Sunday, February 26, 2012

Karachi, Pakistan: Plan to buy aircraft for CM, governor

KARACHI, Feb 26: While there is no airworthy aircraft or helicopter available to the governor and the chief minister of Sindh since the expiry of a five-year warranty of the government aircraft a few months ago, the Sindh government is mulling different options to purchase a new one, it emerged on Sunday.

The decision to purchase an executive aircraft for the government was taken in the light of a report from Chief Pilot Officer Brig Salman who according to a reliable source informed the government that the warranty of airworthiness of ‘Learjet, which was purchased in November/December 2006, had already exhausted’.

The source on the condition of anonymity told Dawn that if kept in further use, the aircraft’s service charges, which used to be around Rs25 million a year, could increase six times. He explained that the replacement of defective parts was earlier the responsibility of its manufacturer, but after the expiry of warranty period it would have to be borne by the government.

The grounded aircraft with 4.5-foot height of stand-up cabin, which remained in use of the governor and the chief minister for a few years, could hardly fly up to Multan and the top executives could become stuck in case of bad weather, a team of ministers and senior officials were informed at a meeting held on Feb 15.

The source said that the chief minister had earlier constituted a body comprising Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Food Minister Nadir Khan Magsi, Civil Aviation Authority Director (Airworthiness), secretary to the chief minister, finance secretary and general administration secretary to invite bids from aircraft manufacturers and its authorized dealers, evaluate their offer, and prepare a summary with its recommendations.

At the recent meeting of the body, mainly three points were highlighted regarding the costs of aircraft.

The participants in the meeting were informed that if a new aircraft of the same size was purchased, the government would be required to pay at least four million dollars besides selling its old aircraft to its manufacturer for six million dollars. The new aircraft would cost around 12 million dollars, they were told.

But if offers were invited for its disposal from open market, the ‘Learjet’ could fetch between seven and eight million dollars.

However, in case the cabinet decides to go for a large aircraft, it would cost the government as much as 22 million dollars, the meeting was told.

In the light of these options, the committee invited offers from international bidders for a new executive jet with the minimum capacity of eight to 12 by April 5. The same day the offers would be opened in the presence of authorized representatives and agents, the source said.

However, he said, a final decision whether to purchase a new aircraft of the same size or a larger one would be made by the cabinet, because the committee would prepare a summary and submit it to the chief minister for his consideration and cabinet decision.

Asked about the fate of a Cessna aircraft, which also had been in the use of the governor and the chief minister in the past, the source said it had been grounded two and a half years back. Finally, the aircraft was sold to a Saudi company for 0.766 million dollars some 20 months back, he added.

He said the government of Punjab also had purchased a Cessna aircraft at the same time, but the Sindh government got a better offer. The Sindh government disposed of its aircraft for 0.766 million dollars though it had remained grounded for over two years, while the Punjab government could only fetch 0.6 million dollars from the sale of its Cessna aircraft when it was still airworthy.


About two helicopters, the source said both belonged to the Sindh Police but were not airworthy any longer. They were bought in 1992 from Dell company for Rs24 million. These helicopters remained in use for over 17 years for aerial surveillance of the law and order situation and for VIP movements. However, they have been grounded at the airport terminal for the past two and a half years.

Asked which helicopters and aircraft were used by the chief executive and other dignitaries for aerial view of the flood-hit areas of Sindh, the source said they were acquired from the army and the civil aviation against payment of the charges as per their rules.

In reply to another question, he said even if the government got a good offer, and acceptable to the cabinet, the process from signing the agreement and delivery of the aircraft would take eight to nine months and as such only the next elected government would be able to use the new facility.

He also recalled that the decision to purchase new aircraft for the government was taken over two years back, but it could not materialise due to changed priorities because of a state of emergency declared following the recent years floods and unprecedented rains in Sindh.

There are many airports, but airports lack many things

VietNamNet Bridge – “Cranky” and “lacking everything” are the words used to describe the current situation of Phu Cat airport in Binh Dinh, Cam Ranh airport in Khanh Hoa and Chu Lai airport in Quang Nam province. This explains why the airports keep quiet all year round.

It was very gloomy at the Phu Cat airport in the afternoon. There was only one flight from HCM City to Phu Cat – an ATR72 with just 48 passengers. It got noisy when the passengers got out of the aircraft and followed necessary procedures at the airport. However, it got quiet again very quickly after the passengers left.

Tran Van Trien, Director of the Phu Cat airport, said that this was one of the most bustling days. In 2011, the number of passengers going through the airport increased to 220,000, while the figure was 80.000 only four years ago.

The airport that cannot serve night flights

Currently, the Phu Cat airport has five flights a day, including four on Phu Cat – HCM City – Phu Cat route, and one on Phu Cat – Hanoi – Phu Cat with ATR72, A320,and A321.

Established in 1976 under the name of Quy Nhon airport, in 2004, the airport, which then changed the name into Phu Cat built a terminal with the capacity of 300 passengers per hour. With the capacity, the terminal can only serve two flights at the same time.

“In the conditions of bad weather, like on the days just before Tet, when four flights tried to land at the same time, the terminal could not serve,” Trien said.

Also according to Trien, the airport now has 10 square kilometers contiguous to a residential quarter. Since there is no fence, animals sometimes enter the airport to “walk” on the runway. Some days ago, an officer even discovered a herd of dogs on the runway when an airplane was going to take off.

While the airport is still poorly equipped, the Binh Dinh provincial authorities still keep a long term vision about the importance of the airport.

“We have proposed the Ministry of Transport to instruct to develop the airport into an international airport,” said Le Huu Loc, Chair of Binh Dinh province.

Lacking everything

Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang has pointed out that the Cam Ranh airport in Khanh Hoa, which is now one of the five international airports in Vietnam, is still lacking many things in accordance with ICAO standards. It lacks fire trucks, has no water pumping vehicles, has no fresh water, the runway has been degrading, has no foreign exchange counter, and has no fixed international routes.

There are only two fire trucks at the airport which are just enough to extinguish fire for small aircraft, while there is no truck for bigger aircraft.

A representative of Anh Duong Company, which specializes in bringing Russian travelers to Vietnam, said that the company once intended to carry travelers with big aircrafts such as Boeing 777. However, as the Cam Ranh airport does not have conditions to receive the aircraft, it had to carry passengers with smaller aircraft.

Cam Ranh now consumes 100 cubic meters of fresh water every day, but there is no clean water supply system there. The water has been pumped from the three wells and no one can be sure about the quality of the water.

Drive buffalo's away before aircraft land

There are special officers working for the Chu Lai airport in Quang Nam province. As there is no fence that separates the airport and the residential quarters, buffalo's usually “visit” the airport without any obstacles. Therefore, the airport has to ask its officers to be present at the runway. The officers’ duty is to drive buffalos away to prepare for aircraft to land or take off.

