Monday, November 7, 2011

Airport neighbor batty for fence repairs. Sikorsky Memorial Airport (KBDR), Bridgeport, Connecticut

Nick Maccharoli shows the damaged fence of Sikorsky Memorial Airport that lines his Stratford property on Monday, November 7, 2011. 

STRATFORD -- Amid the titanic struggle between Bridgeport and Stratford over the future of Sikorsky Memorial Airport, a small, but very distinctive voice cries out in distress.

Nick Maccharoli, 78, desperately wants someone to come fix the fence that borders his modest home on Stratford Road and the airport property.

"Batso," as he prefers to be called in difference to the flying rodent, whose likeness decorates his home and unique homemade vehicles, is fed up with officials from both municipalities.

"I've called the mayors of both Bridgeport and Stratford, I've called the airport, and nobody has come out to do anything," he complained in his gravely voice. "I'm fed up."

Airport Manager John Ricci disagrees.

"We have made repairs to the fence that abuts Mr. Maccharoli's property and trimmed the overgrowth on the airport side of the fence," Ricci said.

"Our workers are not allowed to go onto private property to make repairs or trim overgrowth. We will make necessary repairs if there are any outstanding issues with the fence."

With the tuft of black hair sticking out of the back of his otherwise-bald head and tattoos all over his body, Maccharoli could be considered an imposing figure. "I'm an expert in martial arts," he confirmed.

But fortunately, he adds that he is a man of peace, while the problem with the fence has him fighting mad.

And indeed, the 8-foot metal fence that runs the length of his property, separating it from the airport property, is in bad shape. It's twisted and bowed in sections and covered in thick brush. There is even a piece missing toward the back of Maccharoli's property.

"I pay a lot of money in taxes and this is what I have to put up with," he complained, pointing at the twisted metal wire and bramble divider. "I go to cut my grass and the limbs from the fence are in my face."

Recently, Stratford filed suit against Bridgeport, which owns the airport, seeking to block the use of the airport's major runway until a blast fence, damaged in a plane crash last June, is repaired.

Maccharoli's fence is a long walk from the area of the blast fence, but is part of the barrier that marks the airport's perimeter. He said planes do come close to the house he has owned since 1967.

"One time I heard a big plane coming in and it was so loud I thought that was it -- it was going to hit my house," he said. "But you get used to it."

Piper's year-to-year sales numbers continue to improve

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Piper Aircraft Inc. continued to see improvement in its year-to-year sales numbers in the third quarter, with revenue up more than 25 percent from the same period last year.

Third-quarter numbers released Monday showed that Piper delivered 34 aircraft and took in $35.3 million in revenue. During that same period last year, the company delivered 32 aircraft for $28.1 million in revenue.

Deliveries of the company’s most expensive planes, the Meridian, Mirage and Matrix, were up overall from 17 to 21 planes in the third quarter this year.

“Operational efficiencies, along with matching new aircraft deliveries to a solid understanding of the evolving market, continue to contribute to the company’s performance, which exceeds industry trends for turboprop and piston aircraft,” said Piper President and Chief Executive Officer Simon Caldecott in a prepared statement accompanying the results.

In other words, the company’s performance is ahead of what is being seen in the general aviation market as a whole.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported Monday that overall deliveries of general aviation airplanes in the first nine months of 2011 dropped 9.8 percent compared with the same period last year, to a total of 1,227 planes. Industry billings, or revenue, fell 10.2 percent, from $13.5 billion to $12.1 billion.

In comparison, Piper’s revenue for the first nine months of the year was $92.5 million, almost 20 percent ahead of where it was the first three quarters of 2010.

The difference is likely to narrow somewhat when year end numbers come out. Last year, Piper saw revenue increase by about 50 percent between the third quarter and fourth quarter. That’s not expected to happen this year.

While traditionally fourth-quarter sales numbers are higher than those in the third quarter, Caldecott doesn’t anticipate a large difference between the two quarters this year. Keeping the numbers fairly stable through the year is in line with the company’s current philosophy of trying to have production more closely match sales, according to Caldecott.

Company officials have said they hope to avoid large swings in employment by not producing more planes than they have orders for.

Instead, the company currently has a backlog of orders that it needs to fill. In fact, Caldecott said the backlog is the strongest it has been in four years.

“We’re looking a lot better going into 2012 than going into 2011,” he said.

While filling these orders will keep employees busy, Caldecott doesn’t anticipate any big turnaround in the industry next year. He anticipates sales next year will be relatively the same as this year.

The company, which at the end of October announced it would be laying off 150 employees and releasing 55 contract workers with the suspension of the Piper Altaire light jet program, does not anticipate hiring or laying off any additional workers at this time. Caldecott did say he expects to announce some organizational changes in the next week or so, but those would be in upper management.

The organizational changes follow the departure last month of former President and Chief Executive Officer Geoff Berger and Executive Vice President Randy Groom. Caldecott, formerly vice president of operations, was selected to take over Berger’s post.

Although it discontinued its light business jet program, the company in early October announced a number of upgrades it hoped would attract more buyers to the latest versions of its core airplanes.

“In the latter half of next year I want to be in the position where we can announce another upgrade,” said Caldecott.

Kingfisher's 15-crore check to Airports Authority of India bounces

NEW DELHI: Cash-strapped Air India and Kingfisher are fast becoming flashpoints with unpaid employees and vendors. Last week, a Rs 15-crore cheque issued by Kingfisher to Airports Authority of India (AAI) bounced following which the state-run airport operator put the airline back on daily cash-and-carry.

Since this move threatened to completely disrupt Kingfisher's schedule that is already feeling the heat with pilots quitting, AAI started accepting some part payment but has called airline top brass to make its stand clear on the over Rs 200 crore dues now. The airline did not offer comment on this issue.

AAI's dues from AI, on the other hand, are now inching to the Rs 1,000-crore mark with the figure climbing to Rs 950 crore, said a senior official. While being a sister public sector unit run by the same parent aviation ministry, AAI can do nothing about AI.

The Maharaja's long unpaid employees, however, are now seething with anger and the airline may well be headed for a serious round of industrial action due to the government's complete failure in undoing the damage its controversial decisions caused to AI-IA combine earlier.

"For five months we have not been paid our allowances that account for 80-85% of the total salary. For instance, a commander in erstwhile Indian Airlines has a monthly package of Rs 3.5 lakh - Rs 30,000 in basic and HRA and the rest allowances. Frustrated employees could soon resort to mass sick leave or some other action. Unpaid employees are bearing the brunt of wrong decisions taken by UPA-1," said a long time employee.

