Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Two safe from helicopter fire - Ceduna, South Australia

Little remained of helicopter after crash landing and fire
(South Australia Police)

Two men have escaped unhurt from a helicopter which crashed and caught fire, west of Ceduna in South Australia.

The pilot, 52, from West Lakes Shore in Adelaide, had attempted an emergency landing at Charra, 20 kilometres south of the Eyre Highway in the far west of SA, just before sunset on Tuesday.

Police said the man and his son, 23, from Victoria tried to put out the fire but then got clear before the entire craft erupted in flames.

The helicopter had refuelled and left Ceduna airport late in the afternoon.

About 45 minutes later, the pilot smelt smoke and made an emergency landing in a paddock about 80 kilometres west of Ceduna.

The six-seater Eurocopter had been valued at more than $1 million.

The men had been heading to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

Source:   http://www.abc.net.au

After decades of nostalgia for the Apollo program, it’s time for NASA to send astronauts on a radical new adventure, worthy of America’s pioneering spirit

Since the Apollo program ended almost 50 years ago, every newly elected U.S. president has been vexed by the same question: Where next to send astronauts?

NASA’s current target is the moon, but the moon belongs to a previous generation of American pioneers. A grander, more fitting ambition for the space program that first landed human beings on another heavenly body is Mars—a destination that NASA has been preparing to reach since the days of its early visionaries. It is now time to realize their dream.

The Artemis program is NASA’s centerpiece today for human spaceflight. Its aim is to put astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024, but the prospects for that date are dim. There is still no well-defined mission plan, and work on the Artemis rocket and capsule are behind schedule and over budget.

As for sending astronauts to Mars, NASA has somehow always been a couple of tantalizing decades away, thanks to the shifting priorities of successive presidents. Consider the switch-ups just since 1988, when George H.W. Bush pushed for a return to the moon, to be followed by a mission to Mars. Bill Clinton canceled the lunar plan (to say nothing of Mars) and embraced the International Space Station. George W. Bush revived the moon-Mars sequence. Barack Obama nixed the moon part of the program, saying that NASA had “been there, done that,” and opted instead for an asteroid mission and then Mars. Donald Trump rejected the Mars plan, choosing instead to reach the moon with Artemis, but NASA still says that Mars is on its agenda.

The idea of yoking the two destinations together may be politically appealing, but fiscal reality suggests that it will be one or the other, the moon or Mars. Congresses and presidents have often rewarded NASA’s astounding achievements with punishing budget cuts. The Apollo program was arguably the greatest engineering and exploration feat in human history, but the U.S. government treated its final missions as the end of a public works project; little was done to build on its success and hard-won institutional knowledge. At the height of Apollo’s development in 1966, NASA accounted for 6.6% of federal discretionary spending. Today, that figure is about 1.6%, a figure that has barely risen to accommodate the current lunar aspirations, let alone the exploration of another planetary system in our lifetimes.

Why shift gears and make Mars the priority? NASA estimates that just landing on the moon again—not building a base there—will cost $30 billion and says that lessons learned on the moon can be applied to future Mars plans. Broadly speaking, this is true, in the way that Antarctica and the Mojave are both deserts, and survival skills cultivated in one might help in the other. But the tools necessary to do anything useful in the two environments are very different and require, for the most part, very different technologies—including, crucially, an entirely different landing vehicle to navigate the Martian atmosphere.

The moon’s great advantage, of course, is that it’s easier to reach and we’ve done it before. But for all the difficulties of landing on Mars and establishing a human presence there, it is clearly the superior prospect for sustainable exploration. Mars is a bona fide planet with air, ice, wind, weather and usable resources. It also has real similarities to Earth. A Mars day is just over 24 hours long. The planet, on average, is just 30 degrees colder than Antarctica. Its gravity is one-third that of Earth (versus the moon, which is about one-sixth). It has moons and its own complex geology, from the highest mountain in the solar system to a canyon network that makes the Grand Canyon seem a mere local attraction by comparison. It could be a home for people in a way that the moon never will.

