Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Young pilots told to promote professionalism - Pakistan Air Force

PESHAWAR, Oct 12: Governor Barrister Masood Kausar has advised the young pilot officers and aviation cadets of Pakistan Air Force to make constant endeavours for promoting their professional expertise. “The PAF will continue to provide you ample opportunities to achieve the objective of professionalism and achieving the highest standard of military leadership,” the governor said while speaking as chief guest at the convocation of graduating cadets of the 127th general duty pilot and 85th air defence courses at the PAF Academy, Risalpur, on Wednesday.

According to a handout here, the governor also asked the graduating officers to broaden their mental horizon through extensive reading and intellectual pursuits. “Intellect is the power of mind, which enables one to be inspiring and creative in evolving new and better principles and practices,” he remarked.

According to the statement, the coveted Asghar Hussain Trophy went to pilot officer Mohammad Maaz Abdullah for achieving overall distinctive position. He also won the trophy for excelling in Aero-Sciences subjects whereas Sergeant Khalid Shams clinched the trophy for being adjudged as the best aviation cadet of the 85th Air Defence Course.

Pilot officer Mohammad Abdullah Muzzammil excelled in humanities subjects and got the trophy. Deputy chief of air staff (training), vice chancellor of the University of Peshawar and faculty members of the academy were also present on this occasion.

The governor said that over the years the PAF had maintained the traditions of courage, enterprise and high professionalism. He exhorted the young officers to put in their best to add new chapters of bravery and patriotism to this saga of valour of the force.

“I am sure that as true Muslims you will spare no sacrifice in defending the country in all circumstances,” he said.

Mr Kausar asked the young aviators to acquire knowledge and enable themselves to handle the latest technologies with confidence.

Cessna 182: Fuel exhaustion, forced landing in field behind a Walmart. No injuries reported. Skiatook, Oklahoma.

SKIATOOK — A single-engine airplane crashed Wednesday evening, but the pilot was not hurt, authorities said.

Just before 7 p.m., a Cessna 182 ran out of fuel and the pilot made a forced landing in a field behind a Walmart, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

The pilot was flying alone and not hurt, but the plane did sustain damage. Investigators were sent to the scene Wednesday night, but the extent of the damage was not yet known, Lunsford said.

The airplane — built in 1957 — is registered to Skydive Airtight, according to FAA records. Skydive Airtight is a skydiving company based in Skiatook.

A person who answered the phone there declined to comment.

Tires on Delta flight deflate upon landing. Salt Lake City International Airport (KSLC), Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Maintenance teams are examining a Delta Airlines plane after two of its tires deflated upon landing in Salt Lake City.

Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin says the flight from Las Vegas landed at about 6:51 p.m. Wednesday with 148 passengers and five crew members aboard.

Laughlin calls the incident "uneventful," and says no injuries were reported when two of the plane's left tires deflated. She says the plane briefly stopped on the runway before taxiing to another location where passengers got off and took a bus to the terminal.

David Korzep, superintendent of airport operations, says hot brakes caused the front tires to blow after the plane had landed.

Firefighters responded to the scene, but Laughlin says there was no fire. The plane was not scheduled for another flight Wednesday.

Business jet damages two small planes on takeoff. Mc Clellan-Palomar Airport (KCRQ), Carlsbad, California,

Investigators are trying to determine how two small airplanes were damaged at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad on Monday afternoon when a larger business jet began taxiing for takeoff, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The twin-engine Gulfstream 550 business jet blew over the two single-engine Cessna 152s as it began its departure about 2:45 p.m., said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA.

"At this point, we're only investigating to see how this incident occurred and why the exhaust from a large business jet blew over the two smaller planes," Gregor said.

The Cessnas were parked and unoccupied on the western flight ramp area northeast of the air traffic control tower when the incident occurred, according to the FAA. Both Cessnas were significantly damaged, Gregor said.

The Gulfstream is registered to APC Aviation out of Houston, Texas. The two Cessnas are registered to Pinnacle Aviation Services, a flight school that operates out of the airport.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.

Machias Valley Airport (KMVM), Maine: Selectmen meeting

MACHIAS, Maine — Selectmen held a short meeting Wednesday night, dealing with several road issues and setting the date for a special town meeting.

The meeting will be held to transfer funds from one road account — Center Street reconstruction — to Old County Road and other road projects. The Center Street project cost was lower than expected which enabled the board to suggest completing other road projects.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the town office meeting room.

Town Manager Chris Loughlin also presented the board with a recent report by Jacobs Associates of Boston, the town’s consultants on the municipal airport, which suggested $66,000 worth of immediate remediation such as tree clearing, obstruction removal and renewal of existing state permits. This work would enable the airport to meet federal guidelines, Loughlin said.

The report also recommended a total of $225,000 in improvements between now and the year 2022. Loughlin said these included repairs to the runway, which has substantial cracks; paving of the apron; and a short extension of the runway to 3,200 feet. Loughlin said that runways less than 3,200 feet present insurance difficulties for pilots.

The report also suggests adding gasoline service back to the airport, which has been disabled for about 15 years. “By returning fuel to the airport, we can increase the traffic,” Loughlin said. He said the board needs to determine what direction to take on improvements and begin an assessment process.

He said William Richardson of Jacobs Associates is willing to come to Maine to further explain the recommendations in the report.

Gulfstream business soaring on international orders

Gulfstream Aerospace President Larry Flynn, speaking at the National Business Aviation Association meeting in Las Vegas, said international orders have sustained the Savannah-based business jet manufacturer, which has continued to grow in a challenging market.

“Businesses that were once regional are now global, and their leaders need long-range transportation,” Flynn said this week. “They recognize Gulfstream as the leader in technology, performance and product support, and that has translated into strong sales.”

Flynn became president of Gulfstream last month, succeeding Joe Lombardo, who continues to oversee both Gulfstream and Jet Aviation as executive vice president of aerospace for General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), Gulfstream’s parent company.

Gulfstream has an $18 billion order backlog, which grew by more than $400 million in the second quarter alone.

While the delivery window for most Gulfstream business jets is 18 to 24 months, orders for the company’s flagship G650 — one of two new products expected to enter service next year — extend into 2017.

“Our focus at the moment is to complete the two certification programs for the G650 and the G280,” Flynn said. “We’re on track to do that and deliver on time as promised.

“We’re also intently focused on ensuring a smooth entry-into-service for both products and are positioning people and services accordingly.”

Gulfstream’s Product Support group which continues to receive category-leading marks by industry publications, is growing to keep pace with the fleet, Flynn said, with new or expanded facilities planned or completed in Savannah, Westfield, Mass.; Luton, England; Madrid and Singapore, among others.

“We are acutely aware that superior service and support sells airplanes, and we’ll continue to devote all the resources necessary to lead in this area,” he said.

Gulfstream is on track in 2011 for green deliveries of 80 large-cabin models and 15 to 20 mid-cabin models. The company also plans to make green deliveries this year of 10 to 12 of the new G650 ultra-long-range jet.

A green aircraft is one that has completed the initial phase of manufacturing and has received a certificate of airworthiness from the Federal Aviation Administration. It’s called “green” because it’s actually painted with a green protective coating that is washed off before the aircraft gets its final coat of paint.

