Thursday, April 12, 2012

Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat, Breckenridge Aviation Museum, N14HP: Accident occurred April 04, 2012 in Breckenridge, Texas

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA227 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, April 04, 2012 in Breckenridge, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/11/2014
Aircraft: GRUMMAN F8F-1, registration: N14HP
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

A witness to the accident reported that the pilot announced over the radio that he was going to perform a half Cuban eight aerobatic maneuver after takeoff and then overfly the runway in the opposite direction. The witness stated that, after takeoff, the airplane entered a shallow climb to about 150 feet before it pitched up into a near vertical climb. The airplane continued the climb in an inside loop before leveling out, inverted, about 500 feet above the runway, heading in the opposite direction of the takeoff. The witness then saw the airplane's wings roll suddenly before the airplane entered a near-vertical descent. The witness described the final portion of the aerobatic maneuver as a split-S maneuver, or a descending half loop, from which the airplane did not recover before colliding with trees and terrain on a southeasterly heading. The witness stated that the airplane exploded on impact and that a postimpact fire ensued. The postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The pilot reportedly was as an experienced aerobatic pilot who had routinely performed at airshows throughout his flying career. The pilot's medical history included coronary artery and peripheral vascular disease, cataract surgery, and hypothyroidism. The autopsy was limited by the absence of most of the cardiac tissue; therefore, it could not be determined if the pilot was impaired or incapacitated by an acute coronary event during the low-altitude aerobatic maneuver.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's loss of airplane control during a low-altitude aerobatic maneuver.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 4, 2012, at 1410 central daylight time, a Grumman model F8F-1 airplane, N14HP, was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and terrain during a low-altitude aerobatic maneuver performed shortly after takeoff from the Stephens County Airport (BKD), Breckenridge, Texas. A postimpact fire ensued. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the Breckenridge Aviation Museum under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that was originating at the time of the accident.

A witness to the accident reported that he was in his airplane preparing to depart when the accident airplane was taxiing toward runway 17. He told the accident pilot, via radio, that he wanted to watch the accident airplane takeoff ahead of him. The accident pilot reportedly announced over the radio that he was going to perform a Half Cuban Eight aerobatic maneuver after takeoff and then overfly the runway in the opposite direction. The witness stated that after takeoff the accident airplane climbed about 150 feet in a shallow climb before it pitched-up into a near vertical climb. The airplane continued the climb in an inside loop before leveling out, inverted, about 500 feet above the runway, heading in the opposite direction of the takeoff. The witness then saw the airplane's wings roll suddenly before the airplane entered a near vertical descent. The witness described the final portion of the aerobatic maneuver as a split-S maneuver, or a descending half loop, from which the airplane did not recover before impacting the terrain on a southeasterly heading. The witness stated that the airplane exploded on impact and a postimpact fire ensued.

Another witness reported seeing the airplane pitch-up into a steep climb shortly after takeoff. The airplane continued in the steep climb to about 1,000 feet above the runway where it entered a right descending roll. The witness stated that the airplane was rolling toward wings level when it descended into trees located off the south end of runway 17. The witness noted that the airplane appeared to be recovering from a dive when it impacted terrain.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot, age 77, held a commercial pilot certificate with single and multi-engine land airplane and instrument airplane ratings. His last aviation medical examination was completed on June 24, 2011, when he was issued a second-class medical certificate with a restriction for near vision corrective lenses.

The most recent pilot logbook entry was dated April 2, 2012. At that time, the pilot had accumulated 16,689.4 hours total flight time, of which 16,227.2 hours were logged as pilot-in-command. He had logged 10,498.2 flight hours in single-engine airplanes and 6,191.2 hours in multi-engine airplanes. He had accumulated 805.1 hours in actual instrument conditions, 895.0 hours in simulated instrument conditions, and 681.3 hours at night. The logbook contained a summary of his flight experience in numerous aircraft types, including the accident airplane make/model. According to the summary, he had logged 10,045.4 flight hours in warbird classification airplanes, including 2,007.8 hours in Grumman airplane models F8F-1 and F8F-2. He had logged 288.0 hours in the past year, 138.3 hours in the prior 6 months, 58.7 hours in the previous 90 days, and 27.5 hours in the last 30 days. The pilot did not log a flight within 24 hours of the accident. The pilot's last flight review was completed on March 8, 2011, in a Beechcraft model B60 airplane.

The pilot reportedly was as an experienced aerobatic pilot who had routinely performed at airshows throughout his flying career.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was a 1945 Grumman model F8F-1, serial number (s/n) 90446. A 2,100-horsepower Pratt & Whitney model R-2800-34W reciprocating engine, s/n P333510, powered the airplane. The airplane was equipped with a constant speed, four blade, Aeroproducts model A-642-G1 metal propeller. The tail wheel-equipped airplane was configured with a single seat. It had a maximum takeoff weight of 8,800 pounds and was certified for aerobatic flight.

