Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pilot pleads not guilty to flying pot into Fitchburg airport

WORCESTER — An Oregon man who allegedly piloted a small plane carrying 74 pounds of marijuana from California to Fitchburg last year pleaded not guilty to a marijuana trafficking charge this morning in Worcester Superior Court.

Hoang H. Nguyen, 31, was arrested Sept. 27 by state troopers and federal agents after the plane landed at the Fitchburg airport. A state police dog alerted authorities to the presence of narcotics and, after obtaining a search warrant, investigators said they found three duffel bags filled with marijuana, along with $77,000 in cash.

Documents on file in Fitchburg District Court indicate Mr. Nguyen, a former commercial pilot and flight instructor, left Santa Monica, Calif., on Sept. 26 and stopped at an airport in Grundy, Ill., to rest. An airport manager there contacted officials at the Homeland Security Air Marine Operations Center after seeing Mr. Nguyen pay cash for fuel and then sleep in his plane with two large suitcases, according to the documents.

A Homeland Security Interdiction Plane followed Mr. Nguyen's plane to Fitchburg, the records show.

State police said the marijuana had a bulk value of about $370,000.

Mr. Nguyen, formerly of Hillsboro, Ore., is now living in Garden Grove, Calif., according to records in Worcester Superior Court, where his case was transferred after he was indicted Feb. 9.

At the request of Assistant District Attorney Timothy M. Farrell and Mr. Nguyen's appointed lawyer, Leonard J. Staples, Judge James R. Lemire released Mr. Nguyen on previously posted bail of $5,000 cash and continued his case to June 6.

As a condition of release, Mr. Nguyen was ordered to report once a week to the Probation Department by telephone.

Jet Airways pilots warn Directorate General of Civil Aviation of legal action

Jet Airways pilots have warned of legal action against the country’s aviation regulator for allegedly tweaking safety rules that decide the flight duty hours of the crew to suit commercial interest of airlines. On Monday, the Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots (SWIP), a body formed by pilots from the largest domestic carrier, served notice to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) demanding withdrawal of last minute amendments of the rules in view of passenger safety.

The legal notice, a copy of which is available with HT, states that the DGCA has been deliberately making changes in the new rules in the name of giving “clarifications” to Air India and Jet Airways.

The new rules originally scheduled to come into effect by February 15 were implemented only on March 25. Currently, the rules are applicable on domestic operations and short-haul (more than 10 hours) international flights. Both Jet Airways and AI have been allowed to operate long-haul international flights according to previous rules.

The concessions granted to Jet Airways and AI include allowing them to fly without an extra pilot as mandated by the new rules for long-haul flights and doing away with the provision of providing the crew two nights rest before their next duty.

“This is blatant disregard of passenger safety which ought to be the primary concern while having such rules,” said a SWIP member requesting anonymity.

Extra 300L, Invertical LLC, N45R: Fatal accident occurred April 08, 2012 in Salinas, California

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

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

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

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA155
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 08, 2012 in Salinas, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/05/2013
Aircraft: EXTRA FLUGZEUGBAU GMBH EA-300, registration: N45R
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.

Radar data recorded the airplane operating between 3,500 feet and 1,500 feet mean sea level. Two witnesses observed the airplane performing aerobatics. One witness stated that he observed the airplane perform two chandelles over the foothills north of his house, then the airplane turned south heading into an open valley. The airplane completed two aileron rolls and was halfway into a third roll when the nose pitched down, then pitched up, and the airplane rolled so that one wing was pointing down. The airplane then simultaneously rolled inverted and pitched down entering a very rapid descent into the ground. The witness stated that the engine was operating at what sounded like full power throughout the event.

On-scene examination determined that the airplane impacted the ground with the left wing down and a 30-degree nose-down pitch. The wreckage examination identified a loose, puck-like, 4.5-inch diameter portable XM-GPS antenna in the empennage tail space that houses the elevator bell crank. The antenna had a 9-mm diameter semicircular indentation witness mark that was consistent in shape and size to the end of a 9-mm diameter bolt that attaches the forward spar of the vertical stabilizer to the fuselage frame, located directly above the elevator bell crank. The antenna location and associated witness mark indicate that the unsecured antenna migrated to the tail section of the airplane and obstructed the free movement of the elevator bell crank, limiting the pilot’s ability to control the airplane in pitch. The pilot had opened a weather service account linked through the XM-GPS antenna about 1 week before the accident. The GPS unit intended for use with the XM-GPS antenna was not located with the wreckage.