Gulfstream has more than 11,500 employees worldwide. Growth has come in all sectors of the company, but most notably in production, engineering and product support. International markets are the key drivers of that growth, Flynn said, adding that 70 percent of orders placed in the past year were from outside North America.

Less than a year ago, Gulfstream announced a $500 million, seven-year facilities expansion program in Savannah.

“We said then we would add 1,000 jobs over the period,” Flynn said.

“We’ve already added more than 1,300.”

Private jets becoming plausible flight option

Flying in a private jet may not be as far out of reach as you think. Though it's still not cheap, prices are rivaling first- and business-class tickets -- and even, occasionally, coach -- thanks in part to new websites, social media and a greater willingness by charter companies and private jet brokers to negotiate in an era of high fuel prices.

Here's how you can land a seat on a private plane for less.

Search for last-minute, one-way discounts: Air Partner, a charter broker based in London, introduced last year to help fill empty legs (when the aircraft flies without passengers back to base or between jobs) at discounted rates.

Travelers can view which flights are available online but must call for pricing. Other brokers and private jet operators like JetSuite also make empty legs available to individual travelers, so it can pay to shop around.

"The dirty little secret of the industry is, about a third of our flights are empty," said Alex Wilcox, chief executive of JetSuite, based in Southern California, which recently began posting last-minute $499 deals on Facebook for empty legs on the company's four-passenger Embraer Phenom aircraft. "Say a Gulfstream pulls into San Francisco and is going back to Vegas empty," he said. "A few years ago, if you were to say, 'If I give you $500 will you take me and my family?' you would get laughed at."

But the recession changed such attitudes, Wilcox said. Now, he said, more companies are saying, "Sure, it'll help pay for the gas."

But empty-leg flights involve a bit of a gamble. If the private jet owner's arrangements change (say, the client that the owner was planning to meet in Miami cancels at the last minute), you're out of luck.

You also need to be flexible to get the best deals. Last month, Mike Lewis, chief executive of a property-management company in Los Angeles, was able to score one of JetSuite's $499 Facebook deals for himself and his girlfriend for a last-minute empty leg on a four-passenger plane to Tucson, Ariz. It was just six hours between the time he booked the flight and takeoff.

Still, he said, the deal was so good -- at roughly the same cost as he paid to fly back in coach on US Airways -- without connections, security hassles and time lost waiting around at the airport, that he hopes to snap up similar bargains in the future.

"For $500, it's a no-brainer to me," he said.

Split the cost through social media: For travelers who can't find an empty leg to meet their schedule, social media is opening up new avenues to private jet travel.

Last month, for example, JetSuite started SuiteShare through Facebook ( The service allows a customer to charter a four-passenger aircraft and then offer seats that won't be needed. Each time another customer joins your flight, the price everyone pays decreases, though JetSuite makes a little more.

Here's how it works: A four-passenger jet from Oakland, Calif., to Las Vegas starts at $1,500. If a second person joins, you pay $750. If a third joins, you pay $375. While that may not be cheaper than simply buying a one-way first-class ticket from San Francisco (such seats were going for about $285, based on a recent online search), if a fourth person joins, the person who booked the charter gets to fly free. The other passengers pay $450, $600 and $750 respectively, based on booking order, and JetSuite makes an additional $300 on the deal.

Social Flights, a new collective buying company in Smyrna, Tenn., started an online service in February that uses social networking to help charter companies fill seats and travelers lower their costs by sharing a plane. Already, 57 private plane operators have signed on, offering flights on 400 aircraft.

Travelers register with the site,, and post messages to online groups called Travel Tribes, which are based in the same city or share similar interests -- for example, football fans who want to follow their team to the Super Bowl.

If enough people want to travel to the same place at the same time, each passenger simply pays the cost of his seat. This year, for example, Social Flights sent 91 Mississippi State fans on three 30-passenger turboprop planes from Jackson, Miss., to Jacksonville, Fla., for the Gator Bowl for $395 each, round trip -- roughly $95 less than the going rate at the time for a coach seat on a commercial flight, according to the company.

SocialFlights also posts one-way empty legs. A recent search pulled up open seats from $200 between Nashville and Knoxville, Tenn., and $300 between Teterboro, N.J., and Big Flats, N.Y.

Use a broker to find the best deal: If you don't have the time or inclination to hunt online for empty legs or to organize your own charter flight, you can hire a broker to do it for you. For a commission, independent private jet brokers can act as your agent to solicit bids for the flight you want from jet companies they have vetted and negotiate the best rate.

They can also help walk you through the fine print of the contract. "If something happens with your child or your health and you can't fly, you need to have a reputable broker who can be your advocate," said Chet Dudzik Jr., president of JetWay Private Air. "If that broker or agent has a good relationship with the charter company, the chances are good you can cancel."

In addition, he said, "We assume every aircraft won't take off, so we have a recovery aircraft in place," and no one is left on the ramp.

Even if flying private costs more than you'd like to pay, when you factor in all the hassles of commercial travel that you can avoid -- from long security lines to overcrowded airplanes to long drives to major airports -- some travelers may find the splurge worth it.
"Once you've had a taste of it, it's really hard to go back to commercial," said Katrina Garnett, founder of, a high-end travel site that partners with Lufthansa Private Jet, a brand of the European carrier, for connecting flights in Europe. Being able to simply show up at the airport at the time you want, "you never have that feeling like you're part of the cattle," she said.

Check safety ratings: Like commercial carriers, charter operators must follow Federal Aviation Regulations. Still, it is a good idea to check the safety record of the private jet company you are considering flying on. While the number of private charters involved in crashes has dropped in recent years, accidents do occur more frequently outside the commercial mainstream of scheduled flights.

To ensure that the plane and crew you're getting are up to snuff, ask for an Argus TripCHEQ or Wyvern PASS report, offered by the two largest private jet safety firms -- Argus International and Wyvern Consulting Ltd. -- which audit charter companies and conduct background checks on crew members, making sure pilots have the requisite number of flying hours for the specific type of aircraft.

Either your broker or the private jet company itself (if you're booking directly) should be able to provide this.

Annual migration of whooping cranes to Florida begins

CITRUS COUNTY --  The annual migration of whooping cranes to Florida has begun.

This year, a flock of 10 are headed from Wisconsin to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge. As usual, they'll be following an ultralight plane.

It's day four of the migration - but the cranes were grounded because of fog.

Part of the point of this trip each year is to help re-establish the crane population

Qantas pilots get paid more than the prime minister

Qantas pilots are escalating their industrial campaign and planning a shareholder revolt even though senior captains earn more than the prime minister.

Figures obtained by News Ltd show the most senior pilots earn up to $536,000 a year. This is more than Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s base salary of $366,000.

Last year, some pilots received average pay rises of up to 17 per cent or $45,000, News Ltd said.

The leaked figures also showed that even a second officer on an A330 gets almost $150,000, on average, and starts on more than $110,000 a year.

The revelations come as the Australian and International Pilots Association plans a shareholder revolt against management decisions.

The union’s president, Captain Barry Jackson, said the pay of Qantas pilots was around the middle of international pay rates and was far less than chief executive Alan Joyce’s $5 million salary.

Qantas faces more strife on Thursday from baggage handlers and cabin crew.

