Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Robinson R22 Beta, VH-THI: Empty tank caused chopper death. Accident occurred October 4, 2010. Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has found a helicopter crashed near Katherine killing the pilot because it had run out of fuel.

The pilot died when his helicopter plummeted to the ground on a cattle station near Katherine in October last year.

The man had been mustering cattle and radio transmissions before the crash reveal he was having trouble getting a bull out of the bush and into the open for workers to catch.

Transport safety investigators say the helicopter then ran out of fuel, causing the engine to stop.

In their report they describe the pilot as being confident and competent, but say he probably missed the red light in the cockpit warning there was little fuel because he was looking out the window focusing on the bull.

Indianapolis International Airport removes artwork to make space for LED panel

One of the signature artworks in the passenger terminal at Indianapolis International Airport came down last night to be replaced by a large LED screen showing both artistic videos and advertising.

The new video wall is expected to debut by Dec. 8 showing a video titled "Perm Press, The American Cycle," a work by Indianapolis artist Artur Silva that includes animation, video and photography.

It will hang in the three-story glass atrium above the main stairway and escalator of the Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal building, where it will replace the sculptural painting "Chrysalis" by James Willie Faust.

Faust issued this statement by email this morning: "The act of removing Chrysalis by artist James Wille Faust at the Indianapolis International Airport in the middle of the night was a bypassing of the Mayor's office, the City County Councilor's office, the Arts community, and the Citizens of the City of Indianapolis who have strongly supported this artwork and not its removal. We believe this defiant and perceived underhanded action speaks for itself."

The change was controversial in the Indianapolis art and culture community when proposed earlier this year. Faust said his work had been created specifically for the location in the architecturally enhanced terminal building, so he opposed moving the piece and refused to see it hung in the Indiana Convention Center or any other prominent location.

Airport officials said other options were studied, including moving the Faust artwork and moving the video wall. In the end, the decision is to install the video wall and put the art work in storage until another mutually agreed location can be found to display it.

"We regret that this process affected 'Chrysalis,' a much-admired piece that helped garner praise for our (airport art) program," said John D. Clark III, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. "However, art will continue to complement and strengthen the award-winning beauty of our terminal and concourses."

Consultants from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, hired to advise the airport authority about the art to be displayed in and around the terminal, support the change to contemporary works.

There are about 2,000 art works of many types throughout the building, seen by more than 7 million air travelers a year.

But in a recessionary economy, the airport authority has been looking for every source of revenue including spots in the building for advertising. The screen is expected to produce several hundred thousand dollars a year to the airport's budget.

The new video wall is a giant LED screen made by Sharp. The electronics manufacturer donated the $300,000 wall of light that measures 22 feet wide by 7.5 feet tall.

The computer-controlled display of images on the screen will show at least one art video and several advertising messages that will scroll continuously on a loop.

Silva's inaugural video is 62 seconds long, just the time of a ride up or down the escalator between the Civic Plaza and the lower level baggage claim area.

"Perm Press" is about the Brazilian-born artist's fascination with American history and his interest in the way history repeats itself. The images in the video jump between the past and present, showing a mixture of familiar American icons such as pictures of Abraham Lincoln and the ferris wheel at the Indiana State Fair.

The commissioned art videos will be changed about twice a year.

The second to debut next June will feature a selection of photographs by Nina Katchadourian, an artist and a frequent flyer who has taken the pictures during her travels.

Nebraska-based air ambulance to serve Rosebud

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — An air ambulance will be stationed just seven minutes from the heart of South Dakota's Rosebud Indian Reservation starting Wednesday, when it begins flying out of nearby Valentine, Neb.

Sioux Falls-based Rural Health Care Logistics Inc., which since 2007 has run a similar service out of Rapid City serving patients on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, will house the fixed-wing aircraft in a Miller Field airport hangar.

In this undated photo provided by Rural Healthcare Logistics Inc., the interior of a fixed wing air ambulance similar to one that will fly out of Valentine, Neb., is shown in Rapid City, S.D. The plane will be stationed just seven minutes from the heart of South Dakota's Rosebud Indian Reservation starting Wednesday, Nov. 30.

Efforts to place an air ambulance near Rosebud have been in the works for more than five years, said John Warnock , the company's chief executive.

Jody Waln, a Rosebud Sioux Tribe community health representative, said the new service is essential for residents of the isolated reservation because it will cut wait times from service out of Sioux Falls or Rapid City.

"It's a lifesaving endeavor," Waln said. "You wait for a plane here when your family member's lying there, sometimes dying, and minutes and seconds count on saving a life."

Warnock said the twin-engine, King Air is essentially a portable emergency room. Having the plane and medical crew on standby in Valentine will offer doctors on the reservation and other rural communities a quicker option to fly trauma patients to major medical centers.

And having it run by an independent company instead of a hospital helps increase the health care options in the region.

"Our aircraft, because it's unaffiliated, will go to any medical center — Omaha, Lincoln, Sioux Falls, Denver, Minneapolis — that the doctor and the patient deem the patient will get the best care," Warnock said. "That means that these medical centers will begin to compete for that patient, where in the past they just got them because they had the air ambulance."

Although helicopters work great for short distance flights to pull patients from an urban rush-hour accident or airlift a skier with a broken femur out of a mountain resort, Warnock said fixed-wing aircraft hold many advantages. They are faster than most helicopters, are equipped to provide advanced life support, can carry two patients and next of kin and operate in more varied weather conditions, he said.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe bears no cost for the service, as Warnock's company supports itself by billing insurers. For patients on Rosebud, those claims will go mostly to Medicaid, Medicare, Indian Health Service and Veterans Affairs. For residents of the surrounding rural areas, that consists mostly of private and public sector insurers, Warnock said.

Rural Health Care Logistics provides the aircraft, medical teams, insurance and equipment and bears the cost of fuel, maintenance and hangar storage.

The city of Valentine and a local economic development board paid for the concrete slab and supplied electricity and plumbing, and Cherry County Hospital helped pay for construction of the hangar and taxiway, said Brent Peterson, the hospital's administrator.

"We saw this as an opportunity to minimize time even more with being able to dispatch the ambulance here either for ourselves or neighboring communities," Peterson said.

Warnock for years ran a Minnesota-based air courier service for banks that flew to small towns in that state, the Dakotas and Wisconsin. As he began talking to people in rural towns about their needs for charter air service, he quickly learned that critical air medical care was the more pressing need.

The first and most critical step is trauma care, he said, but once the aviation infrastructure is in place the plane can also be used to bring doctors onto the reservation.

Waln, the wife of the tribal Chairman Rodney Bordeaux, said the Rosebud reservation's isolated location and limited housing and education options make it hard for clinics and hospitals to recruit specialists. The added transportation option could allow a specialist to live and work in Sioux Falls while also putting in regular time at a reservation hospital, she said.

"If they can be flown in for four days at a time and flown back out, I see that as a win-win situation for our people," Waln said.

Warnock said his company is looking at starting similar services at other sites on the northern Plains, along the Great Lakes and in the northern Mountain states.

"It's a model we're going to roll out," he said.

Emergency Landing at St. John's Airport

Mechanical problems forced the operators of a C-130 military plane to shut down one of the aircraft's engines and make an emergency landing at St. John's airport this evening. Emergency equipment and crews were on stand-by at around 5 p.m., waiting for the aircraft to touch down with its seven passengers. Airport spokesman Bob Nurse says the plane landed without incident. It will now undergo a mechanical inspection.

Thrush spraying in Colorado

Spraying sunflowers on summer day in Colorado.

Fog causes several delays, cancellations at Sacramento International

Soupy fog created a few hurdles for airline passengers flying in and out of Sacramento International Airport today, authorities say.

Such weather-related interruptions are rare because of the airport's sophisticated landing systems - so rare that less than one-third of 1 percent of flights in the last year were affected, said spokeswoman Laurie Slothower.

However, almost a dozen flights between midnight and this morning were canceled or delayed after visibility at the airport dropped below the 700-foot threshold needed for the airport's system to work, Slothower said. At times, visibility dipped to 400 feet.

United Airlines had to cancel eight arriving and departing flights, Slothower said. An Aeromexico flight en route to Sacramento was diverted to San Francisco, and a Delta flight was diverted to Reno for refueling. Slothower knew of one delay for Southwest Airlines.

Tonight is forecast to be clear, and today's fog is not expected to return Wednesday.

Winds cancel 450 flights at O’Hare International Airport

More than 450 flights were canceled in and out of O’Hare International Airport Tuesday as strong winds with gusts up to 60 mph battered the Chicago area throughout the day.

Fliers at O’Hare and Midway airports were delayed on average 45 minutes due to the weather, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

A wind advisory is in effect until 9 p.m., and a lakeshore flood advisory is in effect until 10 a.m. Wednesday as the winds may cause waves of 15 to 20 feet on Lake Michigan, according to the National Weather service.

As of 11:45 a.m. gusts reached 57 mph at Waukegan Harbor, 47 mph in Wheeling at Chicago Executive Airport, 45 mph at O’Hare Airport and 43 mph at DuPage Airport.

The strong winds are expected to continue tonight as temperatures dip into the upper 20s and 50 mph gusts remain as a possibility.

