Wednesday, August 3, 2011

High air fare inevitable . . . As report says poor infrastructure impact airlines’ operations.

Domestic air travel in the country may further witness a sharp price increase if airlines are to stay afloat in the coming months, a report released by Agusto & Co, foremost research agency, has sad. Already, in the last few months, air fares have jumped from N18, 000 to N30, 000 for an hour flight as a result of skyrocketing prices of aviation fuel.

According to the report, hike in aviation fuel price and exchange rate exposures would adversely affect the fortunes of airlines forcing some to hike fare or exit the industry. According to the report, some players have already begun to revise their rates upwards by as much as over 50 percent on major routes in order to safeguard their profit margins.

“In 2011, we envisage high oil prices through the year, occasioned by a prolonged civil crisis in some oil rich regions like Libya. This would translate to a hike in aviation fuel prices through import shortages and speculative hoarding.  “The resultant effect would be lower margins for domestic airlines if consumers resist an increase to air fares.

The domestic aviation industry also has significant exchange rate exposure, whose adverse effects would become more evident if the Central Bank of Nigeria allows a free floating exchange rate regime. Consequently, we believe that some airlines would record losses in the short term and weaker players may exit unless domestic air fares increase significantly.”

The domestic aviation sector, according to the report, continued its five-year journey of low profit margins, which rallied at an estimated five percent. It stated: “Aviation fuel alone accounted for an estimated 40-50 percent of airlines’ operating costs in 2010. Earnings were further stunted by huge debt burdens to regulators, service providers, suppliers and financial institutions.

The largest portion of debt is passenger service charge (PSC) owed to regulators and service providers, which was restructured in 2010 to allow repayment over 3 years.” Agusto & Co added that during the year, poor infrastructure continued to be the bane of the airline industry.

“For instance, the run-down Gombe State airport was taken over by Federal Airport Authority (FAAN) in the hope of revival. The most recent short-coming is air-field lighting, which has disrupted night flights and resulted in the loss of billions of naira according to air carriers. Nevertheless, the country’s airspace was relatively safe in 2010.

According to the report, the domestic aviation industry’s performance in 2010 was characterised by competitive pricing by airlines, which was aggressive in the year, stimulating demand and leading to over-crowding at some of the nation’s few airports.

“Airlines flew new routes, increased flight frequencies, reduced catering and thus pushed feverously for profits. The nation’s airports were clad with more of the middle-class bound together by numerous sales promotions, distressingly, it appeared the airlines and support agencies were ill-prepared for the surge they had partly orchestrated, which led to increased booking errors, flight delays and cancellations.

It was in light of this that passengers sought the aid of the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in the period under review. In 2010, the CPD received over 47,000 complaints including grievances on delays and cancellations.”

Agusto & Co advised that the NCAA should vigorously pursue the enactment of its consumer protection law, which should come into effect in the short term. The agency said it expects that the law would not only penalise airlines for undue delays and cancellations but also offer compensation to affected passengers.“In our opinion, this would serve to improve efficiency in the industry particularly for airlines with aggressive cost management strategies,” it said.

Source:  http://www.businessdayonline.com

Analysis: Airlines stand by fare hike despite pressure. (Reuters)

(Reuters) - U.S. airlines are not likely to bow to pressure from the White House and elsewhere to rollback a fare increase facilitated by a Washington political standoff that could net the industry more than $1 billion in unexpected third quarter revenue.

Analysts and carriers have said the industry justifiably capitalized on quick profits when, because of congressional inaction on temporary aviation funding legislation last month, they stopped collecting certain ticket taxes and raised fares by a like amount.

"Airlines are not making tons of money. They're barely surviving," said Helane Becker, an industry analyst with Dahlman Rose & Company.

Major airlines lost an estimated $440 million for the first six months of 2011 due mainly to higher fuel costs, industry figures show.

By comparison, the government has lost an estimated $360 million in ticket tax revenue due to the 12-day impasse that has also prompted a shutdown of airport construction projects overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), congressional and transportation officials said.

Congress has been fighting over unrelated rural air subsidies that have delayed passage of the stop-gap FAA funding bill that requires collection of a 7.5 percent passenger ticket tax. FAA air traffic operations are unaffected.

