Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nova Scotia: Debert airport property no place for ATV use, officials say - Glider tow rope could present danger to unsuspecting drivers

 
 Capt. Doug Keirstead of the Air Cadet Regional Gliding School in Debert is issuing a reminder to off-highway vehicle riders of ongoing glider activity in the area and that the airport property is off limits to ATVs. 
HARRY SULLIVAN TRURO DAILY NEWS

DEBERT - Officials with the air cadet gliding school in Debert are expressing concern with ATV riders who are travelling across the glider landing areas. 

 And one of the concerns is that a rider may have an encounter with the tow rope that is strung out behind a tow plane as it comes into land.

"We are taking this issue very seriously and, as responsible citizens, we will continue to work with the community to ensure OHV (off highway vehicle) riders are aware of the dangers associated with entering the airfield during glider operations," said Capt. Doug Keirstead of the Air Cadet Regional Gliding School.

Gliding is ongoing most days during July and August, from dawn until dusk. Glider tow aircraft land with a 200-foot tow rope - which is used to tow gliders aloft - that has a steel ring attached to the end of it. OHV riders who may think it is safe to cross a landing area, based on their visual perception of a landing aircraft, may not be aware of or be able to see the attached tow rope in time to avoid a dangerous encounter, he said.

"And, you know, we keep a really close eye on this type stuff so whenever we see anybody nearby we go over and speak to them and let them know the dangers and things like this."

But that is not always enough, Keirstead said, and what the riders may not realize, is that the grass strips besides the paved landing strips are where the gliders actually land on

While officials try to keep a close eye on the ATV activity, that is not always enough, Keirstead said.

"We had a group of ATVs actually drive out onto the landing area, which forced the (tow) pilot to abort his landing," he said. "But in this particular case we went over and spoke to that group only to have them return later and drive across the same landing area, forcing the pilot to again abort his landings."

Hazard signs are also posted in the area, but some of those have been vandalized and taken down by suspected ATV riders, he said.

"It's a genuine concern for us," Keirstead said. "If other ATV users come along and that signage has been torn down, they're not able to see that, so we're being very diligent right now to make sure that we are keeping an eye on the signage."

Glider officials are working with the local RCMP and Department of Natural Resources officers to monitor the situation, as well as the All Terrain Vehicle Association of Nova Scotia (ATVANS), to help communicate the concerns to its members.

"We are committed to helping the gliding school deliver this important message to all ATV riders," executive director Barry Barnet said.


Source:   http://www.trurodaily.com

When should Dana Air fly again?

Following the incident involving Dana Air Flight 0992 on June 3 in which all passengers and crew tragically lost their lives along with a number of people on the ground, the airline operator promptly cancelled all flight operations scheduled for the next day.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) then followed up with a formal order indefinitely suspending the operations of the airline and denying the operator access to their aircraft. The reaction was an understandable one. The outpouring of grief and emotion across Nigeria following the tragic accident was immense and raw.

Today, we are approaching two months since the tragic accident and Dana Air remains grounded. As far as the author has been able to ascertain, neither the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) nor NCAA, nor even the Ministry of Aviation has issued any clear guidelines to the airline on potential resumption of flights. In fact, it seems that there are no clear policies regarding airline operations post an aviation incident at all. Each case appears to be treated very differently. In the case of Bellview, for instance, the airline carried on normal commercial operations almost immediately, while Sosoliso and ADC never flew again following their accidents in 2005 and 2006.

Sam Adurogboye, a spokesperson for the NCAA, was reported by the BBC following the accident as saying, “Their operational licence has been suspended until we carry out their recertification…this is standard practice after such an event.” This is not entirely true. In fact, and internationally speaking, this is an aberration. What does the NCAA mean by recertification? We would assume that they mean the fleet should be checked and certified as airworthy before operations can begin again?

In 2008, BA Flight 38 operated by ‘the world’s favourite airline’, British Airways, crash-landed just short of the runway at Heathrow Airport. Soon after the crash, the British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced that they were aware of the incident and that the incident would be investigated by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch of the Department of Transport. British Airways’ licence was not suspended. In fact, they carried on with scheduled flights shortly after.

Just over a year later, in June 2009, Air France Flight 447 operated by an Airbus A330 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 216 passengers and 12 aircrew. The accident is on record as the deadliest aviation incident in the history of Air France and still ranks as having one of the highest numbers of fatalities to-date. Following the incident, the French authorities launched two separate investigations – a criminal investigation and a technical investigation. The final technical investigation report was submitted three years later on July 5, 2012. At no point during the investigations were Air France operations suspended, nor was Air France asked to undergo ‘recertification’.

Bellview Airline’s Flight 210 mentioned earlier, which crashed en route to Abuja killing all 117 passengers on board in October 2005, is still fresh in the minds of many Nigerians. The airline operator carried on flight operations up until it was forced to close shop in 2009 due to dwindling customer confidence and incessant delays caused by acute lack of aircraft. Their licence was not indefinitely suspended in the same way that Dana Air’s was. So, once again, one has to wonder what makes Dana’s case so different.

The move by the NCAA is legally ambiguous in that the AIB, whose job is not to apportion blame but to ascertain exactly what went wrong so as to ensure that such an incident never happens again, is still investigating the incident and a final report could take 12 months. If an inspection of the Dana fleet has not taken place, or any fault found if such an inspection has, then what is the basis for the ongoing suspension?

Very few individuals, and indeed professional bodies, have come out to speak up against this type of arbitrary behaviour. One of the few people to have the confidence to speak up about the matter was the secretary-general of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mohammed Joji, a retired captain. Joji spoke out objectively alluding to undue pressure by the Senate on both the NCAA and the Ministry of Aviation. He faulted the calls for Demuren to be suspended and the Federal Government’s suspension of the airline. He rightly stated that there was no way Demuren or the NCAA could hinder the independent investigations of the AIB. He went on to say that it was necessary for investigations to be carried out before acting against the airline.

Captain Joji is right, and if one may add, the action of the Federal Government sets a dangerous precedent. What this says is that, regardless of international best practice, some airlines will be judged and punished without the need for investigations by the professionals empowered to do so by the laws of the land. It also means that a business investment is not safe because there are no clearly articulated guidelines for such a scenario with which a business can model its risks clearly before investing.

Granted, the incident remains a great shock and embarrassment to the country and many lives were tragically lost, but one hopes that the relevant institutions will act quickly and articulate a clear policy regarding an airline’s operations post an incident, fatal or otherwise. A good starting point for redressing the situation will be for the NCAA to clearly state if it has indeed carried out any inspections on the grounded fleet, what its findings are, and how, if at all, this will affect the so-called ‘recertification’ process. We cannot hold our aviation sector up as a success story until we consistently abide by the best practice that defines world class service and world class regulation.


Source:   http://www.businessdayonline.com

Turbulence incident: flight crew suspended

After preliminary investigations, the crew of Air India’s A330 aircraft that operated from Delhi to Shanghai on July 5 have been grounded in connection with an incident of the aircraft encountering turbulence, which left two of the crew and 18 passengers injured. 

 The incident is being investigated by the Office of Director Air Safety (WR) in the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation. Data has been obtained from the Digital Flight Data Recorder to analyze the aircraft’s altitude when the incident occurred, an official spokesman said on Wednesday.

The aircraft was under the command of Captain S.P.S. Suri with Captain Rajesh Mirchandani as the first officer, when it faced turbulence owing to bad weather.

As per a report filed by the pilot, when the aircraft encountered mild turbulence, passengers and the cabin crew were told to be seated and strapped.

However, five minutes later, it ran into a severe turbulence. All galley items were thrown out.

The flight took off with 60 passengers and 11 crew members and was in Indian airspace when the incident occurred.

After the incident, the passengers tried to impress upon the crew and the pilot the need to land at the nearest airport, which is Kolkata, but that did not happen.

Furthermore, the pilot did not report the matter to either the airline or the DGCA, but just wrote that there was a little turbulence.

The pilot and the crew will remain grounded till the completion of the investigation.


Source:   http://www.thehindu.com

AV-8B Harrier crashes near Marine Corps Air Station Yuma; pilot ejects safely

A Marine Corps pilot was able to eject safely from his AV-8B Harrier just before it crashed during a training exercise about 15 miles northwest of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma this afternoon. The incident happened at about 3:30 p.m.

 The aircraft landed in an unpopulated area near Felicity, California. It is a total loss, officials said. It was unknown yet whether or not the jet fighter was carrying live ammunition during the mission to the Chocolate Mountain Range.

The harrier is assigned to Marine Attack Training Squadron 203, which is stationed at MCAS Cherry Point in North Carolina. The squadron is in the Yuma area to conduct aerial combat training operations.

According to Capt. Staci Reidinger, director of public affairs for MCAS Yuma, the pilot was able to eject safely, and upon landing used his cell phone to contact the base for help. Following his phone call, a Search and Rescue helicopter and crew stationed at MCAS Yuma was dispatched to the area of the crash to transport the pilot.

A crash response team has been ordered to the site to secure the area, begin an investigation into the matter, and to initiate clean-up procedures.

“The command here is working diligently,” Reidinger said. “The most important thing the command wanted to make sure was the safety of the pilot and to secure the area of the crash to ensure there was no danger to people in the surrounding area.”

The cause of the incident is under investigation. No other information was available.

Source: http://www.yumasun.com

IAI Kfir C2, Airborne Tactical Advantage Co. LLC, N404AX: Fatal accident occurred March 06, 2012 in Fallon, Nevada

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

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

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

NTSB Identification: DCA12PA049
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 06, 2012 in Fallon, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/09/2014
Aircraft: ISRAEL AIRCRAFT INDUSTRIES F21-C2, registration: N404AX
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and obtained data from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

On March 6, 2012 at 0914 Pacific Standard Time, an Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) Kfir F-21-C2 single-seat turbojet fighter type aircraft, registration N404AX, operated by ATAC (Airborne Tactical Advantage Company) under contract to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) crashed while attempting an emergency landing at Naval Air Station Fallon, Fallon, Nevada. The pilot reported emergency fuel status prior to the accident. The sole occupant pilot aboard was killed and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The weather at the time of the accident was high winds, snow, and visibility of one-half mile.

