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NTSB Conducting Sweeping Probe Of Alaska’s Plane Crashes

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Dean Swope
/
KYUK

Today, Thursday, August 17, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking into the safety of Alaska skies. 

Ravn Air's crash outside of Togiak last October is at the center of the hearing being held in Anchorage. But the NTSB’s investigation goes much further than the accident on the flight from Quinhagak to Togiak, which crashed into Caribou Ridge on October 2, killing all three on board. The NTSB is also looking into the wider issues surrounding the continued persistence of high numbers of accidents involving small planes and air taxis in Alaska.

The Federal Aviation Administration has chosen to back the voluntary "Medallion" program as a solution instead of tighter regulations and requirements, but the stats are stacking up, indicating that voluntary programs may not be enough to make Alaska skies safe.

The hearing will take all day. Typically the NTSB does not look at a single reason for an accident, but at a range of factors that may be involved. The board may take a year to release its findings and their recommendations could change the shape of air travel in rural Alaska.

Johanna Eurich's vivid broadcast productions have been widely heard on National Public Radio since 1978. She spent her childhood speaking Thai, then learned English as a teenager and was educated at a dance academy, boarding schools and with leading intellectuals at her grandparents' dinner table in Philadelphia.