Sunday, May 20, 2012

Air Tanzania Company Ltd newly leased Boeing at crossroads

As Tanzanians celebrate the rebound of the cash-strapped Air Tanzania Company Ltd (ATCL), a senior government official at the Ministry of Transport has blocked signing of the contract to lease the newly acquired Boeing 737-500, putting the national airline’s efforts to jeopardy.

The Guardian on Sunday has reliably established that the top official went as far as threatening to have ATCL’s chief executive officer arrested if the plane started flying on Friday as scheduled.

The man at the loggerheads with the ATCL management is none other than Transport Permanent Secretary Omar Chambo.

The Guardian on Sunday contacted Chambo for the past two days, including texting him about the brewing conflict, but he didn’t respond to any of our queries.

Air Tanzania resumed domestic operations on Friday, flying from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza via Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), but the inaugural flight is said to have been made possible only after the personal intervention of Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda.

A top ATCL official told this paper on condition of anonymity that the PS has flatly refused to give a nod to the signing of the lease contract, meaning that the plane now operates without any official contract between the two parties.

“ATCL could not have resumed its operations on Friday as it scheduled because PS Chambo made all attempts to block it. Flight confirmation was made just a few hours before the plane was to take off,” noted the source.

The source added that the permanent secretary threatened ATCL acting Managing Director Paul Chizi with arrest if he dared to operate the leased 108-seater Boeing 737-500 plane without his approval.

“All necessary preparations were in place, ticket bookings and related payments had been made in advance in Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza. Therefore, ATCL viewed the situation as a looming disaster if the planned flight was to be cancelled at the last minute. It would have caused major distrust from the customers,” added the source.

This paper was told that Prime Minister Pinda concurred with the ATCL position and plans but ordered the airline’s management to also keenly look into the areas which the PS found contentious.

ATCL has not been with a single operational plane since early last month when their single 50-passenger aircraft – a Bombardier Dash 8 - was involved in an accident when taking off at Kigoma Airport. The airline is reportedly expecting to cover the loss through insurance.

The second Dash 8 aircraft which was bought at the same time with the one which crashed at Kigoma is still undergoing technical maintenance in Dar es Salaam and expected to be operational in the next five to six weeks.

Permanent Secretary Chambo is said to have raised concern over the aircraft’s leasing agreement between ATCL and Aero Vista of Dubai.

The Guardian on Sunday reached PS Chambo over the phone on Friday, but excused himself saying he was attending a meeting, and subsequent attempts to contact him yesterday proved futile as his mobile phone went unanswered.

This writer sent him a text message on his cellphone requesting clarification on the sections of the lease agreement which he was not happy with, but he did not respond at all. However, this paper has reliably learnt that the agreement was presented to newly appointed Minister for Transport Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe, who is himself an accomplished lawyer, who reportedly said that he had no problem with the agreement since there was no government commitment and it would be financially fulfilled through funds generated from the day-to-day operations of the aircraft.

Dr. Mwakyembe could not be reached for comment yesterday as his mobile phone was unreachable while Deputy Minister Dr. Charles Tizeba said over the phone that he was not aware of the matter because he had not been in the city for some days and had just arrived form Mtwara.

This paper could not establish exactly how much money Aero Vista will be paid every two weeks, but this paper has been told by an airline expert that the market value of leasing a Boeing 737-500 is a minimum of $2200 per block hour.

A block hour, according to the expert, is calculated from the moment of removing and placing tyre stabilizers, called chocks in the airline industry.

ATCL has managed to strike a deal that is said to be cheaper than the market leasing value, at around $1700 per block hour, and the cost could still go further down when ATCL’s crew takes over after training and after the deduction of the maintenance cost to be paid by the aircraft’s owner.

It has been established that the agreement, entered into last month, warrants the aircraft’s owners (Aero Vista) to provide crew temporarily, with a provision that ATCL’s crew will take over after undergoing training, scheduled to take about three weeks.

‘ATCL crew is undertaking training in South Africa and they will be in the country after two weeks since the training began early this week,” affirmed the source.

There are two types of aircraft leases: wet lease and dry lease. The former involves leasing of the aircraft and crew from the plane’s owner whereas under the latter only the plane is leased.

The ATCL management is said to have been convinced to ink the agreement as it did not require any deposit of money, as opposed to other leasing agreements entered into in the past.

Under the current agreement all regular technical maintenance will be carried out in Dar es Salaam whereas major ones will be done in Cairo, Egypt.

Aero Vista is also expected to make another plane available for lease within a month from now so as to enable ATCL operate more smoothly.

For some years ATCL has been facing acute administrative, technical and financial difficulties since a joint venture with South Africa Airways ended unceremoniously in 2006 following contractual misunderstandings.

The following year (2007) there was a proposed joint venture with a Chinese firm, Sonangol Holdings Limited, but it was never carried through, resulting only in the purchase of the two Dash 8 aircraft.

The firm also played a big role in a plan that led to the controversial and costly Airbus 320 lease. The leasing agreement was signed prior to the approval of a government guarantee, contrary to the Government Guarantee and Loan Act of 1974, as amended in 2003, raising serious concern from the Controller and Audit General, who subsequently recommending for the disciplining of all the executives involved in the scam.

According to CAG, the leasing bill shot up to a staggering Sh320 billion.

http://www.ippmedia.com

Elko Pilot Uninjured in Twin Falls Helicopter Crash

TWIN FALLS – Michael Lattin of Elko, Nev., walked away uninjured after the helicopter he was piloting crashed just south of Twin Falls Regional Airport about 9 a.m. Sunday.

Lattin was inbound alone when he alerted the control tower that he had mechanical problems. Ed Morris of Twin Falls Fire Department, who was first on the scene, said Lattin told him he thought a rotor bearing went out.

“He was not able to control the main rotor,” Morris said, adding there was no fuel leak or fire.

Morris said the small-piston ‘Endstrom’ model was operated by Canyon Construction of Elko, but he did not know whether Lattin was an employee or owner of the company.

Lattin, described by other responders as an experienced pilot, performed calmly under pressure, Morris said. He was able to lower the helicopter enough before losing control that the cockpit stayed intact upon impact.

“He did a really good job,” Morris said.

The helicopter crashed in an agricultural field near 2800 East Road and 3300 North Road.

Twin Falls Fire Department Battalion Chief Jack Barnes, another responder, said Lattin was “an older gentleman” possibly in his late 50s, although his exact age was not available Sunday evening.

“He was up and around before any of us got there,” Barnes said. “There were no big problems of any kind.”

Federal Aviation Administration officials interviewed Lattin Sunday morning, and Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office representatives took photos of the wreckage. The FAA then released the helicopter to Lattin, and it was expected to be housed in an airport hangar temporarily.

Lattin had a predicable reaction to the close call, Barnes said.

“He was thankful.”

Hundreds honor pilot who died fighting Slave Lake wildfire

Jean-Luc Deba is shown in this undated photo.
 Photo provided by family. 
On Sunday, more than 300 people came out to Canyon Creek where a permanent memorial for Deba was unveiled. 

 
A Bell 212 helicopter is shown after crashing near Canyon Creek on the shore of Lesser Slave Lake, just northwest of Slave Lake on Friday, May 20, 2011. 
(Courtesy: CTV viewer Lorne Lukan)


 
A memorial bench in memory of Jean-Luc Deba, who died fighting the Slave Lake wildfire.