The investigation revealed no evidence of any failure or anomaly of the airplane's powerplants, structures, or systems (including the fuel system). There was no evidence of pilot fatigue or physiological issues.

Prior to the accident flight, the pilot participated in a mission briefing which included weather forecast conditions for the day. Although the forecast was calling for snow and low visibility later in the day, there were no forecast conditions below the required minima for the time period of the mission. As the accident pilot prepared for takeoff, he noted conditions were lower than forecast for that time and twice contacted the base weather observer for an update. While it is unknown if any of the mission pilots received updated weather, no other mission pilots cancelled due to weather. Therefore, the pilot was aware that conditions were deteriorating faster than forecast and took appropriate action to obtain updated information. None of the forecast weather was below required minima that would have required him to cancel the flight.

As the mission airplanes began returning to NFL following the termination of the exercise due to the weather, the ATC approach controller rapidly became saturated sequencing and separating the airplanes. At the same time, the PAR controller incorrectly set up the precision approach radar as the accident airplane was being vectored to the approach course, which resulted in the accident airplane being vectored off the precision approach. Additionally, the approach controller was saturated and did not efficiently sequence and vector the other returning airplanes, resulting in the accident airplane flying an extended pattern more than 20 miles longer than usual. On the second PAR approach attempt, the accident pilot initiated and executed a missed approach for unspecified reasons, but all ATC directions appeared to be appropriate. After the pilot requested to divert to RNO due to low fuel, the approach controller did not relay that the RNO weather was below minimums, which likely resulted in unnecessary fuel burn from the diversion. Therefore, ATC handling of the accident airplane was deficient, and resulted in 30 miles or more of excess flying distance.

Although the reason that the accident pilot abandoned the second approach is not known, the relatively strong winds and low ceilings required would have required a significant amount of attention by the pilot. Review of ATAC training records indicated that the pilot may not have had sufficient currency or proficiency under instrument conditions in the Kfir. Additionally, since most of the pilots experience was in the F/A-18, his lack of instrument experience in the Kfir may not have taken into account the airplanes less sophisticated instrumentation and limited fuel endurance compared to the F/A-18 in his decision making before and during the exercise.

During the pilots final attempt to land at NFL it was clear he was aware of his critical fuel status. Review of radar data shows that the accident airplane was roughly aligned for an emergency straight-in approach to runway 7, however, ATC did not relay this option. The pilot elected to make a low altitude approach, first to runway 31L, then when he became misaligned to that runway, transition to a low altitude modified right downwind approach to runway 13R. The airplane then appeared to turn towards taxiway A at about the time the engine flamed out and subsequently impacted the bunker. Examination of the ejection seat concluded that the firing mechanism had not been activated. Although the pilot was aware of his critical fuel state, he elected to attempt a low altitude hazardous maneuver instead of proceeding toward the nearby dry lake bed and ejecting. It is possible that the pilot did not eject because he was concerned about the effects of the high surface winds on a deployed parachute.

The pilot's decision making in this accident is a possible indicator of a mindset to complete the assigned mission. On May 18, 2012 another ATAC fighter crashed, fatally injuring the pilot. In that accident the pilot was also likely pressing to complete the mission, leading eventually to the accident. ATAC did not have a crew resource management or safety-risk management program in place for its pilots at the time of these accidents; therefore, it is likely that the pilot's training did not support good aeronautical decision-making concepts. Following a recommendation in a Navy audit in June, 2012, Crew Resource Management training was established. Additionally, since the flight was operating under Public Aircraft Operations the Navy was responsible for oversight of the company. The Navy contract, while setting some requirements for FAA certifications, did not specify to what FAA standards the airplane, pilots, or training were required to conform (such as instrument currency or pilot proficiency). Thus, the oversight environment did not include controls or standards that would be expected in other U.S. commercial aviation operations.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
fuel exhaustion following missed approaches due to deficient ATC handling under weather conditions which were significantly lower than forecast. The second missed approach may have been initiated due to limited pilot instrument proficiency.

Contributing to the severity of the accident was the pilot's decision to attempt an emergency landing in low visibility instead of ejecting when fuel exhaustion was imminent.

Also contributing to the accident was an organizational and oversight environment which did not require airman, aircraft, or risk management controls or standards expected of a commercial civil aviation operation.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 6, 2012 at 0914 Pacific Standard Time (PST, all times in this report are PST unless otherwise noted, and are based on radar and voice recordings from the U.S. Navy Fallon Air Traffic Control (ATC) facility), an Israeli Aircraft Industries Kfir F-21-C2 single-seat turbojet fighter type aircraft, registration N404AX, operated by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) under contract to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) crashed while attempting an emergency landing at Van Voorhis Airfield, Naval Air Station Fallon, Fallon, Nevada (NFL). The sole occupant pilot aboard was killed and the airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces and fire. The flight was conducted under the provisions of a contract between ATAC and the U.S. Navy to support adversary and electronic warfare training with the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC), which includes the Navy Fighter Weapons School (NFWS) commonly known as "Topgun", among others. The airplane was operating as a non-military public aircraft under the provisions of Title 49 of the United States Code Section 40102 and 40125.

The accident airplane was to be part of an NFWS training exercise consisting of 11 airplanes and was scheduled to depart at 0730. Four of the airplanes were F/A-18's comprising the "blue team," exercising the training mission. The other seven airplanes, 3 F-16s, 3 F/A-18s, and the accident airplane, comprised the "red team," acting in the adversary or aggressor roles for the training scenario (there were F/A-18 C, E, and F; and F-16 A and B variants participating in the exercise, the variants are not significant for this report so will all be termed F/A-18 or F-16 respectively). The pilots involved in the exercise had all participated in a pre-mission briefing beginning at about 0515 that morning. The briefing included tactical information about the exercise, emergency procedures, radio frequencies, deconfliction procedures, weather, and Notices to Airmen. The airplanes participating in the exercise were assigned radio call sign "Topgun" followed by two digits. The accident airplane's radio call sign was "Topgun29."

Prior to takeoff, the accident pilot radioed the duty weather observer (DWO) about the conditions twice, at about 0723 and again at 0745, because snow flurries and gusty winds had begun earlier than forecast. The DWO advised the accident pilot of an advisory which called for variable winds from southwest to northwest at 20-25 knots with peak gusts to 38 knots. The DWO also advised that there were radar-observed snow showers north of the airport that would arrive in about 30 to 45 minutes. At the time, the Fallon terminal area forecast called for greater than seven miles visibility and no other conditions below criteria for the mission, typically five miles visibility with a defined horizon. At about the same time, one of the other red team airplanes who departed early as a weather pathfinder, observed the weather in the exercise area was sufficient.

At about 0748, Topgun29 departed and proceeded to the mission area normally. Investigators estimated that the airplane used about 400 liters of fuel during start, taxi, and awaiting clearance. The exercise proceeded according to the brief, with some limitations due to cloud layers.

An F-16 that had been conducting an unrelated currency flight in the same area returned to NFL prior to the Topgun exercise. He reported that at about 0834, the cloud base was about 7,600 feet (the initial approach altitude) and observed weather moving in from the north.

At about this time, the exercise was concluded and airplanes began to return to NFL. Snow began falling at the airport, and an ATAC employee in their facility on the field radioed the accident pilot on a company frequency to advise him that the weather was deteriorating. The pilot acknowledged and said he was already returning. At this time, the airplane was about 22 miles southeast of the airport at 10,000 feet. The accident pilot was the sixth of the exercise airplanes to check back in with NFL ATC Approach Control (AP) returning to base.

The pilots ahead of the accident pilot all experienced steadily worsening weather. Two F/A-18s were able to conduct visual approaches and landed uneventfully. Both pilots reported rapidly deteriorating conditions. The third returning exercise flight landed at 0843 and was the last to conduct a visual approach.

The next arrival, Topgun24, was unable to maintain visual contact with the third airplane and was broken off the approach to be radar vectored for a Precision Approach Radar (PAR) procedure. At about this time, the accident pilot and another F/A 18, Topgun 22, established radio contact with NFL AP. AP began the initial sequence of vectors and instructions to the accident pilot at about 0843 (now the first in the sequence of three), and a fourth pilot also made radio contact (Topgun28). AP's task was to provide ATC separation and sequencing to the inbound airplanes toward the initial part of the radar approach, at which point the radar final controller would take over and provide precise navigational guidance to the runway.

The Radar Final Controller 1 (RFC1) acquired radar and radio contact with the accident pilot at about 0844 and gave several consecutive course calls of "well right of course and correcting" utilizing the surveillance radar control console (which does not display the precise glide path as the PAR does) while attempting to set up the PAR console. Between eight and nine miles from touchdown, RFC1 instructed the accident pilot to begin descent, but after two more course calls of "well right of course and correcting," informed him "radar contact lost" and instructed him to execute a missed approach at 0846 when the airplane was about 3 miles southeast of the airport at 7,000 feet. The accident pilot then contacted AP who informed him that he was taken out due to a radar "malfunction" and provided vectors for the missed approach pattern. At this time the NFL weather observation indicated winds were from 340° at 21 knots with gusts to 31 knots, visibility one and a half statute miles in light snow.

At this time, an additional radar final controller (RFC2) was called over to assist RFC1 with the setup of the PAR equipment. The pilot of Topgun24, who had been holding to conduct a PAR, declared a low fuel state. Topgun24 was handed off to RFC1 and successfully landed at 0856. At about this time, weather was relayed to another pilot indicating ground visibility was ½ mile.

Meanwhile the accident airplane tracked further east than a normal radar approach pattern before being vectored to the downwind leg. The total length of the pattern flown by the accident airplane was 53 miles.

At 0854 RFC2 began PAR approach guidance to the accident pilot. For about the next minute, RFC2 issued guidance to bring the airplane onto the approach course. At 0855 RFC2 advised the pilot he was approaching the glide path (vertical guidance).