A top airline official said employees would be paid one month's salary and allowance by this weekend. "We have to pay Rs 209 crore to oil companies by 4 pm on Tuesday. After that we have about Rs 200 crore that would be paid as one month's salary and allowance by this Friday or Saturday," said the official.

Going unpaid on Diwali too hasn't gone down well with employees and the unrest is fast assuming alarming proportion over the growing uncertainty on salary payment. The government's 'balm' to AI employees of removing an unpopular chairman and MD did for work for some time but now the staffers are up in arms over going unpaid for so long.

"The government should now tell us if it can run the airline. Else it must give us clearance to leave," said a senior pilot.

Cessna 172N Skyhawk, ZK-JFI: Fatal accident occurred October 17, 2011 in Arrowtown, New Zealand

A cockpit video recording of a fatal plane crash at Arrowtown golf course has helped determine the cause of the accident.

In a Civil Aviation Authority preliminary report released today (Tuesday), investigators conclude that the reason why the Cessna Skyhawk went down on October 17 was due to loss of control after an aborted landing.

Tauranga pilot Ian Sloan, 59, died when his plane nose-dived on to the golf course. His passengers – step-son Wayne Candy and friend Joan Urquhart – were seriously injured.

Three days after the crash, Mountain Scene revealed that cattle were on the grass airstrip at the time of Sloan’s attempted landing.

The CAA report confirms that he had tried to clear the strip of cattle before returning to approach, attempting to land from the opposite direction.

Sitting in the front seat and using his iPhone, Candy recorded the approach, attempted landing and subsequent take-off – which “failed to gain any appreciable altitude and shortly thereafter stalled during a left turn”, the report says.

“A video taken by the passenger indicates that the pilot was having to contend with moderate crosswind conditions and turbulence from higher terrain on the southern side of the airstrip.

“The aircraft is then observed to have touched down approximately 250 metres into the 450m airstrip followed shortly after by the pilot applying full power and attempting to take off in the remaining runway distance available.”
It was during Sloan’s left turn – putting the plane further out of the prevailing wind direction – that it failed to gain altitude and stalled. It rolled further to the left, clipping a tree on the way down and impacted with the ground.

Sloan had a total of 315 hours’ flying experience. He was issued a private pilot’s licence in 1976 and re-issued an updated ticket in April last year.

CAA’s investigation continues and will include examination of the aircraft’s maintenance history, Sloan’s background and experience, prevailing weather conditions and possible human factors that might have influenced Sloan’s decision-making.

A final report will be prepared for the Coroner. 

LIAT’s Industrial Future Looking Bleak

Antigua St John's - LIAT is facing an uphill task as it attempts to implement staff cuts as part of its restructuring plans. The airline indicated to employees through their trade unions that it wants to shed 128 jobs by the end of December.

Antigua & Barbuda, where the bulk of the airline’s staff is based, is projected to lose 72 of its 599 employees. This represents a 12 percent decline. LIAT has found the going bumpy in its efforts to reduce its overall staff levels by 14 percent over the next two months.

Representatives from the nine trade unions involved were a no-show at a meeting slated for last Friday, leaving management in a quandary. In a letter addressed to the airline that indicated the unions would not attend, spokesman Senator Chester Humphrey of the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union said the unions are demanding a direct meeting with shareholder governments, as they have lost confidence in the management team.

Heads of three of the trade unions are on record as pointing the finger at the airline’s management for much of the breakdown in discussions. Head of the National Workers Union of St Lucia Lawrence Poyette said there are elements of management that would seem bent on fuelling the conflict between LIAT and its staff.

“I recalled several years ago, when human resources issues at the airline were handled by a single individual, we did not have the level of crises as we do now that the airline has a fully staffed Human Resources Department," Poyette said. "I am of the view that there are some people who feel that their best interests are served by creating conflicts between the airline and its employees."

Captain Michael Blackburn, chairman of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots' Association (LIALPA), raised serious concerns about the airline’s plans to downsize in a manner affecting the employment of line staff… while at the same time, the jobs at management levels have increased. He said the management positions at LIAT have increased in a few years from 34 to 55, including a manager of catering, when the airline does not even serve water on any of its flights.

“Why every time there’s a crisis at the airline, it’s the ordinary workers who have to make the sacrifices?" Blackburn asked. "Job losses are serious issues across the Caribbean, and we feel that if the line staff is to be let go, some of the management positions must go as well. Some managers make more money than prime ministers."

St Lucia: Union wants audit of LIAT airline

The head of one of the ten trade unions representing workers at regional airline, Liat, has called on the three major shareholder governments to launch an audit into operations at the carrier.

The head of the National Workers Union of St. Lucia says the audit is needed amidst claims of financial mismanagement at the company. Lawrence Poyette says given all the allegations and all the statements that have been made regarding indiscretions in the operations of Liat, he’s of the opinion that the shareholders should conduct a serious audit, bearing in mind that monies belonging to the consolidated funds of the respective countries are involved.

Mr. Poyette also accused the airline’s management of fuelling rather than quelling conflict between itself and workers and called on Liat to engage in dialogue rather than pass out letters of termination. Last week, the trade unions turned down the airline’s invitation for talks to discuss possible job cuts. They said they would not be discussing the mass termination of Liat employees as an isolated matter.

The union groups instead opted to attend a meeting of the cash-strapped regional carrier’s shareholders governments with its board of directors. Earlier this year, Liat closed its city ticketing offices, reducing the number of employees by forty eight. But the company said it intends to reduce its total headcount by fourteen per approximately eight hundred workers by the end of this year.

Head of the National Workers Union in St. Lucia, Lawrence Poyette, is calling for an audit into the operations of regional airline, LIAT.

Poyette said the audit is needed amid claims of financial mismanagement at LIAT.

He wanted the carrier’s three major shareholder governments to investigate allegations and all the statements that have been made regarding indiscretions in the company’s operations.

Poyette is recommending that the shareholder governments put together a team of representatives of the respective audit departments to conduct a serious audit.

Meanwhile, Poyette has also accused the airline’s management of fuelling rather than quelling conflict with workers.

Last week, the trade unions turned down the airline’s invitation for talks to discuss possible job cuts, as the carrier moves to trim its workforce to 800 employees by year-end.

Jefferson County International Airport (0S9), Port Townsend, Washington

Nineteen firefighters from three agencies responded to a Nov. 6 fire near the Jefferson County International Airport.

A fire late in the evening of Sunday, Nov. 6 destroyed a man’s living quarters and an adjacent semi-trailer on the site of an old quarry, located between Theater Road and Airport Road on State Route 19 near the county airport. There were no injuries.

