Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cessna 207A, N207DF: Incident occurred November 16, 2012 in Toksook, Alaska

 
Damaged plane near Toksook Bay 
(William Leek / November 20, 2012)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska— The tundra wind destroyed a damaged plane Friday night near Toksook Bay, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Clint Johnson, chief of the NTSB's regional office in Anchorage, said that a Grant Aviation charter from Bethel to Toksook Bay went off the end of the right-hand side of the runway at Toksook Bay around 8 p.m. November 16 and damaged the nose gear. 

 The plane was a  essna 207 with four people on board -- the pilot and three passengers. No one was injured.

 Johnson said later that night, the wind came up and blew the plane onto the tundra, destroying it. 

http://www.ktuu.com 

http://www.airport-data.com/aircraft/photo

 http://registry.faa.gov/N207DF
 
IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 207DF        Make/Model: C207      Description: 207 (Turbo)Skywagon 207, (Turbo)Stationa
  Date: 11/17/2012     Time: 0500

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

LOCATION
  City: TOOKSOOK    State: AK   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT ON LANDING WENT OFF THE SIDE OF THE RUNWAY, TOOKSOOK, AK

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   3     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: ANCHORAGE, AK  (AL03)                 Entry date: 11/19/2012 

Civil Aviation Authority’s incompetence caused Rs 1 billion loss: National Accountability Bureau

ISLAMABAD: The Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) incompetence and negligence caused a loss of more than Rs 1 billion and precious time of 10 years in faulty design of new Islamabad Airport, according to a statement issued by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday.

“The airport does not meet the international standards for use of both airstrips… as the inter strip’s distance is only 300 metres instead of 800 metres in spite of availability of space and land,” the statement said. The NAB chairman has taken serious notice of “criminal negligence” and directed the authorities concerned to conduct an inquiry into the matter, it added.

However, the NAB chairman, during the briefing given by CAA DG under the Prevention Regime Initiative, appreciated the efforts of CAA’s present set up for conducting the detail study and revisiting the charges from international flights operating for all facilities through Pakistan’s airspace.

NAB had initiated an inquiry about the auditing and billing system of CAA pertaining to these charges in March, 2012.

The CAA has been losing approximately Rs 10-14 billions per year for the last two decades as such charges have never been revised since 1992. Additionally, there was no transparent system of accounting and verification of these charges.

In another issue undertaken during the briefing about allowing towers and high-rise buildings in Islamabad, NAB observed that negligence and faulty procedures in planning mechanism of CDA has resulted in a loss of approximately Rs 500 million to one of the builders in Islamabad as CDA planners failed to coordinate with CAA in calculating the permissible safety height. 


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk

Newton, North Carolina: High-flying dream for VisionAire Jets

HICKORY, NC — A company that wants to break into the corporate business jet industry plans to start production on a single-engine jet next year.

It’s been a bumpy road for VisionAire Jets to get to this point but its CEO and founder Jim Rice says he wants to create 600 jobs for the local area within the next four years. Company officials say Catawba County has the work force for assembling and building the jets.


As the company rolls out its jet made of composite material, Rice says it will make corporate business jet travel more affordable.

The company, which is based in Newton with offices in Hickory and St. Louis, has a jet model, VisionAire Vantage, that is light-weight, cheaper to buy and maintain, can fly faster and higher than competitors and can use shorter runways found at municipal airports, say officials. It can transport six people, including a pilot, and can fly as high as 41,000 feet, according to company information.

On a recent day at the company’s office at Hickory Regional Airport, Rice said the company is about three years from delivering its first jets. He said airplane development takes about 15 years.

Rice and the company have been through some shakeups but continue to move forward, believing the vision will eventually become reality.

Development of jet began in 1988

VisionAire Jets Corporation started in 1988 and rolled out its prototype in the mid 1990s and it flew its first test in 1996 over the Mojave Desert. In the late 1990s, the company determined a technical design problem with the jet and stopped raising money from outside investors, Rice said. There also was a weight problem with the prototype that had to be worked out, he said.

A group of investors built a building and leased it to VisionAire Jets in Ames, Iowa, that was intended as a production facility, said Steve Goodhue, who worked for the company in Ames but left after four years to take a job at a bank. The production facility was built near the airport in Ames, Iowa and the company purchased some equipment, he said.

It also tried to get the plane certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, said Steve Schainker, Ames city manager.

Goodhue said there was a great deal of excitement from folks in Ames because of the promise of jobs.

Schainker said the city of Ames gave the company some incentive money and the city received a state grant on VisionAire Jets’ behalf to build a road to its manufacturing facility. However, the jobs the company promised to create didn’t happen and the city had to pay the state back for the grant, Schainker said.

And several investors were not able to recoup their investment, Goodhue said. However, people investing in the company understood there was some risk involved, he said.

The company, as did other aeronautical companies, suffered after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The company was forced into bankruptcy in 2003 and its intellectual property was bought by a company in Ames, Iowa that contracted with a man in San Paolo, Brazil, who turned the jet into a twin-engine jet, Rice said. The company that had acquired the intellectual property filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Within the last two years, Rice has been able to get back all of VisionAire Jets’ intellectual property, according to company information.

When the company filed bankruptcy, it had 155 firm orders for the Vantage, which was voided by the bankruptcy of VisionAire Corporation. The customers were refunded their deposits, according to company information.

The company has spent $110 million in investments and is now looking for another $102 million in investments, Rice said. That money would take the company through FAA certification, into production and ultimately rolling jets off of the production line, he said.

Company officials are looking for investors not just locally but in other countries, including China. Rice said he met with a representative from a Chinese company about investing in the VisionAire Jets. Rice said the large investments in aviation are coming from offshore nowadays.

The company plans to sell its jet for $2.25 million, which it says is cheaper than what the competition offers.

FAA approval, competition are hurdle

One of the biggest hurdles the company has to overcome is getting the jet certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, which takes money and time.

Arlene Salac, external communications representative for the FAA, said the process involved in certifying a new type of aircraft is a very lengthy process. She said the time frame for certification would depend on many factors, some involving the FAA’s approval process and others depending on the timeliness of the company or individual designing the new product.

VisionAire Jets company officials say there is a void in the market for a low-cost business jet. Marc Bailey, executive vice president of business operations, said the company’s closest competitor is the Cessna Citation Mustang, which sells for around $3.8 million, Rice said. The next closest competitor is Honda, which sells its jet for around $4.7 million, he said.

According to VisionAire Jets information, Cirrus Aircraft of Duluth, Minn., and Diamond Aircraft in in London, Ontario, are each developing single-engine jets but VisionAire Jets’ 30-month time schedule makes it competitive time-wise.

According to information from VisionAire Jets, Piper discontinued its plan to develop a light jet and Diamond Aircraft came close to doing the same until being bought by a Dubai-based investment firm in late 2011.

The company information also said the forecasting outlook at this point remains uncertain. The market in North America for general aviation aircraft is not growing quickly but North American operators added more units to their fleets than operators in any other region. Latin American and Asian fleets grew quickly but Asia’s growth doesn’t make up for losses in other regions.

Deliveries of general aviation aircraft in all regions of the world fell after 2008 and don’t seem to have recovered to the same amount, according to VisionAire Jets information.

Story:   http://www.hickoryrecord.com

Airline 'pit crews' work to keep flights on time

 

By Aaron Cooper, CNN
updated 5:47 PM EST, Thu November 22, 2012

Houston (CNN) -- If you are heading home after Thanksgiving still groggy from L-tryptophan and an early morning Black Friday shopping spree, you're counting on a team of airline workers you might never see to get your plane out safely and on time.

"I think the pit crew analogy is actually a really good analogy," explains Stephanie Buchanan, vice president of the Houston hub for United Airlines. "We like to call it a highly choreographed ballet. There are a lot of moving pieces, a lot of teamwork that has to happen."

When a large aircraft lands, as many as 35 men and women -- most wearing orange or green safety vests -- swarm to the plane to get it ready to go out on its next flight.