Analyst Jamie Baker of JP Morgan said in a note to clients that airlines could net up to $1.2 billion from the start of the shutdown on July 23 to early September -- when Congress is scheduled to return from a vacation begun this week -- if the impasse is not resolved before then.

Moreover, analyst William Greene of Morgan Stanley said the tax holiday is a positive catalyst, noting unit revenue "will be favorably impacted" for months after the matter is resolved.

The development enhances liquidity, he said in a note which also expressed a view that recent consensus sell-side share downgrades are a "contrarian indicator that only enhances the attractiveness of shares" when benefits of the tax holiday and lower fuel prices are considered.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressed opposition to fare increases in conversations with airline executives. And on Wednesday, President Barack Obama joined in, decrying the total tax revenue that could be lost to the federal Treasury.

"That would be a billion dollars at a time when we're worrying about how we pay for everything from education to Head Start," Obama said prior to a Cabinet meeting. "And we don't anticipate it's going to be easy to get that money back. Even though the airlines are collecting it, they're keeping it."

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), United Airlines (UAL.N), US Airways (LCC.N) and Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) have said little about the unusual fare increase that is not without precedent.

But the industry is unapologetic about finding new revenue at a time when losses mount and there are concerns about the impact of a weak economy on demand.

"Airlines are merely seeking to function as responsible businesses that are able to cover their costs, which airlines are not doing today," the Air Transport Association, the chief lobbying group for major carriers in Washington.

"Airlines like any U.S. business have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, customers and employees, not only to cover their costs, but to earn a meaningful profit," the ATA said.

Moreover, analysts, industry and fare experts note passengers are not paying more than they were two weeks ago and believe the windfall will run its course sooner rather than later.

Rick Seaney, chief executive of FareCompare.com, said airlines might have no choice but to roll back prices to entice consumers heading into the slower fall season if the congressional stalemate is resolved and the tax holiday ends.

Some airlines say they will help passengers try to collect limited IRS refunds related only to tickets purchased before the shutdown for travel during the shutdown.

Source:  http://www.reuters.com

Winter bonanza: City fliers to get dozen more flights. Ahmedabad, India.

Ahmedabad: To fliers' delight, airlines have proposed over a dozen new flights in domestic sector from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in the coming winter season.

Of the proposed flights, there will be one direct flight to Bhopal from the city. However, out of the all proposed flights, most have been rescheduled as new flights.

For Bhopal, Jet Airways has proposed to start a new flight (9W-2509) from the city. The airline wants to launch the flight on this route with an ATR 72-500. Besides, popular destinations like Delhi and Mumbai will have more flights.

Jet Airways officials, however, didn't respond to calls to give details of the proposal. Officials at the city airport said the details could be revealed after the proposal received approval.

The proposed schedule has been submitted by the airlines to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in New Delhi. The winter schedule usually starts from the last Sunday of October and remains in force till the last Saturday of March. The proposals, once okayed by the DGCA, are sent to the airports concerned for flight operations.

"There are over a dozen new flights that the airlines have proposed in the list. However, half of them have been rescheduled or their codes have been altered," SVPI airport officials said.

JetLite, SpiceJet, Jet Airways and IndiGo have introduced a couple of new flights for popular destinations, they said.

Most of the proposed flights for cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore have either been rescheduled or their codes have been altered.

Source:  http://daily.bhaskar.com

Passengers milestone for Ryanair

No-frills airline Ryanair has claimed to be the first European carrier to fly eight million passengers in one month.

The budget carrier said its passenger figures grew 6% in the 12 months to July, hitting 8.1 million that month.

However, the airline's chief Micheal O'Leary again hit out at the Irish Government's three euro air travel tax, and charges imposed by semi-state company the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

"Why are the Irish airports and Irish tourism losing out on this traffic growth. It's not the recession, because Ryanair's growth proves that you can continue to grow strongly during recession," Mr O'Leary said.

"The reason that Ireland and Irish tourism is suffering such appalling declines is because of the travel tax and the DAA's high fees, and the new (Irish) Government has failed thus far to address these issues."

Mr O'Leary predicted Dublin would slip from the airline's second largest base in Europe, after London Stansted, to fifth place, blaming a 40% hike in charges by the DAA.