More than 300 people came out to Canyon Creek on Sunday where a permanent memorial for the Slave Lake wildfire's only casualty was unveiled.

They gathered to honour pilot Jean-Luc Deba, who crashed his helicopter while trying to fight last year's blaze.

A memorial park in Canyon Creek now stands in Deba's name.

"It was very heart wrenching," said Denny Garratt, Reeve of the Municipal District of Lesser Slave Lake River.

"We've tried to celebrate his life and at the same time try to recognize and pay tribute to all firefighters. I believe that it symbolizes the brave work and the bravery of all the firefighters who came up to help us."

Deba, 54, of Montreal, was the only casualty of the Slave Lake wildfire.

He died on May 20, 2011 when his Bell 212 helicopter crashed into the water of Lesser Slave Lake near Canyon Creek.

Deba was trying to drop water on the flames from a bucket attached to his helicopter when he crashed.

Residents and officials said Sunday they're grateful to have a place they can visit anytime they want to say thank you to Deba.

The pilot had years of flying experience, accumulating thousands of hours in the air, including a decade flying for the military in his home country of France.

After he died, his family and supporters pushed to have him named an honourary Canadian citizen.

While that has not happened yet, he has been named an honourary citizen of Slave Lake.

In the days following the disaster, CTV News spoke exclusively with Deba's daughter.

Christelle Deba had said in an interview from her home in France that the way her father died served as a comfort to the family.

"He was doing his passion and he died helping people," Christelle asid.

"I think there's no [better] way to die."

Original story and photos: http://calgary.ctv.ca

Skylane (3EV), Evansville, Indiana: Pilots bought airport to have place of their own

 
Darryl Smith, Courier & Press 
Skylane Pilots Association Treasurer Jim Schmitt checks the weather via his smartphone after installing a new GPS in his custom built airplane at Skylane Airport. Schmitt had wanted to test fly the new GPS which provided the pilot with far more information than the old one. Technology gets better with time, Schmitt said - better and cheaper. 

 
Darryl Smith , The Courier & Press 
Kenny McAtees small, fuel efficient Aerotrek A220 manages to travel at 120 mph while weighing in at only 640lbs. McAtee and his son Daniel fly the aircraft on a regular basis from the grass runway at Skylane Airport in Evansville.

By Darryl Smith Special to The Courier & Press 

Hidden behind a small forest northeast of the intersection of St. Joseph and Diamond avenues lies an airport of a different kind.

A lush, green, 2,000-foot by 142-foot stretch of well-manicured grass forms the only runway for Skylane Airport at 2029 Allens Lane. It is lined with 45 large white airplane hangars.

"It's kind of like a car club," says Jim Schmitt, a member of the board of directors and field maintenance manager at Skylane. "I got my license out here in 1981 and been flying ever since then.

"Most people come out here to hang around. Every day we meet out here and we go to lunch, and occasionally on nice weather days we're out flying somewhere to lunch."

Brandon Burgdorf calls it a $100 hamburger to fly down to Patti's at Grand Rivers, Ky., on Lake Barkley.

"Or we might fly to Rough River for breakfast," says Burgdorf, a pilot at Skylane.

While the cockpits in these mostly two-seat aircraft are not spacious, the view, the sensations, the freedom and the excitement are what draw the followers and eventually the passion to own a plane.

While Schmitt built his own airplane for $20,000, many of the pilots at Skylane have small, light aircraft, purchased used from around the country, that are good on fuel.

Hank Meador and some friends, on the other hand, restored a 1940 Porterfield to better-than-new condition. The high-wing, tail-wheel aircraft requires special training to fly as it does not have a single wheel in the front like most modern aircraft. Instead, the Porterfield gets around on the ground with two wheels in the front and one on the very back.This configuration often is referred to as a "Tail Dragger" and makes visibility very low while taking off and landing.

Meador said he would ride his bicycle to Skylane every chance he had.

"The old dude that used to own this property was named Tom Crane, and I would wash his airplane for him and he would give me a ride," Meador said.

"In 2000, we formed the Skylane Pilots Association and bought the property. We added some hangars to it and we paid it off in 2010 and burned the deed," Meador said. "We bought it just to keep flying as reasonably priced as you possibly can. Like our fuel here now is $5.31 per gallon for 100 low-lead and over at the big field it's close to $7 per gallon."

Kenny McAtee and his son Daniel fly their 640-pound, 120-mph Aerotrek A220 out of Skylane Airport. They said they like the airport mostly because of the grass runway.

"It's more fun to fly off grass, it's easier to land, and I only live 3 miles from here, too, so it's close to home," McAtee said. "And we own it! Part of it."

"Every little city has an airport, from Carmi to Henderson. We fly to eat usually," McAtee said.

"Why do you fly, Daniel?" McAtee asked. "For fun!" his 28-year-old son responded.

"Can't fly too long nowadays, gas costs too much," McAtee said. "All the economical planes fly around and all the gas guzzlers fly once in a while."

Most pilots at Skylane will tell you they have been fascinated with planes and flying since they were kids. Brandon Burgdorf is no exception. Burgdorf grew up in the neighborhood right beside Skylane.

"I actually grew up in that house right there," he said pointing from his hangar while preparing to fly a plane he recently purchased, his very first.

"I've been flying since I was about 11 years old," said Burgdorf, now a union sheet metal worker.

"I remember him as a kid," Jim Schmitt recalled. "He would always be standing at that fence when you taxied out, waving like crazy and you had to wave back to him."

"I always loved watching them and I called over here one day and the right guy answered the phone — W.C. Sisk. I asked if they gave airplane rides and he said, 'Yeah, come on over,' so that's how it all started," Burgdorf said.

While owning your own plane may seem a dream, a quick Internet search yielded results of everything from used two-seat trainers similar to Burgdorf's 1971 Grumman for less than $12,000 and a $10,000 1973 Biplane on Aerotrader.com. Attaining the certification to fly a traditional aircraft could cost around $5,000 to $6,000, according to Burgdorf.

"Everybody, when they start out, they're doing it on a song. They don't have much money, they take maybe one hour lesson a week, which costs about $100," Schmitt said. "You don't have to buy the most expensive airplane. You know there's airplanes out there that cost a lot less than your sports cars, so it can be done if you want to."

The field's flight instructor left for another airport but Skylane is considering getting another in the next year or so.

For now, the airplane owner-pilots at Skylane Airport continue their routines of gathering in front of hangars, flying to airshows, meals in other states, and sharing a passion for flight within their very own airport.

Read more and photos:   http://www.courierpress.com

Caribbean Airlines facing 'operational risk'

 After five years of business and in the face of mounting debt, national carrier Caribbean Airlines (CAL) faces "operational risk".

And government will have to intervene financially in the cash-strapped airline to keep it flying.

Finance Minister Winston Dookeran told the Sunday Express that his ministry has asked the State airline for a list of its financial requirements and a business plan for the future.

This, Dookeran confirmed yesterday, will inform the amount and type of intervention which the government will pursue for CAL.

CAL's outstanding liabilities, the Sunday Express learnt, currently stand at an estimated US$40 million exclusive of US$100 million owed to France's Aviones de Transport Regional (ATR).

