A Scenic Airlines Cessna 207 crashed on take-off from a remote airstrip near Monument Valley, Utah on 24 March, seriously injuring at least two of the five German tourists aboard.
Engine failure is seen as the possible cause of the accident, Scenic's second in the past six months. In October of last year, a Scenic Cessna 208 Caravan crashed near Montrose, Colorado, killing its pilot and eight passengers.
"They were taking off from Goulings Airstrip for Page [Arizona] at about three in the afternoon - it looks like they just lost power," says San Juan County Sheriff Mike Lacy. "All the passengers were injured, two were taken to Flagstaff by helicopter, the rest went to the emergency room in Kayenta."
Skywest Airlines purchased Scenic Airlines in 1993. Scenic caters primarily to the Grand Canyon air tour and raft trip support market, with a mixed fleet of single and twin-engine aircraft, including 18 de Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otters and 10 Cessna 207s.
"Details about the accident are sketchy right now," says Jim Daigle, the FAA's principal operations inspector assigned to Scenic Airlines. "We're putting information together for the NTSB to use in their investigation."
A single Teledyne Continental TSIO-520 engine powers the Cessna 207, which can be configured for up to eight seats, including the pilot's. Despite a number of fatal crashes induced by catastrophic engine failures, the CE-T207A remains popular with US FAR Part 135 operators in areas where instrument flight capability is not required.
The CE-T207A is a stretched version of the Cessna 206, a utility aircraft popular with "bush" operators. Cessna recently restarted CE-206 production after a ten-year hiatus.
Monument Valley, Utah falls within the Navajo Nation, an area straddling four states which, while technically part of the US, falls under native American tribal jurisdiction.