Thursday, December 01, 2011

Nigeria: Runway Without Lights?


I have always said that Nigeria is a country of paradoxes: what is normal everywhere else in the world is abnormal here. The domestic runway of the Murtala Mohammed airport took nearly two years for asphalt resurfacing. At the time, the international runway, which previously took two years for similar renovation, became the only serviceable runway for both domestic and international traffic. Local flights would land at the international wing, taxi for 10-15 minutes (traffic permitting) before disembarking passengers at the local terminals.

Airlines were losing, on a daily basis, about N3m on extra fuel because of the awkward process as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) management thought, in their narrow mind, that airlines would have no option but to accept any situation dictated by the authority. Strangely enough, no domestic airline challenged such expensive handling.

The same cycle is repeating itself: Runway 18L, the domestic runway in Lagos, for the past three years has been without a single lighting system. Again, aircraft must land on the international runway and taxi to the domestic terminal as from 6pm every day. This is not only costly but a sign of gross irresponsibility on the part of the airports authority. Runway lights provide a perfect outline of the runway that allows the pilot to see it at night and safely land the plane. In major airports, they are controlled by air traffic controllers. Intensities can be low, medium or high to allow for day and night lighting and to adjust for different visibility conditions related to the weather.

There are many different types of runway lights. Each plays a vital role in helping the pilot locate the exact location of the runway and know exactly where to touch the plane down. In any given airport, one is likely to find any of the following types of runway lighting in usage: approach lights, centerline lights; runway edge lights, touchdown zone lights, runway end identification lights, and taxiway lights. Unfortunately, not a single one of these lights is available on the domestic landing strip.

Within one year of landing at the international, and taxing to the domestic wing, the majority of the airlines went bankrupt and the few that survived became heavily indebted to banks. As of today, there is no financially healthy airline in the country. There are two reasons for this: the high cost of operating in a harsh, hostile and inefficient service support environment, and the cost of borrowing and operating in a country where interest rate on lending is almost twice the possible profit derived from such venture. Managing airline business is a precarious and sensitive adventure, even in countries that support aviation with efficient service providers, and responsible airline-friendly policies.

Air transportation business in Nigeria is besieged by draconian rules aimed at extorting funds from airline companies. One such callous policy is “pay as you go” whereby airlines pay cash to both the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and FAAN without a corresponding improvement in services.

Just last year, the president elevated Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu, to international status. In this case, flights would be allowed to take off from the airport to anywhere in the world. Similarly, foreign flights would be allowed to land and clear customs and immigration there. Shortly after the flight that took Odumegwu Ojukwu to the United Kingdom, the security agencies (customs, immigration, SSS and NDLEA) literarily disappeared from the newly acclaimed international airport.

All foreign-inbound flights to Enugu must, first, land in Lagos, Port Harcourt or Abuja and must clear customs and immigration before proceeding to Akanu Ibiam.

The same process is practised for outbound flights to foreign airports.

The future of air transportation in Nigeria lies in how responsible federal agencies in charge of aviation in this country create enabling operating environment for those who risk investment in the aviation sector. The most cost–sensitive business in the modern world is airline operation, where every penny must be properly utilized or accounted for.

While we cannot blame the current minister of aviation for the discrepancies or deviations in the standard operating procedure of the sector, and the inability of FAAN to install runway lighting system on Runway 18L, she has mounted the most complicated podium in our economy. It is not her fault but now her responsibility to, as quickly as possible, install all the necessary lighting system on the domestic runway in Lagos to help save more airlines from further financial burden.

Beech 58, N569JL: Accident occurred March 30, 2011 in Greensboro, North Carolina

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA219 
 Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, March 30, 2011 in Greensboro, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/22/2013
Aircraft: BEECH 58, registration: N569JL
Injuries: 2 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 pilot was flying the third of four scheduled flights for the day and was returning with a passenger to the passenger’s originating airport. The flight was operating in instrument meteorological conditions on an instrument flight rules flight plan. About 45 minutes into the flight, as the airplane neared the destination airport, the pilot advised air traffic control that she would need to enter a holding pattern and wait for the weather conditions at the destination airport to improve. The controller advised the pilot of several other airports with better weather conditions that were between 25 and 40 miles from her destination. The pilot declined the alternatives, and, about 9 minutes after entering the holding pattern, advised the controller that she would like to divert to an airport not far from her original destination, if the weather conditions there were "good." The controller immediately provided the pilot with radar vectors toward the requested diversion airport.

The original destination and diversion airports were located about 13 nautical miles (nm) apart, and similar weather conditions prevailed at both airports, including low ceilings and visibilities in mist and fog. After vectoring the flight toward the diversion airport, the controller advised the pilot of the weather conditions. After a brief discussion regarding other flights that recently completed instrument approaches and successfully landed at the diversion airport, the pilot elected to continue to that airport despite the reported weather conditions. The controller provided vectors to the pilot for an instrument landing system approach and informed her that the runway visual range was 4,000 feet, which was above the 1,800-foot required landing minimum for the approach.

Radar data indicated that the flight subsequently intercepted, briefly passed through, and then re-intercepted the final approach course before descending and crossing the final approach fix about 200 feet below the published intercept altitude. The flight continued its descent below the glideslope until reaching a point about 3 nm from the runway and 400 feet above the ground, at which time the pilot initiated a missed approach. The airplane climbed to about 700 feet above the ground and then again began to descend. The last radar return showed the airplane about 600 feet above the ground. The airplane impacted the ground about 1,800 feet beyond the last radar return indicating that, during the final seconds of the flight, the airplane entered a steep descent with an average angle of about 18 degrees.

The wreckage was located about 2 nm from the runway. The debris path, which was about 600 feet in length and oriented with the runway heading, and the fragmentation of the wreckage indicated that the airplane was traveling at a relatively high airspeed when it impacted the ground. Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation, and there was no indication that the airplane struck any objects before it impacted the trees identified as the initial point of the debris path.

Analysis of the radar data for the approach portion of the flight showed that the accident airplane trailed another airplane on the instrument landing system approach by an average of 1.5 minutes and about 5 nautical miles. A wake vortex analysis based on the radar-observed positions of both airplanes showed that the accident airplane remained below the calculated wake vortices generated by the airplane ahead until that airplane landed. Additionally, analysis of the accident airplane’s calculated pitch, roll, and heading did not indicate that the airplane encountered a wake vortex. The airplane’s calculated bank angle remained below 10 degrees for at least the final 3 minutes of the flight, and the largest calculated bank angle observed was 6 degrees left after the pilot advised air traffic control that she was initiating a missed approach. The published missed approach procedure included a climbing left turn.