Wednesday is expected to be sunny with temperatures in the low 40s, and winds will slow to between 10 and 15 mph with gusts of 30 mph possible.

http://www.dailyherald.com

Want to fly? Dania Beach company makes water-powered jet-packs for $100,000 each

If you've ever fantasized about jetting above the waves, a South Florida company makes and sells your dream machine – for the lofty price of nearly $100,000.

JetLev Technologies Inc. of Dania Beach has sold about 70 of its water-powered jet packs so far this year, mainly to companies that rent them and to yacht charters that want to lure guests with the latest luxury toys, said marketing manager Raphie Aronowitz.

Jay Oofterhouse rents one to visitors in Key West.

"Most people are up and flying on their own in about five minutes," said Oofterhouse. Customers generally glide 10 to 15 feet above the water at about 5 mph, he said.
Video: See crimes caught on camera

"You're weightless, and that's the exhilarating part of it," he said.

JetPack Adventures of Key West charges about $250 for a ride on a catamaran, a lesson on how to fly the jet pack and a chance to fly the device for about 45 minutes, Oofterhouse said. The company, affiliated with JetLev, began offering the rides in June.

The brain behind the machines is Raymond Li, an accountant by training. At age 14, he saw James Bond soar with a jet pack in the 1965 movie Thunderball and dreamed of flying one.

Three decades later, when he couldn't find one he wanted to buy, Li turned inventor. He came up with the concept after riding a water scooter. He figured flying above water would be safer than soaring above land, with the water serving as a cushion.

His machine, the JetLev R200, has two parts: a floating pod like a water scooter that holds the 200-hp engine and the jet pack worn by the flier. The engine pushes water up a 33-foot hose to the pack on the pilot's back. The water then rushes out of tubes on each side of the pack.

The pressure of the released water is similar to water rushing from a garden hose, said Oofterhouse: "You can put your hand in, and it won't affect you."

The flier controls the speed and flight path from the jet pack. In addition, an instructor on shore or someone inside a nearby launch boat also have back-up controls to slow or stop the engine. The pilot can't go higher than 30 feet or faster than about 28 mph, JetLev managers said.

Li said the machine has U.S. Coast Guard approval, and instructors are certified. There have been no reports of injuries after thousands of flights, the JetLev executives said.

Li plans to develop different jet pack models that will cost less and let more people feel like they're riding a "magic carpet."

For now, his company has a dozen employees at its Griffin Road headquarters. It took orders for dozens of its machines from contacts made at last month's Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Many will be shipped in the spring, Aronowitz said.

The suggested retail price of $99,500 applies only for basic paint: portal white, deep black and fire red. Want something spiffier, add $3,500 for premium paint in other colors.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com

Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain, Trans North Aviation Ltd., N59773: Fatal accident occurred November 28, 2011 in Riverwoods, Illinois

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Docket And Docket Items: http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

National Transportation Safety Board   - Aviation Accident Data Summary: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA086 
 Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Monday, November 28, 2011 in Riverwoods, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31-350, registration: N59773
Injuries: 3 Fatal,1 Serious,1 Minor.

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.

The airplane was dispatched on an emergency medical services flight. While being vectored for an instrument approach, the pilot declared an emergency and reported that the airplane was out of fuel. He said the airplane lost engine power and that he was heading toward the destination airport. The airplane descended through clouds and impacted trees and terrain short of its destination.

No preimpact anomalies were found during a postaccident examination. The postaccident examination revealed about 1.5 ounces of a liquid consistent with avgas within the airplane fuel system. Based on the three previous flight legs and refueling receipts, postaccident calculations indicated that the airplane was consuming fuel at a higher rate than referenced in the airplane flight manual. Based on this consumption rate, the airplane did not have enough fuel to reach the destination airport; however, a 20-knot tailwind was predicted, so it is likely that the pilot was relying on this to help the airplane reach the airport. Regardless, he would have been flying with less than the 45-minute fuel reserve that is required for an instrument flight rules flight. The pilot failed to recognize and compensate for the airplane’s high fuel consumption rate during the accident flight. It is likely that had the pilot monitored the gauges and the consumption rate for the flight he would have determined that he did not have adequate fuel to complete the flight.

Toxicology tests showed the pilot had tetrahydrocannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (marijuana) in his system; however, the level of impairment could not be determined based on the information available. However, marijuana use can impair the ability to concentrate and maintain vigilance and can distort the perception of time and distance. As a professional pilot, the use of marijuana prior to the flight raises questions about the pilot’s decision-making.

The investigation also identified several issues that were not causal to the accident but nevertheless raised concerns about the company’s operational control of the flight. The operator had instituted a fuel log, but it was not regularly monitored. The recovered load manifest showed the pilot had been on duty for more than 15 hours, which exceeded the maximum of 14 hours for a regularly assigned duty period per 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. The operator stated that it was aware of the pilot’s two driving while under the influence of alcohol convictions, but the operator did not request a background report on the pilot before he was hired. Further, the operator did not list the pilot-rated passenger as a member of the flight crew, yet he had flown previous positioning legs on the dispatched EMS mission as the pilot-in-command.

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

The pilot's inadequate preflight planning and in-flight decision-making, which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion during approach. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to operate an airplane after using illicit drugs.


HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 28, 2011, about 2250 central standard time, the pilot of Lifeguard N59773, a Piper PA-31-350 Chieftain airplane, declared an emergency, reporting that the airplane was out of fuel, and indicating that the flight was gliding without engine power direct to the destination airport, Chicago Executive Airport (PWK), near Wheeling, Illinois. The emergency medical services (EMS) airplane subsequently sustained substantial damage when it impacted trees and terrain near Riverwoods, Illinois. The airline transport pilot and two passengers on board sustained fatal injuries. A pilot-rated passenger received serious injuries and the medical crew member received minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by Trans North Aviation Ltd. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a non-scheduled, domestic, on-demand, EMS passenger flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident for the flight, which operated on an activated instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The flight departed from the Jesup-Wayne County Airport (JES), near Jesup, Georgia, about 1900.

According to a load manifest form found in the wreckage, dated November 28, 2011, the crew that flew N59773 from the Crawfordsville Municipal Airport (CFJ), near Crawfordsville, Indiana, to the Perry-Houston County Airport (PXE), near Perry, Georgia, and onto the Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), near West Palm Beach, Florida, listed the pilot-rated passenger as the pilot-in-command and listed the pilot and the medical crewmember as “other crew.” This form indicated that this crew started their duty period at 0700 when they flew from CFJ and they ended their duty period at 1430 in PBI.

According to another load manifest form, also dated November 28, 2011, the crew that flew N59773 from PBI, to JES, and onto PWK listed the pilot as the pilot-in-command and listed the pilot-rated passenger and the medical crewmember as "other crew." This form indicated that this crew started their duty period at 1430 at PBI. This form indicated that they departed from PBI at 1642 and landed at JES at 1830. Fueling records showed an airplane was fueled at JES with 160 gallons of aviation gasoline (avgas) and an additional 5 gallons of avgas, which totaled a combined servicing of 165 gallons of avgas. This manifest form indicated that they departed from JES at 1900 and were destined for PWK. The duty period ending time was not completed.

A review of the recording of the approach controller’s frequency revealed that the pilot representing Lifeguard N59773 requested to fly direct to the outer marker navigation aid named PAMME. The controller indicated that the flight had to be taken on a heading to intercept the approach outside PAMME and the controller denied the request. The flight was given that heading for the instrument approach and the pilot then declared an emergency. The controller inquired if the flight was still landing at PWK. The pilot reported that he was unable, the airplane was out of fuel, and that the airplane was “coasting.” The controller asked if the field was in sight. The pilot reported negative and asked for the cloud tops. The controller indicated that the cloud deck was 1,400 feet overcast. The pilot responded that the flight was coasting down and that the pilot would report visual contact. The pilot further indicated that the flight was flying direct to PWK. The controller advised the flight of a low altitude alert and the flight acknowledged that alert. The controller again asked if the pilot had the field in sight. The pilot reported affirmative. The flight was cleared for the visual approach to runway 16 and the pilot was informed to cancel the flight’s IFR flight plan. The controller further indicated that the change to the airport’s advisory frequency was approved. There was no further recorded radio communication from the Lifeguard EMS flight. A transcript of the air traffic controller’s communications is appended to the docket associated with this investigation.

