Sunday, December 25, 2011

Plane diverted to Amsterdam airport over hubby's in-flight brawl with wife

Dutch airport police say they have detained a Finnish man who fought with crew members aboard a flight from the Spanish island of Tenerife to Finland.

A spokesman said the crew overpowered the 57-year-old passenger and diverted the flight to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, where he was taken into custody Sunday.

Spokesman Martijn Peelan says the man argued with his wife, and the fight escalated when the crew intervened.

Police are questioning the suspect and several witnesses. News reports say 177 passengers were on the plane.

Peelan says police cannot release details about the detained passenger or the aircraft that was diverted.

Indore: State keen on push to aviation sector. (India)

INDORE: The state government is keen to develop its aviation sector. As part of the move, the government has invited an expression of interest (EoI) for the purchase of mid-sized pure twin turbine jet for the state fleet. The state government will rope in a consultant to prepare a civil aviation plan to assess the growth of the sector in the state in the next ten years.

Talking to ToI, Deepak Khandekar, aviation secretary, said that the 10-year plan for aviation growth in the state was a part of the national aviation plan and we are working in tune with the government of India's plan for nationwide growth of the aviation industry.

"We are also looking at giving some concession to the industry in terms of reduction in sales tax, he said that we are still working them out. Though we have already received response of the EOI, which had been given by us for the same early this month, we are in the process of scrutinising them," said Khandekar.

Presently, the state has a Turbo Prop Super King Air B200, purchased from a US-based company, Raytheon in 2003, said a state government official on condition of anonymity. Unlike the existing aircraft, which has a seating capacity of seven passengers excluding two pilots, this time the government is scouting for a bigger aircraft. Currently, there are 21 airstrips in the state.

The idea behind the preparation of civil aviation plan for the state is to harness the growing demand for air connectivity in various states.

Moreover, the state government is actively considering the proposal to provide soft loans to promote expansion and upgrading of brownfield airports. The state can provide interest free soft loan, grants, additional land required for expansion of airports, power, water, security and prevention or removal of encroachment. The state may even set up an aviation university offering degrees and diplomas in aviation.

Pilot, Passenger Expected to Recover From Air Crash. Christian County, Missouri

Two people were injured when this ultralight lost altitude and crashed in a field off of County Line Road in Christian County.
Dean Curtis / News-Leader

Christian County Emergency Services
Ozark and Logan Rogersville Fire Districts, Cox EMS, Christian County Sheriff's Department, and Missouri State Highway Patrol responded to an ultralight plane crash this afternoon. Two people were injured and transported to the hospital.

(Christian County, MO) -- We're learning more about the injuries suffered in this weekend's aircraft crash in Christian County.

We now know the male pilot suffered a broken leg in the crash Sunday afternoon just off County Line Road -- between Ozark and Rogersville. The female passenger received moderate injuries and was taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield for treatment.

The owner of the powered parachute aircraft says the couple is in their 40s. The pilot told investigators he lost power and fell about 30 feet.

KOLR/KOZL spoke with the man who dialed 911 just moments after the crash.

"We said it's kind of getting low and then he tries to pull up, clips the top of the tree, and just flips over the top of the tree," said witness John Atkinson. "I immediately just started running across the street and got down there and he was banged up. I hope he is going to be alright."

The owner of the property, Gary Nettell, says the pilot was renting an apartment there and would take the small aircraft up from time to time.

"It was indicated to me that he was turning around to come back, trying to get back into the field when he clipped the tree," said Sheriff Kyle. "You can see, he's got somewhat of a runway that kind of runs diagonally across here."

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.
Two were people were taken to a Springfield hospital after an ultralight crash today, according to the Christian County Sheriff’s office.

A man and a woman were injured in the crash, which happened about 3:15 p.m. in the 4500 block of East County Line Road in northern Christian County.

The man was airlifted to Cox South, and the woman was taken by ambulance.

Christian County Sheriff Joey Kyle said the extent of the injuries was unknown. He said it was unclear what caused the crash, although the couple may have run out of fuel.  Kyle said the ultralight had just taken off from a runway in a field when it lost altitude. The pilot tried to turn around and struck a tree.

Cirrus SR22 G2, N7850P: Accident occurred December 15, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA067  
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 15, 2011 in Phoenix, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/03/2014
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP. SR22, registration: N7850P
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

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.

A review of radar data revealed that the single-engine Cirrus airplane entered the left downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 3 as a Gulfstream twin-engine corporate jet was 5 miles to the west for landing. The tower controller instructed the Cirrus pilot to extend his downwind leg to follow the Gulfstream and then instructed him to report when he had the Gulfstream in sight. The Cirrus pilot made his base turn towards the final approach course before reporting the Gulfstream in sight, which resulted in the Cirrus being in very close proximity to the Gulfstream. The Cirrus pilot had the discretion to turn from the extended downwind to the base leg prior to the controller advising him to do so; however, when he made this decision it then became his responsibility to maintain safe separation from the Gulfstream.

After several traffic advisories from the controller to the accident pilot, the pilot finally reported the Gulfstream in sight, at which point the Gulfstream was about 0.11 nautical miles ahead of--and 200 to 300 feet higher than--the Cirrus on final to runway 3. The controller then radioed the Cirrus pilot to stand by for a possible go-around and the pilot replied that he was standing by. The controller instructed the Cirrus pilot to start a climb and go around. Three seconds later, an unidentified pilot radioed the controller that an airplane on final had just gone down; no further communications were received from the Cirrus pilot. About 7 seconds before the accident, the Cirrus was at an altitude of 1,400 feet above ground level. The Gulfstream had passed that location about 30 seconds earlier and 150 feet higher than the Cirrus. The upset and loss of control most likely occurred as a direct result of an encounter with the wake turbulence generated by the Gulfstream while the Cirrus was in trail and on final approach to the runway. An onboard recording device revealed that at 0954 the Cirrus experienced an upset, rolling rapidly from 35 degrees left-wing-down to over 77 degrees left-wing-down, before rapidly rolling to 25 degrees right-wing-down. At this time, the airplane's rate of descent was in excess of 3,000 feet per minute.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate separation behind a corporate jet, which resulted in an encounter with wake turbulence and a subsequent loss of control.


On December 15, 2011, about 0954 mountain standard time, a Cirrus Design Corp. SR22, N7850P, experienced a loss of control and descended into a residential neighborhood about 0.75 nautical miles from the approach end of runway 3 at the Scottsdale Airport (SDL), Scottsdale, Arizona. The airplane was registered to Frank M. Smith & Associates, Inc., and it was operated by a company private pilot who was fatally injured. The passenger was seriously injured. The airplane was consumed by a post-impact fire. No one on the ground was injured during the impact sequence. The flight was performed under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Show Low Regional Airport (SOW), Show Low, Arizona, about 0913, with SDL as its planned destination.

The surviving passenger reported in a post-accident interview with the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC), that the airplane was based at SOW, and that the pilot made routine flights to and from SDL. The passenger stated that prior to departure the pilot preflighted the airplane for about 30 minutes, and that nothing unusual occurred during the takeoff, climb, or during the en route phase of the flight, which was smooth.

