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UPS cargo crash near Birmingham AL

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UPS cargo crash near Birmingham AL

Old 5th Oct 2013, 23:55
  #941 (permalink)  
 
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Aterpster, I agree wholeheartedly. Night throws a completely different light on the situation, so to speak. My comment was directed at A Squared's sarcastic comment to Flyboymike about it being VFR. I've edited my post to clarify the Day VFR bit.
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Old 11th Oct 2013, 20:06
  #942 (permalink)  
 
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I am surprised that this had not yet been posted. I post without comment other than at my age I doubt anything will ever be done to combat the possibility of fatigue being a factor in cockpit decision making. It seems that for every intelligent call for change and better practice, there are 100 trite and shopworn responses such as: "If you do not like it quit." "In 40 years of flying I was never tired and in my day a 30 hour duty day was the short day." "All these moaners are just pilots that do not rest on layovers." "You are a professional (somehow this title obviates the humanity of the person) and therefore should either tuck it in or stop the operation."
Pretty enlightened approach to warding off accidents it it not?
------------------------
UPS Crash Raises Pilot-Rest, Training Concerns
Voice-Recorder Captures Crew Discussing Fatigue Prior to August Accident
By
Andy Pasztor
Oct. 10, 2013 8:02 p.m. ET

The captain of a United Parcel Service Inc. cargo plane that crashed in August took an unusually long time getting promoted to captain and had complained he was fatigued before the fatal accident, according to people familiar with details of the probe.

Preliminary findings from the Birmingham, Ala., crash, which haven't been reported before, are expected to spark debate about the relative safety of cargo carriers versus passenger airlines. The last fatal crash of a U.S. passenger plane occurred almost five years ago, while six cargo pilots have died since then in three separate accidents involving scheduled U.S. jet freighters.

The National Transportation Safety Board's investigation of the Airbus A300 accident also is likely to prompt renewed attention to differences in federal oversight, including supervision of pilot-training programs and a FAA decision in 2011 exempting freighters from stringent new pilot-rest requirements slated to kick in at the end of this year.

The 58-year-old UPS captain, Cerea Beal , had more than 6,000 hours flying experience with UPS, about one-quarter of it as captain on the widebody A300. A former Marine Corps helicopter pilot who started working for the carrier in 1990, he had remained a co-pilot for about 19 years, an unusually long time, which people familiar with his training record attributed to difficulties during some simulator sessions.

He was promoted to captain four years ago, and a UPS spokesman said there is "no record of him failing" a test to be upgraded to captain. "He was fully qualified, held appropriate FAA operating and medical certificates, and was legal to fly," UPS said.

The cockpit-voice recorder on UPS Flight 1354, the people familiar with the probe said, captured Capt. Beal and his 37-year-old first officer, Shanda Fanning , discussing how tired they were—and how fatiguing they felt UPS overnight schedules could be—before their predawn approach to Birmingham.

The UPS spokesman said "we strongly object to any assertions that UPS crew scheduling was not compliant with FAA rules or was a factor in this accident."

With all of the plane's systems apparently working properly and Capt. Beal at the controls, the A300 arriving from Louisville slammed into a hill less than a mile short of the runway, killing both pilots. The NTSB hasn't officially determined the cause, but investigators previously said they uncovered no problems with engines or other onboard systems.

The crash raises broader issues related to what many safety experts describe as excessive reliance on automation by many jetliner pilots. The safety board, which is expected to hold a public hearing on the crash next year, has indicated it wants to determine whether UPS training and cockpit procedures may have contributed to complacency by the crew.

In August, safety board member Robert Sumwalt said investigators planned to examine UPS instructions to pilots about how to fly such approaches and "look to see if there are wider systemic issues that need to be addressed."

An NTSB spokeswoman wasn't available for comment.