The accident airplane was a flying museum-quality, World War II-era airplane, owned and operated by the Breckenridge Aviation Museum, Breckenridge, Texas. The airplane was used predominately as a static display museum attraction. However, the airplane was also flown at airshows around the United States that featured World War II-era airplanes. On May 22, 1987, the FAA issued the airplane a special airworthiness certificate, limited category, for exhibition purposes. The airframe had accumulated a total service time of 2,759.6 hours at the time of the accident. The last annual inspection was completed on March 22, 2012, at 2,758.7 total airframe hours. The engine had accumulated 133.3 hours since its last major overhaul, which was completed during January 2008. The propeller had accumulated 440.9 hours since it last overhaul, which was completed during April 2002.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1415, the airport's automated surface observing system reported: wind 280 degrees at 8 knots, sky clear, visibility 10 miles, temperature 21 degrees Celsius, dew point 7 degrees Celsius, altimeter setting 29.88 inches of mercury.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The Stephens County Airport (BKD), located about 2 miles south of Breckenridge, Texas, was served by three runways: 17/35 (4,998 feet by 100 feet, asphalt); 13/31 (2,400 feet by 50 feet, asphalt); and 4/22 (2,399 feet by 50 feet, asphalt). The airport elevation was 1,284 feet mean sea level (msl). The elevation of the runway 17 threshold was 1,255 feet msl. A two-light precision approach path indicator (PAPI) was installed for runway 17.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

A postaccident investigation was completed by FAA Inspectors assigned to the Lubbock Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). The FAA on-site investigation confirmed that all airframe structural and flight control components were located at the accident site. The initial impact was located in a field about 1/2 mile south of the runway 17 departure threshold. The initial impact crater contained one propeller blade. The right wing had separated from the fuselage and was located about 25 yards south of the initial impact point. The main wreckage, which consisted of the fuselage, left wing, and empennage, was found entangled within trees about 35 yards southeast of the initial impact point. The engine was located about 100 yards south of the initial impact point. The propeller hub had separated from the engine and the propeller blades exhibited blade-twisting.

All observed structural component failures were consistent with overstress separation. Flight control continuity could not be established between the individual flight control surfaces and their respective cockpit controls due to damage; however, all separations were consistent with overstress. The flap position could not be determined due to impact damage. The fuselage, including the cockpit and instrument panel, was fragmented and damaged by fire. The postaccident examination of the airframe, engine, and propeller revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

On April 5, 2012, an autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's District Morgue, located in Fort Worth, Texas. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to multiple blunt-force injuries sustained during the accident. The autopsy report indicated that a majority of the heart and brain were not available for examination and that the degree of injury to the extremities precluded further evaluation of those areas.

The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on samples obtained during the pilot's autopsy. No carbon monoxide or cyanide was detected in blood samples. Ethanol was detected in blood and liver samples, but was attributed to sources other than ingestion. Rosuvastatin was detected in liver and blood samples. Rosuvastatin, brand name Crestor, is a medication to treat high cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

According to FAA medical documentation, the pilot reported having cataract surgery to his Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) in 2001. In March 2004, he requested a waiver for that procedure although he had already been granted a second class certificate in 2001, 2002, and 2003. In June of 2004 he reported a preoperative physical and a second cataract surgery (on the other eye). His second class certificate was issued routinely in 2004, 2005, and 2006. In 2007, the pilot reported having high cholesterol that was managed with Zetia and Crestor (ezetimibe and rosuvastatin, both cholesterol lowering agents). In 2008, the pilot reported the use of levothyroid (levothyroxine, thyroid hormone replacement). His second class certificates were issued by the AME on each of these visits.

In 2009, per the FAA record, the pilot provided his AME results of a pharmacologic nuclear stress test along with results of cholesterol and thyroid testing. All were results were classified as being "normal." The FAA record also included a copy of a physician note from the pilot's cardiologist made during an office visit on May 14, 2010. In this note, the diagnoses included hyperlipidemia, coronary atherosclerosis of native coronary artery, peripheral vascular disease, and hypertension. The past history section detailed a PTCA (percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty) with stent placement of the right coronary artery and a PTA (percutaneous transluminal angioplasty) with stent placement in the popliteal artery. Laboratory results from the May 14, 2010, office visit indicated that the pilot had an elevated glucose level and normal cholesterol and thyroid hormone levels. In June 2010, the AME noted the laboratory results but did not comment on the recorded historical elements and issued a second class medical certificate. The FAA medical record also contained reports of an echocardiogram, another nuclear stress test, and a carotid Doppler examination being completed during 2011. The results of these tests were reported as being "normal" and the pilot was issued a second class medical certificate from his AME on June 24, 2011.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Federal Aviation Regulation 91.303 required that aerobatic flight be conducted above 1,500 feet above ground level unless a specific waiver has been granted. According to FAA documentation, an aerobatic waiver had not been approved for flights over BKD. The Lubbock FSDO received a request for an aerobatic box in 2009, but a request for additional information made to the requester was not fulfilled and the request was not approved.