Analysis of the last 9 seconds of radar data indicated that the airplane’s groundspeed increased from 109 to 129 knots, while its altitude remained within a 100-foot range. This abrupt increase in speed likely resulted from increased thrust as the pilot initiated the missed approach and increased engine power. During this time, the pilot was vulnerable to a vestibular illusion associated with forward acceleration known as a somatogravic illusion, which causes a false sensation of increased pitch, particularly when flying in low visibility conditions. Further analysis of the airplane’s radar data-based performance showed that the maximum pitch attitude attained during the missed approach was about 13 degrees nose up; however, calculations indicated that the pilot’s maximum vestibular/kinesthetic perception of the airplane’s nose-up pitch may initially have been closer to 19 degrees, which would have prompted her to lower the airplane’s nose.

If the pilot lowered the nose in response to a perceived increase in pitch, the airplane would have accelerated even more rapidly, exacerbating the somatogravic illusion and causing the pilot to lower the nose even further. (Analysis showed that the pilot’s perception of the airplane’s pitch likely remained above actual pitch for the remainder of the flight, as perceived pitch decreased from about 19 to 6 degrees nose up.) As a result, the airplane’s final flight path would have approximated a parabolic trajectory. This is consistent with the accident airplane’s transition from a climb to a steep descent.Furthermore, the pilot had only about 13 seconds between the start of the airplane’s final descent and terrain impact; this would have reduced the likelihood of a successful recovery, given that studies have shown that pilots can require 21 to 36 seconds to transition to stable instrument flight after spatial orientation is lost. Therefore, it is likely that the pilot experienced spatial disorientation due to a somatogravic illusion and placed the airplane in a nose-low attitude as a result.

A review of company records revealed that, in the 6 months before the accident, the pilot performed six instrument approaches, two of which were performed on the morning of the accident flight. In addition, the pilot had conducted a total of seven instrument approaches in the accident airplane type. These numbers suggest that the pilot had only minimal instrument flying proficiency. However, it is difficult to determine the pilot’s level of instrument flying proficiency based solely on recency of experience and the number of instrument approaches conducted in the accident airplane type. Furthermore, even highly experienced, proficient pilots occasionally experience brief episodes of spatial disorientation. The influence of the pilot’s instrument flying proficiency on the pilot’s spatial disorientation could not be determined.

Available information indicated that the pilot had a rest opportunity of 7 hours 44 minutes the night before the accident, which was close to her reported sleep need of 8 hours per night. In addition, although the pilot had been on duty for 13 hours by the time of the accident, she received a 5-hour break at an intermediate stop before she began preparing for the accident flight. It is possible she used some of this time to obtain additional rest. Furthermore, the accident occurred at a time of day that is normally associated with high levels of alertness. Thus, the available evidence does not support a conclusion that the pilot’s performance was degraded by fatigue.

No blood sample was available for toxicological testing, but tissue specimens were used for ethanol and drug assays. No ethanol was found in any tissue. Sertraline was detected in the liver. Since blood levels for butalbital (detected in the liver and kidney) and promethazine (detected in the kidney) (both of which can cause sedation and impair mental and/or physical ability) were not available, it was not possible to assess the pilot’s level of impairment at the time of the accident. Based on the tissue levels of butalbital, promethazine and sertraline, it was likely that, at some point the day before, or the day of, the accident flight, the pilot ingested these medications. Whether actual blood levels of butalbital and/or promethazine were great enough to interfere with the pilot’s aeronautical decision-making or flying skills at the time of the accident could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s spatial disorientation due to a somatogravic illusion while conducting a missed approach in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the airplane’s descent into objects and terrain.

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) - Residents of a High Point community where a small plane crashed into a house in late March took their fears of noise and another crash to PTI Airport officials on Thursday.

Some residents of Frasier Downs asked airport officials to buy their homes during Thursday's meeting, saying low-flying planes and the noise simply scare them.

"These aircraft are flying over our homes, making our homes shake and rattle and scaring the tar out of every one of us," said Mary Jo Rumbaugh, resident. She took home video of planes flying over her house and showed it at the meeting.

Sochan Rumthao, whose house the plane crashed into, killing both on board, was also at the meeting.

"I want you to look down at us and see what we are going through. It's likely to happen again. The question is not if. It's when," Rumthao said.

But airport officials said there isn't much they can do concerning their request.

"We have absolutely no ability to purchase homes in that neighborhood for the purposes of noise mitigation or for the purpose of airplanes flying over top of the homes," PTI executive director Kevin Baker said.

PTI presented a map that said the Frasier Downs homes aren't close enough to the airport to be bought out. However, Baker said neighbors may be eligible for a noise insulation program, which would help drown out the sound of the planes.

PTI plans to send experts to study a group of homes in Frasier Downs to see if they are eligible for noise insulation.

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA219
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, March 30, 2011 in Greensboro, NC
Aircraft: BEECH 58, registration: N569JL
Injuries: 2 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 March 30, 2011, at 1746 eastern daylight time, a Beech 58, N569JL, operated by Jet Logistics, Inc., was destroyed when it impacted trees and a residence while conducting an instrument approach to Piedmont-Triad International Airport (GSO), Greensboro, North Carolina. The certificated airline transport pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Wilmington International Airport (ILM), Wilmington, North Carolina, and was destined for Smith Reynolds Airport (INT), Winston Salem, North Carolina. The non-scheduled passenger flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135.

According to the operator, the pilot departed the airplane's base at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) about 0700, and repositioned the airplane to INT to pick up the passenger. They departed INT about 0900, and arrived in ILM about 1000, where the passenger conducted business for the day. The flight then departed ILM at 1622 to return the passenger to INT.

Review of preliminary air traffic control information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, revealed that the pilot conducted a holding procedure while enroute INT, and during the hold, elected to divert to GSO. The pilot was cleared for the instrument landing system approach to runway 5L, and subsequently declared a missed approach before radar contact was lost.

The initial impact point was located in a wooded area approximately 2 miles from the runway 5L threshold, and was identified by several freshly cut tree branches. A wreckage path approximately 600 feet in length and oriented approximately 45 degrees magnetic extended through the wooded area. Fragments of the airplane, including portions of both wings, the empennage, flight control surfaces, and landing gear, were located along the wreckage path. The fuselage came to rest inside a residence and was largely consumed by post-impact fire. Both engines separated from their nacelles and were located within 50 feet of the main wreckage. Both propeller assemblies exhibited s-bending, chordwise scratching, and leading edge polishing.

The 1754 weather observation at GSO included winds from 60 degrees at 9 knots, 1/4-mile visibility in light drizzle and fog, an overcast cloud layer at 100 feet, temperature 6 degrees C, dew point 5 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.83 inches of mercury. A surface visibility of one-half mile was also noted.

Plane tamperer may be injured. Kapiti Coast Airport - New Zealand.

