Monday, August 15, 2011

Southwest Florida International Airport (KRSW) seeks input for noise study. Fort Myers, Florida. (With Video)

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Southwest Floridians concerned about airplane noise have an outlet for their comments this week.

Southwest Florida International Airport is holding a series of public information meetings, and the first of four took place Monday night.

The workshops are part of RSW's noise study, which is conducted every 5 years.

The last study, done in 2006, found the airport didn't have a noise problem, but that was before flight patterns changed, and those who never heard air traffic over their homes were suddenly bombarded with airplane noise.

"The planes, especially in season, start coming in after 5 o'clock in the morning, and they come right over our house," says Anita Turner, a Fort Myers Beach resident.

Turner is one of dozens who showed up to the first workshop to learn more about airport activity and give input on what they're hearing overhead.

ESA Airports is the environmental firm conducting the study, and Vice President Michael Arnold says they plan to compile people's complaints and tackle the ones that can safely be addressed.

"We'll determine what the baseline noise condition is for the airport, what the condition is going to be in 5 years, and what the potential measures are to improve the noise situation around the airport," Arnold says, adding that those potential solutions still need approval from the FAA.

As the study progresses, Arnold says there will be more workshops in the Fall, and again in the Spring.

There are three more workshops scheduled this week around Lee County, and for those fed up with what's buzzing over their homes everyday, the opportunity to speak their minds is certainly welcome.

"I may not be happy with the situation, but at least I do understand it a little bit better now," Turner says.

The next three meetings will be held 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the following locations:

* Tuesday, August 16, 2011: Gateway Baptist Church, 13241 Griffin Drive, Fort Myers, FL
* Wednesday, August 17, 2011: Lee County Sports Complex/Hammond Stadium (meeting room is west of stadium), 14100 Ben C. Pratt/Six Mile Cypress Pkwy., Fort Myers, FL
* Thursday, August 18, 2011: Estero Community Park Recreation Center, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd., Estero, FL 

Watch Video:

Charlotte/Douglas International (KCLT) to sound proof homes near noisy airport. Charlotte, North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- New noise maps for Charlotte Douglas International Airport could be approved by the end of 2011.

It means the offer of free noise insulation for people living in high noise areas under current noise maps will be expiring.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport has sent letters to 161 homeowners in those heavy noise areas asking them to contact the airport or risk losing that benefit. So far, 29 people have responded and asked for noise insulation, airport officials said.

Officials say only people in the high noise areas who haven’t already taken advantage of noise insulation have been sent letters.

On Sheets Circle, it’s not the sound of the nearby highway, revving car mufflers, lawn mowers or kids playing that irritate neighbors.

It's the airplanes, one after another, taking off from Charlotte Douglas International Airport and flying over their homes.

Michelle Cherry has put up with it for years. First, she lived in a house on Sheets Circle without noise insulation.
"You can't talk, can't use your phone, and can’t hear the television or radio or anything unless you are blasting it until goes past,” Cherry said.

Now, she lives in a house on Sheets Circle with noise insulation. "It's quiet,” she said.

Her storm door is sound insulated. So too are her storm windows. It's because her house is in a high noise area under old airport noise maps.

But now, Charlotte Douglas is re-working its noise maps and waiting for FAA approval. The FAA says that approval could come by the end of the year.

Airport officials say combination of less noisy planes, engines and a third runway at Charlotte Douglas has shrunk areas impacted by loud airplane noise.

But until the FAA approves new noise maps, 161 homeowners are still eligible for airport sound insulation.

In a letter to those homeowners, the airport says "You will no longer be qualified to receive these benefits in the near future unless you contact us soon to exercise you rights."

If new maps put people outside the heavy noise lines they're under now, they won't be eligible for sound insulation.

"I think you should go ahead and do it,” Cherry said. She then repeated it because of the noise from a plane overhead.

Airport officials say while some folks gladly accept the free noise insulation, others don't want government interference with their homes.

Some simply don’t believe it’s free.

The money for noise insulation comes from the FAA. Airports can also choose to spend their own money.

Charlotte Douglas says it has provided sound reducing measures to more than 1,000 homes as part of its noise abatement program.

Homeowners with questions can contact the airport’s Community Programs office.

Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, Virginia Airports Contribute $28.8 Billion to Economy

Governor Bob McDonnell announced Monday results of the Virginia Airport System Economic Impact Study which details the contributions of the state’s 66 public-use airports to the Virginia economy.

The independent report reveals that in 2010 Virginia’s diverse system of airports:

- Produced $28.8 billion in overall economic activity

- Generated $11.1 billion in payroll

- Created 259,000 jobs, representing nearly 5.5 percent of the state’s total jobs

The Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV) commissioned the study to identify the economic benefits associated with the 66 public-use airports, which include nine commercial service and 57 general aviation airports serving communities throughout Virginia.

The study focused on the economic impacts created by the airports, the visitors who travel through the airports and the in-state companies that rely on the airports to support and conduct their business.

Locally, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO) created 1,267 jobs, generated $40.67 million in payroll and produced $128.68 million in economic activity.

“The Commonwealth’s system of airports not only provides a safe and efficient means of transportation for businesses, residents and visitors, it stimulates economic growth and development,” said Governor McDonnell. “We are proud of the economic contributions our airports make to our local communities and beyond.”

The report notes that the airport system contributes greatly to the state’s economic stability by supporting more than 250,000 jobs and generating billions in economic activity. According to the report, the state’s commercial service airports account for 71 percent of the total economic activity for Virginia. In addition, Virginia’s general aviation airports contribute $728 million in economic activity. The study also found that for every $1 spent at a Virginia airport an additional $3.48 in economic activity is generated.

On average, each visitor that flew into CHO spent a total of $466 while in town. The breakdown is as follows:

- Airport Lodging: $146

- Food & Beverage: $133

- Entertainment: $48

- Ground Transportation: $90

- Retail: $59

“This report makes it clear that continued and increased investment in our airport system is an effective way to grow the Virginia economy,” added the governor. “The airport system not only provides jobs and air transportation services, the system also contributes to enhanced quality of life and economic development.”


