Alaska is a beautiful place to embark on a new adventure, providing ample sight-seeing destinations and activities. Unfortunately, these places are often only accessible by small airplanes, especially float planes. Due to the expanse of the Alaskan territory and the drive to explore, Alaska has one of the largest number of pilots and airplanes per capita in the United States.
With the amazing opportunity to fly above the mountain tops and glaciers and fish on pristine mountain rivers and lakes, comes the possibility of catastrophe while traveling to and from these destinations via float plane. This year in Alaska, as in every year prior, reports of fatal aviation accidents has been familiar news. While aviation accidents may be a common occurrence in Alaska, when these accidents are fatal the loss of life and grief felt by the family and friends usually spans across the entire state, affecting many communities. In the case of the most recent collision involving a De Havilland Otter operated by Iliamna based Rainbow King Lodge, the loss is felt across the entire United States. http://www.adn.com/article/20150915/3-dead-7-injured-float-plane-crash-southwest-alaska
Many factors come into play when determining the cause of an aviation accident, such as pilot experience, weather conditions, mountain terrain, aircraft mechanical function, weight & balance to name just a few. The NTSB conducting aviation accidents in Alaska has a big job to do and while they are quick to arrive on-scene and begin its' investigation, the determination of the cause of the accident takes much longer, usually months to finalize a full report.
A study was conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration, Alaska Division to review aviation accidents in Alaska from 2004 to 2009 and specifically looked at ways to increase post-crash survival. A few of the most effective strategies the study discussed were installation of air bag seat belts, use of helmets in tandem seat airplanes, survival training, proper use of personal flotation devices in float planes and use of rescue air bottles to prevent drowning in float planes. See https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/afs/divisions/alaskan_region/media/FSI_Report_AK.pdf for the full report.
Exploring Alaska by plane is a unique and wonderful experience, but it does not come without risk. If you or a loved one has suffered loss as a result of an aviation accident please contact us. We will be happy to answer any questions and offer any guidance in managing insurance claims arising out of aviation accidents.