Whoever tried to break into a plane in Paraparaumu overnight may be wandering around with an injury from the blast of the emergency door.

An early morning flight from Paraparaumu to Auckland, and the scheduled return flight, were cancelled today after the emergency exit door was opened, causing the escape chute to open.

About 75 people had their flights disrupted following the incident.

Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan of Kapiti police says the door was designed so it would open from the inside so passengers could get out in an emergency.

"They have got to inflate fast so the force of the inflation device has probably injured this person," he says.

"So we would like to appeal to anyone who has seen someone with new injuries to get in touch with us."

Mr Macmillan says the airport terminal is not too close to a residential area but somebody may still have heard the bang from the door opening.

"A couple of days ago we had calls about some gunshots, which was a rabbit culler taking shots at rabbits on the airfield.

"It was a nice still night so somebody may have heard something."

The break-in caused the scheduled 6.55am Air New Zealand flight to Auckland on the Air Nelson plane to be cancelled, as well as the scheduled return flight to Paraparaumu.

The incident has happened just over a month after Paraparaumu Airport began operating commercial flights on October 25.

Air Nelson general manager Grant Kerr said the airline and Kapiti Coast Airport were investigating as well as police.

The Civil Aviation Authority will monitor the outcome rather than launch its own probe as aircraft security is managed by airlines as part of civil aviation rules.

The CAA says Paraparaumu was a non-security regulated airport, meaning the 2.44 metre fencing and the presence of the Aviation Security Service, found at larger airports, is not required.

Kapiti Coast Airport will review security after an Air Nelson plane was tampered with on the tarmac, forcing the cancellation of two flights.

Police say the attempt to break in to the plane overnight was likely an "idiotic, expensive prank''.

The attempt caused an emergency landing device on the Air Nelson plane to inflate but the offenders were not able to enter the 50-seat plane, which was parked on an apron off the airstrip.

Kapiti Coast Airport chief executive Steve Bootten said the offenders were "absolutely senseless''.

"All this is doing is adding a huge cost to the aviation infrastructure.''

The airport would review its security procedures, he said.

"Obviously we need to have a rethink and we need to sit down with our partners, Air Nelson, and determine what their requirements are and what we can reasonably do to further enhance the security,'' he told APNZ.

"The reality is a determined vandal is going to cut through fences or get over fences or disable just about anything, really.''

Mr Bootten said the airport's security measures were comparable to any other airport of a similar size in New Zealand.

"That's not to say that we don't need to look at ways that we can reasonably make further enhancements, and we will be most certainly doing that.''

The incident follows other airport break-ins over the last 18 months, including one in which people siphoned off aviation fuel from aero club aircraft.

Four people were arrested over that incident.

Mr Bootten said they were given a light sentence, and greater deterrents were needed.

Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan of Kapiti police said the offenders had tried to force their way in to the Bombadier Q300`s rear emergency exit door between 8pm yesterday and 6am.

That activated a ditching dam - a 30cm long, nitrogen-inflated rubber buffer that keeps water out of the aircraft.

Mr Macmillan said the device frightened off the offenders, "who of course wouldn't be expecting this to inflate - they were just trying to get into the plane''.

Pilots, police and security staff had checked the plane and were confident it had not been otherwise tampered with, Mr Macmillan said.

"There's no rhyme nor reason to it. My supposition is they were just going to see if there was anything they could steal,'' he told APNZ.

"It may have been curiosity _ it's a stupid, idiotic, expensive prank or adventure that these people or person has attempted, and we'd certainly like to find who's responsible.''

Mr Macmillan said the offenders could have entered anywhere around the terminal, which is surrounded by a 2.44m security fence and covered by floodlighting overnight.

Police, Air Nelson and the Kapiti Coast Airport are investigating.

Air Nelson general manager Grant Kerr said the incident had disrupted the travel plans of 75 people.

Two flights - NZ8490 from Kapiti to Auckland, and NZ8491 from Auckland to Kapiti - were cancelled while the aircraft was inspected and cleared for flying.

Flights between Kapiti and Auckland began only in October.

"I'm sure the residents of Kapiti are as disappointed as I am that someone would do this so soon after the launch of this new route,'' Mr Kerr said.

The Civil Aviation Authority said the airport was not security regulated, which meant security services found at larger airports were not required.

Aircraft security was managed by airlines as part of the requirements to hold an operator certificate under the civil aviation rules.'

Autopsy finds pilot who died at Lakefront Airport (KNEW) had no crash-related injuries. Piper PA31 Navajo, N6485L. New Orleans, Louisiana.

An autopsy performed on a pilot who died after an emergency landing at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport on Tuesday found no crash-related injuries or other physical problems that may have led to the man's death, the Orleans Parish coroner's office said.

Investigators are still waiting on the results of toxicology tests to determine what killed Doug Johnston, said John Gagliano, the coroner's chief investigator. Test results may take another two weeks.

Johnston, 69, was en route to Miami from Calexico, Calif., when the Piper Navajo he was flying made an emergency landing at the airport shortly before 7 p.m.

Jaimie Valdez, a passenger who was traveling with Johnston, was in stable condition after the landing, police said. Johnston was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
IDENTIFICATION  Regis#: 6485L        Make/Model: PA31      Description: PA-31/31P Navajo, Navajo Chieftain, Chie
  Date: 11/30/2011     Time: 0015

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

  City: NEW ORLEANS   State: LA   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   1
                 # Crew:   2     Fat:   1     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

WEATHER: 300053Z AUTO 34015KT 10SM CLR 14/04 A3009

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Landing      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: BATON ROUGE, LA  (SW03)               Entry date: 11/30/2011

Wittman Tailwind W10, N865JT: Fatal accident occurred December 01, 2011 in Fulton, New York

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Docket And Docket Items  -   National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary -  National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA093 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 01, 2011 in Fulton, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2012
Aircraft: Wing John R Wittman Tailwind, registration: N865JT
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

According the spouse of the pilot, the purpose of the flight was for him to become more familiar with the airplane in order to complete the required 40 flight hours of the phase one operating limitations. According to several witnesses, they heard the engine "sputter" and saw the airplane pitch nose down and descend through trees before impacting the ground. Such a descent is indicative of an aerodynamic stall. A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airframe or engine. Based on the temperature and dew point at the time of the accident, the conditions were favorable for serious carburetor icing at a cruise power setting. The carburetor heat control was in the full forward or "closed" position. The witness statements about the engine, as well as the favorable conditions for serious carburetor ice formation, suggest a partial loss of power. The pilot, still becoming familiar with the handling characteristics of the airplane, likely became preoccupied with restoring full engine power and maneuvering the airplane toward the airport in order to land and unintentionally entered an aerodynamic stall.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was a partial loss of engine power due to the formation of carburetor ice.


