NTSB warns about floatplane safety after third Alaska crash

Third floatplane crash turns deadly

Los Angeles — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is warning about the safety of floatplanes after three crashed since last week in Alaska, killing nine people. The latest crash happened Tuesday in Prince William Sound. Another happened mid-air near the town of Ketchikan.

The preliminary NTSB report details the moments before that deadly mid-air collision. The pilot of the de Havilland Otter floatplane told investigators he was dropping altitude to show tourists a waterfall when he "saw a flash from his left side and experienced a large loud impact." Six people were killed and 10 injured.

In the nine days that followed, two more floatplanes crashed, killing three and injuring two.

As the NTSB investigates all three accidents, they warned "these kinds of flights" may not be safe. In their so-called "most wanted list" of safety improvements, the NTSB said air taxis like floatplanes are aircraft that currently don't require the same kind of advanced crash prevention technology that the Federal Aviation Administration requires of commercial airlines.  

Alaska residents rely on planes more than any other state, with nearly 8,000 residents holding a pilot's license, six times as many Alaskans own planes as the the national average.

The FAA said it regularly performs unannounced surveillance on floatplanes and will increase oversight of Taquan Air, the company responsible for two of the three crashes. But the NTSB is asking the FAA to require all float planes update their onboard technology.