA with an action plan to resume passenger-carrying flights on Wednesday, the agency said. The Juneau flight standard office has a plan to incorporate multiple risk-mitigating strategies including added inspector presence and surveillance of Taquan Air before it can start carrying passengers again.

FAA has yet to establish a date when those operations can resume.

Taquan declined to provide a copy of the action plan Thursday.

The company has contracted a voluntary, independent operations audit, according to the Taquan statement.

Taquan suspended all operations Tuesday. The company, the largest commuter airline in the area, had briefly stopped flying passengers after the midair collision but resumed all but pre-ticketed cruise flights before Monday’s crash.


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