The passenger revealed that while approaching SDL, he recalled the controller asking the pilot if he saw the Gulfstream, and that the pilot asked him, "Do you see the Gulfstream?" The passenger reported that he initially did not see the Gulfstream, but when he looked outside his right-side window he saw it very close to the Cirrus. He added that at the time, the pilot was still looking left for the Gulfstream, and that he did not initially see it. The passenger stated that about the time when this occurred, the pilot was turning left toward the airport and that he was startled by the sudden presence of a dark shadow over the Cirrus as the Gulfstream passed overhead. The passenger further stated that the Gulfstream appeared to "fly on top of us." The passenger also opined that he did not recall seeing the Gulfstream again, and it was about this time that the controller asked the pilot again if he saw the Gulfstream. The passenger reported that the pilot replied to the controller that the Gulfstream was "in my back seat." He further reported that the pilot was startled by the close proximity between his airplane and the Gulfstream, and that he did not believe that the pilot had observed the Gulfstream prior to the close encounter of the two airplanes. The passenger recalled that it seemed like only seconds after the close encounter that the Cirrus started rapidly descending. The passenger did not recall anything further, including the impact sequence or how he exited the airplane after it had crashed.

A review of radar data provided by Cirrus Aircraft Corporation, as well as communications between Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control, N7850P (the accident airplane), and N534QS (the Gulfstream), revealed that the Gulfstream first contacted the SDL control tower at 0950:25, six nautical miles west of the airport. The controller instructed N534QS to enter a left base for runway 3. At 0950:44, N534QS turned to a heading of 142 degrees magnetic for the left base leg to runway 3. While on the base leg, N534QS slowed from 185 knots to 142 knots. At 0950:46, the controller instructed N7850P to extend his left downwind leg and to follow the Gulfstream. The pilot of N7850P acknowledged extending his left downwind leg and that he would be number two. At 0951:47, the controller cleared N534QS to land on runway 3. At 0951:53, the controller instructed N7850P to report when he had the Gulfstream in sight, and that it had just passed right to left ahead of him on base leg; there was no reply from the accident pilot. At 0952:05, the controller advised the accident pilot that the Gulfstream was now ahead and to his left, eleven o'clock and 2 miles, left base to final. At 0952:12, the accident pilot replied (first part unintelligible), "…blue Gulfstream, sun's in my eyes." At 0952:43, the controller advised the accident pilot that the Gulfstream was off to his left and on final; the accident pilot responded, "Gulfstream on final." At 0953:09, the controller asked the accident pilot to confirm that he had the Gulfstream in sight; the pilot responded that the Gulfstream was in sight at 0953:12. At 0953:36, the controller advised the pilot of N7850P to standby for a possible go-around, to which the pilot confirmed. At 0954:06, the controller instructed the accident pilot to start a climb and go around. At 0954:06, an unidentified pilot radioed to the controller that there was an airplane on final that just went down. There were no further communications received from N7850P.

The following data reveals the horizontal and vertical separation between the two airplanes over the next 15 seconds:

0952:45 0.80nm 300 feet

0952:50 0.58nm 300 feet

0952:55 0.42nm 300 feet

0953:00 0.23nm 300 feet

This data revealed that the Gulfstream was always higher than the Cirrus on the approach.

The data further indicates that about 0953:06, N534QS passed over top of N7850P by approximately 300 feet. At this point the distance between the Gulfstream and Cirrus steadily increased. About 0953:12, the Gulfstream was about 0.11 nm ahead of and 200 to 300 feet higher than N7850P on final. N7850P was about 300 feet below the Gulfstream for most of the final approach to runway 3. The last radar return from N7850P at 0954:02, showed the airplane at an altitude of 1400 feet above ground level. The Gulfstream had passed that location approximately 30 seconds earlier and 150 feet higher than N7850P.

The IIC recorded comments from several witnesses to the accident. One witness reported that she observed an aircraft at an angle and that it fell flat to the ground. A second witness stated that an aircraft went approximately 100 feet over houses then started a turn and went down toward the houses; it was lower than normal. Another witness reported that he saw the Gulfstream go overhead, then looked back and observed [the accident airplane] very low, saw it bank left about 100 degrees from the original direction that it was heading, then lost sight of it as it went behind a building, and then heard it crash. He added that it was very close behind the Gulfstream. A fourth witness reported seeing an aircraft coming from the southwest headed towards the school, very close to the ground, and it flipped on its side in the air. It then flipped back around and started to nose dive toward the ground.

The airplane was recovered from the front yard of the private residence and examined. Fire-damaged components (primary flight and multifunction electronic displays) that contained non-volatile memory were removed from the instrument panel. These components were sent to the National Transportation Safety Board's Vehicle Recorder Division in Washington, D.C., for examination.


The pilot, age 62, held a private pilot certificate, which was issued on October 6, 2004, with an airplane single-engine land rating. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class airman medical certificate was issued on March 31, 2010, at which time he reported a total flight time of 700 hours. The certificate revealed the limitation "holder shall possess glasses for near and intermediate vision."

A damaged pilot's logbook was recovered from the accident site. The logbook covered dates from November 14, 2009 to December 9, 2010. A further review of the logbook revealed that there were no totals forwarded from previous logbooks, and the times logged were exclusively for N7850P. It was observed that about 62 hours of logged flight time in the accident airplane had been recorded in the recovered logbook. It was also observed that the vast majority of those flights logged were flights been between SOW and SDL.


The airplane, a Cirrus SR22-1351, received its standard airworthiness certificate on March 17, 2005. It was equipped with an S-TEC 55X autopilot, Avidyne Entegra Primary and Multifunction Flight Display (PFD, MFD), dual Garmin GNS 430s, GPS navigation transceivers, as well as an engine monitor, and XM satellite weather interface.

One of the pilot's logbook entries was labeled "Annual Service" and dated June 26, 2010, at a Hobbs time of 621.9. No maintenance records were obtained during the investigation.


At 0953, the SDL weather reporting system, located about 1 nm from the accident site, reported wind 250 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 10 miles, temperature 8 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 4 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.18 inches of mercury.

A senior NTSB meteorologist reported that astronomical data from the United States Naval Observatory located in Washington, D.C. revealed that on December 15, 2011, Sunrise was at 0724 MST. The meteorologist added that at 0954 MST, the Sun was 23.1 degrees above the horizon at an azimuth of 143 degrees true, or off of the right wing of the accident airplane, given his heading of 222 degrees magnetic, as reported by the IIC.


The airplane came to rest about 0.75 miles from the threshold of runway 3 at SDL, and in the front yard of a residence at an elevation of 1,417 feet mean sea level. The debris field indicated that the energy path was oriented on a heading of about 275 degrees magnetic. The airplane came to rest on a measured magnetic heading of 232 degrees.

