Wreckage of floatplane crash off Whidbey Island to be recovered later this month

1 Dead, 9 Missing After Floatplane Crashes In Puget Sound
Martha Bellisle - staff, AP

The home base for Northwest Seaplanes and Friday Harbor Seaplanes at the Renton Municipal Airport was quiet Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, as they awaited reports from the U.S. Coast Guard, which is searching the waters of Puget Sound northwest of Seattle after one of their floatplanes crashed on Sunday, Sept. 4, afternoon. One body was recovered and nine remained missing on Monday.

The wreckage from the floatplane that crashed and sank in Puget Sound is set to be recovered later this month.

On Friday, officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said they will partner with the U.S. Navy to recover the wreckage. The Navy will use a remotely operated vehicle, a barge and a crane to gather the wreckage from the seafloor. Once the barge is outfitted and in place, it will be a 24/7 operation, NTSB officials said. The process will work with the crane lifting the aircraft wreckage pieces. Then, the remotely operated vehicle will collect smaller pieces of debris into baskets and connect the wreckage to the crane to be hoisted out of the water.

The recovery effort is expected to begin on Sept. 26.

The floatplane crashed into Mutiny Bay, off of Whidbey Island, on Sept. 4. The pilot and nine passengers all died in the crash.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation by the NTSB, but the agency did release its preliminary report on Friday which gave some insight into what was happening before the plane went down.

According to the preliminary report, the aircraft departed from Friday Harbor around 2:50 p.m. with a destination of Renton Municipal Airport. At 3:09 p.m., the aircraft hit the water and sank. The accident occurred during the pilot’s second trip of the day.

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The NTSB report said witnesses near the accident site reported the plane was in a level flight before it entered a slight climb, then “pitched down in a near-vertical descent.” Several witnesses described the airplane “spinning,” “rotating” or “spiraling” during portions of the descent, the NTSB said.

The pilot had received training in emergency drills and procedures as recently as May 2022, and an aircraft competency check in June 2021, according to the report.

The aircraft also had a 100-hour inspection completed on Sept. 1, 2022, just days before the crash. During that inspection, a left-hand rudder retract cable was replaced. In the aircraft’s previous 100-hour inspection, which occurred on Aug. 16, 2022, the horizontal stabilizer hinge bolts, a right-hand engine ignitor, and a left-hand float locker latch were replaced, the NTSB report said.

The aircraft was not equipped nor was it required to be equipped with a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder, according to the report.

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The preliminary report details information that was uncovered during the initial on-scene investigation. The NTSB said the investigation remains ongoing and could take 12-24 months to complete.

The NTSB worked with the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Navigation Response Team and the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory to find the wreckage of the plane crash in Mutiny Bay. The teams used sonar technology to find the debris on the ocean floor.

It’s unclear how long recovering the wreckage from the seafloor will take once it begins later this month.

This story was first published on komonews.com >>> https://komonews.com/news/local/wreckage-of-floatplane-crash-off-whidbey-island-to-be-recovered-later-this-month