The American space program has always aimed at putting people on Mars. Before the word astronaut had been coined or an agency named NASA existed, there was “Das Marsprojekt,” a work of speculative fiction written in 1948 by Wernher von Braun, who developed rocket technology for Nazi Germany before escaping to the arms of the American military. He built the rocket that would put Explorer 1, the first American satellite, in space and became the leading engineer and best-known promoter of the early U.S. space program.

The plot of “Das Marsprojekt” was no mere thought experiment or flight of fancy—no ray guns, no aliens in flying saucers. It amounted to the first serious study of how to get to Mars, and it would later be stripped of its fictional elements and published in the U.S. in 1952. Von Braun’s plan involved a tentative moon program, space shuttles, a space station and a flotilla of reusable rockets. Once those were developed, it would be time to send astronauts to the Red Planet.

For von Braun, the moon was mostly a way station for learning off-world surface operations, and the Apollo program achieved that goal. Two weeks after the silicone soles of American astronauts pressed into fresh moondust, von Braun—by then director of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the chief architect of the Saturn V rocket responsible for the moon landings—stepped into Spiro Agnew’s office and slapped onto the vice president’s desk a plan for the next natural frontier for American space exploration: Mars. The 50-page presentation, meant as the definitive plan to make humankind multi-planetary, was the culmination of von Braun’s life’s work.

Unfortunately for von Braun, prevailing forces in Congress and the White House came quickly to see the Apollo program as the goal, rather than, as he had hoped, an early milestone of something much larger. By Apollo 15 in the early 1970s, opinion polls pegged public support of space spending at about 23%, while 66% said spending was too high. President Nixon endorsed only the space shuttle element of von Braun’s plan, largely because it would be a major construction project in Palmdale, keeping California in his column during the next presidential election. Nixon also demoted space exploration as a national priority; it would henceforth compete against other domestic programs for funding. The human adventure was fine, but the agency would have to play politics to stay alive.

Getting things off Earth and onward to Mars has historically been the prohibitive factor in sending humans there, and in that regard, much has changed since von Braun’s day. The great paradigm shift for NASA has been the emergence of commercial launch services led by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin. SpaceX, which has already developed a reusable heavy lift launch vehicle, is presently working on Starship, a “super heavy” rocket and crew-carrying spacecraft. Commercial launch services and reusable rockets would trim billions of dollars from any robust human spaceflight program.

Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX, which is responsible for the reusable rockets and crew capsules now keeping the International Space Station crewed, has her eyes on Mars, calling settlement there “risk reduction for the human species.” Last week the aerospace company tested a prototype of its reusable Starship vehicle, designed for sending humans to Mars, and a vessel on which NASA could buy a ride for its astronauts—something that SpaceX is undoubtedly banking on. Last week in its first full-fledged test flight, an uncrewed Starship prototype crashed on landing, but it was an early demonstration of the vehicle; the successful launch and data collected from the flight were evidence of progress.

Landing astronauts on Mars is still obviously years or decades away, but once there explorers would have plenty to work with in the long term. This is most obviously true of water, which is abundant in the form of ice. Melted down, it would flood the planet with a global ocean. For all the recent excitement about the discovery of water on the moon, by contrast, there is more water in a cubic meter of dry Sahara sand than in a cubic meter of lunar regolith.

“Mars has everything we need for long-term sustainability,” says Dr. Kirby Runyon, a planetary geologist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory who studies resource extraction on the moon and Mars. He says that iron could be drawn from the soil and combined with carbon from the CO2 atmosphere to make steel. “You can get silicon from surface minerals on Mars and make solar panels. There is probably thorium and uranium there, and you could use it to make nuclear power plants to combine with solar panels. Ground ice is abundant at higher latitudes. Nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen are necessary for humans to make a go of it. You can use hydrogen alone as rocket propellant, or you can bond it to carbon to make methane—another propellant.” Moreover, by cracking carbon off CO2 molecules, astronauts would be left with oxygen to pressurize a Martian habitat.

In terms of farmland, scientists would have to find an easy way of removing various salts from Martian soil. But apatite, a mineral present in abundance on Mars, contains phosphorus, an important nutrient for agriculture. “In conditioned Martian soil, it is possible to grow plants,” says Laura Fackrell, a geochemist and geomicrobiologist who studies in situ resource utilization on Mars at the University of Georgia. “Still, it will take a lot of work.”