The main wreckage came to rest about 80 feet from the initial point of impact and consisted of the entire fuselage and carry-though wing, minus various smaller components found in the debris field. The initial point of impact was a 7-foot tall hedge located on the adjacent neighbor's property that was missing the top portion of its branches. The driveway the hedge abutted to had a steel gate that exhibited impact damage and white paint transfer marks. The gate was observed separated from its hinges and lying in the street. The right wingtip of the accident airplane came to rest in the driveway near the gate and white paint transfer marks were present across the cement driveway. One black transfer mark was noted on the edge of the driveway, and the hedge between the two properties was damaged.

A shallow trench was observed which contained the front nose landing gear strut, nose wheel assembly, and other small pieces of airplane debris leading away from the hedge on the side opposite the driveway leading towards the main wreckage for about 15 to 20 feet.

The engine and propeller remained attached to the firewall with portions of the upper and lower cowlings still attached to each other. Fire consumed most of the roof and right side of the fuselage. The cockpit area exhibited extensive fire damage from the fire wall aft to the bulkhead aft of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) enclosure. The empennage remained attached to the fuselage and exhibited extensive thermal damage.

The right side of the wing from the cuff outboard was consumed by fire. The right flap and right aileron were mostly consumed by fire, and the identifiable portions of each had come to rest behind the wing.

The left wingtip was observed separated and was located under the right side of the horizontal stabilizer. The left side of the wing exhibited impact damage. The fuel cap was present and secure. A stick was inserted in the fuel tank. From the bottom lip of the filler cap to the bottom of the tank the stick measured roughly 18 centimeters; when the stick was extracted from the tank, 16 centimeters of the stick was observed to be wet. The wing lay relatively flat but slightly tipped forward. The left flap and aileron remained attached to the wing and exhibited impact damage.

Aileron control cable continuity was verified. The roll trim actuator was in between neutral and full left trim. The flap actuator shaft was extended approximately one half inch from the actuator housing, which was consistent with a flap setting of 100 percent, or fully extended.

The vertical stabilizer remained attached to the empennage and exhibited impact and fire damage. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer and exhibited impact damage. Rudder control cable continuity was verified.

The horizontal stabilizer remained attached to the empennage and exhibited impact and fire damage. The left and right elevators remained attached to the horizontal stabilizer. Elevator control cable continuity was verified. The pitch trim actuator was in an approximate neutral position.

The right crew door was separated from the fuselage and exhibited fire and impact damage. The left crew door remained attached to the fuselage at the lower hinge and exhibited fire and impact damage. The baggage door remained attached to the fuselage and exhibited fire and impact damage.

The nose landing gear assembly separated from the engine mount. The right main landing gear remained attached to the wing and exhibited impact and fire damage. The left main landing gear separated from the wing and was located about 25 feet aft of the main wreckage near the left wheel pant.

The Cirrus Aircraft Parachute System (CAPS) safety pin was located on the bolster switch panel below the ignition switch. A grommet with red material consistent with the Remove Before Flight tag was present on the key ring style retainer containing the safety pin. The CAPS activation handle, handle holder, and mounting bracket were not observed. The activation cable housing was mostly consumed by fire, with only the wire mesh having been left behind on the activation cable. The activation cable was present and attached at the igniter. The other end of the activation cable had a ball swage on it but no activation handle. The CAPS enclosure cover remained attached to the left fuselage half and exhibited fire damage.

The only anomaly noted during the engine examination was a reddish colored residue on the forward half of the piston head and around the forward half of the intake valve face on the #1 cylinder. The propeller remained attached to the engine and exhibited impact damage. The spinner had deformation on one side between two of the propeller blades. All three propeller blades were bent aft. Two of the propeller blades had scratches spanwise and chordwise on the cambered side.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Maricopa County Office of The Medical Examiner, Phoenix, Arizona, on December 16, 2011. The cause of death was reported as "Thermal burns."

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot. The report stated no carbon monoxide and no cyanide was detected in the Blood, no ethanol detected in the Vitreous, and 12.39 (ug/ml, ug/g) Acetaminophen detected in Urine.


The NTSB IIC retained custody of the PFD and MFD. Both components were shipped to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory In Washington, D.C. for examination and analysis by a vehicle recorder specialist who reported the following:


The PFD was damaged by impact forces and fire. The circuit card which contained the 2 Flash memory chip was extracted from the damaged housing and placed in a surrogate PFD unit for download.

The PFD contained approximately 17 hours of flight data, including the accident flight.


The exterior of the MFD unit was damaged by fire. However, the MFD card was undamaged and data was recovered normally.

The specialist reported that a review of the recovered data revealed that the flight departed SOW at 0913 and climbed to a cruise altitude of 8,400 feet. Between 0932:13 and 0940:00, no data was recorded on the PFD; this is a known behavior with this version of PFD software. At 0940:20, the airplane began its descent at approximately 1,000 feet per minute (fpm). At 0954, the airplane experienced an upset, rolling rapidly from 35 degrees left wing down to over 77 degrees left wing down, before rapidly rolling to 25 degrees right wing down. At this time the airplane's rate of descent was in excess of 3,000 fpm.


According to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), 7-3-8 Pilot Responsibility, the following information is provided to pilots relative to wake turbulence:

(b) Wake turbulence may be encountered by aircraft in flight as well as when operating on the airport movement area.

(c) Pilots are reminded that in operations conducted behind all aircraft, acceptance of instructions from ATC in the following situations is an acknowledgment that the pilot will ensure safe takeoff and landing intervals and accepts the responsibility for providing wake turbulence separation:

1. Traffic information

2. Instructions to follow an aircraft;

3. The acceptance of a visual approach clearance

According to the US Department of Transportation publication "Wake Turbulence Training Aid," DOT/FAA/RD-95/6, dated April 1995, the phenomenon that creates wake turbulence results from the forces that lift the aircraft. High pressure air from the lower surface of the wings flows around the wingtips to the lower pressure region above the wings. A pair of counter-rotating vortices are shed from the wings; the right wing vortex rotates counterclockwise, and the left wing vortex rotates clockwise. This region of rotating air behind the aircraft is where wake turbulence occurs. The strength of the turbulence is predominantly determined by the weight, wingspan and speed of the aircraft. The usual hazard associated with wake turbulence is that the induced rolling moment can exceed the roll control of the encountering aircraft. Counter control is most effective and induced roll minimal where the wingspan of the encountering aircraft is outside the rotational flow field of the vortex. Additionally, counter control is more difficult for encountering aircraft with wingspans that are relatively shorter than that of the generating aircraft. Pilots of short span aircraft and high performance aircraft must be especially alert to vortex encounters. Flying at or above the flight path provides the best method for avoidance. Maintaining a vertical separation of at least 1000 feet when crossing below the preceding aircraft may be considered safe.

Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular 90-23F, Aircraft Wake Turbulence released February 20, 2002, "is intended to alert pilots to the hazards of aircraft wake turbulence and recommends related operational procedures." Under the heading of "6, Induced Roll" the circular stated that "...the capability of an aircraft to counteract the roll imposed by the wake vortex primarily depends on the wingspan and counter-control responsiveness of the encountering aircraft."