NTSB Identification: CEN12LA227
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, April 04, 2012 in Breckenridge, TX
Aircraft: Grumman F8F-1, registration: N14HP
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.


On April 4, 2012, at 1410 central daylight time, a Grumman model F8F-1 airplane, N14HP, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain during a low-altitude aerobatic maneuver performed shortly after takeoff from Stephens County Airport (KBKD), Breckenridge, Texas. A postimpact fire ensued. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Breckenridge Aviation Museum, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that was originating at the time of the accident.

A witness to the accident reported that he was in his airplane preparing to depart when the accident airplane was taxiing toward runway 17. He told the accident pilot, via radio, that he wanted to watch the accident airplane takeoff ahead of him. The accident pilot reportedly announced over the radio that he was going to perform a Half Cuban Eight aerobatic maneuver after takeoff and then overfly the runway in the opposite direction. The witness stated that after liftoff the accident airplane climbed 100 to 200 feet in a shallow climb before it pitched-up into a near vertical climb. The airplane continued the climb in an inside loop before leveling out, inverted, about 500 feet above the runway heading the opposite direction of the takeoff. The witness then saw the airplane's wings roll suddenly before the airplane entered a near vertical descent. The witness described the final portion of the aerobatic maneuver as a split-S maneuver, or a descending half loop, from which the airplane was unable to recover before colliding with terrain on a southeasterly heading. The witness stated that there was an explosion when the airplane collided with terrain and that a postimpact fire ensued.

At 1415, the airport's automated surface observing system reported the following weather conditions: wind 280 degrees at 8 knots; clear skies; visibility 10 miles; temperature 21 degrees Celsius; dew point 07 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 29.88 inches of mercury.

 

 ABILENE, Texas -- A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board into the air crash last week that killed Breckenridge pilot Howard Pardue indicates that Pardue was executing a low-altitude aerobatic maneuver shortly after his take-off.

A witness told investigators he saw Pardue climb to about 500 feet, level out inverted, then pitch over and descend toward the runway.

He was apparently unable to recover before colliding with the ground. Pardue died in the crash.

Howard Pardue was a nationally known aerobatic pilot who performed at air shows.

A final report on the cause of the crash is expected in about six months.

Pilot error to blame for Kimberley chopper crash

Kimberley station owner Jillian Jenyns was killed in a helicopter crash near Fitzroy Crossing .


An investigation into a helicopter crash which killed Kimberley pastoralist Jillian Jenyns has found that pilot error caused the crash.

Owner of Brooking Springs Station, Ms Jenyns was killed in July last year when her Robinson R22 helicopter came down 14 kilometres outside of Fitzroy Crossing.

She was the only person on board.

In its report, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says she should not have taken off at dusk because she was not qualified to fly at night and her aircraft was not equipped for night flying.

An examination of the helicopter found no evidence of any pre-existent defects or anomalies

The report says the case highlights the "significant risks" involved with pilots flying at night without the proper training and equipment.

Piper PA-18A Super Cub, N12003: Accident occurred April 12, 2012 in West Palm Beach, Florida

http://registry.faa.gov/N12003

NTSB Identification: ERA12CA278 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, April 12, 2012 in West Palm Beach, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/15/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-18A, registration: N12003
Injuries: 1 Minor,1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot stated that when he returned to the airport after a local flight, he elected to land on the turf runway, which intersected an asphalt runway. He said he touched down on the main landing gear “fairly long” on the first portion of the turf runway at a speed of about 60 mph. The pilot delayed lowering the tailwheel until the airplane was crossing the asphalt surface and then lowered the tailwheel firmly to the ground. The airplane began to veer left, and the pilot applied full right rudder and a “slight amount” of right brake to regain directional control. When the airplane transitioned from the asphalt surface to the turf runway, it abruptly nosed over. The airplane came to rest inverted, incurring substantial damage to the rudder. An examination of the runway’s asphalt to turf transition section revealed that the airplane’s main landing gear tires dug into the turf as it left the slightly higher asphalt. Postaccident examination revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane during the transition from asphalt to turf during the landing roll, which resulted in the airplane nosing over.