Significant liabilities are due to the airline's major suppliers include:


• US$5 million in taxes owed to the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for a penalty charged to the airline

• US$3 million owed to the US for Customs and Border Taxes

• US$3.5 million owned to National Petroleum for fuel which could cause disruptions to operations,

• US$2 million owed to Strategic Air Services (which handles cargo for CAL)

• US$2 million owed to Swissport for Passenger Handling

• US$3 million for the Comptroller of Customs for Passenger Taxes

Other debts include money owed to the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, Ross Advertising and Synergy Aviation which supplies aircraft parts for the airline.

On May 4, Dookeran disclosed to Parliament that the airline made an unaudited loss of US$52.8 million ($339.5 million) for 2011 while Air Jamaica recorded an unaudited loss of US$38.1 million ($245.2 million) for 2011.

Dookeran's own ministry has been criticised by CAL sources for being tight-fisted with releasing funds owed to the airline (as a result of a fuel subsidy rebate) which exacerbated the airline's financial woes.

The majority of CAL's debt is centered around two investments- the decision to acquire nine aircraft from ATR and the airline's Air Jamaica commitments.

The Sunday Express learnt that while cabinet gave approval on September 9, 2010, from a note submitted by then line minister Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner, for CAL to enter into a purchase agreement with ATR for nine aircraft, that no funding requirements were identified for the acquisition.

CAL paid the US$1.8 million commitment fee-calculated to a $200,000 deposit on each aircraft- out of pocket on September 13.

By January 2011, the Sunday Express learnt, CAL management had approached the Ministry of Finance for money for the ATR purchase but was told that no funding had been requested on the cabinet note.

Subsequently, CAL was forced to utilise its own internal funding to pay fully for the first two aircraft.

To date, CAL has paid US$77 million to ATR.

However, CAL now faces a default risk, as well as penalities and interest, on that Heads of Agreement signed with ATR on September 13, 2010.

The Sunday Express learnt that an ATR representative had sought a meeting with the Ministry of Finance to consider how the seven outstanding aircraft will be financed. ATR began handing over aircraft to CAL in November 2011 with the expectation that one would be delivered every month thereafter. However, at least four aircraft remain unpaid and uncollected on their hands.

Transport Minister Devant Maharaj told the Sunday Express that he was considering financing arrangements for the airline to acquire the aircraft.

The other half of CAL's financial burden is its commitment to Air Jamaica.

CAL's investments, the Sunday Express was told, have had to be liquidated to address the costly operations of Air Jamaica. Former CAL chairman Arthur Lok Jack had told the Express exclusively that the board he chaired had left some US$149 million in CAL's accounts before they resigned in June 2010.

Sources told the Sunday Express that the present CAL board made commitments to Air Jamaica during its Transition Services Agreement without approval and without a business plan.

Among those decisions include CAL's intention to operate Air Jamaica to Havana, Montego Bay/Kingston shuttle service with its ATR aircraft.

This, they said, affected an initial projection of expected losses and slim margins initially, previously made by the Lok Jack-chaired board when they considered acquiring the profitable routes of Air Jamaica.

The government of Air Jamaica owns 16 per cent of CAL following the consummation of a Shareholders Agreement which was signed on May 26, 2011.

The Sunday Express learnt that the business plan for the Air Jamaica operations for the months of May-December 2010 forecast a profit of US$4.6 million and $16 million for 2011.

However, data obtained show that the actual performance for the Air Jamaica operation from May to December 2010 was a loss of US$21 million "for various reasons" and US$38 million for 2011. The 2011 figure has to be contextualised given that there was an adjusted fuel subsidy from US$1.50 to US$2.34 a gallon.

The adjusted fuel subsidy forced CAL to fund the shortfall by utilising its internal investments.

"Given the expansion of the combined operations, the level of expenditure and cash payments has increased significantly especially in the areas of fuel costs, flight operations, aircraft leases and marketing two separate brands. The increases in fuel payments were directly linked to the increased number of flights across the network matched by the global increase in fuel prices and restricted rebates from the government over the period. Other areas of increased cash outflow occurred in the areas of employee cost, maintenance and engine reserves and aircraft parts. As a result, it was necessary to utilise the deficits that were being incurred," the Sunday Express was told.

The issue of cash burn was first brought to Maharaj's attention in August 28, 2011, when CAL's management wrote a letter of complaint and copied Dookeran and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

"The executive management of the company is very cognisant of the fact that it is responsible for the manner in which public funds are utilised and accounted for and while the performance of the company has been adequate, given the challenging integration with Air Jamaica, we are concerned about the current rate of cash burn over the last eight months. Certain undertakings have been made by the chairman (then George Nicholas) without the consent of management which involve financial commitments that can have a negative impact on the planning and overall financial performance of the company. CAL has prided itself on being a self sufficient organisation, operating outside of the need for significant annual subventions from the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. With the current pattern of cash burn we are not certain that this lack of dependency for subventions will exist in the short term," the letter alleged.

Former chief executive Captain Ian Brunton told the Sunday Express there are some fundamental questions that the taxpayer, through the Corporation Sole, need urgently answered.

He pointed out that the Corporation Sole needs to be able to see the financial effect that the Air Jamaica Operations are having on CAL – and by extension the T&T Treasury.

"For instance, when I and the CFO left CAL in November of 2010, the October 2010, CAL-only, financial statements showed a US$9.1 million in net profit with a projected end-of-year net profit of US$10 to  US$12m after the December revenue peak. Yet the end of 2010 figures recently supplied by CAL show a consolidated loss of US$17.6 million: a negative change of some US$30 million. Was this the cash loss to  Air Jam for just 2010? The cash balance we left was just over US$169 million (even more than the US$149 million recently revealed by Mr Lok Jack...his figures were a little dated)," he said in an e-mailed response.

He said during his time at CAL "the accounting was totally separate for CAL and Air Jam precisely to try and assess the effect of our efforts to improve the performance (and assess the wisdom) of the Air Jam acquisition. The GOTT  supplied US$50 million to assist in the restructuring of Air Jam. It is irresponsible to the TT taxpayer to merge the Air Jam figures into CAL until the restructuring is completed."

Taking Minister Dookeran's recently supplied figures, CAL lost US$52.8 million and Air Jam lost US$38.1 million in 2011; and yet the CAL figures show a consolidated profit for the two airlines of US$16.5 million at the  end of August 2011. This represents a negative movement of US$107 million in the space of four months! Or for CAL alone, a reversal of fortunes to the value of negative US$62 million in 14 months (+US$9.2 million to  -US$52.8 million). We hear that the airline is unable to pay its debts to the AATT, NP, ATR etc. and yet the CAL-supplied figures show a positive cash position at the end of August 2011, of over US$111 million. We know that  the comparable cash position as at the end of October 2010 was US$169.3 million. So how can you burn US$169.3 million in 14 months?

"The country is owed an urgent explanation - and perhaps expeditious measures instituted to correct disastrous trends. For example I would ask for a detailed cash flow and P&L forecast for the impending London route - and for all the recent new routes and undertakings of the last 18 months," Brunton said.

http://www.trinidadexpress.com

Broward County, Florida: Runway settlement headed for collapse

 

 By Tonya Alanez and Brittany Wallman, Sun Sentinel 

DANIA BEACH — The brief period of kumbaya between the city and Broward County after last year's historic airport runway settlement has disintegrated, with city commissioners poised to void the deal Tuesday. 
 