NTSB Identification: WPR12FA067 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 15, 2011 in Phoenix, AZ
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP. SR22, registration: N7850P
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 15, 2011, about 0954 mountain standard time, a Cirrus Design Corp. SR22, N7850P, experienced a loss of control and descended into a residential neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona. At the time, the airplane was on short final approach for landing at Scottsdale Airport (SDL). The airplane was registered to Frank M. Smith & Associates, Inc., and it was operated by a company private pilot who was fatally injured. The passenger was seriously injured. The airplane was consumed by a post impact fire. No one on the ground was injured during the impact sequence. The flight was performed under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Show Low, Arizona, within minutes of 0857.

Safety Board investigators reviewed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radar data and voice tapes. They indicate that the Cirrus had entered SDL’s left-hand traffic pattern for runway 3 from the north. The FAA SDL’s local air traffic controller sequenced the Cirrus to land behind a Gulfstream Aerospace GV-SP (G550), which was ahead of the Cirrus. The Gulfstream had entered the left traffic pattern directly into the base leg. The local controller advised the Cirrus pilot to report when he had the Gulfstream in sight. The Cirrus pilot reported that the sun was in his eyes, and he did not report seeing the Gulfstream. Seconds later, the controller advised the Cirrus pilot that the Gulfstream was to his left and on final approach, and the Cirrus turned onto the base leg. Subsequently, as the Cirrus was entering the final approach leg and was about 1,900 feet (based upon the airplane’s Mode C transponder altitude), the Gulfstream overflew the Cirrus about 2,100 feet (Mode C transponder altitude).

The passenger in the Cirrus reported to the Safety Board investigator that immediately thereafter the pilot observed the Gulfstream, and he so informed the controller while continuing toward the runway. Then the controller advised the Cirrus pilot to standby for a possible go-around. Less than 1 minute later the Cirrus rolled into a steep bank and descended in a corkscrew-like maneuver into the ground, according to a ground-based witness who was monitoring the controller’s communications and watching the airplane.

The Safety Board investigation revealed that the airplane impacted the ground in a right wing, nose low attitude, on about a 275-degree magnetic heading. The airplane came to rest approximately 0.9 miles from the landing threshold of SDL’s runway 3. The accident site elevation is about 1,420 feet mean sea level (msl). SDL’s elevation is 1,510 feet msl.

The airplane has been recovered from the front yard of the private residence and examined. Fire-damaged components (primary flight and multifunction electronic displays) that contain non-volatile memory were removed from the instrument panel. These components have been delivered to the Safety Board’s Vehicle Recorder Division in Washington, D.C., where an examination is in progress.

PHOENIX — A preliminary report on an airplane crash near the Scottsdale Airport this month indicates the pilot had the sun in his eyes moments before slamming into a northeast Phoenix neighborhood.

The National Transportation Safety Board says an air traffic controller advised the pilot, Frank E. Smith, 62, of Pinetop and Scottsdale, to report when he had a Gulfstream jet in sight.

The Cirrus SR22 pilot reported that the sun was in his eyes, and that he didn't see the Gulfstream. Seconds later, the controller advised Smith that the Gulfstream was to his left and was on final approach.

Smith's passenger, 60-year-old Enrico Lo Curzio, reported to the NTSB investigator that immediately thereafter Smith told the controller that he saw the Gulfstream.

The controller advised Smith to standby for a possible go-around. Less than one minute later, the Cirrus rolled into a steep bank and descended in a corkscrew-like maneuver into the ground. Smith was killed in the crash and Lo Curzio, survived, but was seriously injured.

The NTSB investigation found that the airplane hit the ground with its right wing.

Witnesses reported the Cirrus was flying "low and slow" following an executive jet but wasn't close to the other plane, NTSB investigator Wayne Pollack said. It suddenly went into a left bank and the nose pitched down, continuing in a left bank until it went out of sight.

The airplane was recovered from the front yard of a private residence and examined. Fire-damaged parts, including the primary flight and multifunction electronic displays that contain non-volatile memory, were removed from the instrument panel.

The components were taken to the NTSB's inspection labs in Washington, D.C., where an examination is under way.

The agency said it will look at whether the pilot hit wake turbulence from the jet, simply stalled the aircraft or lost control for some other reason, including mechanical failure.

Tool forgotten inside, JetLite engine fails mid-flight

An aircraft maintenance engineer forgot to remove a tool from the engine of a JetLite plane that was flying from Ranchi to Mumbai last month, causing it to lose an engine and make an emergency landing in Nagpur. The incident occurred on November 13. There were more than 130 passengers on board flight S2-722 at the time.

The engineer has been suspended pending inquiry by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Official documents accessed by The Indian Express reveal that the engineer and a technician, while conducting ground maintenance work, left behind a tool in the engine cavity. The technician fitted the bolts but failed to notice a gap that was created after the covering didn’t sit on the engine properly. Friction during the flight created a hole in the covering through which oil leaked and the engine failed.

On December 14, the airline finalized a Permanent Investigation Board. It was found that the oil leak and low-oil pressure warning from the No. 2 engine was caused due to oil leaking from a hole in the N2 drive pad. “The hole in the N2 drive pad was caused by rubbing action of an expander tool which was left in the cavity of N2 drive during maintenance action on the engine during the previous night,” states one of the documents.

Bellanca 17-30A, N14705: Aircraft went off the side of the runway. Northeast Florida Regional Airport (KSGJ), St Augustine, Florida.

  Regis#: 14705        Make/Model: BL17      Description: 17 Viking, Super Viking, Turbo Viking
  Date: 12/24/2011     Time: 1716

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Minor

  City: SAINT AUGUSTINE   State: FL   Country: US


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

  Activity: Pleasure      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: ORLANDO, FL  (SO15)                   Entry date: 12/27/2011 

Aircraft accident occurred around noon Saturday at the Northeast Florida Regional Airport did not result in injuries, said Jeremy Robshaw, public information officer with St. Johns County Fire Rescue.

There was no fire or fuel leak.

The aircraft sustained significant damage, including a bent propeller.

The accident shut down the airport for about 30 minutes, and a couple of planes circled the area as they waited to land.

New York Sheriff Hawks Naming Rights for Helicopter

A high-tech helicopter has helped Sheriff Kevin Walsh chase down fugitives, airlift accident victims and spearhead search-and-rescue missions in the Syracuse region of central New York since 1999. In 2012, Air-1 could be grounded by budget cuts.

Walsh's proposed solution? Slap a corporate logo on the Bell 407 chopper to raise ad revenue and keep her flying.

"We (police) have put up with donut jokes for our entire existence. I think we can tolerate jokes about the Price Chopper chopper or the Wegmans whirlybird showing up," Walsh said, referring to two supermarket chains. "I don't like the idea of our having to fund public services with private donations, but the option is not to have that public service."

While hawking naming rights for municipal stadiums, parks, mass-transit stations and other public entities is nothing new for the nation's cash-strapped cities, sponsorship deals with police agencies are much less common, and typically less lucrative.

On top of that, watchdog groups — and many in uniform — are wary about potential conflicts when law enforcement cozies up with advertisers, such as officers possibly looking the other way on matters involving corporate sponsors.