The pilot stated that upon returning to the airport from a local flight, he elected to land on the grass turf runway, which had an asphalt runway intersection within the first quarter of its length. His landing speed was about 60 mph, the airplane touched down long on the first portion of the grass turf. The pilot held off lowering the tail wheel initially but then lowered it firmly onto the ground. During the landing roll on the asphalt portion, the airplane began to arc to the left, the pilot applied full right rudder and then eased on a “slight amount” of right brake. As the airplane departed the asphalt section, it abruptly nosed over, the propeller struck the ground and the airplane came to rest inverted on the grass turf runway, incurring substantial damage to the vertical section and rudder. An inspection of the runway’s asphalt to grass turf transition section revealed that the airplane’s main landing gear tires dug into the turf as it left the slightly higher asphalt. No preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane were noted that would have precluded normal operation.


A shot of the plane that landed upside down at North Palm Beach County General Aviation airport.

WEST PALM BEACH — Federal Aviation Administration investigators are looking into what caused a plane to land upside down this afternoon at North Palm Beach County General Aviation airport.

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue crews were dispatched to the airport at 11300 Aviation Boulevard, on Bee Line Highway north of Northlake Boulevard and west of Florida's Turnpike, at 2:35 p.m.

The plane, a Piper PA18, landed on a grassy area near the runway and flipped over, said FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

The two people in the plane were not injured and were walking by the time crews arrived at the scene, said Palm Beach County Sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera.

The plane is registered to Murray Company, LLC which is based out of North Palm Beach.

American Airlines sues former flight attendant behind parody videos


DALLAS, Texas (NBC) -- American Airlines filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a flight attendant who was fired last month after making parody videos that poked fun at airline management.

The suit accuses Gailen David of publishing personal flight information for airline executives on his blog and of improperly using airline trademarks -- specifically the letters "AA" on his websites.

"The travel information of American Airlines' passengers is considered both private and confidential, regardless of their relationship to the company," American said in a statement.

The Fort Worth-based airline said it would add current employees to the suit if they are found to be providing confidential information to David and also would take disciplinary action against them, including termination.

David, of Miami, first made a name for himself by posting several home videos -- including some of himself dressed in drag -- that parodied airline management.

The lawsuit filed in Tarrant County District Court did not mention the videos.

"I've kept going with my blog," David said Wednesday. "I've kept talking about things going on with management at American Airlines."

David's blog has publicized personal flight information for current and former airline executives, detailing exactly which flights they were taking.

In some cases, he claimed the executives bumped paying customers from first class to coach, a charge the airline denies.

"The upper management expected me to get tired and stop bringing out the things that are going on with management, and I'm not getting tired," David said.

On his blog, he said the flight information came from "moles."

In a later interview with NBC station KXAS he denied obtaining the information from employees.

"When it comes out how I was receiving that information, it's going to be very embarrassing to American Airlines because I was never getting information from the company's computers," he said. "No employees were ever furnishing that information to me."

Asked how he did get the information, he said, "I'm not telling that."

David said he would defend himself from the lawsuit and vowed to continue to expose what he considers to be wrongdoing by airline management.

"I will not stop," he said. "American Airlines knows that I am a force to be reckoned with, and they are trying to shut me down."

The ongoing battle between American Airlines and an outspoken and recently fired flight attendant is heading to court.

On Tuesday, the Fort Worth-based airline filed a lawsuit against Gailen David and 10 other “John Doe” defendants, alleging, among other things, breach of duty, conspiracy and trade infringement.

The suit is the latest chapter in a saga that traces its roots to David’s role as The Sky Steward, an online alter ego he created in 2007. Last month, he was fired after posting several videos in which he parodied American executives, often dressed as a woman, and took them to task for the airline’s financial troubles.

American Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection last fall.

David maintains he was “absolutely” fired because of the videos; the airline says it was because he violated rules regarding passenger privacy, which is also the basis of the current action.

According to the suit, David revealed the travel plans of several American executives and their spouses and claimed that members of the company’s mileage program were bumped from first class to make room for them. The suit also references but doesn’t identify 10 current American employees who allegedly provided David with the information he publicized.

“The travel information of American Airlines' passengers is considered both private and confidential, regardless of their relationship to the company,” said spokesman Bruce Hicks in a statement. “This lawsuit is designed to identify and hold legally accountable those employees who have and who continue to provide private and confidential passenger travel information and personal employee information to former employee Gailen David.”
“I was kind of expecting a lawsuit eventually,” David told msnbc.com. He has yet to file a legal response to the suit. “I think they thought that after they fired me, it would take the wind out of my sails, but it didn’t.”

