Airline's Goose Was Cooked By Passing Truck
Earlier this year,
ANN reported on a story from Unalaska, AK that
probably sounded a little foreign to most residents of the lower
On April 9, the driver of a tractor-trailer rig owned by Horizon
Lines stopped at the crossing where Ballyhoo Road meets the runway
of the city's airport, after seeing the flashing lights which
indicate a plane is about to take off or land on runway 12/30.
The truck driver later told the National Transportation Safety
Board that after waiting about 45 seconds, the gates which are
supposed to come down to block the road did not, and he could not
see an airplane approaching, so he rolled past the lights to cross
The truck drove directly into the path of a Peninsula Airways
Grumman Goose on final approach to 30. All nine people on the plane
survived the resulting collision, but the plane was damaged, and
one passenger broke her hand.
In media reports which followed the accident, others who
frequent the area charged that the lights often provided false
alarms. They operate like pilot-controlled lighting, requiring
seven clicks from an aircraft radio to activate the warning lights
and lower the gates. If the pilot forgets to turn the lights off,
they keep flashing.
The NTSB report quoted ADOT as stating that the gates had been,
"out of service for more than a year due to budgetary constraints,"
that their chain-drive mechanism was prone to fail in the harsh
climate, and that new gates were in the works. The road which
crosses the runway approach is the only one available between
Unalaska and a city-owned dock north of the airport, which lies
adjacent to Dutch Harbor.
The Anchorage Press reports some new developments in this odd
story. First, Pen Air filed suit against Horizon Lines, claiming
the truck driver caused the accident.
On a more positive note, the new gates were installed last week
at a cost of $600,000. Anna Walker, an airport safety and security
officer at ADOT, says the agency and the trucking firm are
cooperating to make sure everything goes to plan.
"Right now, we have a person on the ground with a radio to make
sure all this works," she said. We are going to continue that
practice for awhile. I can’t say for certain how long."
Peninsula Airways is seeking least $100,000 for damage to the
Goose, and claims Horizon’s driver had his license suspended
at the time of the accident.