"I feel very confident my officers wouldn't be compromised," said John Kelly, police chief of Littleton, Mass. A town-approved $12,000-a-year contract with a grocery chain pays for one of Kelly's five patrol cars. In return, the cruiser has been adorned for nine years with a modest Donelan's Supermarkets bumper sticker.

Kelly said he's endured plenty of flack, but "my position is I have to give my officers tools to provide the necessary services our citizens paid for. At 2:30 in the morning, someone laying out on a local highway because of an accident really doesn't care who's paying for the cruiser or what it says on its side."

In 2002, dozens of cities jumped at an offer by a Charlotte, N.C., company to provide new police cars for $1 each in exchange for festooning them with race car-style logos. The venture fizzled, in part because the line between tactful and tacky advertising can be a narrow one, and the company has gone out of business.

"We can't let cutesy things" subtract from "making us look serious," said police Chief Philip Thorne in Springfield, Fla., which turned down a chance to save $500,000 over three years.

"It sounded like a good idea," recalled Bruce Owens, police chief in Summerville, S.C. "But the main concern is the potential ethical issues you might encounter, because no one gives something for nothing."

Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group fears the drive to find sponsorship arrangements in budget-strapped times "may in some instances seem unseemly or feel like it's going too far.

"When it comes to law enforcement, you have this additional layer of concerns," Haven said. "If the sponsor becomes a target of an investigation, does the public have confidence they'll be treated equally under the law?"

In addition, "what's the appropriate valuation for naming rights?" Haven said. "Does it put government in the position of deciding what is an inappropriate sponsor, which could raise First Amendment issues?"

In Syracuse, the sheriff's budget woes in recent years deepened this fall when the county Legislature eliminated $591,000 in taxpayer aid in 2012 for the helicopter known by its radio call sign. Bought for $2.3 million, Air-1 costs around $500,000 on average to operate and maintain each year.

Walsh has appealed for private donations and hopes to secure federal grants to help pay for Air-1's four-pilot roster. Getting a commercial operator's license from the Federal Aviation Administration to allow him to charge fees for medical flights might come through soon, potentially raising $125,000 to $200,000 a year.

Selling naming rights could prove vital in filling the gap. Talks are under way with two potential sponsors who remain unidentified, and Walsh's administrative chief, John Balloni, hopes to add at least $100,000 a year in advertising revenue.

While conceding that Air-1 might have to stop operations in 2012, Balloni said: "There will be some revenue streams coming in and we have full expectation we'll keep it in the air. The extent of our success in 2012 will determine how much we fly in 2013."

Landing private funding wouldn't be a first for a police airborne unit. In Missouri, St. Louis County police got cash donations and electronic equipment worth upward of $200,000 from three helicopter manufacturers in 2004 in exchange for putting the companies' decals on three of its six choppers, said Capt. Kurt Frisz, a pilot.

"It kept us flying at a critical time and got us equipment we wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise," said Frisz, who says the decals are hardly visible from the ground. "The value for the vendor is if a picture of our helicopter shows up in a law enforcement trade magazine such as Air Beat."

Onondaga County sheriffs have deployed helicopters of their own since snapping up a Korean War-era bubble model in 1975.

Supporters praise the new chopper's versatility and credit it as a vital public safety tool not only in the county but in emergencies across a five-county metro area of 640,000 people along Lake Ontario's southeast corner.

Air-1 and its crew logged hundreds of hours of missions in 2011. It airlifted a badly injured toddler who was run over by a lawnmower, alerted sheriff's deputies to a rifle-toting fugitive hiding up a tree and rescued a man whose snowmobile plunged through the ice on a lake.

Opponents view it as a financial burden that duplicates services already provided at no cost to taxpayers by private medevac helicopters and a state police chopper stationed in Syracuse that runs missions farther afield in upstate New York.

A county Legislature resolution to auction off Air-1 was voted down 18-1 on Dec. 6. Walsh will likely renew his funding request when the Legislature returns Jan. 1 with seven new members.

"Short of robbing banks," said Balloni, his deputy, "any way we can keep this ship flying is the way we're going to do it. I took an oath to protect and serve and, to me, the lives it saves are what's sacred."

Indonesia’s Airlines to Soar in 2012

Indonesia’s airline sector got off to a rough start earlier this year as higher fuel prices reduced profitability, but the sector is prepared to soar in 2012 as new operators and strong economic growth boost traffic.

In February, jet fuel climbed to $118.05 per barrel, its most expensive since September 2008. The higher cost weighed down airlines’ profitability and led them to apply fuel surcharges.

However, fuel prices started to stabilize nearing the end of the year. As Indonesia’s economy continues to expand at 6.5 percent as of the third quarter, the airline sector expects clear skies in the second half.

“2012 is still going to be a good year for the industry. Despite the lingering crisis in Europe, domestic and regional demand for air travel will remain high,” said Emirsyah Satar, chairman of the Indonesia Air Carriers Association (Inaca) and president director of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia.

Total airline traffic is expected to increase 18 percent this year, from 53 million passengers in 2010, and should rise 18 percent in 2012, he said. In the January-October period, Indonesian airlines flew 55.98 million passengers.

Indonesia’s traffic growth projection is higher than the average for global airlines. The International Air Transport Association had forecast passenger demand this year to rise 5.9 percent to 2.833 billion passengers, and increasing 4.6 percent in 2012 as the euro zone crisis continues to weigh down the industry.

“The airline sector in Indonesia is expected to grow at a rate two times the economic growth, but strong consumer purchasing power, higher demand for airline travel and the recent investment grade [decision] will boost the industry’s growth by 18 percent next year. The investment grade rating will make it easier for airlines to source cheap financing for their expansion,” Emirsyah said.

Garuda, which reported that its 11-month profit had more than doubled, is expanding its fleet to 105 aircraft in 2012 from 88 airplanes now. It is also targeting increased domestic routes and international destinations.

In the January-November period, Garuda carried 15.45 million passengers, which was up 36 percent from a year earlier.

The industry reached a high point in November, when Lion Mentari Airlines made international headlines with the announcement of the purchase of 230 Boeing 737 aircraft valued at $21.7 billion.

The record deal will boost its fleet to more than 400 airplanes by 2017.

Lion Air president director Rusdi Kirana said last month that the purchase was meant to anticipate airline growth in the Asia-Pacific region during the next five to 10 years. The company expects to fly 27 million passengers this year, up from 20.5 million passengers last year, he said.

“With the start of the Asean ‘open-sky’ policy in 2015, I think Lion has the capacity to at least control 30 percent of the market in the Asean region,’’ Rusdi said.

Next year, Pacific Royale Airways Indonesia and Lion Air’s Space Jet will start operations and become full-service airlines, which means providing seats from economy to first class.

Sriwijaya Air will upgrade its aircraft to accommodate business-class seats.

Mandala Air, which stopped flying in January because of its mounting debt, is ready to take to the skies again after Saratoga Capital and Singapore’s Tiger Airways took control of the company in September.

Indonesia AirAsia is set to launch its $200 million initial public offering some time next year, after its counterpart in Thailand holds its IPO.

Still, insufficient air traffic management and infrastructure could potentially hinder the industry’s growth.