And litigation to delay construction of the $790 million runway likely is not far behind.

"We've been boxed in, we don't have a lot of options here," Commissioner Anne Castro said Friday. "This is not going to fall on the backs of 2,000 middle-class Dania Beach homeowners. Their homes are their whole life savings. This is their slice of heaven and somebody is basically demolishing it."

The proposed settlement crumbled when the Federal Aviation Administration nixed a never-before-done key element: cash payments to homeowners in the high-noise zone.

Under the terms of the "early benefit'' program, 857 homeowners would have been eligible for a payment equal to 20 percent of their home's values if they gave up their rights to sue.

The remaining "sales assistance" program could have some homeowners waiting nearly 40 years for their turn to sell their homes.

"This is a nothing agreement," Bob Mikes, vice president of Dania's airport advisory board, said of the pared down deal. "[Commissioners] have to go back to litigation even if they only get a fraction more than what is left in this agreement. Something is better than nothing."

Mikes, a former city commissioner who lives in the heavily impacted Melaleuca Gardens neighborhood, says plenty of talk is brewing about individual and possible class-action lawsuits.

Broward Aviation Director Kent George predicted that Dania would have no success in impeding the runway's anticipated Sept. 18, 2014, opening.

"We do not feel that they can curtail what we're doing now, and they cannot restrict the opening of the runway,'' he said. "They're not going to sue their way to success.''

In order to void the settlement, commissioners must vote unanimously to do so.

"I don't think this vote is going to be a big surprise," Castro said.

This second "main" landing strip at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport will pave the way for bigger commercial jets and increase the number of take-offs and landings, which could be as many as 503 a day by 2020, said attorney Neil McAliley, hired by the city to negotiate the settlement.

Construction began in January. The runway will be an engineering spectacle, sloping eastward until it's six stories tall, crossing over the FEC railroad tracks and U.S. 1.

Once it's in service, nearly 2,500 Dania residents will be exposed to sound levels deemed incompatible with residential use.

The nixed aspect of the agreement gave homeowners an exit strategy, McAliley said.

But the federal government said it couldn't justify paying for it with money from air commerce. The cost for the county to pick up the tab would be up to $48 million.

"It's not a payoff," McAliley said. "The FAA could have done it. There's nothing in the rules that says they can't. Nobody's done it before, that's the problem. It's a unique, creative thing that nobody's ever done before. It's not that they can't do it, it's just that they choose not to."

In a May 17 letter to the FAA, McAliley said its refusal to fund the payments "reflected a significant misunderstanding of the settlement" and warned that the federal government could be exposing itself to "enormous" litigation costs.

Those costs would be moot, McAliley emphasized, if the federal government made the payments to residents who, in exchange, would sign releases promising not to sue.


Flights cancelled, Air India passengers stuck abroad

CHENNAI: Air India strike has come as a blow to international travellers as many have got stranded for a day or two at foreign destinations.

Holidayers who had return tickets in Air India ran into trouble after flights got cancelled at the last minute from US, UK and Europe after pilots went on strike. Pilots of erstwhile Air India are on strike over training to fly Boeing Dreamliners which the airline is going to get very soon. The deadlock between the management and the pilots continue in spite of appeals from ministry of civil aviation.

"Many passengers who are on holiday were caught unawares and had to reschedule their return bookings due to cancellations. Fresh one way return tickets are very expensive and seats are also scarce because flights are full due to holiday travel," said D Sudhakara Reddy, national president, Air Passenger Association of India (APAI).

International air fares have shot up by nearly 10 per cent following cancellation of Air India services which has reduced capacity in many sectors.

The national carrier has inter-line agreements with quite a few foreign carriers so that its passengers can be accommodated from London, Frankfurt, New York, Chicago and other major destinations. "Passengers will be able to travel back free if Air India endorses the ticket. But, it depends on availability of seats also. Air India should not accept fresh bookings from India, but they are doing it though it is uncertain whether they will be able to operate the schedules," he added.

Air India put in place a contingency schedule to minimize inconvenience to passengers who are abroad in the last four days. Daily return services were flown on Delhi-Paris-New York, Delhi-Frankfurt-Chicago and Delhi-London sectors and on Mumbai-Bangkok, Delhi-Bangkok, and Mumbai-Dubai-Mumbai-Goa sectors and also on Middle East routes. A few existing schedules were combined to operate these special services, said an Air India spokesperson.

"We were able to handle all needs of the passengers using these flights. More flights may be operated if there is a need," said an official.

Delhi and Mumbai are Air India's gateway for international operations. Travellers booked from Chennai and other cities of the state are flown domestic to these metro and are changed over to long haul flights to US, UK and Europe.

New Delhi, India: Government bid to boost regional air links

NEW DELHI: In a move that could boost connectivity, the government plans to make it mandatory for airlines to operate feeder flights into big cities from nearby places. Such a move would, in turn, make it mandatory for all scheduled carriers to have small turboprop aircraft in their fleet.

Aviation minister Ajit Singh recently said: "The idea is to have regional connectivity to the local hub. For example , there is a huge market around Delhi that would like to fly into the capital and then take connecting flights. We are planning to make it a must for airlines to have such flights." These feeder flights would be in addition to the existing norm of flying to the northeast and Kashmir. But would Indian airlines, all of whom are facing serious financial troubles and struggling to survive , be able to afford this move if it means buying small planes? At present, airlines like IndiGo and GoAir operate an all-Airbus fleet with no turboprops .

"Aviation turbine fuel (ATF) is the single biggest operating cost element for airlines . I have asked the oil ministry to put it in the list of petro products whose price is determined by the government and not oil companies. There is a feeling that cross-subsidization of other petro products is happening by disproportionately hiking ATF prices each time crude shoots up," the minister said.

The aviation ministry feels that if ATF is notified, oil companies would have to give some serious logic for the hike in prices. At present, high sales tax levied by states on ATF along with steep base price (possibly to subsidize loss on sale of diesel, petrol, LPG) of jet fuel make ATF among the most expensive in the world here. ATF alone accounts for almost half of an airline's total operating cost. The ministry feels if this is brought down to global levels of about 30% with rationalization of ATF prices, airlines can return to health. Also there are indications that the much-awaited decision to allow foreign airlines to pick up up to 49% stake in Indian carriers could be taken by Juneend . The move will gather speed now with Parliament session coming to an end.

Highly placed sources say the owner of nearly bankrupt Kingfisher recently called on Singh and linked the airline's survival to allowing FDI by foreign airlines. Apart from airlines like Jet and IndiGo, the biggest opposition to FDI comes from Trinamool Congress . Sources say Singh has had talks on the issue with Trinamool . "We have to take steps for making the industry viable without a bailout package for private airlines," Singh said.

More Strain

Airlines like IndiGo and GoAir, which operate an all Airbus fleet, will have to buy small turboprops Aviation ministry has sought putting ATF in notified goods category to end practice of oil companies pricing jet fuel as they wish There are indications that the much-awaited decision to allow foreign airlines to acquire stake up to 49% in Indian carriers could be taken by June-end.

Ryanair reopens 'faster' upgraded website

NEW TEXT alerts and faster response times are the main features of the revamped Ryanair website, which reopened on Saturday afternoon after being shut down for maintenance work.