To make Martian soil arable on a small scale, NASA would have to bring necessary ingredients from Earth. For example, the planet lacks sufficient nitrogen for plant growth. But NASA would have to send nitrogen to Mars anyway, because astronauts need it to breathe. Plants such as legumes are able to absorb atmospheric nitrogen and bring it down into the planet’s soil. Nitrogen can also be extracted from human urine. “Nitrogen has solutions that are feasible,” Ms. Fackrell says.

To be sure, establishing a human colony on Mars will not be easy and will not be cheap. NASA is still far from knowing how to keep humans healthy on the flight there, which would last up to nine months. Outside of the protective embrace of Earth’s geomagnetic field, astronauts without adequate protection could be exposed to dangerous levels of cosmic radiation. Leaving behind Earth’s gravity would impair their cardiovascular systems, atrophy their muscles, damage their vision and cause their bones to deteriorate. It would be something less than inspiring for the first astronaut on Mars to have to crawl from the lander, unable to raise a flag, let alone plant it. But such daunting challenges are precisely what a more robust Mars program would be designed to solve.

NASA is hardly starting from scratch. Since 2001, the agency has launched eight consecutive successful missions to Mars, including five landers. Indeed, the U.S. has been landing on Mars since the 1970s—the only country ever to land anything there with unambiguous success. A behemoth sample-collecting rover is now on its way and will be deployed by a new version of NASA’s sky-crane landing system, which was last used in 2012 for the rover Curiosity. NASA currently has $7 billion of operational hardware on the red planet, orbiting it or en route—all meant as precursors to human missions. It is also fortunate that NASA’s moon rocket and capsule were originally developed for Mars before being repurposed for Artemis, so they can revert to a Mars mission without wasting those investments.

Making the case for Mars to the American public won’t be easy, especially at a time of such economic and social distress. But the U.S. space program has always been about much more than practical objectives. It has been a great beacon of human aspiration and a spark to the pioneering spirit that defines so much of our national identity. We can look back with justifiable pride on Apollo and its achievements, but the future is Mars.

FAA investigating police helicopter incident

The Federal Aviation Administration is probing a May 18 incident in which a Las Vegas police Huey rescue helicopter clipped a Red Rock Canyon wall with its main rotor blades. 

 All five on board for the training mission escaped injury and the pilot was able to land the aircraft safely but under what conditions is unclear until authorities close out the investigation.

First described as an "accident," FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said Tuesday officials have downgraded the mishap to an "incident" but it is still under investigation.

Kenitzer, a spokesman for the FAA's Northwest Mountain and Alaska regions, said agency officials won't comment until after the probe is wrapped up in about two weeks.

Sources say a strong wind gust pushed the Bell HH-1H helicopter into a canyon wall in the Spring Mountain range.

"The pilot landed safely on a road at the bottom of the mountain. None of the five people on board was injured," states an internal FAA email that notes "Metro PD reported the accident to us and we are investigating."

Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Bill Cassell said the FAA probe "is an inquiry and it's not an accident. It's an incident. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on this incident while there is still an active, FAA inquiry into it," he said last week.

Cassell confirmed the FAA email that says the helicopters main rotor blades struck a canyon wall about 11:30 a.m. May 19, some 20 miles north-northwest of Las Vegas.

He didn't immediately answer questions about the damage total and whether or not the helicopter has been repaired and returned to service.

Source:  http://www.lvrj.com

Video: Artist creates terrifying plane crash in Photoshop


 OK, we're sold; geeks are heroic.

We're sold because one of the most exciting videos we've seen in a long time happens to be this one, which depicts computer geekdom (plus artistic wizardry) in full flower.

Specifically, it's an image-by-image recreation of the PhotoShopping (yup, it's a verb) of a commercial jet crashing on what looks suspiciously like Pacific Coast Highway.

And it's riveting. The music thumps. The rhythm of images being chosen is frenetic but also arresting. The final product is eye-grabbing; at once scary and beautiful and, in its own way, authentic.

Thankfully it's all made up.

Atlantic City International Airport (KACY) Undergoing $27 Million Expansion

Watch Atlantic City Airport To Expand on PBS. See more from NJToday.