East Jefferson Fire Rescue firefighters were paged after several simultaneous 911 calls came in at 10:08 p.m., according to Bill Beezley, EJFR public information specialist. Upon arrival, they found the man’s home and a nearby 8-foot-by-28-foot semi-trailer fully engulfed in flames.

Assistant Chief Bob Low directed the measured firefighter response, which was hampered by a lack of fire hydrants in the area, reported Beezley.

“We drained the water from two engines and one 3,500-gallon water tender in the first 25 minutes,” said Low. Additional water tenders from Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue and Discovery Bay (District 5) were called in for backup. Low estimated that firefighters used more than 5,000 gallons of water to contain the blaze.

The occupant of the property said he had been living in an 8-foot-by-12-foot former “coffee shack,” said Beezley. With the onset of cold weather, he purchased five small cans of Dine-A-Heat Blue, a methanol gel fuel with 2 1/2 hours of burn time. The product is typically used in the food service industry to warm containers of food, Beezley said, but the occupant was using the containers to heat the building.

The occupant told responders he went to the store, leaving a can of methanol burning. Upon his return an hour later, the building was on fire. He attempted to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher, but was unable to contain it, reported Beezley. After realizing that the fire would spread to the adjacent semi-trailer, he went inside to remove a large tank containing acetylene, a volatile compound, before firefighters arrived.

The fire was also punctuated by the sounds of ammunition exploding, said Beezley. The occupant stated that the shack contained “…about 60 rounds.”

In addition to Port Ludlow and Discovery Bay teams, firefighters from NAVMAG Indian Island also responded. A total of 19 firefighters were involved in putting the blaze out.

Jet service returns to Rotorua

More people will be able to fly into Rotorua next summer with Air New Zealand announcing jet services are to return to the city.

Air New Zealand has announced it will fly a Boeing 737 between Rotorua, Christchurch and Queenstown six days a week from the end of next year.

At the moment, the airline operates three ATR services daily between the three destinations, and one will be replaced with the Boeing 737.

The change will provide a 27 per cent increase in capacity between Rotorua and Christchurch, and a 14 per cent increase between Christchurch and Queenstown. The number of seats available weekly each way will increase from about 1428 to 1818.

Rotorua International Airport chief executive officer George White said this would significantly increase the capacity on one of the most important tourism routes in New Zealand - Rotorua to Queenstown.

"The increased capacity means there is more room for extra visitors, while the bigger plane means [it] cuts 30 minutes off the flying time ... Visitors' travel will be quicker and easier, and they will have more time on the ground to explore the region, instead of sitting on highways."

Mr White said the announcement was the result of months of hard work by people in the Rotorua and Central Park tourism industries, the airport and Destination Rotorua Marketing.

"This has been a team effort, with many different people involved. It's been fantastic to see the industry work together to achieve this positive result for the region."

The news was also welcomed by Christchurch International Airport (CIAL).

CIAL general manager of aeronautical business development Matthew Findlay said the airline's additional capacity would enhance the flow of tourists into the South Island.

"Offering more capacity on flights from the geothermal wonders of Rotorua to the stunning South Island scenery will be very attractive to those Asian tourists."

Rotorua Deputy Mayor Trevor Maxwell said "it was very, very good news".

He was in Wellington at an influential conference with 500 North American travel writers.

Mr Maxwell said senior executives of Air New Zealand were also at the conference and he would definitely be congratulating them on the announcement.

He also agreed there had been a lot of hard work done by Rotorua in getting the improved service.

"That had always been on our radar."

He said the improved service to Queenstown, via Christchurch, was great news for Rotorua International Airport, which had been going through some tough times.

The boosted services will operate six days a week, Monday to Thursday, and weekends. The flights will leave Rotorua in the afternoon and depart Queenstown in the morning.

'Elvis' water bomber to help fight fires

The state government will lease a massive water-bombing helicopter known as Elvis to help fight bushfires this season following a devastating blaze that destroyed 72 homes in the Perth Hills in February.

The aircraft, made famous for its highly visible involvement in bushfires in Victoria and New South Wales, is considered to be one of the most valuable fire fighting tools.

It is capable of dropping 9500 litres of water in a single load - more than double the capacity of the Type 1 water bomber and nine times the amount of the smaller Helitac water bomber, which the state presently relies on.

Emergency Services Minister Rob Johnson and Environment Minister Bill Marmion announced this morning the trial of Elvis was part of a $6.25 million-funding boost that would make the state better resourced than during any previous fire season.

This season was expected to be one of the worst on record, he said.

The spending spree also includes five new fire-fighting appliances that will be brought from Japan in time for the North-West bushfire season, which starts in June.

In the meantime, four aircraft that were previously slated for decommissioning will be refurbished for use during the summer fire season.

Elvis, officially called an Erikson Skycrane, will be borrowed from Victoria, which owns two of the helicopters. Mr Johnson said the states' bushfire seasons differed, allowing WA to use the second helicopter.

The federal government would share the $3.8 million cost of trial Elvis with the cost shared with the federal government.

Mr Johson admitted the trial was directly related to a scathing report into the Roleystone-Kelmscott fire in February, in which former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty criticised fire fighting operations during the fire and cooperation between authorities.

The helicopter would be available in early December.

Mr Johnson said the additional resources would be spread across the metropolitan area, as well as the North-West and South-West of the state, depending on the fire season.

"While the use of this aircraft and new appliances will reduce the fire risk to life and property, the community must also take responsibility and ensure their properties are well prepared and they have a survival plan," Mr Johnson said.

Mr Marmion said the Elvis trial was a welcome boost in bushfire suppression this season. The Department of Environment and Conservation and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority would evaluate its effectiveness before the government considered its future use.

"This aircraft will enhance our aerial fleet in its key role to support our ground crews to protect lives and property and will ensure we are better equipped to respond to major bushfires," Mr Marmion said.

The state's existing aerial fleet includes two Type 1 waterbombers, capable of dumping 4000 litres each, four Helitac waterbombers (1000 litres), eight fixed wing aircraft (3000 litres), nine spotter aircraft, and an aerial intelligence helicopter.

Teterboro (KTEB) and Newark Airport (KEWR) fire trucks on the scene of tanker truck crash, explosion, fire at Turnpike Exit 18W - New Jersey.

No fatalities have been reported in a horrendous crash involving a tanker truck carrying 500 gallons of gasoline and several other vehicles on the western spur of the New Jersey Turnpike in Carlstadt. The Eastern spur of the turnpike is open, but southbound lanes are closed.