The budget airline said it had closed the website on Friday to “significantly upgrade and enhance the processing capacity” of ryanair.com. Its spokesman, Stephen McNamara, said the upgraded site would have three times the capacity and processing speed of the old version.

“This will allow significantly faster response times to Ryanair passengers booking flights, checking in online and purchasing ancillary services,” he said.

The upgraded site also provides for SMS text alerts to customers in instances when a flight is delayed by more than two hours or during periods of mass disruption, such as adverse weather, air traffic control strikes or airspace closures.

The airline was criticized on online forums for shutting down its website while telling passengers to check in online before the shutdown.

Normally, Ryanair charges passengers a €60 fee if they have not checked in online and printed off their boarding cards before arriving at the airport.

However, it then emerged the airline had sent emails to passengers traveling during the affected period telling them they would not be charged if they were unable to check-in online during the website’s downtime.

There had been fears the website shutdown would affect the thousands of rugby supporters who traveled to Twickenham to watch the Leinster and Ulster match at the weekend and the soccer fans who travelled to Germany for the Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich.

Ryanair will be back in the news today as it reveals its full-year results.

http://www.irishtimes.com

This week in history: The flight of Charles Lindbergh

On May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget Airport in Paris after a flight of 33½ hours. Touching down at 10:24 pm, Paris time, Lindbergh had become the first person to successfully make a solo, nonstop flight from America to Europe.

Crowds of Parisians flocked to the field to see the hero of the hour, whose daring flight had captured the world's imagination. Edwin L. James, reporter for the New York Times, recorded the moment: “The movement of humanity swept over soldiers and policemen, and there was the wild sight of thousands of men and women rushing madly across the half a mile of the not-too-even ground. ... Soldiers and police tried for one small moment to stem the tide, then joined it, rushing as madly as anyone else toward the aviator and his plane.”

Lindbergh later wrote in his memoir of the flight, named after his trusted plane, "The Spirit of St. Louis," “I was completely unprepared for the welcome which awaited me on Le Brouget. I had no idea that my plane had been so accurately reported along its route..."

As Lindbergh brought his plane to a stop, the crowd rushed toward him, pulling him from the plane and hoisting him above their heads in celebration. He later wrote, “I found myself lying in a prostrate position, up on top of the crowd, in the center of an ocean of heads that extended as far out into the darkness as I could see.”

Read more and photo:  http://www.deseretnews.com

Two sent to Hurley Medical Center after plane crash just east of William 'Tiny' Zehnder Field Airport (66G), Frankenmuth, Michigan



ARBELA TOWNSHIP -- Two people were rushed to Hurley Medical Center after a small plane crashed just east of William “Tiny” Zehnder Field Sunday evening. 

Frankenmuth Assistant Fire Chief Phillip Kearns tells NBC25, the pilot reported losing power around 5:25 p.m., shortly after taking off from the private airport with three passengers on board.  The plane crashed in a wheat field  near Reese and Swaffer roads.  Two passengers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.  The third passenger along with the pilot will seek their own treatment.

The Frankenmuth Police Department and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating the crash.

Story and photo:   http://www.minbcnews.com

TECNAM-P2006T (SE-MGB) Västerås flygplats Rollout 2012

May 20, 2012 by svenskaflygbolag

 TECNAM-P2006T (SE-MGB) vid flygdagen RollOut på Västerås flygplats.
20 maj 2012. Flygplanet ägs av Aviation Network ANM AB, Borås.

http://www.svenskaflygbolag.com

Douglas C-47B Skytrain (DC-3) 9Q-CUK operated by Vallentuna Aviatörförening

May 20, 2012 by svenskaflygbolag

Douglas C-47B Skytrain (DC-3) 9Q-CUK at flight day Rollout at Vasteras airport. 20 May 2012. The aircraft operated by Vallentuna Aviatörförening.  

Douglas C-47B Skytrain (DC-3) 9Q-CUK vid flygdagen RollOut på Västerås flygplats.
20 maj 2012. Flygplanet opereras av Vallentuna Aviatörförening.

http://www.svenskaflygbolag.com

No co-pilot skill check, logbooks

 A year after four persons were killed when a Border Security Force’s (BSF) Chetak helicopter crashed near Mount Abu in Rajasthan, findings by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have revealed that logbooks of the aircraft had not been maintained for five years and there was a serious lapse regarding proficiency check of the co-pilot.

This was not the first time that Chetak helicopters had crashed, the report said. In 1978-79, two Chetak copters crashed after the failure of ‘hydraulic drag damper’.

The helicopter owned by the BSF was manufactured in 1989 by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bangalore. The probe committee found that the same helicopter was involved in heavy landing on January 30, 2005, and the crew had then reported severe vertical and lateral vibrations.

The impact of the crash was such that the crew and the passengers did not get any time to react and there was an intense fire that engulfed the entire cockpit. Those killed were identified as pilot Colonel (Retd) Bal, co-pilot Deputy Commandant Vivek Chaudhary, engineer S S Chopra and sub-inspector Sohanlal. The incident was reported on May 13, 2011.

The report said BSF had operations and maintenance contract with Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL), but on scrutiny it was found “neither party was exercising any operational control due to which no crew-related records/ documents were maintained by any of the party”.

The logbooks of PHHL for the years 2005 to 2010 were not available.

“It appears that PHHL did not exercise any quality control over the maintenance activities. They did not possess copies of the maintenance manual and other technical literature for preparing and updating the aircraft maintenance program on the basis of which call outs are required to be issued. There was frequent rotation (weekly/fortnightly) of the technicians at the outstation maintenance bases. The rotation of the personnel was carried out without any consideration for the relevant skill, level of experience and to ensure the continuity in the maintenance activity,” the report said.

It said the snag could not be detected at initial stage because there was no proper record of the maintenance of the equipment called hydraulic drag damper (which causes severe vibrations)

“Inspection of the BSF store inventory indicated that they do not have equipment for the drag damper timing check. Neither was there any record of their procuring such equipment. This indicates that their

assessment of drag damper timing was based on estimation and not actual measurements. Therefore the snag may not have been detected at its initiations,” said the report.

Source:   http://www.indianexpress.com

Pilot Safely Lands Plane Without Landing Gear - Austin Straubel International Airport (KGRB), Green Bay, Wisconsin


The pilot of a twin engine plane is forced to make an emergency landing at Green Bay's Austin Straubel Airport. It happened about 11:15 last night. 

Airport officials tell us the pilot, a 77-year-old man from Arizona, was attempting to land in Appleton, but the plane's landing gear would not deploy. That's when he made the decision to keep flying towards Green Bay, where he eventually brought the plane to the ground.

Tom Miller Airport Director, Austin Straubel Airport:  "He decided to come over to Green Bay, burned off some fuel and then attempted the landing," says Tom Miller, the Airport Director at Austin Straubel Airport.  "Of course, the gear was not able to come down and the aircraft skidded down the runway several hundred feet and came to a stop on the pavement."

No one was hurt during the landing and there were no fuel spills. Airport officials say the pilot is very experienced, with over fifty years behind the controls. He and his passenger were coming to Appleton from Arizona for the summer.