One of the advantages of New Jersey being the most densely populated state is easy access to major cities ……and major airports like Newark Liberty, JFK and Philadelphia….

 In South Jersey, the Atlantic City International Airport is aiming to become the airport of choice for travelers in the region.

The airport is undergoing a $27 million expansion that includes adding 75,000 square feet…. Bart Mueller, executive director of the South Jersey Transportation Authority, says Atlantic City International is the 108th busiest of the ……800 airports that offer charter service. Despite the growth, Mueller says nearby competition still poses a major challenge.

“We’re located between two major markets. That’s always been our biggest challenge in actually developing air service but we don’t want to be Philadelphia, we don’t want to be Newark Liberty,” Mueller said. “We want to be that regional hub airport that serves South Jersey on the inbound and outbound market and also supports the industry in Atlantic City and that renaissance that is taking place today.”

The expansion — which includes a federal inspection station …enabling regularly scheduled international service…, three new gates…, an expanded tarmac ramp and aircraft parking…… — is just one of the factors executives say will attract more travelers…….

The goal of attracting more travelers will require attracting more airlines. Right now, the airport only has one carrier — …Spirit Airlines.…… Mueller says it can be difficult to woo airline carriers.

“How do you help them make money, how do you partner with them and how do you ensure they stay here? That’s the $64 question,” he said.

Mueller says the answer to that question… lies in the ongoing expansion project and support from the governor and the legislature for Atlantic City’s revitalization, which he insists will result in more buy-ins from stakeholders.

……But he cautions that attracting more air service is always an uphill battle.

“Being a small, regional hub is tough, but there’s always that right fit,” Mueller said.

The Atlantic City International Airport served about 1.4 million customers last year and last March was its busiest March on record …serving more than 122,000 people.

Traveler Bob Ruth who flew in from Las Vegas… says if his family didn’t live nearby…, the airport wouldn’t be his first choice… because of the limited number of flights, a lay-over and the cost of the ticket.

“I had a choice of one airline to come here. Sometimes it’s easier to fly into Philly then it is Atlantic City,” said Ruth. “I could have rented a car and the flight for what I paid to fly into Atlantic City.”

Mueller says conversations with six or seven airlines are ongoing…. NJ Today contacted Southwest Airlines… who said that while Atlantic City is not on its map, it remains on its radar…. And JetBlue said it’s always evaluating new cities but has nothing to announce at this time.

“We sat down with United Airlines three weeks ago to talk about how we can help them out with their diversions,” Mueller said. “Once we talk about handling those kind of diversions, then we can also begin the conversation about regularly scheduled air service.”

The airport expansion project will be completed in phases throughout the summer…. Mueller expects Spirit will add direct service to two or three Caribbean destinations by early next year…….

Lauren Wanko reports from Egg Harbor Township.

Source:   http://www.njtvonline.org

Pilots: United plans to remove cockpit gates from 787s

Pilots say United Airlines is paying to remove a gate that would help protect the cockpit on some of its newest planes. 

United is getting Boeing's newest plane, the 787, later this year. Those planes were going to come with a folding metal gate that blocks the cockpit when the door is open. But according to a letter from the Air Line Pilots Association to the airline, United is paying extra to have the gates removed.

Federal rules do not require the gates, though United has them on its 777s. The airline would not discuss the barriers, other than to say they are one component of flight security.

United is part of United Continental Holdings Inc. 

Source:   http://www.chicagotribune.com

Iridium Communications Moves Toward Satellite-Based Air-Traffic Control

The Wall Street Journal

Iridium Communications Inc. plans to install devices on its next fleet of commercial satellites to continuously monitor airliners and business jets on trans-Atlantic trips, an important step toward eventually replacing radar-based air-traffic control.

The satellite technology would supply more complete and continuous flight information to air-traffic controllers on the ground than radar or current bursts of data transmitted by planes on long flights over water or remote regions.

It also would also give greater flexibility to pilots, allowing them to get permission to fly closer to nearby aircraft and to change altitudes and routes more easily to conserve fuel and avoid storms.

Governments and industry officials on both sides of the Atlantic are pursuing initiatives to replace ground-based radar with a satellite-based system. Iridium's initiative is intended to help airlines quickly start achieving the economic and environmental benefits.