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

A loose portable XM-GPS antenna that migrated to the tail section of the airplane and jammed the elevator bell crank. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to account for the cockpit portable GPS antenna during preflight or postflight inspection.


On April 8, 2012, at 0655 Pacific daylight time, an Extra Flugzeugbau GMBH EA-300, N45R, collided with terrain 2.5 miles east of the Salinas Municipal Airport, Salinas, California. The airplane was registered to Invertical LLC, and operated by the owner under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. The commercial pilot and his passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed. The flight originated at the Salinas Airport about 0645.

Witnesses reported being awoken by a low flying airplane. Two witnesses described the airplane as flying between 1,000 and 2,000 feet above the ground (agl) performing aerobatics. One witness stated that he observed the airplane perform two chandelles over the foothills north of his house, then the airplane turned south heading into the open valley. The airplane performed two aileron rolls and was halfway into a third roll when the nose pitched down, then pitched up and rolled so that one wing was pointing down, then simultaneously rolled inverted and pitched down entering a very rapid descent into the ground. Both witnesses that observed the airplane stated that the engine was operating at what sounded like full power throughout the entire event.

Review of radar data obtained from the Northern California TRACON Facility depicted radar targets consistent with the accident airplane’s departure time, estimated altitudes, and location. The initial target began at 0648, at 3,000 feet mean sea level (msl). The target proceeded in a figure eight pattern between 0648 and 0655, operating between 4,000 and 1,500 feet msl. Ground speed data showed the target initially at 168 knots, and operating between 28 and 172 knots. The radar track data was consistent with the performance of aerobatics. The final radar return was at 0655:51, at an altitude of 1,300 feet msl and ground speed of 137 knots.

According to the pilot’s father, the pilot had departed Yuma Saturday morning, April 7, flew to Burbank, California, picked up a friend, and then flew to Fresno, California. He dropped off the friend in Fresno, then flew to Monterey Airport, arriving about 1030. While in Monterey, the pilot visited his father, and told a friend that he would be in Salinas on Sunday and would give him a ride if he came to Salinas. The pilot then flew to Salinas Municipal Airport and spent the evening with his mother. On Sunday morning, the pilot met up with his passenger (friend) and departed on the accident flight.


The mid-wing, fixed landing gear, and 2-seat tandem configured airplane, serial number 045, was manufactured in 1993. It was powered by a Lycoming AEIO-540-L185, 235-horsepower engine and equipped with a 3-bladed constant speed MTV-Propeller, model MTV-9-B-C/C200-15. Review of the airplane maintenance logbooks showed an annual inspection performed on March 2, 2012, at a total aircraft time of 1,280.9 hours.

The pilot shared ownership of the airplane with another pilot. The surviving owner told the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) that they had a Garmin GPSmap 396 that they used for navigation, and it was normally mounted on the glare shield with Velcro. He was not aware of the portable XM radio antenna that was found with the wreckage.

According to the Garmin GXM30 Owner’s Manual, the GXM30 antenna that was located in the airplane wreckage would allow reception of current weather information and display that information on a compatible GPS receiver that the antenna was connected to. The antenna utilized a micro USB connection to connect it to a GPS unit. Printed on the data plate for the GXM30 antenna was the Radio ID Number: VVGTE0MN.

Sirius-XM Satellite Radio provided detailed information to the NTSB IIC regarding the pilot’s account activity. Radio ID number VVGTE0MN was activated on a XM-Aviator Service monthly plan on March 29, 2012.


The pilot, age 32, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane, issued on December 19, 2007, and possessed a first-class medical certificate with no limitations, dated March 28, 2012. The pilot’s logbook was recovered from the airplane wreckage and examined. The last entry in the logbook was dated June 12, 2009, with a total flight time of 463.5 hours. The pilot was a designated Naval Aviator on active duty with the United States Marine Corps and recently changed his duty station to MCAS Yuma, flying AV-8B Harriers. A USMC squadron, VMA-214, representative reported to the IIC that the pilot had accumulated 373.6 hours of military flight time. He had flown 2.6 hours in the AV-8B and 1.3 hours of simulator time within the previous 90 days, and his most recent military check flight (NATOPS check) was on December 27, 2011.

