'Punitive Culture' Cited in NTSB Findings on Alaska DPS Helicopter Crash

The safety board also cited the pilot's decision to continue flying into deteriorating weather conditions.

The NTSB has determined that the March 30, 2013, crash of an Alaska Department of Public Safety helicopter was caused by the pilot's decision to continue flying into deteriorating weather conditions as well as the department's "punitive culture and inadequate safety management."

Among the recommendations the NTSB has made was for Alaska and other states to develop and implement a flight risk evaluation program. "These brave few take great risks to save those in harm's way," said NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher A. Hart. "There needs to be a safety net for them as well."

Among the board's findings was that the Alaska DPS lacked policies and procedures to ensure that risk was managed, such as formal weather minimums, formal training in night vision goggle operations, and having a second person familiar with helicopter rescue operations involved in the go/no-go decision.

During the investigation of this accident, the board found that the pilot had been involved in a previous accident and that the internal DPS investigation of the earlier accident was too narrowly focused on the pilot and not enough on underlying risks that could have been better managed by the organization.

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