The pilot-rated passenger sat in the front right seat of the airplane. During a postaccident telephone interview, he indicated that the flight from PBI to PWK started out normal. While flying over the lower portion of Lake Michigan, the pilot selected the auxiliary fuel tanks to use up all the fuel in the auxiliary tanks. The last quarter of the main tanks was reportedly consumed “pretty fast” as monitored on the gauges. The right fuel flow warning light came on north of PWK. The pilot selected the crossfeed valve to its ON position. The fuel warning light went out. The pilot asked the air traffic controller to proceed direct to the outer marker and the air traffic control indicated that he was unable to grant that request. The fuel light came on again and the pilot declared an emergency. The pilot-rated passenger said that he had no idea of the amount of fuel that remained in the fuel tanks. The right engine subsequently started to shutter. The flight was cleared direct. The cloud tops were at 3,000 feet above mean sea level (msl). The airplane was turned left and then both engines “died” on a west heading. The airplane “coasted.” The airplane was in clouds during the descent and popped out of the clouds about 1,400 feet msl where there was about 700 feet of altitude left. The pilot rated passenger made some radio calls. The airplane was turned to a southbound heading. The pilot-rated passenger advised the pilot of suitable landing sites but the flight was unable to get to them. The landing gear was up. Flaps were up. The pilot moved the mixture to idle/cutoff and feathered the engines’ propellers. He pointed out a dark spot to the pilot and the pilot turned to it. The airplane scraped the tops of trees. The first tree impacted the pilot’s side and it came through the window. Both the pilot and the pilot-rated passenger were “on the flight controls.” The controls then went limp. The pilot-rated passenger indicated that he tried to keep the airplane away from the houses and both of his yoke handles broke off. A nearby neighbor found him in the wreckage and asked him if he was “ok.” It was about one-half hour before he was placed in an ambulance.

During a postaccident telephone interview, the medical crew member indicated that the purpose of the flight was to fly to PBI to pick up a patient and passenger and then fly them to PWK. The patient and passenger were informed that there would be one or maybe two stops for fuel. The airplane appeared to be topped off at JES. The fueling started on the right side of the airplane and continued to the left side. The fuel pump shut off after about 160 gallons were pumped. The pump was restarted and the airplane was fueled with more fuel. The flight was "ok" until it encountered “bad air” and the flight descended to about 7,000 feet. At one point in the flight, the medical crew member saw that a cockpit gauge indicated that there was one-half hour remaining before reaching the destination. The pilot remarked on how fast the airplane was flying and the ground speed was about 250 to 260 mph. The pilot reached down and switched tanks. The pilot also rocked the airplane’s wings. Both the engines shut off at the same time. Trees were observed once the flight descended through the clouds. During the accident sequence, the airplane’s nose pitched up as the airplane impacted trees. The passenger screamed and then the screaming stopped. The pilot-rated passenger sitting in the co-pilot’s seat advised them to brace. He said that the seat belt dug into him and his seat separated from its floor track. He was able to loosen his belt. He felt the door and its bottom half was open. He pushed open the top half. He did not initially see the pilot-rated passenger. He talked to a woman in a nearby house and related that there was an airplane accident. He heard people by the airplane and went to the airplane. He observed a small fire and told responders of the fire extinguisher location. The medical crew member reported that the pilot was in the front left seat, the pilot-rated passenger was in the front right seat, the patient’s wife was in the rear-facing seat behind the pilot, the patient was belted on the gurney, and he was in the forward-facing seat just in front of the rear cabin door.

The Riverwoods Police Department received an initial 911 phone call about 2250. The first responders found the wreckage near a residence northwest of the intersection or Portwine and Orange Brace roads.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Pilot

The 58-year-old pilot held an airline transport certificate with an airplane multi-engine land rating and he held commercial pilot privileges for single engine land airplanes. He held a flight instructor certificate with single engine, multi-engine, and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a type rating in SA-227 airplanes. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 8410-3 Airman Competency/Proficiency Check Form showed that he passed a 1-hour checkride in the PA-31-350 with the operator’s Chief Pilot on June 7, 2011. The operator reported that the pilot had accumulated 6,607 hours of total flight time, 120 hours of total flight time in the PA-31-350, 171 hours of flight time in the 90 days prior to the accident, 61 hours of flight time in the 60 days prior to the accident, 5 hours of flight time in the 24 hours prior to the accident, and 12 hours of flight time in the Chieftain in the 90 days prior to the accident.

He held a first-class medical certificate, dated February 15, 2011, with limitations for hearing amplification and corrective lenses. The pilot reported on his application for that medical certificate that he had accumulated 6,350 hours of total flight time and 20 hours of flight time in the six months prior to that application. The pilot previously reported that he had a history of convictions for driving under the influence on both May 31, 2002, and February 01, 1997.

The operator initiated a background check in accordance with the Pilot Records Improvement Act of 1996 (PRIA) on the pilot. This PRIA check showed his training records and checkrides at previous employers and also revealed no legal enforcement actions resulting in a finding of a violation pertaining to the pilot. It listed a possible match and gave contact information for a Department of Transportation Compliance and Restoration Section in reference to checking the pilot's driver’s record. The operator did not get a background check from the Department of Transportation Compliance and Restoration Section on the pilot. However, the operator was aware of the pilot's history of convictions.

Pilot-rated Passenger

The 24-year-old pilot-rated passenger held a commercial pilot certificate with single engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He held a flight instructor certificate with single engine, multi-engine, and instrument airplane ratings. He held a first-class medical certificate, dated February 28, 2011, with no limitations. He recorded in his logbook that he had accumulated 314.3 hours of total flight time, 259.5 hours of pilot in command time, 66.6 hours of multi-engine time, and 7 hours of second in command time in airplanes associated with the operator. The operator’s chief pilot indicated in an e-mail that the pilot-rated passenger was compensated by the operator for the positioning flights to PBI and was considered a passenger on the flights from PBI.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane, serial number 31-7652044, was a 1976 Piper PA-31-350, Chieftain, with twin-engines, retractable landing gear, and a conventional semi-monocoque design. The airplane had a maximum gross weight of 7,368 pounds. Two 350-horsepower Lycoming TIO-540-J2BD engines, serial number L-7462-61H and serial number L-1701-68A, powered the airplane. Each engine drove a three-bladed, constant speed, controllable pitch, full feathering Hartzell propeller. The airplanes cockpit was equipped with dual pilot flight controls. According to a major repair and alteration form dated February 11, 1999, a Spectrum Aeromed Inc. Air Ambulance conversion had been installed in the airplane in accordance with supplemental type certificate SA1666GL.

According to the operator’s accident report, the airplane’s last annual inspection was completed on July 22, 2011. The operator indicated that the airplane had accumulated 17,630 hours of total time at the time of that inspection. An endorsement in the logbook for the airplane’s right engine indicated that an installation of a repaired engine was completed on November 18, 2011, and at that time, the Hobbs meter indicated 2832 hours.

The Chieftain’s main cabin door was a two-piece door that separated in the middle. The upper half swung up and was held in the open position by a spring-loaded support. The lower half swung down and it housed the entrance steps. To open from the inside, one must push the lock button beside the handle, pull, and lower the bottom half of the door. Then raise the upper half to the locked position. A 23 by 30 inch emergency exit is located in the right forward side of the fuselage.

The fuel system consisted of fuel cell, engine-driven and emergency fuel pumps, fuel boost pumps, control valves, fuel filters, fuel pressure and fuel flow gauges, fuel drains and non-icing fuel tank vents. Fuel could be stored in four flexible fuel cells, two in each wing. The outboard cells hold 40 gallons each and the inboard cells hold 56 gallons each, giving a total of 192 gallons, of which 182 gallons were usable.

The emergency fuel pumps were installed for use in case of an engine driven fuel pump failure, or whenever the fuel pressure fell below 34 pounds per square inch (psi). They were also operated during takeoffs, landings, and for priming the engines. Control switches for the emergency fuel pumps were located in the overhead switch panel to the right of the fuel gauges.

The fuel boost pumps operated continuously and provided fuel under pressure to the other fuel pumps, improving the altitude performance of the fuel system. The fuel boost pumps were activated when the master switch was turned on and continue to operate until the master switch was turned off or the fuel boost pump circuit breakers were pulled off. Fuel boost pump warning lights, mounted at the bottom of the windshield divider post, illuminated when the fuel boost pump pressure was less than three psi.

The fuel management controls were located in the fuel control panel at the base of the pedestal. Located here were the fuel tank selectors, fuel shutoffs and crossfeed controls. During normal operation, each engine was supplied with fuel from its own respective fuel system. The fuel controls on the right controlled the fuel from the right cells to the right engine and the controls on the left controlled the fuel from the left fuel cells to the left engine. For emergencies, fuel from one system can supply the opposite engine through a crossfeed system. The crossfeed valve was intended only for emergencies. The crossfeed control was located in the center of the fuel control panel. A warning light, located on the fuel control panel was incorporated in the firewall fuel shut-off system to indicate that one or both of the shut-off valves were not fully open.

A note in the Pilot’s Operating Manual (POM) Description - Airplane and Systems chapter, in part, stated: “The crossfeed system was not to be used for normal operation. When the crossfeed valve was on, be certain fuel selector valve on tank not in use was off. Do not use crossfeed to compensate for an inoperative emergency fuel pump.”

Right and left fuel flow warnings lights, mounted at the base of the windshield divider post, illuminated to warn the pilot of an impending fuel flow interruption. The lights were activated by a sensing probe mounted near each inboard fuel tank outlet. In the event the fuel level near the tank outlet dropped to a point where a fuel flow interruption and power loss could occur, the sensing probe would illuminate its corresponding warning light. The warning light would be on for a minimum of 10 seconds and would remain on if the condition was not corrected.

A 50,000 British thermal unit Janitrol heater installed in the right nose section furnished hot air for cabin heating and windshield defrosting. Heater fuel was supplied from the right wing fuel cells only. Information supplied by the manufacturer indicated that the heater would use about 3.9 pounds, or about .65 gallons of fuel per hour (gph) when in use.