On December 1, 2011, about 1440 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built, Wittman Tailwind W10, N865JT, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain near Fulton, New York. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The private pilot was fatally injured. The personal local flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airplane departed Oswego County Airport (FZY), Fulton, New York, just prior to the accident.

According to the spouse of the pilot, the purpose of the flight was to become more familiar with the airplane and continue building hours in order to complete 40 flight hours for phase one as required in the experimental operating limitations. Two witnesses that worked at the airport about a mile from the accident site reported that they saw the airplane performing touch and go landings on runway 33, about 1430. They both noted that the airplane was traveling "fast."

According to several witnesses near the accident location, they reported hearing the engine "sputter" before the airplane appeared to pitch nose down and impact trees and terrain.

According to the pilot’s logbook, the airplane performed its first flight on November 21, 2011, and had a recorded tach time of 111.8 hours. A witness who observed the airplane prior to the first flight stated that the pilot completed a preflight inspection and the witness verified that the airplane control system was functioning properly when the pilot moved the controls. According to an email sent by the pilot to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the first flight was performed successfully and further flight testing would continue when the "weather conditions would allow."


According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He also held a repairman experimental aircraft builder certificate for a Wittman Tailwind WL10. The pilot's most recent third class medical certificate was issued on May 24, 2011 with a limitation of "must wear corrective lenses." According to the pilot’s logbooks, he had accumulated 759.6 hours of total flight time.


According to FAA records, the airplane was issued a special airworthiness certificate on November 8, 2011, and was registered to the pilot. It was equipped with a Lycoming O-320 engine with a tach time of 112.14 hours of time in service. On November 8, 2011, a conditional inspection was signed off in the airframe logbook with the aircraft total time of zero hours.

The airplane was a high wing, plans-built, tail wheel equipped airplane that was constructed out of wood and welded metal tubing with fabric covering. The airplane was not equipped with a stall warning indicator.


The 1453 recorded weather observation at FZY, included wind from 300 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 7 degrees C, dew point 0 degrees C; barometric altimeter 30.24 inches of mercury.


The airport, 475 feet above mean sea level, had two crossing runways, designated runway 15/33 and 6/24, and did not have an operating air traffic control tower. Runway 15/33 was a 5,196 feet-long by 100 feet-wide asphalt runway. Runway 6/24 was a 3,996 feet-long by 100 feet-wide asphalt runway.


The airplane was found in a nose down attitude, fractured into several pieces, and came to rest inverted in a heavily wooded area. The main wreckage was located 41.5 feet from a 100 foot-tall tree that the airplane initially impacted. The wreckage was located about 7,000 feet away from the airport center point and on the extended centerline for runway 24. An odor of fuel was detected around the wreckage.

Continuity was confirmed to all flight control surfaces from the cockpit area through breaks in the control tubes and rudder cables. Elevator continuity was confirmed from the cockpit area to just aft of the seats where the fuselage was fractured, then from the fracture to where the first responders cut the control tubes, then aft to the elevator. Right aileron control continuity was confirmed from the control column through the aileron interconnect tube, to a break in the control tube immediately inboard of the right wing, and then to the right aileron. Left aileron control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit, through the aileron interconnect tube, to a break in the control tube immediately inboard of the left wing, then inside of the flap tube assembly, and continuity was confirmed from the hidden hinge assembly to the aileron. Cable continuity was confirmed from the rudder pedals, through a cut made by first responders, to the rudder.

The right wing exhibited impact damage and was separated from the main wreckage. The outboard 6 feet section of the wing was impact separated, exposing the main wing spar. The main wing spar was made of wood, it was impact damaged, and fractured in several areas along the spar. The aileron and flap remained attached at all wing attachment points. The leading edge of the wing and the wing tip were separated from the trailing edge of the wing. The right main landing gear remained attached at the fuselage attachment point. The upper portion of the right wing strut remained attached to the wing attachment point.

The empennage was cut by first responders just aft of the cockpit area. The rudder and vertical stabilizer remained attached to the empennage and were impact damaged in the negative and aft direction. The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator remained attached to the empennage. The right elevator was impact damaged in the negative and forward direction. The left horizontal stabilizer and elevator were separated from the empennage. The left horizontal stabilizer was located approximately 50 feet above ground level in the initial impact tree. The left elevator was located in the vicinity but aft of the main wreckage, and was impact damaged. The tail wheel remained attached to the empennage and was bent slightly to the right.

The outboard approximate 4-foot section of the left wing was impact separated. The inboard section was fragmented, located in several trees, and in the vicinity of the main wreckage. The aileron was separated from the left wing and located aft of the main wreckage. The wing flap was impact separated and located aft of the main wreckage. The left main landing gear remained attached to the fuselage attach point. The upper portion of the left wing strut remained attached to the wing.

The engine remained attached to the firewall, was partially buried about 3-feet in the ground, and the engine mounts exhibited impact damage. The engine was a Lycoming O-320 engine. The propeller was an Aymar-DeMuth 3200 wooden propeller and was impact damaged at the propeller hub. The wood propeller blades were impacted separated. The propeller spinner exhibited impact crush damage and exhibited slight torsional damage.

The engine driven fuel pump remained attached, was removed, and examined. It was found containing a blue fluid similar in color and smell as 100LL aviation fuel. The diaphragms remained intact. The fuel strainer was disassembled and the fuel strainer screen was relatively clear with a small amount of debris

The Nos. 1, 2, and 3 top sparkplugs were removed. The Nos. 1, 3, and 4 bottom sparkplugs were removed. The other two sparkplugs were damaged and were unable to be removed. All sparkplugs remained intact and appeared to be relatively new with little wear and were light gray in color.

Thumb compression was achieved on all cylinders via hand rotation of the propeller hub. All cylinder covers were removed and all lifters and rockers were observed operating normally and smoothly with no malfunctions noted. The cylinders were borescoped and the Nos. 1, 2, and 4 cylinders exhibited normal wear. The No. 3 cylinder exhibited corrosion around the cylinder head.

Both magnetos were rotated by hand utilizing the magneto gear. The left magneto produced spark on all towers and no spark was observed on the right magneto.

The cockpit throttle and mixture controls were found forward and slightly bent; however, due to cockpit, firewall, and airframe damage and exact power setting on the engine could not be determined. The carburetor heat control was in the full forward or "closed" position. The carburetor was impacted separated and the brass floats were collocated with the engine. The floats exhibited hydraulic deformation.

The engine oil dipstick was found in the engine. Oil was present in the engine and was dark brown in color.