"It has to be marshaled into a gate, the baggage has to be unloaded, the cargo has to be run to the freight warehouse, the passengers have to come off, it has to be refueled, catered again," Buchanan says. "Everyone has to work as quickly as they possibly can to get everything turned and ready for the flight to go out again."

Many aircraft have only 40 minutes between arrival and departure, so each gate has a large LED display counting down the seconds until the plane is scheduled to leave.

This week CNN got special access to United Airlines' ramp-services operation at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

When Flight 59 from Amsterdam pulls into Gate E18, the lead marshaler waves two orange wands directing the pilot where to park the Boeing 767 aircraft. Two crossed wands is the signal to stop.

Within seconds, wheel chocks, complete with the airline's name printed on them, are placed behind and then in front of the aircraft's wheels to keep it from rolling.

A thumbs-up from one of the workers signals the jet bridge to slide into place, as a warning bell sounds, and open the way for passengers get off.

Ramp crews are already at the rear of the aircraft opening doors to retrieve the cargo and luggage inside.

On this larger aircraft as many as 500 bags can fit into the hold with most packed into large shipping containers called "cans."

"You have someone actually taking the cans off the aircraft, onto the loader, and then you have a download crew which actually pulls the carts with the cans to their destination," Antwon Warden, a ramp service agent, says as he stands watching one of the contoured containers slide out. "There is a lot of processes that go into getting a bag from one destination to the other, but we do it proficiently."

Computerized bar code scanners help the crews identify bags and where they are headed.

"When a person checks in for a flight a bag tag will be generated," Buchanan says. "That bag tag will be read by a scanner and based on that information the agents know whether to put it on another cart to go connect somewhere else or to put it in our bag systems which can also read the tags and let us know whether that bag needs to connect to another flight or be delivered here locally."

As bags are still being unloaded, ramp service agent Max Rivera is at the front of the aircraft attaching a large tug to the front wheel so the plane can be pushed back onto the taxiway when it comes time to leave.

"We try to stay one step ahead of our normal procedures as far as getting it ready to actually depart," he says.

Inside the aircraft cleaning crews are already replacing the used pillows and blankets while a food service contractor is loading new meals and beverages for the return trip to Amsterdam.

Buchanan says decades of experience have taught them how much of each item needs to be on each flight.

"You build up a database, if you will, of every type of flight, every type of market, based on how many people are going to be booked on it as to the quantity of each thing that you should board," she says.

As maintenance crews make final checks, in the cockpit the pilots wait in the jetway ready to step into the aircraft.

Outside the plane a worker is connecting two large fire hose sized gas nozzles to the underside of the wing to pump in the thousands of pounds of jet fuel needed for the flight.

At the rear of the aircraft other hoses pump water in and lavatory waste out.

"I would say maybe the folks that have to empty the lavatories have the toughest job," Buchanan says. "But they are all equally important in our minds."

Making sure every part of the process runs smoothly from the other side of the airport is BB Chavez in the Station Operations Control Center.

"I like to think of myself as an orchestra conductor," Chavez, manager of the operations center, says as he looks over the darkened mission control room filled with computer screens.

"Everybody in here plays a critical part. You have your vendors over here, your caterers, your fuelers, your line maintenance over here, these gentlemen watch the aircraft that come in and out, and this desk here watches the whole operation."

On his screen he can see video of the plane at E18 finishing its preparations.

"We still have a couple of passengers boarding," he says with 25 minutes to go until departure. "Looks like everything is right on time."

Turning planes around quickly might be nice for passengers, but it also means profits for an airline.

"Our airplanes are our assets and so we need to utilize them as much as we possibly can," Buchanan says. "So the faster we can turn an airplane the sooner we can get it back in the air flying and earning revenue for us."

Back at the ramp, service agent Simi Kalasa is loading the last few individual bags into a compartment in the rear of the plane.

For him, the holidays mean more luggage to load.

"That would probably be the toughest part, because you get a larger volume of bags and you have got to work a little harder."

With one last minute bag loaded and the cargo doors shut it's time for takeoff, but one passenger hasn't made it.

Since this aircraft is an international flight, their bags can't go if they aren't on board.

The ground crew huddles and looks at their scanners to locate the bag packed away inside a can in the cargo hold.

As they open the doors to start to retrieve it they get good news; the passenger has shown up and the plane can leave.

A quick push back from the tug at the front of the aircraft and United Flight 58 is on its way back to Amsterdam.

Only a couple minutes later the next plane pulls into the gate and the process starts all over again.

Story and video:  http://www.cnn.com

AirAsia granted 6 months to operate flights

PETALING JAYA (Nov 23, 2012): AirAsia Bhd has been granted with an air operator's certificate (AOC) by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) to fly for another five months -- instead of a two-year period -- for not meeting regulatory standards, said sources.

The current AOC is valid until April 2013.

Sources told SunBiz that AirAsia had only obtained a six-month AOC -- an approval granted from the DCA to an aircraft operator to allow it to use aircraft for commercial purposes -- after periodical audit findings by DCA showed shortcomings in AirAsia's flight operations procedures and practices including flawed communications between flight operations and pilots, an outdated manual and flight operations not in keeping with the manual.

The six-month period allows for AirAsia to work with the DCA to bring its flight operations procedures and practices up to mark.

It is also understood that AirAsia's head for flight operations has been changed due to the action.

Three key posts in an airline are nominated with the approval of the DCA, namely the head for flight operations, engineering maintenance system and crew training.

"The fact that they have not grounded AirAsia aircraft shows that it's not a serious safety issue, but this action still serves as a warning," one source told SunBiz.

Scheduled commercial airlines based in Malaysia are awarded two-year renewals of AOC by DCA.

In other markets, depending on the track record of the airline, AOCs can be valid for up to five years before a renewal is due.

While the audit is a biennial affair, the DCA conducts inspections on airlines at least once a year.

According to another source, a two-year renewal is given if airlines meet standards set by the regulator. Otherwise they are given a period of time, depending on the issue, to comply before a renewal of AOC is given, or it is revoked entirely.

In the event of a withdrawal of an AOC, the airline can work to meet standards set and re-apply for an AOC which will have to be approved by the Cabinet.

AirAsia and DCA officials did not respond to questions sent via e-mail, as at press time.

An industry observer said it is unlikely that AirAsia will let the situation progress to an outright withdrawal of AirAsia's AOC, ultimately grounding its flights.

"They (AirAsia) will definitely address whatever issues DCA have and make sure they bring in the right people and fire the wrong people, because too much is at stake."

He added that while the action taken by DCA is unlikely to have any financial impact on AirAsia as a company, it may impact its reputation as an airline and its ability to secure the best deals for financing in the future.

 http://www.thesundaily.my

Aerospatiale AS 355F1, Bahamian registration C6-APV, registered to Pioneer Caribbean Logistics Ltd.

NTSB Identification: ERA13WA066 
 14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Thursday, November 22, 2012 in Great Guana Cay, Bahamas
Aircraft: AEROSPATIALE AS-355F1, registration: C6-APV
Injuries: 1 Fatal,4 Serious.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On November 22, 2012, about 1310 eastern standard time, an Aerospatiale AS 355F1, Bahamian registration C6-APV, registered to Pioneer Caribbean Logistics Ltd., impacted terrain while attempting to land at Baker's Bay Resort, Great Guana Cay, Bahamas. The pilot and three passengers were seriously injured, while a fourth passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, destined for Baker's Bay Resort.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of the Bahamas. Any further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Manager of Flight Standards Inspectorate, Bahamas
P.O. Box AP 59244
Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
Phone: (242) 377-3445/3448
Facsimile: (242) 377-6060

This report is for information purposes only, and contains only information released by or obtained for the Bahamian Government.


 The Bahamas Ministry of Transportation and Aviation has completed its preliminary report on the Abaco helicopter crash that killed a New York businessman last week.

