Issues Probable Cause Report In July 2006 Twin Otter
The National Transportation Safety Board released Tuesday its
special investigation report identifying several recurring safety
issues with parachute jump operations, and recommending
improvements in aircraft maintenance and pilot training.
Parachute jump operations represent a segment of US general
aviation that transports about 3 million parachutists annually.
Although the risks associated with parachuting are generally
perceived to involve the acts of jumping from the aircraft,
deploying the parachute, and landing, the NTSB notes that since
1980, 32 fatal accidents claimed the lives of 172 people in
airplane accidents unassociated with these parachutist-controlled
"As this activity increases in popularity, we have to ensure
that safe operations are adhered to by all operators," said Acting
Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. "Our recommendations in the areas of
maintenance and training will move this industry forward in
preventing these types of accidents."
The Special Investigation Report was prompted by the
investigation of the July 29, 2006 downing of a deHavilland
DHC-6-100 Twin Otter in Sullivan, MO. The aircraft, operated by
Skydive Quantum Leap as a parachute operations flight, crashed
after takeoff from Sullivan Regional Airport.
As ANN reported, the pilot and five
parachutists were killed and two other parachutists were seriously
injured. The Board determined Tuesday the probable cause of the
crash was the pilot's failure to maintain airspeed following loss
of power in the right engine.
The Board's study of parachute jump operations issued
recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and
the United States Parachute Association (USPA) to address a pattern
of safety deficiencies in several areas:
- Inadequate aircraft maintenance and inspections
- Lack of pilot initial and recurrent training programs, and
examination standards that address operation-specific and
- Inadequate FAA oversight and direct surveillance.
The Board concluded in the Sullivan investigation that more
parachutists may have survived, and injuries may have been reduced,
if more effective restraints had been used.
"This clearly emphasizes the importance of implementing our
recommendations designed to increase survivability when an accident
does occur," said Rosenker.
As a result of the Sullivan investigation, the Safety Board made
recommendations to the FAA and USPA regarding dual-point restraint
systems for parachutists that reflect the various aircraft and
seating configurations used in parachute operations. A synopsis of
the Board's complete findings, as well as the Probable Cause report
on the Sullivan accident, is available on the NTSB Web site.