The jet's autopilot and automated speed-control system were turned on and programmed to provide a steady descent during the non-precision approach. The runway wasn't equipped with a full-blown instrument landing system capable of bringing a plane in on a specific path, or glide slope, and the crew failed to recognize the plane's trajectory was taking it short of the strip, according to the NTSB.

The autopilot remained on until the last few seconds before the jet clipped a power line, hit some trees and erupted in a fireball. Safety experts said such non-precision approaches can be tricky, particularly at night when it may hard to spot terrain around the airport.

With the airport's system of landing lights illuminated to help the pilots stay on the correct descent path, "they should have had lots of visual warnings that the plane was way too low," according to Bill Waldock , a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. "There was plenty of time to see" the problem and adjust the flight path, he added.

Investigators have said they want to determine if fatigue may have impeded cockpit reactions. The flight into Birmingham was the end of the second day of a four-day trip for the crew. The pilots were scheduled to report for duty at around 10 p.m. for a nearly nine-hour work period.

Safety experts have said such overnight hours, often referred to as backside-of-the-clock flying, pose particularly serious fatigue hazards. One issue is whether pilots are able to get adequate sleep when their rest periods are scheduled during the day.

The FAA's new pilot-rest regulations, among other things, require passenger carriers to adjust crew schedules to reflect the rigors of overnight flying, and mandate setting up formal fatigue-risk management systems. In announcing the tougher rules at the end of 2011, FAA officials unsuccessfully urged cargo operators to voluntarily adopt the same scheduling limits as passenger carriers.

Seconds before the Birmingham accident, according to investigators, the pilots received an automated alert from an onboard collision-avoidance system, warning them the plane was sinking dangerously quickly.

On Thursday, UPS said it trains pilots "how to manage automation and provides opportunities and training to demonstrate proficiency in a non-automated environment." The carrier declined to discuss whether it has changed training procedures.

Write to Andy Pasztor at [email protected]
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Old 11th Oct 2013, 20:51
  #943 (permalink)  
 
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Uncle Fred

"I am surprised that this had not yet been posted. I post without comment other than at my age I doubt anything will ever be done to combat the possibility of fatigue being a factor in cockpit decision making. It seems that for every intelligent call for change and better practice, there are 100 trite and shopworn responses such as: "If you do not like it quit." "In 40 years of flying I was never tired and in my day a 30 hour duty day was the short day." "All these moaners are just pilots that do not rest on layovers." "You are a professional (somehow this title obviates the humanity of the person) and therefore should either tuck it in or stop the operation."
Pretty enlightened approach to warding off accidents it it not?"

I spent almost 20 years flying for UPS. Flying at night is a large part of the job. The crew was on day TWO of a four day trip. I submit if they were fatigued, it wasn't because of the schedule. The end of day TWO with a nine hour duty day. Obviously, it is normal to be tired with a back of the clock schedule, but fatigued at the end of day TWO?

I spoke to someone who saw that crew in the cafeteria prior to the flight. They acted normally and were in good spirits.

Honestly, how would you suggest UPS run it's business differently so no one is ever tired? I find it somewhat hypocritical that people want a pilot job at UPS or FedEx and then complain about the common night schedules. I seriously don't know how the company would accommodate different pilot's reactions to a change in circadian rhythms. The best schedule for me was international flying, which eliminated the short night pairings and allowed a more reasonable commute into longer trips and longer days off.

I found that one has to curtail personal activities prior to a flight pairing in order to be properly rested for at least the first night. In this case, if they could not obtain adequate rest prior to a nine hour duty period, it isn't the government's or the company's fault.
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Old 11th Oct 2013, 21:23
  #944 (permalink)  
 
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Valid points indeed Desert. I should have been more circumspect in my posting. I was directing my remarks more toward the frequent trite comments that seem to arise when issues of fatigue are discussed. I make no comment regarding this particular crew's sleep-wake condition. Poor placement on my part I admit.