The report, which was completed through the Civil Aviation Department’s Air Accident Investigation and Prevention Unit, found that control of the helicopter was lost while attempting to land at the Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club on Abaco’s Great Guana Cay.

Florida-based real estate developer Jeffrey Soffer, whose company owns the Fontainebleau resort in Miami Beach, was among the crash’s survivors.

The helicopter first departed from Marsh Harbour International Airport at 1:10 PM EST on Thursday, Nov. 22, with five passengers on board.

“While attempting to land, control was lost, resulting in the helicopter crash-landing at Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club, Great Guana Cay, Abaco,” the report said.

The crash killed one passenger and left four others with “injuries of varying severity.”

“The surviving passengers were rescued and stabilized prior to being transported to Marsh Harbour for further evaluations prior to being airlifted to South Florida [three persons] and Nassau [1 person],” the report said.

A three-member team from the Bahamas Civil Aviation Department began the investigation on Friday, and members of the Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club and the Royal Bahamas Police Force provided a “detailed briefing” to them.

The Air Accident Investigation Prevention Unit completed its on-site investigations, recovered the wreckage and relocated it to a “secure location.”

According to International Civil Aviation Organization and Bahamas Civli Aviation Safety regulations, the manufacturers of the airframe, engine and propeller and the State of Design have been notified of the accident.

The unit is currently coordinating plans for additional analysis and testing to determine the cause and contributing factors of the accident, it said.

The Ministry said it was expected that “further analyses and testing will take place” to determine the cause and contributing factors of the crash.

“The Ministry of Transport and Aviation extends its sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and its best wishes for the speedy recovery of the survivors of the crash,” it said in a statement. 


http://www.caribjournal.com

 

The victim of Thursday's fatal helicopter crash at Baker's Bay Golf and Ocean Club on Guana Cay, Abaco, has been identified as Lance O. Valdez, a Lyford Cay resident, who owned the downed rotorcraft. 

Though police were yesterday reluctant to confirm the victim's identity, several Lyford Cay residents and others who knew him confirmed it is Valdez, a Lyford Cay property owner, whose two young daughters attend Lyford Cay International School.

The Nassau Guardian understands that Valdez and the others on board were friends and family of Jeffrey Soffer, owner of the Fontainebleau Resorts in Miami.

Soffer was at the property at the time of the crash, but it is still unclear if he was on the helicopter when it went down.

The four survivors were airlifted to New Providence and Miami, Florida.

All five people on-board are Americans, police confirmed.

Daniel Figueroa, an aircraft mechanic at Fontainebleau Aviation at Opa-Locka Executive Airport (KOPF) in Miami, said he and several colleagues were saddened by the loss.

"We all knew him at Fontainebleau," he said from Miami yesterday. "I received the call early Friday around 12:35 a.m. about the accident. He has a wife and a daughter (and was a) very nice man."

Figueroa said that the helicopter belonged to Valdez.

Several members of the Lyford Cay community remembered Valdez fondly yesterday.

"He was a very loving husband and father to his wife and kids, who loved tennis and loved to travel," a Lyford Cay resident, who asked not to be named, said.

She claimed she occasionally visited Valdez's niece at his home and "he will be greatly missed by those close to him".

A second Lyford Cay resident and neighbor of Valdez, who also did not wish to be identified, said, "[His daughter was a] classmate of my daughter – tragic."

A team from the Civil Aviation Department yesterday traveled to Abaco to investigate the crash, said Ivan Cleare, acting director of the Civil Aviation Department.

"They are presently on the ground at Marsh Harbour en route to Baker's Bay to carry out the investigation,"?he said.

"Until we hear from them, we cannot say anything further to this accident."

He said the team of three would submit a preliminary report that he expects to make public by 3 p.m. today.

A source at the resort, who witnessed the crash, said as the helicopter attempted to land it went into a tailspin twice before crashing, throwing one of the victims out of the cabin.

http://freeport.nassauguardian.net



At least one person is dead, and four others seriously injured after a helicopter crashed at the Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club in Guana Cay, Abaco, shortly before 1pm yesterday.

 According to an eye-witness, the helicopter crashed near the property’s townhouses after it was caught by a violent gust of wind as it attempted to land.

Reportedly the helicopter’s rotor blade hit the ground – flinging three of the passengers from the chopper.

The co-pilot was reportedly killed by the blades.

One of the women passengers had to be cut out of her seat’s harness, while the pilot received serious head and abdominal injuries.

The passengers have yet to be identified, but a Florida TV station, CBS Miami, identified one as Jeffrey Soffer, head of top US real estate company Turnberry and owner of the famous Miami hotel Fontainebleau. He is said to be alive, but injured.

Dr James Hull, of the Marsh Harbour Medical Centre, stabilized the pilot so that he could be flown to Nassau by the US Coast Guard for admittance to Doctor’s Hospital. Two of the passengers were then taken to his Marsh Harbour clinic, while the third passenger was seen by the doctor at the government clinic.

Once the three passengers were stabilized they were flown by a private plane to the United States.

The co-pilot, who was killed in the crash, is believed to be a second home owner in the Bahamas who had traveled to Abaco for Thanksgiving.

The helicopter was ferrying the group from Marsh Harbour to Baker’s Bay where persons were waiting to meet them. “The first report to reach Marsh Harbour,” said a local, “was that the helicopter had crashed into a group of people. Thank heavens this was not true, but it is a miracle no one else was killed, because I heard that pieces from the rotar blade were flying in all directions.”

According to the Associated Press, Baker’s Bay employees helped pull the survivors from the wreckage. They were then taken by boat from Guana Cay to Marsh Harbour where they were met at the dock by a doctor and a private ambulance.

“They got into an air pocket and the helicopter went into a tailspin. It recovered, and then it went into a tailspin again and from there it hit the ground. The tail came off and the cabin just went into a spin and somebody got thrown out,” one employee was quoted as saying.

Minister of Transport and Aviation, Glenys Hanna-Martin, said the Flight Standard Inspectorate will be launching a full investigation into the crash. This team, she said, will be dispatched to Guana Cay as “soon as possible”.

Mrs Hanna-Martin also added that their investigation will include talks with the manufacturers of the helicopter’s engines.

Representatives from the Royal Bahamas Police Force have been dispatched to the island.

http://www.tribune242.com


 NASSAU, Bahamas (CBSMiami/AP) – Jeffrey Soffer, the owner of Miami’s famous Fontainebleau hotel, was one of three survivors in a deadly helicopter crash in The Bahamas. 

The crash took place Thursday morning in Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club, an upscale resort on Great Guana Cay, according to North Abaco parliamentarian Renardo Curry.

One American died and three others were injured in the accident at the millionaires playground, located about 150 miles off Florida’s eastern coast.

According to former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, those hurt did not appear to have life-threatening injuries. However, a Nassau television manager said he could confirm two were in critical condition.

Curry said the helicopter was attempting to land at Baker’s Bay when a wind gust sent the aircraft spiraling.

Police have not released the identities of the passengers or other details regarding the crash.


The Associated Press contributed material for this report.

NASSAU, Bahamas -- A helicopter crashed early Thursday in an upscale Bahamas resort community, killing one U.S. citizen and injuring four others, police reported.

 Abaco Police Superintendent Noel Curry said all five passengers were Americans, but he could not confirm the identities or genders of the dead person or the four survivors. He also said he could not immediately comment on the extent of the survivors' injuries.

A Florida television station, CBS Miami, identified one of the survivors as Jeffrey Soffer, principal of Florida-based real estate developer Turnberry Associates.

Renardo Curry, Parliament member for North Abaco, said the helicopter was attempting to land at the exclusive Baker's Bay Golf & Ocean Club on Great Guana Cay when a wind gust sent the aircraft spiraling.

An employee of the resort community told The Associated Press that he helped residents pull people out of the wreckage. He described the crash as a "nightmare."

"They got into an air pocket and it went into a tailspin. It recovered, and then it went into a tailspin again and from there it hit the ground. The tail came off and the cabin just went into a spin and somebody got thrown out," said the Baker's Bay employee, who insisted on not being quoted by name because he wasn't authorized to speak with journalists.