The Irish Government has committed to retaining the three euro travel tax on each departing passenger until next spring, claiming airlines had not given solid commitments on capacity or inbound routes to scrap the levy.

Ryanair accused the Department of Transport of turning down its offer of promising to increase passenger numbers by five million over the next five years, based on Transport Minister Leo Varadkar's pledge to retain the tax.

Mr O'Leary reiterated the airline's call for the Irish Government to scrap the travel tax and break up the DAA, claiming Ryanair was scaling back in Ireland.

DAA claimed it had been independently verified that charges at Dublin Airport were not high. A spokesman said a study had shown charges were 25% lower than those at comparable European airports.

IBC Travel to significantly increase Bimini airlift

Bimini is slated to receive additional airlift capacity of around 1,000 passengers per month – the result of a partnership between the island’s premier resort and IBC Travel.

Scheduled to commence from August 15, IBC Travel is expanding its service to the island, adding Miami to its schedule for direct daily non-stop flight services to Bimini. Bill Lee, general manager of Bimini Bay Resort & Marina, said the expanded flight schedule doubles the number of flights from South Florida to Bimini each week – a positive development for the resort and island’s economy.

“Getting to Bimini Bay Resort & Marina just got easier, so we expect to see an increase in reservations and, with that, more revenue coming into the resort’s restaurants and shops,” Lee said. “A boost in the number of visitors is also good news for our activity and excursion partners.”

The resort forms a major component of the economy in Bimini through direct employment and the business opportunities presented through the tourists it attracts to those shores.

Bimini Bay officials are expecting that with the bulk of IBC’s flights having afternoon departures, new markets from major cities throughout the northeast and midwest regions of the United States, as well as Canada, will be opened up as Bimini becomes more accessible.

“Before this, the only way to get to Bimini was by boat, charter plane or via infrequent commercial flights to the island,” Lee said. “It was always our goal to make it as easy as possible to get to Bimini Bay Resort & Marina, especially with its close proximity to South Florida. That’s why we’ve developed this new partnership with IBC and are also looking forward to the ferry launch.”

The ferry service Lee referred to is set to start this fall, offering a two-hour link between Miami and Bimini. Originally expected to commence this summer, it has the capacity to bring around 2,700 additional visitors to the island each week. Lee said the final logistical plans for the ferry are being ‘worked-through’ in Bimini.

Bimini Bay also announced a special incentive for IBC travelers to the island.

“Bimini Bay Resort & Marina, with its partnership with the Bahamas Tourism Office, is sweetening the deal by offering an instant saving of $400 for stays of six nights or longer and $250 for four- and five-night stays,” read a press statement recently released by the company. Certain conditions apply under the offer.

IBC’s flights to Bimini take about 30 minutes, with service days alternating between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, except on Sundays when flights depart from both airports. The flights return from Bimini daily. The service uses a Saab 340B plane that seats 30.

Lee said the additional access customers have to Bimini will let the cat out of the bag about all the resort and marina has to offer.

“For years, Bimini Bay Resort & Marina was one of The Bahamas’ best kept secrets,” said Lee. “Through our new partnership with IBC, more South Florida residents and visitors will be able to discover this piece of paradise, just 30 minutes away.”

New Boeing 747-8 Freighter Completes Certification Flight Testing. Major milestone on drive to certification, delivery of newest member of the 747 family.

EVERETT, Wash., Aug. 3, 2011 -- The new Boeing 747-8 Freighter successfully completed its certification flight test program Tuesday, with two airplanes landing at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. Flight test airplane RC522 completed testing of the flight management computer (FMC) and RC523 completed function & reliability (F&R) testing.

"This is such a great day for the new 747-8 and for all the employees who played a part in designing, building and testing this incredible, game-changing airplane," said Elizabeth Lund, Boeing vice president and general manager, 747 program. "We are in the home stretch in delivering this airplane to our customers."

The first 747-8 Freighter is scheduled to be delivered to launch customer Cargolux in September after certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The 747-8 Freighter has flown more than 1,200 flights and 3,400 hours since its first flight Feb. 8, 2010. During that time, the five-airplane test fleet was used to gather data for more than 1,700 FAA certification requirements. Boeing tested the capabilities of these airplanes far beyond what they are expected to encounter in normal service. Tests concluded with F&R testing, a final phase in which an airplane must accrue 300 FAA-approved flight hours in its final delivery configuration.