Nigeria: Bill Of Rights To Tackle Mounting Flight Delays

Perturbed by the frequency of delayed flights and sometimes outright cancellations by local airlines in Nigeria, often without explanations to passengers, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said that a new regulation that will guide issues pertaining to consumer protection and rights will soon be gazetted.

The air transport regulation termed “Bill of Rights” is in the final stages and only requires the regulatory authority to convey a stakeholders’ forum where the general public would have the opportunity to debate its provisions as well as make inputs.

LEADERSHIP findings showed that, globally, flights could be delayed due to technical reason, that is, if the aircraft has a minor fault that has to be fixed. Other reasons are bad weather, crowded skies, delay in issuing the pilot clearance to take off and, sometimes, when a passenger is not available at take-off time. However, in any of these cases, the airlines normally explain the cause(s) of the delay to passengers.

But this is not the case at the nation’s airports as passengers are kept for hours without any explanations from the airlines.

An air traveller who identified himself simply as Peter said he was so disgusted with the treatment he got from an airline that he has decided not to travel with that airline in future.

According to him, he bought a ticket online and, on getting to the airport for the scheduled flight, the airline kept shelving his travel time until he was finally able to travel with the last flight instead of the morning flight.

Also, Mrs. Fumi Alana, another air traveller, said because of the unreliability of airlines’ flight schedule she has learnt to plan her trips in such a way that she travels with the first flight in order to ensure the success of any event she is working on.

Air travellers have also complained that airlines are not acting responsibly towards them in terms of adequate compensations and refunds. Mr. Sam Adurogboye, spokesman for NCAA, exclusively told LEADERSHIP that NCAA was concerned about issues relating to customer service of airlines and has set up a consumer protection unit (CPU) which currently oversees complaints by travellers, pending the signing of the Bill of Rights into law. He said the CPU acts based on reports from travellers and has so far been effective in settling issues of lost baggage, refunds for cancelled flights, among others. He said the CPU acts based on complaints brought by consumers.

However, Captain Dele Ore, an aviation lawyer and consultant, said the existing regulations were adequate to ensure the protection of customer rights.

But the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said the over-ambition of airline operators, like wanting to have a big network of routes, was a major cause of flight delays in Nigeria.

Speaking in an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP at the weekend in Abuja, the regional general manager, North-Central, Mr. Chris Bature, said that the incessant delay in flights and outright cancellations, at times by airline operators, can be attributed to over-ambition by operators without the necessary wherewithal to sustain their operations.

Bature said, “Some airlines want to cover a large area when they do not have the capacity to sustain it; they do not have enough aircraft and skilled staff to carter for the routes, because route planning is a very cumbersome and difficult thing to do because once a flight is delayed in one destination, it will affect the arrival and estimated take-off time in other destinations.”

The RGM further said that the delay in flights stretches the facilities provided for a specified number of people by the airport authority.

“Aircraft delay is worrisome in the sense that it impacts not only on customers/travelers but also impacts on economic, social and cultural activities. It also impacts and stretches the facilities provided by the airport authority. The airports are designated for a particular number of people.

“For example, the international wing of the NnamdiAzikiwe International Airport, Abuja, was designed to accommodate 500 people per hour, but due to delays in flight the hall has over 1,500 to 2,000 per hour. This stretches the cooling system, the sitting space and the conveniences in the airport,” he added.

Bature revealed that a committee has been set up to specifically look at reasons for the incessant delays of flights and proffer solutions for better service delivery.

Another source at the airlines regulatory body, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), who begged for anonymity, said that the organisation had stepped in from time to time to get justice for disgruntled customers.

She said, “There are instances where we have forced airline operators to lodge customers in hotels when they cancel flights at night and at times customers have been refunded their monies or given a bonus in some cases where their flights were delayed.”

She said that it was not always easy to sanction operators because most of the reasons for the flight delays are often technical reasons or weather-related, which are inevitable.

PHOTO: Frontier Airlines Airbus A320-200, N216FR: Bird Strike - St. Louis International Airport

Photo courtesy of Kate Martin. Twitter @KateReports

DENVER — A Frontier Airlines flight from St. Louis, Missouri to Denver had to turn around and make an emergency landing after an apparent bird strike early Sunday morning.

According to St. Louis International Airport spokesman Jeff Lee, just after 6 a.m. Flight 297 struck a flock of birds on takeoff out of St. Louis.

The plane quickly turned around and the 58 passengers on board were placed on the next available flight.

A Frontier spokesperson says the aircraft is currently out of service for repairs.

RAW VIDEO: WestJet flight makes emergency landing in Abbotsford

Emergency crews were called to Abbotsford International Airport on Friday night after a WestJet flight with 93 passengers on board had a problem with its flaps.

The Boeing 737, en route from Toronto to Kelowna, landed in Abbotsford at about 10:15 p.m. without incident.

WestJet spokesperson Robert Palmer said the flaps were stuck in a partially deployed position. The pilot decided to divert to Abbotsford because it has a longer runway.

The plane was taken out of service, and passengers were placed on another plane, which departed for Kelowna at about 12:15 a.m.

The cause is under investigation.

Aviation regulator flies off the handle

The Government agency responsible for air traffic control around Australia has responded vigorously to a media report claiming that a delay in upgrading equipment at Gold Coast Airport was endangering lives.

Chief Executive of Airservices Australia, Greg Russell labelled the Gold Coast Bulletin’s report “sensationalist, inaccurate and unhelpful”.

Mr Russell said the Gold Coast airport was operating safely.

“Irresponsible speculation on this point risks damaging confidence in the airport and the local economy which relies on the business and tourism benefits it delivers,” Mr Russell said.

Media reports criticized

He said Airservices Australia was working closely with the airport and the aviation industry to progress the installation of an instrument landing system (ILS) at the airport.

He said sufficient funds had been allocated for the project to proceed as soon as possible.

“As each ILS installation is site-specific, detailed engineering, technical and airspace design work is required to ensure the installed equipment delivers the best possible outcome for the airport, aircraft operators and the community,” Mr Russell said.

“Community consultation will also be required beforehand if the installation of an ILS results in flight path changes.”

Mr Russell said Airservices was already investing heavily at Gold Coast and other regional airports around the country.

“We are close to completing a $2.3 million refurbishment of the Gold Coast air traffic control tower and our aviation fire station at the airport has also undergone an upgrade,” Mr Russell said.

“It is equipped with brand new Mk8s ultra-large fire vehicles and a new digital Fire Control Centre.

“Readers can be assured that Airservices is fully committed to continual upgrading of its facilities at the airport in line with the growth in passenger traffic being experienced,” Mr Russell said.

NEW YORK: Oswego County to pay $10,000 for service from Onondaga County sheriff's rescue helicopter

Syracuse, N.Y. -- State law requires Onondaga County to send its helicopter to neighboring counties when there’s an emergency. But those counties are not obligated to pay for the service, which costs the county an estimated $30,000 a year.