Transport Workers’ Union members are striking in two-hour blocks at capital city and regional airports, beginning in Adelaide at 5am (CDT) and finishing at 8pm (AEDT) in Canberra as MPs try to leave the national capital.

Retired Delta pilots to file appeal over lost pension benefits

A group of thousands of retired Delta Air Lines pilots said it plans to file an appeal with the federal pension insurer over $600 million in pension benefits, a step demonstrating the lingering effects of cuts Delta made during its bankruptcy filing over five years ago.

The Delta Pilot's Pension Preservation Organization said its Washington-based law firm Miller & Chevalier plans to file the administrative appeal Oct. 28.

The appeal will challenge rules used by the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. when it calculated benefits for more than 3,500 retired Delta pilots, benefits that the pilots group contends were "artificially reduced" by about $600 million, or about $1,200 per month per pilots.

The PBGC said in a written statement that it stands by its work.

"Congress has put limits on the benefits we can pay, so some retirees see reduced benefits," according to the statement from PBGC's deputy director of communications Jeffrey Speicher. "PBGC calculates those benefits to make sure retirees get every dollar the law allows. Our process has been tested many times in the courts, who agree it is fair and equitable."

During a raft airline bankruptcies and pension terminations, Delta terminated its pilot pension plan in 2006 during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leading the PBGC to take over the pension plan assets.

The Delta Pilot's Pension Preservation Organization said hundreds of retired Delta pilots are still waiting for the PBGC to complete its final calculations of benefits, particularly for pilots who are divorced and make for more complicated cases. Those pilots have been receiving estimated benefits from the PBGC. The pilots group had been waiting for the final calculations before filing the appeal.

Delta Pilot's Pension Preservation Organization chairman Will Buergey contended in a written statement that the terminated pilot pension plan "had sufficient funds to pay these benefits."

Buergey said the organization has collected information from thousands of retired pilots and has been working for the last five years "to see the pilots get their pensions that they earned over a 30-year career with Delta."

Augusta Regional closer to completing expansion to accommodate surge of passengers

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Socata TBM700N (TBM850), N37SV: Accident occurred October 12, 2011 in Hollywood, Florida

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA023 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 12, 2011 in Hollywood, FL
Aircraft: SOCATA TBM 700, registration: N37SV
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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 October 12, 2011, about 1334 eastern daylight time, a Socata TBM 700, N37SV, registered to and operated by SV Leasing Company of Florida, sustained substantial damage during a forced on a highway near Hollywood, Florida, following total loss of engine power. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 maintenance test flight from North Perry Airport (HWO), Hollywood, Florida. The certificated airline transport pilot and pilot-rated other crewmember sustained minor injuries. There were no ground injuries. The flight originated from HWO about 1216.

The purpose of the flight was a maintenance test flight following a 600 hour inspection. A mechanic involved with a post maintenance engine run reported that after the conclusion of the engine run, the right fuel tank reading was 51 gallons. No fuel was added to the airplane until the day of the accident.

According to the right seat occupant, prior to the flight he applied the aircraft’s battery power and noted the right fuel quantity was 108 gallons, and the left fuel quantity was 36 gallons. He added 72 gallons of fuel to the left fuel tank but did not add any fuel to the right fuel tank.

The PIC reported that because of the fuel load on-board, he did not visually check the fuel tanks because he would be unable see the fuel level. By cockpit indication, the left tank had approximately 104 gallons and the right tank had approximately 105 gallons. The flight departed HWO, but he could not recall the fuel selector position beneath the thrust lever quadrant. He further stated that the fuel selector switch on the overhead panel was in the “auto” position.

After takeoff, the flight climbed to flight level (FL) 280, which took approximately 15 minutes. After leveling off at that altitude they received a low fuel warning for the right fuel tank. The warning lasted approximately 10 seconds then went out. He confirmed that the fuel selector automatically shifted to the left tank. He also reported performing a hands off flight control stability test; no discrepancies were noted and the airplane was flying straight and level.

At the end of the cruise portion at FL280, they had a fuel imbalance indication indicating the right side had a greater quantity of fuel that the left fuel tank. He shifted to supply fuel from the left fuel tank. He then initiated a quick descent to FL100 and during the descent accelerated to Vmo to test the aural warning horn. After leveling off at FL100, they had a low fuel warning annunciation from the right fuel tank which lasted approximately 10 seconds and then went out. He confirmed that the fuel selector automatically switched to the left tank and continued the flight. A short time later while flying at FL100, he received another fuel imbalance with the right fuel tank indicating a greater amount. He shifted to supply fuel from the left fuel tank.

When asked to clarify the time between fuel imbalance annunciations he estimated there was maybe 20 minutes. He also said that having an imbalance annunciation is not abnormal.

The flight proceeded to the Opa Locka Airport, where he executed an ILS approach which terminated with a low approach. The airplane then proceeded to HWO, and while on the downwind leg for runway 27L, he had the 3rd fuel imbalance annunciation. He believed the left fuel quantity was 60 gallons and the right was 75 gallons. Because he knew he was close to land, he moved the fuel selector switch on the overhead panel to the manual position, and then switched the fuel selector below the thrust quadrant from the left to right tank position. The flight turned base and final, and while on final approach, for runway 27L, air traffic control (ATC) asked him to maintain minimum speed for spacing. He slowed to 85 knots, extended flaps to the landing position, and lowered the landing gear.

While on final approach for runway 27L, the red “Fuel Press” warning light illuminated and the engine lost power. He told the right seat occupant to reposition the auxiliary fuel pump from the auto to the on position, and at the same time moved the fuel selector below the trust lever quadrant to the left tank position. He verified power loss by advancing the thrust lever forward, but there was no engine response.

He attempted an airstart, and moved the manual override lever to on, then moved the condition lever to the cutoff position. He verified that he had total loss of engine power, placed the starter switch to the on position, and though he did not check the Ng, moved the condition lever to the lo/idle position and high idle. He felt a sensation that the engine was starting, but did not accelerate in 2 seconds. Because the flight was low (100 to 150 feet) above ground level, he saw a highway, but with traffic on the highway elected to retract the landing gear.

The co-pilot reported that the airplane was landed in a southerly direction in the northbound lanes of the Florida Turnpike.

The PIC stated that he stalled the airplane before touchdown to avoid cars ahead. After impact, he turned off the fuel selector and pulled down the crash bar which turned off the airplane’s electrical system.

A plane crashes on the Florida Turnpike in Hollywood, Fla., colliding with the median and breaking apart. It was on final approach to a nearby airport. Two people on board were taken to the hospital.

Piper PA-18-180, N6774B: Federal investigators can't find reason airplane engine died during deer-counting flight. Accident occurred January 02, 2011 in Shoshoni, Wyoming.

RIVERTON, Wyo. — Aviation investigators say they couldn't determine why a small plane's engine died during a deer-counting flight near Shoshoni in January, forcing an emergency landing.

A report released Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board says the plane had fuel and no problems were found in the engine or other systems.

The flight was for the U.S. Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. A USDA pilot and another USDA employee were aboard the single-engine plane. Neither was hurt.

Their names haven't been released.

