Monday, December 19, 2011

Filmmaker seeks help finding radio-controlled helicopter downed in West Linn, Oregon.


WEST LINN -- A Northwest Portland man still is looking for his compact high-tech helicopter, which crash-landed somewhere near Interstate 205 while shooting photos earlier this month.

Brian Dalrymple was flying the radio-controlled Droidworx AD8 Heavy Lift, equipped with a digital camera, on Dec. 12, while shooting pictures for a documentary film on Willamette Falls. Shortly after 2:30 p.m., the helicopter stopped responding and took off on its own. He was able to activate "automatic land" mode before it disappeared somewhere near the Willamette Falls Viewpoint. 

But Dalrymple couldn't see if the helicopter went down on the freeway, closer to the river or up on Barrington Heights. 

"It definitely was a bummer," said Dalrymple, 27. "I have looked all over for it and I've talked to a lot of the neighbors there, but I haven't found it."

Dalrymple said if the batteries still work -- and if it survived the landing -- the internal GPS locator should have pinpointed the spot where it went down.

"At this point, I don't know," he said. "I think it's probably in the trees, someplace."

The helicopter, with its eight rotor-driven lifters and black carbon fiber "legs," looks something like a flying spider that measures more than two feet across. And with the Canon EOS 7D attached, it takes on a futuristic eye-in-the-sky look -- at once amazing and slightly intimidating.

Total cost for the helicopter-and-camera package is estimated at $16,000.

Sgt. Neil Hennelly, West Linn police spokesman, said several city residents have called police after Dalrymple knocked on their doors and asked permission to look for his helicopter.

"Of course, it would sound suspicious and people did the right thing to call us," Hennelly said. "But in this case, it's completely legitimate. He's really looking for his helicopter."

Hennelly urged anyone who finds the helicopter to contact police at 503-655-6214. 

http://www.oregonlive.com

Cessna 421C, N421SY: Accident occurred December 09, 2011 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA100 
 Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, December 09, 2011 in Sioux Falls, SD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 421C, registration: N421SY
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.

Shortly after the airplane lifted off, the tower controller informed the pilot that a plume of smoke was visible behind the airplane. No communications were received from the pilot after he acknowledged the takeoff clearance. Witnesses reported that white smoke appeared to be trailing from the area of the left engine during takeoff. The witnesses subsequently observed flames at the inboard side of the left engine. The airplane began a left turn. As the airplane continued the turn, the flames and trail of white smoke were no longer visible. When the airplane reached a southerly heading, the nose dropped abruptly, and the airplane descended to the ground. Witnesses stated that they heard an increase in engine sound before impact. A postimpact fire ensued. The accident site was located about 3/4 mile from the airport.

A postaccident examination determined that the left engine fuel selector and fuel valve were in the OFF position, consistent with the pilot shutting down that engine after takeoff. However, the left engine propeller was not feathered. Extensive damage to the right engine propeller assembly was consistent with that engine producing power at the time of impact. The landing gear and wing flaps were extended at the time of impact. Teardown examinations of both engines did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a loss of engine power. The left engine oil cap was observed to be unsecured at the accident site; however, postaccident comparison of the left and right engine oil caps revealed disproportionate distortion of the left oil cap, likely due to the postimpact fire. As a result, no determination was made regarding the security of left engine oil cap before the accident.

Emergency procedures outlined in the pilot’s operating handbook (POH) noted that when securing an engine, the propeller should be feathered. Performance data provided in the POH for single-engine operations were predicated on the propeller of the inoperative engine being feathered, and the wing flaps and landing gear retracted. Thus, the pilot did not follow the emergency procedures outlined in the POH for single-engine operation.

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

The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed after shutting down one engine, which resulted in an inadvertent aerodynamic stall and impact with terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to follow the guidance contained in the pilot’s operating handbook, which advised feathering the propeller of the secured engine and retracting the flaps and landing gear.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On December 9, 2011, at 1424 central standard time, a Cessna 421C, N421SY, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain after takeoff from the Joe Foss Field Airport (FSD), Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The aircraft was registered to S & S Aviation LLC and operated by Quest Aviation, Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an on-demand air taxi flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. The intended destination was the Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota.

At 1422:07 (hhmm:ss), the FSD Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) controller issued a takeoff clearance to the accident flight. At 1423:32, the controller informed the pilot that a “plume” was visible behind the airplane; although, he could not determine the source. The controller subsequently advised the pilot that the “plume” was no longer visible. At 1423:59, the controller cleared the flight to land. No communications were received from the pilot after he acknowledged the takeoff clearance.

Witnesses reported that the airplane appeared to be trailing white smoke from the area of the left engine during takeoff from runway 33. They subsequently observed flames at the inboard side of the left engine. The airplane began a left turn and as the turn continued, the flames and trail of white smoke were no longer visible. When the airplane reached a south heading, the nose dropped abruptly and it impacted the ground from an altitude of 800 to 1,000 feet above ground level. They stated that they heard an increase in engine sound prior to impact. A postimpact fire ensued.