Today, pilots on long oceanic or polar routes typically rely on sometimes-unreliable radio transmissions to communicate with controllers on the ground.

Iridium expects Aireon, as its satellite-based effort is known, eventually to cover flights across the Pacific and remote polar regions as well, the company said Tuesday.

Nav Canada, the air-traffic-control organization that handles the bulk of Atlantic crossings, will begin using Iridium's satellites in five years or so. Nav Canada is part of a joint venture supported by the U.S. and involving Iridium and its corporate partners.

Iridium said it expects to receive about $200 million from Nav Canada and other air-traffic-control organizations for installing the devices on its satellites. It also anticipates receiving fees from air-traffic-control organizations and other customers using the system.

Iridium last year announced plans to improve in-flight communications by using links between a satellite to periodically transmit the position of aircraft. Now the McLean, Va., company and partners including Harris Corp. and ITT Exelis intend to move toward continuous, automated data transmissions to keep track of aircraft.

With about 1,200 daily flights, the North Atlantic is the world's busiest oceanic airspace. Iridium executives said they expect that major airlines, as well as air-traffic control agencies in Britain and elsewhere, eventually will participate. Iridium anticipates making similar arrangements for trans-Pacific flights. Total fuel savings could amount to more than $6 billion for airlines using the system through 2030, according to the company.

Iridium intends to install air-traffic control receivers as secondary, or, "hosted," payloads on all 66 satellites in its next fleet.

"This is a big milestone for commercially hosted payloads and a groundbreaking use" of Iridium's global reach, said Matt Desch, the company's chief executive.

Extensive satellite-based tracking systems are expected to be phased in for domestic U.S. flights around the end of the decade. But many airlines are balking at the investments required for such systems—even though the technology could help conserve fuel and reduce the environmental impact of flying.

Source:   http://online.wsj.com

Volunteer pilots save death-row pound pets through charity

NAPLES, Fla.- Some pet-loving pilots are helping save the lives of pound pups by giving them a lift to no-kill shelters. More than 2,700 volunteers fly for the charity Pilots N Paws, which helps deliver death-row dogs and cats to shelters with extra space.

Eight-year old pound pup Terry has an extra skip in his step as he saunters around Naples Humane Society. The stray's life was saved with just hours to spare last Friday.

"He was actually set to be euthanized the next day," Naples Humane Society Executive Director Michael Simonik said Tuesday.

The Cairn Terrier's knight in shining armor is volunteer pilot Jeff Bennett of Pilots N Paws. The group rescues death-row dogs, cats, and even reptiles from overcrowded pounds and flies them to no-kill shelters across the country.

"A lot of the shelters that we fly for are very rural areas in Georgia and Alabama, even some areas of Florida. Essentially, when a dog goes into one of these shelters, it's almost a death sentence," Bennett said Tuesday.

Naples Humane Society is currently at capacity. Still, they managed to make room for 63 Pilots N Paws pets since the charity started in 2008.

"They're moving from California to Texas, from Alabama to Florida, from Florida to Minnesota. So animals are moving all over the country that are highly adoptable. There's no reason to put them to sleep when they can find homes very quickly," Simonik said.

Terry's transport marks a milestone for Bennett. The loving lapdog is Bennett's thousandth rescue in just four years.

"In a way it's overwhelming. I never thought I'd be able to move this many," Bennett said.

Terry's stay at the no-kill shelter will likely be short. The Humane Society hopes to place the pup in a wag-worthy forever home soon.

"We hope he gets adopted pretty quickly because the quicker he's adopted, the more we can bring in from Collier County and places around here and elsewhere," Simonik said.

Terry the Cairn Terrier is now up for adoption. He's available at the Naples Humane Society's satellite adoption center in Naples' Coastland Mall.

Runaway Jeep on runway leads to federal charges - Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL), Pennsylvania

Federal prosecutors charged a Chadds Ford man today with disrupting services and endangering safety at Philadelphia International Airport on March 1 when he allegedly crashed his Jeep through a gate and raced 100 mph down a runway.

Kenneth Richard Mazik, 24, was arrested by federal authorities on March 12 and has been free on $250,000 bail since April.

