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Officials say Care Flight crash was part of larger pattern

Three federal investigators in blue jackets inspect wreckage from the crash of a Care Flight aircraft.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators documenting the wreckage of a Pilatus PC-12 airplane at the crash site in Dayton, Nevada. The medical air transport flight, operated by Guardian Flight, crashed on Feb. 24 while enroute from Reno, Nevada, to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Federal officials are still investigating why a medical flight went down in Northern Nevada Friday night.

A pilot, two medical professionals, a patient and a family member were all killed during the fatal crash near Dayton. This is the fourth event that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has investigated involving aviation company Guardian Flight over the last several years.

Bruce Landsberg is Vice Chair of the NTSB.

“The evidence we have at this point is that the aircraft broke up in flight,” he said.

Landsberg also told reporters the aircraft didn’t have any flight data recorders, unlike commercial flights.

Bruce Landsberg stands on the left of the image holding an iPad and addressing reporters.
Bert Johnson
National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chair Bruce Landsberg briefs reporters on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023.

“Nor was it required to,” he explained. “This is something that the NTSB would like to see the FAA require on these airplanes.”

Guardian Flight operates a fleet of about 60 aircraft around the country. It’s the aviation vendor for the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority, or REMSA, which provides in-flight medical staff.

A statement from the company explained Guardian Flight was in a passive stand down for all flights across the company.

“We will work with each of our operations to ascertain when they are able to return to service,” the statement read.

Landsberg says there were reports of ice and moderate turbulence at around 9pm, when the plane departed Reno for Salt Lake City. But the model of aircraft involved is built to fly in that kind of weather.

Officials expect to release a preliminary update in the next couple of weeks, but a final report on the accident won’t be available for at least a year.

Bert is KUNR’s senior correspondent. He covers stories that resonate across Nevada and the region, with a focus on environment, political extremism and Indigenous communities.