The seats remained attached to the airframe and the 4-point seatbelts and shoulder harness remained attached at their respective attach points. The left seat buckle was cut by first responders about midspan. The right seat belt remained connected and operated normally, but the shoulder harness was cut by first responders. The windscreen was impact damaged and pieces of the plexiglass were collocated with the wreckage.

The master switch was a dual rocker switch, one switch was in the "ON" position, and one was in the "OFF" position. The ignition switch was in the "BOTH" position. The fuel pump was in the "OFF" position. The fuel primer handle was "IN" and in the unlocked position. The tachometer indicated 112.14 hours.

Both doors were separated from the fuselage and the locks were in the "locked" position.

The fuel tank was located aft of the firewall and forward of the cockpit area. It had an indicated capacity of 24 gallons of fuel. The fuel cap was located on a chain attached to the fuel tank, but was not seated in the opening.

A fuel receipt was produced by a local fixed base operator indicating that on November 12, 2011, the airplane was fueled with 5.41 gallons of fuel.

The Emergency Locator Transmitter was located in the wreckage and was fragmented.


The Medical Examiner's Office of Onondaga County Health Department Center for Forensics Sciences performed the autopsy on the pilot in Syracuse, New York. The autopsy report indicated that the pilot died as a result of "multiple blunt force injuries."

The FAA’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of the pilot. Fluid and tissue specimens from the pilot tested negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol, but naproxen was detected in the urine.


The elevator control torque tube was retained to be further examined by the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, District of Columbia. The larger portion of the control tube, sustained plastic deformation in multiple areas and also included areas with buckling, overstress fractures and a failure of a welded joint. Examination of the fractured weld joint using a stereo microscope revealed that the weld failed at the interface between the filler metal and the base metal suggesting a lack of fusion consistent with a cold weld. The smaller portion of the push pull tube sustained general plastic deformation and an overstress fracture on the end.


The carburetor icing probability chart from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB): CE-09-35 Carburetor Icing Prevention, June 30, 2009, shows a probability of serious icing at cruise power at the temperature and dew point reported around the time of the accident.

According to the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, FAA-H-8083-25A, Chapter 4, "Aerodynamics of Flight" states in part "An aircraft stall results from a rapid decrease in lift caused by the separation of airflow from the wing's surface brought on by exceeding the critical AOA [angle of attack]… The stalling speed of an aircraft is also higher in a level turn than in straight-and-level flight. Centrifugal force is added to the aircraft's weight and the wing must produce sufficient additional lift to counterbalance the load imposed by the combination of centrifugal force and weight. In a turn, the necessary additional lift is acquired by applying back pressure to the elevator control. This increases the wing's AOA, and results in increased lift. The AOA must increase as the bank angle increases to counteract the increasing load caused by centrifugal force. If at any time during a turn the AOA becomes excessive, the aircraft stalls."

According to FAA Advisory Circular 61-67C "Stall and Spin Awareness Training" states in part "Accelerated stalls can occur at higher-than-normal airspeeds due to abrupt and/or excessive control applications. These stalls may occur in steep turns, pullups, or other abrupt changes in flight path. Accelerated stalls usually are more severe than unaccelerated stalls and are often unexpected because they occur at higher-than-normal airspeeds."

Fulton Police Chief Orlo Green briefs reporters on the crash of a single-engine experimental plane in a field in Fulton on 12/1/2011. The crash killed the plane's pilot.

A single-engine, experimental plane crashed in a field not far from the Oswego County Airport Thursday afternoon, killing the pilot.

Police had not released the name of the person killed as of late Thursday night because they were in the process of notifying the victim’s family.

The crash happened shortly before 2:30 p.m. in a wooded area between White Ave. and County Route 176 on the city’s northern border.

Former Mayor Daryl Hayden owns the 20 acre property with his wife, which they bought almost exactly a year ago.  Locals call the area Incinerator Hill.

Fulton Police Chief Orlo Green said it was a challenge to get to the crash scene, which was well off any paved road.  At least one rescue vehicle became stuck in a muddy field and had to be pulled out.

Green said rescuers discovered a plane scattered in many pieces across an area of several hundred feet.  The pilot’s body was in the midst of the debris.

“Heavily damaged aircraft, very difficult to find,” Green said. “Quite a debris field.”

Reporters were allowed to see the crash scene from a distance after all of the preliminary investigation was done.  Small pieces of the plane were visible, hanging from tree limbs.  The plane’s fuselage was visible on the ground, crumpled.

Green said the plane was an experimental aircraft.  Experimental planes are often built by their owners from do-it-yourself kits.  A chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association is located at the Oswego County Airport.

The plane was practicing takeoffs and landings at the airport, Green said, a training routine known as touch-and-gos.

There was no obvious sign of why the plane crashed, he said.  Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration arrived a few hours after the crash to conduct the official investigation.  A preliminary report into a small plane crash will often be made public within a few weeks of the crash, while a final report may take many months.

Earlier coverage:
Police and rescue units have blocked off a section of County Route 176 just inside the Fulton clty line with the town of Volney because of what they call a plane crash with a fatality.

The scene is near the railroad bridge overpass along Rt. 176.

We’re told the plane is an experimental plane.  A chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association of America is based at the Oswego County Airport.  

Experimental planes are either hand-built or kit-built aircraft.

Federal Aviation Administration officials have been called to the scene, which is common for plane crashes and incidents.  FAA investigators are expected to be at the scene at around 5:00 p.m.

Nebraska: Lincoln Airport (KLNK) to seek state grant for land development.

The Lincoln Airport is applying for a state grant to help it develop a new portion of its industrial park.

The Airport Authority on Thursday approved a pre-application to the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for a $750,000 grant from the state's site, building and development fund, a new program that was created under LB388, which the Legislature passed this year.

Airport Executive Director John Wood said the money would go to help build infrastructure, including roads and sewer and water lines, on two tracts of land -- one 50 acres and one 80 acres -- on the north side of the airport.

A study done in 2010 determined that the area was one of the best sites in Lincoln to try to lure new industrial businesses because of its size and the fact that it is served by two rail lines.

However, the site needs extensive work to get it ready for potential development.

"The area today has no services," Wood said. "It's farm ground"

The total cost of the project will be about $2.5 million, Wood said, and to qualify to apply for the grant, the Airport Authority had to pledge the rest of the money. If it is successful in getting the grant, the airport hopes to get some financial help from the city to pay for the project.

If it passes the pre-application process, the airport will have to submit a formal grant application by Feb.1, and Wood said if the application is successful, the money will be awarded in March.

He did not give a timetable for when infrastructure work might begin.

In other business Thursday, the Airport Authority voted to continue, for at least another year, subsidizing the company that runs its gift shop and restaurant to help stem losses from a drop in passenger traffic.

As part of the agreement, the airport will cover as much as $90,000 per year in losses by Air Host. Wood said the airport paid the company $89,000 last year.