Foam is covering both sides of the Turnpike, meaning it will take quite some time to open the western spur. Some witnesses described the road as looking as if it's covered in snow.

Five victims were being treated, including the tanker truck driver. The most serious involves a head injury, they said.

Several mutual aid companies also converged on the scene, about 200 feet south of the Exit 18W toll plaza.

Also on hand were fire trucks the Port Authority sent from Teterboro and Newark airports, as well as the State Police Field Accident Team, emergency workers confirmed. A staging area was established at the Izod Center.

Traffic is backed up for miles in both directions, although it is moving eastward and northbound.

An explosion that could be heard as far as New Milford followed the pile-up just after 9 p.m.

Cessna 172N Skyhawk, ZK-JFI: Fatal accident occurred on October 17, 2011. Arrowtown, New Zealand.

A pilot was forced to make a second, fatal landing attempt due to cattle on an airstrip, a report has found.

Tauranga pilot Ian Sloan was killed when his planed nose-dived on a private airstrip near Arrowtown on October 17 this year.

His two passengers suffered serious injuries in the accident.

A preliminary report released today by the Civil Aviation Authority said Sloan's Cessna plane was being flown in a strong southwesterly wind.

"The aircraft made an initial approach to land on the airstrip, but as there were cattle on it, the pilot applied power to gain height, made a turn and approached the airstrip again from the opposite direction," the report said.

"During this approach to land, the aircraft experienced a quartering tailwind and strong cross-wind conditions."

A number of eye witnesses observed the aircraft at various stages during the approach and after the subsequent takeoff.

The passenger in the front seat had also used his iPhone to record the approach, landing, and takeoff.

"The aircraft did not touch down until more than half way down the airstrip, and the pilot aborted this landing applying full power.

"Seconds later, the aircraft made a turn to the left, lost airspeed and impacted the ground."

The investigation was continuing.

Following further inquiries, a draft report would be prepared and then a final report send to the Coroner.

Top 10 unusual flight delay reasons

Bad weather, strikes and IT glitches may cause most major flight disruptions, but escaping animals, lovesick turtles and missing pilots are also grounding their share of planes.

While records show that most flights will take off as scheduled, unexpected events sometimes arise to disrupt normal flight patterns throughout the world.

Student Flights has scoured the archives to compile a list of the most unusual reasons that have been blamed for recent flights delays or cancellations.

1. Where's my pilot?

Last week, the Times of India reported that two Air India flights had to be cancelled at Chennai airport after the airline's pilots didn't turn up for duty.

One pilot reportedly refused to fly because he had completed his shift, while the replacement did not show.

2. Here kitty, kitty

In December last year, a cheetah delayed a Qantas domestic flight in Australia.

Handlers were reportedly concerned about the pallet being used to transport the big cat, named Tokoloshe, and called for reinforcement.

This was probably a smart move - in October 2008, a cheetah managed to escape from its cage in the cargo hold of a Delta domestic flight. Experts were called in and the cheetah (not to mention the baggage handler) was saved.

3. Snakes on a plane

Life imitated art in April 2009, when Australia had its very own "snakes on a plane" incident.

The incident was somewhat less dramatic than the 2006 Samuel L Jackson movie of the same name, with four baby pythons managing to escape from their cage.

Two Qantas domestic flights were cancelled as a result.

4. Otters on the loose

Not to be outdone, two sea otters escaped from their cage on a Continental domestic flight in the United States in December 2009. In this case, the otters made their way out of the cargo hold and on to the runway, delaying the flight by 80mins.

5. Lovesick turtles

In June this year, an annual display of "turtle romance" temporarily disrupted normal services at New York's JFK airport.
Each year, the turtles reportedly make a slow overland trek across the airport's runways en-route to their breeding grounds.

6. Broken toilets

Toilet-related concerns have also grounded their share of flights.

In August, a Delta Airlines flight in the US made an emergency landing because of an overflowing toilet. The incident attracted additional headlines after a high profile passenger, former Guns n' Roses guitarist Slash, used social media to share the story with the world.

Also in the United States, a Continental Airlines flight in March was delayed three hours after a toilet in the first class cabin was found to be damaged.

7. Pipigate

In August, French actor Gerard Depardieu was thrown off a flight from Paris to Dublin after he allegedly urinated on the plane's floor.

In an event that the French media dubbed "pipigate", the actor attempted to use a small bottle after he was reportedly barred from using the lavatory before the plane took off.

The flight, which was still on the runway, was delayed two hours while the carpet was cleaned.

8. People power

In November 2010, Ryanair's flight schedule was disrupted after more than 100 angry customers refused to leave the plane after it was diverted to Belgium, rather than its intended destination in Northern France.

9. UFOs or simply a bad smell?

Last month, several US websites carried a story claiming that UFO sightings prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to temporarily close airspace over New York. According to the FAA, a gas-like smell promoted the closure.

10. Airspace violators - Lawnchair Larry

One of the most unusual disruptions to flight schedules occurred in the United States almost 30 years ago when Lawrence Richard Walters literally "floated" into Los Angeles International Airport airspace.

In 1982, the truck driver, who became known as "Lawnchair Larry", caught a bird's eye view of LA from the comfort of a patio chair that was attached to 45 helium weather balloons.

Larry, who took off from a house in San Pedro California, reportedly intended to hover just above ground level but ultimately reached an altitude in excess of 4,000 metres.

His in-flight survival kit included sandwiches, a CB radio, beer and a pellet gun, which he intended to use to gradually shoot the balloons and descend slowly back to terra firma.

He managed to shoot several balloons before dropping the gun.

Fortunately, Larry's flight ended safely after his balloon eventually lost altitude and became tangled in wires, which caused a black-out in parts of Long Beach.

Alaska pilot grounded in Kentuckiana on drug charges. Piper PA-24 Comanche, N8045P. Clark County Regional Airport, Indiana.

CLARK COUNTY, Ind. (WDRB) -- A 71 year old pilot is grounded at the Clark County Jail this week. Indiana State Police say Allan Richer had more than 200 pounds of marijuana on board his plane when he landed at the Clark County Regional Airport. And it's what police say he did before he landed that set off alarms.

Planes come and go everyday at the Clark County Regional Airport but Ritcher's will likely be grounded for a while.

"Customs officials contacted us -- the Indiana State Police -- and requested that a K-9 be deployed around the plane to see if it possibly contained narcotics," says Trooper Nathan Abbott, ISP K-9 Unit officer.

Trooper Abbott says the plane landed on Friday and his K-9 unit was brought in the next morning.

"Keylow instantly gave a positive alert for the odor of narcotics."