Now Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh and the county legislators are asking the other counties to pay up.

The sheriff has been looking for other ways to pay for the helicopter, which costs $595,000 a year, since last year. That’s when legislators and County Executive Joanie Mahoney decided not to give him money for the helicopter, called Air 1. If the sheriff wants to keep such an expensive operation running, he’d have to find the money, himself, they said.

“We’re hoping other counties will see the value in making sure that we are able to continue to come,” Walsh said.

His department also has set up a nonprofit foundation and raised $50,000 through that. And it plans to raise about a third of the budget this year by charging for medical transportation. The department received a special FAA license last month so it can charge patients for medical transportation. But it still needs another piece of paperwork from the state Department of Health before it can begin billing, Walsh said.

He’s also looking into the idea of selling the helicopter’s naming rights.

Right now, Air 1 is out of service for about six weeks while its engine is being overhauled. That will cost between $300,000 and $400,000. The county is using seized drug money to pay that bill, Walsh said.

Oswego County Sheriff Reuel A. Todd said his county doesn’t want to see the helicopter disappear, so he asked legislators to commit $10,000 a year. The estimated cost of rescue calls to Oswego County was $8,966 a year for about 13 trips.

“I really feel that we need it,” Todd said. He said Thursday’s rescue of a man and dog who fell through the ice on Oneida Lake could easily have turned into a situation where they needed the Air 1 to pull the man out.

Oswego County will be the first county to have a contract with Onondaga County for Air 1. Cayuga County has been giving the county $5,000 a year for the past 10 years without an agreement, Walsh said. The money had been for the different kinds of mutual aid Onondaga County gives to Cayuga County. Now, Walsh said, that money will go specifically to fund Air 1.

Walsh said he’s spoken with the sheriffs and emergency managers for the 13 counties that call Air-1 into use, asking them for help. He’s uncertain how many will be able to give money to Onondaga County. They have to ask their legislatures and county executives for the cash.

The Onondaga County Legislature will discuss the Oswego County contract Monday during its Ways and Means committee meeting. Legislator Kevin Holmquist, head of the county legislature’s public safety committee, said the county is working on minor details of the Oswego contract so it likely won’t be finished this month.

He said the money Oswego and other counties pay will probably be held in escrow accounts. That way, the payments could be rolled over to use the following year if the neighboring counties don’t use Air 1’s services as much as expected.

“We’re not looking to make money off this,” Holmquist said.

Rolls-Royce Looks Poised For Continued Success

The group’s civil aerospace division supplies engines for 30 types of commercial aircraft and contributes about a third of its operating profits.

Its marine division provides power and propulsion systems for offshore oil and gas, merchant and naval vessels and contributes a similar proportion of profits, while defence, the world’s second largest provider of defence aero-engine products, generates just under a third of the firm’s earnings.

Although relatively small in terms of group profits, Rolls-Royce’s energy division is a world leader in onshore and offshore oil and gas, while building its civil nuclear capabilities.

The group’s civil aerospace division supplies engines for 30 types of commercial aircraft and contributes about a third of its operating profits

The company’s recent full-year results showed record revenues, profits and orders and illustrated the solid pillars on which Rolls-Royce’s success is built.

First, it has established excellent diversification in the markets in which it operates. Second, Rolls-Royce has worked hard to develop its after-sales business. Its civil division sells 90 per cent of new engines under long-term contracts. Third, its civil aerospace exposure is skewed towards wide-body planes rather than the narrow-body planes which competitors serve. These larger jets have wider profit margins and more stable order backlogs.

While there are several factors that could damage the company’s prospects, such as greater than expected defence cuts, Rolls-Royce has a great fundamental story. The combination of a good balance sheet, a growing dividend, solid management and a reasonable valuation has led to the excellent recent share price performance.

Mooney M20E Super 21, Niclan Corp., N9224M: Accident occurred February 26, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA170 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 26, 2012 in San Antonio, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/13/2014
Aircraft: MOONEY M20E, registration: N9224M
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

After takeoff, when the airplane was about 200 feet above ground level, the tower controller noticed the airplane in a right turn and instructed the pilot to make a left turn to the northeast. An incomplete radio call from the pilot indicated he was turning back. The controller saw the airplane flying southwest at a low altitude and shortly thereafter saw a cloud of black smoke about 1/2 mile south of the airport. Two other witnesses saw the airplane suddenly roll to the right and enter a nose-down dive, indicative of a stall. Evidence at the scene showed that the airplane impacted terrain in a nose-down attitude and came to rest inverted. There was a postimpact explosion and fire.

Based on the pilot's lack of previous experience in flying an airplane with a turbocharged engine, and the evidence of detonation found in the postaccident examination of the engine, it is likely that the pilot inadvertently overboosted the engine during takeoff and initial climb, which resulted in a partial loss of engine power. Based on the sudden change of flight direction, it is likely that the pilot became preoccupied with the partial loss of engine power and lost control of the airplane. The instructor should have been able to successfully complete an emergency off-field landing, but it does not appear that he attempted one.

This instructor had been using a series of psychotropic medications, culminating in his use of paroxetine, which would have been disqualifying for him to act as a required flight crewmember. Major depression itself is associated with significant cognitive degradation, particularly in executive functioning. While the exact degree of impairment from the instructor's incompletely controlled depression and his use of impairing medications at the time of the accident is impossible to determine, it is likely that there was some impairment in cognitive functioning as a result of his uncontrolled depression. Further, the instructor had sleep apnea, and that, combined with his recent use of sedating medications, chronic pain, and depression may well have contributed to his failure to take control of the airplane and conduct an emergency of-field landing after the partial loss of engine power.

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

The pilot's inadvertent overboost of the turbocharged engine during initial climb, which resulted in detonation and a partial loss of engine power followed by the pilot's failure to maintain airspeed and the instructor's delayed remedial action, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the instructor's improper judgment in acting as a pilot with disqualifying medical conditions and while taking impairing medications.


On February 26, 2012, about 1709 central standard time, a Mooney M20E airplane, N9224M, impacted terrain during initial climb after departure from Stinson Municipal Airport (SSF), San Antonio, Texas. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and the pilot were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Niclan Corporation, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed SSF at 1707, and was destined for Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas.

The pilot was cleared for takeoff to the southeast from runway 14 with instructions to turn left to the northeast because of traffic approaching the airport from the south. After takeoff, when the airplane was about 200 feet above ground level (agl), the SSF tower controller noticed the airplane in a right turn and again instructed the pilot to make a left turn to the northeast. An incomplete radio comment from the pilot indicated he was turning back. The controller saw the airplane flying southwest bound at a low altitude and shortly thereafter saw a cloud of black smoke about 1/2 mile south of SSF.