If my remarks were misplaced, they do however, spring from a lot of years not knowing which side of the clock is which. I have always wondered if we as a piloting group do not do ourselves a disservice by not trying to better research the line between tired and fatigued. I could have been sleeping on the beach in Tahiti for two weeks, but if I miss that first night of sleep I am prone to a diminution of cognitive skills...we all are. Where is that line? Fatigue and "impaired" tired is an interesting region.

Also I greatly admire how the package carriers make it run. Far be it from me to pretend to carry portfolio in what is one of the wonders of the modern logistical world! My intellectual station in life is perhaps too humble to tell them how to improve a well oiled operation.

Last edited by Uncle Fred; 11th Oct 2013 at 21:24.
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Old 12th Oct 2013, 14:09
  #945 (permalink)  
 
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Fatigue is a red herring in this crash. The WSJ picked it up and ran it to sell newspapers. It is out of context reporting of the CVR transcript. And, why in blazes does the WSJ have any of the information when the rest of us don't?

As someone who has participated in a few NTSB investigations, it is nothing short of pathetic for the WSJ (and someone at the NTSB as well) to release tidbits of the CVR transcript.

The transcript has to be read and assessed in its entirety, otherwise you end up with B.S. like this.

More important, what about the approach briefing, discussions about the fact the chart didn't (incorrectly) authorize the approach at night. Any discussion about the requirement for the PAPI to be used below MDA? Any discussion about the programming of the auto-flight? (And, that would require the DFDR relevant data as well).

Sure, the crew was free to discuss fatigue so long as they did it above 10,000 and hopefully while en route. All in all, that discussion is a non-pertinent discussion.
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Old 12th Oct 2013, 14:59
  #946 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Capn Bloggs View Post
Aterpster, I agree wholeheartedly. Night throws a completely different light on the situation, so to speak. My comment was directed at A Squared's sarcastic comment to Flyboymike about it being VFR. I've edited my post to clarify the Day VFR bit.
OK, for clarification my remark about it being VFR was intended merely as a flippant, non-serious observation. I suppose I should have included some sort of emoticon for the humor-impaired. I think that Flyboyike took it as intended.
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Old 12th Oct 2013, 15:21
  #947 (permalink)  
 
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A Squared:

OK, for clarification my remark about it being VFR was intended merely as a flippant, non-serious observation. I suppose I should have included some sort of emoticon for the humor-impaired. I think that Flyboyike took it as intended.
I guess I too am dense.
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Old 12th Oct 2013, 15:23
  #948 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by aterpster View Post
A Squared:



I guess I too am dense.
I guess I need to work on my delivery.
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Old 12th Oct 2013, 18:12
  #949 (permalink)  
 
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Mrs. Benson is suing

I think she was mad from a long time ago when the city did not buy her property......

4 Birmingham residents sue over UPS plane crash
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Old 30th Jan 2014, 17:40
  #950 (permalink)  
 
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NTSB Schedules Investigative Hearing on 20 February 2014
Jan. 30, 2014
WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board has scheduled an investigative hearing on February 20 into the crash of a UPS Airbus A300-600 on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Ala., on Aug. 14, 2013.
The two flight crew members were killed and the airplane was destroyed when it impacted the ground less than a mile short of Runway 18. The cargo flight had originated from Louisville, Ky. Runway 18 was being used because the main runway at the airport was closed for repairs at the time of the airplane’s arrival.
The one-day hearing will examine:
• Execution of non-precision approaches, including initial and recurrent training, adherence to standard operating procedures, and proficiency
• Human factors issues associated with effective crew coordination and resource management applicable to this accident, including decision-making, communication, fatigue and fitness for duty, as well as monitoring and cross-checking, policies, standard operating procedures, guidance, and training provided to UPS crewmembers.
• Dispatch procedures, including the training, evaluation, roles and responsibilities of UPS dispatchers and the limitations of dispatch-related software.
The investigation is ongoing and this hearing will develop additional facts to support the investigation. The hearing will be held in the NTSB Board Room and Conference Center in Washington, D.C. A detailed agenda and a list of attendees will be forthcoming.
Parties to the hearing will include the Federal Aviation Administration, UPS, Airbus, the Independent Pilots Association and the Transport Workers Union. The accredited representative from the French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile (BEA) will participate on the technical panels.
The determination of the probable cause of the crash will be released when the investigation is complete. Just prior to the start of the hearing, the public docket will be opened. Included in the docket are photographs, interview transcripts and other documents.
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Old 30th Jan 2014, 22:58
  #951 (permalink)  
 