The landing gear, propeller and a wing strut were damaged.
NTSB Identification: WPR11TA087
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Sunday, January 02, 2011 in Shoshoni, WY
Aircraft: PIPER PA-18-180, registration: N6774B
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.
On January 2, 2011, about 1315 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-18-180, N6774B, experienced a gear collapse during a forced landing about 10 miles southeast of Shoshoni, Wyoming. The commercial pilot and his passenger were not injured, but the airplane, which was owned by STP Aviation LLP, and operated by the United States Department of Agriculture, sustained substantial damage. The local Public Use wildlife aerial observation flight, which departed Riverton Municipal Airport, Riverton, Wyoming, about four hours prior to the accident, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan had been filed.
Full narrative available

AirTran adopts Southwest policy for large passengers

Southwest Airlines will bring its notorious policy for large passengers to AirTran Airways starting in March.

The new policy will require those passengers -- whom Southwest delicately calls "customers of size" -- to buy a second seat if they are flying in AirTran's coach section.

As of March 1, AirTran will require the purchase of more than one seat for a passenger who "in the carrier's sole discretion, encroaches on an adjacent seat and/or is unable to sit in a single seat with the armrest lowered," according to the AirTran contract of carriage.

Before this, AirTran has not had a stated "customer of size" policy, but AirTran employees at the gate typically offer to sell a second seat or an upgrade for a fee, Southwest said.

It is an AirTran policy change that's coming as Southwest integrates the airline.

According to, AirTran's seats are 18 inches wide in coach class and 22 inches wide in business class.

Southwest does not have business class and has open seating.

"Customers of size," according to Southwest, are those "who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat[s]. ... The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats."

The Southwest policy on its website says if the flight does not oversell, passengers may contact Southwest for a refund of the cost of additional seating after travel. AirTran will have the same refund policy.

Southwest estimates the policy affects "far less" than one-half of 1 percent of its customers.

The frequently asked questions section of Southwest's website dedicated to the contentious "customer of size" issue notes that Southwest "became more vigilant regarding the additional purchase when we began seeing an increase in the number of valid complaints from passengers who traveled without full access to their seat because a large customer infringed upon the adjacent seating space."

"We could no longer ignore complaints from customers who traveled without full access to their seat due to encroachment by a large seatmate whose body extended into the neighboring seat. These customers had uncomfortable [and sometimes painful] travel experiences," Southwest said.

It further notes that having broad shoulders would not necessarily require the purchase of a second seat. "The upper body can be adjusted, but the portion of the body in the actual seating and armrest area doesn't have this flexibility."

Separately, AirTran will maintain its fees for first and second checked bags, but excess baggage fees on AirTran will increase from $50 to $110 per item each way effective April 10, among other changes.

Connecticut : Burlington Officials Hear From Residents On Helicopter Launch

After hearing a final round of comments for and against a town man's plan to launch a helicopter from his back yard the board of selectmen Tuesday night passed the matter on to the planning and zoning commission.

"All of you that are here tonight, this is shifting over to planning and zoning," Selectman Ted Shafer told meeting attendees, who overflowed the selectmen's conference room.

At issue is whether Paul Blanchette, who used his helicopter without neighbor complaints for six years at his former home on Daniel Trace, should be allowed to continue to do so at his new home, 12 Ventres Way. The town lacks rules governing flight activity in residential areas, and a group of residents has asked the selectmen to regulate it.

The discussion was tabled at the prior selectmen's meeting and continued Tuesday, where officials quickly decided that land use commissioners should weigh in on whether the town would be best served with an ordinance, a regulation, or by continuing simply to defer to the Federal Aviation Administration's residential guideline allowing 36 take offs and landings annually.

Blanchette was denied town permission to build a helipad at his former home but was able to take off and land there under FAA rules.

Some residents expressed concerns that, whether or not the town regulates aviation, Blanchette will be grandfathered in as an exception, allowing what they see as the public safety threat they seek to avoid.

Others said that creating regulations for something that has not caused a problem is overreacting.

"He hasn't done anything offensive to anybody in the past six years," said Jennifer Jankoski, who lives on the street opposite Blanchette's new home.

First Selectman Catherine Bergstrom said that uses not mentioned by town regulations are not permitted so the fact that the town has never dictated residential aviation does not mean it's allowed here.

'Underwear bomber' pleads guilty to trying to blow up United States jet. Northwest Airlines, Airbus A330-323E, N820NW, Performing Flight 253.

Accused underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including conspiring to commit terrorism, in a major surprise on the second day of his trial.

U.S. officials called the successful conviction a sign that terrorism can be dealt with in civilian courts.

No sooner had proceedings gotten under way in U.S. District Court in Detroit than Judge Nancy Edmunds called a 45-minute recess to take up an important matter.

When Abdulmutallab returned, his standby defense lawyer, Anthony Chambers, said his client had decided to plead guilty – as charged.

Abdulmutallab, in fluent English, then read from a lengthy statement saying he was guilty under U.S. law, but not under Islamic law, for the crimes charged.

He said he tried to carry out the bombing in retaliation for the murder of innocent civilians by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Israel and elsewhere.

He warned that a calamity would befall the U.S. if it continued to murder innocent Muslims worldwide

“If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later,” he said in the statement.

He said committing jihad against the United States is one of “the most virtuous acts” a Muslim can perform. 

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Behind the scenes with a flight attendant — Crew Meals

This video goes with the Cockpit Chronicles post here:

Flight attendant Susan explains how crew meals are prepared and what goes into her job as the cook aboard a Rio de Janeiro to New York flight on a Boeing 767.

Southwest Airlines looking to hire more pilots

DALLAS/FORT WORTH - Southwest Airlines is hiring more pilots to help fill in its expanding flight schedule.

The Dallas-based carrier says its looking to add 140 more pilots after adding several new markets after acquiring former rival Air Tran.

The low-cost carrier is adding both Washington, D.C. and Atlanta to its list of destinations.

Experts say that the increased flight schedule and more destinations could mean lower fares for fliers.

Bombardier faces deadline pressure. Cseries program; President admits to 'learning curve'

Much of the extra time that was built into Bombardier Inc.'s CSeries development is used up, increasing chances that the program may not meet its end-of-2013 delivery date.

Guy Hachey, president of Bombardier Aerospace, told a morning meeting with analysts and reporters Tuesday at the National Business Aviation Association that he doesn't expect to miss the 2013 target and that the company still has some room to manoeuvre to finish the airliner on time.

"But we used up a lot of the contingency time we built in," Hachey noted.

"We're up against the wall in terms of schedule."

The company has long said that the 64 months it allotted to design and build the plane gave it enough of a buffer zone to accommodate the glitches and unforeseen developmental problems that are normal for a new aircraft introducing new technologies.

"I don't see a miss," Hachey said, "but we are under pressure."

He identified "five or six areas" that "we're watching carefully," including the flyby-wire system, an electronic system that directs flight controls, and the first full such system for Bombardier. Hachey added he is watching "to a lesser extent" avionics, the software for those controls, the electrical system, the advanced carbon-fibre composite wings and the fuselage sourcing from its Shenyang Aircraft Corp. partner in China.

He did not mention any specific problem, but added that "we're going through a learning curve."

He added there are some issues but no overriding problems with suppliers, unlike what happened with Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner and Airbus's A380.