"My team and I had the pleasure of spending hundreds of hours in these airplanes," said 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein. "We can truly say this airplane is a joy to fly, and our customers are going to love it. It flies like a 747, but one from the 21st century."

The 747-8 Freighter is the new high-capacity 747 that will give cargo operators the lowest operating costs and best economics of any freighter airplane while providing enhanced environmental performance. It is 18 feet and 4 inches (5.6 m) longer than the 747-400 Freighter. The stretch provides customers with 16 percent more revenue cargo volume compared to its predecessor. That translates to four additional main-deck pallets and three additional lower-hold pallets. The 747-8 Freighters will be powered with GE's GEnx-2B engines.

More information: http://www.boeing.com/newairplane/747/incredible/

Photo and caption are available here: http://boeing.mediaroom.com/

SOURCE Boeing 

http://www.marketwatch.com

Flydubai doubles fleet with 18th aircraft

DUBAI — Dubai’s pioneering low-cost airline flydubai has doubled the size of its fleet in just one year following the arrival of its 18th aircraft last week.

The new Boeing 737-800 NG represents an investment of $80 million and is the latest delivery of the order of 50 placed by flydubai at the 2008 
Farnborough Airshow.

“With the induction of latest Boeing 737-800, flydubai will soon be able to not only expand the 38 destinations that it already serves, the airline will also be able to ramp up frequencies between popular city pairs from its Dubai hub thereby giving customers additional choice and flexibility as to when and how often they wish to fly,” Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at FBE Aerospace London, told Khaleej Times.

Overall, flydubai’s continued growth highlights the sustained and resilient low-cost travel market that exists in and around the GCC region and this demand is still underserved as the carrier grows its business, Ahmad added. Commenting on the new arrival, flydubai Chief Executive Ghaith Al Ghaith said: “We are the world’s fastest growing start-up airline and a significant contributor to our success has been our young, efficient and expanding fleet. The range and capabilities of our 18 Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft allows us to provide our customers with high-quality, low-cost links to destinations in the GCC, Middle East, North Africa, Indian Sub-Continent, Asia and the fringes of Europe.”

The new aircraft has gone straight into service just in time to support the new CIS routes launching in September, as well as the upcoming busy Eid holiday, Al Ghaith said.

The 11th in the flydubai fleet to feature the Boeing’s new sky interior and the revolutionary fibre-to-the-screen in-flight entertainment system by Lumexis. The new aircraft will also incorporate Goodrich Corp’s carbon brakes and zonal drying system, increasing fuel-efficiency and savings in emissions and costs. As the fastest growing low-cost airline, flydubai is also tapping into lucrative money saving features to ensure that it keeps a lid on costs against a backdrop of rising and unstable fuel prices, Ahmad said.

“Incorporating carbon brakes saves over 300kg per airplane and with lighter in flight entertainment, this translates into a lighter 737-800 which in turn means lower maintenance costs and lower fuel burn. Future 737-800 deliveries will also hone in on engine efficiency too as CFM International’s CFM56-7BE engine will deliver up to 2 per cent better fuel burn on all forthcoming 737s which have aerodynamic airframe improvements that cut drag and fuel burn.

“All in all, flydubai is very likely at this November’s Dubai Air Show to commit to Boeings newly announced re-engined 737, to be powered by the CFM International LEAP engine, bring reduced fuel burn by up to 15 per cent,” he added.

