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NTSB to consider final report on deadly 2019 PenAir crash in Unalaska

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 8:45 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Two years after one person died in a PenAir crash in Unalaska, and the National Transportation Safety Board is set to consider a final report of investigators’ findings and determine a probable cause.

A Saab 2000 aircraft ran off the runway after it landed on Oct. 17, 2019.

One man, 38-year-old David Oltman of Wenatchee, Washington, died after a propeller from the plane broke, entered the cabin, and struck him in his seat.

Three other passengers suffered various injuries.

A preliminary report by the NTSB described that the pilot overshot the runway on his second landing attempt. Investigators also studied weather conditions at the airport. The preliminary report mentioned gusty winds in the area prior to the landing.

“Obviously the NTSB’s signature trademark is to deliver very comprehensive, detailed investigations,” said Clint Johnson, chief of the NTSB’s Alaska region. “And that’s exactly what we’re going to do here.”

The NTSB will hold a virtual public board meeting on Nov. 2 where it will consider a draft of the final report on the accident. The hearing will be streamed live on the NTSB’s website. During the meeting, board members will vote on the findings and recommendation of investigators, as well as any changes to the draft report.

The NTSB will determine probable cause at the end of the meeting, Johnson said.

“Take all of the reports of the investigators, all of the reports of all of the information that was gathered during this very extensive investigation and determine probable cause in a public setting,” he said.

The preliminary report into the crash found the pilot had 20,000 total flight hours, but only 101 hours at the controls of a Saab 2000, the type of plane that crashed. The first officer had just 147 hours flying that type of plane. The crash happened on the pilot’s second attempt to land.

Johnson mentioned it’s not uncommon for investigations that involve a death to take up to two years to find out what went wrong. However, investigators ran into a major obstacle during this investigations.

“I hate to blame COVID — COVID played a part in it,” Johnson said. “No ifs, ands or buts, as far as returning to the accident site and gathering additional information. That slowed us down a little bit.”

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