"What I'm most worried about, though," Hachey said, "is not the things we mentioned. It's the ones that we don't know about yet that will bite us.

"There are a lot of moving parts, and what worries me the most is what happens when you put these parts together.

"But we haven't run up against anything we can't manage yet."

Cameron Doerksen, an analyst with Montreal's National Bank Financial, said in an email that "it is pretty typical on a new program that some of the margin will get eaten into. I don't think it means a delay is assured, but that is always a risk."

Eventually, Hachey predicted, the CSeries will be "wildly successful."

He was also more explicit about the future of the company's regional-jet program than in the past.

Bombardier no longer produces the 50-seat CRJ100 and CRJ200s that launched it into the airline market nearly 20 years ago, but still makes the CRJ700 70-seater, CRJ900 90-seater and CRJ1000 100-seater at Mirabel.

"There's probably another decade's worth of good business there for us," he said, "but the market is getting crowded."

He told The Gazette in an interview later that "we feel there's enough demand out there because of the (1,200 50-seaters sold by Bombardier over the years that can be upgraded to larger CRJs).

"There's enough demand from emerging markets to keep the franchise going for another 10 years. After that the market says there's still demand, but I'm a bit skeptical.

"That why I'm saying yeah, 10 years, good run, still good for Mirabel. But after that, unless we re-invest, we're probably looking more at a wind-down. But that's a long way out."

Bombardier's cash flow will be negative for the year, Hachey said, due to the lack of sale of regional jets and Q400 turboprops.

"I would have liked to see a much, much better performance on the commercial aircraft side (so far this year)."

He conceded in the interview Bombardier has lagged in establishing itself in emerging markets, but said that it was rectifying that.

"Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, our strengths are in North America and Europe, and both those markets are very, very soft right now."

Embraer, Bombardier's Brazilian competitor, has been tapping emerging markets for longer and more effectively, analysts say.

"We got caught flat-footed in that regard, fine," Hachey said. "We're repairing that. You'll soon see a lot of orders coming from the emerging markets."

But that cost the company dearly, said David Tyerman of Toronto brokerage Canaccord Genuity.

"Low RJ and turboprop orders do hurt Bombardier Aerospace free cash flow," Tyerman wrote in an email, "both because of lower (cash) advances and slower production.

"And, of course, they are using a lot of cash on development programs. Cash investment is supposed to peak this year, but remain very high next year, too, and then start coming down. So this is not the best time for the RJ and turboprop businesses to slow."

Hachey said that the negative cash flow "will not be significant."

Eric Martel, Bombardier's new president for customer services, said that being present in international markets is "at the top of my list."

Bell 206B JetRanger, N63Q: Accident occurred October 4, 2011 in New York, New York.

NTSB Identification: ERA12MA005 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 04, 2011 in New York, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/2013
Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N63Q
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious,2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The purpose of the flight was for the pilot to take friends on a sightseeing flight around New York City. After the helicopter landed at the East 34th Street Heliport (6N5), the pilot did not shut down the engine while the passengers boarded. The pilot had initially anticipated taking two passengers on the flight, but the two passengers brought two additional adults with them who also boarded the helicopter. The pilot did not conduct a safety briefing or mention life vests available on board the helicopter, complete performance planning, or perform weight-and-balance calculations before takeoff. (The heliport personnel did not conduct a safety briefing and were not required to do so.)

The helicopter departed 6N5 in a rearward hover and transitioned over the shoreline from an in-ground-effect condition to an out-of-ground-effect (OGE) condition while climbing to about 60 feet above the water. As the pilot completed a pedal turn into the wind, the helicopter yawed, and what was likely the low rotor rpm audio warning sounded. The pilot believed that he heard an engine-out warning and responded by turning back toward 6N5, which oriented the tail into an adverse (tail) wind condition. He then confirmed normal engine operation by the N1 gas tachometer and concluded that the initial yaw was “weathervaning” as opposed to an engine malfunction. After the pilot increased collective pitch, the helicopter entered an uncommanded right yaw that accelerated into a spin around the main rotor mast that could not be corrected by application of full left pedal. At this point, the pilot believed that the helicopter had tail rotor drive failure or encountered a loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE). Witnesses described the helicopter as descending in an uncontrolled spin before it contacted the water, where it then rolled inverted and sank.

The pilot and front-seat passenger, who were not injured, attempted to help the aft-seat passengers evacuate as the helicopter filled with water and sank. One passenger drowned at the scene, and two passengers later died in a hospital from complications of near drowning. (Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations 830.2 defines fatal injury as “any injury which results in death within 30 days of the accident.” Because one passenger’s death occurred 33 days after the accident, she is listed as a “serious injury” in this report.) The helicopter was difficult to exit because it was inverted in the water.

Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of any preimpact failures or malfunctions of the engine, drive train, main rotor, tail rotor, or structure of the helicopter. Additionally, the main and tail rotors showed indications of rotation at the time of water impact.
The investigation determined that the helicopter was loaded to an overweight condition, likely because the pilot did not anticipate having two additional passengers onboard the helicopter and because he did not perform weight-and-balance calculations. The front-seat passenger stated in a postaccident interview that the pilot did not ask for anyone’s weight or perform any calculations before takeoff. The passenger weights that the pilot provided investigators following the accident were significantly less than the weights provided by medical personnel and the surviving passenger. The calculated empty weight of the helicopter at its most recent weight-and-balance check on October 21, 2008, was 1,914.52 pounds, and the estimated empty weight postaccident, including residual water, was estimated to be 2,146.8 pounds. Therefore, investigators determined that the estimated gross weight of the helicopter at takeoff was likely between 3,228 pounds and 3,461.2 pounds. The manufacturer’s maximum allowable gross weight at takeoff was 3,200 pounds.

Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular (AC) 90-95, “Unanticipated Right Yaw in Helicopters,” issued in February 1995, described LTE as a critical, low speed aerodynamic flight characteristic that could result in an uncommanded rapid yaw rate that does not subside of its own accord and, if not corrected, could result in the loss of aircraft control. The AC also stated, “LTE is not related to a maintenance malfunction and may occur in varying degrees in all single main rotor helicopters at airspeeds less than 30 knots…Any maneuver which requires the pilot to operate in a high-power, low-airspeed environment with a left crosswind or tailwind creates an environment where unanticipated right yaw may occur.” When operating at airspeeds below effective translational lift, pilots should avoid OGE hover and high power demand situations, such as low-speed downwind turns. Contributing factors for LTE included high gross weight, low indicated airspeed, and right downwind turns. Thus, it is likely that the helicopter experienced LTE shortly after takeoff because all of these factors were present at the time of the accident. Due to the pilot’s ineffective actions and his failure to anticipate and correct for these conditions, he was unable to recover.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to anticipate and correct for conditions (high gross weight, low indicated airspeed, and a right downwind turn) conducive to loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE), which resulted in LTE and an uncontrolled spin. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s inadequate preflight planning, which resulted in the helicopter being in excess of its maximum allowable gross weight at takeoff.


On October 4, 2011, about 1525 eastern daylight time, a Bell 206B helicopter, N63Q, crashed into the East River shortly after takeoff from East 34th Street Heliport (6N5), New York, New York. The commercial pilot and one passenger were not injured, one passenger sustained serious injuries, and two passengers were fatally injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to and operated by a private pilot as a personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The flight originated from 6N5 about 1524 and was scheduled to return to 6N5.