Mooney M20K/231, Thomas S. Wilson (rgd. owner & pilot), N777CV: Accident occurred July 18, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA406 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 18, 2011 in Augusta, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/08/2014
Aircraft: MOONEY AIRCRAFT CORP. M20K, registration: N777CV
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Maintenance personnel reported that, 2 days before the accident, they were hired by the pilot to prepare the airplane for a maintenance ferry flight following a gear-up landing. While inspecting the airplane, the mechanic noted that the three-blade propeller was bent, so he removed it. Subsequently, the pilot provided maintenance personnel with a two-blade propeller, which they installed. However, when the mechanic attempted to replace the spinner, it would not fit properly. Therefore, he did not sign off the logbooks and advised the pilot that the airplane should not be flown. Review of the airplane’s records revealed that the airplane had a supplemental type certificate for an engine conversion kit that required a three-blade propeller. On the day of the accident, another mechanic conducted a run-up of the engine and noted that the propeller was not working correctly. The supplier of the two-blade propeller advised the mechanic that the airplane should not be flown in that condition. The mechanic discussed the anomaly with the pilot and advised him not to fly the airplane until the issue was resolved. The pilot acknowledged the discrepancy but chose to fly the airplane. Shortly after takeoff, witnesses observed the propeller separate from the airplane. Subsequently, the airplane spiraled to the ground in a nose-down attitude. Examinations revealed that the propeller attachment bolts had failed, which resulted in the separation of the propeller from the airplane. Five of the six propeller mounting studs exhibited evidence of high-stress fatigue cracking, which indicates that a severe spectrum of cyclic loading in the propeller/engine system occurred, likely as the result of using an unapproved propeller on the airplane. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s decision to fly the airplane after maintenance personnel advised him that the airplane should not be flown because the pilot provided an incorrect propeller for installation and the subsequent failure of the propeller attachment bolts and the separation of the propeller.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT 

On July 18, 2011, about 1225 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20K, N777CV, collided with the ground shortly after takeoff from Augusta Regional Airport (AGS), Augusta, Georgia. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane came to rest on the airport's property and was substantially damaged when it impacted the terrain. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a maintenance test flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

A pilot who taxied out behind the accident airplane watched the airplane on climb out. He heard someone yell over the radio that an airplane had crashed. He looked across the runway,and saw fire and black smoke, and realized that it was the pilot who had just departed.

According to witnesses, they observed the airplane on initial climb and the engine sounded extremely loud. The airplane climbed slowly before making a sharp left turn. The sound of the engine increased followed by a loud "bang." One witness stated the propeller separated from the airplane and fell to the ground, the airplane spiraledto the ground in a nose down attitude, and a post crash fire ensued.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 58, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and sea, multi-engine land with instrument airplane. He held a third-class airman medical certificate issued on September 9, 2010, with limitations for corrective lenses. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for review. The pilot's September 9, 2010 application for his medical certificate indicated he had 8,000 total civilian flight hours. A review of the pilot's application for insurance revealed that in July of 2011, the pilot reported on an updated application that he had 8,400 total hours with 3,237 in multi-engine and 3,000 in make and model. It also indicated that his last biannual flight review was completed on April 25, 2011.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The three-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane, serial number 25-0149, was manufactured in 1979. It was delivered with a Continental TSIO-360-GB, 210 hp engine, which was equipped with a McCauley two blade propeller. In 1995 a Rocket Engineering engine conversion kit was installed under supplemental type certificate SE00223SE. The kit is called the 305 Rocket and is powered by a Continental TSIO-520-NB engine and equipped with a McCauley three blade propeller. Review of copies of maintenance logbook records obtained from Race City Aviation showed an annual condition inspection in accordance with Appendix D, Part 43 was completed November 26, 2011, at a recorded tachometer reading of 2614.5 hours. The airplane's logbooks were destroyed by fire in the wreckage. The tachometer was destroyed and the total airframe hours, time flown since the last annual inspection, total engine hours and total hours since the engine was last overhauled could not be determined. The airplane was fueled with a total of 40 gallons of aviation gasoline prior to takeoff.

According to information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot was involved in a previous gear-up landing accident with the same airplane at AGS on April 11, 2011. During that accident, the airplane sustained substantial damaged to the propeller and the fuselage. 

Maintenance personnel who worked on the airplane two days before the accident stated, they prepped the airplane for a ferry flight back to Lake Norman Airpark (14A), Mooresville, North Carolina. On an initial walk around inspection, a mechanic noted the landing gear was not down and locked and the three bladed propeller was bent. The mechanic secured the landing gear and removed the three blade propeller. A two bladed McCauley propeller supplied by the pilot was installed on the airplane in accordance with the Mooney M20K Maintenance Manual section 61-00-10. When the mechanic attempted to replace the spinner it would not fit without cowling interference. The mechanic called his shop and was advised that that Aero Engines of Winchester, Virginia had supplied the propeller. The mechanic did not sign off the logbook or the ferry permit. Further investigation revealed the FAA airworthiness certificate application for the ferry permit indicated the shop owner had signed off as the work had been completed. 