Radar track data associated with the discrete transponder code assigned to the accident flight was plotted by the National Transportation Safety Board. The initial radar data point was recorded at 1423:11, and positioned approximately 2,100 feet from the approach end of runway 33. According to the track data, the airplane drifted to the left of the runway centerline as it climbed out. About 1423:38, the airplane began a left turn from a position about 0.21 nautical miles (nm) northwest of the departure end of runway 33 at 2,000 feet msl. The left turn continued until the final radar data point, which was recorded at 1424:07. The final data point was positioned about 0.41 nm west of the departure end of runway 33. The associated altitude was 1,900 feet msl. This was about 0.13 nm (790 feet) west of the accident site. The diameter of the turn was approximately 0.31 nm.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate, with single and multi-engine land airplane, and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a flight instructor certificate with single and multi-engine airplane, and instrument airplane ratings. He was issued a first class airman medical certificate on August 15, 2011, with a restriction for corrective lenses. The pilot's most recent regulatory checkride was completed on November 10, 2011.

A review of the pilot's logbook revealed a total logged flight time of 3,848.8 hours. This included 1,320.8 hours in multi-engine airplanes and 357.4 hours in Cessna 421 airplanes. He had logged 107.7 hours within the preceding 90 days, with 55.6 hours in Cessna 421 airplane in that time period. This included flights in the accident airplane totaling 4.4 hours, dated December 8th, the day prior to the accident.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION
The accident airplane was a Cessna 421C, serial number 421C0051. It was a twin-engine, low wing airframe configuration, with a retractable tricycle landing gear. The airplane was accessed by a single entry door at the left, rear area of the cabin. The cabin was configured for a maximum of 9 occupants. According to maintenance records, an annual inspection was completed on December 5, 2011, at 4,882.1 hours total airframe time.

The airplane was powered by two 375-horsepower Continental Motors GTSIO-520-L turbocharged, reciprocating engines. The left engine, serial number 239805-R, was overhauled and installed on the airframe in April 2004. At the time of the inspection, it had accumulated 1,499.9 hours since overhaul. The right engine, serial number 272006-R, was overhauled and installed on the airframe in October 2011. At the time of the annual inspection, it had accumulated 24.7 hours since overhaul. The maintenance records did not reveal any evidence of unresolved airworthiness issues.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS
Weather conditions recorded by the FSD Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), recorded at 1356, were: wind from 300 degrees at 11 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature -07 degrees Celsius, dew point -21 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 30.36 inches of mercury.

At 1456, the FSD recorded weather conditions were: wind from 290 degrees at 10 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature -07 degrees Celsius, dew point -21 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 30.36 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted an open field about 3/4 mile northwest of the airport. It came to rest upright, with the aft fuselage separated immediately forward of the vertical stabilizer. The main fuselage and the separated portion of the aft fuselage were oriented on approximate magnetic headings of 078 degrees and 151 degrees, respectively. A scorched area about 230 feet long by 40 feet wide emanated from the fuselage oriented approximately 120 degrees.

All major airframe components were located at the accident site. The cockpit, cabin, wings, and aft fuselage were discolored consistent with the effects of a postimpact fire. The fire had consumed the top and portions of the sides of the fuselage; the cockpit and cabin areas were exposed. The airplane also exhibited damage consistent with impact forces. The wings were in position relative to the fuselage, with both engines remaining attached to their respective engine mounts and in position relative to each wing. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers remained attached to the separated portion of the aft fuselage. The elevators and rudder remained attached to their respective stabilizers. No anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure of the elevator or rudder control systems were observed.

The left wing structure outboard of the engine pylon/nacelle exhibited fire damage, with limited portions being consumed. The left aileron and flap remained partially attached to the wing. The entire right wing structure exhibited fire damage, with extensive portions being consumed. Portions of the right aileron and flap were observed in position adjacent to the wing. No anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure of the aileron control system were observed. The flap drive chain was positioned consistent with a 40-degree flap deflection. Both main landing gear assemblies had collapsed aft, consistent with the landing gear in the extended position at the time of impact.

Examination of the left engine assembly did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure. The cylinders remained attached to the crankcase. The crankcase exhibited transverse cracks across both the left and right halves at the upper, forward portion of the case, consistent with impact forces. The pistons, crankshaft, and connecting rods appeared intact. The left engine fuel valve was positioned consistent with the valve being in the OFF position. The oil cap was not secured to the filler neck when first observed at the accident site. The filler neck was deformed at the base and the cap was retained to the filler neck by the chain. A comparison of the left and right engine oil caps noted distortion of the left oil cap. (Detail photos of the engine oil caps are included with the docket material associated with this accident case.)

Examination of the right engine assembly did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure. The cylinders remained attached to the crankcase. The crankcase was fractured at the lower, forward portion of the case, consistent with impact forces. The pistons, crankshaft, and connecting rods appeared intact. The right engine fuel valve was not observed consistent with it being consumed by the postimpact fire. The oil cap was secured to the filler neck when first observed at the accident site. The filler neck was deformed at the base and the cap was retained by the chain.

The left propeller assembly remained attached to the engine. The hub was fractured and one blade had separated from the hub. The blade was located under the engine. The remaining two blades were retained by the hub. They appeared undeformed and exhibited light chordwise scratches. The blades appeared to be in a low pitch position. Witness marks on the hub due to the blade counterweights were positioned consistent with low pitch at the time of impact.