More flights to Tucson?

TUCSON - The Tucson International Airport could be adding more flights to its roundup. It recently began an incentive program, making it more appealing for airlines to fly to and from Tucson.

"The incentive program helps offset some of the airlines costs right up front," said Vice President of Administration and Finance and Tucson International Airport CFO, Dick Gruentzel.

He said studies have been conducted and they believe there's a demand for non-stop flights to places like New York City, Washington D.C., and Kansas City.

"Among the questions, were the destinations people would like to have to Mexico. Interestingly enough the top destination that came out of the survey was Guaymas," said Gruentzel.

Eduardo Saavedra travels all over the world half a dozen times a month for business. Flights to places like Mexico would mean more time to concentrate on work.

"It would help businesses here in Tucson have opportunities in Mexico that they otherwise wouldn't be able to have because of the long distance," said Saavedra.

Others we talked to just want the convenience.

"If I can get on more direct flights and just go straight there that would be a lot better than deal with a layover," said one flyer.

It has been three years since a commercial flight took off from Tucson to Mexico.

So what's changed?

"An airline that would institute that route would qualify for waivers of certain fees as well as marketing support that Tucson Airport Authority would pay for," said Gruentzel.

Miami Seaplane Tour

Brian Cox takes you into the air for a seaplane tour of Miami with who else than Miami Seaplane. Come with us to see a view of Miami most people don't get to see.

Success Story: Porter Airlines CEO, Robert Deluce

Robert Deluce shows no signs of jet lag after touching down in Toronto just before sunrise. His red eye from California was preceded by a long day of aircraft-fuelled meetings neither distracted nor tempted by the Golden State. When we meet in his office at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport later that afternoon, it becomes apparent that the CEO and president of Porter Airlines isn’t the type of man that mixes business with pleasure, but a man who paradoxically puts forth a company that does.

Deluce gestures warmly towards his office where to the left of his uncluttered desk rests a pile of framed portraits that chronicle his roots and achievements in the aviation industry. Despite their significance, they emit an unpretentious display as they rest on the floor stacked against the walls.

He’s particularly amused by Mr. Porter in the room, a playful figure of the company mascot fashioned with leftover parts and pieces from Bombardier. The model was a gift from the aircraft company when it delivered Porter’s 20th Dash 8 Q400 turboprop back in 2010. In an advertising world saturated with puppies and bunnies, the raccoon seems an unlikely choice to represent a corporate brand, but Deluce applauds the curious creature for its persistent personality. “I think we have a lot of individuals who can be equally thought of as Mr., Mrs. or Miss Porter within our organization. I think they are quite determined, and they manage to find ways around the little challenges or speed bumps … they seem to come out on top in achieving the end-result.”

Piper PA-44 Seminole, N2163N: Accident occurred November 30, 2011 in Seattle, Washington

NTSB Identification: WPR12LA051 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 30, 2011 in Seattle, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/09/2014
Aircraft: PIPER PA-44-180, registration: N2163N
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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

The flight instructor reported that, shortly after the student pilot conducted the takeoff, she noticed an uncommanded yaw, and she then took control of the airplane. The flight instructor started to land straight ahead, lowered the nose, and reduced power, but then she decided that insufficient runway remained to land, so she initiated a go-around. The airplane rolled sharply right and then descended in an uncontrolled inverted attitude, impacted the ground, and struck a parked airplane. The airplane fuselage and wings were substantially damaged from impact and partially consumed by the postcrash fire. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The flight instructor’s failure to maintain airplane control during a go-around.

On November 30, 2011, at 1930 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-44-180, N2163N, collided with the airport ramp shortly after takeoff and impacted a parked airplane at Boeing Field/King County International Airport (BFI), Seattle, Washington. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, Hillsboro Aviation under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. The certified flight instructor and student pilot sustained minor injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage from impact damage and the post crash fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the instructional flight, and a visual flight rules flight plan and had been filed. The airplane was departing for Portland-Hillsboro Airport (HIO), Portland, Oregon.

The flight instructor reported that shortly after the airplane took off, she noticed an uncommanded yaw and took over flight control from the student. The flight instructor started to land straight ahead, lowered the nose and reduced power, but decided there was not enough remaining runway to land, and initiated a go-around. The instructor lost control of the airplane, which immediately rolled to the right and collided on the ramp inverted. 

Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the wing section and spar box remained attached and that the empennage remained mostly undamaged. The forward cabin area was partially consumed by fired. Both engines and mounting assemblies were removed from the wing and exhibited fire damage. Flight control continuity was established, although the ailerons exhibited impact damage. The flaps were observed in a retracted position and an examination of the fuel system found no anomalies. Examination of both the left and right engines found thermal discoloration and damage although no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures were revealed that would have precluded normal operation. See the Engine/Airframe Examination report in the public docket. 

The flight instructor further stated that the engine did not sputter or run rough, and that the turn felt more like a hard roll than a yaw.

 NTSB Identification: WPR12LA051 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 30, 2011 in Seattle, WA
Aircraft: PIPER PA-44-180, registration: N2163N
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 30, 2011, at 1930 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-44-180, N2163N, collided with the airport ramp during takeoff and impacted a parked airplane at Boeing Field/King County International Airport (BFI), Seattle, Washington. Hillsboro Aviation operated the airplane as an instructional flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The certified flight instructor and student pilot were not injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight to the Portland-Hillsboro Airport (HIO), Portland, Oregon.

According to witnesses, the airplane was departing runway 31R, about 40 feet above ground level (agl), when the airplane veered to the right, landed hard, and cartwheeled on the ramp impacting a parked airplane. The accident airplane landed inverted and caught fire.

The airplane was recovered for further investigation.

  Regis#: 2163N        Make/Model: PA44      Description: PA-44 Seminole, Turbo Seminole
  Date: 12/01/2011     Time: 0333

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Minor     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial

  City: SEATTLE   State: WA   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   2     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   2     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

WEATHER: 0253Z 36003 10SM FEW029 A3075

  Activity: Training      Phase: Take-off      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: SEATTLE, WA  (NM01)                   Entry date: 12/01/2011 

SEATTLE— A training plane crashed on takeoff at Boeing Field Wednesday night and slammed into a parked plane. The student pilot and trainer were injured and taken to Harborview Medical Center. A spokeswoman at the airport said there was a fire after the crash, which was quickly put out. The two occupants’ injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

Civilians to help military in Arctic searches

A civilian air rescue group says a co-operation deal with the military means search planes could be anywhere in the Arctic within three hours.

“With the increasing number of overflights and activity in the Arctic, especially resource companies doing exploration, it’s probably timely that this is all coming together right now,” said John Davidson of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association.