Plane Crash Kills 1 Of Alaska Village's Only 3 Teachers. N1673U, Inland Aviation, Cessna 207.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal investigator looking into a fatal plane crash in Alaska said Monday one of the four survivors told him the small aircraft struck the side of a mountain in fog so thick, it created whiteout conditions.

The single-engine Cessna was carrying all three teachers for the tiny Athabascan village of Anvik when it went down Saturday night in the wilderness, killing one of the teachers just days before classes were set to begin. The pilot also died.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson said he spoke Monday with survivor Don Evans, a new teacher along with his wife, Rosemarie, who also survived. Evans told Johnson that 20 minutes into the flight the plane ran into a cloud ceiling, then struck the mountain.

Anvik and the other six schools in the Iditarod School District are delaying the start of classes, which were to have started Wednesday.

Shock and grief has rippled through the district, which covers a region slightly larger than Ohio. Even though communities in the district are not linked by road, everyone knows practically everyone and many people are related. People travel by river, winter trails or small planes for gatherings and other activities. Students sometimes get to know teachers and each other through videoconferencing classes, district workers said.

Crash pilot was a 'reliable' volunteer. Wallup, near Horsham, Australia.

A volunteer pilot who died in a plane crash along with the teenage girl he was flying home from a medical appointment had bought a plane especially to help people in need.

Don Kernot, 69, had 40 years' experience as a pilot when his plane crashed in a paddock in Wallup, near Horsham, around 6.30pm (AEST) on Monday.

The grandfather had moved to the nearby town of Yarrawonga when he retired last year.

He began volunteering as a pilot with the Angel Flight charity earlier this year and told the Yarrawonga Chronicle newspaper that he bought his Piper Cherokee 180 especially for his charity work, because his Cessna 150 was too small and slow.

Angel Flight offers free flights to medical facilities, with volunteer pilots offering their time as well as their aircraft and the associated flight expenses.

Mr Kernot's work with Angel Flight cost him up to $500 a month.

The father of three began flying back in 1968.

Angel Flight founder and chief executive Bill Brinstow said Mr Kernot was an experienced pilot who had been involved in 24 missions for the charity and had "proved very reliable".

He said Mr Kernot had more than 850 hours in-command flight experience and had a rating to fly at night.

"There's something different about a volunteer being killed in this way," Mr Brinstow told AAP.

"Flights tend to take a day, they mostly write-off a day to do a flight so they're making an important donation."

Mr Brinstow said the flight had caused him to wonder whether he should have established the charity to begin with.

"I had moments last night of going, `gee, if I hadn't started Angel Flight', this wouldn't have happened," he said.

"It's a dreadful, dreadful disaster, what a shame.

"How dreadfully sad for the family and friends of the girl and also of the pilot."

Mr Kernot died at the scene of the crash along with his 15-year-old passenger, who was travelling home to Nhill after receiving regular treatment in Melbourne.

Mr Brinstow said the girl and her 43-year-old mother, the sole survivor of the crash, were on their 20th mission with Angel Flight and had been flying with the charity every three months for five years.

The girl's mother suffered head, chest and rib injuries and remained in a critical condition at the Royal Melbourne Hospital on Tuesday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Mr Brinstow said this was the first accident the charity had experienced since it was founded in 2003.

He said he found out about the tragedy about 9pm, when the girl's father called to say the flight had not arrived.

Neville Blyth, duty manager at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said a team of four aviation safety investigators would spend three to four days examining the crash scene.

They will conduct a preliminary site survey, examining the site and any evidence of impact marks, talking to witnesses and studying weather conditions at the time of the crash.

Emergency services were called to the scene after a local farmer reported seeing a low-flying plane, before hearing a crash.

"I heard the plane fly over probably about 6.15pm, flying low, heard the throttle, heard him throttle back a little bit... sounded fine, kept going, that's the last I heard and saw," a local man told ABC Radio.

The plane was found in a paddock off McLennans Road about 8pm.


Is Australia still home for Qantas?

It doesn’t get much more Australian than a bunch of kids at the beach - Bondi nippers. It’s a wonderfully nostalgic image, one that makes up feel warm, cosy and proud of our heritage.

This was the image used by Qantas in newspapers this morning in a major advertising blitz aimed at convincing the community that it still calls Australia home.

The airline needed to shore up support for the very controversial new strategy outlined this morning - one that will alienate just about every one of its constituents other than investors.

The plan to launch a low-cost carrier in Japan under the Jetstar banner and a full-service Asian airline hubbed out of another Asian location (thought to be Kuala Lumpur) demonstrates clearly that the airline of the future will be far more focused on the region north of Australia in terms of growth.

The aim of the exercise is clearly to lower costs and drive the company’s international Qantas business to profits. In the first instance bringing this part of the airline to break even will be achieved by cutting 1000 engineers, pilots and cabin staff.

This is a big fight for Qantas to pick with a couple of its major unions, which have already been threatening industrial action.

Qantas might eventually achieve its outcome but it might have to wear some severe industrial pain in the meantime.

The reality is that Qantas runs a high-cost airline - higher cost than most of its competitors.

It’s international market share has fallen to 18 per cent of outbound.

It needed a radical overhaul of everything from fleet to routes and lounges but there is already a backlash from Canberra at the prospect of employing staff for the two new airline ventures at lower wages than existing Qantas mainline staff.

Independent Nick Xenophon was out of the blocks early today saying, "If you are employed by an Australian airline, flying on an Australian registered plane, you should be employed under Australian standards."

He must have missed the penultimate paragraph of the Qantas advertisement this morning, "We will always be proud that the vast majority of our operations are based in Australia".

'New Qantas' to slash about 1000 jobs.

Qantas will cut about 1000 jobs from its 36,000-strong workforce as part of a five-year strategic plan that includes orders for new Airbus aircraft and closer alliances with other airlines, including British Airways.

Qantas today also unveiled plans to set up two new Asia-focused airlines, presenting it as a do-or-die shake-up of its international business, which also called for a $9 billion fleet upgrade.

Qantas, which has been reviewing its offshore operations to cut costs and unprofitable routes, said it would launch a new, premium Asian airline as well as a Japanese low-cost carrier, the latter jointly with Japan Airlines and Mitsubishi.

"To do nothing, or tinker around the edges, would only guarantee the end of Qantas International in our home Australian market," chief executive Alan Joyce told a news conference, noting that the international operation's cost base was about 20 per cent higher than its major rivals.

