Feds Begin Investigation of Dillingham-Area Plane Crash

Air Safety Investigator Brice Banning arrives at an accident site near Aleknagik, Alaska. Photo from NTSB.
Air Safety Investigator Brice Banning arrives at an accident site near Aleknagik, Alaska. Photo from NTSB.

Over the weekend, federal investigators were at the crash site of the ACE Air Cargo plane that went down in the Muklung Hills Friday morning, killing the pilot and co-pilot.

Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, with the NTSB taking the lead. Larry Lewis, an Air Safety Investigator with NTSB, was on the site this weekend.

“We’re in the preliminary phases of an investigation. We’ve been out to survey the wreckage, and were able to take a primary look at the structures and engines and things up on the mountain. Now we’re waiting for the aircraft to be recovered, a process which will take some time.”

Other details about the crash will be included in a preliminary report due out in a week or two. What may have caused the crash is likely to take longer to determine. There was no flight recorder onboard, so investigators will survey what wreckage can be salvaged. Recovering materials off the mountain is left to ACE Air Cargo’s insurance provider.

“We’ve been in touch with those folks, and they have the go-ahead to bring it back for us. They’ll sequester it, and we’ll take a look at it.”

According to the NTSB, the ACE Air Cargo flight was carrying mostly mail at the time of the crash, some of which Lewis noticed on his preliminary site survey.

“We saw a good bit of mail and other property up there. If salvage crews are able to get up there, they should be able to recover it.”

The ACE Air Cargo Beech 1900 dropped off radar at about 8:15am Friday morning, enroute to Dillingham from King Salmon. An emergency beacon indicated a crash site in the Muklung Hills, roughly 20 miles northeast of Dillingham. Captain Jeff Day, 38, and First Officer Neil Jense, 20, both of Anchorage, were killed in the crash.  Their remains were recovered early Saturday morning and transported to Anchorage.

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