Instead, he suggests that the legal blustering will lead to even more evidence of executive mismanagement. Although he declined to reveal how he got his information, he told msnbc.com that “when it’s revealed how the information was relayed to me, it’s going to be extremely embarrassing to American Airlines.”

In the meantime, experts suggest that if the case goes to court, the outcome will be a function of the court’s views on passenger confidentiality rather than conspiracy, trade infringement or, for that matter, David’s commentary or termination.

“As a general rule, revealing passenger information is beyond the pale,” said Franklyn Steinberg III, an aviation and employment attorney in Somerville, N.J. “But these cases are very much decided on the specific facts of each case. It’s hard to draw on a rule that will decide the situation.”

Qatar Airways in no rush to add CSeries but will order business jets

 MONTREAL - Qatar Airways is in no rush to add Bombardier's CSeries aircraft to its growing fleet but will order several business jets to expand its executive service, the airline's CEO said Thursday.

Akbar Al Baker said he will announce an order for Bombardier's new Global aircraft at next month's Ebace air show in Geneva, for delivery around 2016 or 2017.

The airline already operates a fleet of six Bombardier business jets. It hopes to eventually offer 10 to 15 aircraft, but Al Baker wouldn't say how many planes would be included in this order.

Qatar has shelved plans to order the CSeries while it is busy preparing to receive four new aircraft types — Boeing 787, Airbus A350 and A320Neo and another he didn't want to identify. The company is spending more than US$50 billion for 270 airplanes.

Nonetheless he remains interested in eventually ordering 20 to 30 of the larger version of the 110- to 149-seat commercial plane, plus adding as many options. The aircraft would be used for Qatar's regional service and flights of less than 2 1/2 hours from Doha.

"The CSeries is a very good airplane for a niche market," he told reporters after a lunch-hour speech.

"It is very fuel efficient and it is a very technologically advanced aircraft and I'm sure that Bombardier will be very successful in this venture."

Al Baker planned to tour Bombardier's production facilities and see the plane's updated cockpit and systems designs. The CSeries is slated to enter into service the end of 2013, with the larger model following a year later.

Bombardier CEO Pierre Beaudoin said the company is still in discussion with Qatar over a CSeries order.

"It's a product that gives the performance that is needed in that region," he told reporters.

Beaudoin added that the train maker is also interested in metro, light rail and tramway projects that are planned for Qatar as it prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup of soccer.

Meanwhile, Al Baker said Canadians deserve better airline service to the Middle East made possible by an expansion of the number of landing rights granted to Doha.

The three weekly flights launched last June from Montreal are running ahead of expectations and travelling 85 per cent full.

A similar number of cargo flights are offered weekly, along with return flights from the Middle East.

It would like to operate at least four flights a day from Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

The outspoken airline executive accused Ottawa of blocking that expansion to protect Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) from competition.

"I don't think they are in collusion in any way, but the government is trying to protect Air Canada," he added.

Al Baker said he faces no such opposition anywhere else in the world and questioned why the federal government is protecting Canada's largest carrier and its alliance partners, even though it produces weak financial results and forces passengers to connect through inefficient airports.

"If I was the prime minister or if I was the government I would tell Air Canada to go to hell."

Qatar has no plans to withdraw service if it doesn't win additional landing slots and is not worried that blunt talk may hamper its efforts.

"At the end of day I'm a foreigner trying to serve the people of Canada and if I'm not welcome then fine," Al Baker said.

But he said the aggressive expansion plans by Qatar Airways and other Middle East carriers such as Emirates Airlines is a new model that won't disappear.

Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu has criticized efforts to use hubs in the Middle East for Canadian travellers. He has argued that an eventual reduction in traffic flow through hubs used by Air Canada and its Star Alliance partners would ultimately threaten the viability of direct flights from secondary Canadian airports.

Al Baker said that additional flights by Qatar can easily be accommodated to reduce flying time to 113 destinations through its gateway.

He said the more than 6,000 Canadians living in the Middle Eastern country, along with visitors, can bypass intense American security by increasingly flying to Doha.

"You don't want every Canadian to be looked at as a terrorist and go through unnecessary searches," he said in an earlier speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.

Montreal is Qatar's fourth North American gateway, in addition to Houston, New York and Washington.

Return travel costs around $2,300, including taxes, for direct 13-hour flights. That's several hundred dollars more than traditional routes through Europe but at a fraction of the time.

Helicopter lands on apartment rooftop in India


BANGALORE: A trainee helicopter pilot made an emergency landing on the rooftop of an apartment building in a busy residential district in southern India on Thursday after developing engine trouble.