The right propeller hub was fractured and all three blades were separated from the hub. Fragments of the hub were located in the debris path. One propeller blade was embedded into the ground adjacent to the right horizontal stabilizer. The second blade came to rest within the scorched area about 140 feet from the right engine. The third blade came to rest on a dirt embankment about 300 feet from the right engine. The blades exhibited bending, twisting, and chordwise scratching.

The cockpit fuel selector for the left engine was observed in the OFF position at the time of the on-scene examination. The right engine fuel selector was in the ON position. The emergency fuel shutoff lever located between cockpit fuel selectors was in the OFF (disengaged) position.

The engine tachometer was identified among the cockpit and instrument panel debris. The unit was discolored due to the postimpact fire. The glass face was not present in the unit. The indicating needles (left and right engine) remained attached to the center post and appeared intact. The needle denoted with "L" was positioned to indicate approximately 1,000 rpm. The needle denoted with "R" was positioned to indicate approximately 2,250 rpm.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION


An autopsy of the pilot was completed by the Minnehaha County Coroner on December 10, 2011, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The pilot’s death was attributed to blunt force injuries sustained as a result of the accident. The report also noted the presence of postmortem thermal injuries. However, the report stated that no soot was observed in the pilot’s airway.

FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute toxicology testing was negative for all substances in the screening profile.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The pilot’s operating handbook (POH) contained data related to climb performance with one engine inoperative. Based on the weather conditions present on the day of the accident, the single engine climb performance would have been expected to be about 480 feet per minute. That performance data was predicated on having the wing flaps and landing gear retracted, and the propeller of the inoperative engine feathered.

The Engine Securing Procedure contained in the Emergency Procedures section of the POH noted that the throttle be closed, the propeller feathered, the mixture set to idle-cutoff, and the fuel selector set to off.



We now know more about what led up to the deadly Sioux Falls plane crash that claimed four lives.

The Cessna 421C was on it's way to Rapid City when problems forced the plane into an emergency landing. The plane crashed in a field less than a mile from the Sioux Falls Regional Airport killing the pilot and three passengers on board.

The preliminary accident report made by investigators with the national transportation safety board was released on Friday.

The report does not answer all the questions surrounding December 9th's deadly crash, but does give us more details into what all happened that day.

According to the report At 2:22PM the air traffic control tower gave clearance to the flight.
About 30 seconds later, the traffic controller informed pilot Brain Blake that a smoke plume was visible behind the airplane.

But the controller couldn't tell exactly from where on the airplane the smoke was coming.
After taxi, The controller then told Blake it looked like the smoke had stopped.

Other witnesses also reported that the airplane appeared to be trailing white smoke during takeoff and they spotted flames coming from the left engine during flight.

Less than two minutes after taking off, the controller cleared the runway for the plane to land.
Blake never radioed back to the tower after he acknowledged the takeoff clearance.

Witnesses say the airplane began a left turn in an attempt to return to the airport.

When the airplane reached a south heading, the nose dropped abruptly and the plane crashed in the field less than a mile from the airport.

The report also showed that weather was not a factor as there were clear skies and minimal winds.
This is only preliminary report, it may be changed and it may contain errors. Any errors the NTSB investigators find will be corrected when the final report is completed.

That could be weeks or months from now.

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA100
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, December 09, 2011 in Sioux Falls, SD
Aircraft: CESSNA 421C, registration: N421SY
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 December 9, 2011, at 1424 central standard time, a Cessna 421C, N421SY, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain after takeoff from Joe Foss Field Airport (FSD), Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The aircraft was registered to S & S Aviation LLC and operated by Quest Aviation, Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an on-demand air taxi flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. The intended destination was Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota.

At 1422, the FSD Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) issued a takeoff clearance to the accident flight. About 30 seconds later, the controller informed the pilot that a smoke plume was visible behind the airplane; however, the controller could not determine exactly from where on the airplane the smoke was coming. The controller subsequently advised the pilot that it looked like the smoke had stopped. At 1424, the controller cleared the flight to land. No communications were received from the pilot after he acknowledged the takeoff clearance.

Witnesses reported that the airplane appeared to be trailing white smoke from the area of the left engine during takeoff from runway 33. They subsequently observed flames at the inboard side of the left engine. The airplane began a left turn, apparently in an attempt to return to the airport. As the airplane continued the turn, the flames and trail of white smoke were no longer visible. When the airplane reached a south heading, the nose dropped abruptly and it impacted the ground from an altitude of 800 to 1,000 feet above ground level. They stated that they heard the engine sound increase prior to impact. A postimpact fire ensued.

The airplane impacted an open field about 3/4 mile northwest of the airport. It came to rest upright, with the empennage separated from the aft fuselage. The empennage was in relative position adjacent to the aft fuselage. The fuselage and empennage were oriented on approximate magnetic headings of 078 degrees 151 degrees, respectively. A scorched area about 230 feet long by 40 feet wide emanated from the fuselage oriented approximately 120 degrees.