"That would be a tragedy," Mr Joyce added.

Investors cheered the announcement, sending Qantas shares up as much as 6.5 cents, or 4.3 per cent, to 159.5 cents in early trading.

"They really needed to do something. Globally the airline industry is also struggling and they have gone a long way here to address the issues they're facing," CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy said.

Unions, Senate

Unions are already indicating they will resist the company's plans. The carrier said the changes would affect about 1000 jobs but it would be "looking to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies wherever possible".

Australia's aircraft engineers union will consider taking legal action against Qantas over its plans to launch a premium airline based in Asia and a new budget airline in Japan, the union's chief said.

Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association Secretary Steve Purvinas said the airline's move could effectively breach the Qantas Sale Act, which called for the airline to keep the majority of its facilities in Australia when it was privatised.

"The move to open up a new premium airline in Asia is clearly a step by the airline to avoid its obligations under the Qantas Sale Act," Purvinas told Reuters.

The union's response may get some assistance in the Senate, with independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon announcing he would seek support for a bill to force the carrier to pay foreign-based crews at the same level and conditions as those based in Australia.

"If you are employed by an Australian airline, flying on an Australian registered plane, you should be employed under Australian standards," Senator Xenophon said.

Regional gateways

Qantas placed large advertisements in metropolitan newspapers today about a "new Qantas [which] will take on our global competitors" with a "state-of-the-art fleet".

The advertisements also trumpet that the airline will offer passengers "more choices through new gateways to more destinations around the world".

Qantas has previously unveiled a four-pronged strategy aimed at turning around its loss-making international operations, including boosting its presence in Asia and forming closer ties with other airlines.

Macquarie Equities analysts have emphasised that management will need to demonstrate the airline can "compete effectively" against rivals such as Singapore Airlines for passengers in Asia.

Mr Joyce said the airline had to make fundamental changes now to ensure the international business was profitable.

"We have established a five-year plan that has the objective, first, of returning Qantas International to profitability in the short term," he said.

At the end of the process, Qantas would participate in regional Asian opportunities and in the world, rather than being an Australian-based international airline, he said.

Mr Joyce confirmed to reporters that the airline is considering Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as a hub for a new premium airline.

The airline is due to announce the finer details of the strategic review of its premium international business on August 24.

Fleet changes

The fleet changes call for the acquisition of between 106 and 110 Airbus A320 aircraft, including planes for Jetstar Japan and the new premium Asia-based airline. Between 28 and 32 of these would be current-generation A320s and the rest the fuel-efficient, next-generation A320neo aircraft.

Qantas also delayed the delivery of its final six A380s for up to six years in a move aimed at conserving capital and bolstering its balance sheet.

It said it would also retire four Boeing 747s.

Qantas reaffirmed its earnings guidance.

Logan starts new security program. Logan International Airport (KBOS), Boston, Massachusetts.

NECN: Julie Loncich, Boston, Mass.) - Just when passengers had adapted to the latest round of security changes, officials at Boston's Logan Airport have added another layer.

"If it makes us safe, it makes us safe," says passenger Bill Vanderbur.

"It seems a little bit extreme and I don't understand why there's that push to be more extreme when the times don't seem to indicate the need for that," says passenger Jane from Oregon.

As part of a pilot program, for the next 60 days passengers in terminal A will be subjected to a series of questions before passing through metal detectors.

The questions aren't designed to be challenging. An agent might ask might ask you wh packed your bags or how long you'll be going for. It's not really the answer agents are after. Instead it's passenger behavior they'll be monitoring.

"Anybody who indicates just the typical nervousness wouldn't be considered any excessive signs of problem. So we're looking for people that exceed that baseline and if they exceed at with enough indicators, then we would subject them to additional screening," says George Naccara, TSA federal security director.

Longer, slower lines awaited passengers at Logan Monday, as passengers tried their best in their new roles as interviewees.

"I wouldn't mind being asked. I already got asked when I came here, so I didn't mind. But when it's like this, it takes more time so it's not very convenient," says passenger Lydia Wright.

"I'm a big ugly guy and they're going to ask me all kinds of ugly questions so if that makes it safe, that makes it safe," says Vanderbur.

"The next thing will be lie detector tests," says Jane.

If successful, the program will be tested at other airports across the United States.

Cessna 150, N69535: Sabetha Municipal Airport (K83), Kansas

 A Powhattan man received possible injuries Sunday afternoon after the airplane he was in crashed near the Sabetha Airport, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Ronald D. Wenger, 59, of Powhattan, was taken to the Sabetha Community Hospital shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday.

Alvin R. Wenger, 84, of Powhattan, was attempting to land a 1976 fixed-wing Cessna at the city of Sabetha airport when it crashed because of operator error, the patrol’s online crash log states.

Alvin Wenger wasn’t injured.

The crash happened just east of US-75 highway near Sabetha.

Diamond Star DA40, N316MA: Accident occurred August 15, 2011 in Hodgenville, Kentucky

NTSB Identification: ERA11LA454 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 15, 2011 in Hodgenville, KY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2012
Aircraft: DIAMOND AIRCRAFT IND INC DA 40, registration: N316MA
Injuries: 3 Serious.

The pilot initiated takeoff from an upsloping, 1,133-foot-long grass airstrip with two passengers onboard. The airplane struck 40-foot tall trees located 1,150 feet from the point where the takeoff ground roll was initiated. Subsequently, the airplane struck three power lines and impacted the ground. According to information from the closest airport with a weather recording system, the wind was most likely a headwind at the time of the accident. Calculations based on the performance data in the airplane’s flight manual indicated that a takeoff distance of about 1,570 feet was required to clear a 50-foot obstacle. A postaccident examination of the engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's inadequate takeoff performance planning, which resulted in collision with an obstacle during takeoff from a turf runway that was not long enough for the given conditions.


On August 15, 2011, about 1535 eastern daylight time, a Diamond DA 40, N316MA, was substantially damaged when it impacted a tree, powerlines, and the ground shortly after departure from an open field near Hodgenville, Kentucky. The certificated Airline Transport pilot (ATP) and two passengers were seriously injured. The airplane was registered to Honaker Aviation and the personal flight was operated under the provision of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for the flight destined for the Cambridge Municipal Airport (CDI), Cambridge, Ohio.