One witness was watching the airplane while it was turning to the right. He saw the wing of the airplane then suddenly roll sharply to the right and the airplane pointed about 45 degrees nose-down and the airplane went into a dive. A second witness heard sputtering, looked up and saw the airplane as it banked to one side and dove toward the ground. A third witness also heard sputtering and then heard the sounds of a crash and an explosion.

Evidence at the scene showed the airplane impacted terrain in a nose-down attitude and came to rest inverted. There was a postimpact explosion and fire.


Certified Flight Instructor

The CFI, age 63, held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane single and multiengine land, airplane single engine sea, glider, and instrument airplane ratings. He held a type rating for CE-500. In addition, he held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single and multiengine, glider, and instrument airplane privileges. He was issued a second class airman medical certificate, with limitations, on February 3, 2012.

The CFI's pilot logbook was not available for examination; however on his most recent medical certificate application he reported that he had logged 20,825 hours of total flight experience; with about 120 of those hours in the previous six months. No other records of the CFI's flight experience were available. For most of the time following his retirement from military service the CFI had been working full-time as a flight instructor, with most of that activity at SSF. The CFI was known to usually fly from the right cockpit seat any time there was another pilot in the cockpit, who would be flying from the left cockpit seat.


The pilot, age 54, held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single land. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate, with limitations, on September 17, 2010.

The damaged parts of the pilot's logbook that were found in the wreckage showed that he had 209.1 hours of total flight experience in airplane single engine land. 127.5 of those hours were in complex airplanes, and about 110 hours were logged as flight instruction received. There was no evidence that the pilot had ever before flown an airplane with a turbocharged engine.

The pilot, who was a law enforcement officer, had recently been receiving that flight instruction from the CFI in order to earn his instrument airplane rating and a commercial pilot certificate. Of the most recent 45 flights in the logbook, 29 of the flights were logged as flight instruction received from the CFI. Most of those flights were in a similar Mooney M20C and included the pilot's most recent flight review which was completed on June 6, 2011.


The four-seat, low-wing, retractable landing gear, single engine airplane, serial number (s/n) 1183, was manufactured in 1966. It was equipped with a 200-horsepower Lycoming model IO-360-A1A engine, serial number L-2509-51A, which drove an MT-Propeller, model MTV-12-B/180-59B, 3-blade wood composite propeller.

The engine had been modified with a turbo-normalizer system manufactured by M-20 Turbos, Inc., which was installed on July 21, 2009, under FAA Supplemental Type Certificate Number SE01643AT and SA01642AT.

The airplane had been modified by the installation of a redesigned pilot's and co-pilot's instrument panel equipped with a Garmin G500 dual screen Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multifunction Display (MFD); Aspen EFD 1000 Pro Flight Display; Avidyne WSI AV300 Datalink Receiver; J.P. Instruments EDM-930, Engine Data Monitoring System; a back-up electric attitude indicator; and other modifications. The airplane was also equipped with an S-TEC 30 autopilot.

A review of the airframe logbooks and engine logbooks showed that the most recent entry was made on September 1, 2011, with entries certifying that an annual inspection had been completed at 6,343.2 total aircraft hours and 6,343.2 total engine hours since new. The total time since major overhaul for the engine was listed as 980.1 hours. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records show the airplane had been registered to the current owner since March 6, 1998.


The automated weather observation station at SSF, issued at 1653, reported wind from 170 degrees at 8 knots, visibility of 10 miles, overcast clouds at 3,400 feet above ground level, temperature 17 degrees C, dew point temperature 10 degrees C, with an altimeter setting of 30.04 inches of mercury.


At 1653:30, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) contacted the SSF Federal Contract Tower (FCT) controller and advised he was ready to taxi with information Romeo

At 1653:47, the controller responded

At 1653:51, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) advised he was VFR and going to T82

At 1653:59, the controller issued taxi instructions to runway 14

At 1654:06, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) responded he was taxiing to runway 14

At 1654:16, N9224M (voice identified as the CFI) requested flight following, and during the next minute there were several exchanges between the controller and N9224M (voice identified as the CFI)

At 1706:51, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) advised ready for takeoff runway 14

At 1706:58, the controller instructed N9224M to "turn left northeast bound" and gave clearance for takeoff

At 1707:06, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) responded he was departing runway 14 and was turning northeast bound

At 1708:46, the controller instructed N9224M " … ah left turn to ah northeast"

At 1708:59, N9224M (voice identified as the pilot) said "mooney nine two two four turning back for รข¦ " (there was a change in the sense of urgency noted in the voice of the pilot and the end of the transmission was cut off)

No further communications from N9224M were received.

At 1709:04, the controller said "mooney two four mike traffic a mile southwest of the airport cessna entering right downwind"

FAA Air Traffic Control radar showed at total of four returns from N9224M. The first two radar returns at 1708:32 and 1708:41 had altitude data at 800 feet. The last two returns at 1708:46 and 1708:55 had no altitude data.


The airplane impacted in a flat unimproved field. The debris trail from the main crater led on a direction of 330 degrees for 57 feet to the main wreckage. The wreckage came to rest in an inverted position with the nose of the airplane oriented to about 360 degrees. All major components of the airplane were observed at the accident scene.

The initial impact ground scars were 44 feet wide from tip to tip and showed the airplane impacted terrain in a partially inverted mostly nose down attitude with the end of the right wing oriented to about 190 degrees and broken pieces of green glass in the area corresponding to the impact with the right wing tip. The ground scar corresponding to the end of the left wing was oriented to about 010 degrees. The main crater corresponding to the impact from the propeller was deeper than the other portions of the ground scars and contained portions of a broken propeller blade.

The engine was separated from the engine mounts and came to rest upright. All three of the wood composite propeller blades were separated from the hub and were found at the scene. Two of the propeller blades displayed chordwise smearing and impact gouging on the leading edges, the third propeller blade was fragmented into smaller pieces which prevented examination of the blade faces.

The non-steel parts of the fuselage were almost completely consumed by fire. The right wing was observed inverted with impact compression damage all along the leading edge. About three feet of the outermost leading edge was crushed aft at about a 20 degree angle. The left wing was separated from the fuselage and had flipped to an upright position with similar impact compression damage all along the leading edge. Both ailerons remained attached to their hinge points and the flaps were still attached or partially attached to the trailing edges of both wings. Both fuel caps were observed still attached.

The empennage and about 5 feet of the tail cone were resting on its right side with the left horizontal stabilizer pointing up nearly vertical. The vertical stabilizer was nearly parallel to the ground. The right horizontal stabilizer was bent up and inboard, nearly parallel to the vertical stabilizer. The elevator and rudder remained attached at their hinge points and the empennage remained attached to the tail cone. There was a compression bending crease at about a 45 degrees angle across the left side of the tail cone forward of the tail cone aft bulkhead. The elevator trim tab was observed to be near a cruise trim setting.