That's when police got a search warrant and started watching the plane and the pilot.

"And then when he made contact with the airplane on the morning of the 5th is when he was taken down by U.S. customs officials and the Indiana State Police."

Onboard, police say they found the large amount of marijuana. "That's a lot of marijuana; it's street value worth was close to $300,000."

"This here is the hydroponic grown weed. This is worth about $5,000 a pound," Abbott said.

Trooper Abbott says ISP was contacted by customs officials after Ritcher's flight plan sent up red flags.

"He flew out of an unknown air strip in California. He was picked up on radar over Arizona and then when he landed in Oklahoma he declared a flight plan which he did not follow."

And police say that is common tactic of drug smugglers.

"They try to do it to do it not to alert authorities of where their final destination is so they're not there waiting on them."

Trooper Abbott believes Ritcher was headed east where someone is still expecting a delivery.

"However, they're not going to get it now."

That's because Ritcher is now locked up at the Clark County Jail.

"This weed here goes for about a thousand dollars a pound on the market."

And police have all the drugs.

Ritcher is being held on a $100,000 full cash bond.

Boeing plant may come to Spokane County

SPOKANE--The Spokane County Commissioners will have a hearing Tuesday to consider changes to land that might bring a future Boeing plant to the area.

A new Boeing plant would create hundreds of jobs, but it won’t come without a price. The commissioners will discuss changing the zoning by the airport to help supporters land 737 Max Factory in our area.

It has been almost a decade since Boeing left the Inland Northwest, but business leaders and members of the aviation industry hope to bring it back.

The company announced plans to build a new version of one of its single-aisle planes in August of this year.

Greater Spokane, Incorporated, along with the airport and other organizations say the Inland Northwest has invested the time and money to become future home of the 737 Max.

The plant would create anywhere from 500 to 1500 jobs. To bring the plant here, Spokane County would need to change the zoning in the West Plains, which is one of the proposed sites.

Currently, buildings are limited to a height of 35 feet. A facility for the 737 Max would need to be at least 110 feet tall.

Supporters believe Boeing would only compliment the growing aviation industry in the Inland Northwest. Many say they are optimistic about making the changes needed to get the plant here.

Greater Spokane, Incorporated officials say creating jobs does require an investment, but they believe it is worth the price to make a long-term impact on the region.

Supporters believe Boeing will ask for proposals early next year and will decide on a location by the end of 2012.

Heavy helicopter industry to fly in China

TIANJIN - Major helicopter producer is in talks with its Russian counterpart to jointly develop a 33-ton heavy-lift helicopter, a senior manager said.

"China can produce helicopters with a take-off weight from 1 ton to 13 tons, but only the United States and Russia can produce choppers with lift-off weight of more than 20 tons," said Xia Qunlin, deputy general manager of Avicopter, a joint venture between Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) and the Tianjin municipal government.

"If approved by the government, the 33-ton heavy helicopter is expected to fill a gap in China... and play important roles in rescue missions and fighting forest fires," he said.

Avicopter Co Limited and Russian Helicopters are now discussing its feasibility, which includes sizing up the model's market and determining both sides' investment shares and division of work, he said.

If approved by the government, this heavy-lift helicopter will be developed and put into service in five to seven years, he said, adding it will be produced at Avicopter's Tianjin production base.

The country realized its need for heavy-lift helicopters in 2008, when a devastating earthquake in Sichuan province killed more than 69,000 people.

A rented Russian Mi-26 heavy chopper demonstrated its importance in rescue work by lifting a 13.2-ton bulldozer and other large pieces of machinery into areas that became isolated after roads linking them to the outside were destroyed.

Premier Wen Jiabao later urged the country's aviation industry to develop such heavy-lift helicopters.

In October 2008, Wen and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between AVIC and Russian Helicopters on jointly developing heavy-lift helicopters.

However, the jointly developed heavy chopper will be "more reliable and more economic to use" and "suit China's demands better", he said.

China is believed to be a big potential market for helicopters.

By the end of 2010, there were only 206 registered civilian-use helicopters across the country, which is less than 1 percent of the total civilian helicopters in the world. Avicopter forecast that with the relaxing of low-altitude airspace, the demand for helicopters will grow quickly, and the mainland will need 200 civilian helicopters between 2011 and 2015.

As the only State-owned chopper producer, Avicopter accounts for about 60 percent of the domestic market, according to Xia.

The company currently has four helicopter production bases including Harbin, in Heilongjiang province, Jingdezhen, in Jiangxi and Baoding, in Hebei.

Yang Chunhai, who is in charge of production and technologies at the Tianjin base, said the Tianjin base will become where all civilian helicopters are assembled and go through test flights.

Built two years ago, the Tianjin base will produce 10 helicopters through two production lines this year, he said.

According to Xia, the Tianjin base's capability is expected to double next year, and it is able to assemble 150 civil-use helicopters by 2020.

Chinese counterfeit parts found on Raytheon, Boeing systems

Dozens of suspected counterfeit parts have been installed on U.S. defense equipment, including systems from Raytheon Co., L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. and Boeing Co.

The Senate Armed Services Committee found counterfeit parts -- usually from China -- on at least seven aircraft, including the Lockheed Martin Corp. C-130J transport plane, according to a staff memo released today.

"Suspect electronic parts from China were installed on military systems and subsystems that were manufactured by Raytheon Co., L-3 Communications and Boeing," said the staff memo released today before a hearing Tuesday.

The committee's investigative staff amassed a database with 1,800 examples of suspect parts. It scrutinized 100, and found that 70 were traced to Chinese firms, according to the memo.

None of the examples were connected to instances of lives lost or dramatic failures causing an aircraft crash, said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee chairman.

The panel is considering ways to tighten rules against the counterfeits, Levin told reporters, including requiring the defense contractors to pay for replacing the parts with genuine items.

"There's a lot of possibilities here," Levin said. "Right now, there is ambiguity in some of the contracts."

Legislation "will force contractors to tell" their subcontractors and their subcontractor's suppliers that they need to make sure that the parts being sold are legitimate, he said.

Robinson R22 Beta, Ocean Helicopters (operator), N413RM: Accident occurred November 05, 2011 in West Palm Beach, Florida

A 54-year-old West Palm Beach woman who was jolted in 2011 when a helicopter clipped her roof and landed in her front yard has sued the pilot of the aircraft.

In the lawsuit filed this week in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, an attorney for Nedra Obradovich claims helicopter pilot John Berg didn’t have sufficient experience to fly the Robinson R22 which he rented from Ocean Helicopters at the North County Airport.