According to several eyewitnesses, the airplane impacted a powerline, turned approximately 90 degrees, and impacted the ground in a nose down attitude.


The pilot, age 31, held an ATP with a rating for airplane multiengine land. He also held a commercial pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane single-engine land, a certificated flight instructor certificate, and a first-class medical certificate issued May of 2011. According to the operator, the pilot had 4,335 total flight hours, of which 405 flight hours were in single-engine airplanes.


The four seat, low wing, fixed-gear airplane was manufactured in 2003. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-360-M1A, 180 horsepower engine, and equipped with a Hartzell propeller. The airplane had an annual inspection on July 1, 2011 and at that time had a reported 2,756 total hours.


The 1555 recorded weather observation at Godman Army Airfield (FTK), Fort Knox, Kentucky, located 25 nautical miles to the northwest of the accident location, included wind from 260 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 6,000 feet above ground level, temperature 26 degrees C, dew point 18 degrees C; barometric altimeter 29.96 inches of mercury.


According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the grass strip was 1,133 feet in length, oriented east and west, and had an approximate 2 percent upslope. The departure end of the grass strip had approximately 40-foot tall trees located about 40 feet from the departure end of the runway. There were also three powerlines similar in height to the surrounding trees, located 150 feet from the departure end of the runway. The airplane's left wing impacted a tree branch 1,150 feet from where the takeoff initiated. Approximately 3 feet of the left wing was located in a tree, 21 feet from the initial impact point. The airplane came to rest 1,386 feet from the approximate location where the takeoff roll had initiated and was facing back opposite the direction of travel. Marks indicated that the powerlines contacted the propeller, underside of the left wing, and the right side of the horizontal stabilizer. The right horizontal stabilizer tip was embedded in the upper section of the right wing root. Both left and right fuel tanks had been breached; however, there were indications of fuel on the ground around the accident location and both fuel tanks had a blue substance similar to 100LL aviation fuel present. The cockpit fuel selector valve indicated that the right fuel tank was selected.

According to fuel records, the airplane was fueled with 31.2 gallons of aviation fuel on the day of the accident.

On September 9, 2011 an examination of the airplane was conducted with inspectors from the FAA and a representative from the airplane manufacturer. Flight control continuity was confirmed to all flight control surfaces and the flap position was in the takeoff position. The engine was examined and all spark plugs were removed. The spark plugs appeared to be in good condition and the No. 3 spark plug lead was impact damaged. The magnetos were removed, tested, and both produced spark with no anomalies noted. The fuel distributor was removed and opened, no scoring or abnormalities were noted and the diaphragm appeared to be in good condition. The fuel supply line to the fuel servo was removed and a blue fluid consistent with 100LL aviation fuel was present. The fuel servo supply screen was free of debris.


A global positioning system (GPS) unit and an engine monitoring system were located in the wreckage; however, neither device recorded data for the accident flight.

The Diamond DA40 Airplane Flight Manual, Chapter 5 "Performance" includes, in part, the following notes "For take-off from dry, short-cut grass covered runways, the following corrections must be taken into account…. Grass up to 5 cm (2 in) long: 10% increase in take-off roll….An uphill slope of 2%...results in an increase in the take-off distance of approximately 10%. The effect on the take-off roll can be greater." The chapter also includes a caution note which states in part "…In any case the pilot must allow for the condition of the runway to ensure a safe take-off."

According to calculations derived from the aircraft weight of 2,360 pounds and weather conditions at the time of the accident, the total ground roll required was 1,065 feet and the total take-off distance required to clear a 50-foot obstacle was 1,570 feet.

At the time of this writing the pilot's medical condition precluded an interview or having him provide a written statement.

A shot of the cockpit area of the single engine plane that crashed on U.S. 31E south of Hodgenville injuring three people.

Witnesses say a small plane that clipped a tree and some wires before slamming into the ground in front of a LaRue County school was flying too low.

The pilot is in bad shape, but his wife and young son should be ok.

A couple times a year, from his Hodgenville home, Huel Vincent watches an airplane take off from the private, grassy strip next door.

"I always see them going this way, all the time and this one went this way," said Vincent.

Never, though, could Vincent have imagined he'd see what happened to the single-engine plane that left the runway around 3:30 Monday afternoon.

"All of a sudden, I saw the plane tilt on its side and I told my fiance to call 911 and I took off running down the hill," he said, who found a four-year-old child screaming. His mother was barely breathing and the pilot was slumped over and covered in blood. Vincent used a pocketknife to cut the pilot's seatbelt and laid Joshua Marksbury in the road.

According to Kentucky State Police, who were in scene minutes later, Marksbury is an experienced flier. But this time -

"He was too low, I don't think he was pulling back and able to get up in the air like you're supposed to," said Vincent.

Marksbury clipped a tree, then a guy wire, before crashing onto Highway 31-E and landing right in front of the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.

"One witness actually said if it weren't for the wires, it would have struck her vehicle," said Tpr. Norman Chaffins with the KSP. "We really weren't expecting this - a lot of ultra lights fly from this strip, but not a fixed-wing, single engine aircraft."

The trooper couldn't recall an accident there in nearly 20 years. But this one has left Marksbury in critical - his wife Jamie and son Jacob in fair condition and a community left to hope for the best.

Marksbury and his family are from Buffalo - just outside of Hodgenville. He worked for Honaker Aviation, the same company that built the plane he was flying.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police identify victim of fatal New Brunswick skydiving incident.

Darryl Deagle is seen in this undated photo.
The 34-year-old was found dead after skydiving in New Brunswick Saturday, August 13, 2011.

NOTRE-DAME, N.B. — RCMP have identified a man killed while skydiving Saturday afternoon in New Brunswick.

Police found the body of 34-year-old Darryl Deagle, of Notre-Dame in a field in that community, about 30 kilometres north of Moncton.

Police say the man was skydiving with a group of people at the time.

According to a police statement, an autopsy has revealed Deagle died of injuries consistent with a fall from a great height.

Greg MacBeth, a veteran skydiver and instructor with Skydive Moncton, says he inspected Deagle's parachute after the accident and found nothing wrong with it.