The right main landing gear was in the retracted position in the right wing with part of the middle gear door still attached. The left main landing gear and the nose wheel were broken and separated.

Aileron control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to the right aileron where the pushrods were impact broken and separated from the bellcrank and aileron. Aileron control continuity was also confirmed from the cockpit to the left aileron. Rudder and elevator control continuity were confirmed from the control surfaces to the tail cone, but could not be confirmed to the cockpit due to the impact and fire damage. All control surface counterweights were observed at the scene.

The main cabin door was located beneath debris near the right wing root and all locking pins were in the extended position. Two AMSAFE Aviation Inflatable Restraint system inflator bottles were observed in the wreckage. Due to fire and heat damage it could not be determined whether or not they may have discharged at impact.

The postaccident examination of the airframe revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

After documentation at the scene, the engine was removed and examined separately. The engine exhibited impact damage and exposure to heat and fire. The propeller hub remained attached to the flange on the crankshaft. The magnetos and ignition harness were fire damaged and could not be tested. The oil sump was breached by fire. All of the rear accessories were damaged and partially consumed by fire. The valve covers and the top sparkplugs were removed. The spark plugs appeared clean and had a very clean bead blasted appearance. The gaps on the fine wire electrodes were observed pushed closed on the top number two and top number three spark plugs.

The crankshaft was rotated by hand and thumb compression was established on all cylinders. Engine drive train continuity was confirmed throughout. The cylinders were borescope inspected and signs of detonation were noted with a bead blasted clean appearance. The number one and number three cylinders were removed to facilitate photos of the cylinder heads and pistons. Three of the fuel injectors were removed; one injector was captured by molten material. One injector was found free of debris, and the other two were blocked by what appeared to be carbonized oil from exposure to heat. The fuel flow divider was opened and no anomalies were noted, other than heat damage to the diaphragm. The fuel servo showed signs of heat deformation and the servo inlet screen was captured by molten material. The oil pickup screen was found free of debris.

The turbo-normalizer system was examined. The turbocharger was deformed by heat and the impeller was seized with molten aluminum. The absolute pressure relief valve (pop-off valve) was also heat damaged and could not be moved. The turbocharger housing and pipe clamps were intact.


Certified Flight Instructor

An autopsy was performed on the CFI by the Bexar County Office of the Medical Examiner in San Antonio, Texas. The cause of death was listed as multiple traumatic injuries.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the CFI by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Aeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The toxicology report stated: NO CARBON MONOXIDE detected in Blood; NO CYANIDE detected in Blood; NO ETHANOL detected in Urine.

The following additional findings were noted:

Amlodipine detected in Urine
Amlodipine detected in Blood
Azacyclonol detected in Urine
Azacyclonol NOT detected in Blood
Fexofenadine detected in Urine
Fexofenadine detected in Blood
Paroxetine detected in Urine
Paroxetine NOT detected in Blood
0.116 (ug/mL, ug/g) Tramadol detected in Blood
Tramadol detected in Urine

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chief Medical Officer reviewed the factual report narrative, the autopsy report, the toxicology results, the CFI's FAA airman medical certification file, and the CFI's personal medical records.

FAA records showed the CFI was first issued an airman medical certificate in 1987. In 1990 he reported a hospital admission for "hypertitis" and having previously had a negative evaluation for hematuria. On that visit, a heart murmur was detected but the pilot reported it had previously been evaluated. On a FAA airman medical certificate application in 1993 he denied taking any medications and reported having previously had surgery on a knee and shoulder. He was granted a first class medical certificate, limited by the need to wear corrective lenses. In 1997 he reported to the FAA that he had had his tonsils removed but in 1998 he recorded the procedure as a "UPPP" which stands for uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. This is a surgical procedure performed on the posterior parts of the throat to limit snoring, usually on patients diagnosed with sleep apnea. There is no record of any further evaluation by the FAA and the CFI did not report a diagnosis of sleep apnea.

In 2006, the CFI reported treatment for hypertension and after he supplied additional information about his cardiovascular condition, he was issued a second class airman medical certificate. The CFI continued to be medically certificated and his last FAA airman medical exam was performed on February 2, 2012. At that time he reported taking Lotrel for his hypertension (a combination medication containing amlodipine and benazepril). His blood pressure was measured at 129/78.

The toxicology testing revealed amlodipine in urine and cavity blood; fexofenadine (a non-sedating antihistamine marketed under the trade name Allegra) in urine and blood and its metabolite azacyclonol in urine; paroxetine (an antidepressant marketed under the trade name Paxil) in urine but not in blood; and tramadol (an opioid pain medication marketed under the trade name Ultram) in urine and in cavity blood at 0.116ug/ml.

A review of the CFI's personal medical records revealed the following diagnoses: sleep apnea, (treated with surgery in 1996 but reportedly requiring the use of a CPAP machine), nasal allergies, hypertension, gout, chronic joint pain, esophageal reflux, prostatism, depression, and anxiety.

The medical records demonstrate the most current prescriptions prior to the accident for tamulosin (used to improve urine flow in men with prostatism, marketed under the trade name Flomax), tramadol (a opioid pain medication that is a schedule II controlled substance and is marketed under the trade name Ultram), meloxicam (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesic, marketed under the trade name Mobic), esomeprazole (heartburn medication marketed under the trade name Nexium), allopurinol (increases the excretion of uric acid and is used to prevent attacks of gout, marketed under the trade name Zyloprim), finasteride (used to improve urine flow in men with prostatism, marketed under the trade name Proscar), and paroxetine (an antidepressant marketed under the trade name Paxil).

The CFI's personal medical records showed he had been treated with tramadol once or twice daily since at least 2009 but continued to report chronic pain. In addition, in May, 2011, the CFI reported feeling depressed and was prescribed sertraline (an antidepressant marketed under the trade name Zoloft). In August 2011, the prescription was switched from sertraline to paroxetine (Paxil). His personal medical records showed the CFI had been intermittently treated with paroxetine at least as early as 2007. In September, 2011, the CFI reported to his primary care doctor that his depression was incompletely treated and that he was having trouble concentrating. He requested and received an increase in his paroxetine dosing. Although the CFI visited his primary care doctor, his urologist, and a rheumatologist in the ensuing months, there is no record of that any of his physicians addressed the status of his depression after September, 2011.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Bexar County Office of the Medical Examiner in San Antonio, Texas. The cause of death was listed as massive traumatic injuries.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA, Aeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The toxicology report stated: NO CARBON MONOXIDE detected in Blood; NO CYANIDE detected in Blood; NO ETHANOL detected in Urine. The following additional findings were noted: NO DRUGS listed above detected in Urine.

The NTSB Chief Medical Officer reviewed the factual report narrative, the autopsy report, the toxicology results, and the pilot's FAA airman medical certification file.