The airplanes flight path varied both laterally and vertically from the approach, as the pilot responded to RFC2 instructions. From 0856:38 the airplane's lateral deviation varied from "slightly right of course [and] going further right" to 16 seconds later "going well left of course". RFC2 also advised the pilot that he was "above glide path." At this point the accident pilot said "I need to divert to Reno [International Airport (RNO)]" and initiated a missed approach climb and was instructed to contact AP. At this time, the official weather observation at NFL had dropped to ½ mile visibility.

At 0857:28 AP was providing vectors to two other returning airplanes, Topgun 22 and 28, and advised the accident pilot to "maintain 10,000 [feet] and heading 310, standby for further clearance." At 0858:09, AP instructed the pilot to climb to 12,000 feet and change transponder code. AP asked the pilot to "say reason for divert?" the pilot replied that "I haven't got the gas to do this again, [they] got a half mile vis[ibility]", and requested to divert to RNO via a 260 degree heading. AP cleared the pilot to RNO via the Mustang navigational aid and to maintain 12,000 feet.

At 0902, Topgun22 successfully landed at NFL and reported braking action poor.

At 0903, the accident airplane was about 22 miles west of NFL (28 miles east of RNO), and the pilot advised AP to coordinate with Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Controller (NCT) that he would be emergency fuel. AP called NCT and advised of the pilot's intentions and that he was emergency fuel. NCT acknowledged and stated that Reno was also below weather minimums. At the time, RNO was reporting ½ mile visibility the visibility minima for the Instrument Landing System (ILS) minimum is 1 ½ miles and the non-precision approach minima are at least 2 ½ miles. The accident airplane, like most of the Navy airplanes, was not equipped with an ILS receiver.

Shortly after, AP instructed the pilot to contact NCT. He did not relay the weather minimum advisory to the pilot. At 0904, the pilot checked in to the NCT frequency, the controller repeated the advisory about RNO weather and asked the pilot's intentions. The pilot said he would go back to NFL, and NCT provided vectors.

At 0905 Topgun28 successfully landed at NFL.

The accident pilot made contact with NFL AP at 12,000 feet proceeding direct to NFL and stated he was "critical fuel." AP replied to expect to be number one in the arrival sequence. At 0906 the pilots of Topgun25 and Topgun23 asked AP numerous times if the airport (NFL) was able to accept approaches. There was no response by NFL AP. At 0907, the accident pilot began a transmission which was interfered with by other radio calls. AP then instructed the pilot to fly a heading of 100 degrees and descend to 10,000 feet, "report [the airport] in sight when able." AP also reported NFL conditions were ½ mile visibility in snow, ceiling 15,000, then corrected to 1,500 foot ceiling.

The accident airplane was about 18 miles west of NFL, descending through 9,000 feet when the pilot reported he had 8 minutes of fuel remaining and needed a visual descent to the airfield. AP cleared him to the minimum vectoring altitude of 7,400 feet due to the underlying terrain, and said to expect lower in five miles. At 0909 the pilot said "I need lower now, if you don't get me on deck in 5 minutes, I'm gonna hit the deck the hard way." AP asked the pilot if he could accept a "short hook to 31?" The pilot said "I'll give it a shot" and AP cleared the airplane to 6,400 feet. At 0910 the pilot reported the ground in sight and requested a contact approach. (A contact approach is an IFR procedure in which the pilot proceeds to the destination airport by visual reference to the surface. Ground visibility must be at least one statute mile.). AP advised "unable" due to the reported low visibility, and advised him to "climb immediately" due to the minimum vectoring altitude. The airplane continued a rapid descent, reaching about 4,500 feet at 0911. AP reported that at this time, the radio frequency became very hectic, and other aircraft kept calling him asking if the airfield was open. The accident pilot transmitted, "I'm gonna crash this airplane if I don't get down and land" and advised he was proceeding "due regard, is there any traffic between me and the airport?" AP advised that the airplane was at 4,500 feet "below my minimum vectoring altitude, climb to 6,400." The pilot advised he was switching frequencies to the Tower.



At this point, the airplane was about 5 miles west of the airport, over the flatter farmland terrain, between 200 and 500 feet above the ground. The pilot contacted the NFL ATC Tower and advised he was "seven miles east (sic)" maneuvering for runway 31(L). The tower controller cleared him to land on 31L. Radar and ground witnesses indicated the airplane turned to a close in downwind for runway 31L, and at about 1.5 miles southwest of the runway threshold the airplane turned to the northwest, but did not align with the runway. The airplane then proceeded northwest bound, at low altitude, parallel to the runway until northwest of the airport. The pilot requested a right base turn for runway 13R, and the tower controller cleared him to land on 13R. At 0914, the airplane made a right turn, about 100 feet above ground level, less than one mile from the runway 13R threshold, and appeared to line up with taxiway A. Witnesses along a nearby road, and on the airfield, reported seeing the airplane crossing the airport perimeter at low altitude, in a high pitch attitude. Some of the witnesses described a "wobbling" motion as it turned toward the southeast. The airplane struck the ground in an open field in the northwest corner of the airport property and impacted a concrete munitions storage building in the Combat Aircraft Loading Area (CALA).

Witnesses reported high winds and snow squall conditions in the area of impact. The weather observation immediately following the accident indicated northwesterly winds at 23 knots, gusting to 34 knots, visibility ½ mile in light snow. Navy personnel on the field ran to the wreckage to attempt to rescue the pilot, but could not remain close to the airplane due to fire and explosions from the ejection seat components. Airport fire and rescue responded quickly thereafter.

INJURIES TO PERSONS

The pilot was fatally injured by multiple blunt force injuries.

DAMAGE TO AIRPLANE

The airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces and fire. The forward one-third of the airplane, from the nose to a point just aft of the leading edge of the delta wing was highly crushed and fragmented from impact with a steel-reinforced concrete bunker. There was evidence of fire in the forward portions of the airplane and was mostly contained within the bunker. Cockpit and instrument panels were largely consumed or damaged by fire. The aft portions of the airplane sustained less impact damage and little fire damage..

OTHER DAMAGE

Two concrete munitions storage buildings sustained damage along with airfield fencing and pavement due to impact forces and post-crash fire.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Pilot

The accident pilot, age 51, held an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with no aircraft type ratings. His last flight review was March 2011. He reported 4,679 hours total time, and 79 hours pilot in command in the Kfir. Most of the pilot's flight experience was in the U.S. Navy on F/A-18 and other tactical aircraft. There were no accidents or incidents noted in the pilot's FAA record and he held a valid FAA Class 1 medical certificate with a restriction for corrective lenses for near vision.

The accident pilot was a former NSAWC instructor and had worked for ATAC for approximately six months. He had completed the ATAC Kfir training program in September of 2011. The training plan consisted of seven blocks of instruction over approximately 10 days. The final blocks were three transition flights in the airplane, two with a chase plane flown by the instructor pilot and one solo. No instrument approaches were required. A review of ATAC records indicate that from September 13, 2011 until the accident, the pilot had logged 79 hours in the Kfir, of which 4.9 was under instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and had logged 54 PAR and 14 GCA approaches. 14 of the PAR approaches were logged on flights which also indicated IMC time, but the records did not specify if the approaches were flown under instrument conditions.

The pilot had flown a mission from about 1120 to 1300 on the day prior to the accident, in which the airplane drag chute failed. He conducted debriefs and administrative work during the remainder of the afternoon. The previous day was off-duty, but ATAC personnel noted that he likely performed some administrative work as he was the training officer. On a personal blog site five days prior to the accident, the pilot related an event in which a pilot "successfully ejected and was dragged to his death by the surface winds."

Air Traffic Controllers

The Approach Controller was a U.S Navy Petty Officer. He began air traffic control training in September 2004 at the Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) in Pensacola, Florida. He was assigned to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and served until March 2008 when he transferred to Naval Air Station Brunswick (NHZ) in Brunswick, Maine. He remained at NHZ until July 2010 when he was transferred to NFL. He held a current medical clearance with no restrictions or waivers, and was not taking any medications. He held no other aeronautical ratings or certifications. He was current and proficient in accordance with facility standards, and had been certified on AP in February 2012. He had no documented operational errors, deviations, nor history of suspensions while stationed at NFL. He held no collateral duties at the ATC facility. He reported no unusual activities in the previous 72 hours and was working the AP position from about 0715 until the accident time.

During an interview, he stated that he did not know why the first two aircraft executed missed approaches. He said that it became very busy with all of the aircraft calling at once looking for IFR clearances; one of the pilots stated that they were low fuel. He was then concentrating on getting the two aircraft that had gone missed approach vectored back around to final. He stated that it just got so hectic so quick, and he didn't understand why one aircraft landed and the accident airplane missed twice, it confused him and he wondered why the accident pilot would request to divert when the aircraft in front of him landed with no problem.

He said it wasn't necessarily uncommon for a pilot to request to divert, usually for fuel, and that pilots would normally divert to Naval Air Station Lemoore approximately 45 minutes away. He was not aware of any other nearby divert fields and that RNO was the closest in an emergency. He said he did not look at the RNO weather after the accident pilot had requested to divert there because he was "just trying to fix stuff and then get back to him". He stated that he had received only minimal training on local aircraft performance characteristics, mostly regarding speeds but nothing about fuel. When asked about how things work "normally" at NFL, he stated that things were actually pretty simple most of the time since 95% of the time the weather was visual meteorological conditions. The main issues at the airport was with aircraft returning from the Special Use Airspace (SUA) at high speed with little to no notice.

The Radar Final Controller One (RFC1) was a U.S. Navy Petty Officer, Air Traffic Controller Second Class (AC2). His ATC experience began in August 2006 at the Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) in Pensacola, Florida, where he attended initial training for ATC. After graduating in March 2007, he reported to Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility (FACSFAC) in Jacksonville, Florida, and served there until June 2008 when he was deployed to Camp Bucca, Iraq, for an assignment outside of ATC as part of a prison security detachment. After completing one year in theater in Iraq, he reported to the USS Essex (LHD-2) where he served from September 2009 until November 2011 when he transferred to NFL. He held a current medical clearance that was completed in March 2012. He did not wear corrective lenses, had no other medical restrictions or waivers, and was not taking any medications. He held no other aeronautical ratings or certifications. He had just been certified on March 5, 2012.