Source:  http://www.wbay.com

Mooney M20J/205 MSE, Sheridan Air LLC, N9154K: Accident occurred May 09, 2012 in Sterling, Pennsylvania

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA327
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 09, 2012 in Sterling, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/19/2013
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J, registration: N9154K
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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

The pilot landed at the airport for the first time, and he and two passengers went to dinner with family members. They returned to the airport after dark for the return flight to the pilot’s home base. According to the surviving passenger, the pilot initiated the takeoff roll from a taxiway intersection and did not utilize the entire runway. The 2,478 foot-long runway had a 2.4 percent upslope in the takeoff direction, with a prominent hill and trees located past the departure end. The airplane became airborne at the runway numbers, which were just before the displaced threshold, and the stall warning horn sounded immediately after liftoff. The pilot attempted to climb above the trees; however, the left wing struck a tree, and the airplane crashed into the woods about 0.37 miles past the departure end of the runway. The airplane impacted the ground inverted and caught fire. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of a pre-impact mechanical malfunction or failure. According to the aircraft manufacturer, the expected takeoff roll for the airplane at the time of the accident was about 1,490 feet on a level runway, given a gross weight at takeoff of 2,714 pounds. Maximum gross weight for the airplane was 2,900 pounds. 

The surviving passenger reported that the pilot did not utilize a checklist and did not complete any weight and balance calculations. The pilot should have aborted the takeoff when he realized he wasn’t going to liftoff in time to clear the trees.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s decision to take off on an uphill slope without utilizing the entire available runway, and his failure to abort the takeoff when he realized he wasn’t going to liftoff in time to clear the trees at the end of the runway.

"The Aerodrome Information was updated June 14, 2013."

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 9, 2012, about 2225 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20J, N9154K, was destroyed following a collision with trees and terrain after takeoff from Spring Hill Airport (70N), Sterling, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot and one pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured and one passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was registered to a corporation and was operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was destined for Republic Airport, Farmingdale, New York (FRG).

The surviving passenger reported the following. He arrived at FRG earlier on the day of the accident for the flight with the pilot and the other passenger. He stated that he was in the aft seat at all times, the other passenger was in the right, cockpit seat at all times, and the pilot was in the left, cockpit seat at all times. The pilot performed all flight duties and the other passenger did not fly the airplane. The flight proceeded to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where the pilot had the fuel tanks topped off. He did not recall the pilot performing any weight and balance calculations, nor did he observe him using a checklist at any time. He recalled that the pilot stated they were, “…a little overweight from Farmingdale.” 

During the flight, the pilot elected to land at 70N since it was closer to the other passenger’s parents, who were picking the group up for dinner. He stated that the pilot had not flown into 70N before. On the first attempt at a landing, the pilot acquired the runway late and commenced a go-around to lose altitude. An uneventful approach and landing were then made.

After dinner, the group returned to 70N for the return flight to FRG. The pilot was aware of the hill at the departure end of runway 23, since they had seen it in daylight hours during their arrival at 70N. After ground operations, the pilot taxied the airplane to runway 23. He lined up for takeoff at the intersection of the taxiway and runway 23; he did not back taxi to the end to utilize the entire runway. The pilot advanced the throttle to begin the takeoff roll. The runway lights were on and appeared normal. The airplane became airborne at the departure end numbers, just prior to the displaced threshold. Immediately after liftoff, the stall warning horn activated. The pilot was “unable to recover from the stall.” As the flight approached the trees at the end of the runway, the airplane began a turn to the left of the runway centerline. He could see the trees approaching, and estimated that the airplane was about three feet above the trees. The left wing struck a tree, and they “went down.” The airplane landed upside down, and caught fire immediately. He was able to climb out of a rear window that broke out during the impact. 

When asked about engine performance, the passenger stated, “I didn’t hear any problems with the engine at all.” Shortly before the crash, he recalled the front seat passenger asking the pilot, “Are we going to be OK?” to which the pilot answered, “I don’t think so.” He also stated that the wind was “very light” at the time of departure.

The father of the front seat passenger was interviewed after the accident. He stated that none of the occupants of the airplane had been to 70N before. The flight departed runway 23 from the intersection closest to the departure end of runway 5. He stated that all the taxiway lights and the runway beacon were working. 

A witness reported hearing the airplane's engine, followed by the sound of the airplane colliding with the trees and ground. She went outside her home and could see the wreckage on fire. The surviving passenger came running out of the woods, calling for help.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He reported a total flight experience of 272 hours on his commercial certificate application, dated July 11, 2011. The pilot’s personal flight logbook was not recovered.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a single engine, low wing, retractable gear airplane, serial number 24-3372. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-360 engine rated at 200 horsepower. 

The aircraft maintenance records were not recovered after the accident.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 2253 surface weather observation for Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport (MPO), Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, reported wind from 310 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 nautical miles (nm) or better with light rain, few clouds at 7,000 feet, ceiling 9,000 feet broken, temperature 13 degrees C, dew point 7 degrees C, and altimeter setting 29.64 inches of mercury. Sunset was about 2008 and evening civil twilight was about 2039.

AERODROME INFORMATION

A lighted hill, about 29 feet high, was located about 201 feet beyond the runway 23 departure end. Runway 23 was 2,478 feet long, including a 400-foot displaced threshold at the departure end, and had a 2.4-percent upslope. All airport lighting was reportedly operational at the time of the accident.

The intersection of the taxiway and runway where the takeoff roll was initiated was about 200 feet from (beyond) the approach end of runway 23.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was situated in a wooded area, about 0.37 nm southwest of the departure end of runway 23. The airplane wreckage was found inverted, on a heading of 090 degrees. All structural components of the airplane were located within the area of the main wreckage and there was no discernible wreckage path. A post-crash fire consumed a majority of the cockpit, cabin, and left wing. Several broken tree limbs were located adjacent to the wreckage; they exhibited smooth, angular cuts and black transfer marks.

The landing gear were found in the extended position and the wing flaps were found in the “takeoff” position. 

Flight control rod continuity was established from the burned cockpit area to the rudder, elevator, and ailerons. The left aileron control rod was intact and connected to the left aileron. The bracket holding the forward eyelet of the left aileron control rod was separated from the underlying structure. The right aileron control rod was broken immediately next to the aft eyelet. The fracture exhibited indications of an overload separation. The eyelet remained attached to the right aileron. The pilot and co-pilot control wheels were linked together via control rods.

The engine was removed from the firewall and examined at the accident site. The propeller remained attached to the engine. The exhaust system was partially impact-separated from the engine; it was removed and the heat shroud was removed from the cabin heater assembly and inspected. No exhaust gas residue was observed. The engine was separated from the airframe and was suspended by a chain using a front loading tractor and back hoe. All rocker covers and spark plugs were removed. The spark plugs displayed an extended service life and a color consistent with normal combustion when compared to a Champion Spark Plug wear guide. The engine was manually rotated using the propeller; suction and compression were observed on all cylinders. The valve rocker arms were observed rotating in a normal manner. The accessory gears were observed rotating. All cylinders were examined using a lighted bore scope; no defects were observed. Nothing was observed during the course of the examination that would have precluded this engine from making rated power prior to impact.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Pilot

A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed at the offices of Forensic Associates of NE PA, Wayne Memorial Hospital, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, on May 11, 2012. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as “Multiple traumatic injuries secondary to airplane accident (pilot)” and the manner of death was “accidental.” The report stated that the pilot was dead when the fire erupted.