The pilot reported that the purpose of the flight was to take friends visiting from abroad on a sightseeing flight around New York City. According to the pilot, who was seated in the right cockpit seat, he completed the "before takeoff" check in accordance with the checklist. At takeoff, he brought the helicopter to a 3- to 5-foot hover, made a right pedal turn, and attempted to depart into the wind. He initiated the takeoff to the northeast and continued the turn north, into the wind. He estimated that the helicopter climbed to an altitude of about 30 to 50 feet above the East River, where he felt a small left yaw and then applied the right anti-torque pedal. At that time, he believed that the helicopter was "weathervaning," but he then heard what he thought was the "engine-out" audio warning and thought he had an engine failure.

In response, he initiated a hard right turn back to 6N5 and lowered the collective pitch. He then observed the engine N1 speed to be "up" and concluded that the initial yaw was “weathervaning” and not an engine malfunction. The pilot then increased collective pitch with the intention of conducting a normal landing at 6N5. The nose of the helicopter began an uncommanded yaw to the right. The yaw rate increased rapidly into a spin around the main rotor mast that could not be arrested with full left pedal application.

The pilot believed the helicopter had suffered a tail rotor drive train failure or that he had encountered loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE). He lowered the collective pitch and then raised the collective control just before water contact in order to cushion the impact. The helicopter entered the water and rolled inverted.

According to the passenger who was seated in the left cockpit seat, the helicopter moved backwards as it lifted off. The nose was pointed down, and he was leaning forward in his seat against the restraint. The helicopter then began moving "erratically," the pilot made an exclamation similar to “oops,” and the passenger then "knew something wasn't quite right." The helicopter "banked" and began "oscillating from side to side" before it struck the water and rolled inverted. The passenger said that he did not recall hearing any audible warnings or any noises at all.

According to a lineman who was working at 6N5 at the time of the accident, the four passengers arrived at the heliport about 30 minutes before the arrival of the helicopter. Heliport personnel did not provide a passenger briefing. The helicopter arrived about 1517, landed on pad 4, and continued to run. The lineman escorted the passengers to the helicopter and assisted them with their seatbelts while the helicopter was still running. The helicopter took off rearward and climbed to about a 60-foot hover over the river. The helicopter turned left, parallel to the shoreline, and started forward. Then the nose dipped down and the helicopter spun to the left one and one-half turns "out of control" before it collided with the river.

Several witnesses were at or near 6N5 at the time of the accident. They reported that the pilot did not shut down the engine or exit the helicopter before it took off. They observed the helicopter lift off from the helipad, back up over the river, and begin to rotate around the main rotor mast. The helicopter rotated several times before impacting the water. The witnesses reported that the engine sounded normal and that no smoke was coming from the helicopter before impact.


The pilot, age 56, held a commercial pilot certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter, airplane single-engine land, and airplane multiengine land ratings. In the pilot’s logbook, he recorded 2,287 hours of total flight experience, which included 1,482 total hours in rotorcraft and 805 total hours in airplanes. He had 420 hours in the Bell 206 helicopter. During the 90 days before the accident, he recorded 5.1 hours in the Bell 206 and 4.6 hours in multiengine airplanes. During the 30 days before the accident, he recorded 1.7 hours in the Bell 206 and 2.7 hours in multiengine airplanes.

On April 21, 2011, the pilot failed his initial check ride for a commercial pilot certificate. The examination was attempted in a Robinson R44 helicopter with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designated pilot examiner (DPE). The oral examination lasted about 4 hours, and the flight check lasted about 1 hour and 20 minutes. The DPE entered the following remark on the Notice of Disapproval/Application: "Upon reapplication you will be reexamined on the following: takeoff, landing, and go-arounds."

On April 25, 2011, the pilot successfully completed a reexamination. During the reexamination, the oral portion lasted about 1 hour, and the flight check lasted about 30 minutes. The reexamination was performed with the same DPE. The DPE stated in a postaccident interview that LTE and tail rotor malfunctions were covered in the pilot's oral examination.


The helicopter was a single-engine, two-bladed, five-seat, light utility helicopter, serial number 2063. The helicopter was built in 1976 and registered to the pilot on January 29, 2007. It was powered by an Allison 250-C20 turboshaft engine rated at 400-shaft horsepower.

A review of the helicopter maintenance records revealed that the most recent annual inspection was accomplished two days before the accident on October 2, 2011, at an airframe total time of about 11,581 hours. No outstanding discrepancies were listed in the maintenance records.


No weather recording capabilities were available at 6N5. The pilot reported that he did not check the weather before the flight.

The closest surface weather observation was at Central Park in Manhattan, located about 2.2 nautical miles (nm) north of 6N5. The observation about 1551 reported wind variable at 4 knots, visibility 10 miles, ceiling 5,000 feet broken, temperature 17 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 11 degrees C, and altimeter setting 30.01 inches of mercury.

The observation at New York's Laguardia Airport (LGA), located about 5 nm northeast of 6N5, about 1551 reported wind from 330 degrees at 9 knots with gusts to 17 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 3,500 feet, ceiling 7,000 feet broken, temperature 17 degrees C, dew point 9 degrees C, and altimeter setting 29.98 inches of mercury.


6N5 was located at the shore of the East River, about 5 miles southwest of LGA, at an elevation of 10 feet. Five helipads were available, labeled "H1" through "H4" and "T." The pilot used helipad H4 before the accident. The heliport was open to the public and did not have a control tower. Arriving and departing flight crews used UNICOM frequency 123.075. Radio communications were not recorded.


The helicopter was not equipped with crash-protected recording devices. There was no evidence of any nonvolatile memory of investigative value on board the helicopter.

An adjacent parking deck security video camera was operating at the time of the accident and captured a portion of the accident sequence. The examined footage, consisting of five frames, appeared to show the helicopter climbing, entering a rotation around the main rotor mast, and descending. An object consistent in appearance with a severed main rotor blade and a splash/spray of water were visible in the air after the helicopter disappeared below the parked automobiles. A search for other local surveillance video sources was unsuccessful.


The helicopter impacted the East River adjacent to 6N5 and came to rest in about 35 feet of water. The wreckage was recovered from the river on the evening of October 4 and transported to the New York Police Department (NYPD) Aviation Unit facilities at Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, New York.

Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of any preimpact failures or malfunctions of the engine and accessories, main transmission, drive train, main rotor, tail rotor, flight controls, or structure of the helicopter. Additionally, there was no indication of an in-flight fire.

One main rotor blade remained attached to the hub and was bent opposite the direction of rotation. The blade was not fractured. The bends in the blade were consistent with contact with the water while rotating.

The other main rotor blade exhibited a chordwise fracture at the outboard doubler. The fracture surface was consistent with bending overload. The outboard section of the blade, about 10 feet long, was not recovered from the East River.

When investigators manually turned the intact main rotor blade, the main transmission rotated with no metallic sounds noted. The long metallic chip detector was removed, and no metallic particles were evident. The short chip detector could not be removed due to surrounding structure deformation. The freewheeling unit operated properly when tested by hand.