Davidson said details are being worked out in an agreement that would charter privately owned airplanes with trained civilian spotters to do initial searches for travellers lost in the Arctic. The planes, already based in larger northern communities such as Iqaluit, Inuvik and Yellowknife, would be able to respond more quickly than military planes based in Winnipeg or Trenton, Ont.

“Our goal here is to eliminate the search phase for the DND (military) aircraft,” said Davidson.

“We’re going to go out, do a bunch of search patterns, hopefully find the individual, or whatever it is we’re looking for, and be able to then direct the (search-and-rescue technicians) or the Hercs directly to the site rather than them having to perform a search themselves.”

The agreement is an extension of similar deals in southern Canada, said Maj. Jonathan Nelles of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“(The civil air rescue association) has proven itself very successful, particularly in areas where they have ready access to aircraft. They are very effective eyes in the sky.

“We’re not expecting them to be able to deliver the full range of search-and-rescue capabilities. But what the (association) assets do bring is to locate where the need is, hopefully with some information as to what the need might be.”

The association has been operating across Canada since 1986 and has access to about 375 aircraft and 2,596 certified pilots, navigators and spotters.

Nelles said about $500,000 has been allotted to get the program running and to allow the association to increase the number of pilots and spotters it can call on in Nunavut. If it goes well, a similar expansion is planned for the Northwest Territories.

Davidson said all areas of Nunavut should be reachable under the agreement.

“There’s very little area that is not covered on a 450-mile radius,” he said. “You’re probably looking at two to three hours (at most).”

Canada’s Arctic search-and-rescue capabilities have been in the spotlight several times this year. Last spring, Canada signed an international treaty committing it to providing such services in its sector of the North.

In August, a plane crash outside Resolute, Nunavut, during nearby military manoeuvres drove home the importance of quick response. In October, a search-and-rescue technician died while trying to reach a father and son in ice-choked waters near Igloolik.

Arctic expert Rob Huebert at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Strategic Studies applauded the deal.

“It makes eminent sense,” said Huebert, who added that Denmark uses a similar arrangement in Greenland.

In another signal the federal government is upgrading northern search capability, military officials say rescue procedures will be part of a planned training school being built in Resolute.

“It’s going to be a training centre that’s going to be used by various users in the Canadian Forces,” said Maj. Bill Chambre. “Search and rescue would be one possible user.

“We’re not training to conduct warfare in the Arctic. We’re training to be able to operate in the Arctic.”

Some building materials are already on site, Chambre said. The rest are expected to arrive next summer.

The training centre would be attached to an existing scientific facility and would be operated by Natural Resources Canada.

It would be able to accommodate 140 soldiers and would include a large storage building for snowmobiles, ATVs, an infirmary and an operations centre that could be used as headquarters for rescues or other activities.

“We will be able to run an operation out of there.”

The cost is pegged at $18 million and the school is scheduled to be open by 2013.

The Canadian Press

Harrisburg man sentenced for endangering police helicopter pilots

Jonathan Butler, 28, of Harrisburg, PA, was sentenced today to 171  months in prison for interference with, and attempted interference with, a person operating an  aircraft and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence in connection with shooting at a  Philadelphia Police helicopter.

Butler was charged with endangering the safety of Philadelphia Police Department Lieutenant Anthony Ginaldi and Officer Christian Hochstuhl on July 25, 2008. The Lieutenant and  Officer were assisting Philadelphia Police Officers on the ground who were pursuing several  individuals operating illegal ATV-style vehicles on the street in North Philadelphia.

The group  drove into a large gathering of people inside the Norman Blumberg Housing Development. Shots then emerged from the ground toward the circling helicopter. The government charged that Butler fired a Glock .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol at the helicopter and helicopter pilots. The gun, recovered from Butler inside an apartment unit near the scene of the shooting, was loaded with 13 live rounds of ammunition.

Feathered Flock Surabaya Skies’ Latest Threat

Surabaya. Juanda International Airport in Surabaya is under attack, but not by terrorists. Instead, large flocks of birds are the culprits, growing in size around the airport and posing a safety hazard for arriving and departing flights.

Trikora Harjo, general manager of airport operator Angkasa Pura I Juanda, said increasing numbers of birds were flying to and from the airport during the morning and late afternoon, which is dangerous for airplanes taking off or landing.

“The pilots are usually too focused on their flights, so they only realize there’s a problem after they’ve landed,” Trikora said.

“They can smell an acrid burning smell from the engine or abnormal noises coming from it,” he added, referring to evidence that birds have been sucked into the airplane’s engine.

The flocks of birds that fly around the airport often include several waterfowl species, Trikora said, because the airport sits near the coast and expansive fish and shrimp farms.

He added that the birds tended to fly north at about 7 a.m., and then they returned south at about 5 p.m.

The airport authorities have tried several measures to stop the birds from crossing the airspace over the airport.

So far, their tactics have ranged from shooting at the birds to scaring them away by playing recordings of predators and other loud noises, Trikora said.

The airport is also trying to keep its grass trimmed short.

“Tall grass can become a home for various insects and frogs, which are also the prey of these waterfowl,” he said.

Prigi Arisandi, the executive director of the Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (Ecoton), said the problem could be solved by creating a new and comfortable bird habitat outside of the airport.

“If the birds had an artificial wetland, then hopefully they wouldn’t have to fly over the airport,” Prigi said.

GULFlight 1 medical helicopter ends runs from Niceville

Officials with Air Methods are expecting to launch their medical helicopter in Okaloosa County later this month after removing GULFlight 1 from operations.

A new module station will be set up at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview. Larry Hall, field operations manager with Air Methods, said a trailer is scheduled to be delivered and set up by Dec. 9 and a tentative start date is Dec. 16 with Air Heart 3.

“All of our operations will be shifting to the west,” Hall said. “We’re in the strategic planning stage now.”

GULFlight 1, which has operated from Twin Cities Hospital in Niceville since June 2006, made its last emergency runs Wednesday.

The helicopter is no longer needed because of a decrease in calls, Hall said. He added that the large number of medical helicopters in the area will help ease the transition.

AirHeart 3 will be moved to Bob Sikes from DeFuniak Springs. Hall said response times for Walton County may be affected, so an “auto-watch procedure” will be put in place. That means medical helicopters will respond to certain areas immediately rather than wait to be called. If the air ambulance is not needed, it will turn around.

“That method helps buy us time to get to the patient faster,” Hall said. “We are deciding on the areas that will be on the auto-watch list.”

Hall added that AirHeart 2, which operates out of Marianna, also will be available for calls to Walton County.

AirHeart 3 will continue to operate from DeFuniak Springs until Dec. 16.

Dino Villani, Okaloosa County’s public safety director, said the transition is expected to be seamless.