The passenger, age 24, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for single engine land, and instrument airplane. He held a first-class medical certificate with no limitations dated October 8, 2007. His family provided copies of his pilot logbook to the NTSB. His most recent logbook entry was dated March 29, 2012, and his total flight time was 196.5 hours. The majority of his flight experience had been in Cessna 152's, Cessna 172's, and Piper PA-28's.


The wreckage was located behind a ranch house in a flat, grass covered, horse pasture. Both occupants were located in the cockpit area and were wearing parachutes. The airplane nose section had impacted a cattle fence rail. The left cylinder bank of the engine and propeller hub was imbedded 18 inches into the ground at approximately 30-degree nose down angle. The wing spar was oriented on a bearing of 172-degrees magnetic measured from left wing tip to right wing tip. The main fuselage had collapsed into the ground midspan between the wing spar, and was positioned on its left side above the upper edge of the wing spar. Both upper, lower, left and right wing skins had detached from the wing spar, but the skins were present in the wreckage.

The tail section was attached to the fuselage tubing. The rudder was attached to the vertical stabilizer. The top and leading edge of the vertical stabilizer were crushed inwards. The elevator was attached to the horizontal stabilizer. The skin of the left horizontal stabilizer had detached from the spar, and the spar was fractured vertically at the root. Crush damage of the stabilizer tip and leading edge were evident. The right horizontal stabilizer leading edge was mostly straight with a softball sized crush indentation at midspan. Located within the tail section, near the elevator bell crank, a Garmin GMX30, 4.5-inch diameter round puck-like antenna and attached connecting cable was found free and loose. The following information was on the antenna data plate: GXM30, 010-00423-00, XM RADIO ID: FCC- VVGTE0MN, SN 28416097. A section of the black antenna cable near the antenna exhibited abrasions, cuts, and twist deformation that revealed the blue and white colored wires contained within the cable sheath. The free end of the antenna cable consisted of a micro USB connection that was undamaged. The antenna had a 9mm diameter semicircular indentation witness mark that was consistent in shape and size to the end of a 9mm diameter bolt that attached the forward spar of the vertical stabilizer to the fuselage frame, located directly above the elevator bell crank. The portable Garmin GPSmap 396 GPS unit that the antenna would have connected to was not located in the airplane wreckage

The cockpit was completely fragmented. Engine control configuration could not be established. The rear seat was attached to the airframe structure and the front seat had separated from the airframe. Aileron control push/pull tubes were traced from the control surfaces to the cockpit through multiple overload fractures. Elevator control push-pull tubes were traced from the elevator horn to the cockpit via multiple overload fractures and buckling. Rudder cables were attached to the rudder horn, and the cables were traced to both sets of rudder pedals. The rudder cables were cut in multiple locations by the first responders.

The Lycoming AEIO-540 engine was intact. The left cylinder bank exhibited impact damage. Throttle and mixture linkages on the throttle body were attached, however, the throttle and mixture cables had been severed between the cockpit and throttle body. The oil sump was displaced from the bottom of the engine and had a 2-inch diameter hole on the right side. No holes were observed on the engine case halves, and the exhaust manifold exhibited flattening and folds consistent with ductile deformation. Induction tubes had detached from the induction manifold. The propeller hub remained attached to the front of the engine.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on April 9, 2012, by the Monterey County Forensic Pathologist. The Forensic Pathologist’s report states the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The FAA’s Forensic Toxicology Research Team CAMI performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot, which resulted in negative findings for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and selected drugs.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot-rated passenger on April 19, 2012, by the Monterey County Forensic Pathologist. The Forensic Pathologist report stated that the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The FAA’s Forensic Toxicology Research Team CAMI performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot-rated passenger, which resulted in negative findings for ethanol and selected drugs. Tests for carbon monoxide and cyanide were not performed.


