NTSB Alaska handles plane crash investigations in Hawaii

Published: Jan. 16, 2021 at 6:24 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -Seven people died in a helicopter crash in Hawaii back on December 26, 2019. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are trying to find out what caused the crash.

They are not from Hawaii, but from Alaska.

“Hawaii is very similar to topography, some of the areas they go to, some of the challenges they have getting into accident sites,” said Alaska NTSB Chief Clint Johnson.

The crash took place nearly two months after Johnson’s office took over all air crash investigations in Hawaii.

“We can get there, sometimes 2-3 hours before the rest of the folks from the Western Pacific, as crazy as that sounds,” Johnson said.

Investigators from the western pacific regional office would have to fly from Seattle to get to crash sites in Hawaii. Alaska is the only state with its own regional office.

The seasons are another reason why Alaska is in charge of Hawaii investigations. Both states have opposite winter and summer.

“Summer time is historically their low time for aviation accidents, their utilization goes down. And vice versa,” said Johnson. “Our slow time is their high time.”

Eleven people perished when a skydiving plane crashed at a Hawaii airport in June 2019. The Alaska NTSB helped out during the early days of the investigation.

“We were also mentoring a new senior ASI, air safety investigator, or accident investigator,” Johnson said, as the investigator returned home to Alaska after a few days there.

Since then, the Alaska NTSB has gone from advising on plane crash investigations in Hawaii, to being in charge of them.

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