In an interview, he stated that on the day of the accident the traffic load was moderate to heavy and complexity was above average. He performed alignment checks for all runways on both PAR consoles at the beginning of shift and again prior to the accident. He had very short notice when the first recovery commenced and had to hurry to conduct alignment checks on the PAR console, completing them only about five minutes before conducting the first approach. He recalled that he had issues getting the equipment set up correctly in time for the first aircraft. He stated the weather was getting pretty bad and he was unable to keep a good return on the PAR display. When he switched to Moving Target Indicator (MTI) mode in an attempt to get a better return, a complete "white out" appeared on the display. He attempted to adjust the PAR console but was unable to rectify the display and so discontinued the accident airplane's approach. He then switched off the MTI mode and was able to adjust the presentation clear enough to run PAR approaches. Once he had the console set up correctly, he had no further equipment issues and was able to continue conducting PAR approaches. He did not recall any other aircraft having to execute a missed approach. He stated that he did not conduct the second PAR approach attempted by the accident pilot, but did conduct the PAR approaches to the aircraft immediately before and after. He also recalled that winds were a big issue during the remaining approaches he conducted and stated "it was kind of hard to keep them on course," the winds were steady in direction, but high.

He stated that he had not conducted any PAR approaches in IMC while in a training status. He began training on PAR in January 2012 and was certified one day prior to the accident. He stated that equipment settings were covered in the training process, but hadn't had any experience with settings during bad weather. He said he did not know what the normal settings would be in poor weather, i.e.; precipitation, fog, etc.

The Radar Final Controller Two (RFC2) was a U.S. Navy Petty Officer, Air Traffic Controller Third Class (AC3). His ATC experience began in June 2009 at the Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) in Pensacola, Florida where he attended initial training for ATC. After graduating in November 2009, he reported to NFL. He held a current medical clearance that was completed in May 2011. He did not wear corrective lenses, had no other medical restrictions or waivers, and was not taking any medications. He held no other aeronautical ratings or certifications. He was certified on RFC in January 2011.

In an interview he said that on the day of the accident the traffic load was normal and not busy, but the complexity was more difficult than it was on a day-to-day basis due to the weather. He remembered looking over at the PAR displays and seeing they were pretty "fuzzy," which was not uncommon during bad weather, and stated that he was used to it. He recalled that he did a quick check of the PAR console; made sure his equipment was set and then asked AP who was coming to him first. He didn't remember all of the aircraft that he worked at that time, but remembered that he conducted three PAR approaches and that the first and third one landed, but the second one, the accident pilot, executed a missed approach. On the accident pilots approach, he remembered that he had him on glide path and on course, then at about four and a half miles or so he seemed to be steadily climbing well above glide path and going well left of course, but he continued to give trend calls because he knew the winds were bad and thought maybe they were blowing him around up there. He said the accident pilot then requested to divert to RNO and didn't tell him why, so he discontinued the approach and instructed him to execute a missed approach and remain that frequency for AP.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Israeli Aircraft Industries F-21-C2 Kfir is a single seat single engine multi-role combat aircraft based on the Dassault Mirage. It is powered by a license built variant of the General Electric J-79 engine equipped with an afterburner. The airframe is a delta-wing configuration, with a pair of fixed canard lifting surfaces just below and aft of the cockpit above the leading edge of the wing, and a vertical stabilizer. There is no horizontal stabilizer. Movable control surfaces include two independent elevons on the trailing edge of each wing, a single rudder on the vertical stabilizer, and four wing-mounted speedbrakes. The airplane has tricycle retractable landing gear.

The airplane fuel system consists of multiple interconnected tanks. The wing tank group consists of two each main wing, leading edge, and rear bay tanks. The fuselage group consists of two "saddle" tanks mounted between the aft edges of the canards on the upper part of the fuselage along with a feeder or surge tank, and a forward tank mounted on the fuselage centerline just behind the pilot. An additional accumulator tank for negative-G or inverted flight is mounted between the fuselage saddle tanks and the forward tank. Total internal fuel load is 3,240 liters. External tanks can add up to another 3,750 liters, although the Fallon configuration is typically one 500 liter external tank, resulting in a nominal load of 3,700 liters. All tanks are pressurized with bleed air to maintain flow in all attitudes. Fuel feed is automatically balanced in an appropriate ratio to maintain center of gravity. Cockpit display and control of the fuel is via a fuel quantity detotalizer, which is a manual digital counter that indicates the fuel fed to engine, preset by maintenance to the total preflight fuel load. An analog fuel quantity needles indicator is readable at the last 1,000 total liters, approximately the fuselage tanks, to give the pilot a direct measure of the quantity. An indicator light system also displays when each tank fuel transfer is complete, giving the pilot an overview of the fuel system status. A fuel flow meter is adjacent to the indicator lights and near the detotalizer. ATAC policy for fuel minima is the same as the Navy 3710 manual, 800 liters in the pattern, minimum fuel declaration at 500 liters. Nominal fuel flow is 40 liters per minute, depending on mission profile and afterburner use. The IAI airplane manual indicates the airplane contains about 20 liters of unusable fuel.

The airplane has a basic instrument flight capability gyroscopic and pneumatic instrumentation. Navigation capability consists of a TACAN receiver and a Garmin 530 IFR-certified GPS unit with moving map. A non-IFR capable Garmin Aera 510 GPS with XM weather display capability is also installed in the panel. The airplane does not have an ILS receiver or an autopilot.

The airplane is equipped with a Martin-Baker JM6 ejection seat. The seat is capable of successfully operating at zero altitude, zero airspeed. The seat is self-contained. Ejection is initiated by pulling either the upper or lower ejection handle. The seat mechanically fractures the canopy prior to the ejection of the seat. The ATAC flight operations manual provides guidance on controlled bailout procedures.

The airplane is owned by and registered to ATAC. The airplane holds an FAA Special Airworthiness Certificate under the Experimental category for the purpose of Exhibition, issued on December 20, 2007 with no expiry. The airplane's Experimental Operating Limitations –Exhibition, paragraph 22 states that "No person may operate this aircraft for other than the purpose of exhibition flight" and paragraph 36 states that "Any flight operations that are not considered…exhibition purposes must occur with the aircraft having been declared a public aircraft."

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The morning of the accident flight the accident pilot received his weather briefing from the Top Gun Instructor. The Top Gun Instructor used the Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) from the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) website to brief the current weather conditions including the current observations, NOTAMs, TAFs, and the local airfield wind advisory. The accident pilot may have received addition weather information beyond what the Top Gun Instructor briefed. Based on the weather forecast the morning flight exercise was thought to be "good to go" as the worse weather was expected during the late morning and afternoon hours. The Top Gun Instructor also reviewed ways to mitigate icing if that was needed during the morning flight. A weather reconnaissance FA-18 took off before the mission to determine if there were icing conditions and what the actual flight conditions were within the military operations areas (MOAs) and restricted areas. This reconnaissance flight was done prior to launching any aircraft and the weather was found to be clear above a broken layer with cloud tops to 18,000 feet.

When a weather warning or advisory is issued for NAS Fallon the products are disseminated using the automated "One Call Now" system which calls out a voice recorded warning to a variety of recipients. In addition, a copy of the warning or advisory is faxed and emailed to the weather office during non-working hours so the civilian weather observers have a copy of the products when they open the office.

The typical procedure for the dissemination of weather information and forecast to and from NAS Fallon is from the FWC-SD. The TAF and weather forecast for NAS Fallon are solely the responsibility of FWC-SD. A contracted civilian weather observer located at NAS Fallon takes and verifies the ASOS observations, responds to radio weather questions about current conditions, and disseminates weather warnings and advisories issued from FWC-SD to the local points of contact. FWC-SD is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for flight weather briefings for any flights departing from NAS Fallon.

The TAF given to the pilot during the weather briefing was issued for KNFL at 0500 PST and was valid for a 19-hour period beginning at 0400 PST. By 0600 PST the TAF forecast for KNFL expected wind from 320° at 18 knots with gusts to 27 knots, visibility around 5 miles, light snow, scattered clouds at 2,000 feet, a broken ceiling at 4,000 feet, overcast skies at 6,000 feet, moderate rime icing in cloud from 4,000 feet through 13,000 feet, moderate rime icing in cloud from 13,000 feet through 21,000 feet, light to occasional moderate turbulence in clear air from the surface through 18,000 feet, light occasional moderate in cloud turbulence from 18,000 feet, through 27,000 feet, light to occasional moderate turbulence in clear air from 27,000 feet through 40,000 feet, minimum altimeter setting of 29.55?. Temporary conditions of wind from 330° at 22 knots with gusts to 32 knots were forecast from 0600 PST to 1200 PST.

The KNFL observations valid at the time of the weather briefing were as follows:

KNFL weather at 0356 PST, wind from 260° at 11 knots with gusts to 20 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies below 12,000 feet, temperature of 9° C, dew point temperature of -8° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.67 inches of mercury. Remarks: automated station with a precipitation discriminator, sea-level pressure 1002.9 hPa, temperature 9.4° C, dew point temperature -7.8° C, 6-hourly maximum temperature 13.3° C, 6-hourly minimum temperature 4.4° C, 3-hourly pressure decrease of 3.6 hPa, lightning detection sensor is not operating.

KNFL weather at 0456 PST, wind from 250° at 17 knots with gusts to 23 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies below 12,000 feet, temperature of 8° C, dew point temperature of -7° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.65 inches of mercury. Remarks: automated station with a precipitation discriminator, sea-level pressure 1002.4 hPa, temperature 8.3° C, dew point temperature -6.7° C.

Pre-Takeoff

The accident pilot talked with the duty weather observer, a contractor in the BaseOps facility, before takeoff at both 0723 and 0745 PST. The duty weather observer reported the local winds, known icing areas (of which there were none), and provided the local airfield wind advisory and winter snow advisory products issued by FWC-SD at 0723 PST. At 0745 PST the duty weather observer relayed to the accident pilot that there was shower activity north of the field with the local weather radar indicating that the shower activity would begin on station in 30 minutes and lasting 30 to 45 minutes.