On July 15, 2011, another mechanic accompanied the pilot to AGS to reconnect the battery and conduct a run up of the engine. During the run up, the mechanic noticed that with the two blade propeller; the propeller control operated in reverse. He said that when the propeller lever was advanced, the RPM would decrease, and when the propeller lever was retarded, the RPM would increase. The mechanic stated that the personnel at Aero Engines advised him that although the propeller lever controlled the propeller, he would not advise anyone to fly the airplane that way. The mechanic discussed the anomaly with the pilot and advised him not fly the airplane until the issues were resolved. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A review of recorded weather data at AGS, revealed that at 1255 conditions were winds 270 degrees at 6 knots, visibility of 10 miles, cloud conditions scattered at 7,500 feet above ground level, temperature 23 degrees Celsius, dew point temperature 6 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 30.06 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located on the airfield approximately 50 feet to the left of runway 26. The airplane came to rest on a heading 180 degrees. The airframe was consumed by fire and crushed upward; all flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site.

Examination of the wreckage revealed that the two bladed propeller assembly was separated from the engine flange and located approximately 1,000 feet forward of the main wreckage site. The propeller was recovered and sent to the National Transportation Safety Board's Material Laboratory for examination.

The upper and lower cowlings were fire damaged and located forward of the wreckage. The engine was displaced aft towards the firewall and downward into the ground. The engine displayed external fire damaged, and the magnetos were broken away from the accessory section. The vacuum pump was broken away from the accessory section and fire damaged. The nose wheel assembly remained attached to the nose gear trunnion and was in the retracted position.

The cabin area from the engine firewall extending aft to the empennage was consumed by fire from the floor upwards. The instrument panel and all instrument components were consumed by fire. Continuity of the flight control system was confirmed from the control yoke aft to all flight control surfaces. 

The right wing was partially consumed by fire throughout the wing span from the wing root to the wing tip. The right wing remained attached to the main spar. The aileron remained attached to the wing and connected to the control tube. The right main fuel tank was ruptured and no signs of fuel were noted. The fuel cap was secured with a tight seal and fire damaged. The right flap was fire damaged, and separated from the wing. The right main landing gear assembly was fire damaged.

The empennage was intact and connected to the main fuselage and fire damaged. The control tubes for the rudder and elevators were still attached. The rudder was attached to the vertical stabilizer at the attachment hinges. The elevators were attached to the horizontal stabilizers at the attachment hinges. 

The left wing was crushed upwards from the underside of the wing. The left main fuel tank was ruptured and no signs of fuel were noted. The fuel cap was secured with a tight seal. The left flap was partially broken away from the hinge attachment hinge points. The left aileron was attached at the hinge points. The left main landing gear assembly was in the retracted position. Examination of the airframe and flight control system components did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The engine remained attached to the engine mounts. The engine exhibited an extensive amount of fire damage. The left and right exhaust pipes and muffler were crushed upwards. The oil sump was ruptured and crushed upwards towards the engine casing. A small amount of oil was observed in the oil sump. The cylinders were borescoped and were free from debris. The crankshaft was rotated by hand and all pistons were observed moving. Compression and valve train continuity was established to each cylinder during the rotation of the crankshaft. The top sparkplugs were removed and examined and the lower spark plugs were examined during the borescope examination. All spark plugs revealed normal wear when compared to the Champion Check- A- Plug chart.

Examination of the fueling system revealed that the fuel lines and the fuel pump were fire damaged. The drive coupling was intact and not damaged. The drive shaft was free to rotate and no fuel was observed in the inlet line. The fuel manifold was disassembled and the fuel screen was clean and free of debris. A small amount of fuel was observed in the manifold. Examination of the engine and its components did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on July 19, 2011, by the Division of Forensic Sciences, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia, as authorized by the State of Georgia. The autopsy findings included "multiple blunt force injuries," and the report listed the specific injuries. 