Berg, a boat captain who was taking aerials photos of a craft he was working on at Rybovich Marina, had 67 hours of flight experience when he crashed into Obradovich’s yard near the marina in November 2011. Pilots who are taking aerial photos should have at least 500 hours of experience, the National Transportation Safety Board said when it investigated the crash.

Both Berg and his two passengers survived. Obradovich is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages for unspecified injuries and property damage in the lawsuit filed by attorney Gary Roberts.

A suit Obradovich filed against Ocean Helicopters was settled for an undisclosed amount in August.

John Berg and Emily Tandy talk about the 2011 helicopter crash shortly after it occurred.


NTSB Identification: ERA12LA063 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, November 05, 2011 in West Palm Beach, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2012
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N413RM
Injuries: 2 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot of the helicopter received his private pilot certificate less than 4 months before the accident and had accumulated a total flight experience of 67 hours. He and a passenger were circling a boatyard about 600 feet above ground level (agl) at 60 knots with the intention of taking photographs. The pilot reported that, as he turned southbound (downwind) with the carburetor heat on, he noticed a loss of airspeed. He moved the cyclic forward in an attempt to maintain airspeed; however, the low rotor rpm horn sounded, and he performed an autorotation to a residential area. The helicopter impacted power lines, trees, and a residence. Recorded weather data revealed that the wind was from the north-northeast at 16 knots, gusting to 24 knots. Review of radar data revealed that the pilot turned into a tailwind at an altitude of 300 to 400 feet agl. Speed calculations based on the radar data revealed that the airspeed decreased from about 39 to 31 knots during the turn. The calculations did not include wind gusts, and, given the magnitude of the gusts, it is likely that the helicopter’s airspeed slowed to the point where it lost translational lift and began to settle with power. A subsequent examination of the wreckage, including a successful test-run of the engine, did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions. The helicopter manufacturer recommends that photo flights should only be conducted by well trained, experienced pilots who have at least 500 hours pilot-in-command time in helicopters and over 100 hours in the model of helicopter flown.

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

The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed during a low-altitude turn into gusty tailwind conditions, which resulted in a loss of translational lift and settling with power. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's lack of total flight experience.

On November 5, 2011, about 1620 eastern standard time, a Robinson R22 BETA, N413RM, operated by Ocean Helicopters Inc., was substantially damaged during an autorotation, following a loss of rotor rpm near West Palm Beach, Florida. The certificated private pilot and passenger incurred minor injuries. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight, which departed North Palm Beach Country Airport (F45), West Palm Beach, Florida, about 1530.

According to the pilot, the wind was from the north-northeast at 10 knots, gusting to 20 knots, and he was circling a boatyard about 600 feet above the ground at 60 knots. The pilot planned to circle the boatyard while the passenger took some photographs. After completing some circuits, as the helicopter turned southbound with the carburetor heat on, the pilot noticed a loss of airspeed. He moved the cyclic forward in an attempt to maintain airspeed; however, the low rotor rpm horn sounded and accompanying cockpit indication illuminated. When the horn sounded, the pilot immediately entered an autorotation. During the autorotation, the pilot turned left 180 degrees to fly upwind, and radioed an emergency to air traffic control. During the autorotation, the helicopter impacted powerlines, trees, and a residence.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor blades and fuselage. Following the accident, the engine was subsequently test-run on the accident helicopter. The engine started without hesitation and ran continuously at different power settings, including idle and 100 percent rpm. During the engine run, no anomalies were noted with the engine or its associated engine controls.

The pilot obtained his private pilot certificate on July 26, 2011, with a rating for rotorcraft helicopter. At the time of the accident, he reported a total flight experience of 67 hours; of which, 42 hours were in the same make and model as the accident helicopter. The pilot flew 8 hours and 1 hour during the 90-day and 30-day period preceding the accident, respectively.

Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), West Palm Beach, Florida, was located about 4 miles southwest of the accident site. The recorded wind at PBI, at 1553, was from 020 degrees at 16 knots, gusting to 24 knots.

Radar data was obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration and plotted. Review of the plot revealed that the helicopter made a left 180-degree turn, from north to south, between 1619:35 and 1620:15. During the turn, the recorded altitude varied between 300 and 400 feet. Nine radar targets were recorded during that time. The first three radar targets, depicting north travel, revealed an average groundspeed of approximately 27 knots, with an average airspeed about 37 knots based on a 16-knot wind from 020-degrees. The second set of three targets, depicting west travel in the turn, revealed an average groundspeed of approximately 39 knots, with an average airspeed about 47 knots. The third set of three targets, depicting travel from west to south at the conclusion of the turn, revealed an average groundspeed of 36 knots, with an average airspeed of 31 knots. The calculations did not include wind gusts.

Review of Robinson Safety Notice SN-34 revealed:


There is a misconception that aerial survey and photo flights can be flown safely by low time pilots. Not true. There have been numerous fatal accidents during aerial survey and photo flights, including several involving Robinson helicopters.

Often, to please the observer or photographer, an inexperienced pilot will slow the helicopter to less than 30 KIAS and then attempt to maneuver for the best viewing angle. While maneuvering, the pilot may lose track of airspeed and wind conditions. The helicopter can rapidly lose translational lift and begin to settle…Aerial survey and photo flights should only be conducted by well trained, experienced pilots who:

1) Have at least 500 hours pilot-in-command in helicopters and over 100 hours in the model flown;

2) Have extensive training in both low RPM and settling-with-power recovery techniques;

3) Are willing to say no to the observer or photographer and only fly the aircraft at speeds, altitudes, and wind angles that are safe and allow good escape routes."

  Regis#: 413RM        Make/Model: R22       Description: R-22
  Date: 11/05/2011     Time: 2022

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial

  City: WEST PALM BEACH   State: FL   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # Pass:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    


  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: SOUTH FLORIDA, FL  (SO19)             Entry date: 11/07/2011 
By Letters to the Editor for Tuesday, Nov. 8

As a retired commercial pilot, I feel compelled to do some clarifying and ask for some clarification regarding the Sunday story "Helicopter stalls, crashes near house."

I will start with the clarification. Helicopters do not stall. Their engines can fail or stop running as a result of various factors, such as fuel starvation. Engines in automobiles do occasionally stall. Usually when they stall, they will start running again.

When an airplane or helicopter engine fails in flight, it is not likely that the engine will return to a normal functional state. The "stall factor" that is relevant with aircraft is when the wing "stalls" and no longer produces lift. This is usually a result of getting the nose too high of an angle in relationship to the ground and/or allowing the airspeed to get too slow and not does relate to the functionality of the engine.