Residents of Byappanahalli area in Bangalore said they were shocked to see the chopper flying low and landing on the rooftop of the high-rise.

“It landed with a huge thud,” one witness told a local news channel. “We saw the smoke first and then there was a loud noise.” Police said the two occupants of the helicopter were unhurt in the incident that they described as “bizarre.” “There was a technical problem with the engine. The pilot was trying to make a safe landing at a nearby airstrip but landed on the rooftop,” a police officer at the scene said.

The helicopter was lying on its side on the apartment rooftop. “The national aviation regulator will probe how the helicopter landed where it did. As of now, our main worry is how to take this thing away from here,” the officer said.

Internal Revenue Service, private jet operators agree to talks over tax

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Groups of private business jet operators and the Internal Revenue Service have agreed to sit down for talks over a $643 million lawsuit that alleges the government wrongly applied a ticket tax meant for commercial passengers only.

A lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Columbus by four Ohio-based subsidiaries of Columbus-based NetJets Inc. says the ticket tax was not intended to apply to private aircraft owners and the fees they pay to maintain and operate their planes.

The companies provide aircraft management services to people and companies that own planes.

NetJets and the IRS filed a joint motion in federal court Columbus Thursday asking the case be delayed while they conduct private mediation to try to reach a resolution.

Cleveland-based Flight Options is also participating in the talks.

Cooking oil powers Qantas aircraft


Photo: Qantas is using a biofuel mix to highlight the potential
 (Tim Wimborne: Reuters)

 A Qantas flight between Sydney and Adelaide today is using a 50-50 mix of conventional fuel and refined cooking oil.

The biofuel costs far more than conventional fuel, partly due to its importation from the United States.

But Qantas says it is absorbing the one-off cost because it is keen to highlight the need for an Australian biofuel source, at a time when airlines and passengers around the world are dealing with high jet fuel and carbon emission costs.

John Valastro of Qantas says the flight is a commercial first in Australia.

"It's actually really significant because it's the first commercial flight to be powered by sustainable aviation fuel in Australia and that's a big step for this country," he said.

He says the flight will produce far less carbon emissions than if conventional jet fuel were used.

"We're talking about a 60 per cent reduction in the overall life cycle of the fuel, so that's a substantial improvement," he said.

The biofuel component of the fuel used for the flight is from refined cooking oil.

Biofuels are sometimes criticised for cutting into potential food supplies but Qantas says it has used a product that is not a food crop.

The oil came from and was refined in Houston before it was shipped to Australia.

It has cost more than four times an equivalent flight using normal fuel, partly because of the shipping distance involved.

But Mr Valastro says passengers are not paying a surcharge.

"We're actually using this opportunity to highlight what needs to be done, getting people on board," he said.

Aviation industry analyst Tom Ballantyne says Qantas and other airlines want governments to invest in the biofuels push.

"We know we can make them, we know they're exactly the same as jet fuel and have absolutely no impact on the operation of the aircraft," he said.

"The trick is making enough and building the infrastructure to provide that.

"What is actually needed is money. A lot of the big airlines' argument is that governments should invest money in the refineries which are required to produce these biofuels. They argue that very strongly, but so far many governments have been a bit slow in coming forward."
 
The hope is that biofuels will eventually cost about the same as current jet fuel.

Peter Zurzolo heads the Future Farming Co-operative Research Centre.

At Narrogin, south-east of Perth, he and others are trialing whether the common mallee eucalypt is a viable biofuel source.

"Not only is it a common tree but it's well understood. In WA alone, we know there's about 13,000 hectares on about 1,000 farms," he said.

"We're providing what we're hoping is a long-term sustainable and regionally-based feedstock supply that can be competitively grown into different processing units, hopefully around regional Australia," he said.

Central Scotland: Pilot dies as plane falls 100 metres

The scene of the plane microlight crash close to Kennet village near Clackmannan.
 Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA
A MAN has died after the microlight aircraft he was piloting crashed 100 metres into a field near a village in Central Scotland.

The incident happened near Kennet in Clackmannanshire at about 2:15pm today.

The pilot, who has not been named, is understood to have been flying alone at the time.

Local residents said that plane came down close to some properties outside of the village, in an area known locally as Carse of Clackmannan.

Emergency services attended the incident, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

It has since emerged that the aircraft appeared to be uninsured. According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website, the crashed microlight was a 20-year-old Gemini Flash IIA which had at least two previous owners, and its permit to fly had expired on 28 May, 2009.

Further details show that it was de-registered from the CAA’s records 9 December 2011 and that its date of “No Flight” declaration, which effectively says that it is not insured and therefore will not be used, is dated 18 February, 2011. 