Soekarno-Hatta International Airport has exceeded its capacity in the last five years. When it started operating in 1985, it was designed to accommodate 22 million passengers annually. Last year it served 44 million passengers, and it is expected to accommodate 54 million by 2015 and 66 million by 2020.

“We are aware of the problem and we are expanding, but we’re still looking for the financing,” said Tri Sunoko, president director of state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II.

It plans to revamp and expand the airport as soon as next year with investment of about Rp 11.7 trillion ($1.3 billion). Its capacity should rise to 62 million by 2014.

Tony Tyler, president director of IATA, said during his visit to Indonesia in September that the country could be the sixth-fastest growing market for international passengers.

In 2014, Indonesia will rank as the ninth-largest domestic market and among the top 10 for international freight, he said.

Safety remains a major issue for Indonesia. Merpati Airlines suffered a fatal crash in West Papua in May that left 25 people died.

According to the IATA’s safety audit, Garuda is the only Indonesian carrier on its list of 372 international airlines.

Emerald Airplane: Rare World War II plane spotted in ocean off Jupiter, Florida.

Video by PT Search on Dec 22, 2011

Randy Jordan found an airplane in 185 feet of water off Palm Beach, Florida this week. Here is a short video of his findings.

By Pat Beall, Palm Beach Post
December 25, 2011

Jupiter —  Randy Jordan was just following the fish.

Diving at a depth of about 200 feet four miles off Jupiter Tuesday, the owner of Emerald Charters wasn't expecting to see much more than sand and seafood.

But the deep waters were hiding something: the remains of a mostly intact aircraft upside down on the ocean floor.

Jordan says experts shown video and photos of the craft identified it as a WWII-era Curtiss Helldiver SB2C.

"It's a very rare airplane," said Jordan. "There may be only one flying now."

Local WWII aircraft buff Kevin Knebel, who has seen video of the dive site, said it wasn't surprising that a WWII plane would be found off Florida - "planes are scattered up and down our coastline" - but it is unusual that one would be unidentified, and that it appears to be a Curtiss Helldiver.

"I think this may be the first Helldiver ever found" off the Florida coastline, he said. Knebel speculates the Helldiver, a Navy aircraft, could have come from Key West on a training exercise. In addition, in 1942, the U.S Navy trained WWII pilots at Witham Field in Martin County.

Since his discovery, Jordan and other divers have been down to the plane just once, though there are plans to take more divers to the site to help solve the mystery of how the craft came to be resting on the ocean floor.

But the divers are moving cautiously. For one thing, Jordan points out, there could be live ammunition. A dive bomber, the Curtiss Helldiver bristled with weaponry: torpedoes, machine guns and bombs were all standard issue.

And there is another reason for keeping a respectful distance. "It may be a grave," Jordan said. "Somebody was on that plane."

For now, what's visible is the fuselage, wings and tail, with the bomb bay doors closed. The engine is detached and lying in front of the aircraft. The landing gear is retracted. The propeller blades are bent.

If it is a Helldiver, it would be the second such underwater find in two years. In January 2010, the owner of a scuba shop found a SB2C Helldiver off Hawaii in about 50 feet of water. According to press reports, the U.S. Navy was preparing a plaque to mark the site.

Photographing Private Airplanes

December 24, 2011

"I recently visited a small municipal (public) airport and was taking pictures of small planes parked on the ramp. Through a fence I may add. The airport manager approached me and asked me to stop shooting. I do know that you can enter the aircraft's tail number and Google will provide various registration/ownership information. It was no big deal and I did not want to start an argument so I stopped shooting. Was the guy out of bounds and I should have just ignored him?"

Too Many Weather-Related Plane Crashes

by Dave Gorham on December 23, 2011 

Sometimes you think it’s your imagination (“Is it my imagination, or have there been a lot of plane crashes recently?”), but that’s not the case this time. The crashes are all too real, and all too recent — and, it would seem, the crashes are weather-related.

Specifically, I’m referring to five in-the-news crashes this week:

A crash Tuesday in New Jersey of a small plane onto Interstate 287 that killed all five persons on board. Officials reported the pilot confirmed he was experiencing icing conditions shortly after takeoff. Listening to the tape of the conversation with air traffic control, the pilot reported severe icing (severe icing can quickly overwhelm anti-icing/deicing equipment). It was also reported the plane broke up in mid-air which maybe attributed to airframe failure due to the stress of a spin.

A crash Tuesday of a training flight in Denton, Texas ended with one dead and two injured. Occurring at night, weather conditions at the time included very low clouds and visibility from 1/2 to 1/4 mile due to fog. It was noted that the fog was unexpected and not part of the forecast.

A crash Monday, also in Texas, killed a family of five from Georgia. Strong thunderstorms across Texas caused the plane to route around storms, but it was reported the plane was flying through rain and lightning at the time.

On Monday an NTSB report was released citing weather as a contributing factor in a Mississippi crash that took the lives of a husband and wife in 2010. It was reported that “extreme thunderstorms crossed the plane’s path.”

This week the FAA issued rules designed to prevent pilots from flying while fatigued — which can trace its “revived” origins to the crash of Continental Connection 3407 which went down near Buffalo, NY in a snow storm nearly three years ago (“revived” because the NTSB has been working on the fatigue ruling for decades, but the issue stalled prior to the 3407 crash).

Man Got Top Secret Fighter Jet’s Canopy For Peanuts And He’s Now Selling It On eBay For $620,000

A view of the canopy from Kettleman's eBay page.

By Jesus Diaz
December 25, 2011

Back in the 80s, the United States Navy wanted a stealth aircraft to replace the A-6 Intruder. McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics came up with an ultra-secret flying wing design, an alien-looking aircraft called the A-12 Avenger II. It never flew.

Fast forward 30 years and go to eBay. Someone named Seth Kettleman is selling its canopy for a whooping $620,238. How did this happen? 

Kettleman is probably going to get that amount or more. After all, this is the only part of this secret airplane to reach public hands. Nobody else has anything else about this fabled jet, ultimately killed by major development problems and the arrival of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. He says it's completely authentic:
The canopy has now been verified as authentic. It was a production unit for the A-12 Avenger II manufactured by McAir (Division of McDonnell Douglas). The canopy must have a hundred or so individual serial numbers and manufacturing data marked on it. These numbers and individual pieces have been verified as authentic parts from the program.
How did this man get his hands on a top secret part, the bloody entire canopy of a United States Navy secret plane? Did he steal it? Did he find it somewhere in the Nevada desert?

No, he just bought it for a song: $2,331.68

And it was completely legal. Kettleman, who buys and sells aircraft parts on the web for collectors, found it on GovDeals, a web site that "provides services to various government agencies that allow them to sell surplus and confiscated items via the Internet." Apparently, someone in some Pentagon office thought it was safe to sell an entire canopy of a plane that was kept under top secret and never saw the day of light.