Baker's Bay is a playground for millionaires located about 150 miles off Florida's eastern coast. It includes an oceanfront golf course, a private family beach club and boutique shops.

There were roughly 180 people on the island property for Thanksgiving festivities, the resort employee said.

"Everyone who was there in one way or another helped out," said Curry, the police superintendent.

http://www.miamiherald.com


North Abaco parliamentarian Renardo Curry says at least four Americans were on the helicopter when it crashed Thursday morning in Baker's Bay Golf & Ocean Club on Great Guana Cay.
Police have not released the identities of the passengers or other details about the crash.

Curry says the helicopter was attempting to land at Baker's Bay when a wind gust sent the aircraft spiraling.

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham says one passenger died and three survivors are being treated at a clinic. He says their injuries are apparently not life threatening.

Baker's Bay is a playground for millionaires located about 150 miles off Florida's eastern coast.


Source:   http://www.wgme.com

At least one person is dead, and four others seriously injured after a helicopter crashed in North Abaco shortly after 2pm today. 


According to initial reports, the occupants were on their way to the Baker's Bay Golf and Ocean Club when the incident occurred. 

They had reportedly just arrived in Abaco on a private jet and were being shuttled in the helicopter to the luxury resort.

http://www.tribune242.com

VIDEO: Airplane flying over New York City with a green laser scanner

 

Published on November 19, 2012 by SuperStarRendon
 
"A twin-engine airplane flying over NYC on Nov 19 2012 with a green laser scanner.  It did several passes from around 2am to 4am or so.  You could see the green laser in the beginning.   Camera not the best for night time shots.  Not sure what they are scanning, but my building was scanned along with myself.  Normally NYC will alert its residents of any event so no panic sets in.  Not sure why NYC didn't notify the residents.  The only info I was able to find was from last 2 years NY Times article."
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/nyregion/10mapping.html

Sea King military chopper makes emergency landing by Tim Hortons

A Canadian Military Sea King Helicopter was forced to make an emergency in an empty lot in a residential area near a shopping centre in Halifax, N.S. Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. (Sándor Fizli/QMI Agency)


A military helicopter made an emergency landing Thursday in a Halifax parking lot next to a Sobey's grocery store and a Tim Hortons, police said.
 

By the time Halifax Regional Police arrived on the scene shortly after 2 p.m., the chopper had already landed and military cops were on the scene investigating, Const. Pierre Bourdages said.

Nobody was injured, he added.

The parking lot, just across from a Sobey's and a Tim Hortons off Hwy. 102, is vacant and set aside for future development, Bourdages said.

It's not known how many people were on board or what prompted the emergency landing.

The Sea Kings, purchased by the federal government in 1963, are now an aging fleet, prone to failure and requiring frequent maintenance. They were supposed to have been retired by 2000.

QMI Agency has left a message with the Canadian Forces seeking comment.


http://www.torontosun.com

HALIFAX - Halifax police say a military helicopter has been forced to make an emergency landing in a vacant lot.

Const. Pierre Bourdages says the Department of National Defence contacted police advising them that a helicopter was experiencing difficulties and needed to make an emergency landing.

Bourdages says the chopper landed in a vacant gravel lot near a grocery store on Peakview Way off Larry Uteck Boulevard in the Halifax suburb of Bedford.

Const. Pierre Bourdages says the chopper landed in a vacant gravel lot near a grocery store on Peakview Way off Larry Uteck Boulevard in the Halifax suburb of Bedford.

He says military police and paramedics were called to the scene, but they don't believed anyone was injured.

Bourdages says traffic was not disrupted.

 

http://www.ctvnews.ca

Pakistan Air Force: One killed as training aircraft crashes in Jhang

JHANG: A Pakistan Air Force training aircraft crashed near Kot Shakir, Hussainabad in Jhang, Express News reported on Thursday evening.

A PAF spokesperson said that the aircraft crashed in the Thal range. The spokesperson though said there was no information about the pilot at this point in time.

According to Express News correspondent Khurram Saeed reported that an aircraft which caught fire mid-air, crashed to the ground. He added that rescue services had told him that one body had been pulled from the wreckage of the aircraft.

Rescue teams and officials of the PAF have been dispatched to the spot.

Earlier this year. two Pakistan Air Force (PAF) trainer aircraft collided in mid-air on Thursday, killing the four pilots. Eleven people were injured as the debris from the planes crashed on houses near the Rashakai interchange in Risalpur. The collision occurred around 10:20 am while the two aircraft were conducting routine training flights.


 http://tribune.com.pk

Aero Vodochody L-159A Alca, 6061, Czech Air Force: Accident occurred November 22, 2013 in Kolin - Czech Republic




Kolin - The pilot of the Czech subsonic one-seat L-159 military aircraft that crashed in central Bohemia this afternoon was found dead in its wreckage, general staff spokeswoman Jana Ruzickova has told CTK. 

Chief of staff Petr Pavel and air force commander Jiri Verner are going to the site of the accident, Ruzickova said.

A commission of the Defence Ministry in charge of air accidents will investigate the case, she added.

After similar cases, the planes of the type concerned are usually temporarily grounded.

The aircraft crashed before 17:30 when returning from a training flight, Ruzickova said.

"The pilot, aged 34, died when training night piloting. He crashed into the ground," Petr Lanci, commander of the Caslav air base, told the paper Mlada fronta Dnes.

"I have too little information to tell you what were the circumstances of the accident," he added.

The Central Bohemia firefighters' spokeswoman Lenka Kostkova told CTK that the aircraft fell down to a field.

Radovesnice I Mayor Danuse Duskova said she had not known about the plane's fall and the information was only confirmed to her by the police.

"I can only confirm that the aircraft feel between the villages of Radovesnice and Krechor. I have no details," she added.

An eye-witness called the emergency line to announce that he had heard a blow and had seen a flash, she added.

According to available information, the L-159 fighter has only crashed once, on February 24, 2003, in the Jince military training ground in central Bohemia.

The experienced pilot, aged, 30, did not survive the crash.

The accident was caused by a mistake of the pilot who was doing a dangerous manoeuvre at a too low altitude.

Another collision involving the L-159 occurred in August 2010 when the pilot lost control and drove off the runway at the Namest nad Oslavou air base.

The Aero L-159 ALCA is a one-seat, one-engine subsonic combat aircraft manufactured in the Czech Republic.

The Czech air force has been using it since 2003.

The project of the L-159 training combat aircraft was to provide crucial help to the aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody and to be one of the pillars of the Czech arms industry.

The Czech military ordered 72 aircraft, but it actually only uses one-third of them.

The state has tried in vain to sell the remaining aircraft for years.

The Defence Ministry recently put up an ad offering eight redundant L-159 fighters.

In October, an Iraqi delegation voiced interest in 28 L-159 planes, 24 of which are to be new and another four those now managed by the Defence Ministry.


U obce Radovesnice I u Kolína havaroval ve čtvrtek večer jednomístný bitevník L-159. Pád letadla potvrdila mluvčí generálního štábu Armády ČR Jana Růžičková. Pilot byl nalezen v troskách letadla. Provoz letounů L-159 je do odvolání zakázán. 

 

 


Podzvukový bitevník L-159 měl základnu v nedaleké Čáslavi, vracel se z výcvikového letu. Havaroval v 17:24. "Letadlo spadlo do neobydlené oblasti," řekla krátce po neštěstí Právu Růžičková.

 Pilot měl nalétáno přes 1000 hodin, z toho 500 na tomto typu stroje. Byl v dobrém zdravotním stavu, uvedl večer náčelník generální štábu Petr Pavel.

Letoun byl v dobrém technickém stavu, měl nalétáno přes 800 hodin.

Svědek na tísňovou linku nahlásil, že viděl záblesk a zaslechl ránu. Hasiči v havarovaném stroji nikoho nenašli, nevěděli, zda se čtyřiatřicetiletý pilot katapultoval, a na poli spolu s armádou a s podporou vrtulníku po něm pátrali.