The most recent maintenance on the airplane was done at Harvey & Rihn Aviation, La Porte, Texas, on March 2, 2012. A company representative stated that they had overhauled the engine and rigged the controls of the airplane. The representative had flown the airplane three times. She performed tumbles, spins, accelerated spins, and thought the airplane flew great. She also had flown with the accident pilot three times, practicing landings, Immelmans, and split-s maneuvers. She did not recall the airplane having a Garmin GPS or XM radio antenna installed.

UPDATE: The names of two 
men who died Sunday morning in the crash of an aerobatic plane were 
released Monday afternoon by the Sheriff's Office. 

The pilot of the Extra Flugzeugbau EA-300 was George Alfred Mellone III, 32, of Yuma, Ariz., and his passenger was David Gary Ostendorf, 24, of Salinas, deputies said.

Two men were killed when their light plane crashed in a field near Old Stage and Zabala roads in the Salinas area Sunday morning.

Monterey County Regional Fire District firefighters from the district's Chualar station said they were called at 7 a.m. and arrived at the field at 1262 Old Stage Road to find the plane's wreckage and two bodies inside.

No fire resulted from the crash, firefighters said.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board in Garden Grove and the Federal Aviation Administration in San Jose responded also, firefighters said, and after examining the scene, allowed the bodies to be removed. The victims' names have not been released.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer, said the Extra Flugzeugbau EA-300, tail number N45R, went down at 6:57 a.m. in a field three miles east of Salinas Municipal Airport.

The single-engine monoplane Extra EA-300 is designed and built for aerobatic competition and carries a pilot and passenger in tandem cockpit seats.

FAA records show the plane that crashed was built in 1993, had current registration and airworthiness certifications, and is registered to Invertical LLC of Grand Forks, N.D.

Both FAA and NTSB will investigate the crash, Kenitzer said, with the NTSB as lead agency.

NTSB: Pilot overwhelmed by g-forces in Reno crash

The pilot of the P-51 Mustang that crashed at an air show in Nevada last September experienced overwhelming g-forces during the onset of the incident, and was incapacitated almost instantly, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

The NTSB said the pilot experienced more than 9 g's of force -- meaning nine times the force of gravity -- which is well beyond the ability of the human body to remain conscious. The force deformed the plane's fuselage, forced the tail wheel to deploy and likely resulted in the plane's trim tab -- a piece of the plane's tale -- to fly off the aircraft, the safety board said.

The pilot of the Galloping Ghost and 10 spectators were killed in the September 16 crash. In addition, more than 60 spectators were injured.
The safety board released details on the crash at a news conference in Reno, but said it would be months before it determines the probable cause of the accident. Nonetheless, the board issued a number of recommendations it said should make conditions safer before the next Reno Air Race scheduled in September.

Foremost among the recommendations: the NTSB said all of the unlimited class aircraft like the P-51 Mustang should be made to demonstrate their airworthiness before participating in a public air race.

The P-51 aircraft, The Galloping Ghost, was flying the fastest it had ever flown on the Reno course since the plane had been modified in 2009, the safety board said.

"This pilot, in this airplane, had never flown this fast on this course," said NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman.

Tuesday's news conference also cast strong doubt on at least two widely-held beliefs about the accident.
The first was that 74-year-old pilot Jimmy Leward took desperate, last-minute actions to avoid hitting the crowds in the grandstands. The NTSB said that Leward was likely incapacitated in the first second of the accident sequence. The plane experienced g-forces exceeding the 9-g limit of the plane's accelerator, Hersman said. It is difficult for trained pilots to remain conscious with even 5 g's, Hersman said.

Photos show the pilot is not visible in the canopy just two seconds into the accident sequence, and is seen bent forward and leaning to the right in a later photo, Hersman said, indicating he lost consciousness early in the mishap.

Tuesday's news conference also refuted theories that the loss of the plane's trim tab caused the plane crash. Photos show the trim tab departing the plane six seconds after the accident sequence began, meaning its departure was likely a result of the mishap, not its cause.

Hersman noted that the aircraft was highly modified to improve its speed. Its 37-foot wingspan had been reduced to 29 feet.

A lot of work remains to be done before the safety board rules on the probable cause of the accident, Hersman said.