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The BE1900 crash at Dillingham, Alaska was a freighter as well. But, no government attention on that one. Not even a docket so far. It happened 5 months before UPS.

But, the NTSB is taking up the UPS accident because the pilots likely screwed up. OTOH, at Dillingham it was a gross, fundamental screw up by a government employee; the controller.

Naw, the NTSB isn't subjective or biased.
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Old 31st Jan 2014, 05:27
  #952 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by aterpster View Post
The BE1900 crash at Dillingham, Alaska was a freighter as well. But, no government attention on that one. Not even a docket so far. It happened 5 months before UPS.

But, the NTSB is taking up the UPS accident because the pilots likely screwed up. OTOH, at Dillingham it was a gross, fundamental screw up by a government employee; the controller.

Naw, the NTSB isn't subjective or biased.
Aterpster,

A couple of observations about that:

It's is also true that a accident with a part 135 plane full of mail flying into the side of a hill Alaska will get a lot less attention of all kinds than a Part 121 Airbus crashing rather spectacularly and publicly in a place accessible to the national media. I doubt that many people outside of Alaska and outside of the aviation community were even aware of the Dillingham crash, but I'm pretty sure most people in the US with a television set knew about the UPS crash within a few hours of it happening. That also will have a influence on how much attention an accident receives.

I haven't seen an actual transcript of the communications, but the NTSB preliminary report certainly seems to suggest that the controller issued a clearance below the minimum applicable altitude, so I don't disagree with your claim that the controller screwed up. But I will say that even if that all is true, the pilots dropped the ball pretty badly. This was a non-radar approach and the plate pretty clearly shows that 2000 ft MSL was below the minimum altitude both for the TAA arrival direction and to hold at the IAF. If they had the plate out and were following it, they wouldn't have flown into the hill.

That's something I've been preaching is that if your operating in a non-radar environment, you'd better have a rock solid plan for not flying into a hill, without ATC's help. Not to say that you should abdicate this responsibility within radar coverage, just it becomes even more important outside of coverage. I have had ATC clear me to descend to an altitude which would have placed me below the terrain for that route segment. It's better to think of ATC as providing no terrain separation services and only separation from other traffic. My observation is that teaching about non-radar operations is something that flight training does really poorly these days.

I think that most IFR training takes place in areas of good radar coverage, and is conducted by instructors who really don't have any experience outside of radar coverage themselves. As a result, we're getting pilots who are depending on ATC for terrain clearance and are lost when they're outside of radar coverage.
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Old 31st Jan 2014, 08:17
  #953 (permalink)  
 
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A Squared

I totally agree about your comments re a non-radar environment and the need for a rock solid plan for not flying into a hill. I spent over 30 years flying for a long haul airline on worldwide routes, starting in the 1960s. Twice I was given ATC clearances that would have involved boring holes through hills. Once in Jamaica and once in Saudi Arabia.


It is very necessary to be eternally vigilant. Even in radar airspace ATC can make mistakes. You never get a second chance with cumulo-granite!