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated that no ethanol was detected in the liver or the muscle, and no drugs were detected in the liver.

TESTING AND RESEARCH

Examination of the propeller was conducted by the NTSB Materials Laboratory, Washington, D.C. The examination revealed that there were five bolt studs remaining in the hub along with two locating dowel pins. One bolt stud was missing from the hub and the remaining five bolt studs and both dowels were fractured near the face of the hub. The bolt stud locations were numbered S1 thru S6 with the #1 bolt stud on the serial number side of the hub. A separated bolt and nut were located and were determined to be the missing #6 bolt stud and nut. Microscopic examinations of the bolt stud fractures revealed features and fracture markings indicative of high stress fatigue propagation in five of the six bolt studs. All fatigue areas initiated in the roots of the first and second engaged thread in the hub. The S1 bolt stud fracture was entirely overstress accompanied by bending deformation. The S2 bolt stud showed high stress fatigue from one side through about 70% of the cross section. The remaining overstress area showed twisting deformation. The S3 bolt stud had two opposed regions of fatigue that penetrated about 60% of the bolt stud's cross section. The S4 bolt stud also showed two fatigue regions from adjacent thread roots. Total fatigue penetration was approximately 40%. The S5 bolt stud had a single fatigue region penetrating through about 40% cross section. The nut side piece of the S6 bolt stud had only about 10% fatigue from one side. The remaining overstress region showed bending and twisting deformation. The unthreaded grip area on the S6 bolt stud was polished in local areas and the exposed nut side threads were flattened and polished consistent with contact by the bores of the crankshaft mounting hole. Both locating dowels were fractured approximately flush with the mounting surface of the hub. Both dowel fractures showed post fracture damage and fracture features indicative of overstress separations. The mounting face of the hub had areas of light fretting with localized areas of polishing.

NTSB Identification: ERA11CA238
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 11, 2011 in Augusta, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/03/2011
Aircraft: MOONEY AIRCRAFT CORP. M20K, registration: N777CV
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot stated that he departed on a visual flight rules cross-country flight at approximately 0300 local time. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at his destination airport where the pilot requested and received an instrument flight rules clearance for an instrument approach. The pilot conducted two missed approaches but fog precluded him from making visual contact with the runway before diverting to another airport. The pilot conducted an instrument approach at the alternate airport and, just prior to landing at approximately 0700 local time, realized that he had failed to extend the landing gear. The airplane subsequently landed gear-up, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage. The pilot stated that fatigue, weather conditions, and the distraction of the diversion contributed to the error.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to extend the landing gear prior to landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s reported fatigue.

The pilot stated that he departed on a visual flight rules cross-country flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at his destination airport where the pilot requested and received an instrument flight rules clearance for an instrument approach. The pilot conducted two missed approaches but fog precluded him from making visual contact with the runway before diverting to another airport. The pilot conducted an instrument approach at the alternate airport, and just prior to landing, realized that he had failed to extend the landing gear. The airplane subsequently landed gear-up, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage. The pilot stated that fatigue, weather conditions, and the distraction of the diversion contributed to the error.


NTSB Identification: ERA11FA406
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 18, 2011 in Augusta, GA
Aircraft: MOONEY AIRCRAFT CORP. M20K, registration: N777CV
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 18, 2011, about 1225 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20K, N777CV, collided with the ground shortly after takeoff from Augusta Regional Airport (AGS), Augusta, Georgia. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane came to rest on the airport's property and was substantially damaged when it impacted the terrain. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

A mechanic stated that the pilot asked him to bleed the brakes on his airplane prior to departure. After the mechanic serviced the brakes, the pilot said that the brakes were working satisfactorily on both sides and he taxied to the runway for takeoff. The mechanic watched as the airplane climbed out, and shortly thereafter, he heard someone yell that an airplane crashed. When he looked across the runway, he saw fire and black smoke, and realized that it was the pilot who had just departed.

According to preliminary information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot was involved in a previous gear-up landing accident with the same airplane at AGS on April 11, 2011. During that accident, the airplane sustained substantial damaged to the propeller and the fuselage. In an interview with maintenance personnel who worked on the airplane, they stated that two days prior to the current accident, they prepped the airplane for a ferry flight back to Lake Norman Airpark (14A), Mooresville, North Carolina. They removed the damaged three blade propeller and replaced it with a two blade propeller. The main landing gear was also secured in the extended position due to the previous accident. The purpose of the current accident flight was to take the airplane up to approximately 8,000 feet to see if everything operated correctly before departing to 14A.

