NTSB Cites Weather as Issue in Yute Alaska Crash

 - August 24, 2022, 5:06 PM
The wreckage of Yute Commuter Service Flight 1002, which killed all five people onboard, was spread over an area of 390 feet when it impacted terrain while en route from Bethel to Kipnuk, Alaska. (Photo: NTSB)

The NTSB has released the factual report for the Feb. 6, 2020, crash of Yute Commuter Service Flight 1002, which killed all five on board. While the NTSB has yet to issue a probable cause, the factual report implies that poor visibility played a role in the single-engine Piper PA-32R hitting terrain 12 miles west of Tuntutuliak, Alaska. 

Yute is a VFR-only Part 135 commuter airline based in Bethel, Alaska. According to the report, which was accompanied by a docket including 264 pages of interviews with company personnel and a detailed weather study, Flight 1002 departed Bethel at 10:40 a.m. under special VFR for the villages of Kipnuk and Chefornak. The forecast cited IFR conditions “with occasional visibility below three miles in light snow and mist.”

The accident occurred at about 11:10 a.m.—30 minutes after departure. At 10:43 a.m., Bethel, about 50 miles from the crash site, reported 600 feet overcast, 1.25 miles visibility, unknown precipitation, and mist. At 11:05 a.m., it was 500 feet overcast with three miles visibility.

Kipnuk, about 39 miles from the accident site, reported 600 feet overcast with light snow with nine miles visibility at 10:56 a.m. Within an hour of the crash, conditions deteriorated at both airports, with ceilings down to 400 feet and visibility as low as a half mile with light snow, mist, and freezing fog.