Last edited by Bergerie1; 31st Jan 2014 at 09:03.
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Old 31st Jan 2014, 14:13
  #954 (permalink)  
 
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A Squared:

It's is also true that a accident with a part 135 plane full of mail flying into the side of a hill Alaska will get a lot less attention of all kinds than a Part 121 Airbus crashing rather spectacularly and publicly in a place accessible to the national media. I doubt that many people outside of Alaska and outside of the aviation community were even aware of the Dillingham crash, but I'm pretty sure most people in the US with a television set knew about the UPS crash within a few hours of it happening. That also will have a influence on how much attention an accident receives.
No doubt that the public has much less awareness of the Dillingham accident. And, I understand that the UPS crash hearing will be political, not investigatory.

What really torques me is the lack of a public NTSB docket on the Dillingham crash at this late date, especially since the UPS docket is being release next week. That stinks.

I haven't seen an actual transcript of the communications, but the NTSB preliminary report certainly seems to suggest that the controller issued a clearance below the minimum applicable altitude, so I don't disagree with your claim that the controller screwed up. But I will say that even if that all is true, the pilots dropped the ball pretty badly. This was a non-radar approach and the plate pretty clearly shows that 2000 ft MSL was below the minimum altitude both for the TAA arrival direction and to hold at the IAF. If they had the plate out and were following it, they wouldn't have flown into the hill.
No one is more hard over than me about "the children of the magenta line" and "radar babies." Having said that I believe the BE1900 was still being tracked on the Anchorage Center radar until at, or at least near, the crash site. I have also seen the Anchorage Center MIA maps for the area. The MIA is 2,000 until nearing Dillingham, where it becomes 4,000.

In the U.S., at least, we got a lot of regulatory and procedural changes because of the 1974 TWA 514 accident. Those went out the window for this crash and the entire aviation community should have been made well aware of the primary screw-up of ATC and the subsequent screw-up of the crew.

But, no, instead, we will be "treated" next week about how pilots still can't fly NPAs. Instead, what about a hearing about how controllers can screw up MIAs in a radar environment and how a crew took the bait?

That's something I've been preaching is that if your operating in a non-radar environment, you'd better have a rock solid plan for not flying into a hill, without ATC's help. Not to say that you should abdicate this responsibility within radar coverage, just it becomes even more important outside of coverage. I have had ATC clear me to descend to an altitude which would have placed me below the terrain for that route segment. It's better to think of ATC as providing no terrain separation services and only separation from other traffic. My observation is that teaching about non-radar operations is something that flight training does really poorly these days.
Good points, but the system was fundamentally changed in the U.S. because of the 1974 TWA crash. FAA ATC has long since been required to keep the rocks away, and set you up at a legal and safe altitude for an instrument approach. Pilots don't know MIAs (centers) or MVAs (radar approach controls) So, when FAA ATC uses those altitudes in lieu of published altitudes their responsibilities are absolute. Had the controller assigned the required MIA this accident would not have happened.

I think that most IFR training takes place in areas of good radar coverage, and is conducted by instructors who really don't have any experience outside of radar coverage themselves. As a result, we're getting pilots who are depending on ATC for terrain clearance and are lost when they're outside of radar coverage.
I agree completely. But, it's bad enough without FAA ATC setting up a crew to crash into terrain above an off-route ATC altitude assignment. And, where was the center's EMSAW that day at Dillingham? It should have been yelling at the controller as soon as the BE1900 crossing into the 4,000 MIA sector. But, controllers have a habit of turning off such safety equipment, because the alarms are "bothersome."
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Old 31st Jan 2014, 20:35
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The NTSB has been a wholly independent entity with no direct relationship to the FAA since the mid 1970s.

Any delay in providing a docket on the Alaska accident is probably due to a backlog, especially given reductions in funding over the last decade or so.
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 01:12
  #956 (permalink)  
 
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Dozy:


The NTSB has been a wholly independent entity with no direct relationship to the FAA since the mid 1970s.
That is indeed what is says on paper.

Any delay in providing a docket on the Alaska accident is probably due to a backlog, especially given reductions in funding over the last decade or so.
If that changes the priority of the investigation of these two commercial freight accidents, then I rest my case about the less-than-impartial motivations of the NTSB.
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 01:44
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Aterpster, I don't think that we're really disagreeing on much here.