“We’ve been preparing for this,” Villani said. “While we’re operating out of DeFuniak Springs I don’t expect problems with response time. It will be similar to the times GULFlight has.”

Hall said residents should not see a difference in coverage and response times.

“It’s all the same basic coverage that we’ve provided for years,” Hall said.

US Airways says no service level change coming: Meadows Field Airport (KBFL) Bakersfield, California.

A US Airways representative said Thursday that a coming change in carriers for its flights at Meadows Field will not mean fewer available seats.

Earlier this month, US Airways said by next spring it will use SkyWest Airlines as a carrier for certain regional flights, including between Phoenix and Bakersfield.

Currently, there are three outbound and three returning flights a day between Bakersfield and Phoenix. All three are operated by Mesa Airlines, another regional airline, for US Airways.

With the change, one outbound and one inbound flight will move to SkyWest.

Most of SkyWest's planes are Bombardier CRJ200 jets, which hold 50 passengers. SkyWest will use that model for the flight it will take on at Meadows Field. Mesa operates larger planes out of Bakersfield, the CRJ900 model, which holds up to 90 passengers.

But, said US Airways spokesman Andrew Christie, one of Mesa's three flights to Phoenix and back is on a CRJ200. Because SkyWest will also use a CRJ200 and Mesa will keep operating CRJ900 jets for the other two flights, there will be no change in seat availability between Bakersfield and Phoenix.

"At this time there are no planned changes to the level of service provided by US Airways in Bakersfield," Christie said. "SkyWest Airlines, in spring 2012, will replace the flight being operated by Mesa Airlines' CRJ200 with a SkyWest CRJ200 and Mesa Airlines will continue to operate the two remaining CRJ900 flights."

SkyWest spokesman Wes Horrocks said that airline hasn't received a final schedule on which flights it will operate for US Airways in Bakersfield. He referred additional questions to US Airways. Under the agreement US Airways announced earlier this month with SkyWest, SkyWest will operate 49 flights to 19 destinations, including Bakersfield, for US Airways by spring 2012.

Whether or not things will change in the future is an open question. The current agreement, or "term sheet," for Mesa to operate the 38 CRJ900 planes it now flies for US Airways will expire in September 2015.

"The term sheet with Mesa Airlines is currently set to expire September 2015," Christie said. "At this time there are no plans past that point as it relates to the term sheet, and I cannot speculate on what carrier(s) will operate as US Airways Express out of Bakersfield."

Jack Gotcher, director at Meadows Field, said airlines in general are signaling they will start moving away from smaller jets, which they view as less efficient, to larger ones to deal with high fuel prices. He hopes that down the road, the CRJ200 flight between Bakersfield and Phoenix may be upgraded to a larger jet, such as a CRJ900.

"My anticipation is that as (airlines) take the 50-seat airplanes out of the market, they will put more of the (CRJ)700 and (CRJ)900 series planes in," Gotcher said. "Maybe we can get SkyWest to fly a larger plane.

"I think we are big enough that we can see airplanes over 100 seats coming to us in the next few years," Gotcher added, speaking about all flights at the airport. Currently, the largest commercial flights leaving and arriving at Meadows are on CRJ900 jets, with up to 90 seats.

Donation keeps Florida Tech’s aviation program flying high

MELBOURNE --  Florida Tech's aviation program is flying high, thanks to a donation that will keep their pilots on the ground before hitting the skies.

The school unveiled two brand new flight simulators Thursday. Each will be based at the flying school next to the Melbourne International Airport.

The simulators, which cost $350,000 each, were a gift from a trust fund set up to help out the program.

Student pilots will be able to train safely on the ground before getting in real planes, and using the simulators will save money.

“With a simulator, of course, you don't have to put gas in it,” said Dean Winston Scott. “You don't have to put oil in it. All you have to do is essentially turn it on. So we're able to give the students a very, very valuable training at a fraction of the cost that it would take to do the same training in a real airplane.”

After some fine tuning by flight instructors, the simulators will be up and running in a few weeks.

Middle East Airlines pilots extend strike after Salameh talks fail

BEIRUT: Most Middle East Airlines flights will remain grounded Friday as pilots extend their strike after the Central Bank, a main MEA shareholder, backed the national carrier’s management in seeking compensation from the pilots.

“Governor [Riad] Salameh said the decisions of the company were final and that strict measures would be taken, despite his positive view of the role of Lebanese pilots,” Fadi Khalil, head of Lebanese Pilots Association told The Daily Star after his meeting with Salameh late Thursday.

Khalil claimed that Salameh told the pilots that MEA was losing money and that he could not support the carrier indefinitely.

“This prompted us to thank the governor and take a decision to proceed with our strike,” Khalil added.

Khalil said that the pilots would continue their strike until MEA chairman Mohammad Hout quits his job.

The LPA had announced earlier that the strike would proceed until warning letters sent to the pilots were withdrawn and their salaries were paid in full.

MEA had sent out individual letters, to each one of the pilots participating in the strike, warning it would lay off any pilot who remained on strike.

This was reiterated Thursday by Hout, who had told The Daily Star Wednesday that he will fire any pilot who continues the strike.

But Emile Hajjar, senior LPA official, did not believe that MEA would be able to lay off the pilots, adding that the vast majority of MEA pilots were backing the strike.

“Only 19 out of 180 MEA pilots went back to work. And those who continued working did this after the management threatened to fire their relatives who work in the company,” he said.

Hajjar told The Daily Star that the association had sent a communique to the directorate-general of Civil Aviation asking it to investigate whether MEA is being compliant with flight time limitations.

According to regulations set by the DGCA, Lebanese pilots can fly no more than eight hours in any given 24 hours. Flying hours should not exceed 120 hours in any 30 consecutive days.

But MEA said, in various statements issued Thursday, that flights to Paris, London, Baghdad, Doha, Amman, Cairo, Kuwait, Irbil and Jeddah would go ahead as scheduled. It later indicated more flights to Doha, Amman, Cairo, Kuwait and Irbil would also go as planned.

This raised questions on whether the national carrier was still able to abide by those regulations, which intended to maintain a high flight-safety standard.

Head of DGCA Hamdi Chaouk told The Daily Star he believed MEA was indeed violating flight time limitations.

MEA said in a statement that it “will continue to secure the transportation of passengers traveling during this period either on its flights or on flights of other carriers when necessary.”

It added that passengers holding confirmed MEA tickets for flights between the Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, may be rebooked or rerouted free of charge.

The strike was initially prompted by the layoff of cancer-stricken pilot Joseph Ayat. The pilot had served in the company for 38 years.

The company insisted that the sick pilot had received all his rights from the company and had been treated fairly and in accordance with the Lebanese law. The LPA strongly challenged this claim and instigated the strike in protest.