He was charged by criminal information, a process which generally indicates a plea deal is in the works.

An FBI arrest affidavit said Mazik crashed his black Jeep Grand Cherokee through a locked gate on the southeast perimeter of the airport as an aircraft was approaching for a landing.

After entering the tarmac, the affidavit said Mazik then turned on to runway 9R, which was the same runway which the incoming aircraft was approaching. The affidavit said Mazik then drove down the runway at speeds in excess of 100 mph, with the aircraft approaching from his rear.

An air traffic controller quickly diverted the aircraft and placed it in a holding pattern.

The affidavit further alleged that Mazik continued to drive his Cherokee even after Philadelphia police officers began pursuing him. He finally stopped on a taxiway adjacent to another runway where he was apprehended by police after a brief scuffle in which two officers were allegedly injured.

Authorities said Mazik's actions caused significant disruption to the operation and services at the airport. The affidavit said 75 aircraft were placed in a holding pattern, and 80 aircraft were prevented from departing at their scheduled times.

A federal magistrate modified Mazik's bail last month, ordering him to reside at his mother's residence with active GPS monitoring.

Former TSA Agent Arrested For Demonstrating Pat Down

June 19, 2012

A former TSA agent in Ft. Myers, Fla., who received a pat down she found intrusive is heading to court in early July to protest misdemeanor battery charges after she demonstrated on a security supervisor to complain about the way she was touched.

Carol Price, of Bonita Springs, Fla., was traveling on United Airlines from Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers to Cleveland, Ohio on April 20, en route to her brother's funeral in Cincinnati.

When she went through security, Price received a pat down that she felt involved "intrusive touching of her genitals and breasts," said her lawyer, John Mills.

According to Mills, Price went over to Kristen Arnberg, her former supervisor, to complain about the pat down. When Arnberg asked what she meant by intrusive, Price demonstrated on her, said Mills.

"She used to be a TSA employee up until 2007, she obviously knows the procedure," said Mills.

According to the police report, Price "did intentionally and without consent grab the victim and slide her hands into the crotch area" of Arnberg.

Mills says that Price and Arnberg did not get along when they worked together.

The police report states that Price "attempted to walk away from the scene" following the altercation, and disregarded a Lee County Port Authority police officer's instructions to stay in the area.

Subsequently, Price was arrested for battery and resisting an officer. She is due in court July 2 on misdemeanor battery charges.

When contacted, Arnberg refused to comment.

Mills says they've turned down all three plea offers and want to take the case to trial.

"She doesn't feel like she's done anything wrong, and I agree with her," said Mills. "We hope to get a not guilty verdict and have her named cleared."

According to Kate Hanni, director of FlyersRights.org, a non-profit airline consumer organization, there is a serious need to address airport security pat down protocol as passengers feel they are being violated.

"Most people don't know how to file a complaint or who we could complain to at the TSA," she said. "We really need to reevaluate who we're hiring and also what kind of training is being given to these TSA agents to bring some consistency to the travel process."

Hanni calls the security screening process at airports "the most degrading, undignified process," and attributes part of the problem to corruption throughout the TSA agency.

"The TSA agents that work for TSA directly," she said. "They virtually have all the job security they need, they almost are never fired unless they're caught doing something wrong."

The TSA at Southwest Florida International Airport has recently come under scrutiny after 42 workers, including the head of federal security, were disciplined earlier this month after an internal investigation uncovered hundreds of random screenings had not been performed last year.

A TSA representative could not be reached for comment.

Source:    http://abcnews.go.com

Saitoti Chopper Crash: Helicopter Pilot Did Not Want To Fly


Jun 13, 2012 by kisstvnews1 

11TH JUNE 2012 

The air crash that claimed the lives of internal security minister George Saitoti, his assistant Orwa Ojode and four others could have been avoided if senior officials in the police force listened to the concerns of the two pilots over the condition of the ill fated chopper. News at eight has learnt that the chopper was grounded for three days last week and only took to the air after a check by engineers on Friday, two days before it came crashing down. News at eight's Dennis Okari with that story.

Sunken gyrocopter salvage uncertain

Tony Unwin was on board the gyro that crashed into the Tauranga Harbour on Sunday.