Actual Conditions

The NWS Surface Analysis Chart for 1000 PST depicted an active weather pattern with a surface trough just south of the accident site, stretching from north-central California to central Nevada. A cold front stretched southwestward from northern Utah, across central Nevada, and into southern California. The station models around the accident site depicted air temperatures from the mid 20's to mid 30's Fahrenheit (F), with temperature-dew point spreads of 15° F or less, a north wind around 5 to 20 knots, cloudy skies, and light snow.

The NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) Constant Pressure Charts depicted a mid-level trough moving across the accident site from 0400 to 1600 PST, and an upper-level jet streak across the Pacific Northwest with the accident site in the left exit region of the jet streak. These areas are considered conducive for lift to help produce clouds and precipitation.

KNFL had an Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) whose reports were supplemented by a human observer. Between 0838 and 0846, the ASOS reported visibility at KNFL dropped from 10 miles to 1 ½ miles, and the 0850 observation indicated ½ mile visibility. Observations closest to the accident time were as follows:

KNFL weather at 0856 PST, wind from 350° at 24 knots with gusts to 33 knots, visibility a half mile, moderate snow and freezing fog, an overcast ceiling at 1,200 feet, temperature of -1° Celsius (C), dew point temperature of -3° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.71 inches of mercury. Remarks: automated station with a precipitation discriminator, peak wind from 350° at 33 knots at 0854 PST, snow began at 0836 PST, sea level pressure 1004.1 hPa, braking action is impeded but accurate decelerometer readings are not available, one-hourly precipitation of a trace, temperature -0.6° C, dew point temperature -2.8° C.

KNFL weather at 0903 PST, wind from 350° at 22 knots with gusts to 33 knots, visibility a half mile, light snow, a broken ceiling at 1,500 feet, overcast skies at 4,500 feet, temperature of -1° C, dew point temperature of -3° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.71 inches of mercury. Remarks: automated station with a precipitation discriminator, peak wind from 360° at 31 knots at 0901 PST, surface visibility three quarters of a mile, braking action is impeded but accurate decelerometer readings are not available, one-hourly precipitation of a trace.

KNFL weather at 0920 PST, wind from 350° at 23 knots with gusts to 34 knots, visibility one and a half miles, light snow, a broken ceiling at 1,500 feet, overcast skies at 4,500 feet, temperature of -1° C, dew point temperature of -4° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.72 inches of mercury. Remarks: automated station with a precipitation discriminator, peak wind from 360° at 41 knots at 0905 PST, surface visibility 2 miles, wet runway, one-hourly precipitation of a trace.

Five-minute data obtained from the ASOS site also indicated ½ mile visibility with high winds and snow from 0850 through the time of the accident.

At about 0900, approximately the time the accident pilot was diverting toward Reno, the NCT air traffic controller reported that Reno was below minimums. The nearest observation to that time, was taken at 0859, and indicated visibility½ mile, in light snow and blowing snow.

There were no pilot reports (PIREPs) near the accident site.

No SIGMETs or CWSU Advisory or Meteorological Impact Statements were active for the accident site at the accident time.

AIRMETs TANGO, SIERRA, and ZULU were active for the accident site at the accident time, and they forecasted moderate turbulence for FL180 and below, IFR flight conditions, mountain obscuration by clouds, precipitation, and mist, and moderate icing between the freezing level and FL180.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION

The primary aids to navigation for instrument approaches to NFL runway 31L for tactical fighter type aircraft are radar Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) procedures. NFL ATC can provide either ASR (airport surveillance radar) or PAR (precision approach radar) guidance.

An ASR approach is a non-precision procedure, which does not provide positive glide path information. The NFL ASR approach to runway 31L specified a minimum descent altitude of 4,200 feet above sea level (274 feet above the touchdown zone), with weather minimum of 300 foot ceiling and one statute mile visibility.

PAR approaches provide course, range, and glidepath information using a dedicated radar system. The controller continually advises the pilot of his position laterally and vertically from the desired path, and whether the aircraft is correcting or diverging from the procedure. The PAR approach to NFL runway 31L had a glidepath of 3.5 degrees to a specified decision height of 4,126 feet above sea level (200 feet above the touchdown zone) with a weather minimum of 200 foot ceiling and ¾ statute mile visibility.

The airplane's normal enroute navigation system was GPS, and no anomalies with the GPS system were noted. No ground radio aids to navigation were relevant to the accident.

COMMUNICATIONS

There were no malfunctions in any communications equipment.

AERODROME INFORMATION

Fallon Naval Air Station, Van Voorhis Field (KNFL) was located 3 miles southeast of the city of Fallon, Nevada. The airport is an active Naval Air Station and private airport, prior permission is required to operate at the airport. Runway 31L/13R was 14,005 feet long, 201 feet wide. Elevation of the approach end of 13R (near the accident site) was 3,934 feet above mean sea level. Both ends of the runway are served by a precision approach path light system. Runway 31L/13R is oriented 311/131 degrees magnetic. Taxiway A lies about 1,100 feet southwest of runway 31L/13R on a parallel orientation and is approximately the same length. A stub taxiway leads from the northern end of taxiway A onto a ramp used as a combat aircraft loading area. The ammunition bunker is at the northwestern edge of the loading area.

High mountainous desert terrain lay immediately to the east and southeast of the airport. A section of flat farmland, about 7 to 10 miles across, lay west of the airport before terrain began to rise toward a low ridgeline. North and northeast of the airport is a large desert and dry lake bed area. The Fallon training area consisted of a number of Restricted Areas, Military Operating Areas and Air Traffic Control Assigned Areas over NFL and the city of Fallon, extending to the east approximately 115 miles, and with altitude blocks ranging from the surface to Flight Level 350 (35,000 feet).

FLIGHT RECORDERS

The airplane was not equipped with any recording devices, nor was it required to be.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane first impacted in an open field northwest of the runway 13R threshold. Witness marks in the ground are consistent with a slightly right wing low and nose high attitude, aligned approximately 140 degrees magnetic. The airplane struck a low dirt berm crossing the field and marks are consistent with the airplane slewing about five degrees right and rotating nose down. There were no observed burn marks in the dry grass in the field along the initial impact area, however, witnesses noted there was snow on the ground at the time of the accident. Numerous small pieces of debris were found in the field, mostly associated with the underwing stores, antenna components and other small fragments. The electronic warfare pod separated in the field.

The airplane impacted a chain link fence and another berm at the edge of a paved area associated with the munitions bunker, and slewed further right. Larger structural components were located in the pavement short of the building, including external tank, and the nose cone.

The majority of the wreckage impacted the concrete building, at the blast-resistant wall between two storage components. The forward approximately one-third of the airplane, including the cockpit and forward fuselage to the leading edge was highly fragmented and burned.

The engine showed no evidence of fan blade bending and no dirt or debris in the engine compressor stage. The Variable Stator Vanes (VSV) were in the closed position (which is the normal position at low power, idle, and shutdown) and the first stage compressor blades had minimal to no bending. Metal slag was visible hanging down from the inlet case center housing, but there was no metal on the first stage VSVs or compressor blades. The main engine fuel control was removed and found to be in the cutoff position but it is unknown if this occurred through pilot action or post-impact forces.

Ejector seat components were found in the cockpit area, and retained for examination. The drag chute was hanging free of airplane, but appeared consistent with having dropped free from impact forces. The landing gear was retracted.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

No relevant medical or pathological findings were identified in the autopsy records.

FIRE

Eyewitnesses to the impact stated that there was a fireball following the airplane impact with the bunker. Airport rescue and firefighting crews responded to the site in less than 3 minutes, although some time elapsed as crews determined what hazardous materials might have been in the bunker. The fire was largely contained in the bunker and forward portion of the airplane area. There was little to no evidence of fire outside the immediate area of the two storage compartments of the bunker.

SURVIVAL ASPECTS

The accident was not survivable.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The ejection seat was examined by the manufacturer, Martin-Baker. No preexisting failures were noted and there was no evidence that the firing mechanism was pulled.

ORGANIZATIONAL AND MANAGEMENT INFORMATION

Company Description

ATAC started business as an independent company in 1996, and is based in Newport News Virginia, with facilities in Point Mugu, California; Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; Atsugi, Japan, and Zweibruken, Germany. ATAC provides civilian tactical airborne training to U.S. military customers. The primary service, as in the accident flight, is to provide aggressor or adversary aircraft capability for training and readiness missions, as well as electronic warfare, ship defense, research and development, target towing, and other capabilities. At the time of the accident, ATAC's fleet consisted of six Kfirs including the accident airplane, two of which were based at Point Mugu, and four based in Newport News. ATAC additionally had 13 Hawker Hunter transonic multi-role aircraft in the U.S. and Japan, and four Czech L39 Albatross trainer/light attack airplanes in the U.S. and Germany. ATAC had a pilot cadre of 31 former military tactical pilots, and all maintenance personnel were military trained. ATAC does not hold an FAA 14 CFR Part 119 air carrier certificate, nor was it required to do so.

History of Certification and Contract

The Navy contract with ATAC stemmed from a portion of a contract with Flight International in the mid 1990's, using Saab Draken airplanes. The initial effort with the ATAC Drakens sought to initiate flying for maintenance, training, and exhibition or filming purposes. Initially, ATAC was issued a Special Airworthiness Certificate in the Experimental category for the purpose of Research and Development (R&D) certification for the airplanes, with the ejection seats disabled. In 1996, the first military work for ATAC was obtained, doing threat simulation. This operation was conducted on the Experimental R&D certificate, Public Aircraft status was not approached at this time.

In 2002, ATAC obtained the initial fleet of Kfirs (which were a variant of the airplane that the Navy also owned and operated at the time.) The airplanes were first imported on a "diplomatic" certification, as they were leased by ATAC, and still owned by the Israeli government. Eventually, ATAC was able to obtained U.S. registration, by demonstrating the lease would lead to ownership. The Kfirs were issued Special Airworthiness Certificates in the Experimental category for the purpose of Exhibition in about 2004-2005. In 2007, the FAA denied renewal of the certificates, and according to ATAC, they were told that the Navy would need to take over airworthiness certification and oversight. The Navy would not take over complete responsibility for the airworthiness, as they did not own or exclusive lease the airplanes.