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report indicated no carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, or drugs.

Pilot-rated Passenger

A postmortem examination of the pilot-rated passenger, seated in the right cockpit seat, was performed at the offices of Forensic Associates of NE PA, Wayne Memorial Hospital, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, on May 11, 2012. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as “Combined effects of smoke inhalation with carbon monoxide poisoning and pulmonary edema and heat secondary to airplane crash and fire” and the manner of death was “accidental.” 

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report indicated 19 percent carbon monoxide in the blood. No cyanide or drugs were detected in the blood. The blood was unsuitable for analysis for ethanol.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Aircraft weight and takeoff performance was estimated using for the prevailing conditions at 70N at the time of the accident. According to the aircraft manufacturer, the expected takeoff roll for the airplane at the time of the accident was about 1,490 feet on a level runway, given a gross weight at takeoff of 2,714 pounds. Maximum gross weight for the airplane was 2,900 pounds. Runway 23 had a 2.4-percent upslope. The aircraft manufacturer did not have performance charts that incorporated runway upslope.


 NTSB Identification: ERA12FA327 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 09, 2012 in Sterling, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/19/2013
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J, registration: N9154K
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

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

The pilot landed at the airport for the first time, and he and two passengers went to dinner with family members. They returned to the airport after dark for the return flight to the pilot’s home base. According to the surviving passenger, the pilot initiated the takeoff roll from a taxiway intersection and did not utilize the entire runway. The 2,478 foot-long runway had a 2.4 percent upslope in the takeoff direction, with a prominent hill and trees located past the departure end. The airplane became airborne at the runway numbers, which were just before the displaced threshold, and the stall warning horn sounded immediately after liftoff. The pilot attempted to climb above the trees; however, the left wing struck a tree, and the airplane crashed into the woods about 0.37 miles past the departure end of the runway. The airplane impacted the ground inverted and caught fire. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of a pre-impact mechanical malfunction or failure. According to the aircraft manufacturer, the expected takeoff roll for the airplane at the time of the accident was about 1,490 feet on a level runway, given a gross weight at takeoff of 2,714 pounds. Maximum gross weight for the airplane was 2,900 pounds.

The surviving passenger reported that the pilot did not utilize a checklist and did not complete any weight and balance calculations. The pilot should have aborted the takeoff when he realized he wasn’t going to liftoff in time to clear the trees.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s decision to take off on an uphill slope without utilizing the entire available runway, and his failure to abort the takeoff when he realized he wasn’t going to liftoff in time to clear the trees at the end of the runway.


"The Aerodrome Information was updated June 14, 2013."

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 9, 2012, about 2225 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20J, N9154K, was destroyed following a collision with trees and terrain after takeoff from Spring Hill Airport (70N), Sterling, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot and one pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured and one passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was registered to a corporation and was operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was destined for Republic Airport, Farmingdale, New York (FRG).

The surviving passenger reported the following. He arrived at FRG earlier on the day of the accident for the flight with the pilot and the other passenger. He stated that he was in the aft seat at all times, the other passenger was in the right, cockpit seat at all times, and the pilot was in the left, cockpit seat at all times. The pilot performed all flight duties and the other passenger did not fly the airplane. The flight proceeded to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where the pilot had the fuel tanks topped off. He did not recall the pilot performing any weight and balance calculations, nor did he observe him using a checklist at any time. He recalled that the pilot stated they were, “…a little overweight from Farmingdale.”

During the flight, the pilot elected to land at 70N since it was closer to the other passenger’s parents, who were picking the group up for dinner. He stated that the pilot had not flown into 70N before. On the first attempt at a landing, the pilot acquired the runway late and commenced a go-around to lose altitude. An uneventful approach and landing were then made.

After dinner, the group returned to 70N for the return flight to FRG. The pilot was aware of the hill at the departure end of runway 23, since they had seen it in daylight hours during their arrival at 70N. After ground operations, the pilot taxied the airplane to runway 23. He lined up for takeoff at the intersection of the taxiway and runway 23; he did not back taxi to the end to utilize the entire runway. The pilot advanced the throttle to begin the takeoff roll. The runway lights were on and appeared normal. The airplane became airborne at the departure end numbers, just prior to the displaced threshold. Immediately after liftoff, the stall warning horn activated. The pilot was “unable to recover from the stall.” As the flight approached the trees at the end of the runway, the airplane began a turn to the left of the runway centerline. He could see the trees approaching, and estimated that the airplane was about three feet above the trees. The left wing struck a tree, and they “went down.” The airplane landed upside down, and caught fire immediately. He was able to climb out of a rear window that broke out during the impact.

When asked about engine performance, the passenger stated, “I didn’t hear any problems with the engine at all.” Shortly before the crash, he recalled the front seat passenger asking the pilot, “Are we going to be OK?” to which the pilot answered, “I don’t think so.” He also stated that the wind was “very light” at the time of departure.

The father of the front seat passenger was interviewed after the accident. He stated that none of the occupants of the airplane had been to 70N before. The flight departed runway 23 from the intersection closest to the departure end of runway 5. He stated that all the taxiway lights and the runway beacon were working.

A witness reported hearing the airplane's engine, followed by the sound of the airplane colliding with the trees and ground. She went outside her home and could see the wreckage on fire. The surviving passenger came running out of the woods, calling for help.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He reported a total flight experience of 272 hours on his commercial certificate application, dated July 11, 2011. The pilot’s personal flight logbook was not recovered.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a single engine, low wing, retractable gear airplane, serial number 24-3372. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-360 engine rated at 200 horsepower.

The aircraft maintenance records were not recovered after the accident.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 2253 surface weather observation for Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport (MPO), Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, reported wind from 310 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 nautical miles (nm) or better with light rain, few clouds at 7,000 feet, ceiling 9,000 feet broken, temperature 13 degrees C, dew point 7 degrees C, and altimeter setting 29.64 inches of mercury. Sunset was about 2008 and evening civil twilight was about 2039.

AERODROME INFORMATION

A lighted hill, about 29 feet high, was located about 201 feet beyond the runway 23 departure end. Runway 23 was 2,478 feet long, including a 400-foot displaced threshold at the departure end, and had a 2.4-percent upslope. All airport lighting was reportedly operational at the time of the accident.

The intersection of the taxiway and runway where the takeoff roll was initiated was about 200 feet from (beyond) the approach end of runway 23.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was situated in a wooded area, about 0.37 nm southwest of the departure end of runway 23. The airplane wreckage was found inverted, on a heading of 090 degrees. All structural components of the airplane were located within the area of the main wreckage and there was no discernible wreckage path. A post-crash fire consumed a majority of the cockpit, cabin, and left wing. Several broken tree limbs were located adjacent to the wreckage; they exhibited smooth, angular cuts and black transfer marks.

The landing gear were found in the extended position and the wing flaps were found in the “takeoff” position.

Flight control rod continuity was established from the burned cockpit area to the rudder, elevator, and ailerons. The left aileron control rod was intact and connected to the left aileron. The bracket holding the forward eyelet of the left aileron control rod was separated from the underlying structure. The right aileron control rod was broken immediately next to the aft eyelet. The fracture exhibited indications of an overload separation. The eyelet remained attached to the right aileron. The pilot and co-pilot control wheels were linked together via control rods.

