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Aviation

After 2 recent fatal crashes, Taquan Air is expected to resume passenger service Wednesday

Two people died after 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 floatplane crashes since mid-May plans to resume passenger service Wednesday amid stepped-up oversight of its operations, a Federal Aviation Administration official said.

Taquan Air had voluntarily suspended operations shortly after the second crash in Southeast Alaska on May 20 but resumed cargo-only service Thursday after steps were taken to reduce the risk of future accidents.

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 the 11 passengers in the Taquan plane; and a commuter flight crash in Metlakatla harbor on May 20 that killed pilot Ron Rash and the passenger, an epidemiologist on a work trip.

The FAA did not ground the company, said Ian Gregor, a public affairs manager with the FAA, on Tuesday.

Taquan Air presented the FAA with an action plan to resume passenger-carrying flights starting Wednesday, Gregor said.

The FAA’s Juneau office will “incorporate multiple risk-mitigating strategies involving increased inspector presence and surveillance of Taquan Air when they resume passenger flights,” Gregor said.

“We brought in two additional safety inspectors with Alaska float plane experience to help conduct the surveillance and inspections,” Gregor said.

A call to the company Tuesday was referred to Thompson and Co. Public Relations, which provides PR services for Taquan.

Taquan said after the crashes that it has contracted a voluntary, independent operations audit. The results of that audit are “still pending," said an email from Gary Scott, with Thompson, on Wednesday.

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