A series of meetings between ATAC, FAA, and Navy in the 2007-2008, led to ATAC receiving Experimental – Exhibition airworthiness certificates for the airplanes, and an understanding that the Navy contract flights would be conducted under Public Aircraft Operations. At the time, ATAC understood that the FAA's position was that they were not authorized to certify aircraft conducting work for the U.S. government and that certification would be a Department of Defense (DoD) function. Additionally, pilot certification was also in question, as the FAA removed the pilot Letters of Authorization for training, and there was no policy for Experimental Authorizations under the limitations section of a pilot certificate. In a presentation given to the FAA in 2008, ATAC proposed a shared solution in which FAA would continue the certification of aircraft and airmen, and responsibility for oversight of the operations and on-going programs would rest with the military.

ATAC representatives expressed a concern to NTSB investigators regarding what portions of a flight, what regulations, and what type of operations, were Public Aircraft Operations (PAO), civil, or only some regulations were applicable. They asked, for example, if training for a PAO is also automatically a PAO, if maintenance functional test flights applied, and other unclear status. Additionally, ATAC expressed concern over the appropriate method to train and certify the pilots. Some pilots held "Experimental Authorization" under the limitations section on their airmen certificates, previously some pilots held Letters of Authorization, and some pilots have no endorsement or letter (including the accident pilot), as under PAO there is no requirement for a pilot certificate.

At the time of the accident, ATAC was operating under the terms of contract N00019-09-D-0021 dated March 19, 2009, which "provides contractor owned and operated aircraft to United States Navy (USN) Fleet customers for a wide variety of airborne threat simulation capabilities to train shipboard and aircraft squadron weapon systems operators and aircrew how to counter potential enemy Electronic Warfare (EW) and Electronic Attack (EA) operations in today's Electronic Combat (EC) environment." The contract specified details of the capabilities of the aircraft, and mission planning and operations. The contract specified that all aircraft "shall carry a valid FAA airworthiness certificate for non-public use activities that are similar in nature to the missions required to be performed under this PWS for the duration of the contract. The aircraft shall be operated and maintained as civil aircraft. All pilots and crew shall be FAA certified." It further specified details of airplane equipment requirements. There is no FAA experimental category that directly relates to air combat training, nor is there an FAA type rating for the Kfir.

The contract required that the pilots "Must be FAA certified to fly in the required type aircraft, [hold a] Current FAA Class 2 Medical Rating, FAA Instrument Rating, FAA Commercial Pilot License [and have logged] 1200 tactical flight hours in a USN, USMC, or USAF air to air radar equipped tactical jet aircraft." It further detailed currency and other requirements. Crew Resource Management training was not required.

The Navy (representatives from both NAVAIR and a representative from Commander - Naval Air Forces Atlantic (CNAF)), and ATAC agreed that the accident flight, as all other operations under the contract with event numbers and Navy tasking orders, were operating as Public Aircraft Operations as described in USC 40102 and 40125. An FAA notice released on March 23, 2011, stated that the contractor must have a declaration statement from the government agency, specifying that the aircraft was operating under Public Aircraft. ATAC did not have a letter from NAVAIR, according to NAVAIR representatives, although they acknowledged the PAO nature of the flights, they did not consider the regulations in force at the time of the accident required a declaration statement, nor did the FAA specify what such a declaration was to include. According to the FAA, operations under those statutes require that the sponsoring government agency (e.g. U.S. Navy) takes on responsibility for operational and airworthiness oversight of many portions of the flights.

Navy representatives from NAVAIR and CNAF, described the process of oversight used for contractors such as ATAC. The Navy's baseline "first step" was the FAA airworthiness certification of the airplane, and airmen certification of the pilots. NAVAIR will audit maintenance practices to assure the asset is properly maintained, and audits the contractor for conformance with OEM, military, or equivalent procedures. Oversight and requirements are then built upon this starting point. The Navy representatives described that the Fleet squadrons that are supported by the contractor (e.g. CNAF, NSAWC, etc.) are the "consumer" of the service and define the requirements, and NAVAIR manages the contract, as well as providing for R&D, test and evaluation (T&E) etc. The two organizations develop the contract together, and provide oversight to the operator through the Navy DCMA 3710.1F/8210.1 instruction (portions of which will be reflected in the contract), and appendices as needed. The contractor (ATAC) will provide the operational and safety procedures, which Navy assess via audits on a two-year cycle, with partial reviews every six months and then the fourth audit is more in-depth and completes a review by NAVAIR, the Government Flight Representatives (GFR), and the Fleet customer. NAVAIR representatives explained that the Navy does not "approve" or "certify" procedures, but reviews the contractor's procedures and controls are sufficient. The contractor may use Navy procedures, civilian industry practices, or unique procedures to satisfy the GFR. The audits are conducted by teams of subject matter experts, using the same standards used to evaluate acquisitions and production facilities for regular Navy aircraft.

FAA representatives explained that the civilian certification and operation of former military turbojet airplanes dates back almost as far as the use of turbojets. The first imports of ex-military airplanes were in 1957, as a slow trickle of first generation jets began to enter civilian hands. Use of such airplanes in contract work began in the late 1960's, then greatly increased in the 1980's when former Eastern Bloc airplanes became common and affordable. The typical airworthiness certification is Experimental-Exhibition. Although operators may intend to use the airplane for other purposes than Exhibition (i.e. Public Aircraft), if the FAA is presented with a legitimate program letter, showing intent to operate in Exhibition, they cannot deny a certificate. Beginning in August of 2011, the FAA has begun a process to develop a more detailed set of criteria for each type of aircraft in this category. FAA aircraft certification representatives noted that although the DoD contracts require an airworthiness certificate, the Experimental category does not necessarily provide a baseline for oversight.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

FAA Order 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, paragraph 4-7-12, Airport Conditions, instructs controllers to "inform an aircraft of any … destination airport conditions that you know of which might restrict an approach or landing."

On 8 July 2010, about 1340 Pacific daylight time, a Douglas A4L, N132AT, operated by ATAC, collided with terrain after the pilot ejected following a loss of engine power on takeoff from Fallon Naval Air Station. The airline transport pilot sustained minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage by impact forces and post-crash fire. The NTSB determined the probable cause of this accident to be a loss of engine power during takeoff due to the failure of the engine's stator and turbine. Contributing to the accident was inadequate maintenance. (NTSB #WPR10LA339)

On 10 April 2012, Navair personnel visited the ATAC Fallon facility in order to review ATAC's oversight procedures and "review evidence that ATAC is following their procedures." Additionally, the audit was intended to "provide findings and recommendation of ATAC's capability to operate safely under the terms of the contract." The audit concluded with no significant findings and recommended "continued normal operation."

On 18 May 2012, an ATAC Hawker Hunter crashed at Point Mugu, California, destroying the aircraft and fatally injuring the pilot. (NTSB #DCA12PA076)


NTSB Identification: DCA12PA049 
 Nonscheduled 14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 06, 2012 in Fallon, NV
Aircraft: ISRAEL AIRCRAFT INDUSTRIES F21-C2, registration: N404AX
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and obtained data from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

On March 6, 2012 at 0914 pacific standard time, an Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Kfir F-21C2 single-seat turbojet fighter type aircraft, registration N404AX, operated by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) under contract to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) as a civil public aircraft operation, crashed upon landing at Naval Air Station Fallon, Fallon, Nevada. The sole occupant pilot aboard was killed, and the airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces and fire. The flight had departed Fallon at 0752 the same day, and attempted to return following an adversary training mission. The pilot initiated two Ground Control Approach (GCA) radar approaches to Fallon and then attempted to divert to Reno but was unable to land there as the field was reporting below minimum weather conditions. The pilot then turned back toward Fallon and stated to air traffic controllers that he was in a critical fuel state. The pilot descended and maneuvered first toward runway 31, then toward runway 13. The airplane struck the ground in an open field in the northwest corner of the airport property and impacted a concrete building on the field. Weather at the time of the accident was reported as snowing with northerly winds of 23 knots gusting to 34 knots, and visibility between one-half and one and one-half miles.


 
This  photo was taken about 90 minutes after a jet owned by Airborne Tactical Advantage Co., crashed into a structure near the west gate at NAS Fallon, killing the pilot.


RENO, Nev. — A fighter pilot on a Navy training mission told air traffic controllers he was running out of gas before he crashed and died at Fallon Naval Air Station in March. 

Retired Capt. Carroll LeFon had been playing the enemy in an Israeli-built F-21 before attempting to land at the base 60 miles east of Reno.

The National Transportation Safety Board hasn’t ruled on a cause but raised the fuel issue in a preliminary report on Wednesday.

The NTSB said LeFon abandoned two initial attempts to land at Fallon and diverted to Reno but found the same snowy and windy conditions there. Headed back to Fallon, he told controllers he was in “a critical fuel state” before he maneuvered toward one runway, then another and crashed into a concrete building.

Savannah-based Gulfstream reports second quarter growth

With double-digit growth in both revenue and operating earnings, Savannah-based Gulfstream Aerospace continued to be the bright spot for corporate parent General Dynamics, which Wednesday reported a drop of nearly 3 percent in second-quarter earnings. 

“Gulfstream continues to enjoy a sizeable multiyear large-cabin order backlog in a robust order pipeline,” company CEO Jay Johnson told investors and analysts in a morning conference call.

Gulfstream — one of four General Dynamics business units — designs, develops, manufactures and services business-jet aircraft, including the flagship of the fleet, the ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range G650, currently in development.

“We are nearly complete with FAA requirements for G650 flight testing and remain on track to obtain type certification in the third quarter,” Johnson said. “We continue to believe we can attain our objective of delivering about 24 green G650 aircraft this year and around 17 completed aircraft, with most completions coming in the fourth quarter.”

The G650 still has a backlog of nearly 200 orders with a five-year waiting list, Johnson said. The company’s other large-cabin, long-range business jets, the G450 and the G550, have waiting periods of 18 to 24 months.

“We expect to see improvement in General Dynamics’ second half orders, especially in aerospace.” Johnson told analysts.

Overall, General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) reported second-quarter 2012 net earnings of $634 million, or $1.77 per share on a fully diluted basis, compared with 2011 second quarter net earnings of $653 million, or $1.76 per share fully diluted. Second quarter 2012 revenues were $7.9 billion.