Salvage of the gyrocopter that landed in Tauranga Harbour on Sunday is uncertain at this stage according to one of the two men on board at the time. 

Tony Unwin from Gyrate NZ Limited, a Tauranga based company that imports and sells gyrocopters, was on board the gyro that crashed into the harbour on Sunday afternoon.

He denied the gyrocopter “fell out of the sky” but conceded that it landed in the water.

“We were unfortunate that we happened to be over the water when this incident occurred,” says Tony.

Tony was reluctant to talk about the crash and what caused it.

“The press is probably not the place for it to come out,” says Tony.

Tony was one of two pilots on board the gyroplane that crashed into the water near the Tauranga Harbour entrance at about 4pm on June 17.

Both escaped from the gyroplane and swam to the surface before it sank, and were rescued by nearby boaties.

Trish and Grant Lewis were entering the harbour entrance on the launch Reel Hot when they saw the crash. Trish noticed the gyrocopter flying very low along the seaward side of Matakana Island.

She thought it was going to land on the island but instead “it just overshot it and crashed into the harbour” just inside Matakana Island.

“It just sunk; it went straight down,” says Trish.

“To see two people pop up was… quite amazing.”

The men were rescued from the water and ferried to Sulphur Point in an inflatable boat that was also on the scene.

Civil Aviation Authority communications advisor Emma Peel says the authority is waiting for the report from the pilot.

“When we have received that we’ll consider whether it’s quite clear what happened or if we will need an investigation to determine the cause,” says Emma.

“The wreckage, I think has been released back to the owner, that will be the insurers responsibility to decide whether to remove it or not.”

The Bay Of Plenty Regional Council says it is talking to the relevant parties, but its staff will not comment on whether salvage of the wreckage will be required.

The wreckage is not considered a navigation hazard.

“It may not be found,” says Tony.

“Boats have been lost in that harbour before. Aircraft have been lost in that harbour before.” 

Source:  http://www.sunlive.co.nz

Blue Islands Avion de Transport Regional ATR-42-300, G-DRFC, Flight SI-308

The collapsed port wheel - a landing gear component is believed to have failed six years before its scheduled replacement.

A LANDING gear component two years into an eight-year lifespan is suspected to have failed and caused the Blue Islands ATR42 crash landing, the airline said yesterday.

The incident happened at 8.23am on Saturday and no one was injured.

The left-hand landing gear collapsed causing the plane to veer down the runway and damage its wing.

‘As we expect to see in the Air Accidents Investigation Branch official report, our initial investigations indicate that shortly after a safe landing, during the roll-out phase, a component on the left-hand landing gear failed, causing the aircraft to give way,’ Blue Islands managing director Rob Veron said.

‘We suspect this is a premature failure of a component part which is just two years into an eight-year life.

‘We now await the outcome of the official AAIB report.'

Blue Islands Plane Did Not Crash Land: Avion de Transport Regional ATR-42-300, G-DRFC, Flight SI-308 - Gear Collapse

Blue Islands insists one of it's planes was NOT involved in a crash landing on Saturday morning. 

 What actually happened during the emergency landing is still under investigation though.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch is in Jersey looking into what happened on Saturday morning - when it's reported the undercarriage of a plane collapsed shortly after landing.

Blue Islands says it suspects 'the premature failure of a component' caused this to happen while the airline's MD insists it's absolutely compliant with all regulations.

Rob Veron also says safety is paramount and that more information will be released on completion of the AAIB's work.

Source:  http://www.islandfm.com

Pilots’ Deadly Private-Plane Crashes Prompt U.S. Call for Basics

By Alan Levin - Jun 19, 2012

The last fatal airline crash killed 50 people when a Colgan Air flight slammed into a neighborhood near Buffalo, New York, in February 2009. Private-plane wrecks since then have killed 30 times as many.

The crash rate on private-pilot flights -- up 20 percent since 2000 -- contrasts with a roughly 85 percent drop in accidents on commercial jetliners, said Earl Weener, a member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. The disparity is a dark spot on decades of aviation-safety improvements, and the board is weighing how to make non-commercial flying less hazardous.

Many accidents have resulted from pilots’ inattention to basics, according to research by a group created by industry and the federal government last year. Pilots have overloaded planes, failed to check weather reports, and made flying mistakes that caused planes to lose lift or go out of control.