The last two highly publicized aviation crashes were Continental Flight 3407 (operated by Colgan Air) at Buffalo, N.Y., on Feb. 12, 2009, and Air France Flight 447, which crashed in the ocean off the northeast coast of Venezuela on June 1, 2009. They were caused by pilots improperly flying the airplane into a stall, resulting in the crash. During both accidents, the engines were operating normally at the time of impact. The engines had not stalled. The wing of the aircraft had stalled.

Now for the clarification request. "The pilot lost control 700 feet from the ground and brought the helicopter down for a controlled landing," said West Palm Beach Sgt. Louis Penque. Was Sgt. Penque trying to "punk" us? Is this one of those "double entendre" things that our English teachers tried to get us to understand? To control or not to control!

Delray Beach

Thanks for the informative story "Helicopter stalls, crashes near house." As an ex-Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam, I noticed a couple of slight errors.

Airplanes stall - too little airflow past the wing to generate lift - and engines stall. But helicopters have engine failures, which cause pilots to initiate an auto rotation: a descent causing the upward airflow to preserve rotor speed. At the proper altitude, the pilot uses the power of the rotor blade's inertia to replace engine power and executes a landing.

The article quoted West Palm Beach Police Sgt. Louis Penque as saying, "The pilot lost control 700 feet from the ground and brought the helicopter down for a controlled landing." My thought is that someone cannot "lose control" and then control a landing. If you lose control of a helicopter at altitude, the aircraft will fall like a "greased crowbar."

The pilot did a good job of executing a forced landing (auto rotation) after an engine failure, then lost control as the first terrestrial object was contacted. The "A good landing is one you can walk away from" rule seems to apply here. I would recommend that The Post have an aviation adviser who might correct an aviation faux pas before publication.

Boynton Beach

Airport tenant whose privileges were reinstated in trouble again; Stephen Fletcher says he's being harassed: Immokalee Regional Airport (KIMM)

This time, the Collier County Airport Authority filed a report with the South Florida Flight Standards District Office and the federal government is getting involved after Fletcher landed his airplane in a grassy area near a Florida Department of Transportation inspector.

But, when the incident was reported to the county's Airport Authority Board Monday, some board members wondered if it was Fletcher's failure to follow the rules or if it was poor airport management. Fletcher — the airport's biggest client — said he is now considering leaving Immokalee.

Fletcher had his privileges temporarily suspended in early October after he toured Commissioner Georgia Hiller and commission candidate Tim Nance around the property without authorization, and Nance's sport utility vehicle was seen violating airport rules and speed limits.

Curry brought up the latest incident during Monday's meeting on an advertised agenda item discussing the problems the Airport Authority has had of late with Fletcher, who owns Fletcher's Flying Services and has operated out of the Immokalee Airport for 34 years.

On Oct. 26, Chris Curry, the airport authority's executive director, was with Immokalee Airport Manager Thomas Vergo and an FDOT inspector on runway 36 of the Immokalee Regional Airport. Curry said Vergo and the FDOT inspector had gotten out of a vehicle to look at a light when Fletcher landed his aircraft in the grassy area before the threshold of runway 36.

"He was 500 to 800 feet from the threshold," Curry told the board. "His aircraft was bouncing around. It looked, to me, like it was hard to control."

This description incensed board member Byron Meade, who was flying in the plane with Fletcher at the time.

"Oh bull," he said.

Fletcher then taxied his aircraft near where Vergo and the FDOT inspector were standing, coming within about 30 feet of them, Fletcher said. The FDOT inspector was "very upset" and told airport officials that they had to file a report with the Florida Flight Standards office or he would, Curry said.

Vergo sent a letter on Oct. 28 to Fletcher alerting him that the report had been filed with the flight standards office and that an investigator with the Federal Aviation Administration would contact him.

"Landing on an unapproved turf area constitutes a hazardous and unauthorized operation that had the potential to endanger the lives of all involved," Vergo wrote.

But Fletcher told board members Monday that he lands on the grassy area every day, in front of airport personnel, and this was the first time he had heard it was not acceptable.

"If you told me I couldn't land in the grass, I wouldn't land in the grass," he said. "This is harassment."

Landing in the grass can be safer on a tail-wheel airplane because the chance of spinning the plane is less, Meade said. Planes are allowed to land on the grass at the Naples airport, as well as the airport in Labelle, he said.

"In my opinion, the airport personnel is not doing their job," he said.

But Curry said the Naples airport has an approved turf landing area, which Immokalee does not.

The incident comes on the heels of an Oct. 3 event, during which Fletcher took Hiller and Nance around the airport property without authorization.

Nance's sport utility vehicle caused concern when airport officials say he exceeded posted speed limits, crossed several runways and refused to pull over.

Airport officials called the vehicle suspicious, according to reports, because it crossed several runways and surpassed airport runway speed limits. Airport officials tried to pull the vehicle over, but it would not slow down, reports said.

Deputies pulled Nance's SUV over outside the airport property. There were no arrests and no charges because no illegal activity occurred off airport property.

Curry stripped Fletcher of his driving privileges at the airport for one year, but they were reinstated by Collier Commissioners by a 4 to 1 vote. Curry asked the airport board to deny Fletcher's request to have a long-term lease at the airport, but many board members did not want to do anything that might drive away their largest client.

"Ninety percent of the jet fuel sold at that airport, he buys," Meade said.

Fletcher, who is currently on a month-to-month lease at the airport, said he is considering leaving Immokalee, which would not only be bad for the Airport Authority, but for the agricultural businesses for which he crop dusts. Fletcher said if he went to Labelle, he would have to increase his prices to the farmers by 100 to 200 percent.

"They are trying to kick me off the airport," he said. "I have never had a violation, I have never had a hand slap in 34 years."

But Curry said tenants have to follow the rules and regulations, which has been a bitter pill for some to swallow.

"These rules and regulations have been in place for nine years," he said. "We're just enforcing them."

Marine Found Dead in Barracks at Camp Pendleton

A 19-year-old Marine was found deceased in his barracks room at Camp Pendleton on Sunday.

Lance Cpl. Mario Arias of Canoga Park, Calif. was an aircrew trainee from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Arias enlisted in the Marine Corps Aug. 23, 2010 and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal.

The cause of death is unknown and currently under investigation.

Allegiant Air: Plane Grounded at Rogue Valley International - Medford Airport (KMFR), Medford, Oregon

MEDFORD, Ore. -- We are now learning more about what caused a passenger plane to give-out before taking off from the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport, forcing more than a hundred people off of it.

