The Ketchikan-based airline/charter service Taquan Air announced the voluntary suspension of operations in the aftermath of a second fatal crash in a span of one week.
“Our priority has been our passengers and their families and our internal staff and pilots. We have voluntarily suspended all of our operations until further notice,” the air service said in a statement.
The airline’s aircraft have been involved in two fatal crashes, the most recent on Monday, when a DeHavilland Beaver’s float “dug in” as it was coming in for a landing in Metlakatla Harbor to the south of Ketchikan at approximately 4 pm Monday afternoon. The aircraft cartwheeled, losing a wing before coming to rest semi-submerged and upside-down. Both the pilot, Ron Rash, 51, and the lone passenger, Alaska Native Health Consortium epidemiologist Sarah Luna, 31 perished in the incident.
“The boats in the area obviously responded, tried to get the folks out,” Clint Johnson of the National Transportation Safety Board said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t work out.”
Monday’s fatal crash comes on the heels of the fatal mid-air collision of two aircraft conducting flight-seeing tours for passengers of the cruise ship Royal Princess on May 13th. In that incident between a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and Taquan Air’s de Havilland DHC-3 Otter on floats, all five occupants of the Beaver perished while one aboard the Otter died as a result of the collision over George Inlet.
The investigations of both flights are continuing.