According to the pilot-rated passenger, the pilot reportedly set his power settings from a card that was kept in his window’s visor. He indicated that the engines operated “ok” while they were running. The right engine was new and it was installed on the airplane about two and one-half weeks prior to the accident. The pilot-rated passenger also said that the right engine’s gauges were not accurate during the accident flight. In addition, the pilot increased the mixture on the right engine about one gph due to its break-in.

The POM General Specifications chapter, in part, stated:

PERFORMANCE

Published figures are for the Standard PA-31-350 airplane flown at gross weight under standard conditions at sea level unless otherwise stated. Performance for a specific airplane may vary from published figures depending upon the equipment installed, the condition of engines, airplane and equipment, atmospheric conditions and piloting technique.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 2252, the recorded weather at PWK was: Wind 350 degrees at 9 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast 1,400 feet; temperature 2 degrees C; dew point -2 degrees C; altimeter 29.99 inches of mercury.

At 2352, the recorded weather at PWK was: Wind 360 degrees at 9 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast 1,400 feet; temperature 2 degrees C; dew point -2 degrees C; altimeter 29.97 inches of mercury.

At 2252, the recorded weather at the DuPage Airport (DPA), near West Chicago, Illinois, was: Wind 340 degrees at 11 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast 1,400 feet; temperature 1 degree C; dew point -3 degrees C; altimeter 29.96 inches of mercury.

At 2352, the recorded weather at DPA, was: Wind 360 degrees at 14 knots gusting to 23 knots; visibility 9 statute miles; overcast 1,000 feet; temperature -1 degree C; dew point – 3 degrees C; altimeter 29.94 inches of mercury.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION

The published inbound course for PWK’s instrument landing system (ILS) runway 16 approach was 161 degrees magnetic, with the published straight in decision height of 893 feet msl, with a height above touchdown of 250 feet above ground level (agl). The crossing altitude for the locator outer marker PAMME was 2,279 feet. The distance between PAMME and the touchdown zone was 4.9 nautical miles (nm). The touchdown zone elevation was 643 feet. The published weather minimums for the ILS runway 16 approach were a 300-foot ceiling and three-quarter mile visibility for category A, B, C, and D aircraft. The published weather minimums for the circling approach were a 500-foot ceiling and one-mile visibility for category A and B aircraft. The minimum descent altitude for the circling approach was 1,140 feet msl and the height above the airport was 493 feet agl for category A and B aircraft. The PWK ILS RWY 16 approach plate is appended to the docket associated with this investigation.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

PWK was a tower-controlled airport. The airport had an elevation of 647 feet msl and was served by three intersecting paved runways 16-34, 12-30, and 06-24. Runway 16-34 was a 5,001 foot by 150 foot grooved asphalt runway. Runway 12-30 was a 4,397 foot by 50-foot asphalt runway. Runway 06-24 was a 3,652 foot by 50-foot asphalt runway.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane impacted trees and terrain in a wooded residential neighborhood about 3 nautical miles northeast of PWK. The wreckage path was about 250 feet in length from the first found impacted tree to the main wreckage on a magnetic heading of about 130 degrees. The airplane was found fragmented along the path. The left propeller separated from its engine and was found 32 feet west of the main wreckage. The airplane fuselage came to rest facing about 280 degrees magnetic. An on-site inspection confirmed that the fuselage, empennage, wings, and all flight control surfaces were located within the wreckage debris path. The landing gear were found in the up position in their wheel wells.

The left and right throttle levers were found in the full forward position. Both left and right mixture levers were found in the forward rich position. The left and right propeller levers were found in the forward high rpm position. The Hobbs meter read 2848.8 hours. All four magneto switches were in the on position. The left fuel boost pump switch was in the on position and the right fuel boost pump switch was in the off position. Both the left and right fuel tank selectors were positioned on their respective inboard fuel tanks. The crossfeed valve was found in the on position. All fuel caps were in place in their filler necks. Approximately 1.5 ounces of a liquid consistent with avgas was found within the airplane fuel system. All four electric fuel pumps were operational when electrical power was applied to them. The flap jackscrew extension was consistent with the flaps being in the up position. Left and right engine control continuity was established. Flight control continuity was established.

Both engines’ crankshafts were rotated and each engine exhibited gear and valve train continuity. All cylinders produced thumb compression and suction. Both dual magnetos produced sparks at all leads. All removed spark plugs exhibited the appearance of normal combustion when compared to the Champion AV-27 spark plug chart. Both engines’ turbocharger impellers spun when rotated by hand. The left and right propellers were found in the feathered position. No airframe or engine preimpact anomalies were found.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Lake County Coroner’s Office. The autopsy listed multiple traumatic injuries as the cause of death.

According to a preemployment drug test report, its results indicated that the pilot was negative for the tests performed on a sample collected from the pilot on April 14, 2011.

The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report on toxicological samples taken during the autopsy on the pilot. The report, in part, stated:

Blood unsuitable for analysis of Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana)
0.1077 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) detected in Liver
0.0198 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) detected in Lung
0.0157 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in Liver
0.0024 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in Blood

COMPANY INFORMATION

Trans North Aviation Ltd, dba Travel Care International, was a commercial on-demand air taxi operator, which was authorized to conduct Part 135 IFR, visual flight rules (VFR), day, and night operations. The company provided medical air transportation services from two bases. The company employed three pilots and one mechanic. The company operated four airplanes, which included the Piper PA-31 and Cessna 340 airplanes. The company’s website indicated they operated bases in Eagle River, Wisconsin, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Chicago, Illinois, and Charleston, South Carolina.

Trans North Aviation Ltd utilized a FAA approved pilot training program that addressed new hire, initial aircraft, recurrent, re-qualification, transition, and upgrade training. The accident pilot had previously completed all required training at the time of the accident and had passed required check rides.

The Director of Operations at Trans North Aviation Ltd monitored all flights and approved all departures. According to the operator, they familiarize themselves “with all available information prior to each flight. This information includes, but is not limited to the length and route of flight, notices to airmen, performance data (such as fuel burn and takeoff data); departure, en route and destination weather; approach minimums, maintenance items, airworthiness of the aircraft and crew, airport conditions, time and duty logs to ensure the pilot can complete the flight safely.”

Aircraft were maintained in accordance with an FAA approved inspection program. All maintenance activity was monitored by their Director of Maintenance.

According to the Trans North Aviation Ltd President, the airplanes’ fuel logs were a recommendation from a Department of Defense audit and those logs were not reviewed by management.

FAA records indicated that the operator had been in business for 48 years and that their operating certificate was issued on November 18, 1964.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) national resource specialist prepared a performance study. The original flight planning records for the accident flight could not be located. According to the study, an on-line internet service used by the accident pilot, FltPlan.com, was able to re-create the navigation logs for the study. The accident flight plan showed a proposed departure time from JES of 1708, a proposed cruising altitude of 10,000 feet msl en route to PWK, five hours of fuel on board, and it listed DuPage Airport, near West Chicago, Illinois, as an alternate airport. Those navigation logs showed that the 182 gallons of usable fuel available for the Piper Chieftain should have been sufficient for all flight legs that day. The final accident leg from JES to PWK would have required the most fuel. FltPlan.com calculations assumed a fuel burn rate between 34-37 gallons per hour for cruise and the POM indicated a fuel burn between 26-35 gallons per hour (depending on the power setting) with the engines leaned to best economy. The average actual fuel burn computed for the flight legs flown on November 28, 2011, was 47 gallons per hour.

Fuel records recovered from the wreckage indicated that the airplane was filled to its capacity with fuel at CFJ, PXE, and at JES. The fuel records also indicated that only 75 gallons of fuel was added at PBI.

A nominal fuel burn rate of 30 gallons per hour would indicate that landing with a minimum of 22.5 gallons of fuel would meet the 45-minute IFR fuel reserve requirement: with the Chieftain’s 182 gallons of usable fuel, the maximum amount of fuel that should be added after a flight conducted under instrument flight rules is 159.5 gallons. N59773 was serviced with 167.3 gallons and 165.0 gallons at PXE and JES respectively.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

Code of Federal Regulations Part 135.223, IFR: Alternate airport requirements, in part, stated:

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate an aircraft in IFR conditions unless it carries enough fuel (considering weather reports or forecasts or any combination of them) to -

(1) Complete the flight to the first airport of intended landing;

(2) Fly from that airport to the alternate airport; and

(3) Fly after that for 45 minutes at normal cruising speed

Code of Federal Regulations Part 135.263, Flight time limitations and rest requirements, in part, stated:

(c) Time spent in transportation, not local in character, that a certificate holder requires of a flight crewmember and provides to transport the crewmember to an airport at which he is to serve on a flight as a crewmember, or from an airport at which he was relieved from duty to return to his home station, is not considered part of a rest period.

Code of Federal Regulations Part 135.267, Flight time limitations and rest requirements, indicated that 14 hours should not be exceeded for a regularly assigned duty period.

Code of Federal Regulations Part 135.273, Duty Period Limitations and Rest Time Requirements, in part, stated, “Duty period means the period of elapsed time between reporting for an assignment involving flight time and release from that assignment by the certificate holder.”

