The National Transportation Safety Board today released a final report for a commercial plane crash in Soldotna in 2013 that killed 10 people, ruling that the crash occurred because of problems with the cargo weight and center of gravity.If you want the short version, the plane was overloaded. Only by 21 pounds, but that weight was centered "outside the envelope", aft of the center of gravity. In other words, it was tail-heavy.
The accident prompted the NTSB to urge the FAA to expand requirements for record-keeping and reporting of weights and center of gravity data on small for-hire flights. Safety regulators say this is the third time they have made such a recommendation to the FAA since the late 1980s and that the crash might have been avoided had the requirements been in place.
The single-engine de Havilland DHC-3 Otter carrying a pilot and nine passengers crashed July 7, 2013. The accident, shortly after takeoff from Soldotna, killed members of two South Carolina families visiting Alaska on vacation, according to reports at the time.
Multi-engined craft are required to weigh their cargo; not so with single-engined planes. Given the number of multi-passenger crashes Alaska has seen in the last few years, perhaps it's time.
"The NTSB's investigation found that the load manifest that was prepared for the accident flight was grossly inaccurate," officials wrote. "The operator did not obtain actual weights for the cargo and passengers by weighing them or, alternately, adding 10 pounds to the estimated passenger weights and did not perform the balance calculations."
NTSB officials say the recommendation to amend the weight and balance requirements for single-engine planes was made after a similar crash in 1988 in Florida that killed four people.