Company-wide operating margins for the second quarter were 12.2 percent, compared to 11.3 percent in the same quarter 2011.

Funded backlog at the end of the second quarter 2012 was $46.9 billion, and total backlog was $52.3 billion, much of it fueled by healthy demand for Gulfstream aircraft.

A softness in the company’s information technology segment — its largest business unit — and continued uncertainty in the defense spending arena, resulted in the earnings drop for the quarter, Johnson said.

General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 93,000 people worldwide.


Source:  http://savannahnow.com

Cessna TR182, Steamboat Springs Flying Club, LLC, N73VX: Accident occurred July 24, 2012 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

http://registry.faa.gov/N73VX  

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA473  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 24, 2012 in Steamboat Springs, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/05/2012
Aircraft: CESSNA TR182, registration: N73VX
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot reported that he inadvertently landed without extending the landing gear. He noted that he did not hear the landing gear warning horn until the airplane was in the landing flare. The airplane slid on its lower fuselage approximately 1,200 feet before it struck a runway edge identifier light and a lighted taxiway sign. The pilot noted that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane.

According to a mechanic who responded to the accident site, the landing gear position handle was found in the “UP” position. The landing gear warning horn sounded, although faintly, when the master power switch was turned on. The landing gear fully extended into the down-and-locked position after the airplane was lifted off the ground and the landing gear handle was placed in the “DOWN” position. With the landing gear fully extended, the green landing gear position light illuminated and the warning horn stopped sounding. The postaccident examination did not reveal any mechanical anomalies or failures with the landing gear extension system.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to extend the landing gear before landing.

On July 24, 2012, at 1230 mountain daylight time, a Cessna model TR182 airplane, N73VX, was substantially damaged during a wheels-up landing at Steamboat Springs Airport (KSBS), Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The private pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Steamboat Springs Flying Club, LLC, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 while on an instrument flight rule (IFR) flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated from Rangely Airport (4V0), Rangely, Colorado, about 1100.

The pilot reported that he canceled his IFR flight plan after the airplane had descended beneath the cloud ceiling during his instrument approach to runway 32 (4,452 feet by 100 feet, asphalt). He then proceeded to land without extending the landing gear. The pilot reported that he did not hear the landing gear warning horn until the airplane was in the landing flare. The airplane slid on its lower fuselage approximately 1,200 feet before it struck a runway edge identifier light and a lighted taxiway sign. The lower fuselage was substantially damaged during the wheels-up landing. The pilot noted that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane.

According to a mechanic who responded to the accident site, the landing gear position handle was found in the “UP” position. The landing gear warning horn sounded, although faintly heard, when the master power switch was turned-on. The landing gear fully extended into the down-and-locked position after the airplane was lifted off the ground and the landing gear handle was placed in the “DOWN” position. With the landing gear fully extended, the green landing gear position light illuminated and the warning horn stopped sounding. The postaccident examination did not reveal any mechanical anomalies or failures with the landing gear extension system.

At 1233, the airport’s automatic weather observing station reported the following weather conditions: wind from 220 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 miles, broken ceiling 12,000 feet above ground level, temperature 27 degrees Celsius, dew point 04 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.21 inches of mercury.

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA473
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 24, 2012 in Steamboat Springs, CO
Aircraft: Cessna TR182, registration: N73VX
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 July 24, 2012, at 1230 mountain daylight time, a Cessna model TR182 airplane, N73VX, was substantially damaged during a wheels-up landing at Steamboat Springs Airport (KSBS), Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The private pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Steamboat Springs Flying Club, LLC, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 while on an instrument flight rule (IFR) flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight that originated from Rangely Airport (4V0), Rangely, Colorado, about 1100.

The pilot reported that he canceled his IFR flight plan after the airplane had descended beneath the cloud ceiling during his instrument approach to runway 32 (4,452 feet by 100 feet, asphalt). He then proceeded to land without extending the landing gear. The airplane slid on its lower fuselage approximately 1,200 feet before it struck a runway edge identifier light and a lighted taxiway sign. The lower fuselage and right wing were substantially damaged.

At 1233, the airport's automatic weather observing station reported the following weather conditions: wind from 220 magnetic at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, broken ceiling 12,000 feet, temperature 27 degrees Celsius, dew point 04 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.21 inches of mercury.




 The Cessna 182 Skylane that landed gear up at the Steamboat Springs Airport is owned by the Steamboat Flying Club.

Steamboat Springs — No one was injured after a plane apparently landed without its landing gear down Tuesday afternoon at Steamboat Springs Airport.

Airport Manager Mel Baker said the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified about the accident.

“This is what we would call substantial damage,” Baker said about the condition of the plane.

The airport closed after the crash but had reopened by mid-afternoon.

Baker said the male pilot was the only person in the plane.

Anne Small, public information officer for the city of Steamboat Springs, refused to release the name of the pilot Tuesday.

Steamboat Flying Club President Bob Maddox said the four-passenger Cessna 182 Skylane is owned by the club, which has been in existence for five years and has 34 members and three planes. He said the 1978 plane was well maintained and recently had been inspected.

“This is our first incident,” Maddox said.

He said he spoke with the pilot, whom he also refused to name, and Maddox thinks the man simply forgot to lower the landing gear. That’s despite an alarm that likely was sounding to warn the pilot the gear was not down.

“It could happen to anybody,” Maddox said. “You just have to train and train so it doesn’t.”

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

  

FAA IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 73VX        Make/Model: C182      Description: 182, Skylane
  Date: 07/24/2012     Time: 1910

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial

LOCATION
  City: STEAMBOAT SPRINGS   State: CO   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT LANDED GEAR UP, AND STRUCK LIGHTS, STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Landing      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: DENVER, CO  (NM03)                    Entry date: 07/25/2012 

Cirrus SR22, Springhill Aviation LLC, N86AA: Accident occurred, July 14, 2012 in Salina, Utah

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA305 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 14, 2012 in Salina, UT
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N86AA
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

HISTORY OF FLIGHT


On July 14, 2012, about 1130 mountain daylight time (MDT), a Cirrus SR22, N86AA, impacted terrain near Salina, Utah. Springhill Aviation LLC., was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured; the airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces. The local cross-country personal flight departed Concord, California, with a planned destination of Aspen, Colorado. Visual and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed along the route of flight, and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed.


The airplane was the subject of an alert notice (ALNOT) following the loss of radar contact. Local law enforcement and the Civil Air Patrol initiated a search for the airplane. The wreckage was located by personnel from the Sevier County Sheriff's department flying in a civilian provided helicopter at about 1800 MDT, on July 15, 2012.

Radar data obtained for the flight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was reviewed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC). The radar track identified the airplane traversing from west to east at a Mode C altitude of 13,700 feet mean sea level (msl). During the last 2 minutes of radar data, the radar target indicated a slow climbing turn to an altitude of 14,200 feet msl. The last radar return was at 11:28:54 MDT, that indicated a sharper left turn at a reported altitude of 13,500 feet msl before radar contact was lost. The accident site was located 1.5 nautical miles (nm) southeast of the last radar return. The field elevation at the accident site was 7,928 feet msl. An Air Traffic Control Study was completed by an air traffic investigator and is attached to the public docket.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The 59-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land rating. He held a third-class medical certificate dated April 25, 2012, with the limitation: must have available glasses for near vision. The medical certificate stated the pilot was 73 inches tall and weighed 245 pounds.

According to the Cirrus corporate flight operations department, the pilot had not received any transition training from Cirrus.

The pilot's logbook was recovered from the accident site. The logbook covered entries from December 28, 2003, through June 26, 2012.

According to the logbook entries, the pilot began his initial flight training in the end of December 2003. The bulk of his private pilot training was conducted in a Cessna 172 with a few lessons in a Cirrus model SR20.

A February 14, 2005, logbook entry showed an instructional flight from Klamath Falls, Oregon, to Redding, California, and the remarks block states "picked up SR22." The registration annotated was for N86AA, the accident airplane. No further flights were listed for N86AA until July 2005, which was after the pilot took his private pilot practical written test.

On June 20, 2005, the pilot took and passed his private pilot practical flight exam in a Cessna 172 with about 211 flight hours logged. After the private pilot's test, two flights are logged in a Cessna 172. Mid July 2005, the pilot started to receive instruction in the accident airplane.

The logbook indicates the pilot had biennial flight reviews in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Cirrus Owners Pilot Association (COPA) records show that the pilot attended a COPA Cirrus Pilot Proficiency Program (CPPP) event in Concord, California, in October 2008, as a "ground participant." The pilot's logbook indicates he also attended a COPA CPPP in October 2012, where he did log flight time.

According to the pilot's logbook entries he had accumulated a total flight time of 600 hours, with 484 hours in the accident make and model. The pilot had flown 7.5 hours in the last 90 days, 1.3 in the last 30 days, and zero hours in the last 24 hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Cirrus SR22 serial number 1131, registration number, N86AA, received its standard airworthiness certificate on October 19, 2004. The airplane was equipped with: an S-TEC 55X autopilot, TKS anti-icing system, Avidyne Primary Flight Display (PFD) & Multi-Function Display (MFD), dual Garmin GNS430s, engine monitoring, Sky Watch, and XM weather.

According to documents on file, the airplane was purchased new in October 2004, by the pilot directly from Cirrus.

Airframe total time was undetermined.

No airplane records were located at the accident site, and the pilot's family was unable to locate any maintenance records for the airplane.

According to records obtained from Sterling Aviation in Concord, a 100-hr/annual inspection had been completed, and the airplane returned to service on October 27, 2011, with an airframe total time of 588.7 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

A staff meteorologist for the NTSB prepared a weather study, which included the following weather for the departure area, route of flight, and destination.

A review of the Mesowest data for remote weather observation equipment indicated several sites within 30 miles of the accident site. Joe's Valley situated at 8,700 feet was the closest weather reporting station. It was located 28 miles north of the accident site, and under similar conditions based on the satellite image reported a temperature of 53 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point of 51 degrees Fahrenheit, a relative humidity of 94%, and indicated reduced visibility and/or a ceiling less than 1,000 feet supporting mountain obscuration conditions. The wind was from the south-southwest at 5 knots.