All major airframe components were located at the accident site. The fuselage and wings were damaged by the postimpact fire. Both the left and right engines remained attached to the airframe. The right propeller hub was fractured and all three propeller blades had separated. One blade was embedded into the ground adjacent to the right horizontal stabilizer. The remaining two blades were located in the debris field about 140 feet and 300 feet from the right engine, respectively. The left propeller hub was also fractured. One propeller blade had separated from the hub and was located under the left engine. The other two blades remained attached to the propeller hub. Teardown examinations of both engines are pending.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate, with single and multi-engine land airplane, and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a flight instructor certificate with single and multi-engine airplane, and instrument airplane ratings. He was issued a first class airman medical certificate on August 15, 2011, with a restriction for corrective lenses. At the time of that exam, the pilot reported 3,800 hours total flight time, with 300 hours during the preceding 6 months. The pilot's most recent regulatory checkride was completed on November 10, 2011.

The accident airplane was a Cessna 421C, serial number 421C0051. It was powered by two Continental Motors 375-horsepower GTSIO-520-L turbocharged, reciprocating engines. According to maintenance records, an annual inspection was completed on December 5, 2011, at 4,882.1 hours total airframe time. The left engine, serial number 239805-R, was overhauled and installed on the airframe in April 2004. At the time of the inspection, it had accumulated 1,499.9 hours since overhaul. The right engine, serial number 272006-R, was overhauled and installed on the airframe in October 2011. At the time of the annual inspection, it had accumulated 24.7 hours since overhaul.

Weather conditions at FSD, recorded at 1356, included clear skies with 10 miles visibility, and wind from 300 degrees at 11 knots. At 1456, the conditions included clear skies with 10 miles visibility, and wind from 290 degrees at 10 knots.

Pilot sentenced for role in marijuana smuggling

A Kissimmee pilot was sentenced to five years in federal prison Monday for his role in a marijuana smuggling operation, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Randall C. Starcher, 44, pleaded guilty in October in Orlando federal court to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

In addition to the prison sentence, Starcher was also ordered Monday to forfeit a Cessna 206 aircraft, which was used to transport the drugs.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Starcher was paid to fly loads of marijuana from Texas to Central Florida from 2009 to 2010.

There were about 500 pounds of the drug on board the airplane for each flight, and prosecutors say Starcher made at least 10 round-trip flights to and from Texas.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com

Aérospatiale AS 350B2 Ecureuil, Helisika Agricultural Ltd., ZK-HIG: Accident occurred November 23, 2011 in Viaduct Harbour, Auckland - New Zealand


The pilot in last month's central Auckland helicopter crash says he doesn't understand the actions of a rigger who caused the spectacular accident.

The Civil Aviation Authority today released its preliminary findings which showed the November 23 accident was caused by a rigging supervisor jumping to grab a cable from the bottom of the helicopter, causing it to tighten and touch the aircraft's rotor blade.

Pilot Greg Gribble walked away from the accident, which happened as he was helping erect the Telecom Christmas tree on Auckland's waterfront. The crash was seen live on the internet and footage went around the world.

The CAA report said "massive out of balance forces" tore through the helicopter after it struck the lifting line, which was attached to the bottom of the helicopter and the top of a nearby tower.

"After raising the tower, the helicopter descended to hover at about 5m so the lifting line could be detached from its hook by the rigging supervisor on the ground," it said.

"When the rigging supervisor jumped up to grab the line, it instantly tightened and touched the helicopter's main rotor blades. The force of the impact caused major structural damage and the aircraft hit the ground."

Gribble, who had not seen the preliminary report, said he'd had no explanation from the rigger, calling his actions a "massive rush of blood to the head".

They knew what caused the accident but wanted to know why the man had acted that way.

"Nobody knows [why], he's the only guy that can actually tell anyone the reason why he jumped up and grabbed that rope and I'm still gobsmacked."

Gribble, who was interviewed by CAA last week, said the man had refused to speak with him since but told CAA he didn't know why he had done it "which is a pretty shit answer".

He said they had put together a detailed plan with the ground crew from Henderson company Uni-Rigg about how to release the line and were communicating via radio.

Gribble said he could not get the helicopter low enough to the ground to unclip the rope and decided to instead hover above the tower for someone to unclip him from there.

He was pulling up to do that when the accident happened, he said.

Gribble expected the full report would detail exactly what happened and said he would release his own findings once it was all over.

CAA spokeswoman Emma Peel said the reason for the rigger's actions would form part of their investigation along with the suitability of the plans formulated between Gribble and the ground crew.

"It's possible that we may find the rigger was told to do precisely that in which case the actual cause of the event shifts and it becomes about whether or not the actual plan was a good one," she said.

"We know from experience with aircraft accidents that what might appear very obvious right in the early stages can sort of recede in importance as the investigation continues.

"We see that actually, no, although that physically caused the accident, that wasn't the real problem - the real problem was something else and that's why we have a longer, drawn out process to actually get to the real [reason] why this has happened rather than just the initial thought of what happened."

The investigation is continuing with a focus on the pre-flight safety briefings, the pilot's experience and training, health and safety aspects, potential preventative measures that could have been used, and the identification of human factors that apply to the accident.

The full findings could take up to 12 months.

