|NO CLEAR CONCLUSION. Investigators were unable to determine a cause in the crash of a de Havilland DHC-3T that struck mountainous terrain in Alaska.|
The NTSB says cockpit recorders might have helped shed better light on exactly what happened in the accident in which former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens was among the victims. The NTSB conducted an extensive investigation in which it called on outside experts to examine the pilot’s medical records and autopsy results. The idea was to see if there was evidence that the pilot became incapacitated before the airplane crashed into mountainous terrain. Since the pilot had previously suffered an intracranial hemorrhage (ICH, or hemorrhagic stroke that involves bleeding from a blood vessel in the brain), pilot incapacitation would be a convenient explanation. It also would open the door to calls for the FAA to get tougher on pilots who have had medical issues, even though the accident pilot had completed the FAA’s mandatory two-year recovery period with nothing abnormal, and was subsequently issued full first- class medical certificates, not once, but twice.
While the NTSB stated that its investigation couldn’t determine precisely what happened in the final few minutes of the flight, it did determine that there was a lack of responsiveness on the part of the pilot before the airplane hit the terrain. It came to that conclusion even though it was clear the airplane had been put into a climbing left turn before impact. Although there were survivors who were interviewed by investigators, none were able to speak to the alertness—or incapacitation—of the pilot in the final moments.