The engine was removed from the firewall and examined at the accident site. The propeller remained attached to the engine. The exhaust system was partially impact-separated from the engine; it was removed and the heat shroud was removed from the cabin heater assembly and inspected. No exhaust gas residue was observed. The engine was separated from the airframe and was suspended by a chain using a front loading tractor and back hoe. All rocker covers and spark plugs were removed. The spark plugs displayed an extended service life and a color consistent with normal combustion when compared to a Champion Spark Plug wear guide. The engine was manually rotated using the propeller; suction and compression were observed on all cylinders. The valve rocker arms were observed rotating in a normal manner. The accessory gears were observed rotating. All cylinders were examined using a lighted bore scope; no defects were observed. Nothing was observed during the course of the examination that would have precluded this engine from making rated power prior to impact.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Pilot

A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed at the offices of Forensic Associates of NE PA, Wayne Memorial Hospital, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, on May 11, 2012. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as “Multiple traumatic injuries secondary to airplane accident (pilot)” and the manner of death was “accidental.” The report stated that the pilot was dead when the fire erupted.

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report indicated no carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, or drugs.

Pilot-rated Passenger

A postmortem examination of the pilot-rated passenger, seated in the right cockpit seat, was performed at the offices of Forensic Associates of NE PA, Wayne Memorial Hospital, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, on May 11, 2012. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as “Combined effects of smoke inhalation with carbon monoxide poisoning and pulmonary edema and heat secondary to airplane crash and fire” and the manner of death was “accidental.”

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report indicated 19 percent carbon monoxide in the blood. No cyanide or drugs were detected in the blood. The blood was unsuitable for analysis for ethanol.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Aircraft weight and takeoff performance was estimated using for the prevailing conditions at 70N at the time of the accident. According to the aircraft manufacturer, the expected takeoff roll for the airplane at the time of the accident was about 1,490 feet on a level runway, given a gross weight at takeoff of 2,714 pounds. Maximum gross weight for the airplane was 2,900 pounds. Runway 23 had a 2.4-percent upslope. The aircraft manufacturer did not have performance charts that incorporated runway upslope.



Susan Grieco/Herald 
The body of Patrick Sheridan was carried from St. Ignatius Martyr Church after Sheridan’s funeral service on Tuesday.


Long Beach resident Patrick Sheridan, an aviation student at SUNY Farmingdale, was killed in a plane crash on May 9 in Pennsylvania.

Hundreds of people turned out on Tuesday morning to say goodbye to Patrick Sheridan, a Long Beach resident and Farmingdale State College aviation student who died in a plane crash on May 9, at age 34.

“These are my aunt Rose’s words: Patrick has left us too soon,” said Sheridan’s cousin Doreen Cooper, referring to Patrick’s mother, Rosemary. “He had a dream to become a pilot, which he did accomplish. He left us doing what he loved best — flying.”

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the crash occurred shortly after 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday. After taking off from Spring Hill Airport in Sterling, Pa., the plane, a four-seat, single-engine Mooney M20J with Sheridan at the controls, crashed in Wayne County, in northeastern Pennsylvania. Sheridan and Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park, were killed and a third passenger, Evan Kisseloff, 21, of Oceanside, was injured but survived. Kisseloff took part in Farmingdale’s commencement ceremony last Saturday, which honored the two dead students.

“As far as the campus mood, there have been a lot of tears here,” Patrick Calabria, Farmingdale’s vice president for institutional advancement, said last Friday. “We’re devastated — especially students in the aviation program who knew the students who were killed … I didn’t know Patrick personally, but I’m told he just loved flying, that it was his dream.”

The flight the students took was not associated with any college program, the school said. They were apparently on their way to visit Falconer’s family in Pennsylvania. Sheridan was a licensed pilot.

According to Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the NTSB, the agency is investigating the accident. A preliminary report was expected to be made available on the NTSB website this week, but it will be a year before a final report is released, Knudson said.

The plane was registered to Sheridan Air LLC, which lists Sheridan as the owner and an address on Tennessee Avenue in Long Beach, where his mother lives. According to his Facebook profile, Sheridan was a 1996 graduate of Long Beach High School and attended Nassau Community College. He founded Sheridan Air last May, and was a senior at SUNY Farmingdale.

“Our campus is in shock, and we are all trying to come to grips with this tragedy,” said Calabria. “Our hearts are with the family and friends of the two students who died. President [W. Hubert] Keen has released a message to the entire campus community and has reached out to the families of the victims to offer whatever comfort and support is needed, as well as to the student who survived.”

St. Ignatius Martyr Church was filled with mourners at Tuesday’s 10 a.m. funeral mass, with many people wiping away tears.

“She was devastated,” Deacon Tom Evrard said of Sheridan’s mother, a widow who raised Patrick and his brother, Phillip, after their father died unexpectedly about 30 years ago. “But she’s at peace. She’s very religious and she works very hard for the church.”

Evrard said that Rosemary Sheridan is involved in a number of outreach programs at St. Ignatius. “‘Woman of the church,’ they call her,” he said. “She’s a very holy, prayerful person.”

Neither Rosemary nor Phillip Sheridan spoke during the funeral service, but Patrick’s cousin Dan McCormack recalled fond memories. “He was a good kid, and he was always on an adventure somewhere, always on the run, and it’s very sad that he had to go so early,” McCormack said. “I’m going to miss him.”

McCormack, who played bagpipes outside the church before and after the mass to honor the family’s Irish heritage, said that Sheridan was always “doing his own thing,” and his mother said that he frequently invited neighbors to fly with him.

“He saw and visited more places in a very short time,” said Cooper. “He was looking for something. He will be missed, but I believe he is in a far better place today and he is at peace. He is fulfilled.”

Alex Costello and Anthony Rifilato contributed to this story.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA327
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 09, 2012 in Sterling, PA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J, registration: N9154K
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

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

On May 9, 2012, about 2225 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20J, N9154K, was substantially damaged following a collision with trees and terrain after takeoff from Spring Hill Airport (70N), Sterling, Pennsylvania. The certificated commercial pilot and one pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured and one passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was registered to a corporation and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was destined for Republic Airport, Farmingdale, New York (FRG).

Reportedly, the flight arrived at 70N earlier in the evening after refueling at Lancaster, Pennsylvania (LNS). After the pilot and passengers returned to the airport, the flight departed on runway 23. Radio and radar contact with air traffic control was not established. The airplane crashed about 0.37 nautical miles southwest of the departure end of runway 23.

An initial examination of the wreckage revealed the following. The accident site was situated in a wooded area. The airplane wreckage was found inverted, on a heading of 090 degrees. All structural components of the airplane were located within the area of the main wreckage. A post-crash fire consumed a majority of the cockpit, cabin, and left wing. The landing gear were found in the extended position and the wing flaps were found in the takeoff position.

A lighted hill, about 29 feet high, was located about 201 feet from the runway end. Runway 23 had a 2.4-percent upslope. All airport lighting was reportedly operational at the time of the accident.

A witness reported hearing the airplane's engine, followed by the sound of the airplane colliding with the trees and ground. She went outside her home and could see the wreckage on fire. The surviving passenger came running out of the woods, calling for help.