All sections of the tail rotor driveshaft assembly were intact, with the exception of the first (farthest forward) section. This fractured section exhibited torsion fracture signatures consistent with a sudden stoppage event from the rear during tail rotor impact with the water. All hanger bearings were free to rotate and showed no signs of distress. The tail rotor gearbox rotated freely by hand with no noticeable binding. Continuity was confirmed from the tail rotor assembly through the tail rotor gearbox to the aft section of the tail rotor driveshaft. The gearbox attachment studs were all intact.

The fractured section of the tail rotor drive shaft was removed and sent to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) materials laboratory in Washington, DC, for further examination. Examination of the driveshaft showed deformation patterns and fracture features consistent with a torsion overstress fracture. No indications of fatigue, corrosion, or other preexisting anomalies were observed. For additional information, see the Airworthiness Group Chairman's Factual Report located in the NTSB’s public docket for this accident investigation.

A cursory examination of the engine at the NYPD facilities revealed no obvious anomalies or case ruptures. There was no evidence of fire or thermal distress. The helicopter was equipped with engine inlet duct particle separators. Both separators were free of feathers, bird remains, or other debris. The oil filter impending bypass button was not extended. The throttle was found in the "fly" position, and the position of the throttle and the corresponding positions on the fuel control index indicator were correct. Some fuel was drained and retained for further testing. The engine was then removed from the airframe and shipped to an engine overhaul facility for further examination.
The examination showed that the inlet case was intact and all of the inlet guide vanes were in place and showed no apparent damage. The compressor case did not have any bulges or dents. Further disassembly revealed that the compressor rotor was intact and all compressor blades were in place. The compressor stator vanes were intact and did not reveal any apparent damage to the airfoils. The combustor section did not show any evidence of thermal distress, liner wall buckling, or other damage.

Disassembly of the turbine section revealed no thermal distress or breaches in the case. All turbine rotors were intact with no apparent damage to the airfoils.

Testing of the engine accessories and fuel system components revealed no evidence of a preexisting malfunction or failure. For additional information, see the Powerplants Group Chairman's Factual Report located in the NTSB’s public docket for this accident investigation.


Toxicology testing was performed on a urine specimen provided by the pilot after the accident. The analysis and toxicology report by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, indicated that the specimen was negative for ethanol and drugs.

The aft, left-seat passenger died in a hospital on October 11, 2011, from complications associated with near-drowning. The aft, center seat passenger died at the accident scene from drowning. The aft, right-seat passenger died in a hospital on November 6, 2011, from complications associated with near-drowning. Title 49 CFR 830.2 defines fatal injury as "any injury which results in death within 30 days of the accident." Because this passenger's death occurred 33 days after the accident, she is listed as a "serious injury" in this report. The manner of death for all aft-seat occupants was listed as "accident."


The pilot reported that he requested the lineman at 6N5 to ensure that the three aft-seat passengers had their lap belts on before takeoff. All passengers were wearing headsets, and he advised the passengers to use the doors to exit the helicopter in the case of an emergency. The pilot reported that five packaged life vests were on board the helicopter: three in the rear passenger compartment and two in the forward cabin area. During examination of the wreckage, four packaged life vests were located.

During an interview, the front-seat passenger stated that the pilot verified that he could hear the aft-seat passengers through the headsets; however, there was no additional safety briefing or mention of any life vests on board the helicopter.

The rear passenger seat of the helicopter was equipped with three identical lift-latch style two-point restraints. All of the belts and shackles were undamaged. The lift latches were noted to release when rotated about 30 degrees.

The helicopter was equipped with four forward-hinged, automotive-type doors, two on each side. All four doors were structurally undamaged and functional. There were no placards present on the interior of any of the doors indicating either the closed position or the direction of opening. The Bell Helicopter 206B Maintenance Manual indicated that a placard was to have been installed on the interior of all four doors.

For additional information regarding the survival aspects of this accident, see the Survival Factors Specialist’s Factual Report located in the NTSB’s public docket for this accident investigation.


Aircraft Fuel Testing

Fuel samples were collected from the fuel filter bowl on the helicopter and from the fuel truck that serviced the helicopter before it departed Linden, New Jersey, on the day of the accident. The samples were tested for visual appearance, American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity, specific gravity, flash point, and water content.

All fuel samples tested were within published criteria for visual appearance, API gravity, specific gravity, and flash point. Water content in the fuel filter bowl was 42 parts per million (ppm). Water content in the fuel truck sample was 54 ppm. There is no published limit for water in jet fuel.

Helicopter Weight and Balance

Although there were varying accounts of individual passenger and pilot weights, investigators estimated that the combined weight of the pilot and four passengers was 1,090 pounds. This calculation included 190 pounds for the pilot; 225 pounds for the front-seat passenger; and 225, 265, and 185 pounds for the three aft-seat passengers. The pilot reported that the fuel weight at takeoff was 224.4 pounds.

The helicopter's most recent weight-and-balance check was completed on October 21, 2008. At that time, the calculated empty weight was 1,914.52 pounds. At this empty weight, the estimated gross weight of the helicopter at takeoff was 3,228 pounds.

The manufacturer's maximum allowable gross weight at takeoff was 3,200 pounds.

The helicopter was weighed on October 6, 2011, two days after the accident, by a company that specialized in aircraft weight-and-balance services. With some residual water on board (for instance, on the seat cushions, carpet, main transmission, and honeycomb panels) and providing for an intact main rotor system, the empty weight was estimated at 2,146.8 pounds. Therefore, the takeoff weight at the time of the accident was calculated to be 3,461.2 pounds, including the residual water.

The weight-and-balance charts in the manufacturer's Rotorcraft Flight Manual were published to perform weight-and-balance calculations below the maximum allowable takeoff weight of 3,200 pounds. Therefore, interpolation of weight-and-balance data was not performed for either weight-and-balance scenario possible in this accident, as both plotted the weight of the helicopter beyond the maximum allowable gross weight limit of the charts.

The pilot reported that he calculated the total load at takeoff, including passengers and fuel, to be 1,131 pounds. This included 190 pounds for the pilot, 210 pounds for the front-seat passenger, and 155 pounds each for the three aft-seat passengers. He recalled that the three aft-seat passengers reported their weights to him after boarding the helicopter.

In a postaccident interview, the front-seat passenger stated that the pilot did not ask for anyone’s weight, nor did he execute any paperwork or perform any calculations before takeoff. He also stated that when he boarded the helicopter, he told the pilot that his daughter and her friend had decided to go along. He believed that the pilot may not have anticipated the two additional passengers beyond him and his wife.

Unanticipated Right Yaw (Loss of Tail Rotor Effectiveness)

The FAA issued Advisory Circular (AC) 90-95, “Unanticipated Right Yaw in Helicopters,” in February 1995. The AC stated that LTE was a critical, low-speed aerodynamic flight characteristic that could result in an uncommanded rapid yaw rate that does not subside of its own accord and, if not corrected, could result in the loss of aircraft control. It also stated, "LTE is not related to a maintenance malfunction and may occur in varying degrees in all single main rotor helicopters at airspeeds less than 30 knots."
Paragraph 6 of the AC covered conditions under which LTE may occur and stated the following: "Any maneuver which requires the pilot to operate in a high-power, low airspeed environment with a left crosswind or tailwind creates an environment where unanticipated right yaw may occur."

