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On August 9, 2010, about 1442 Alaska daylight time, a single engine, turbine-powered, amphibious float-equipped de Havilland DHC-3T airplane, N455A, impacted mountainous tree-covered terrain about 10 miles northeast of Aleknagik, Alaska. Of the nine people aboard, the airline transport pilot and four passengers died at the scene, and four passengers sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight was operated by General Communication, Incorporated (GCI), Anchorage, Alaska, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The flight originated at a GCI-owned remote fishing lodge on the southwest shoreline of Lake Nerka about 1427 and was en route to a remote sport fishing camp on the banks of the Nushagak River, about 52 miles southeast of the GCI lodge. At the time of the accident, marginal visual meteorological conditions were reported at the Dillingham Airport, in Dillingham, Alaska, about 18 miles south of the accident site; however, the weather conditions at the accident site at that time are not known. No flight plan was filed.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Require a detailed inspection, during annual inspections, of all emergency locator transmitters installed in general aviation aircraft to ensure that the emergency locator transmitters are mounted and retained in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Reconsidered
Aleknagik, AK, United States
Collision into Mountainous Terrain, GCI Communication Corp. de Havilland DHC-3T, N455A
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Reconsidered)
Emergency Locator Transmitter,
Safety Recommendation History
The NTSB notes that Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations 91.207 currently requires an ELT to be inspected annually for proper installation, and that the ELT manufacturer’s detailed installation instructions must be followed. Because this requirement was in place before Safety Recommendation A-10-169 was issued, the recommendation is classified CLOSED—RECONSIDERED.
This correspondence control was closed administratively. It was combined with correspondence control #201200027. No response letter was ever mailed using #201200019. The response was mailed on May 1, 2012 using correspondence control #201200027.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to find that the current emergency locator transmitter (ELT) annual inspection regulation meets the intent of this safety recommendation. Section 91.207 requires that each emergency locator transmitter be inspected within 12 months after the last inspection for proper installation, battery corrosion, operations of the controls and crash sensor, and presence of a sufficient signal radiated from its antenna. In the Board's letter dated May 25, 2011, it stated that the regulation does not require maintenance personnel to perform a detailed inspection to ensure that ELTs are properly mounted and retained in accordance with manufacturer's specifications. Therefore, the annual ELT inspection may not detect subtle changes in strap tightness or misalignment. The FAA notes that for general aviation aircraft, compliance with § 91.207 is typically accomplished during the annual inspection. To properly comply with the inspection requirements of § 91.207(d), the ELT must be removed from the ELT mounting bracket and the manufacturer's instructions must be followed. These instructions include a detailed inspection for battery corrosion, operation of controls and sensors, and the presence of a sufficient signal from the antenna. After an ELT has been tested and inspected in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and found to be operational, the ELT can be reinstalled in the aircraft. The manufacturer's detailed installation instructions must be followed to ensure that the emergency locator transmitter is mounted and retained in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications. This would include ensuring that the mounting strap is tight and aligned correctly. I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.
The NTSB disagrees with the FAA’s position that the current regulations contained in Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Section 91.207 requiring an annual inspection of an ELT exceed the detailed inspection that we recommended. Our recommendation was issued because, based on the findings from the Aleknagik accident, we do not believe that the annual ELT inspection required by Section 91.207 is adequate. The regulation does not require maintenance personnel to perform a detailed inspection to ensure that ELTs are properly mounted and retained in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications; therefore, the annual ELT inspection may not detect subtle changes in strap tightness or misalignment. Accordingly, we ask that the FAA reconsider its planned actions in response to this recommendation. Pending completion of the recommended action, Safety Recommendation A-10-169 is classified OPEN – UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
CC# 201100118: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: Section 91.207 requires inspection of an ELI's installation, battery, controls and operation every 12 months, During the installation inspection, the ELT is inspected to ensure it is properly secured in the mounting tray, The mounting tray is then inspected to ensure it is secured in the aircraft airframe in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, Therefore we believe that the current regulations as written meet the intent of this recommendation. I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.
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