Uni-Rigg could not be reached for comment. 

Read more, video, photos:   http://www.stuff.co.nz

Grumman American makes emergency landing near Ryan Field Airport (KRYN), Tucson, Arizona.

TUCSON - Authorities have located a small airplane west of Tucson after a pilot radioed for help.

The FAA says the plane landed on a dirt road not far from Ryan Field Airport.

At 3:50 p.m. Monday, the pilot of a Grumman American radioed that he was low on fuel when he was about 9 miles southwest of Ryan Field, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The pilot said he would try to make it to Ryan Field or land on a local roadway, Gregor said.

Fire officials found the plane and later located the pilot at Ryan Airfield, where he had walked for help.

http://airnav.com/airport/KRYN

http://www.kvoa.com

Pinnacle Airlines to furlough 154 workers in Memphis because of Delta service cuts

MEMPHIS — Pinnacle Airlines Corp. is laying off 154 employees at Memphis International Airport Jan. 4.

The company announced the layoffs Monday, attributing the move to Delta Air Lines cutbacks. Pinnacle employees handle baggage for Delta and other carriers at the airport.

Delta and regional partners will scale back to fewer than 150 daily flights next month, compared with 238 flights three years ago, according to The Commercial Appeal.

Pinnacle now has 560 employees at the airport in the unit affected.

Workers being idled include 18 full-time and 136 part-time employees, including seven managers.

Business as Usual: Alabama Senate leader sells aerospace company

Aerospace Coatings International is under new ownership.

The Oxford company, which employs 130 people, belonged to state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, until mid-October. Officials of the company say the business has been sold to the Wencor Group, a Utah.-based aircraft parts company. Neither Marsh nor officials of his former company would disclose the amount of the sale.

“I don’t think that’s something Wencor would like me to reveal,” Marsh said.

Marsh, president pro tem of the Alabama Senate, founded the company, which refurbishes worn or broken airplane parts, in the 1990s. Under Marsh’s direction, the company grew enough to branch out from its Oxford location, opening offices in Mexico, Germany and Malaysia. In an interview with The Star earlier this year, Marsh attributed the company’s rise in part to a desire on the part of airlines to cut costs in a tough business environment. Refurbished aircraft parts are typically less expensive than original parts.

Marsh said the company would likely do $14 million to $15 million in business this year. He said Wencor had been looking to expand into the growing parts-repair business and had the choice of starting from scratch or buying an already-established company.

While he didn’t name an amount, Marsh hinted that Wencor’s offer was big enough to make the sale appealing.

“The deal looked good,” he said.

That offer came from Greg Beason, CEO of Wencor, who has roots in the area. A resume Beason posted online lists him as a Jacksonville State University and Harvard Business School grad and a former vice president in Honeywell’s space and defense division. Marsh said Beason worked for Honeywell in Alabama.

Marsh said Greg Beason is not related to state Sen. Scott Beason, one of Marsh’s colleagues in the Senate. The Star’s attempts to reach Greg Beason were unsuccessful.

Marsh has also officially closed the doors on a home construction company he owned in Anniston, according to records at the Calhoun County Probate Office. Those records show that Marsh Home Construction was officially dissolved last week.

“We were building spec homes,” he said. “That operation hasn’t really been active for a couple of years.”

A spec home — think “speculative” — is a house built by a contractor with the hope that a buyer will snap it up. Marsh said the market for spec homes hasn’t been good.

Marsh said his sale of Aerospace Coatings wasn’t related to his duties as a member of the Senate.

“The Senate does take up most of my time,” he said. “But I had very competent management staff in place (at Aerospace Coatings), which made things much easier.”

Pat McCarty, the general manager of Aerospace Coatings, said he’s been with the company for 20 years. He said day-to-day changes to the company’s operations have been minimal.

“Nothing changes here,” he said. “It’s business as usual.”

Canada’s aerospace industry facing headwinds: report

Canada’s aerospace manufacturers will post a third consecutive year of declining output in 2011, says the Conference Board of Canada

But the Canadian export-driven aerospace sector is expected to get back on track next year thanks to modest economic growth in North America that is expected to boost demand for both commercial and corporate jets, says the board’s Autumn 2011 industrial outlook.

An added lift in 2012 is expected from growth in emerging markets.

However, the other side of the coin is that many developing countries – notably China, India and Brazil -- are rapidly building their own aerospace industries, making for heightened competition, says the report.

“The Canadian industry is facing growing and fierce competition as new players enter the market. For example, China and India are building their own aircraft, with the strong financial and regulatory support of their national governments,” Conference Board economist Lin Ai said.

Canadian companies need to improve the quality and cutting-edge nature of their products, he adds.

Total industry profit for 2011 is estimated at $264-million, well below the $500-million reached in 2009.

Conference Board expects aerospace production to face slow rebound in 2012

MONTREAL - Canada's aerospace sector should slowly rebound next year as demand increases in what remains a fiercely competitive global market, the Conference Board of Canada said Monday.

After its third year of decline in 2011, production of commercial and business aircraft should improve thanks to a modest economic improvement in North America and large orders from emerging markets, the think-tank said in its fall industrial outlook.

However, demand will remain "moribund" in Europe next year.