FAA records showed the pilot was first issued an FAA airman medical certificate in 1977. He was continuously certified through 1983, then again in 1991. He did not report any medical problems or medications on any of those airman medical certificate applications. He reapplied for medical certification in 2010, when he reported hypertension and high cholesterol with the use of lisinopril (a blood pressure medication marketed under the trade name Prinivil) and simvastatin (a cholesterol lowering agent marketed under the trade name Zocor). The pilot's most recent third class airman medical certificate was granted on September 17, 2010. The autopsy found no significant natural disease was identified by the pathologist.


Several impact damage and fire damaged items which may have contained non-volatile memory (NVM) were removed from the wreckage and were examined at the NTSB vehicle recorder division in Washington, D.C. The items examined included a: Garmin GTS 800 Traffic Advisory System; Garmin G500 dual screen PFD and MFD; Garmin GNS430 GPS/Nav/Comm unit; JPI EDM-930 engine data monitor, Apple iPhone, and a Digital Camera.
No data was recovered from any of the units examined.


According to the FAA Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, page 6-14: "On most modern turbocharged engines, the position of the waste gate is governed by a pressure-sensing control mechanism (which is) is automatically positioned to produce the desired MAP simply by changing the position of the throttle control. Other turbocharging system designs use a separate manual control to position the waste gate. With manual control, the manifold pressure gauge must be closely monitored to determine when the desired MAP has been achieved. Manual systems … require special operating considerations … it is possible to produce a manifold pressure that exceeds the engine's limitations. (an overboost in pressure) may produce severe detonation ... To help prevent overboosting, advance the throttle cautiously to prevent exceeding the maximum manifold pressure limits."

According to the FAA Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, page 6-19: "Detonation is an uncontrolled, explosive ignition of the fuel/air mixture within the cylinder's combustion chamber. It causes excessive temperatures and pressures which, if not corrected, can quickly lead to failure of the piston, cylinder, or valves. In less severe cases, detonation causes engine overheating, roughness, or loss of power … Preignition occurs when the fuel/air mixture ignites prior to the engine's normal ignition event. Premature burning is usually caused by a residual hot spot in the combustion chamber, often created by a small carbon deposit on a spark plug, a cracked spark plug insulator, or other damage in the cylinder that causes a part to heat sufficiently to ignite the fuel/air charge. Preignition causes the engine to lose power, and produces high operating temperature. As with detonation, preignition may also cause severe engine damage, because the expanding gases exert excessive pressure on the piston while still on its compression stroke. Detonation and preignition often occur simultaneously and one may cause the other. "

According to the FAA Airframe & Powerplant Mechanics Powerplant Handbook; AC 65-12A, Chapter 10: "Unless detonation is heavy, there is no cockpit evidence of its presence. Light to medium detonation may not cause noticeable roughness, observable cylinder head or oil temperature increase, or loss of power. However, when an engine has experienced detonation, we see evidence of it at teardown as indicated by dished piston heads, collapsed valve heads, broken ring lands or eroded portions of valves, pistons and cylinder heads. Severe detonation can cause a rough-running engine and high cylinder head temperature.'

"According to the Champion Aerospace Aviation Service Manual; AV6-4, page 10: "The affect of (detonation) will sometimes damage spark plug electrodes or crack the insulator core nose."

The FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual, Chapter 8, contains the following instructions regarding fitness for flight: "CAUTION- The CFRs prohibit a pilot who possesses a current medical certificate from performing crewmember duties while the pilot has a known medical condition or increase of a known medical condition that would make the pilot unable to meet the standards for the medical certificate." In addition: pilots are prohibited from "performing crewmember duties while using any medication that affects the faculties in any way contrary to safety."

According to 49 C.F.R. 61.53, Prohibition on operations during medical deficiency ; "no person … may act as … pilot in command, or in any other capacity as a required pilot flight crewmember, while that person: (1) Knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make the person unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation; or (2) Is taking medication or receiving other treatment for a medical condition that results in the person being unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation."

The manager of the fixed base operator (FBO) provided records showing they had refueled the airplane about 1125 on the morning of the day of the accident. The main tanks of the airplane had been "topped-off" with 19.3 gallons of 100LL aviation gasoline from the FBO's 100LL avgas fuel truck (Truck #2). He also reported that immediately following the accident the FBO had stopped fuel sales and quarantined the truck. The manager took fuel samples from the truck and performed a "white bucket test". He reported that the fuel was the correct blue color and was clear and bright. He also performed a "white paper test" and the fuel evaporated in about 30 seconds with no residue or stain. Both tests showed that the fuel had no contamination from water, or foreign particles. During both tests the smell and feel of the fuel showed that there was not contamination from jet fuel or diesel fuel. The manager reported that the FBO lifted the quarantine after the satisfactory fuel quality tests were completed. On the next day the manager repeated the "white bucket test" and the "white paper test" under the direct supervision of an FAA inspector. Those fuel quality tests were also satisfactory.

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA170

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 26, 2012 in San Antonio, TX
Aircraft: MOONEY M20E, registration: N9224M
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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 February 26, 2012, about 1709 central standard time, a Mooney M20E airplane, N9224M, impacted terrain during departure from Stinson Municipal Airport (SSF), San Antonio, Texas. The airline transport pilot and the private pilot rated passenger were fatally injured. There was a postimpact fire and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Niclan Corporation, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed SSF at 1707, and was destined for Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas.

A preliminary review of the air traffic control communications from the SSF air traffic control tower revealed the pilot made an incomplete radio call about 1708 that he was going to turn back. The air traffic controller saw the airplane flying southwest bound at a low altitude and shortly thereafter saw a cloud of black smoke about one mile south of SSF.

The air traffic controller activated the crash phone. A police department helicopter responded quickly and took airborne video of the aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) units as they arrived and extinguished the fire.

SAN ANTONIO -  The Federal Aviation Administration is still looking into what caused a single-plane engine to crash near Stinson Airfield Sunday afternoon.

Police on Sunday said the pilot was trying to turn back toward the airport just after take-off, when the plane crashed around 5:30 p.m.

Both people inside died.

That type of turn is what pilots call the "impossible turn."

"This seems to fit in the category of something pilots are taught not to do," Charles Tetlow, a commercial pilot who is training to instruct pilots, said on Monday.

Tetlow said he doesn’t know exactly what the pilot was doing at the time of the crash on Sunday, but he said pilots are typically taught to look for an open area ahead of them.

"It's a very dangerous situation when you're down close to the ground and if you have an engine problems and you're not getting power. Most of the time, the aircraft can't turn around and make it back to the airport," he said.

Tetlow also said the Mooney, the type of plane that crashed Sunday, can be difficult to fly.

“The Mooney is a high-performance aircraft and it typically takes a little more skill and it typically has to be flown at higher speeds, so that does get some pilots in trouble,” he said.

The identities of the two people on board have not been released.

The plane was registered to Niclan Corp. in Seguin.