A report, from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), generated by their Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS), on their activity between December 1, 2008 and the date of the accident, was reviewed. There were 59 PTRS recorded entries with results relating to the FSDO’s surveillance of Trans North Aviation Ltd. Of those, there were 54 entry results that indicated “S” for satisfactory, 2 entry results that indicated “I” for satisfactory and information provided in comments, and 3 entry results that indicated “F” for follow-up action completed or follow-up activity scheduled.

The FAA posted a web page concerning “Pilot Records Expunction Policy Changes.” The page, in part stated:

What is the Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA)?

PRIA is a law that requires airlines to perform background checks on pilots before hiring them. It's designed to make sure that airlines have more information to make good hiring decisions.

How does PRIA work?

PRIA requires an airline to ask the FAA and a pilot's former employers for certain records. These records include records of legal enforcement actions against individuals.

What is the new law?

The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, signed August 1, 2010, changes how PRIA works. The changes it made require the FAA to change how it handles pilot records.

How did the new law change PRIA?

The new law requires employers to give all the records they must report under PRIA to the FAA. The FAA will put those employer records, along with all the records the FAA must provide under PRIA, into a pilot records database. Airlines will then check the pilot records database to fulfill their PRIA requirements.

How did the new law change FAA policy?

The new law required the FAA to retain certain legal enforcement records until the agency is notified that a pilot has died. Previously, some types of legal enforcement records were expunged after five years. The FAA has suspended this expunction policy while it determines the full scope of the new law's effect on the expunction policy. The law required the FAA to begin keeping the records starting August 1, 2010.

Advisory Circular 120-68E, Pilot Records Improvement Act of 1996, in part, stated:

APPENDIX 8, OVERVIEW AND USE OF FORM 8060-13

NOTE: Consult the Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) Web site at http://www.faa.gov/pilots/lic_cert/pria/ for the most current information on the overview and use of Federal Aviation Administration Form 8060-13, National Driver Register Records Request.

Part I National Driver Register (NDR) Records Request. Part I of the NDR records request is used by the hiring air carrier in operation under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 121 or 135, air operator under 14 CFR Part 125, or other person (collectively referred to as the “hiring employer”) to request NDR records concerning an individual seeking employment as a pilot with the employer.


5. Distribution. NDR requirements vary from state to state and, therefore, it is not practical to establish one firm procedure that will satisfy all requests. Notwithstanding, the requesting employer should begin its NDR request process in the manner described in the latest revision of this advisory circular or in the PRIA Office Procedures for the Air Carrier to discover a request process that will produce the most reliable and consistent results for the state.
...

11. NDR Data System Match. The hiring employer receives an NDR report that will state that (1) a data system match was not found – meaning that the record of the individual is clean, or that (2) a data system match concerning the motor vehicle driving record of the individual was found and indicated a:
a. Record of suspension from the previous 5-year period, if applicable.
b. Record of revocation from the previous 5-year period, if applicable.
c. Any conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol, if applicable.

12. The NDR Report.
a. A completed NDR report without reference to an action taken against the pilot’s driver’s license is considered a clean report. If the report does indicate a clean record, add the report to the pilot/applicant’s PRIA-related records file and the NDR request process is considered complete.

b. If the report does indicate a problem, however, it will point to a specific state(s) in which the problem(s) occurred. In these cases, the record will indicate a possible match, and the hiring employer is required to conduct further investigation. The hiring employer must disclose this information to the individual in an attempt to verify whether a positive match with the pointer record exists, or if the possible match pertains to another individual with similar identifying information.

(1) If the resulting investigation confirms the individual as a positive match with the pointer record, a second NDR request must then be sent to the state(s) indicated in the initial report, to determine the exact nature of the problem.

(2) If the resulting investigation confirms that the individual is not a match with the pointer record, then along with the results of the investigation the report is considered clean, the matter closed, and the NDR request process completed for that individual.


 
John and Ilomae Bialek
 (Courtesy of Holy Spirit Catholic Church)



Before he crashed, the pilot of a small plane indicated he was running low on fuel, according to federal officials who cautioned they have not yet determined a cause for the accident that killed the pilot and an elderly couple.

The twin-engine Piper Navajo was approaching Chicago Executive Airport just before 11 p.m. Monday when the pilot made a "low fuel announcement," according to Ed Malinowski, an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

About five miles from the airport, the plane ripped through a stand of trees near Portwine and Orange Brace roads and came to rest between two houses near Riverwoods. Police and fire officials reported a small fire that they put out with a hand-held extinguisher.

No fuel was found in or around the plane's gas tanks, which were "compromised" in the wreckage, Malinowski said. But he cautioned that doesn't mean there wasn't any fuel in the tanks.
Malinowski said the official cause of the crash will remain under investigation for months.

The plane, with two pilots and a flight paramedic aboard, had picked up an elderly couple from West Palm Beach Monday evening and had refueled in Jessup, Ga. The husband, 80-year-old John W. Bialek, was suffering from a blood infection and wanted to be with his children and grandchildren in the Chicago area, his family said.

Bialek and his 75-year-old wife Ilomae were killed in the crash, along with one of the pilots, William Didier, 58.

Charlie Norwesh was watching TV in his living room in the heavily wooded neighborhood of upscale homes when he heard a loud "vibrating sound." His wife, Kim, in the kitchen heard a "whoosh."

They saw a light out the window and ran across the street to investigate. She called 911.

"It was the most horrible thing I've ever seen," he said. "It, to me, looked like a movie set. It didn't look real. It was that horrible."

As flames shot up from the fuselage, Charlie Norwesh looked into the crumpled wreckage and saw two bodies motionless in the back of the plane. The pilot was unresponsive, but the young man in the passenger seat was screaming that his leg was broken, and he was bleeding from a broad gash across his forehead, Norwesh said.

Norwesh dragged the man through a hole in the fuselage and moved him away from the wreck. Kim Norwesh said she tried to keep him talking.

Charlie Norwesh said he used a fire extinguisher from his house to fight flames and tried to put out the fire with his coat. But it started melting and he tried to pull off the cover of one of the plane's seats to smother the fire, but that started melting as well, he said, showing the blisters that bubbled on his fingertips.

Eventually, a man who identified himself as the plane's medic came from behind Norwesh, he said. Norwesh was unsure how the man ended up outside the plane, but the victim's arm was badly injured.

Norwesh, who owns a Chicago construction company, remained badly shaken Tuesday. "I tried to go to work, but it was hard to focus," he said.

The Bialeks had arranged for the flight because they wanted to be closer to their family, including their two grandchildren who are 7 and 10. “We were moving [them] up here from Florida for family support,” said their son, John B. Bialek.

Before moving to Florida, John and Ilomae Bialek lived at the end of a cul de sac in Streamwood. Their daughter continued to live in the brick ranch home after they left. Neighbors said the couple had kept to themselves.

“The man didn’t talk much, [she] was very nice, very congenial,” said Ken Knox.

Sanjay Raut, who has lived in the neighborhood for 19 years, said they were a “great couple” but he only knew them from occasionally seeing them in the neighborhood.

“It’s very sad to know some neighbor died, it’s not a good thing to hear. God rest their souls, that’s all I can say,” Raut said.

The plane was owned by Trans North Aviation and had passed a safety inspection earlier that day, according to the company. The pilot had filed an instrument flight plan, meaning the plane was being tracked on radar and the pilot was in constant contact with controllers as it flew toward Chicago, according to Elizabeth Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Chicago.

The plane cruised at an altitude of 10,000 feet on the flight north, Malinowski said. It was moving southeast when it crashed, he said.

The plane hit the ground within 50 or 60 feet of a home. One of the owners said she and her husband felt their house shake as the aircraft flew overhead. Next she heard an indescribable noise that she later found out was the sound of trees being ripped apart by the plummeting aircraft.

"It was like you could hear destruction," the woman, who asked that her name be withheld, told the Tribune this morning.

Before she said she knew what happened, the homeowner said dozens of emergency vehicles descended on her normally quiet block.

"It's just unreal (having) a half-mile of emergency vehicles outside, it's mind-boggling. I feel sorry for the people (inside the plane)."

Ron Schaberg, owner and president of Trans North Aviation, expressed grief over the fatal crash -- the first at his company which airlifts patients to hospitals in more than 30 years, he said.

"I'm just very sorry," he said, his voice breaking. Schaberg said he planned to catch an early morning flight to Chicago.

The deadly crash was the second to occur in the Chicago area since Saturday.

Indianapolis International Airport among features in latest Google Maps innovation: indoor mapping

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Navigating the Indianapolis International Airport just got a little easier for those with Android smartphones.

The airport is among those adding their building maps to the latest feature with the online mapping feature Google Maps. Online or with the Google Maps app, Android phone users will be able to view the airport’s terminal, concourses and parking garage – including shops, restaurants, restrooms, ATMs, departure gates and more.

"We're pleased to be among the very first airports to provide indoor maps for Android users, and as we're entering the busy holiday travel season and gearing up to host Super Bowl visitors in February, the availability of this new Google Maps feature is ideal," said John D. Clark III, executive director and CEO of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. "Our terminal offers world-class features, including great restaurants and shopping, and this service will make it more convenient for our guests to take full advantage of them, especially for those on a tight schedule."