Police say while foul play is not suspected, they are continuing their investigation to determine exactly what happened.


Jetstar's Bali bride bungle prompts wave of fury

More Jetstar passengers have come forward with tales of woe after it was revealed a bride missed her own wedding after a flight was disrupted last week.

Several passengers have contacted Fairfax Media saying their Melbourne to Bangkok flight was delayed by 22 hours. The flight was scheduled the day before the cancelled Bali flight that scuppered a couple's wedding plans.

One passenger said they were told flight number JQ29, which was scheduled to leave at 2pm on Thursday, would be delayed by 90 minutes. They were then told four hours later that it would not depart until 11.30am the next day.

The passenger said the delay caused them to miss connecting flights and a boat for a full-moon party and they would be pursuing Jetstar over the cost of cancelled transport and accommodation.

"We were unbelievably disappointed that the delay from Jetstar caused us three days of further delay," the passenger said from Thailand.

"Words cannot even describe how horrible we were feeling at how tough it was to finally get here. We will never be flying with Jetstar international again, anywhere in the world. They just do not seem to have the right support processes in place."

Another passenger on the same flight said the bungled performance lead her to question Jetstar's safety.

She said about 200 people were processed by one Jetstar staff member after the flight was rescheduled for the following morning. Some passengers were stuck inside the airport for nine hours - and had to return the following morning when the flight finally departed.

"There must be concerns for safety with the airline being run in such a hap-hazard fashion," she said.

Comment has been sought from Jetstar.

On Friday, a couple flying to Bali for their wedding were due to leave Melbourne at 6.30pm with their guests. The wedding was to be held at midday on Saturday.

The bride, who wished to remain anonymous, was even wearing a white swimsuit in anticipation of the balmy weather, according to a fellow passenger.

The first sign that things were amiss came on Friday afternoon, when the airline texted passengers that flight JQ35 would be delayed.

When passengers seated in the business lounge made inquiries, they were told the pilot was sick and flying in a replacement would result in a two-hour delay.

Vivienne Golabek, 54, who was travelling with her husband, Danny, said: "At 8pm we finally got a call saying that we were boarding. As we were sitting on the flight there was an announcement about the substitute pilot that we were getting from Sydney to say that his luggage was lost and in his luggage was his passport."

Some time after 8.30pm, the passengers were told to disembark, given meal vouchers and told to return at 9.50pm. But when the passengers arrived at the gate, there were no staff. After 20 minutes, some staff arrived and at 10.30pm, four federal police officers were present.

"They were probably worried in case someone caused a scene," Mrs Golabek said.

A quiet voice then came over the intercom to say the flight would be cancelled due to road works on the tarmac at Denpasar Airport.

Passengers who lived more than 100 kilometres from the airport were given hotel vouchers, but others, including the Golabeks, had to fend for themselves.

Mrs Golabek, of Melbourne, had no connection to the wedding couple but said the bride was "very, very quiet, very subdued and very emotional. Her partner is also very quiet.

"There are a lot of people with young children who would not have got to their hotels before 12.30am. There was a total lack of communication and everyone feels they were lied to and some hope Jetstar goes under."

The flight left Melbourne at 9.30am on Saturday. Passengers were offered a $100 Jetstar voucher in a letter that apologised for "unforseen mechanical issues".

A Jetstar spokesman said: "There might have been some confused messages in what was a complicated situation. The captain was sick and the replacement from Sydney had to fly to Melbourne and realised his passport had been misplaced.

"There was a delay getting the passport by which stage there was work going on at the airport. We are sorry for the inconvenience and sympathise with everyone on the flight."

Pregnant airport worker admits receiving £10,000 of looted goods from riots.

An airport worker who is five months pregnant admitted receiving £10,000 worth of stolen guitars and hair extensions looted during last week’s riots.

Alicia Wilkinson's Croydon home was “jam packed with stolen goods” and amongst the haul were several expensive guitars and two plasma TVs.

Ms Wilkinson, who has no prior convictions, admitted receiving the goods. She was remanded in custody despite being five months pregnant.

Her boyfriend and his younger brother, an A level student working at Top Shop, were also remanded in custody.

The 22-year-old, who has lived in Croydon all her life and works at Gatwick Airport, lives with boyfriend Nicholas Cuffy, 20, who also admitted receiving stolen goods which belonged to the Richer Sounds shop in Croydon. The shop was looted in last Monday's violence.

Cuffy, a mechanic and manager in training with Volvo, told the court he bought the two TVs during a market in Vauxhall. But he could not explain how he came to possess the music equipment.
His younger brother Neil Cuffy, 19, who lives with the pair did not enter a plea during their hearing at the Croydon Magistrates’ Court.

The promising student finished his A Levels last year and is hoping to begin University this September. He is now working at Top Shop during his gap year. Robert Simpson, prosecuting, said police executed a warrant at the address on Sunday.

"They executed a warrant and Miss Wilkinson was home. The flat was literally packed with stolen guitars and music equipment.

"The police also found documentation linking Neil Cuffy to the address. All have given that address as their home to the court today and officers said there was no way one could have been unaware the house was full of stolen property.

"There is also a further charge pending in regards to the hair extensions that was found in the property.

"This is a more significant value of property then we have been dealing with earlier and as such there is a substantial risk that they might fail to appear."

Ms Wilkinson’s defence lawyer said his client had worked at Gatwick Airport for three years and been with Mr Cuffy for more than a year.

He pleaded with the judge to consider her condition and release Ms Wilkinson on bail.

He said: "You may not be able to tell by her sitting down but she is five months pregnant and given her condition we ask you to admit her to bail by electronic curfew."

Nicholas Cuffy’s defence barristers said his client had worked at Volvo for four year and had completed his mechanic’s apprenticeship.

"He has no assets to be running from the court and must stay in Croydon to continue his work."

While Rukhsana Hayat, representing younger brother Neil, said her client had never been in trouble with law and would not run.

But District Judge Robert Hunter said due to the serious nature of the charges he could not grant bail.

The trio will appear for a committal hearing on August 22 at 9.30am at Croydon Magistrates Court.

New planes, job losses in major Qantas restructure.

SYDNEY: Australian flag carrier Qantas on Tuesday announced a major restructuring that will see it buy up to 110 Airbus A320s and focus on Asia to stem financial losses and a decline in market share.