The government debt crisis in Europe and continued weakness in the U.S. economy hurt the global economy in 2011. The industry is cyclical and typically lags economic recoveries.

However, growing demand in emerging economies creates optimism for the medium and longer term, the Conference Board said.

"Developing countries are the key commercial air transport market of the future," economist Lin Ai wrote in the report.

Countries such as Brazil, China and India offer new markets for Canadian manufacturers, but they are also developing their own aerospace industries that will add to the competition for orders.

Asia-Pacific is expected to become the largest aircraft market over the next 20 years. Boeing recently said that China's spending on new planes will be $600 billion over that period, 25 per cent higher than last year's forecast.

While Russia and China are developing new planes it's unclear when the new aircraft such as the Sukhoi Superjet or Comac C-919 will be available or how they will perform, said the report, which mirrors forecasts from financial analysts and other industry observers.

"The Canadian aerospace industry must continue to improve the quality of its products and to develop leading technology if it is to compete more effectively in the global marketplace," Ai said.

Companies such as Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) and Pratt & Whitney (NYSE:UTX) are developing new fuel-efficient products, a step needed to compete more effectively.

Bombardier is increasingly focused on India, Malaysia, China and African countries for orders as it competes with Brazil's Embraer and Europe's ATR for regional planes.

Cuts in defence spending among traditional buyers in Europe and the United States will add to the pressure, but the report said India, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates have announced defence acquisitions.

Business jet orders failed to keep up with record corporate profits in 2011, although large aircraft have fared better than smaller planes.

The general Aviation Manufacturers Association said business jet shipments were down 13 per cent in the first nine months of the year.

The sector should end 2011 with a third year of production decline. But revenue growth will have more than offset cost increases, leading to a near doubling of profitability to $264 million, the board said.

However, profits were well below their 2009 level of almost $500 million and profit margins are expected to remain thin over the next five years.

Pre-tax profits should rise each year to reach $565 million on $18.7 billion of revenues by 2016.

Metal, energy and labour costs are expected to increase, pushing cost up 4.9 per cent annually between 2012 and 2106.

Recent easing of the Canadian dollar has helped to increase the competitiveness of Canadian-made aircraft and parts, which are priced in U.S. dollars.

And lower oil prices have given airlines breathing room. But fuel prices are expected to rise over the long-term, providing impetus for carriers to invest in new fuel-efficient aircraft.

A Forbes Insights survey found that 83 per cent of respondents said they were likely to acquire or lease new aircraft in the next five years.

"This is encouraging news for the Canadian aerospace industry, as it will help sustain production in the medium term," said the Conference Board report.

Bombardier's CSeries hopes to take advantage by offering lower operating and fuel costs. Airbus, Boeing and Embraer are putting new engines of their narrowbody workhorses in a bid to fend off this new competition.

Beechcraft King Air B200: North Dakota lawmakers question cost of North Dakota State University plane

State lawmakers are questioning North Dakota State University's decision to spend more than $1.05 million to lease and operate a private plane over a two-year period that is flown for fewer than 70 hours annually.

"It probably is a lot cheaper to have them just hire planes when they need to fly somewhere," said Rep. Glen Froseth, R-Kenmare.

Froseth is a member of a legislative committee that collected the cost data for NDSU's plane, a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air B200, as part of a study of airplane use by state government. A handful of agencies own planes, including the Department of Transportation, the state Game and Fish Department and the Highway Patrol.

NDSU's development foundation bought the plane and has leased it to the university since June 2007, records show.

As part of the lease agreement, NDSU must make $3.23 million in lease payments by May 2017, in installments of $80,729 every three months. The university has paid $1.45 million so far. When the lease payments end, NDSU may buy the plane for $1, the agreement says.

The university told the Legislative Council, the research arm of the North Dakota Legislature, that it used the plane for 137.7 hours during the state's last two-year budget period, which began July 1, 2009, and ended June 30, 2011.

During those two years, the university spent $1.05 million to lease and operate the plane, or more than $7,600 for every hour it was flown. The figure includes the cost of fuel, insurance, maintenance and pilots, and the expense of keeping the plane in a hangar.

North Dakota State recently began allowing a private company, the Fargo Jet Center, to charter the plane when the university does not need it, spokeswoman Laura McDaniel said Monday. The Jet Center's fee for customers to hire the plane is normally $1,500 an hour.

The Jet Center has chartered the plane on three days this month, McDaniel said. The amount of money the university received from the charters was not immediately available, she said.

NDSU has used the eight-passenger plane twice in the last three weeks, both times for trips to Bismarck to attend academic meetings. Fargo and Bismarck are almost 200 miles apart.

One flight, on Nov. 30, carried the presidents of NDSU, Valley City State University, Mayville State University and the North Dakota State College of Science. The second, on Dec. 6, had three passengers.

The University of North Dakota, which operates an aerospace school and owns a fleet of airplanes for student training, spent $104,477 during the same two-year period on private plane flights for UND's president and other school officials, the university said. The UND president's office was billed for 82.2 hours of private flights, which equals an hourly cost of about $1,270.