Indianapolis is one of several airports participating in the new feature; others include Chicago O’Hare, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International, and San Francisco International, Google said.

The Mall of American in Minnesota, along with several retail chains including IKEA, The Home Depot and select Macy’s, are also participating. The web giant is inviting other businesses to submit their information for inclusion in the new indoor mapping feature.

Users will be able to view indoor layouts and features by zooming in to a participating building within the already established Google Maps interface, which already offers robust outdoor mapping and direction services. The new feature can even determine which floor of a building a user is on, and tailor the display from there.

"It's like we have taken the map that you see on a kiosk at a store or mall and put it on your phone," Steve Lee, a product management director for Google, told CBS News.

The indoor maps feature is part of Google Maps 6.0 for Android-powered devices. Users will need to update the Google Maps application on their devices in order to access these maps, but no updates will be required after that one-time installation to get new or updated indoor maps. CBS News reports Google wouldn’t say whether the feature will eventually be available on desktop computers, or on other mobile platforms, such as the Apple iOS.

http://www.wishtv.com

Pilots say carriers to get key certificate

The Continental- United merger reaches another milestone Wednesday with federal approval to operate as one airline, the union representing Continental pilots said Tuesday.

A Continental spokeswoman would not confirm when the Federal Aviation Administration was expected to grant the single-operating certificate.

But passengers are unlikely to notice any immediate significant changes once the FAA issues its single-operating certificate, the paperwork that allows the two airlines to operate under a single set of policies and procedures.

Issuance of the certificate does mark another key step in the merger, which became official nearly 14 months ago, between Houston-based Continental Airlines and Chicago-based United Airlines.

Because unions representing various work groups - including the pilots - have not reached joint agreements with the merged carrier, the Continental arm of the Air Line Pilots Association downplayed the significance of the change.

"The key to merging the airlines operationally, and to reaping the full benefit of the merger, is reaching agreement on a new joint contract with the pilots," ALPA spokeswoman Amy Flanagan said in a statement. "Only after reaching such an agreement can the pilots' seniority lists be combined. It is only then, after these two steps are completed, that the two airlines can begin to operate as a single airline."

ALPA, however, sent an email to pilots alerting them to the change in radio call signs and telling them to prepare for a "week with the potential for distractions and threats to safety." It noted that dispatch processes will be different and warned of potential confusion over flight numbers or even missed calls from air-traffic controllers.

http://www.chron.com

Huge drug bust made at the Albuquerque International Sunport Airport (KABQ) Albuquerque, New Mexico. Woman tries to smuggle more than 60 pounds



ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Authorities say a suspected drug mule was traveling from Tucson to Dallas, Monday, when her connecting flight stopped in Albuquerque where police had her cornered.

Police say the two bags that Miesha Bell, 20, checked in at a Tucson airport were packed with mari. One suitcase with 30 pounds of marijuana was confiscated by TSA in Tucson. The other made it to Albuquerque.

However police did not know what Bell from Wichita Falls, Texas looked like, until she slipped up.

"She actually checked with the airline to make sure her bags made the trip which allowed us to identify her physically," said Marshall Katz, the Albuquerque Aviation Police Chief.

Police caught up with Bell by her flight's gate.

A drug-sniffing dog found her suitcase amid all of the checked in bags and when police opened Bell's luggage, they found the drugs.

Police say they took the marijuana out in the open and weighed it on the baggage scales. It came in at 33.5 pounds.

"It's an accurate check on a regular basis," said Chief Katz about the baggage scales.

Police say Bell had been paid to smuggle the marijuana for a drug dealer. For her troubles, she would get $850 if she made it successfully to Dallas.

The 20 year-old admitted to police she had done this before.

"I would say so far it's been dumb luck [for Bell] and nothing more," said Katz.

Bell made her first appearance Tuesday in Metro Court.

She's charged with marijuana possession.

"An airline ticket, money for food, money for hotel and then $850. For some people, that sounds like a deal," said Chief Katz.

As of Tuesday, Bell is facing state charges, but she could also face federal charges and charges in Tucson because one bag was confiscated there.

Police say the plan was for Bell to arrive in Dallas, make a switch for the money, then she would turn around and do it all over again.

http://www.krqe.com

Queensbury, Warren County, New York: County, developer haggle over airport expansion effort

QUEENSBURY -- Warren County may allow a new road to be built across property it owns near the county airport in exchange for flyover rights on an adjacent property.

The county and developer Victor Macri Jr. have suggested Macri be allowed to build a road across land on the edge of the airport property to access land he owns to the south of the airport.

The county Board of Supervisors Public Works Committee was asked to approve the proposal Tuesday, but after several supervisors raised concerns, the idea was shelved for 10 days to be investigated further. The committee will meet again Dec. 8 to make a decision.

Macri has asked the Queensbury Planning Board for approval of a "technology park" he wants to build on 84 acres he owns between Quaker Road and the airport, northwest of the new Walmart on Quaker Road.

The county is also in the midst of a project to extend an airport runway 1,000 feet in the direction of Macri's property, which will require an "avigation easement" over Macri's property.

Macri has not agreed to a price for that easement, with county Administrator Paul Dusek saying Macri wanted more than the $200,000 the Federal Aviation Administration indicated the easement was worth.

But the county would only allow the road to be built if the easement is agreed to, Dusek said.

Macri would foot the bill for the cost of building the road, while the county or town of Queensbury would maintain it. The exact location of the road has not been determined, but it would connect with Queensbury Avenue south of the airport.

The road would help ease traffic issues in the South Queensbury area and would likely foster more development there, Macri said.

"We see this as a new corridor to the airport and Warren and Washington Counties Industrial Park," he said.

He called the situation a "catch 22," because he could potentially access the property in another way and refuse to grant the easement, while the easement itself would limit how much of his property can be developed.

Also, allowing the road to be built would limit the county's ability to expand runways in the future, a fact that prompted some concern among supervisors.

Expanding runways allows for bigger and heavier planes to land at the airport, important considerations for corporate jets because it allows them to carry more fuel.

Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino and Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Fred Champagne said it would seem air traffic at the airport is already close to a maximum that residents in the area will tolerate.

Glens Falls 3rd Ward Supervisor Harold "Bud" Taylor questioned how the new road would benefit the county.

Queensbury Supervisor Dan Stec, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said the Queensbury Town Board was in favor of the proposal.

The road project is not related to a separate proposal for a connector between Quaker Road and Queensbury Avenue that would access the industrial park area.

Hagerstown Regional Airport: Washington County to spend $100,000 on analysis projects at airport

The Washington Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved funding for two Hagerstown Regional Airport projects.

The commissioners agreed to spend $70,000 on an environmental assessment of all remaining sites in the airport’s northwest quadrant. The study is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

The commissioners also agreed to spend $35,000 on a land valuation analysis, or appraisal, of property at the airport, expected to take about six months.

A request from the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission’s Resource Development Committee described the two projects as “critical” and must be done “before any additional development can occur.”

The environmental assessment is required by the Federal Aviation Administration, the request said.

The FAA also requires the airport to justify how it calculates rental rates, the request said, noting that “Such an analysis has not occurred since the airport was acquired by the County in 1981.”

There are plans to eventually build nine buildings with about 232,000 square feet in the northwest quadrant, according to a fact sheet about the airport.

Jefry A. Bohn, the chairman of the EDC’s Resource Development Committee, said the airport is great for local economic development.

Commissioner William B. McKinley agreed.

To create jobs, “this is the kind of investment we have to make,” McKinley said.

The $105,000 will come from an airport contingency account within the county’s general fund, according to County Administrator Gregory B. Murray.

http://www.herald-mail.com

Cirrus SR20, Marion Pilots Club Inc., N223CD: Accident occurred November 26, 2011 in Crystal Lake, Illinois

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA083 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, November 26, 2011 in Crystal Lake, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/15/2012
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR20, registration: N223CD
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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


The noninstrument-rated pilot was conducting the accident flight under visual flight rules (VFR) without a flight plan. The pilot contacted the tower air traffic controller at the intended destination airport and inquired about landing. The controller informed him that the airport was currently under instrument flight rules (IFR). About 30 seconds later, the pilot informed the controller that he had inadvertently flown over the airport. The controller ultimately cleared the flight to land; however, the pilot decided not to land, informing the controller that he did not want to get delayed at the airport due to the weather. The pilot subsequently told the controller that the flight was “in and out of the clouds.” After asking the pilot if he was IFR qualified (and learning that the pilot was not), the controller transferred the flight to the local radar-equipped approach control facility for further assistance. That controller advised the pilot of several airports in the vicinity that were under VFR. After initially indicating that he would divert to one of those airports, the pilot told the controller that he did not want to “mess with the weather” and did not want to “get stuck in here,” and he declined to proceed to that airport. Radar data depicted that, shortly after the pilot’s radio transmission, the airplane entered a gentle right turn. About 90 seconds later, the right turn tightened abruptly, consistent with the airplane entering a steep spiral. The last 19 seconds of radar data depicted the airplane entering a climb of about 2,500 feet per minute (fpm) followed by an approximate 3,600-fpm descent. Witnesses reported hearing an airplane overhead, but they were not able to see it due to the cloud cover. They described the sound as similar to an airplane performing aerobatics. The witnesses subsequently observed the airplane below the clouds in a steep, nose-down attitude before it struck the ground. Based on reported weather conditions in the vicinity of the accident site, the flight encountered instrument meteorological conditions. A postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The noninstrument-rated pilot's decision to continue flight in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the pilot’s spatial disorientation and loss of control of the airplane.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On November 26, 2011, at 1026 central standard time, a Cirrus Design SR20, N223CD, was substantially damaged when it collided with a tree and terrain near Crystal Lake, Illinois. The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The aircraft was registered to Marion Pilots Club and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, without a flight plan. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site. The personal flight originated from Marion Regional Airport (MZZ), Marion, Indiana about 0830. The intended destination was DuPage Airport (DPA), West Chicago, Illinois.

