NTSB and Navy to Recover Wreckage of Mutiny Bay Plane Crash


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​Preliminary Report also issued.

WASHINGTON (Sept. 16, 2022) — The National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Navy will recover the wreckage of the DHC-3 Turbine Otter that crashed on September 4 off Whidbey Island, Washington, the NTSB said Friday. 

The investigation and preparations for recovery are ongoing. The main recovery effort to raise the wreckage is expected to begin on September 26.

The U.S. Navy will use a ​remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Drone 8000​, a barge and a crane to recover the wreckage from the seafloor. Once the barge is outfitted and in place, it will be a 24/7 operation. The crane will lift the aircraft wreckage pieces. The ROV will work on the seafloor collecting smaller pieces of wreckage into baskets and connecting the wreckage to the crane to be lifted.

NTSB also released today the preliminary report for the investigation. The report contains facts only; the NTSB will determine the probable cause of the crash at the end of the investigation.

​​According to the preliminary report, the aircraft departed from Friday Harbor, Washington, around 2:50 p.m. Pacific time, with a destination of Renton Municipal Airport. At 3:09 p.m., the aircraft impacted the water and sank. The pilot and nine passengers were fatally injured. 

The airplane was operating under Part 135 of FAA regulations, which governs the operation of business and charter flights. The accident occurred during the pilot’s second trip of the day. Each trip involved multiple flight legs. 

Witnesses near the accident site reported the airplane was in 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. 

NTSB coordinated with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Navigation Response Team and the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory to locate the wreckage in Mutiny Bay. A sonar survey located the main wreckage and debris field at a depth of approximately 190 feet.

​Information contained in the report is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation progresses. The preliminary report details facts uncovered during the initial on-scene investigation and does not include analysis or a probable cause for the accident. Probable cause will be determined at the end of the investigation, which could take between 12-24 months to complete. No conclusions about the cause of the accident should be made based on the information contained in the preliminary report.

The preliminary report is available for download on NTSB’s CAROL database​.​​

To report an incident/accident or if you are a public safety agency, please call 1-844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290 to speak to a Watch Officer at the NTSB Response Operations Center (ROC) in Washington, DC (24/7).