In-Flight Weather Advisories – The national Weather Service (NWS) had the following advisories current over the region: A Convective Significant Meteorological Information (SIGMET) 54W for an area of embedded thunderstorms in the area immediately south of the accident site moving north at 20 knots with tops to 43,000 feet, and an Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) for mountain obscuration.

Summary - The observations from Price, Utah (KPUC), indicated multiple layers of clouds and rain showers with VFR conditions, while conditions at Bryce Canyon (KBCE) south of the accident site and at almost the same elevation of Price, reported LIFR conditions due to rain, fog/mist, with ceilings broken to overcast between 200 and 400 feet agl at the time of the accident. Based on conditions at Bryce Canyon ceilings over the accident site may have been at 8,000 feet msl with visibility restricted in rain.

The RAWS site at Joes Valley at 8,700 feet msl did not have a visibility or ceilometer; however, the station reported a 94% relative humidity with a 1-degree temperature-dew point spread, which supported low ceilings and/or visibility in rain/mist. Other RAWS sites in the higher elevation reported similar conditions.

A pilot report at 1138 MDT (1738Z) from a Beechcraft BE35 at 7,500 feet reported 20 miles north of Cedar City, Utah, immediately west of the accident site that the mountains were obscured. Conditions at Bryce Canyon also reported similar conditions with the 200 to 400 feet ceilings. Another report from a Cessna CRJ flying over the Cedar City area reported cloud bases at 9,000 feet with icing conditions between 12,000 and 13,000 feet. Other aircraft reported isolated rain showers in all quadrants, with some producing moderate to heavy precipitation.

The radar and satellite imagery depicted convective clouds over the route and the accident site with tops to 27,500 feet, with conditions very similar to what was observed over Bryce Canyon. The radar imagery from Cedar City (KICX), 0.5-degree base reflectivity image was centered at 22,600 feet and depicted very light intensity echoes over the accident site and implied cumulus congestus clouds capable of producing rain showers and reduced visibility.

The NWS Aviation Weather Center's (AWC) Area Forecast expected scattered clouds at 12,000 feet msl and broken at 15,000 feet with tops to 28,000 feet. The forecast was amended by an AIRMET for mountain obscuration that extended over the route and the accident site.

The Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) for Bryce Canyon available to the pilot at the time of departure indicated a temporary period of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) conditions in rain showers near the time of the accident. The TAF was amended at 1012 MDT (1612Z) to reflect actual conditions, which was IFR with ceilings broken at 200 feet until 1100 MDT with thunderstorms in the vicinity afterwards. The TAF did not verify actual conditions during the period as IFR conditions prevailed during the entire period. The original forecasts implied VFR conditions would prevail, which did not verify based on observations.

COMMUNICATIONS

The airplane had been in contact with Salt Lake City, Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) Center on frequency 125.57.

The following transcript was from recorded communications between ATC (ZLC44) and N86AA.

1710:48-ZLC44

NOVEMBER EIGHT SIX ALPHA ALPHA, RADAR CONTACT LOST, SAY ALTITUDE

1710:52-N86AA

UH, THIRTEEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED

1710:56-ZLC44

NOVEMBER SIX ALPHA ALPHA ROGER UHM, WE WON'T PICK YOU UP FOR A WHILE, RADAR SERVICE IS TERMINATED, SQUAWK V F R, FOR FURTHER FLIGHT FOLLOWING, AS YOU'RE APPROACHING THE UH, CANYON LANDS AREA, YOU CAN TRY DENVER CENTER ON UH, LET'S SEE, IT'LL BE UH, ONE THREE FOUR POINT FIVE AS YOU UH, GET CLOSE TO THE MOAB AREA

1711:19-N86AA

OKAY, ONE THREE, ONE THREE POINT FIVE, RIGHT NOW I'M OVER RICHFIELD, THANK YOU

1711:24-ZLC44

NOVEMBER SIX ALPHA ALPHA ROGER, SQUAWK V F R, RADAR SERVICES TERMINATED, THIRTY-FOUR POINT FIVE AROUND CANYON LAND

1711:29-N86AA

THIRTY-FOUR POINT FIVE, THANK YOU

No further communications with the accident airplane were obtained.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located on the northern slope of a ridgeline in the Fishlake National Forest. The debris field was roughly 100 feet wide by 425 feet long running parallel to the crest of the ridge from east to west. The energy path was 263 degrees magnetic.

The first point of impact was a pine tree, which had its trunk broken at approximately 17 feet up. A ground scar was noted 30 feet beyond the broken pine tree, and was approximately 3-to-4 feet wide and 15 feet in length, ending at the crater that contained the engine firewall, and portions of the center console structure; the crater was about 3 feet deep. For the purposes of this report, the crater location was referred to as the "main wreckage, and was located at north 38 degrees, 49.181 minutes latitude and west 111 degrees, 25.948 minutes longitude, at an elevation of 7,928 feet msl.

In the immediate vicinity of the crater were several trees, whose mud spattered trunks faced opposite of the energy path of the accident airplane.

The engine came to rest oriented along a 200-degree magnetic heading. A propeller blade that had separated from the propeller hub, protruded from the crater just prior to the engine. Another propeller blade protruded from the dirt just forward of the engine oriented in the direction of the energy path. When moved by hand the blade felt as though it were still anchored to the propeller hub under the surface of the dirt. Recovery personnel later confirmed the propeller blade remained connected to the propeller hub assembly.

The airplane had fragmented during the accident sequence, with wing skin fragments located 70 feet away from the main wreckage nestled in the trees' limbs. The entire airplane was accounted for, and all damage was attributed to accident forces. The accident field report for this accident is attached to the public docket.

The PFD was present in the debris field. The screen was missing and the case was deformed with portions of the case missing. The internal circuit boards for the PFD were fragmented and separated from the PFD case. The PFD circuit cards were recovered for further examination.

The MFD memory module (compact flash card) was co-located in the debris field with the PFD.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Sevier County Coroner completed an autopsy on July 18, 2012. The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot.

The cause of death was blunt force injuries as a result of an airplane accident.

Review of all FAA medical certificates and supporting documentation indicated that the pilot reported no significant past medical history and the Airman Medical Examiner (AME) identified no significant issues on physical examination.

Toxicological analysis could not be conducted due to tissue putrefaction. As a result, no determination could be made as to whether tested-for-drugs or ethanol had posed a hazard to flight safety.

Based on available history and physical examinations; the pilot has no known medical issues that would pose a hazard to flight safety.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

On August 14, 2012, the recovered airplane and engine were examined at Air Transport Inc., Phoenix, Arizona, by the investigation team and the reports are included in the accident docket.

The airframe and engine were examined with no mechanical anomalies identified that would have precluded normal operations.

The PFD and MFD were shipped to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory for further examination. The Vehicle Recorders specialists reported that circuit cards were the correct cards but the chips containing data were not present on the boards. No data was recovered from any of the recovered components.



NTSB Identification: WPR12FA305 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 14, 2012 in Salina, UT
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N86AA
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 14, 2012, about 1130 mountain daylight time (MDT), a Cirrus Design Corp SR22, N86AA, impacted terrain near Salina, Utah. Springhill Aviation LLC, was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage from impact forces. The local cross-country personal flight departed Concord, California, with a planned destination of Aspen, Colorado. Visual and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed along the route of flight, and no flight plan had been filed.

The airplane was a subject of an ALNOT following the loss of radar contact. Local law enforcement and the Civil Air Patrol initiated a search for the airplane. The airplane was located by personnel from the Sevier County Sheriff’s department flying in a civilian provided helicopter about 1800, on July 15, 2012.

The radar track for the flight was reviewed by the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC). It indicated that while traversing from west to east at a Mode C reported altitude of 13,700 feet mean sea level (msl), and during the last 2 minutes of recoded radar data, the target climbed to an altitude of 14,200 feet msl. The last radar return was at 11:28:54, at 13,500 feet msl. The accident site was located 1.5 nautical miles (nm) southeast of the last radar return.

The preliminary review of weather in the area of the accident indicated that the cloud base was at 9,000 feet msl, and the cloud top was at 27,000 feet msl with light rain.

Investigators examined the wreckage at the accident scene. The accident site was located on the northern slope of a ridgeline in the Fish Lake National Forest. The debris field was roughly 100 feet wide by 425 feet long running parallel to the crest of the ridge from east to west, with a debris path along a 263-degree magnetic heading. The first point of impact was a pine tree; the trunk was broken approximately 17 feet from the base of the tree. A ground scar was noted 30 feet beyond the broken pine tree. The ground scar was roughly 3-4 feet wide and continued for 15 feet ending in a crater that was approximately 2 to 3 feet deep with the engine, firewall, and some of the center console structure buried at the end of the crater.

The accident site was documented and the airplane and engine were recovered for further examination.



SALINA — A California couple killed in a plane crash near Salina earlier this month may have had obstructed vision before slamming into the mountainside. 

Peter and Ramona Branagh, of Lafayette, Calif., died when the single-engine Cirrus SR22 crashed July 14 in Saleratus Canyon, about 30 miles southeast of Salina. The couple was traveling from Concord, Calif., to Aspen, Colo. The couple did not file a flight plan, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The plane was flying at an altitude of 13,700 feet, but climbed to 14,200 feet during the last two minutes before crashing, the NTSB report stated.


"The preliminary review of weather in the area of the accident indicated that the cloud base was at 9,000 feet msl (mean sea level), and the cloud top was at 27,000 feet msl with light rain," according to the report.

The crash was discovered the next day "on the northern slope of a ridgeline in the Fish Lake National Forest," according to the NTSB. The debris field was about 100 feet wide and 425 feet long. The crash ended in a crater, 2 to 3 feet deep, with the plane's engine and part of the center console buried.

"The first point of impact was a pine tree, the trunk was broken approximately 17 feet from the base of the tree," the report states.

Peter Branagh was a real estate developer and director of the California Bank of Commerce. Ramona Branagh owned an interior design business in Danville, Pacific Bay Interiors.
Source:   http://www.deseretnews.com