Allegiant Air says there was a malfunction in the engine. It's now removing the engine, sending it to the manufacturer in hopes of finding out exactly how the problem happened.

As for the plane, it is still parked at the airport. The company says it's in the process of putting a new engine on the plane.

FAA: Phoenix tops list of most laser events

PHOENIX (KPHO) -  Lasers have been aimed at 96 aircrafts in the Phoenix area in 2011, the most incidents reported by pilots any place in the nation, the FAA says. 

Philadelphia is ranked second in the number of laser events with 95 incidents reported this year to date. Chicago ranks third with 83 events.

Overall, number of laser events around the nation continues to rise. In 2010, there were 2,836 cases.  This year, pilots reported 2,795 laser events through Oct. 20. 

The FAA said the increase in annual laser reports is likely due to several factors:
  • The availability of inexpensive laser devices on the Internet.
  • Increased power levels that enable lasers to reach aircraft at higher altitudes.
  • More pilot reporting of laser strikes.
  • The introduction of green and blue lasers, which are more easily seen than red lasers.
The FAA said it began addressing the problem in 2005 by encouraging pilots to report laser events to the nearest air traffic control facility and requiring facilities to immediately relay that information to local law enforcement agencies.

In June 2011, the FAA announced it would start imposing civil penalties of up to $11,000 against people who interfere with a flight crew by pointing a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft. The agency is currently working on 18 civil penalty cases.

The FAA also provided technical expertise to help Myrtle Beach, SC develop a law making it illegal to point lasers at an aircraft. Myrtle Beach adopted its measure in September 2011, joining a number of other cities and states that now have laws in place making it illegal to shine lasers at aircrafts.

Over the past few years, people have been charged under local, state and federal criminal statues for pointing lasers at aircraft, and legislation is pending that would make it a specific federal crime. The FAA is prepared to work with all law enforcement agencies to assist with criminal prosecutions.

The FAA has created a new website to make it easier for pilots and the public to report laser incidents and obtain information on the subject.

The website, which can be found at, collects a wide array of laser information into one location. It includes links for reporting laser incidents, laser statistics, FAA press releases, and FAA research on the dangers lasers can pose to pilots, as well as downloadable videos.

Rick Hendrick out of hospital a week after jet went off the end of the runway and into a fence. Key West, Florida. Gulfstream G150, N480JJ.

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A week after a jet Rick Hendrick and his wife were on slid off a runway in Key West, Rick Hendrick is back home and out of the hospital.
The incident happened on Halloween night when the jet, owned by Jimmie Johnson, had its brakes fail while landing.

The plane also had its landing gear collapse when it went nearly 1000 feet off the runway in Key West, an NTSB report said.

A report released by the NTSB classified Hendrick's injuries as "serious."

The plane also suffered structural damage as it left the runway, crossed a 600-foot overrun, hit the far side of a ditch, crossed a dirt road, cleared another ditch and then hit a berm.

Hendrick suffered some broken ribs and a broken clavicle and was first hospitalized in Key West the night of the incident. When he returned to Charlotte on Tuesday, he was admitted to a medical facility in Charlotte for treatment of pain.

He was released Monday and is doign well, Hendrick Motorsports said.

The pilot of the plane hit the brakes twice to try to get them to work. He finally applied the thrust reversers, but they weren't completely successful.

Hendrick and his wife own a home in the Keys.

Here is the full text of the NTSB preliminary report:

On October 31, 2011, at about 1940 eastern daylight time, an Israel Aircraft Industries G150, N480JJ, went off the end of the runway on landing roll out. The nose landing gear collapsed and the airframe sustained structural damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR), flight plan was filed. The certificated airline transport rated pilot-in-command (PIC), airline transport rated co-pilot and one passenger reported minor injuries. One passenger sustained serious injuries. The flight departed from Witham Field Airport (SUA), Stuart, Florida at 1900. The flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight.

Examination of the crash site revealed the airplane departed the runway, crossed a 600-foot overrun, impacted the far side of a ditch, crossed a dirt road, cleared another ditch, and came to a stop 820 feet from the departure end of the runway.

The PIC stated the airplane touched down on the runway just past the 1,000 foot marker. He applied brakes and was going to activate the thrust reversers when he realized the brakes were not operating. He took his feet off the brakes and then reapplied brakes with no braking response. The co-pilot (CP) also applied brakes with no response. The PIC activated the thrust reversers and the airplane continued off the end of the runway colliding with a gravel berm.

The airplane was recovered from the runway and will undergo further investigation.

Flydubai 'best value for money': poll

Affordable fares encourage passengers to travel more often

Dubai-based low cost airline flydubai has been named the region's best value for money airline in a recent UAE poll, collecting 31 per cent of the total vote.

Following just two years of commercial flights, flydubai topped the poll of more than 500 UAE residents who were asked to choose "The best value for money airline for travel in the region".

In second place was Dubai-based full service airline Emirates, which just pipped Air Arabia with 18 per cent of the vote - 13 per cent behind flydubai. Sharjah-based Air Arabia took third place in the poll with 16 per cent of the vote - some 15 per cent behind flydubai.

Missing out on a podium finish was Abu Dhabi-based full service carrier Etihad Airways with just 7 per cent of the vote, 24 per cent behind flydubai and 11 per cent behind Emirates. Even when broken down by their home market, Abu Dhabi residents still thought flydubai offered the best value for money.

Dan Healy, the CEO of the Dubai-based research company Real Opinions, which conducted the research, commented: "The regional airline industry has gone through a transformation in recent years, emulating what happened in the regional flights sector in Europe at the turn of the millennium. The prolific growth of low cost airlines and the resultant consolidation in this industry segment has naturally created winners and losers, but passengers are the real winners as they now have more choice to better match their budget and required service levels."

In a further boost for the aviation industry, the introduction of low cost airlines also appears to have grown the overall market as 87 per cent of the 538 respondents agreed that "Cheaper airfares encourage me to fly more often in the region". This is backed up with a sense of adventure to journey where they haven't been before with 86 per cent supporting the statement ''I like experiencing new cultures and adventures".

The parallel growth of the Internet in the Middle East has also come at an opportune time for:   Low-cost airlines; more than 90 per cent of respondents agreed that "There are greater cost savings and choice when you search and book flights online".

Healy added: "We have been very active in the region researching the evolution of the Internet and advertising practices from a consumer's perspective. Our past research has shown that 72 per cent of UAE Internet users have purchased online and flights are top of the list."

However, the research indicates there are still travellers who prefer to deal with travel agents, and on average 67 per cent of travellers reported travel agents now also include low cost airlines in their quotes.