“More often than not it is human factors or a piloting problem,” Weener said in a phone interview ahead of today’s start of a two-day safety board hearing.

Since the 1990s, commercial-airline crashes due to icing, inadvertently hitting the ground, mid-air collisions, wind shear and other causes have been almost wiped out with improved technology and pilot training, according to NTSB accident statistics.

Sudden Maneuver

A crash May 9, 2009, in Minden, Nevada, that killed five people illustrates that those safety enhancements haven’t taken hold in the small-plane world the NTSB will examine. A pilot took four friends on a flight and flew the Beech 95 twin-engine plane low over the conference they’d been attending, according to the safety board.

The 58-year-old pilot, who had almost 5,000 hours of flight experience, made an abrupt, steep turn that caused the plane’s wings to lose lift, the investigation found. All five people on the plane died when it nose-dived to the ground.

Such sudden maneuvers are a known hazard that can cause severe loss of control, according to an NTSB report.

The accident rates on non-commercial flights known as general aviation, including corporate and instructional flights, have changed little since 2000, according to safety board data.

The accident rate for all general aviation has been about 7 per 100,000 flying hours from 2007 through 2010, Weener said. By comparison, accidents involving private pilots in their own or rented planes, mostly small, single-engine aircraft, averaged about 12 per 100,000 flight hours during the same period, according to Weener. He broke out those numbers from the broader general-aviation statistics.

Private Flying

The rate of deadly wrecks in such private flying has grown faster than general-aviation accidents as a whole, up 25 percent since 2000. About 1,500 people have died on general-aviation flights since the crash by Pinnacle Airlines Corp. (PNCLQ)’s Colgan, Weener said.

“That’s part of the reason for the focus” of the NTSB’s inquiry, Weener said. The board, which has no regulatory power, recommends safety improvements to government agencies and industry.

Seeking ways to stem the fatalities, industry groups and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates private flying and sets safety standards, last year created the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee.

Losing Control

The group found that the largest category of accidents are those in which pilots lose control during flight, Bruce Landsberg, head of the safety arm of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, an advocacy group based in Frederick, Maryland.

Landsberg, co-chairman of the steering committee, said the panel endorses working with the FAA to make it cheaper for small planes to install a device that warns pilots when wings are in danger of losing lift. Such devices are standard on commercial airliners.

Other frequent crash causes are inadvertently flying into the ground, loss of power and weather-related issues, Landsberg said.

Human error underlies the majority of personal flight crashes, Landsberg and Weener said.

An accident cited on Landsberg’s AOPA Air Safety Institute’s website highlights how pilot miscalculations can be deadly.

On Feb. 15, 2010, a Cessna T337G twin-engine plane crashed near Monmouth County Executive Airport in Farmingdale, New Jersey, as family members of those on board watched. The three adults and two children on the plane died.

Airfield Buzzed

After buzzing the airfield at high speed, the plane pulled into a climb and a section of the right wing came off, according to the NTSB’s findings. The plane was overloaded and flying too fast for such a maneuver, the agency found.

Landsberg said the general-aviation community doesn’t see a need for additional regulations.

“I don’t think you can crash an airplane unless you have broken one and possibly two regulations,” Landsberg said. “If everyone flew to the private-pilot practical test standards, we would have a pretty good system.”

He also pointed to the fact that, however tragic, the numbers of fatalities in plane crashes are far outstripped by those in accidents on the nation’s highways --32,885 in 2010, compared with 450 in general aviation.

Gulfstream $8,000 donation to help feed to hungry children

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Leaders at Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. donated $8,000 to America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia to support the food bank's mission to feed the hungry.

The donation will provide 3,200 balanced meals for local children of low-income families over the summer when school lunches are not available.

"Gulfstream appreciates this opportunity to support America's Second Harvest and its efforts to relieve hunger in our area. We were excited to learn how timely this gift is for the food bank as they support their Summer Feeding programs, and how this gift will provide 32,000 hot, balanced meals for local children of low-income families during a time that school subsidized lunches are not available," said Jennifer Giffen, Gulfstream's vice president of human resources, in a statement.