Vzápětí se ale ukázalo, že domněnka o katapultáži byla mylná, tělo pilota se nachází v troskách a nekatapultoval se.

"Není jasné, zda se pokusil o katapultáž, nebo to vůbec nezkoušel. To ukáže až vyšetřování," řekla Růžičková.

Za L-159 letěl ještě letoun Casa, jehož pilot řídicí věži potvrdil  že vidí hořící letadlo. Podle šéfa vzdušných sil Jiřího Vernera nemá tato informace na nehodu zásadní vliv.

Na místo neštěstí jede náčelník generálního štábu Petr Pavel. Neštěstím se bude zabývat komise pro vyšetřování leteckých nehod ministerstva obrany.

Místo neštěstí je uzavřeno, blíž se nedostanou ani policejní a armádní auta, protože letoun spadl do rozbahněného řepkového pole. Podle informací Práva v něm zapadli i hasiči, kteří na místo dorazili jako první, a o pomoc s odtahem vozu museli požádat traktor.

V Česku se podle dostupných informací zřítil letoun L-159 pouze jednou, a to 24. února 2003 ve vojenském výcvikovém prostoru Jince na Příbramsku, uvedla ČTK.

Zkušený třicetiletý pilot nehodu nepřežil. Příčinou havárie byla chyba pilota, který prováděl nebezpečný manévr v příliš malé výšce.

Další kolize L-159 se odehrála v srpnu 2010, kdy pilot na základně v Náměšti nad Oslavou nezvládl přistání a vyjel mimo dráhu.

Wisconsin’s AirFest loss could be Rockford’s gain: With no U.S. jet team, organizers nix 2013 Southern Wisconsin AirFest

JANESVILLE, Wis. — The loss of the 2013 Southern Wisconsin AirFest could be Rockford’s gain.

The southern Wisconsin show is not likely to return until a U.S. jet team is signed on for future air shows. The 2013 Rockford AirFest will feature the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels.

Tom Morgan, director of the Southern Wisconsin AirFest, said an air show without the Blue Angels or the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds is not financially sustainable.

“We had the Canadian Snowbirds signed for the 2013 show, but we could not get the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds,” Morgan said.

“While the Snowbirds have been a great addition to our shows, we just can’t make it without one of the two U.S. jet teams.”

The necessity for a U.S. jet team became more important after the Chicago Rockford International Airport announced it would feature the Blue Angels at its 2013 show. Historically, AirFest is only successful when the Thunderbirds or Blue Angels fly, Morgan said in a news release issued Sunday.

“Rockford’s show next year is the first week in June with the Blues soon after our traditional Memorial Day weekend date,” Morgan said. “Without a U.S. jet team, we could not compete.”

Increased financial support, in addition to a U.S. jet team, is needed for future air shows, Morgan said.

“We need more community support and corporate sponsorship,” he said. “We do not receive any public funding. In fact, we pay the county to use the airport.”

The absence of public subsidies puts the Wisconsin show in stark contrast to other shows, like Rockford’s.

“Rockford has support from the county and their airport commission,” Morgan said. “They also have a 5 million-population market within a 45-minute to one-hour drive. We have to compete with that, and we can, but not without the Thunderbirds or the Blues.”

Morgan said future air shows would cost $400,000 or more.

“I understand their concern and their decision to cancel the 2013 show because air shows are very expensive to put on,” said Mike Dunn, Rockford airport director. “That said, it does offer Rockford the opportunity to reach out and possibly attract some new audience members. We won’t do any more or less in terms of marketing — we always market the Madison, Janesville and southern Wisconsin areas.”

“We certainly will want to reach out to some of their sponsors and see if they have any interest in helping our show here.”

Southern Wisconsin AirFest was founded in 2003 and has since donated more than $500,000 to non-profit agencies in the Janesville area, Morgan said. The lack of a U.S. jet team, not the loss of the show’s lead corporate sponsor, prompted the show cancelation, he said.

“ABC Supply has been a tremendous lead sponsor for our event and remains committed to it,” he said. “We welcome ABC Supply as our lead sponsor at our next show with the Blues or the Thunderbirds.”

But AirFest President George Messina painted a bleak picture for the event.

“This was a great event that we have been proud of for the past 10 years. However, without additional community and sponsorship support and a U.S. jet team, AirFest is simply not sustainable,” Messina said. “AirFest’s generous sponsors are just that — sponsors; therefore, (they) have no financial responsibility associated with this not-for-profit entity.

“Their generosity and support have made it possible for AirFest to not only contribute to support the goals of WAA, but also over the past 10 years have injected millions of dollars into the local economy,” Messina said.

AirFest’s near-term future is in the hands of the Blues and Thunderbirds. They will announce next month whether they will come to Rock County in 2014.

“The application process was completed July 1,” Morgan said. “We’ve completed all the paperwork necessary, so it’s now just a matter of waiting to see if we get one of the teams.

“The teams select the counties,” Morgan said. “Our 2014 plans depend entirely on whether one of the teams selects Rock County.”


Source:   http://www.rrstar.com

Cranfield Flying School launches scholarship competition

 

Wannabe airline pilots could win the chance to enroll on a course that could lead to them becoming a commercial pilot.

Cranfield Flying School has joined forces with audio specialist Sennheiser to launch its ‘Live Your Dream’ campaign, part of which allows aspiring aviators to participate in a competition to win one of two flight training scholarship.

The scheme is designed to motivate people with a passion for flying to overcome the barriers and begin flight training.

New or prospective pilots can find more information about the Live Your Dream initiative at sennheiser-liveyourdream.com 

Participants in the Flight Training Scholarship Competition will be encouraged to describe the origin of their passion for flight, and why they want to become a pilot. 

 The most compelling entries have a chance of winning a scholarship valued at a minimum of £1,000.

To participate, flight enthusiasts enrolled at Cranfield Flying School can register on the Live Your Dream website and post a written story, or upload a video expressing their passion for flying on YouTube. The most exciting and creative entries can be awarded one of two scholarships for 2013.

Director of Sennheiser, Dave Dunlap, said: “Sennheiser has been supporting the broader aviation community since the early eighties, when we launched our first aviation headsets.

“With our Live Your Dream initiative, we are taking an important step towards encouraging aspiring pilots to take the next step in realizing their aviation goals. We want to help make the path towards becoming a pilot easier, more informative and more fun and hope that anyone with a passion for aviation takes the next step in realizing their dreams.”

And Head of Digital and Marketing at Cranfield Flying School, Gautam Lewis, added: “For us, Sennheiser has the lineage and integrity in Aviation equipment design which help make pilots lives in the air better.

“Knowing their work and equipment from my time managing high profile bands such The Libertines and the Hives, and my role in international television broadcast, I trust what they do and its very important for us to find partners who are thinking outside of the box and are passionate about getting more people interested in aviation”

The school offers a wide range of flying courses for students seeking to start a career as an airline pilot or who wish to experience the joy of hands on flight.

Every student educated at the school has the potential to become a heavy jet pilot. The specialty is in the training of those wishing to obtain their Commercial Pilots License, Instrument Rating, Multi-Engine Rating, and Flight Instructor through to Private Pilot’s License and beyond.


http://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk

Howard Aviation, Inc., La Verne, California: Good Samaritans help in fiery crash between van and dump truck



 LA VERNE - Several employees of an aviation company rushed to the aid of a dump truck driver who was trapped in a burning vehicle following a crash that killed a man on Wednesday afternoon. 

Around 2:30 p.m., authorities received 9-1-1 calls about a crash between a van and the dump truck, according to Los Angeles County fire officials.

Fire officials found the vehicles engulfed in flames and the aviation company employees using commercial fire extinguishers and an emergency crash truck used at the airport to try to put out the flames.

"They're amazing for what they did," said Deanna Howard, whose family owns Howard Aviation Inc. in La Verne near the rear of the Pomona Fairplex.