The bold new strategy for its international operations will include the airline slashing up 1,000 job cuts while deferring delivery of six Airbus A380 super-jumbo jets for up to six years.

Part of the business plan will also see Qantas, Japan Airlines and Mitsubishi Corp. launch a new low-cost domestic airline, Jetstar Japan, by the end of next year.

The carrier will also launch a new joint-venture premium airline based in Asia, with the location yet to be finalised as it sets its sights firmly on the growth region.

Qantas has been grappling with disasters and surging fuel costs that have hit its bottom line and chief executive Alan Joyce said change had to happen.

"Qantas International is a great airline with a proud history," he said.

"But it is suffering big financial losses and a substantial decline in market share. To reverse that decline we need fundamental change.

"Qantas International takes up enormous amounts of capital, and our cost base is around 20 per cent higher than that of our key competitors," he added.

"To do nothing, or tinker around the edges, is not an option."

The key objective of the new five-year plan was to return the airline's international operations to profitability, with a new focus on Asia, which Joyce said was the airline's most important region.

"As a nation we used to fly over or via Asia, on our way to Europe," he said.

"Now we fly to Asia, both for business and relaxation. And as Asian economies grow, the future will be about travel to and within Asia.

"Our customers want to do business in Asia, and so do we."

As part of the focus on Asia, Qantas will strengthen its relationship with British Airways, which will carry more passengers between Qantas' Asian destinations and Europe.

From early 2012, the Australian airline will still fly from Australia to Bangkok and Australia to Hong Kong, but British Airways will operate the Bangkok-London and Hong Kong-London sectors.

British Airways will no longer fly from Bangkok to Sydney, with Qantas picking up that route.

Qantas also announced its new gateway to South America would be the Chilean capital, Santiago, with a direct flight replacing its Sydney-Buenos Aires route.

To meet its objectives, Qantas will buy up to 110 Airbus A320 aircraft to
support fleet renewal and growth over the next 10 to 15 years, with 194 rights
and options on further purchases.

It will also defer delivery of six double-decker Airbus A380s for up to six years.

"Smart investment in aircraft is part of the Qantas Group's five-year plan to build a truly modern, customer-focused and competitive global airline business," it said.

Joyce said the purchases would position Qantas "very strongly in the competitive Asia-Pacific aviation market, while containing costs".

"The first of the A320s will be allocated to the new Jetstar Japan venture between the Qantas Group, Japan Airlines and Mitsubishi," he said.

The venture will be one-third owned by each company and commence by the end of 2012 with three new A320s, growing to 24 aircraft within its first few years.

It will initially fly domestically from Tokyo's Narita airport and Osaka, with plans to offer short-haul international services to key Asian cities.

A new premium joint-venture Qantas airline based in Asia is also core to Qantas' revised strategy. It will not be branded under the Qantas name but will use the airline's know-how. Eleven A320 aircraft will initially be used, Joyce said.

The market welcomed the news, with Qantas shares trading nearly five percent higher at A$1.60.

Spending cuts could ground rural air service.

WASHINGTON -- The federal program that for more than three decades has provided commercial air service to scores of remote communities across the country has routinely been in the bomb sights of Washington budget cutters -- and has always survived largely intact.

But the Essential Air Service (EAS) also has never faced the kind of fiscal pressures now roiling Washington.

Last year's election brought in a wave of lawmakers eager to slash any government program that seems faintly exorbitant or unnecessary. A bill the House passed earlier this year to reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration called for elimination of the program by 2014, but that's been stalled by Senate opposition.

More recently, a measure to keep the FAA fully operational while Congress negotiates a long-term reauthorization of the agency was held up for two weeks this summer as some lawmakers tried to kill EAS subsidies that provide service to more than a dozen airports. Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican who is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, referred to subsidies for those airports as "pork."

Given that backdrop, the $200 million a year program that serves about 150 communities and has grown 300 percent over the past decade is likely to be in the conversation when a special bipartisan committee of 12 lawmakers -- six each from the House and Senate -- begins meeting next month to examine ways of slicing as much as $1.5 trillion from the nation's debt over the next decade.

South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, whose state has two communities served by EAS-subsidized service, said the program may not glide through unharmed as it has in years past.

"It's like any other program. Nobody's going to get away from this thing scot-free," said Thune, who does not sit on the special committee but is a member of the GOP leadership in the Senate. "Everybody's going to have to bleed a little bit with all the fiscal decisions that are being made right now for the country."

The EAS program serves communities in more than 30 states and Puerto Rico. Excluding Alaska, which has the most communities served, subsidized flights carried more than 1.1 million passengers in 2009.

Supporters tout the subsidies as important lifelines to other communities, particularly in Alaska where planes are the only way to bring supplies to remote communities during harsh winters. Because of its unique situation, analysts believe Alaska would likely be spared even if the program were discontinued for everyone else.

Air service also is used as a marketing tool by local economic development officials hoping to lure prospective businesses.

"This is not an airline program. This is a program for communities so that they can maintain their connection to the global marketplace," said Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airline Association, which counts EAS carriers among its members.

Unlike skeptics who point to high costs and near-empty planes, Cohen said the latest tussle over the program suggests how important EAS is viewed in Congress because lawmakers were "willing to go to the mat" to protect it.

Essential Air Service began in 1978 after airline deregulation to make sure rural communities that weren't profitable to serve were not abandoned. It has continued despite the fact that subsidies were supposed to end after a decade.

The program is paid for in two ways: fees paid by aircraft that fly over, but do not take off from, or land in, the U.S; and money from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund that's primarily funded through ticket fees. Supporters like Cohen say that's one reason EAS shouldn't be considered for elimination.

The program pays airlines to fly into airports that they otherwise wouldn't because there aren't enough passengers to cover the cost. A community's eligibility generally is based on two factors: the per-passenger cost to subsidize air service, and a community's distance from the nearest hub airport. The farther away, the higher the subsidy can be.

But some of those subsidies have gotten the attention of lawmakers. When Congress was debating a temporary extension of the FAA last month, EAS became a sticking point.