UND owns 72 planes, and the UND Aerospace Foundation, which supports the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the university, owns 56. They are mostly used for flight training, and the fees it charges for transporting school officials depends on the type of plane used.

The legislative committee, which is headed by Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, will compile a report for the Legislature, and may introduce bills to remedy any perceived problems.

One committee member, Sen. Lonnie Laffen, R-Grand Forks, said it may be more economical for NDSU to hire a UND flight if school officials need a plane on short notice.

"Maybe NDSU and UND could certainly share," Laffen said. "That seems like that could work."


BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota lawmakers have questions about North Dakota State University's spending on a private plane.

The university spends more than $500,000 a year to lease and operate the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air plane.

It's flown for fewer than 70 hours a year. That adds up to more than $7,600 an hour. When a private company rents out the same plane, it charges $1,500 an hour.

A legislative committee is looking into airplane use by state agencies.

Kenmare state Rep. Glen Froseth says NDSU might be better off if the school chartered private planes as needed.

Grand Forks Sen. Lonnie Laffen says NDSU and the University of North Dakota might want to share a plane. UND has a flight school and a fleet of planes.

http://www.inforum.com

Spend Christmas Day in the air - and save a fortune

Thousands of British travellers will spend Christmas Day at 37,000 feet to save hundreds of pounds on airfares.

Normally flights on December 25 depart half empty. But this year they are bulging with recession-hit passengers keen to take advantage of the festive fall in fares. Virgin Atlantic reports that flights departing for Australia on Christmas Eve - arriving on Boxing Day - are 95 per cent full.

The third week of December always sees a surge in demand that sends fares sky high, with some travellers prepared to spend a fortune to be with the right people or on the right beach on Christmas Day. But on December 25 itself (and for overnight flights starting on Christmas Eve) airlines experience a sudden fall in bookings.

Some canny passengers book these so-called "dog flights" in the expectation of plenty of empty seats. But this year, while there are still bargains to be had for travellers prepared to surrender Christmas Day, planes leaving the UK will be almost full.

Some travellers book flights for December 25 as a Christmas-avoidance technique, Anna Catchpole, a spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic, said.

"These are the people for whom pulling crackers and opening Christmas presents can represent the worst of all possible worlds," she said.

Travellers with religious, emotional or pathological grounds for avoiding Christmas Day celebrations can erase the date entirely by bagging a bargain flight on the longest-scheduled flight from the UK, Air New Zealand's voyage to Auckland via Los Angeles.

There is still availability for the Christmas Eve departure, which reaches LA the same day, local time. After refuelling, the westbound plane departs later that evening. As it crosses the International Date Line close to Fiji, the calendar jumps from 24 to 26 December.

David Whitley, founder of the Australianflightbargains.com website, said high seasonal prices just before Christmas reflect global demand: "It's not just the amount of people travelling between the UK and Australasia, but the number travelling from, or transiting through, popular hubs such as Singapore."

 http://www.nzherald.co.nz

Piper Archer II PA-28-181, N6980J: Aircraft force landed on a road. Longmont, Colorado.

In a Sunday Dec. 18, 2011 photo, an airplane sits parked at the entrance to Roger's Grove after making an emergency landing on Hover Street in Longmont, Colo.. The plane, reportedly having engine trouble, did not hit any cars on the busy four-lane road. There were no injuries.
(AP Photo/Longmont Times-Call, Lewis Geyer)

Photo Credit: AP | December 19, 2011

Photo credit: AP
In a Sunday Dec. 18, 2011 photo, an airplane is towed to Vance Brand Municipal Airport after making an emergency landing on Hover Street in Longmont, Colo. The pilot, reportedly having engine trouble, was able to avoid hitting any vehicles on the four-lane road. There were no injuries.
(AP Photo/Longmont Times-Call, Lewis Geyer)

The pilot of a single-engine plane managed to safely land on a major street in the northern Colorado city of Longmont after having engine problems.

John Pritchard of Lafayette landed the Piper Cherokee Archer II on Hover Street near a shopping mall Sunday evening. He avoided hitting streetlights and trees along the road. The landing caused no accidents.


Cessna 152 ZK-ETY and Robinson R22 ZK-HGV, mid-air collision, Paraparaumu, New Zealand - Crash occurred February 17, 2008.

Civil Aviation Authority man in forgery claim

The man accused of forging an email given as evidence at the inquest into a deadly mid-air collision over Paraparaumu is a former Civil Aviation Authority safety investigator.

Peter James Kirker has been charged over attempting to pervert the course of justice after allegedly sending a fake email to the inquest into the deaths of the three men in the collision. His name had been suppressed, but that order was lifted today.

Kirker is due back in Porirua District Court next year, but his lawyer Greg King was called before Wellington coroner Ian Smith this morning.

Cessna pilot Bevan Hookway, 17, died after the plane he was flying collided in midair over the Placemakers store in Paraparaumu with a helicopter flown by James Taylor, 19 who was taking his final test flight with examiner David Fielding, 30, on February 17, 2008. The helicopter fell into the store while the plane crashed into a residential street.

Kirker, who was at court, had allegedly sent an email to the family of Mr Fielding which was read at the inquest in October.

Kirker was safety investigation manager at Civil Aviation Authority but has tendered his resignation in a letter dated December 15.