The only contact person listed in the GovDeals page for this item is someone called Susan Ticen, "an inspection, or for questions." who has a Purdue University email address. [eBay and GovDeals, Avenger II Wikipedia page via The Dew Line]

Planes grounded as hailstorms hit Melbourne, Australia

Huge hailstones hit Taylor's Lakes, in Melbourne's north.
Picture: Nick Vlahandreas

HAILSTONES the size of cricket balls, flash-flooding, planes diverted and flights postponed, power lost from homes, major transport delays and a tornado to top things off - that was Christmas Day in Melbourne. 

Much of Victoria copped the extremes - from steamy, sultry weather for Christmas lunch to severe storms that left many residents struggling to compare them with anything in memory.

The volunteers who staff the State Emergency Service had little time to digest their lunch when the calls for help started arriving.

Melton, on Melbourne's western fringes, was the first to report hailstones at 3.30pm (AEDT).

Then the skies exploded over greater Melbourne, as lightning strikes, loud cracks of thunder, torrential rain and hailstones hammered the city.

By 9pm the SES had handled more than 2000 calls for assistance, mainly damage caused by hailstones to skylights and windows.

It may be a few days before the damage to motor vehicles can be assessed.

Much of Victoria remained at risk this evening, with severe weather warnings for Melbourne city fringe areas including Hurstbridge, Lilydale, Yarra Glen, Healesville, east of Mt Dandenong and south of Kinglake. 

Warnings were also issued for regional Victorian areas including Mildura, Horsham, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, Seymour, Maryborough, Geelong, Melbourne, Wangaratta, Traralgon and Bairnsdale.

And storm warnings were also issued for southern New South Wales and the ACT. The weather bureau said areas that could be affected included Canberra, Goulburn, Yass, Parkes, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Deniliquin, Griffith, Hay, Cobar, Wentworth and Balranald.

SES spokesman Lachlan Quick said reinforcements from SES branches in the Victoria's western districts would be drafted in on Monday to help with the huge clean-up in the north and northwest parts of the state.
He said most of the calls concerned smashed windows and skylights.

"There was a tornado reported at Fiskville and we know it touched down at Keilor Downs because we had some SES volunteers there and they had to run for shelter," Mr Quick said.

Bicycle paths along the Yarra will be closed on Monday as the river swells with floodwater.

Powercor, which provides electricity for those living in Melbourne's and the state's west, including Bendigo and Ballarat, reported more than 3300 people without power at 9pm along with damage to lines and power poles.

At Melbourne Airport international and domestic flights were diverted to Sydney because of strong winds and lightning, while planes that were due to fly out were grounded.

Passengers urged to contact their airline or the airport for further information.

Metro, which runs the Melbourne's train services, was warning commuters to expect major delays, with most lines disrupted, and had advised people to defer non-essential travel.

It said many of its pedestrian subways were under water.

VicRoads was reporting many roads closed in the worst-hit areas northwest of Melbourne because of flooding.

At Lilydale, in Melbourne's east, flooding caused the closure of the Warburton Highway.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a minor flood warning at 8.30pm for the Merri Creek at Coburg and Fitzroy, saying the creek was rising quickly in those suburbs.

Australia: Air paramedic dies during rescue operation after winch line was cut

Helicopter paramedic Mick Wilson was a 15-year veteran who won a bravery award for his work. 

Carrington Falls, near Robertson, where the death of a NSW Ambulance paramedic Mick Wilson occured during a search operation in the Southern Highlands. 

The helicopter rescue. 
Photo: Sylvia Liber

THE tragic details of how a helicopter paramedic died in a rescue operation began to emerge last night, with revelations that the winch line being used had to be cut.

Mick Wilson, a 15-year veteran who won a bravery award for his work, was killed trying to reach an injured canyoner at Carrington Falls in the Kangaroo Valley on Saturday evening.

Superintendent Gary Worboys said: "At about 8.30pm on their last retrieval something has occurred at the bottom of the line which has necessitated an action inside the helicopter, cutting that winch line and releasing it from the helicopter.

"As a result of that the ambulance paramedic received injuries and later died at that location near Carrington Falls.

"I'm thinking it's not something to do with the helicopter, I'm thinking it's about the environment. It was a difficult, complex retrieval."

The rescue began when a Chatswood man used his emergency distress beacon to contact emergency services after his friend, who was visiting from overseas, was injured during a canyoning trip.

Mr Wilson, 41, was one of two highly trained special casualty access team paramedics on an Ambulance Service of NSW helicopter that was called to the rescue.

Supt Worboys said the Chatswood man was retrieved safely, then something went wrong. He could not say if Mr Wilson fell, because a full investigation was under way.

Rescue teams decided another winch operation was too dangerous and the injured man and Mr Wilson's body remained in the canyon overnight. The canyoner was rescued yesterday morning and taken to hospital in a stable condition.

It is believed to be the first time in more than 30 years that a NSW paramedic has been killed on duty. The Carrington Falls is a popular walk with a spectacular 90m abseil to secluded pools.

Mr Wilson spent more than 15 years with the ambulance service and in 2008 was one of six officers awarded a bravery award for rescuing a woman crushed by rocks in Wombeyan Caves in May that year.

The Ambulance Service offered its condolences and support to Mr Wilson's wife and children, but did not give other details of his family.

Medical Retrieval Services spokesman Ron Manning said: "The death is a terrible tragedy for the family and the Ambulance Service of NSW."

A team of three investigators will interview the helicopter crew, retrieve flight data from the helicopter, inspect the helicopter and gather operational and training records.

Indonesia: Attorney General’s Office Names New Suspect in Merpati Nusantara Airlines Lease Case

The Attorney General’s Office has declared a former general manager of state-owned Merpati Nusantara Airlines a new suspect in a case of corruption linked to the lease of two Boeing aircraft from a United States-based company.

“The team of investigators has already declared a new suspect whose initials are T.S. He was the general manager of Merpati at the time,” Andhi Nirwanto, deputy attorney general for special crimes, said on Friday.

AGO spokesman Noor Rachmad said documents on the investigation mentioned the name Tony Sudjiarto.

“His role was to conduct negotiations with TALG [Thirdstone Aircaft Leasing Group],” Noor said, adding that Tony faced charges of two violations of the anti-corruption law.

Meanwhile, Lawrence T.P. Siburian, the lawyer for former Merpati president director Hotasi Nababan, who is already a suspect in the case, said Tony was not involved in the negotiations with Thirdstone.

“I don’t think it was his job. The negotiation is already in the realm of the duties of the board of directors,” he said.

He said that Tony was only supposed to check on the two aircraft. The first was still undergoing an overhaul in Guangzhou, China, and the second was still leased by Batavia Air and was in Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

Merpati signed a deal with Thirdstone to lease a Boeing 737-400 and a Boeing 737-500. It paid a $1 million security deposit but never received the planes, and neither did it receive a refund.

The company filed a lawsuit against Thirdstone in April 2007 for breach of contract.

A district court in Washington, D.C., issued a verdict ordering Thirdstone to return the $1 million deposit, but the payment never materialized. It was not clear what further legal steps the company was taking.

In August, the AGO named two Merpati officials as suspects: Hotasi, who led the company when the deal was made in 2006, and former finance director Guntur Aradea.