"This is an ongoing investigation," she added. "What we're seeing is a lot of very heavy forces on this aircraft and this pilot and what we're working on now is what precipitated that."

NTSB Identification: WPR11MA454
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 16, 2011 in Reno, NV
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN/AERO CLASSICS P-51D, registration: N79111
Injuries: 11 Fatal,66 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.

On September 16, 2011, about 1626 Pacific daylight time, an experimental North America P-51D, N79111, impacted terrain following a loss of control while maneuvering at Reno Stead Airport, Reno, Nevada. The airplane was registered to Aero-Trans Corp, Ocala, Florida, and operated by the pilot as Race 177 under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Casualties on the ground included 10 fatalities and 74 injured. As of the time of this preliminary report, eight of the injured remain hospitalized, some in critical condition. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed for the local air race flight, which departed from Reno Stead Airport about 10 minutes before the accident.

The airplane was participating in the Reno National Championship Air Races in the last event of the day. The airplane had completed several laps and was in a steep left turn towards the home pylon when, according to photographic evidence, the airplane suddenly banked momentarily to the left before banking to the right, turning away from the race course, and pitching to a steep nose-high attitude. Witnesses reported and photographic evidence indicates that a piece of the airframe separated during these maneuvers. After roll and pitch variations, the airplane descended in an extremely nose-low attitude and collided with the ground in the box seat area near the center of the grandstand seating area.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration examined the wreckage on site. They documented the debris field and identified various components of the airplane’s control system and control surfaces. The wreckage was removed to a secure storage facility for detailed examination at a later date.

The airplane’s ground crew noted that the airplane had a telemetry system that broadcast data to a ground station as well as recorded it to a box on board the airplane. The crew provided the ground station telemetry data, which includes engine parameters and global positioning satellite system data to the NTSB for analysis. The onboard data box, which sustained crush damage, was sent to the NTSB’s Vehicle Recorder laboratory for examination. Investigators recovered pieces of a camera housing and multiple detached memory cards from the airplane’s onboard camera that were in the debris field. The memory cards and numerous still and video image recordings were also sent to the Vehicle Recorders laboratory for evaluation.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Reno Air Race Association are parties to the investigation.

NTSB releases recommendations for air races

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Air race pilots should take their modified aircraft on a dry run before participating in certain types of competitions and should possibly wear flight suits to help them withstand high gravitational forces, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

The recommendations were among seven the board offered during a news conference in Reno, nearly six months after a crash at the Reno National Championship Air Races that killed 11 people and seriously injured more than 70 spectators.

"We are not here to put a stop to air racing," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "We are here to make it safer."

Investigators are still trying to piece together exactly why 74-year-old Jimmy Leeward's souped-up P-51 Mustang rocketed straight up before pitching nose first onto the tarmac just feet from a VIP viewing area on Sept. 16. Officials say that technical finding could take months.

The NTSB said telemetry data shows the plane was traveling at 530 mph when it pitched violently upward, exerting a force of at least nine times the normal force of gravity on the pilot's body, or 9 Gs. The NTSB said that appears to have incapacitated the pilot as blood rushed from his brain.

By comparison, experts say, F-16 fighter pilots, who wear special suits to counter the G-forces, can typically take 9 Gs, but only for a limited time. And those are modern planes designed with tilted seats intended to help keep blood flow to the brain. Average roller coasters expose riders to about 2 to 3 Gs, but only for brief moments.

Leeward was not wearing a special G-suit as he piloted the World War II-era aircraft.

"We know very well that that is at the limit for human beings, and it is very difficult for people to maintain awareness at 5 Gs - 9 Gs is significant," she said. "But more importantly is the rapid onset in less than a second of this increased load."

The board recommends that race organizers provide training to pilots on how to mitigate the effects of high G-forces. Board members also want organizers to see whether it's feasible to require the flight suits during the races.

A Houston-based attorney who represents 18 victims and family members in a lawsuit filed in Texas against the pilot's family, a mechanic on the aircraft and the Reno Air Racing Association said the recommendations were encouraging.

"There's never been a call to end air racing, but it can be done much more safely," said Tony Buzbee, whose lawsuit seeks tens of millions of dollars in damages.