The employees heard the loud crash and ran out to find the flames starting to take over the mangled wreckage.

"The guys ran back into our hangar and grabbed our fire extinguishers to try to put out the fire," Howard said, adding the flames were shooting about a dozen feet into the air.

"They were so close to the flames and the fire that three of them had to be taken to the emergency room for breathing in smoke and (radiant) burns," Howard said.

One of Howard's employees, Charles Long, got into the truck and drove it to the crash site to try to put out the flames that were burning the driver.

When firefighters arrived, they were able to pull the unidentified dump truck driver from the vehicle.

He was transported to an  emergency room with first-degree burns.

The driver of the van was pronounced dead at the scene, fire officials said.

Seven people, including the burned driver, were taken to the hospital. Most sustained minor injuries, officials said.

It wasn't immediately clear how the crash took place.

"These guys have families and they didn't think twice about running out there to help out a total stranger," Howard said. "I think they're amazing."  


 http://www.dailybulletin.com

 
A firefighter stands and looks over a fatal accident on Fairplex Drive in La Verne on Wednesday afternoon. One person died in the accident and seven people were injured. (Thomas R. Cordova Staff Photographer)

New Zealand DNA tests on helicopter crash bodies

DNA tests are being carried out on a body believed to be that of a British tourist who has been missing since a New Zealand helicopter crash in 2004. The wreckage was found in Fiordland, a remote area of the country's South Island, on Wednesday, police confirmed.

The helicopter was carrying Hannah Timings, 28, from Cheltenham, and local pilot Campbell Montgomerie, 27.

A two-week search in January 2004 failed to turn up any sign of the Hughes 500 aircraft.

Nearly nine years later, a helicopter pilot spotted the wreckage which police have confirmed was the missing helicopter.

New Zealand Police said Ms Timings and Mr Montgomerie were still to be formally identified and the families of both individuals had been told of the discovery.

Police said the helicopter had been en route from Howden Hut to Milford Sound in difficult weather conditions when it lost radio contact with the Milford radio tower.

Insp Olaf Jensen said their thoughts were with the families and they hoped the discovery of the wreckage would bring some closure for them.

In April 2004, more than 200 people gathered at a village hall in Toddington, near Cheltenham, for a memorial service.

Ms Timings, who worked as a furniture buyer in London, had been on a three-month trip to New Zealand.

http://www.bbc.co.uk

How Piaggio Aero Started Marketing From Scratch: CEO and CMO John Bingham on defining four core brand values and building a brand story at the CMO Summit

Cessna 182D Skylane, N61LN: Accident occurred November 17, 2012 in Bondurant, Wyoming

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA053 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, November 17, 2012 in Bondurant, WY
Aircraft: CESSNA 182D, registration: N61LN
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 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 November 17, 2012, about 1345 mountain standard time, a Cessna 182D, N61LN, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain south of Bondurant, Wyoming. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The private pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, was fatally injured. Visual and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the route of flight and a flight plan was not filed. The cross-country flight originated from Stevensville, Montana, about 1130 with an intended destination of Pinedale, Wyoming.

Information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the family of the pilot contacted the FAA on the evening of November 17, 2012, after they became concerned when the pilot had not arrived at his intended destination. The FAA subsequently issued an Alert Notification (ALNOT). The Civil Air Patrol, United States Air Force, and local law enforcement, commenced search and rescue operations throughout the area of the pilot's intended flight path. The wreckage was located by aerial units on the afternoon of November 24, 2012.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted mountainous terrain approximately 35 miles west of the flights intended destination. The wreckage debris path was about 133 feet in length and oriented on a magnetic heading of about 200 degrees at an elevation of about 10,150 feet. All major structural components of the airplane were located within the debris path.

The wreckage will be recovered to a secure location for further examination.



IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 61LN        Make/Model: C182      Description: 182, Skylane
  Date: 11/17/2012     Time: 0000

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

LOCATION
  City: BONDURANT   State: WY   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, THE 1 PERSON ON BOARD WAS 
  FATALLY INJURED, SUBJECT OF AN ALERT NOTICE ISSUED 11/17/12, WRECKAGE 
  LOCATED 15 MILES FROM BONDURANT, WY

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   1
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   1     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: Unknown      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: CASPER, WY  (NM04)                    Entry date: 11/26/2012 
 
Courtesy photo

 Search crews looking for a missing plane in Wyoming are coping with deep snow and low clouds. The plane departed from the Stevensville Airport on Saturday.

 JACKSON, Wyo. – Crews searching for a small plane missing for a week in the rugged terrain of the Upper Hoback found wreckage of the aircraft and the body of its pilot, Sublette County sheriff’s officials said Saturday.

The sheriff’s office said the only person on board, 63-year-old Miles McGinnis, died in the plane crash near the Lincoln and Sublette County line. He and his single-engine Cessna 182 were reported missing a week ago when it failed to arrive in Pinedale on the afternoon of Nov. 17.

McGinnis was flying to Wyoming from Stevensville, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported.

An air crew from Teton County found the wreckage more than a mile from the location of the last radar contact with the plane, in the Wyoming Range, and a ground crew hiked to the crash site. The sheriff’s office said search crews had been in that area of the Upper Hoback earlier in the week but the debris field had been covered by snow, which melted during recent warmer temperatures.

Search and rescue teams from both counties had spent the past week searching the area for the La Barge pilot and his single-engine Cessna. The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office began distributing fliers Wednesday for help from hunters and hikers.

Authorities plan to recover the body Sunday. Federal transportation and aviation officials will investigate the crash.

http://missoulian.com


CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Searchers plan to return to the sky again on Thanksgiving Day in the hunt for a small plane missing in western Wyoming.

Stan Skrabut of the Civil Air Patrol says three fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter found no sign of the plane Wednesday.

He says high winds forced the planes to land earlier than planned Wednesday, but the helicopter stayed aloft longer.

The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office says the 63-year-old pilot, Myles McGinnis of LaBarge, Wyo., was the only person aboard the Cessna 182. McGinnis left Stevensville on Saturday bound for Pinedale, but his plane disappeared from radar between Jackson and Bondurant.


http://missoulian.com

Small airports gamble with revenue guarantees

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Officials in central Missouri thought a $3 million revenue guarantee to American Airlines would be their ticket to expanded service at a regional airport serving both the state capital of Jefferson City and a flagship public university in Columbia.

Instead, the guarantee backfired when Delta Airlines said it was ending service at Columbia Regional Airport just months after adding flights to and from its Atlanta hub. The carrier said it could no longer operate in Columbia at a competitive disadvantage.

The airline courtship and subsequent break-up is a familiar one to elected officials and business brokers from northern California to the Florida Keys. Airlines are increasingly insisting on local government subsidies before they will expand service to airports in smaller cities and rural areas.


http://www.news-sentinel.com

Rockwell Commander 690A, Ponderosa Aviation Inc., N690SM: Accident occurred November 23, 2011 in Apache Junction, Arizona

http://registry.faa.gov/N690SM
 
NTSB Identification: WPR12MA046 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 23, 2011 in Apache Junction, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/03/2013
Aircraft: ROCKWELL 690, registration: N690SM
Injuries: 6 Fatal.

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

Ponderosa Aviation, Inc. (PAI) purchased the airplane and relocated it from Indiana to PAI's base at Safford Regional Airport (SAD), Safford, Arizona, about 1 week before the accident. PAI's president conducted the relocation flight under a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ferry permit due to an unaccomplished required 150-hour inspection on the airplane. The airplane's arrival at SAD terminated the ferry permit, and no inspections were accomplished to render the airplane airworthy after its relocation. Although other airworthy airplanes were available, PAI's director of maintenance (DOM) (the accident pilot) and the director of operations (DO), who were co-owners of PAI along with the president, decided to use the nonairworthy airplane to conduct a personal flight from SAD to Falcon Field (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona, about 110 miles away. All available evidence indicates that the DOM was aware of the airplane's airworthiness status and that this was the first time he flew in the accident airplane. The DO flew the leg from SAD to FFZ under visual flight rules (VFR) in night visual meteorological conditions (VMC). After arriving at FFZ and in preparation for the flight back to SAD, the DOM moved to the left front seat to act as the pilot flying.