A Central Scotland Police spokeswoman said: “One man has died and inquiries are at an early stage. 

“The incident occurred in a rural area, and it is not yet clear at what stage of the flight this has occurred.

“Police, ambulance and fire services all attended, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The man will not be identified until his next of kin had been informed.”

A tent was later erected over the crash site.

A spokeswoman for Central Scotland Fire and Rescue said: “The incident occurred close to Kennet Garden Farm. 

“The microlight appears to have come down in a field – it doesn’t appear to have struck any structures.”

The Scottish Ambulance Service said paramedics had accessed the crash site via a track road on Kennet Gardens Farm. 

They pronounced the pilot dead at the scene.

An ambulance spokesman added: “Paramedics at the scene estimated that the microlight had come down from a height of between 200ft to 300ft.”

Dawn Ferguson, 27, from Kennet, said: “It’s terrible. The area where the microlight came down is surrounded by trees, so it’s hard to see the wreckage, but there has been lots of police activity.” 

A spokeswoman for the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said that a team of officers was travelling to the crash scene last night to investigate the cause of the crash. 

Microlight aircraft are lightweight in design and can hold a maximum of two people. 

A licence is required to fly one in the UK.

All microlight pilots are required to hold a licence, which takes a minimum of 25 flight hours to achieve. 

Microflight pilots undertake a one-hour test every two years, though it is not an official requirement, with an instructor to monitor their skills. 

They have to certify that they are of good general health and have this claim countersigned by their own GP.

Labor Minister to intervene in Liat impasse

St. John’s Antigua- The Ministry of Labour has invited Liat and the Antigua & Barbuda’s Workers (ABWU) to the bargaining table in an attempt to stave off threatened industrial action over outsourcing that would make 25 local employees redundant.

This development came a day after ABWU General Secretary, Senator David Massiah warned the company of “dire consequences” if it failed to rescind letters which informed staff of the Quikpak Cargo Department that they would be without jobs from Sunday.

Massiah told Observer Media Wednesday that he “welcomed the intervention by the Labour Ministry” and would be present for the talks since the issue has “serious implications all round.”

“We are interested in making sure the right position and the right decision are arrived at, at the end of the day.” The talks are slated for 10 am on Friday.

LIAT’s Corporate Communications Manager Desmond Brown said the company has “willingly agreed” to the meeting, noting that it was a welcomed development that should “provide comfort to the airline’s passengers” and ensure there is no disruption to operations.

He also pointed out that contrary to some media reports, Caribbean Airport Services CAS, the handling company expected to take over aspects of LIAT’s handling services for Cargo and Quikpak in Antigua, is an Antigua-based company.

Brown noted that CAS, which is majority-owned by LIAT, already provides ground handling services for LIAT and had been set up in 2002 with the purpose of providing outsourced ground handling and other airport services to airlines operating at the VC Bird International Airport in Antigua.

Korean Air plane diverted to Comox resumes journey to South Korea

Passengers on a Korean Air flight diverted to Comox because of a bomb threat resumed their journey to Seoul, South Korea on Wednesday night.

The plane left Vancouver Tuesday afternoon for Seoul, but changed course and landed in Comox because of the threat. Passengers stayed in area hotels overnight and then travelled back to Vancouver on Wednesday for the plane to refuel. Flight 72 took off again from Vancouver for Seoul on Wednesday night at about 8:30 p.m.

There were 134 passengers aboard the Boeing 777 when it was intercepted over Haida Gwaii en route to Seoul. The aircraft was escorted to Comox Valley Airport by two U.S. air force F-15 fighter jets from Portland, Oregon, following a bomb threat received at Korean Airlines' U.S. call centre 25 minutes after the flight took off.

Canadian fighter jets are not stationed at CFB Comox, which is home to the Buffalo transport plane and Cormorant and Aurora helicopters.

RCMP Sgt. Rob Vermeulen said officers interviewed the Korean Air passengers as part of their investigation before the flight left.

Passengers said Wednesday they were kept in the dark about the threat, even as they were frisked on the tarmac. The Korean Air captain said only that the flight had turned around because of a security issue.

Passenger Lyle Letawsky said he wasn't happy passengers had to wait beside the plane on the tarmac in Comox for a bus to arrive. "Being that it's a bomb threat, wouldn't you want to get everybody away from the plane? That was probably the most disturbing part of it for me," said Letawsky, who was on his way to meet his new Filipina wife for a honeymoon.

Military officials from CFB Comox fed the passengers before they were transported in buses to hotels in Courtenay.

"They got people fed [Tuesday] night and got them into commercial accommodations, although they were prepared to put them up in the [base] gym on the floor on air mattresses and cots," said Comox Mayor Paul Ives. "Once the hotels opened up some rooms, they got them there."

