Thursday, May 4, 2017

Grant Aviation pilot Gabriele Cianetti died after he crashed his Cessna 208B plane south of Chignik, Alaska during a mail flight


Weather delays recovery of pilot's body from Southwest Alaska crash site

Author: Chris Klint
Updated: 8 hours ago
Published 13 hours ago
A Grant Aviation Cessna 208B Caravan crashed south of Chignik Lake on Monday, killing 54-year-old pilot Gabriele Cianetti. (From USCG via AST)

Poor weather at the site of a Grant Aviation plane crash in Southwest Alaska has prevented authorities from reaching the remote area and recovering the pilot's remains for another day.

Noreen Price, the National Transportation Safety Board's lead investigator into the Cessna 208B Caravan crash on Monday that killed 54-year-old Gabriele Cianetti, said Wednesday morning that plans to reach the location were still on a "weather hold" due to reduced visibility and obscured mountaintops.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday that Cianetti was the sole occupant of the plane and was on a mail flight from Port Heiden to Perryville. An emergency locator transmitter signal from the Cessna was received at about 2 p.m. Monday.

Roughly four hours later, a Coast Guard helicopter crewman found Cianetti dead at the crash site, in mountainous terrain about 8 miles south of Chignik Lake at an altitude of about 3,000 feet.

The NTSB was gathering information Wednesday on the Caravan's radio traffic and any radar track of the aircraft during the fatal flight, Price said. The single-engine, nine-seat plane was carrying roughly 1,300 pounds of Priority Mail when it went down.

Price, along with Alaska State Troopers, the Coast Guard and members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, were preparing for a Thursday attempt to reach the site, an effort complicated by several factors related to the crash location.

"The first is the distance from any fuel — there are no airports with fuel in the area," Price said. "It requires a helicopter to access it, and helicopters don't have much fuel capacity."

In addition, the crash site is covered in deep, wet snow and may be on a 50-degree incline — elements that led to the mountain rescue group's involvement.

"It takes some technical expertise, we believe, to access the site," Price said.

The NTSB ultimately hopes to remove the wreckage from the scene for a full inspection by investigators, Price said, as well as by representatives from Cessna and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

Update: Pilot killed in Southwest Alaska plane crash 

By KTVA CBS 11 News 6:33 PM May 1, 2017

Last updated at 11:36 a.m. on Tuesday, May 2

Troopers have identified the deceased as 54-year-old Gabriele Cianetti, of Anchorage. His next of kin has been notified.

Updated at 10:05 a.m. on Tuesday, May 2

The pilot and sole occupant in a Cessna 208B operated by Grant Aviation was found dead south of Chignik Monday evening, according to an updated Tuesday Alaska State Trooper dispatch.

The wreckage was discovered at a 3,000-foot elevation about “228 miles southwest of Kodiak,” Petty Officer John Paul Rios with the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The plane was headed from the small, Alaska Peninsula village of Port Heiden to Perryville when the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) went off south of Chignik around 2 p.m., according to Clint Johnson, Alaska region chief for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Troopers said that Grant Aviation confirmed they had an overdue aircraft.

The Coast Guard launched a C-130 Hercules airplane and a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to search the area.

The wreckage was discovered at 5:49 p.m., on a steep mountain slope near Perryville.

Troopers said efforts to recover the body and wreckage are ongoing. In a Tuesday morning phone call, Johnson said because of the terrain, the recovery was going to be a challenge. 

Date:Monday 1 May 2017
Time:ca 14:00
Type:Silhouette image of generic C208 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna 208B Grand Caravan
Operator:Grant Aviation
Registration: N803TH
C/n / msn: 208B-0321
First flight: 1992
Engines: 1 Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-114A
Crew:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:Chignik, AK (   United States of America)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Departure airport:Port Heiden Airport, AK (PTH/PAPH), United States of America
Destination airport:Perryville Airport, AK (KPV/PAPE), United States of America
The pilot of a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan was killed when his aircraft crashed near Chignik in Alaska.
The aircraft operated a service from Port Heiden to Chignik Bay with en route stops at Perryville, Chignik Lagoon and Chignik Lake.

Grant Aviation joins the friends and family of Gabriele Cianetti, pilot and sole occupant of the Grant Aviation Cessna Caravan that crashed enroute to Perryville yesterday afternoon. As the NTSB investigates the cause of the crash, we at Grant Aviation encourage our employees and customers to reach out to one another to share comforting words and memories of Gabe. Our Dillingham and King Salmon bases are closed today, May 2nd, as we remember Gabe and his service to the communities of Western Alaska.

Grant Aviation President Bruce McGlasson spoke to me today about the pilot they lost earlier this week in a crash near Chignik. He called Gabriele Cianetti a good guy, well-liked by other staff.

"He'd always wanted to be a pilot here in Alaska and so he was doing what he wanted to do."