A couple of comments, not necessarily disputing what you say:


Originally Posted by aterpster View Post
Having said that I believe the BE1900 was still being tracked on the Anchorage Center radar until at, or at least near, the crash site.
That may be, I haven't been on the other side of the scopes but from my side of the radio, it always seemed that radar was spotty at best below 5000 ft around Dillingham, that said, I've been called in contact at 2000 ft between Dillingham and King Salmon more than once.
I have also seen the Anchorage Center MIA maps for the area. The MIA is 2,000 until nearing Dillingham, where it becomes 4,000.

Originally Posted by aterpster View Post
but the system was fundamentally changed in the U.S. because of the 1974 TWA crash. FAA ATC has long since been required to keep the rocks away, and set you up at a legal and safe altitude for an instrument approach.
This is true, I'm not claiming that ATC does not have a responsibility to provide terrain separation, I'm just saying that from a philosophical approach, it's better to proceed as if they don't and the responsibility is solely on the pilot. (Sometimes impractical in off route ops, I Know) That way you aren't taken by surprise when they drop the ball.

Taking that outlook would have kept them alive, as they had all the information they needed to not hit the hill, right there on the RNAV 19 IAP.

I was flying that evening, and could hear the search and rescue Herc calling to them continuously on Guard. Took all I had to not shut off that radio as I was pretty sure they weren't ever going to answer.

Last edited by A Squared; 1st Feb 2014 at 01:56.
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 01:44
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@ aterpster;

I think the NTSB probably has covered the perceived disparity between the priority given to the AL and the AK accidents in the following:-
This listing of investigations includes those open investigations involving accidents or incidents which resulted in significant loss of life, physical damage, involve issues of importance to public safety, or which have generated particular public interest. This represents only a small portion of the investigations conducted by the NTSB, most of which occur at the regional level. See this listing of selected regional investigations for more information.
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 16:41
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A Squared:

That may be, I haven't been on the other side of the scopes but from my side of the radio, it always seemed that radar was spotty at best below 5000 ft around Dillingham, that said, I've been called in contact at 2000 ft between Dillingham and King Salmon more than once.
I have also seen the Anchorage Center MIA maps for the area. The MIA is 2,000 until nearing Dillingham, where it becomes 4,000.
I can understand radar coverage being spotty north or west of Dillingham at 5,000. But, from the King Salmon center radar site on King Salmon Airport, it is 61.83 nm over flat terrain to ZEDAG. Normally, with flat terrain the radar should have no problem painting a secondary, if not primary return at ZEDAG at 2,000.

The pertinent part of the NTSB preliminary report states:

"According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel, as the airplane approached Dillingham, the flight crew requested the RNAV GPS 19 instrument approach to the Dillingham Airport about 0757 from controllers at the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). The ARTCC specialist on duty subsequently granted the request by issuing the clearance, with instructions to proceed direct to the Initial Approach Fix (IAF) to begin the approach, and to maintain an altitude of 2,000 feet or above. A short time later the flight crew requested to enter a holding pattern at the IAF so that they could contact the Flight Service Station (FSS) for a runway conditions report, and the ARTCC specialist granted that request. The ARTCC specialist then made several attempts to contact the aircraft, but was unsuccessful and subsequently lost radar track on the aircraft."


No doubt the crew's altitude awareness was poor. In fact, they had been inside the 5,400 TAA sector for RNAV 19 since 30 miles prior to ZEDAG. Then again, that really wasn't pertinent until they were cleared for the RNAV 19.

Nonetheless, a clearance below MIA and the apparent lack of an EMSAW alert has safety implications for the entire U.S. This is obviously lost on the NTSB.
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 16:43
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mn43:

This accident has national safety implications for pilots everywhere in the U.S. What that quote pretty much proves is that the NTSB has their priorities messed up, to say the least.
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