The Best Western Westerly Hotel and the Holiday Inn took in most of the stranded passengers.

Korean Air spokeswoman Penny Pfaelzer said the attention given to passengers and crew in Comox was outstanding.

"Canadians are known for their hospitality," she said from Arizona. "I think you guys rock."

Checked baggage and cargo items were inspected Wednesday, along with the plane, Pfaelzer said.

The RCMP deployed an explosives disposal unit to the base as well as forensic identification services and police dog services, with help from the Canadian Forces.

Ives said the Comox airport, with its 10,000-foot-long runway, was in a unique position to handle the large plane,

Planes as big as a Boeing 777 are rare for the Comox airport, although it sees 737s on a regular basis.

"Occasionally we get charter flights in and we do fly out to Mexico," Ives said.

The Comox Valley Airport Commission runs the civilian terminal, including baggage and passenger screening, while the Department of National Defence is responsible for the airfield.

Tuesday's threat came after a similar threat Monday to a Vancouver-Seoul flight while it was still on the ground. That flight left for Korea two hours behind schedule.

Tensions are high on the Korean peninsula, where North Korea is preparing to launch a long-range rocket as South Koreans go to the polls.

Plane Crashes at Mackenzie Airport

Mackenzie, B.C.- RCMP and emergency crews were called to a report of a small plane crash at the Mackenzie airport this afternoon.

Initial reports suggest one of the wings of the plane clipped the runway during landing.

Further details have yet to be released but initial information suggests there were at least two people on board the plane.   There are  no life threatening injuries to report.

The Transportation Safety Board will be investigating.

DA40 landing at Siem Reap International Airport, Cambodia - WOA Cambodia Fly Tour Apr2012

Diamond DA40 landing at Siem Reap, Cambodia - WOA Cambodia Fly Tour Apr2012. You can see Angkor Wat at approx 1 o'clock position during the landing. Beautiful blue skies! 

CAE Begins UAV Flights Over Its Facility in Quebec

Press release from CAE:

MONTREAL, QUEBEC–(Marketwire – April 11, 2012) – (NYSE:CAE)(TSX:CAE) – CAE and Aeronautics today announced that the first series of flights of the Miskam unmanned aerial system (UAS) have been conducted successfully over the past several weeks at the UAS Centre of Excellence (Centre d’excellence des drones) located at Alma airport in Quebec, Canada.

The demonstration flights represent the first phase of a research and development (R&D) project aimed at demonstrating how unmanned systems can be used for civil applications such as remote inspection of pipelines and hydroelectric installations, surveillance of forest fires, observation of critical natural resources, assessing natural disasters and a range of other applications.

CAE and Aeronautics signed a teaming agreement last year to initiate what is now known as Project Miskam. During a series of preparation flights over the past several weeks, Aeronautics operated the Miskam UAS around the Alma airport area. The use of the Miskam UAS in civilian airspace is being conducted under the supervision of Transport Canada, NAV CANADA, and 3 Wing Bagotville. Transport Canada issued Aeronautics and CAE a special flight operating certificate last year to begin demonstration flights at the UAS Centre of Excellence in Alma.

“The successful operation of the first few flights of the Miskam UAS is a milestone for the project, but only the first of what we believe will be many milestones,” said Pietro D’Ulisse, CAE’s Vice President and Business Leader – Canada. “Much like the use of simulation in training, the use of unmanned systems for a range of civil applications has the potential to enhance safety, increase efficiency, and save money. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Aeronautics, regulatory authorities, and potential customers as we demonstrate these capabilities.”

The Miskam UAS is a Canadian version of the Aeronautics Dominator XP. This medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) UAS is based on a Diamond DA-42 twin-engine aircraft that has accumulated more than half a million flying hours, making it one of the most reliable and safe UASs worldwide. The Miskam UAS can cover long ranges, flying up to 24 hours, and can carry a significant payload weight while airborne. Combined with a range of sensors suitable for civil, homeland security, and defence market requirements, the Miskam UAS will be used to demonstrate a range of services.

CAE is leveraging its modelling and simulation technologies as well as in-service support capabilities to develop a comprehensive offering of unmanned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) services. The vast amount of information and intelligence that can be gathered by sensors on the Miskam UAS can be collected in a simulation-based synthetic environment and then used to support intelligent decision-making based on integrated information.

“We are very excited to be working closely with CAE and the entire team in Canada to showcase our UAS capabilities as part of Project Miskam,” said Avi Leumi, CEO of Aeronautics. “As potential customers and the general public at large begin to understand the tremendous benefits offered, we expect the use of unmanned systems to become more widespread.”