Officials say Leeward's plane, the "Galloping Ghost," was heavily modified and had never been flown as fast as he was racing it that day on that course. To ramp up the aircraft's speed, the plane's wingspan had been shortened from about 37 feet to about 29 feet, and flight controls were changed.

The safety board recommended that aircraft owners flying in the "unlimited class" provide an engineering evaluation when they race a plane with major modifications and test it out before the day of the event.

"Our investigation found that this pilot in this airplane had never flown this fast on this course," Hersman said.

The NTSB also called on the Federal Aviation Administration to correct what it said were numerous errors and discrepancies in its guidance for race course designs, including the distance that spectators should be from the edge of the course. The FAA said it was already acting on the NTSB recommendation.

Hersman said it's possible that putting more distance between the planes and the spectators could have helped, but stopped short of saying the tragedy could have been prevented by such a change. "I don't think we can say what the outcome would have been," she said.

The Reno Air Racing Association is moving ahead with plans to hold the event this fall at Reno Stead Airport. It's the only event of its kind, where planes of fly wing-tip-to-wing-tip around an oval, aerial pylon track, sometimes just 50 feet off the ground and at speeds that can top 500 mph.

An FAA team will conduct a review of Reno Air Racing Association operations, the race course and proposed spectator areas, the agency said.

The recommendations will also be helpful to organizers of other air shows as the aerial events season begins, NTSB spokesman Nicholas Worrell said.

Few leads, no suspects in Mulia runway rampage: Police

Ambushed: The Twin Otter aircraft of domestic carrier Trigana Air is seen with its front resting on a building at the airport of Mulia town after gunmen fired on the plane as it landed. 
Picture: AFP 

The police say they have few leads in the attack on a civilian aircraft by gunmen in Papua on Sunday, casting doubts on government efforts to bring peace to the country’s easternmost region.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution said in Jakarta on Monday that investigators had no significant leads in the incident at Mulia Airport in Puncak Jaya.

Saud said that neither could the police connect the runway shooting with other deadly incidents in the regency. “We are still working on that.”

Meanwhile, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s spokesman, Julian Aldrin Pasha, said the incident indicated the continued volatility in Papua.

“The President has received reports about the incident and he was shocked. The President has ordered the security authorities to launch a special probe to address the incident,” Julian told reporters at the Presidential Office on Monday.

A Twin Otter plane operated by privately run Trigana Air was attacked by gunmen on Sunday morning, shortly after it landed at Mulia Airport in Puncak Jaya.

The plane crashed into a nearby warehouse after the pilot lost control. Leiron Kogoya, a journalist from the Papua Pos, died from a gunshot wound to the neck, while four other people onboard, including the pilot and first officer, were injured.

“Attacks on commercial aircraft are a serious threat. We are dealing with armed groups. The perpetrators must be brought to court. In the meantime, the authorities will guarantee that the situation is sufficiently conducive for residents to conduct their daily activities,” Julian added.

At the same airport in October 2011, Mulia Police chief Adj. Comr. Dominggus Octavianus Awes was shot dead by an unidentified assailant who fled with his pistol.

The police have not identified or arrested suspects in a host of violent incidents in Papua and West Papua, including attacks on police officers and journalists.

Leiron, the Papua Pos reporter, was the third person killed in Puncak Jaya in 2012. A civilian and an officer assigned to a National Police Mobile Brigade special operations unit were also shot dead by unknown assailants in January in separate incidents.

Neither has anyone been arrested for the killings of seven people in Mulia in 2011, or for the six slain in 2010.

Lt. Gen. (ret) Bambang Darmono, the chairman of the Special Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B), said the Trigana incident would unlikely have any repercussions. “I just returned from Mulia. I saw people living normal lives as if there had never been a shooting. The local market was packed and everything looked normal,” he said.

The UP4B is tasked with accelerating infrastructure development and coordinating central and regional government programs in mountainous areas of Papua where 1.5 million indigenous people live.

Poengky Indarti, director of the human rights watchdog Imparsial, questioned government efforts to improve security in Puncak Jaya.

“The area is proven to be vulnerable to attacks,” she said.

The Trigana attack might have been orchestrated by those who wanting to benefit from sowing chaos in the region, she added.