The line service representative at MZZ reported that the airplane was fully fueled prior to departure. The pilot informed him that they were going to Chicago. When asked, the pilot commented that he was aware of the weather west of Chicago and that conditions were forecast to be visual flight rules (VFR) at their estimated time of arrival.

Radar track data depicted the airplane on a 1200 (VFR) transponder code approaching DPA from the southeast. At 0942, the airplane was located approximately 3 miles east of the Chicago Heights VHF Omni Range (VOR) navigation facility at 2,400 feet mean sea level (msl). The airplane maintained a northwest course at 2,400 feet msl until about 0957. About that time, the airplane turned right and became established on a north course. The aircraft was located about 5 miles south of DPA, approximately 1,600 feet msl, at that time.

At 0958:05 (hhmm:ss), the pilot contacted DPA Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) and inquired about landing at DPA. Radar data indicated that the airplane was approximately 2 miles south of the airport at that time. The controller advised the pilot that the airport was under instrument flight rules (IFR). About 30 seconds later the pilot informed the controller that he had inadvertently flown over the airport. At 0959:40, the controller authorized the pilot to reverse course and land at DPA. The pilot acknowledged this transmission. About 1000, radar data indicated that the aircraft began a turn to an east course. At 1002, the pilot informed the controller that he no longer had the airport in sight. The controller provided a suggested heading to DPA.

At 1004, the pilot asked if there was another airport with better visibility because he did not "want to get in there and get stuck all day." The controller noted that Chicago Executive Airport (PWK), located about 20 miles northeast of DPA, was reporting VFR conditions. The controller asked if the pilot would like to be transferred to Chicago approach for assistance navigating to PWK. The pilot replied, "I'm still trying to decide if I want to try to land at DuPage or not . . . would you think that's a good idea or not." The pilot subsequently informed the controller that the flight was "in and out of the clouds." When the controller asked the pilot if he was instrument flight rules (IFR) qualified, the pilot replied that he was in "IFR training and I've let this get around me." At 1008, the DPA controller provided the pilot with a frequency for Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON).

At 1012:39, Chicago TRACON initiated contact with the pilot. The controller subsequently provided weather conditions at airports in the vicinity of the accident flight. At 1015:28, the pilot advised the controller that he would proceed to PWK. However, at 1022:49, the pilot advised the controller that he did not "want to mess with the weather . . . I'm gonna get out . . . and I don't want to get stuck in here." The pilot confirmed that the flight was no longer inbound to PWK. At that time, the flight was approximately 2.5 miles west-northwest of Lake in the Hills Airport (3CK). The controller subsequently transmitted, "frequency change is approved." The pilot acknowledged that transmission at 1024:23. No further communications were received from the accident flight.

At 1021, the airplane was established on a north course at approximately 1,800 feet msl. About 1023:03, the airplane entered a left turn to momentarily become established on a west course. About 1024:03, the airplane entered a right turn from the west course at 1,800 feet msl. The right turn continued until the final radar data point. About 1025:08, the airplane was established on an approximate east course at 2,000 feet msl. At 1025:31, the airplane was on an approximate southeast course at 2,400 feet msl, and 18 seconds later, the airplane was on a south course about 2,100 feet msl. At this point, the right turn appeared to tighten. At 1025:58, the airplane was established on a west course about 1,800 feet msl. The final radar data point was recorded at 1026:22. The airplane appeared to be on a south course about 1,800 feet msl. The final data point was located approximately 0.4 miles northwest of the accident site.

A witness located within 1/2 mile of the accident site reported hearing an airplane in the area; however, he was not able to see it because of the cloud cover. He noted that it sounded like the airplane was doing aerobatics, with the airplane climbing and descending. Less than 1 minute later, he observed the airplane south of his position in an approximate 70-degree nose down attitude. The airplane subsequently impacted the ground. He noted a faint fuel smell when he responded to the site shortly after the accident. He reported weather conditions as misty, with a light rain at the time of the accident.

A second witness at the same location also heard an airplane that sounded like it was performing aerobatic stunts; however, he was unable to see it because of the low cloud cover. About one minute after hearing it, he observed that airplane exit the clouds in a 60 to 70-degree nose down attitude. He estimated the visibility at 1/2 mile in light rain and mist at that time.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land airplane rating issued on April 22, 2010. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicated that the pilot did not hold an instrument rating. He was issued a third-class airman medical certificate, with a restriction for corrective lenses, on June 28, 2011.

The pilot had logged about 207 hours total flight time, with approximately 114 hours flight time in the accident airplane. The pilot's logbook included a high performance airplane endorsement, and he met the requirement for a flight review (14CFR61.56) based on successful completion of the private pilot practical test within the preceding 24 months.

The pilot had logged 153.7 hours as pilot-in-command (PIC) and 78.7 hours as dual instruction received. Of that flight time, 42.0 hours were logged as both PIC and dual received, which is permitted under regulations when a current, certificated pilot is receiving flight instruction. However, of the 42.0 hours logged as PIC and dual instruction received, 38.1 hours were not endorsed by a flight instructor, which is required by regulations.

The pilot had logged 3.1 hours of simulated instrument flight time. He had also logged 28.6 hours of actual instrument flight time. However, for each flight in which actual instrument flight was logged, the actual instrument time entered was equal to the total time for the entire flight. Regulations (14 CFR 61.51) permit pilots to log instrument flight time only when they are controlling an aircraft solely by reference to the flight instruments.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION
The accident airplane was a Cirrus Design model SR20, serial number 1110. It was a four-place, low wing, single engine airplane, with a tricycle landing gear configuration. The airplane was issued an FAA normal category standard airworthiness certificate on December 30, 2000. The airplane was powered by a 210-horsepower Continental Motors IO-360-ES six-cylinder, reciprocating engine, serial number 827771-R. The engine was manufactured in August 2008.

The airframe had accumulated 1,758.7 hours total time in-service at the time of the accident. Maintenance records indicated that the engine was installed on the airframe in December 2008. At the time of the accident, it had accumulated 459.8 hours since new. The most recent annual inspection was completed on April 5, 2011, at 1,604.4 hours airframe time.

According to maintenance records, the most recent maintenance action was accomplished on November 21, 2011. The engine spark plugs were replaced and the fuel injectors were cleaned. In addition, both main landing gear tires were replaced, and the right main landing gear brake pads were replaced. There were no subsequent entries in the maintenance logbooks.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS
The National Weather Service (NWS) Surface Analysis Chart, valid at 0900, depicted a low pressure system over Wisconsin, with an occluded front extending southward. The occluded front extended into a cold front across eastern Iowa and into Missouri. The NWS Weather Depiction Chart, valid at 1000, depicted an extensive area of IFR conditions over northern Illinois.

A review of DPA surface weather observations indicated that marginal visual flight rules (MVFR) conditions prevailed until approximately 1 hour prior to the accident. MVFR conditions are defined as cloud ceilings of between 1,000 feet and 3,000 feet above ground level (agl), and /or visibilities of between 3 and 5 miles. After that time, instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions prevailed at DPA. IFR conditions are defined as cloud ceilings below 1,000 feet agl and/or visibility below 3 miles.

Weather conditions recorded by the DPA Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), located about 22 miles south of the accident site, at 1029, were: wind from 170 degrees at 11 knots, visibility 1-3/4 miles in light rain and mist, overcast clouds at 900 feet agl, temperature 10 degrees Celsius, dew point 8 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.85 inches of mercury.

Prior to the accident, at 0852, the DPA observation included overcast clouds at 1,300 feet agl and 9 miles visibility. At 0935, the DPA observation included overcast clouds at 900 feet agl and 10 miles visibility. At 0952, weather conditions at DPA had deteriorated to 900 feet agl overcast, with 3 miles visibility in light rain and mist.

Weather conditions recorded by the Chicago Executive Airport (PWK) Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), located about 23 miles east of the accident site, at 1024, were: wind from 200 degrees at 12 knots, visibility 7 miles in light rain, overcast clouds at 1,300 feet agl, temperature 10 degrees Celsius, dew point 9 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.88 inches of mercury.

Weather conditions recorded by the Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), located about 40 miles southeast of the accident site, at 1051, were: wind from 200 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 6 miles in light rain and mist, broken clouds at 1,700 feet agl, overcast clouds at 3,000 feet agl, temperature 12 degrees Celsius, dew point 9 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.85 inches of mercury.

An Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) advisory warning of possible IFR conditions was valid at the time of the accident flight. AIRMET Sierra (update 3) was issued at 0845 and was valid until 1500. The area specified in the AIRMET included northern Illinois, eastern Iowa, and southern Wisconsin.

The DPA Terminal Area Forecast (TAF), in effect from 0600, expected weather conditions at 1000 to be: wind from 200 degrees at 12 knots, gusting to 19 knots; visibility 6 miles in light rain showers and mist; broken clouds at 2,500 feet agl, and overcast clouds at 3,500 feet agl. The DPA TAF was amended at 0915. The amended forecast expected weather conditions at 1000 to be: wind from 190 degrees at 12 knots; visibility 5 miles in light rain, drizzle, and mist; and overcast clouds at 800 feet agl.

The current Area Forecast (FA) was issued at 0545. Between 0900 and 1100, the FA expected a broken to overcast cloud layer from 1,500 to 2,500 feet agl, and an overcast cloud ceiling at 4,000 feet agl with cloud layers to 26,000 feet mean sea level over northern Illinois. It also forecast scatter light rain showers. The outlook was for IFR conditions due to cloud ceilings, with rain showers and mist.

There was no record that the pilot had contacted flight service for a formal preflight weather briefing related to the accident flight. In addition, there was no record that the pilot logged into the Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS) to obtain weather or flight information.

A pilot and flight instructor reported that they were en route from Rockford (RFD) to 3CK on an IFR training flight at the time of the accident. They were in solid instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) at their cruise altitude of 5,000 feet msl. They both recalled breaking out of the clouds at 1,300 feet msl (approximately 400 feet agl) during the instrument approach into 3CK. They encountered light rain; but they did not encounter any icing during the flight.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted a tree and an open agricultural field about 4 miles north-northwest of Lake in the Hills Airport (3CK). Multiple tree limbs up to about 4 inches in diameter exhibiting fresh breaks were distributed over an approximate 45-foot by 45-foot area immediately north of the tree. The wreckage path was oriented on a bearing of approximately 009 degrees magnetic. The debris field was about 400 feet long by 85 feet wide originating at the tree struck during the accident sequence.

The main wreckage came to rest approximately 97 feet north of the tree. The engine was separated from the airframe and the engine mount was fragmented. The engine came to rest inverted about 155 feet from the main wreckage. The propeller assembly separated from the engine aft of the propeller flange and came to rest approximately 131 feet from the main wreckage. The vertical stabilizer, with the rudder attached, separated from the fuselage. It came to rest about 30 feet north of the main wreckage.

The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, right wing, and horizontal stabilizer. The cabin area was compromised and the fuselage was fragmented. The right wing was separated from the fuselage. Portions of the fiberglass wing structure were separated and delaminated. The right aileron remained attached to the wing. The right flap was separated and located within the debris field. The horizontal stabilizer was separated from the fuselage. The fiberglass stabilizer structure was delaminated and fragmented. The left and right elevators had separated from the stabilizer and were located within the debris field.

The left wing had separated from the fuselage. The outboard section, from the wing tip to about midspan, came to rest approximately 55 feet east of the main wreckage. A section of the lower left wing structure, including the left main landing gear strut and wheel assembly, was located about 30 feet west of the main wreckage. The remainder of the inboard portion of the left wing was fragmented. The left aileron was separated from the wing and came to rest about 275 feet north of the main wreckage. The left flap had separated from the wing and was located within the debris field.

Postaccident examinations did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the McHenry County Coroner's Office, Woodstock, Illinois, on November 28, 2011. The pilot's death was attributed to injuries received in the accident.

Toxicology testing was performed by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. Testing results were negative for all substances in the screening profile.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
A review of radar track data for the accident flight indicated that it was operating in Class E airspace while in the Chicago metropolitan area, with the exception of the vicinity of DPA. Within approximately 5 miles of DPA, the flight was operating in Class D airspace. Regulations require pilots operating under basic VFR in Class D and Class E airspace to remain at least 500 feet below and 2,000 feet horizontally from any cloud formation. Visibility of at least 3 miles is also required for such operations.

In order to takeoff or land at an airport located within Class D airspace under VFR, any cloud ceiling must be at or above 1,000 feet agl and the visibility must be at least 3 miles. In the case of weather conditions that are less than basic VFR, a pilot may request a special VFR clearance from air traffic control. Regulations pertaining to special VFR operations (14 CFR 91.157) require pilots to remain clear of clouds, with no additional cloud clearance distance requirements. The flight visibility must be at least 1 mile.

FAA procedures for air traffic control (Order 7110.65U) allow controllers to authorize special VFR operations for aircraft operating in class D airspace. However, special VFR may only be initiated by the pilot [§7-5-1 (a)(3)]. The order makes no provision for the controller to suggest special VFR operations to a pilot or to initiate special VFR operations on behalf of a pilot.

A ticket for an Indianapolis Colts football game, valid for Sunday, November 27, 2011, was located in the accident debris field.




Funeral arrangements for a prominent Indiana businessman and his two daughters have been set. A memorial service for Ray, Ramie and Shey Harris will be held Saturday morning at Marion High School. Harris, his daughters and another passenger were killed Saturday in a plane crash.

Viewing for Harris and his two daughters is set for Friday afternoon from 2:00-8:00. The arrangements are being set through Needham Storey & Wampner Funeral Service in Marion.

Harris owned a Jeep and Chrysler dealership in Marion and was the city's former Board of Works President. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating Saturday's crash.


NTSB Identification: CEN12FA083
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, November 26, 2011 in Crystal Lake, IL
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR20, registration: N223CD
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On November 26, 2011, about 1025 central standard time, a Cirrus Design SR20, N223CD, impacted a tree and terrain near Crystal Lake, Illinois. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The aircraft was registered to Marion Pilots Club and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site. The flight originated from Marion Regional Airport (MZZ), Marion, Indiana about 0830. The intended destination was DuPage Airport (DPA), West Chicago, Illinois.

At 0958, the pilot contacted DPA Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) and inquired about landing at DPA. The controller advised the pilot that the airport was under instrument flight rules. However, the flight inadvertently flew over the airport. The pilot reversed course in an attempt to return to the airport but lost sight of it. He subsequently informed the controller that he was not sure if he wanted to land at DPA because he did not want to "get in there and get stuck all day" due to the weather. The controller noted that Chicago Executive Airport (PWK), located about 20 miles northeast of DPA, was reporting visual flight rules (VFR) conditions. The pilot subsequently informed the controller that the flight was "in and out of the clouds right now." When the controller asked the pilot if he was instrument flight rules (IFR) qualified, the pilot replied that he was in "IFR training and I've let this get around me."

About 1012, the flight was transferred to the Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility. The Chicago TRACON controller also provided weather conditions at airports in the vicinity of the accident flight. The pilot initially advised the controller that he would proceed to PWK, which the closest airport reporting VFR weather conditions at the time. However, the pilot later advised the controller that he was no longer inbound to PWK. He commented that he didn't want to "mess with the weather" and didn't want to "get stuck in here." The controller subsequently approved a frequency change and the pilot acknowledged that transmission. No further communications were received from the accident flight.

A witness located within 1/2 mile of the accident site reported hearing an airplane in the area; however, he was not able to see it because of the cloud cover. He noted that it sounded like the airplane was doing aerobatics, with the airplane climbing and descending. Less than 1 minute later, he observed the airplane south of his location in an approximate 70-degree nose down attitude. The airplane subsequently impacted the ground. He noted a faint fuel smell shortly after the accident when he responded to the site. It was misty, with a light rain at the time of the accident.

The airplane impacted a tree and an open agricultural field about 4 miles north-northwest of Lake in the Hills Airport (3CK). Multiple tree limbs up to about 4 inches in diameter exhibiting fresh breaks were distributed over an approximate 45-foot by 45-foot area immediately north of the tree. The wreckage path was oriented on a bearing of approximately 009 degrees magnetic. The debris field was about 400 feet long by 75 feet wide originating at the tree bordering the field. The main wreckage came to rest approximately 97 feet north of the tree. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, right wing, and horizontal stabilizer. The remaining airframe components, including all control surfaces, were located within the debris field. The engine and propeller had separated from the airframe and were each located 155 feet and 131 feet north of the main wreckage, respectively.

Weather conditions recorded at DPA, located about 22 miles south of the accident site, at 1029, included overcast clouds at 900 feet above ground level, 1-3/4 miles visibility in light rain and mist, and wind from 170 degrees at 11 knots.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land airplane rating issued on April 22, 2010. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicated that the pilot did not hold an instrument rating. He was issued a third-class airman medical certificate, with a restriction for corrective lenses, on June 28, 2011. Prior to the accident, the pilot had logged about 205 hours total flight time, with approximately 114 hours flight time in the accident airplane. The accident flight was approximately 2 hours in duration. The pilot's logbook included a high performance airplane endorsement.

The accident airplane was a Cirrus Design model SR20, serial number 1110. The airplane was powered by a 210-horsepower Continental Motors IO-360-ES six-cylinder, reciprocating engine, serial number 827771-R. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated about 1,758 hours total time in-service. The engine was installed on the airframe in December 2008 and had accumulated about 459 hours since new. According to the airplane maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was completed on April 5, 2011.