Paragraph 8 of the AC stated the following:

"OTHER FACTORS...Low Indicated Airspeed. At airspeeds below translational lift, the tail rotor is required to produce nearly 100 percent of the directional control. If the required amount of tail rotor thrust is not available for any reason, the aircraft will yaw to the right."

Paragraph 9 of the AC stated the following:

"When maneuvering between hover and 30 knots: (1) Avoid tailwinds. If loss of translational lift occurs, it will result in an increased high power demand and an additional anti-torque requirement. (2) Avoid out of ground effect (OGE) hover and high power demand situations, such as low-speed downwind turns. (3) Be especially aware of wind direction and velocity when hovering in winds of about 8-12 knots (especially OGE). There are no strong indicators to the pilot of a reduction of translation lift... (6) Stay vigilant to power and wind conditions."

Contributing factors for LTE include high gross weight/density altitude, low indicated airspeed, power droop, and right downwind turns.

NTSB Identification: ERA12MA005
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 04, 2011 in New York, NY
Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N63Q
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Serious,2 Uninjured.

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.

On October 4, 2011, at 1525 eastern daylight time, a Bell 206B, N63Q, registered to a private owner, crashed into the East River during takeoff from East 34th Street Heliport (6N5), New York, New York. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the airframe. The certificated commercial pilot and one passenger were not injured. Two passengers sustained serious injuries and one passenger was killed. The flight originated from 6N5 at 1524.

The pilot stated to NTSB investigators that he was taking friends on a local sightseeing flight. He stated that he landed at the heliport, picked up the 4 passengers, and initiated a takeoff to the northeast. The helicopter climbed to a pilot-estimated altitude between 30 to 50 feet over the East River. Shortly thereafter, the pilot experienced a problem which included a small left yaw. He then initiated a right turn to attempt to return and land at the heliport but the helicopter became uncontrolled and impacted the water. After water entry, the helicopter rolled inverted.

During the impact, three-fourths of one main rotor blade separated and was not recovered from the river. The remainder of the helicopter was recovered and transported to a hangar for examination. The engine was retained for a subsequent examination.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and rotorcraft helicopter. He reported a total flight experience of 2,287 hours, of which 1,500 hours were in helicopters, including 420 hours in the same make and model as the accident helicopter.

The helicopter was manufactured in 1976 and equipped with a Rolls-Royce (Allison) model 250, 400-horsepower, turboshaft engine. The most recent annual inspection was performed on October 2, 2011. At that time, the helicopter had accumulated approximately 11,580 total flight hours.

The National Transportation Safety Board says the Bell 206 helicopter had just wrapped up an annual inspection on Oct. 2.  During an annual inspection, mechanics take much of an aircraft apart and put it together again. The work can take several weeks.  The pilot told the NTSB the nose of the helicopter swung unexpectedly to the left as he was taking off. When he tried to turn right, the aircraft went out of control.  The NTSB issued a preliminary report about the crash on Wednesday. However, it hasn't determined the cause.  One passenger died in the crash; two others were seriously injured. The pilot and another passenger were unhurt.

Texas: Commissioner balks at cost of hangar for Department of Public Safety helicopter

Gregg County Commissioners on a split vote approved a lease with the Texas Department of Public Safety for the use of a secured hanger at the East Texas Regional Airport.

The hanger is to serve as a hub for the department’s enforcement helicopter in this area. However, one commissioner believed the rent charged by the county was not going to fly.

“If my memory serves me right – and I SEE PAGE 5 didn’t vote to buy this – there were some statements made … that the purchase of this building, that the taxpayers would be paid back by the rent,” Pct. 2 Commissioner Darryl Primo said to Sheriff Maxey Cerliano. “That the money we would charge for rent would amortize the cost of the building back to the county, that the building may not make money, but at least it wouldn’t cost the taxpayers of Gregg County money.”

The agreement presented to the court Monday morning stated the county would bill DPS $1,500 per month for the use of the facility, a cost Primo believes is barely sufficient to cover operating expenses – not including remodel and purchase costs.

“I’m looking at this rent, $1,500 a month. That includes all their utilities? And an employee?” Primo asked Cerliano.

Cerliano said the rent includes all utility expenses, but the employee, a tactical flight officer, is covered under the Sheriff ’s Office correction budget.

“That has been in place since they arrived here because the state only provided three personnel instead of four. It’s not assigned as part of the hanger. It’s under a different budget.”

Primo said the cost of the employee was an additional expense to the taxpayers.

“I guess what my issue is, is $1,500 enough when you subtract the utilities?,” Primo replied to Cerliano. “I don’t see where we’re getting any type of return on our investment at all at that low rent. Provided that all utilities – including the cable and Internet services, as well as the employee, as well as the furniture and the price the court agreed to pay for the building, it just doesn’t add up to what I understood the original agreement was. That’s my question I would like to give you a chance to respond to.”

“My response would be is that this is a somewhat standard hanger lease that DPS has with other governmental agencies across the state,” Cerliano said.

“I understand the lease is, but my problem is the price,” Primo said.

Cerliano said he worked with County Judge Bill Stoudt and other officials to get the contract set in place and to develop a price for rent that included utilities and a return on investment.

“When you start asking questions on how long the payout will be on the return on that investment, then I will defer to the judge,” Cerliano said. “However, what I would like to point out is simply that DPS does not charge us when we call them to use that $5 million helicopter when we need it on a local level. Nor do they bill us the hour that it costs ($500-$600 per hour) to fly it. They don’t submit a bill to us.

We actually have some reporting data that confirms how much that helicopter has been used in the last year.”

According to the report provided by Cerliano, a helicopter stationed in Gregg County flew approximately 490 hours between September 2010 and September 2011. The pilots assisted in the location of 115 suspects, 85 arrests and located two victims. The chopper also assisted in the location of more than 660 pounds of marijuana and other drugs.

Cerliano explained the number generated with the helicopter include all missions flown during a specific time frame, as well as periods when the helicopter is used in other parts of the state or along the border.

“While you may not agree with what the price is, the county will be refunded the cost of the hanger long-term. But not only does the law enforcement locally but the citizens of Gregg County get to enjoy the use of that helicopter and the safety and security it provides,” he said.

After the Commissioners Court meeting, Cerliano said he believes the true return on investment is the ability to have a helicopter available locally instead of waiting for a pilot to fly from Dallas or Waco.

In other business, the court also voted to allow the sheriff ’s office to utilize inmates from the Gregg County jail to move more than 40 miniature oil derricks for the Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation to a location where they will be refurbished in preparation for a planned memorial park.

The park is to be built on a vacant lot next to the Texan Theater on Commerce Street.

Cerliano said KHPF only requested labor assistance to load and unload the derricks. All expenses for transportation of the derricks is provided by KHPF.

The court also voted to adopt a proclamation declaring Nov. 6-12 as National Women Veterans Recognition Week in Gregg County.

The proclamation was requested by members of the Navy women’s organization called WAVES AGO, which includes female veterans of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. The recognition week is set to coincide with the national Veteran’s Day celebrations on Nov. 11