According to witnesses, they watched the airplane during the initial climb and the engine sounded extremely loud. As they continued to watch, the airplane climbed slowly before making a sharp left turn. The sound of the engine increased followed by a loud "bang". One witness observed the propeller separate from the airplane and fall to the ground, followed by the airplane in a nose down spiral. The airplane impacted the ground and a post crash fire ensued.


 



















A North Carolina physician who flew in and out of the area to work at Burke Medical Center was killed Monday when his single-engine Mooney 20 crashed after takeoff at Augusta Regional Airport. 


 Federal Aviation Administration records show the plane was registered to Dr. Thomas S. Wilson, of Mooresville, a community near Charlotte, N.C. A Burke hospital official said Wilson worked in Waynesboro for NES.

"I'm sorry, we are so shaken up," said a spokeswoman for NES Healthcare Group, which handles emergency department staffing for Burke Medical Center. "He was with us a long time."

According to airport and FAA officials, the plane took off from Augusta Regional Airport at 12:20 p.m., crashing moments later on airport property, just southeast of Runway 8-26. The crash was reported to Richmond County dispatch at 12:24 p.m.

Just three months ago, Wilson, 53, landed the same plane "gear up" at Augusta Regional Airport.

In its investigation of why the Mooney's landing gear did not deploy April 11, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that Wilson had attempted to land in Waynesboro, Ga., but missed two approaches because of fog.

After diverting to Augusta Regional, the pilot "just prior to landing realized that he had failed to extend the landing gear," an NTSB report said. The crash resulted in "substantial damage" to the plane's fuselage, it said.

Wilson, who had logged 8,500 flight hours, told NTSB that fatigue, weather conditions and the distraction of diverting to another airport contributed to the error, the report said.

NTSB and FAA are investigating Monday's crash, Augusta Regional Airport spokeswoman Diane Johnston said.

http://chronicle.augusta.com



AUGUSTA -- A pilot has died in a small airplane crash at Augusta Regional Airport. 

 The FAA says a Mooney 20 aircraft with one person on board was leaving Augusta Regional when it crashed. The Richmond County coroner identified the victim as Dr. Thomas Wilson of Mooresville, N.C. He was 53 years old and the owner of the plane. He died at the scene of the accident.

The call came in a little before 12:30 p.m. Airport fire trucks responded to the fire at the scene.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating the accident.

An autopsy will be performed at the Augusta Crime Lab.

The exact same plane was involved in a crash in April of this year at Augusta Regional Airport. In a statement to the FAA, Dr. Wilson said he was traveling to Burke County Airport from Lafayette, La. He had trouble landing in Burke County because of fog so he attempted to land in Augusta.

As Dr. Wilson was flying toward the runway at Augusta Regional, he realized he forgot to put his landing gear down, but by then it was too late. The aircraft had settled on the runway without the landing gear deployed. He was not injured in this crash. Dr. Wilson admitted it was his own mistake in the statement.


 http://www.wrdw.com

 A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board reveals that witnesses saw a malfunction that led to a fatal plane crash at Augusta Regional Airport in July.

Dr. Thomas S. Wilson, 53, of Mooresville, N.C., was flying out of Augusta Regional when he crashed his single-engine Mooney 20 after the plane malfunctioned July 18.

Witnesses told the NTSB they "observed the propeller separate from the airplane and fall to the ground, followed by the airplane in a nose down spiral."

The pilot, who flew back and forth from Mooresville to Burke Medical Center in Waynesboro, Ga., for NES Healthcare Group, had been involved in a previous gear-up landing accident with the same plane April 11.

During the crash, the plane sustained substantial damage to the propeller and the fuselage.

Maintenance employees who worked on the airplane told authorities they had replaced the three-blade propeller with a two-blade propeller two days before the fatal crash.

The purpose of the July 18 flight was to take the airplane to 8,000 feet to see whether everything operated correctly before Wilson flew the plane back to North Carolina.