As a condition of passage, House Republicans demanded that subsidies to three communities be grounded because of their cost: Ely, Nev. ($3,720 per passenger), Alamogordo/Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. ($1,563) and Glendive, Mont. ($1,358). They also objected to aid for another 10 -- Morgantown, W.Va.; Athens, Ga.; Jamestown, N.Y.; Bradford, Pa.; Hagerstown, Md.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Johnstown, Pa.; Franklin/Oil City, Pa.; Lancaster, Pa.; and Jackson, Tenn. -- because of their proximity (within 90 miles) to a larger airport.

The impasse lasted two weeks and left thousands of FAA employees and construction workers on aviation improvement projects without pay. Lawmakers finally compromised earlier this month by agreeing to a plan that withholds the subsidies but gives Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood the authority to continue them if he chooses.

A Department of Transportation spokesman said Thursday that LaHood had not taken any action yet though no airport has stopped its air service.

Leon Baker, manager of the Dawson Community Airport in Glendive, said air service was particularly important this past winter when blizzards made roads impassible and long trips dangerous. Passenger traffic was up on the two flights (one departing, one arriving) that serve Glendive most days, so much so that the subsidy per passenger has dropped to about $932 from the $1,358 cited by lawmakers.

So what would happen if the subsidy ended and air service disappeared?

"People would adapt, persevere and overcome," he said. " If you go down the road and the bridge is washed out, you just find another road to get around it."

Glendive is familiar with that scenario having lost air service for about a year before the current carrier came in.

"We made do," Baker said. "We didn't die."

China: Policies to keep flight delays to a minimum.

BEIJING - Many travelers in China can remember a time when they managed to get aboard a plane for their scheduled departure only to have to wait for hours before leaving because of troubles with "air traffic control".

If the Civil Aviation Administration has its way, such delays will be a thing of the past.

In response to complaints about late departures, the civil aviation authority announced over the weekend new policies aimed at getting planes to be more punctual.

Xia Xinghua, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration, told Xinhua that air traffic controllers are now required to ensure that planes take off within half an hour of when their cabin doors are closed.

Those workers are also to approve the departures of flights that have already been delayed for more than two hours, he said.

In the past, traffic controllers have tended to postpone the departures of flights that are already late so that other flights can be kept on time.

The new policies will have one important exception: They will not be in effect when the weather is bad.

When a large number of delays are brought on by bad weather or other complications, traffic controllers will work with the military, which controls airspace, to temporarily open up routes along which stranded planes can fly, he said.

Airline companies are also being encouraged to communicate more with air traffic controller and to arrange proper times for passengers to get on board.

Many critics contend airlines often move passengers onto an airplane to avoid paying the compensation they would owe if a delay occurred while the passengers were still in the airport.

While trying to ensure more flights leave on time, officials have not lowered the priority they place on passenger safety, said Li Jiaxiang, chief of the Civil Aviation Administration.

The policies are in part a result of the frequent flight delays that have been caused by thunderstorms this summer, raising the ire of many passengers.

Wan Changming, spokesman for the public security bureau at the Beijing Capital International Airport, said police officers have received 253 calls in June and July from people who want them to deal with disputes stemming from flight delays. That number is up 166 percent from what it was this past year.

Most of the disputes have concerned angry passengers who beat up airline workers, broke into airport parking aprons or refused to leave a plane.

Altogether, scheduled flights in China have become less punctual in recent times, despite the measures that have been taken to prevent that from happening. In 2010, the percentage of flights that left on time dropped below 80 percent for the first time, falling to 75 percent, according to the Civil Aviation Administration.

Airline sources who requested anonymity said it will be impossible to meet the goals of the new policies, largely because the traffic at big airports is heavy and departure times are hard to predict.

Many netizens also doubted the measures will actually help to prevent flight delays and speculated that the airlines will find a way around the authority's requirements.

Jing Lei, a university student, said the new policies could make it take longer to check in luggage and board planes.

"Passengers will be kept waiting as usual, except that they now will wait outside the plane instead of inside," she said.

Zou Jianjun, an associate professor with the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China, said he believes the new measures might lead to more disputes at airports.

"Taking off 30 minutes after the cabin doors are closed is a requirement in normal conditions," he said, urging passengers to be more rational. "But many passengers could misunderstand that and use it as an excuse to seek compensation when bad weather causes delays."

China Daily


Glendale, California: Man arrested for shining powerful laser at police helicopter.

A 30-year-old man was arrested Sunday night after he allegedly flashed a high-powered blue laser twice at a Glendale police helicopter, officials said.

Avo Garabedian was taken into custody about 10 p.m. at Calle La Primavera in Glendale on suspicion of discharging a laser at an occupied aircraft after the aircrew spotted him and he tried fleeing the scene, said Glendale Police Sgt. Steve Robertson, who oversees the air unit.

The incident was the first time that the aircrew has been struck with a one-watt, or 1,000 milliwatt, blue light laser, which is significantly more powerful than a green laser, Robertson said. Green lasers have been typically used in laser pointing incidents involving police helicopters.

“We look at this as an assault on our flight crew,” he said, adding that no one was injured in the incident.

The blue laser, he said, has been advertised as the most powerful handheld laser made and strong enough to burn through plastic.

The laser is even shown in video footage as being powerful enough to start a match, said Robertson, who also teaches aviation safety at USC.

“Just imagine what that could do to someone’s retinas,” he said.

The helicopter was flying east on the Foothill (210) Freeway, near the Glendale (2) Freeway, when they were suddenly struck by the laser, Robertson said.

The crew couldn’t initially find the source of the laser, so they continued flying east.

But after the second laser blast, they were able to pinpoint the source to a fire road about a mile and half away and east of the Glendale police shooting range.

Robertson said they saw Garabedian and another man running out of the fire road and enter a vehicle.

Patrol units were dispatched to the Camino San Rafael and Calle La Primavera area, where they stopped the pair.

Garabedian is the third arrest made this summer in connection with pointing lasers at a police helicopter.

The Federal Aviation Administration has recorded 14 laser-pointing incidents for aircraft at or near Bob Hope Airport so far this year, agency spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Pilots reported 17 laser-pointing incidents in 2010 for the same area, he added.

Still, Gregor said pilots are reporting fewer incidents this year in the Los Angeles region compared to the same time last year.

“It could be that the people who were arrested were responsible for a significant number of laser incidents,” Gregor said.