SAN ANTONIO -  An airplane that took off from Stinson Airfield late Sunday afternoon crashed, killing two people on board, officials said.

The pilot for some reason decided to turn around shortly after take-off around 5:30 p.m.

"From what I understand, the airplane took off from Stinson, was headed toward Fredericksburg, and for some reason or another, made a U-turn, was attempting to come back to Stinson and it crash landed in the field behind us," said Lt. Chris Benavides with the San Antonio Police Department.

Lorenzo Viera says he saw the plane, a Mooney M20, on fire in the air, and smoke billowed from the single-engine aircraft just before it crash-landed in an isolated field about a half mile from the runway.

"I just saw the airplane going out of control, a lot of smoke coming out in the back."

Officials said the plane came to rest about a quarter mile from an apartment complex, but no one else was hurt.

Still, the crash largely remains a mystery as the FAA and NTSB are on the scene to investigate.

"What happened up there, that's going to be a question for everybody," said Christopher Hernandez, who lives nearby. "Everybody wants to know what happened."

Two people were killed Sunday afternoon when a single-engine aircraft crashed near Stinson Municipal Airport, officials said.  FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said late Sunday the plane was a Mooney M20 that was on its way to Fredricksburg, Texas. The aircraft was registered to Niclan Corp.

Firefighters responded to the scene about 5:15 p.m., near 9500 Espada Road, where witnesses said smoke rose from the crash site.

Identities of the victims were not released.

The plane, which had departed Stinson, was en route to Fredericksburg when it U-turned and then crashed, said San Antonio Police Sgt. Chris Benavides.

Fire Chief Charles Hood said the plane crashed in a brushy area and was burning when firefighters arrived.

City Aviation Department spokesman Rich Johnson, describing the aircraft as a four-passenger plane, would not speculate on a cause of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA are investigating the crash to determine the timeline of the accident, analyze communications with the airport tower, and find out whether there was anything mechanically wrong with the aircraft.

“It could have been a whole range of things,” Johnson said of potential crash causes.

Edward Gutierrez, a witness who resides nearby and often hears planes flying overhead, said he knew something was wrong with the aircraft from the way it sounded.

“I heard it sputter and knew it wasn't running right,” Gutierrez said.

“I was tying my boots in my mother's driveway when it came right over my head. I thought it could have hit my mother's house,” Gutierrez said.

After it passed overhead, Gutierrez heard a crash and then an explosion, he said.


SAN ANTONIO -  Two people are dead and federal investigators on the scene after a small plane crash just south of Stinson Airport.

The plane went down in a heavily wooded area about a quarter mile south of the runway.

The plane was on fire when emergency crews arrived around 5:15 Sunday afternoon.

Fire crews had to cut through locks to get to the area where the plane went down.

They used foam to get the fire out.

When the flames were out fire crews found the bodies of two people in the wrecked plane.

Airport personnel say the plane had taken off from Stinson earlier, and was returning when it crashed.

No word yet on who the dead are.

The FAA investigators are now on scene assessing the wreckage and trying to figure out what caused the plane to go down.

Aventura II, N1193S: Accident occurred February 26, 2012 in Laceys Spring, Alabama

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA194
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 26, 2012 in Laceys Spring, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2012
Aircraft: STROUT FRANK AVENTURA II, registration: N1193S
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

The pilot and passenger departed for a local flight with the intent of landing the amphibious airplane in a nearby farm field that had been flooded with water. A friend of the pilot noted that the water level in the field was not sufficient for a landing and waved off the pilot as he overflew the field. The airplane then entered a steep bank and nose-down attitude from an estimated altitude of 100 feet. Ground scars and observed impact-related damage to the airframe suggested that the airplane impacted the ground in a left-wing-low attitude. The symmetric damage signatures observed on the airplane's propeller and observations of a witness to the accident confirmed that the engine operated until impact. Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions. The pilot did not possess the required rating on his pilot certificate to operate the accident airplane, and examination of available pilot records showed that he had not logged any flight training in the accident airplane make and model or any other seaplane. While the pilot possessed a reported 700 total hours of flight experience and was said to have logged about 10 previous flights in the accident airplane, the pilot's most recent flight review was completed nearly 6 years prior to the accident flight. Federal Aviation Administration published guidance on flying seaplanes equipped with engines mounted above the center of gravity "strongly urged" pilots to obtain training specific to the make and model of seaplane to be flown, as their unique handling characteristics were "not intuitive and must be learned."

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane during a low-altitude maneuver. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's lack of the required rating to operate the airplane.


On February 26, 2012, about 1330 central standard time, a experimental amateur-built Aventura II, N1193S, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain and was subsequently consumed by a postimpact fire near Laceys Spring, Alabama. The certificated private pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight. The local personal flight, which originated from a nearby private airstrip about 1328, was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a friend of the pilot, who also witnessed the accident, the pilot had purchased the airplane about 2 months prior to the accident, and since that time had completed about 10 total flights in the airplane. Several days before the accident, the friend and the pilot flew the airplane from the pilot's private airstrip to a flooded farm field located about one mile northeast, so that the pilot could practice landing the amphibious airplane on water. During that flight, the friend reported that the airplane performed normally.

On the day of the accident flight, the pilot again intended to fly to the flooded farm field to practice water landings. The friend thought that the water level in the field might have receded since their last flight, as he believed that the field was being drained, so he drove out to the field to assess the situation. Upon reaching the flood gate, the friend noted that the water level was too low to attempt a landing, and as the accident airplane approached him head-on, he "waved-off" the pilot. The airplane then passed over his left shoulder at an altitude about 100 feet above the ground. Moments later, the airplane impacted the ground about 100 feet behind and to the right of him and immediately caught fire. The friend then ran toward the airplane in an attempt to extract the occupants, but when the whole airframe ballistic recovery parachute rocket ignited, he had to vacate the area of the wreckage. The fire worsened, and the entire airframe was consumed in about 10 minutes.

The friend reported that the airplane's engine operated throughout the accident sequence, and that its sound was smooth and continuous. He estimated that the engine might have been operating with a 3/4 throttle setting.

Another witness reported observing the airplane during the final moments of the flight as he drove along a road parallel to the airplane's flight path. When he initially observed the airplane, it was flying westbound at an estimated altitude of 400 feet. He then returned his attention to driving, but looked at the airplane several seconds later when his son called his attention back to it. The second time he observed the airplane, it was at a significantly lower altitude, and was in a steep left bank and in a nose down attitude. He lost sight of the airplane behind obstructions thereafter, but knew that based on the airplane's last observed attitude and proximity to the ground, that it would crash. He subsequently contacted local emergency services and proceeded toward the accident site in order to render assistance.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records, the pilot, age 63, held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. He did not hold a rating for airplane single engine sea. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on August 31, 2009 with the limitation, "holder shall wear correcting lenses."

