NTSB says wreckage in deadly Knik Glacier helicopter crash recovered, investigative teams en route to Alaska

An undated overhead shot of the Knik Glacier area.
An undated overhead shot of the Knik Glacier area.(KTUU)
Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 5:04 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The National Transportation Safety Board said Friday that the wreckage from last week’s fatal helicopter crash near Knik Glacier has been recovered and will soon be evaluated by a team of investigators from the agency.

“It’s back in Palmer at a safe, secure location,” said NTSB Alaska’s Clint Johnson of the wreckage. “A team of six to eight people will be arriving, initially working on the wreckage and doing other activities throughout this next week.”

Johnson said the NTSB investigator in charge will be coming from Seattle on Saturday; he will be followed by the rest of the investigative team.

There are also two helicopter specialists on their ways to Alaska, Johnson said. That includes one each from the manufacturer of the air frame — in this case, Airbus — and the manufacturer of the engine, Safran Helicopter Engines.

“There’s going to be a number of things that are continuing to progress as far as the accident investigation goes,” Johnson said. “One key part of this is obviously being able to lay hands on the wreckage with the engineers.”

“All of those folks are going to be working together,” he continued, “to document the wreckage to the best of their ability, go through it with a fine-toothed comb, to see if there were any erroneous or mechanical issues that led up to this tragic accident.”

Johnson also expressed relief at the wreckage being recovered at all, noting winter conditions in the area of the crash, including high avalanche danger.

“We’re happy, just elated we could get the wreckage off,” he said. “We got a good shot, a weather window here, and took it. And thankfully, we were able to get the wreckage off.”

The wreckage was at approximately 6,000 feet of elevation, according to Johnson.

This story is being updated. Please check back for details.

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