In the letter he said it was unintended that the email looked like it was written by Frank Sharp, Massey University School of Aviation professional programmes manager and a former leader of the Kiwi Red Skyhawk aerobatic team.

Kirker said it was sent because of his deep concern that all relevant information was not being drawn to the coroner's attention as the Transport Accident Investigation Commission had declined to appear as witnesses at the inquest and be questioned.

TAIC had done a report and is represented by a lawyer at the inquest.

Kirker offered, despite the criminal charges, to appear to give evidence.

The inquest is also expected to hear from one of New Zealand's most experienced rescue pilots John Funnell who had supported the position that the manoeuvre Mr Hookway was doing was unnecessary.
http://www.stuff.co.nz


Investigation 08-001
Report 08-001, Cessna 152 ZK-ETY and Robinson R22 ZK-HGV, mid-air collision, Paraparaumu, 17 February 2008

On 17 February 2008, a mid-air collision between a light aeroplane and a small helicopter over Paraparaumu resulted in the deaths of 2 student pilots (aged 17 and 19 years) and a flight examiner (aged 30). Both aircraft were destroyed and several homes and commercial premises damaged, but no persons on the ground were injured.
The pilot of the aeroplane was following a standardised joining procedure for a sealed runway that took it into the path of the helicopter operating on a parallel grass runway. Had the conflict been recognised, the pilot of the aeroplane should have given way to the helicopter under general conflict-avoidance rules.

The investigation determined that the 3 pilots were concentrating on flying their aircraft and planned manoeuvres to the detriment of maintaining an effective lookout. Despite the pilots of both aircraft making appropriate radio calls that should have alerted the other and ensured adequate separation was maintained, as the 2 aircraft closed on each other, the pilots appeared to have made no attempt to continue their lookout until positively identifying the other aircraft and turning away. All pilots have a responsibility to maintain a good lookout and avoid a collision, regardless of who has the right of way.

A review of international standards and relevant research taken together with the accident circumstances found no evidence to support a review of pilot minimum age limits in New Zealand, with pilot competency being a more relevant consideration than age.

The potential for a mid-air collision at Paraparaumu, with its parallel runways and multiple and diverse operations, had been well recognised, but little had been done to mitigate the risk. Why the regulator did not act on the recommendation of a 1996 risk assessment to introduce specific joining procedures could not be explained. Neither the aircraft operators based on the aerodrome, the aerodrome owner and operator nor the regulator had maintained a coordinated approach to identifying and managing safety issues and risks at the aerodrome.

The absence of an air traffic control or information service on the aerodrome was not considered a significant factor, as the pilots were almost universally operating in accordance with visual flight rules where "see and avoid" is the primary and final defence in avoiding a collision. Further, there had been no appreciable change in the rate of near misses or other traffic conflicts since the removal of a staffed air traffic service. But there may have been a general reluctance among pilots to report such incidents.

Mid-air collisions are rare events. There was no evidence found in a review of New Zealand and international data that the risk of impact damage to property or people on the ground near aerodromes merits consideration of a specific response for Paraparaumu or elsewhere. However, future planners and regulators need to be aware of the risks to ensure continued safe operations around aerodromes. Since the accident the aerodrome operator has held several user meetings, and conducted a risk review of aerodrome operations that has recommended a range of changes to aerodrome configuration, circuit procedures and requirements that should reduce the risk of mid-air collisions. The regulator has issued a general reminder to pilots of circuit procedures at uncontrolled aerodromes, and issued improved aeronautical charts containing circuit and runway information for Paraparaumu Aerodrome, including the adoption of specific joining procedures.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has recommended to the Director of Civil Aviation that he act to increase his staff?s promotion of safe management of flying activities at all aerodromes and help educate pilots on effective visual scanning and active listening to radio calls. Further, to review operations at aerodromes around New Zealand with similar circuit patterns to help prevent future mid-air collisions.

(Note: this executive summary condenses content to highlight key points to readers and does so in simpler English and with less technical precision than the remainder of the report to ensure its accessibility to a non-expert reader. Expert readers should refer to and rely on the body of the full report.)

Air investigator charged over forged email

A man charged after a forged email was presented to an inquest into the plane crash deaths of three men over Paraparaumu is a former air safety investigator who resigned last week.

Civil Aviation Authority's former manager of safety investigation Peter James Kirker has been charged with three counts of forgery, attempting to pervert the course of justice and using a forged document.

The 52-year-old Lower Hutt man was charged after an email, fraudulently claiming to be from Massey University aviation expert Frank Sharp, was read out at an October inquest into the mid-air collision of a plane flown by Bevan Hookway, 17, and a helicopter flown by trainee pilot James Taylor, 19, who was being instructed by Dave Fielding, 30 in February 2008.

The email, read in evidence by Mr Fielding's mother, Jan, supported another expert's criticism of a manoeuvre carried out by Mr Hookway before the crash.

Mr Sharp denied sending the email, prompting the police to investigate.

Name suppression for Kirker lapsed on Tuesday morning.

When it became aware of the charges against Kirker the CAA suspended him and he resigned while an employment investigation was under way. He left the organisation on December 15.