The Thirdstone deal came under the AGO’s scrutiny because it suspected the agreement was drawn up without the consent of the minister and because state losses were incurred.

Merpati is also being investigated regarding its purchase of 15 Chinese-made MA60 planes, one of which crashed in Papua this year, killing all 25 passengers on board.

Under a 2006 contract between Merpati and Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation, each aircraft was priced at $14.1 million.

It was later discovered that airlines in the Philippines, Ghana and Nepal had bought the same type of aircraft for $11 million each.

The deal was also dogged by concerns that the MA60s were not certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration, whose guidelines, though not mandatory in Indonesia, are considered a standard around the world.

Somalia: Helicopter raids in Southern Somalia

KUDHAA, Somalia Dec 25 2011 (Garowe Online)- There were helicopter raids that injured one and destroyed many vehicles in the island of Kudhaa in the region of lower Jubba located in southern Somalia.

An eyewitness who spoke to VOA Somalia told the news agency that the helicopter raids happened as the sun was setting in the island.

He added that the helicopters opened machine gun fire and dropped bombs on the town Kudhaa destroying many vehicles and businesses.

The eyewitness reported that there were no special target areas that the helicopters aimed for.

Air raids in southern Somalia have become more frequent ever since Kenya joining the fight against Al Shabaab in southern Somalia.

Search for a World War II B-24 bomber

Paul Quinn, a 67-year-old Gastonia native — Ashley High School class of ’62 — describes himself as a World War II “aviation nut” and he’s on a mission.

For years the model airplane builder and a pilot/owner of two restored World War II airplanes has been searching for information concerning a WWII B-24 bomber that was on display at the Gastonia Municipal Airport after the war for about 10 years.

In 1947 Gastonia businessman and community leader, Allen Sims — Sims Legion Park was named for him — bought a B-24 and donated it to the Gastonia Boy Scouts/ Air Scout troop, where Quinn’s father, Paul Quinn Sr. was a leader. Sims bought and donated the plane in memory of his son Albert who killed in WWII flying a B-24.

The plane was actually a C-109 tanker version of a B-24 with the gun turrets flared over with aluminum, but the bombardier’s lower window remained. The plane was flown into the Gastonia Municipal Airport and placed behind a chain link fence. Quinn’s dad had the key and he would take children out to the airport in the 50s and let them climb all over it.

Sometime in the late 50’s the plane was sold, made airworthy and flown out. The rumor, Quinn said, was someone bought it to haul fish in South America.

For many years Quinn has been searching for information about this airplane and so far been unsuccessful. His goal is to find pictures and tail number to build a model of it to donate to the Gastonia Airport or to the Gaston County Library, and to hopefully discover what happened to it.

Quinn is hoping that readers might be able to help with is search. He’d like people to send him information or photos they have of the plane.

The recent issue of Air Classics Magazine published a letter he wrote about the plane and he received a call from an aviation author in California, Nick Veronico, who is writing a book about WWII B-24 bombers that escaped the salvage yards and were sold to technical schools, Scout Troops, museums, collectors, etc. He, too, would like to know more about the Gastonia B-24.

Quinn sent The Gazette this photo that he copied from the book, “Hagerstown During WWII” by Kurtis Meyers.

“This could very well be the Gastonia B-24 as it is a C-109 tanker version of a B-24, which is the type plane Allen Sims bought and donated to the local Air Scouts,
wrote Quinn in an e-mail. “There were only a few hundred of these B-24/C-109 tanker conversions and many of those were painted with stripes on the nose, which were not on the Gastonia plane.

“I remember the Gastonia plane had a number painted on the nose and no other markings similar to the this one — as a child I would draw pictures of the plane.

In his e-mail, Quinn included a copy of his father’s 1946 Boy Scout Squadron 1 ID card.

Anyone with information can contact Paul Quinn via e-mail at or write him at 1185 Oakmont Drive, Lancaster, PA 17601.

Singapore: New airport terminal set to be built within this decade

SINGAPORE: Singapore's current Budget Terminal may be shifted to make way for a fourth terminal that analysts say is likely to take place closer to the end of the decade.

That is because once the ASEAN Open Skies agreement is in place by 2015, passenger traffic will likely grow by at least five per cent each year.

Analysts Channel NewsAsia spoke with said with the growth of passenger volume, comes the need for expansion.

Changi Airport's existing three terminals can accommodate about 70 million passengers annually, and passenger traffic this year is likely to exceed last year's 42 million.

Shukor Yusof, and aviation analyst with Standard & Poor's, said: "We still have some capacity with Terminal 3 still not being maximised yet, there's still a lot of room there.

"But beyond that, obviously there is going to be a need to expand the airport with the new terminal, given the increase in low cost travel, even in the expansion of new discount carriers in the region."

Given the economic uncertainties, the remaining capacity is likely to be taken up once the ASEAN Open Skies agreement kicks in, in 2015. The agreement will fully liberalise air travel between the grouping's 10-member states.

Mr Yusof said: "It will vary obviously because we are going into a very difficult period for the next, two, three years at least, because of the problems in Europe, in North America. But that being the case, there is still tremendous growth in this part of the world, and that's going to be increased in our opinion when 2015 Open Skies kicks into place, depending on how quickly countries in the region, in ASEAN react to that.

"The potential for that is huge, it could be anywhere between five to 10 per cent (growth) for some countries or even more than that, depending on how they exploit the possibilities of that happening.

"I think they will have to agree to whether they want to construct a new terminal when open skies kicks in in 2015, and then they will have an idea of how the traffic flow will be, and how the rest of the ASEAN developing as well, that will give them a sense of indication as well, how the market is going to be like.

"Certainly, I think there is no doubt that there will be a need for Terminal 4, beyond this decade. But if they do decide, then the construction will probably begin towards the later part of this decade, which is after 2015."

Gary Ho, senior lecturer of Aviation Management & Services at Temasek Polytechnic, said: "The philosophy at Changi is always build ahead of demand, so if you look at Terminal 3, that's how they built it. Our airport has always been sized, way before the need arises."

In March 2008, the Transport Ministry confirmed that Singapore will have a Terminal 4 at Changi Airport. This was mentioned in Parliament, just two months after the opening of Terminal 3 in January. Since then, authorities have been working on the master plan but little has been revealed about the details.

There have been talks that Terminal 4 is likely to be located on reclaimed land, along Changi Coast Road, near to runway three. But sources tell Channel NewsAsia that the area where the current Budget Terminal is located is another potential site.

Mr Yusof said: "It would be possible for them to do that, but then again, they would have to relocate the low cost terminal somewhere, so they would have to weigh that in their decision. I think anywhere within the boundaries of Changi within the proximity of the three terminals, would be an excellent choice because of the connectivity."

Mr Ho added: "If you look at the location of the current budget terminal, it is very small, you know you are constrained by the SATS Building, the Inflight Catering Centre, and you are also constrained by the golf course, and also some of the ancillary services. If you are going to build Terminal 4 there, you are actually building a terminal that is very constrained."

It is understood that if the Budget Terminal makes way for Terminal 4, all budget carriers will then operate out of Terminals 1 and 2.