FAA shrunk buffer around La Guardia runway for bird-attracting trash facility.

Birdbrained federal bigwigs quietly shrunk the safety zone around a high-traffic La Guardia Airport runway to make way for a massive trash facility -- a bird magnet that will put airliners on a crash course with engine-clogging fowl, The Post has learned. 

By secretly reducing the zone, officials will allow flocks of garbage-grubbing birds to swarm within a half-mile of the runway -- setting up another possible "Miracle on the Hudson" that may not have such a happy ending. 

Canada geese were blamed for killing the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 and forcing Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger to land the jet in the Hudson River in January 2009.

Piper Cherokee: Pilot, teen killed in charity-flight tragedy. Western Victoria, Australia.

FATAL FLIGHT: The crash scene at Wallup, north of Horsham.
Photo: Wimmera Mail-Times

The ATSB will be investigating whether rain was a factor in the crash.

A 15-year-old girl who was killed in a light plane crash in western Victoria last night was returning home on a charity flight after being treated for a serious medical condition at a Melbourne hospital.

The teenager and the 69-year-old pilot were killed instantly when their plane went down in bad weather in a paddock in Wallup, about 40 kilometres north of Horsham, about 6.30pm.

The girl’s 43-year-old mother, who was also on the flight, is in a critical condition in the Royal Melbourne Hospital today with head, chest and rib injuries.

The Piper Cherokee aircraft was chartered by Angel Flight, a charity that co-ordinates non-emergency flights to help country people access medical services.

Angel Flight CEO Bill Bristow said the girl and her mother, from Nhill, about 60 kilometres west of Wallup, had made 20 trips with Angel Flight over the past five years for the girl to receive treatment at a Melbourne Hospital.

He said the flight took off at Essendon Airport as scheduled yesterday afternoon, but the girl’s father phoned Angel Flight shortly about 6.30pm to say the flight had not arrived in Wallup.

‘‘He then started to chase it up through the various aviation bodies, Air Services Australia, who handle the air traffic control information,’’ Mr Bristow said.

A farmer called triple-0 about 6.30pm after seeing a low flying plane and then hearing a loud crash.

‘‘I heard the plane fly over probably about 6.15pm, flying low, heard the throttle, heard him throttle back a little bit... sounded fine, kept going, that’s the last I heard and saw,’’ a local man told ABC Radio.

Emergency services were sent to look for any signs of wreckage and found the plane in a paddock off McLennans Road about two hours later.

Mr Bristow said the pilot, from Yarrawonga, was volunteering his services, as did all the pilots for Angel Flight.

He considered the pilot to be ‘‘quite senior’’ with many hours of experience in the air.

‘‘He had over 800 hours of command experience, which in light aircraft terms represents 10-15 years of experience,’’ Mr Bristow said.

‘‘He had a night rating for night flight. All his medicals and his tests were up to date. What happened of course I have no idea, nor does anyone else. You just have to wait for investigators to look into it. That can be months.’’

He said he could not divulge what medical condition the girl was suffering, but said a social worker would probably have referred her to Angel Flight to cover the vast distances to receive medical treatment.

‘‘All our patients are financially doing it tough, as well as cosmetically in that they face daunting distances for travel so they are largely under the wing of a social worker,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m of course very hopeful that this doesn’t in any way affect rural people needing our help to ring and ask for it. We’ve done over 11,000 flights without incident but this comes as a body blow.’’

Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators will this morning examine the wreckage to determine the cause of the crash.

Neville Blyth, duty manager at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said a team of four aviation safety investigators were expected to arrive on the scene about midday on Tuesday to take over the investigation from police.

They will conduct a preliminary site survey, examining the site and any evidence of impact marks, he said.

‘‘They will also be talking to witnesses, both eye witnesses and audio witnesses, that heard an aircraft flying low or a bang,’’ Mr Blyth said.

‘‘We’ll also be interested in weather conditions at the time, if it was raining heavily, winds at the time, all the things that have an impact on aviation.’’

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Stewart said winds in the area at the time of the crash had not been excessive. He said there had been rain in the area earlier on Monday afternoon which would have made the air moist, with low cloud and the possibility of light showers.

A charity flight transporting a sick girl back from hospital turned to tragedy last night when the plane crashed in bad weather in Victoria's west, killing the girl and the aircraft's pilot.

The plane, which came down in a paddock at Wallup near Horsham at 6:30pm, was chartered by the Angel Flight charity which helps transfer patients from regional areas for treatment.

The 15-year-old girl from Nhill and the 69-year-old volunteer pilot from Yarrawonga died in the crash.

A 43-year-old woman, who is believed to be the girl's mother, is in a critical condition in hospital in Melbourne.

Angel Flight chairman Bill Bristow said the girl was a patient on her way from Essendon to Nhill and described the crash as a "terrible tragedy".

"It was her 24th flight back and forth to Essendon," he said.

"The girl's father rang Angel Flight to say that the flight had not arrived, it was late, and did we know anything.

"Then we talked to air traffic control who advised us that there had been a problem.

"It's hard to measure the size of a tragedy like this, the ripple effects of the death on the family and friends of the passengers in the aircraft, and of course not to forget the family and friends of the pilot of the aircraft."

Mr Bristow said the pilot was experienced and had more than 800 hours flying time under his belt.

"He's flown I think it's 25 missions for Angel Flight, so a very experienced pilot."

It took emergency crews about an hour-and-a-half to find the wreck, after a local reported seeing a low-flying plane and heard a loud bang.

Locals say it was raining heavily at the time of the crash and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's (ATSB) Neville Blyth says the weather will be one factor considered by crash investigators.

"We'll obviously be looking at the weather and the meteorological conditions that might have been present last night, just to see if there have been any contributing factors in that regard," he said.

"There is a wet spell that's been moving through the area, so it's going to make it a little bit difficult for the investigation teams.

"The physical condition of the aircraft, the pilot's preparedness, the weather conditions at the time, all of that type of stuff [will be considered]."

Local resident Rob McRae says he heard the plane fly over his house.

"Heard a plane fly over, probably about 6:15pm, fairly low, heard him throttle back a little bit and then he headed towards Horsham from our place," he said.

"Sounded fine, kept going. That's the last I heard and saw."