We don’t know much yet about the plane crash in Alaska that killed the pilot and 8 tourists from the MS Westerdam. But the crash looks eerily similar to the Alaskan crash that killed Senator Ted Stevens and three others in 2010.
Like the plane that was involved in the Westerdam crash, the plane that crashed with Stevens aboard was a de Havilland Otter retrofitted with floats and a turboprop engine. Both tour pilots encountered adverse weather that is common in Alaska: Low Ceilings. Fog. Gusty winds.
In the Steven’s crash, instead of turning around when he encountered the low clouds, the pilot pressed on. Unable to see where he was going, he inadvertently flew into the side of the mountain. (The local papers were calling the pilot a "hero" because not everyone aboard was killed. I had to disagree.)
In last week’s crash at Ella Lake, the weather conditions were similar. It looks as though the pilot, employed by tour operator Promech Air, inadvertently flew into the clouds and struck the side of a cliff.
This sort of accident is not uncommon, particularly in Alaska and Hawaii. The type of accident is called "controlled flight into terrain." It is almost always due to pilot error.
Blue Hawaiian helicopters was probably the last tour operator that flew a perfectly good aircraft into the side of a mountain due to low clouds. Compare the photo of the weather conditions that contributed to the Blue Hawaiian crash (left) with the photo of the weather conditions that the Promech Air pilot tried to fly through. Note how, in both photos, the clouds obscure the mountain tops.