A personal flight logbook was recovered from the pilot's hangar. Examination of the logbook revealed a period of flight activity between April 2002 and February 2008. During that time, the pilot accumulated a reported total of 729 hours of flight experience. The logbook did not contain any entries showing transition training to, or previous flight experience in the accident airplane make and model or in any seaplanes. The log also noted the pilot's most recent flight review was completed on June 14, 2006.


According to FAA airworthiness information, the experimental amateur-built amphibious airplane was certificated on August 19, 2006. Review of FAA registration information showed that the airplane's builder was also listed as the registered owner of the airplane. According to the builder, the accident pilot purchased the airplane from him about 2 months prior to the accident. At that time, the airplane had not undergone the required annual condition inspection for two years. No record of sale, application for registration, or maintenance records for the airplane were recovered following the accident.

On February 20, 2012, an advertisement for the sale of the accident airplane was placed on an internet classified forum, which listed the accident pilot as the point of contact. The advertisement claimed that the airframe had accumulated 350 total hours of operating time, and that the engine had accumulated 125 total hours of operating time.

The fuselage of the airplane consisted of a fiberglass hull with seating provisions for two occupants. Pontoons were located at the outboard portion of each wing, retractable main landing gear were attached to the fuselage, and a steerable tail wheel was attached to the empennage. A Rotax 912ULS engine equipped with a three blade composite propeller was installed above the wing, aft of the fuselage.


The weather conditions reported at Huntsville International Airport, Huntsville, Alabama, located about 10 nautical miles northwest of the accident site, at 1353, included winds from 170 degrees at 7 knots, clear skies, visibility 10 statute miles, a temperature of 16 degrees Celsius (C), a dewpoint of -4 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.29 inches of mercury.


The airplane came to rest in an open field adjacent to a gravel road and barbed wire fence. The initial impact point was identified by an area of flattened grass and a depression in the mud oriented along the wreckage path. Portions of the airplane’s fabric covering and several pieces of fiberglass were found along the wreckage path, which was 73 feet long and oriented 155 degrees magnetic. The main wreckage was located at the opposite end of the wreckage path and was oriented 025 degrees magnetic. The left wing pontoon and pontoon support structure was separated from the main wreckage and located 36 feet to the left of it.

The main wreckage was almost entirely consumed by a post-impact fire, and most of the airplane’s aluminum, plastic, and fiberglass components were damaged beyond recognition. Several steel components comprising the fuselage, wing, and empennage structure remained relatively intact, though the fabric covering had been completely consumed by fire. Control continuity was traced from the left cockpit control stick to the elevator and flaperon control surfaces, and the elevator trim cable continuity was traced to the cockpit area. Rudder control continuity was also confirmed from the rudder pedal bar attachment points to the rudder control horn/tail wheel attachment point. Each of the control surfaces was free to move about its respective hinge mount. The throttle control cable remained attached to both of the engine’s carburetors.

The engine was separated from the airplane and examination revealed that it was also extensively fire-damaged. Each of the three composite propeller blades exhibited fibrous separations between 5 and 6 inches from the respective blade roots. Continuity of the drivetrain was confirmed through rotation of the propeller from the output drive gearbox to the accessory section of the engine. The top 4 spark plugs were removed and displayed electrodes that were light gray in color.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, Huntsville, Alabama.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the pilot. The testing was negative for the presence of ethanol, carbon monoxide, cyanide, and drugs.


According to the Federal Aviation Administration Seaplane, Skiplane, and Float/Ski Equipped Helicopter Operations Handbook, "Many of the most common flying boat designs have the engine and propeller mounted well above the airframe’s CG [center of gravity]. This results in some unique handling characteristics. The piloting techniques necessary to fly these airplanes safely are not intuitive and must be learned. Any pilot transitioning to such an airplane is strongly urged to obtain additional training specific to that model of seaplane." The handbook further stated, "Depending on how far the engine is from the airplane’s CG, the mass of the engine can have detrimental effects on roll stability. Some seaplanes have the engine mounted within the upper fuselage, while others have engines mounted on a pylon well above the main fuselage. If it is far from the CG, the engine can act like a weight at the end of a lever, and once started in motion it tends to continue in motion."

LACEYS SPRING, AL (WAFF) -  A man and a woman died in a small plane crash in Lacey's Spring Sunday afternoon.

The Morgan County Coroner identified them as Larry Hicks and Gayle Owen.

Investigators said the plane crashed in a field off Wilson Road and Fields Road near Highway 231 just after 1:30 p.m.

One witness said she lives just a few feet away from where the plane went down.

"I just pulled out of my driveway to go to work and I saw it go up in flames and I turned around and came back to see if I could do something but it was too late," Pat Stevenson said.

Other witnesses said they saw the plane fly slowly then made a sudden left turn seconds before it crashed.

The Morgan County Fire Department and Morgan County Sheriff's Department were at the scene immediately.

"When it hit the ground, it burst into flames and it's completely destroyed," Sheriff Ana Franklin said.

Sheriff Franklin said the plane was a two-passenger aircraft that may have been an ultralight.

"We're still trying to get information from the paperwork from where the plane was purchased to make sure we have the right plane identified," Sheriff Franklin said.

Witnesses said Hicks was a Lacey's Spring resident and flew planes for leisure.

A sheriff's deputy said the female passenger was a Huntsville resident.

Investigators and the Federal Aviation Administration are now looking into what caused the plane to crash.

The aircraft remains at the crash site.The bodies were taken to Huntsville for an autopsy.

LACEY'S SPRING, AL—  A plane crash in rural Morgan County killed two people Sunday, with stunned neighbors watching the carnage unfold in front of them.

Authorities told WHNT News 19 that the small ultralight aircraft went down in a field near Lacey's Spring just after 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Investigators said several residents witnessed the plane explode into flames shortly after the crash, leaving a male pilot and his female passenger dead.

The Morgan County Coroner's Office identified the victims as Lawrence Hicks, 62, a resident of Morgan County and Huntsville, and Gayle Owen, 60, of Huntsville. Authorities said Hicks and Owen were not related.

Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin said investigators had yet to determine the make and model of the aircraft, but did reveal that the plane was an amphibious type that was likely attempting to land in a nearby pond. Other first responders on scene said the plane's tail number had been incinerated in the wreckage.

"It was made to take off and land on water, and that's what it [the plane] was attempting to do today," said Franklin. "At some point he made a decision not to attempt that landing, and that is when the crash occurred."

Sheriff Franklin also said Hicks had just acquired the plane a few weeks ago.

Stunned neighbors described the crash site as horrific.

"For this to happen right before my very eyes is very disturbing," said Lacey's Spring resident Pat Stevenson. "I saw the black smoke as it hit the ground...The plane was totally engulfed, and the bodies, I saw the bodies."

An investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration arrived at the crash site Sunday evening, but declined to talk about the case.