The airplane departed FFZ about 12 minutes after it arrived. The return flight was also conducted under VFR in night VMC. There was no moon, and the direction of flight was toward sparsely lit terrain. After takeoff, the air traffic control (ATC) tower controller instructed the pilot to maintain runway heading until advised due to an inbound aircraft. About 2 minutes later, the controller cleared the airplane for its requested right turn and then began a position relief briefing for the incoming controller. No subsequent communications to or from the airplane occurred, nor were any required. Radar data indicated that the airplane turned onto a course directly towards SAD and climbed to and leveled at an altitude of 4,500 feet. About 4 minutes after the right turn, while continuing on the same heading and ground track, the airplane impacted a mountain in a wings-level attitude at an elevation of about 4,500 feet.

Although the airplane was technically not airworthy due to the unaccomplished inspection, the investigation did not reveal any preimpact airframe, avionics, engine, or propeller discrepancies that would have precluded normal operation. Airplane performance derived from radar tracking data did not suggest any mechanical abnormalities or problems.

FFZ, which has an elevation of 1,394 feet mean sea level (msl), is situated about 15 miles west-northwest of the impact mountain. The mountain is surrounded by sparsely lit terrain and rises to a maximum charted elevation of 5,057 feet msl. The investigation was unable to determine whether, or to what degree, the pilot conducted any preflight route and altitude planning. If such planning had been properly accomplished, it would have accounted for the mountain and provided for terrain clearance. The pilot had flown the round trip flight from SAD to FFZ several times and, most recently, had flown a trip from SAD to FFZ in night VMC 2 days before the accident. Thus, the pilot was familiar with the route and the surrounding terrain. According to the pilot's brother (PAI's president), the pilot typically used an iPad for navigation and flew using the ForeFlight software app with the "moving map" function. The software could display FAA VFR aeronautical charts (including FAA-published terrain depictions) and overlay airplane track and position data on the chart depiction. Although iPad remnants were found in the wreckage, the investigation was unable to determine whether the pilot adhered to his normal practice of using an iPad for the flight or, if so, what its relevant display settings (such as scale or terrain depiction) were. Had the pilot been using the ForeFlight app as he normally did, he could have been able to determine that the airplane would not clear the mountain on the given flight track.

According to the pilot's brother, the pilot typically departed an airport, identified the track needed to fly directly to his destination, and turned the airplane on that track. Radar tracking data from the accident flight indicated that the airplane began its turn on course to SAD about 2 miles northeast of FFZ. Comparison of the direct line track data from FFZ to SAD with the track starting about 2 miles northeast of FFZ direct to SAD revealed that while the direct line track from FFZ to SAD passed about 3 miles south of the impact mountain, the direct track from the point 2 miles northeast of FFZ to SAD overlaid the impact mountain location. Thus, the pilot likely set on a direct course for SAD even though the delayed right turn from FFZ put the airplane on a track that intersected the mountain. The pilot did not adjust his flight track to compensate for the delayed right turn to ensure clearance from the mountain.

In addition, a sector of the Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) Class B airspace with a 5,000-foot floor was adjacent to the mountain range, which reduced the vertical options available to the pilot if he elected to remain clear of that airspace. The pilot's decision to remain below the overlying Class B airspace placed the airplane at an altitude below the maximum elevation of the mountain. The pilot did not request VFR flight following or minimum safe altitude warning (MSAW) services. Had he requested VFR flight following services, he likely would have received safety alerts from ATC as defined in FAA Order 7110.65. Had he requested the MSAW in particular, he likely would have received an advisory that his aircraft was in unsafe proximity to terrain. Further, the investigation was unable to determine why the pilot did not request clearance to climb into the Class B airspace or fly a more southerly route that would have provided adequate terrain clearance. On the previous night VMC flight from FFZ to SAD, the pilot stayed below the Class B airspace but turned toward SAD right after departure. In response to issues raised by this accident, the FAA conducted a Performance Data Analysis Report System (PDARS) study to determine the legitimacy of a claim that it was difficult for VFR aircraft to be granted clearance to enter Class B airspace. The PDARS study revealed that on the day of the accident, 341 VFR aircraft were provided services by Phoenix TRACON. The PDARS study, however, was unable to document how many aircraft were actually within the Class B airspace itself or how many had been refused services; the study only documented how many had been provided services. In response to a January 20, 2012, FAA internal memo formally restating the claim that it was difficult for VFR aircraft to obtain clearance into the PHX Class B airspace, the FAA conducted a comprehensive audit of the PHX Class B airspace that spanned four different time periods and was spread among several sectors during peak traffic periods to provide the most accurate picture. Of 619 requests for VFR aircraft to enter Class B airspace, 598 (96.61%) were granted. While data was not available to refute or substantiate any claims from previous years regarding difficulty obtaining clearance into the PHX Class B airspace, this data clearly indicated that difficulty obtaining clearance into the PHX Class B airspace did not exist during the four time periods in which the audit took place in the months after the accident.

The moonless night decreased the already low visual conspicuity of the mountain. The airplane was equipped with very high frequency omnirange and GPS navigation units, a radar altimeter, and an Avidyne EX-500 multifunction display. Had the pilot conducted the flight under instrument flight rules (IFR), the resultant handling by ATC would have helped ensure terrain clearance.

The airplane was not equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS). Six years earlier, the accident airplane seating configuration was changed to reduce passenger seat provisions from six to five by removing a seat belt from the aft divan, which was originally configured with seat belts for three people. This modification rendered the airplane exempt from the TAWS requirement; however, this modification was not approved by the FAA or documented via a supplemental type certificate or FAA Form 337 (Major Repair and Modification). Per the requirements of 14 Code of Federal Regulations 91.223, TAWS is not required for airplanes with fewer than six passenger seats. In this accident, onboard TAWS equipment could have provided a timely alert to help the pilot avoid the mountain.

Based on the steady flight track; the dark night conditions; the minimal ground-based lighting; and the absence of preimpact airplane, engine, or propeller anomalies that would have affected the flight, the airplane was likely under the control of the pilot and was inadvertently flown into the mountain. This controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accident was likely due to the pilot's complacency (because of his familiarity with the flight route and because he selected a direct route, as he had previously done, even though he turned toward the destination later than he normally did) and lack of situational awareness. In January 2008, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a safety alert titled "Controlled Flight Into Terrain in Visual Conditions: Nighttime Visual Flight Operations Are Resulting in Avoidable Accidents." The safety alert stated that recent investigations identified several accidents that involved CFIT by pilots operating under VFR at night in remote areas, that the pilots appeared unaware that the aircraft were in danger, and that increased altitude awareness and better preflight planning likely would have prevented the accidents. The safety alert suggested that pilots could avoid becoming involved in a similar accident by accomplishing several actions, including proper preflight planning, obtaining flight route terrain familiarization via sectional charts or other topographic references, maintaining awareness of visual limitations for operations in remote areas, following IFR practices until well above surrounding terrain, advising ATC and taking action to reach a safe altitude, and employing a GPS-based terrain awareness unit.

Member Sumwalt filed a concurring statement that can be found in the public docket for this accident. Member Weener joined the statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain a safe ground track and altitude combination for the moonless night visual flight rules flight, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident were the pilot's complacency and lack of situational awareness and his failure to use air traffic control visual flight rules flight following or minimum safe altitude warning services. Also contributing to the accident was the airplane's lack of onboard terrain awareness and warning system equipment.

Member Sumwalt filed a concurring statement that can be found in the public docket for this accident. Member Weener joined the statement.


HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 23, 2011, about 1831 mountain standard time, a Rockwell International (Aero Commander) 690A airplane, N690SM, was destroyed when it impacted terrain in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction, Arizona. The commercial pilot and the five passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Ponderosa Aviation, Inc. (PAI) and operated by PAI under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The airplane had departed Falcon Field (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona, about 1825 and was destined for Safford Regional Airport (SAD), Safford, Arizona.

PAI's director of maintenance (DOM) and the director of operations (DO), who were co owners of PAI along with the president, conducted a personal flight from SAD to FFZ. The DO flew the leg from SAD to FFZ under visual flight rules (VFR) in night VMC. After arriving at FFZ and in preparation for the flight back to SAD, the DOM moved to the left front seat to act as the pilot flying. The airplane departed FFZ about 12 minutes after it arrived. According to a witness, engine start and taxi-out appeared normal.

Review of the recorded communications between the pilot and the FFZ tower air traffic controllers revealed that when the pilot requested taxi clearance, he advised the ground controller that he was planning an "eastbound departure." The flight was cleared for takeoff on runway 4R, and the pilot was instructed to maintain runway heading until advised, due to an inbound aircraft. About 90 seconds later, when the airplane was about 1.1 miles from the departure end of the runway, the tower local controller issued a "right turn approved" advisory to the flight, which the pilot acknowledged. Radar data revealed that the airplane flew the runway heading for about 1.5 miles then began a right turn toward SAD and climbed through an altitude of about 2,600 feet mean sea level (msl). About 1828, after it momentarily climbed to an altitude of 4,700 feet, the airplane descended to an altitude of 4,500 feet, where it remained and tracked in an essentially straight line until it impacted the mountain. The last radar return was received at 1830:56 and was approximately coincident with the impact location. The impact location was near the top of a steep mountain that projected to over 5,000 feet msl. Witnesses reported seeing a fireball, and law enforcement helicopters were dispatched.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Pilot (General Information)

The pilot, age 31, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine and multiengine land and instrument airplane. He also held a mechanic certificate with ratings for airframe and powerplant. His Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second class medical certificate was issued in July 2011. The pilot was a co-owner of PAI and was PAI's DOM.

The pilot's personal flight records contained entries until February 2011, at which time the pilot recorded that he had 1,151.9 hours in single-engine airplanes and 951.5 hours in multiengine airplanes. On his most recent FAA medical certificate application, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 2,500 hours.

The computerized PAI flight record (which began tracking 14 CFR Part 135 flights only in February 2011) indicated that the pilot had 116.5 hours total flight experience, including 18 hours in night VMC. According to the records, during the preceding 90 and 30 days, the pilot had accumulated about 28.5 and 5.3 flight hours, respectively. The records showed that the pilot had flown 2 hours on two different flights in the week before the accident. The most recent flight was in night VMC from SAD to FFZ and back. Examination of the flight records revealed that the pilot had flown that round trip flight at least twice, in the previous 2 weeks.

Pilot Training

According to PAI and its FAA principal operations inspector (POI), employee pilots receive annual training over a 2- to 3-day period. The chief pilot organized most of the training, which consisted of regulation review, company policy, and actual flight training. The POI observed parts of the training. According to company training records, the pilot's most recent 14 CFR Part 135 competency/proficiency check was satisfactorily completed on September 24, 2011.

Pilot's 72-Hour History

According to the pilot's wife, in the 3 days before and including the accident day, the pilot awoke about 0630 and left for work about 0700. Two days before the accident, he flew to FFZ, arriving back at SAD about 2145.

Relatives of the pilot stated that nothing unusual had occurred in his life in the 72-hour period before the accident. His wife reported that the pilot did not take medications, aside from a hypothyroidism medication that he had reported to the FAA, and he did not have any physical conditions or ailments aside from the hypothyroidism.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Forensic Science Center in Tucson, Arizona, conducted an autopsy on the pilot; the cause of death was cited as blunt force trauma. The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team at the Civil Aviation Medical Institute performed toxicological testing of specimens collected during the autopsy. The results of the specimens were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and listed drugs.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

General

The airplane was manufactured in 1976 by Rockwell International, and the type certificate holder at the time of the accident was Twin Commander, LLC. The airplane was equipped with two Honeywell TPE-331-series turboshaft engines and two Hartzell three-blade propellers. Maintenance records indicated that the airframe had accumulated a total time in service of about 8,188 hours. The left engine had accumulated a total time since major overhaul of about 545 hours, and the right engine had accumulated a total time since major overhaul of about 1,482 hours.

The airplane was recently purchased by PAI and was flown about 1,200 miles from Indiana to the PAI facility at SAD about 1 week before the accident. It was certificated for single-pilot operation. At the time of the accident, the airplane was configured for a pilot (left side), a copilot (right side), and five passengers.

According to the sale advertisement listing for the airplane, the airplane was equipped with very high frequency omnirange (VOR) and GPS (KLN 90B) navigation units, a radar altimeter, and an Avidyne EX-500 multifunction display, which were destroyed in the accident.

Ferry Permit Information

At the time of purchase by PAI, the airplane was not in compliance with an FAA required 150-hour inspection requirement, and PAI requested an FAA ferry permit to fly the airplane from Eagle Creek Airpark (EYE), Indianapolis, Indiana, to the PAI facility in Safford, Arizona. On November 16, 2011, the FAA issued a ferry permit for the relocation of the airplane. The permit was valid until arrival at SAD or November 25, 2011, whichever came first. It only permitted a direct flight between EYE and SAD and only allowed the pilot and essential crew on board. The airplane was flown by the PAI president, who was the brother of the accident pilot, from EYE to SAD on November 17, 2011. The arrival at SAD terminated the ferry permit.

PAI and FAA Scottsdale Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) personnel estimated that it would normally require two people 2 days to conduct the inspection necessary to render the airplane in compliance with the outstanding airworthiness items, exclusive of correcting any identified deficiencies. All available evidence indicated that no maintenance activity was accomplished on the airplane between its arrival at SAD and its departure to FFZ on the night of the accident; the condition that warranted the ferry permit had not been corrected.

Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) Equipment Information

Title 14 CFR 91.223 stated that with certain exceptions, turbine-powered, US registered airplanes configured with six or more passenger seats and manufactured before early 2002 could not be operated after March 29, 2005, unless the airplane was equipped with an approved TAWS unit.

Since the accident airplane was manufactured in 1976 and was turbine-powered, any exclusion from the TAWS requirement required that the airplane had to be configured with five or fewer passenger seating positions. According to the type certificate holder's documentation, the airplane was manufactured and delivered with six passenger seating positions. Therefore, the airplane's as manufactured configuration required the installation of TAWS by March 2005. No records indicating that the number of passenger seating positions was ever less than six before May 2005 were located. However, a detailed review of airplane maintenance records, preaccident photographs, TAWS equipment manufacturer's data, and a detailed inventory of the recovered wreckage indicated that the accident airplane was never equipped with TAWS. (The sale advertisement information for the airplane indicated that it was equipped with a KGP-560 TAWS B unit.)

Maintenance documentation indicated that in May 2005, the airplane seating configuration was changed to reduce passenger seat provisions from six to five by removing a seat belt from the aft divan, which was originally configured with seat belts for three people. Per the requirements of 14 CFR 91.223 and the reduced passenger seat count, the airplane was not required to be equipped with TAWS.

However, FAA and manufacturer/type certificate holder guidance indicated that any seating configuration changes should be approved by either the FAA or the manufacturer/type certificate holder, and examination of the maintenance documentation for the accident airplane revealed that neither requirement had been satisfied. The seating modification was not approved by the FAA or any other agency or documented either via a supplemental type certificate and/or FAA Form 337 (Major Repair and Alteration). Postaccident review of the documentation that was used to substantiate the seating configuration change revealed that the modified seating position plan was not one of the manufacturer's/type certificate holder's approved configurations. The document that was used to substantiate the change was determined to be an altered version of the manufacturer's original document, but it was incorrectly represented as a manufacturer's original document. Attempts to determine who made the improper and unauthorized changes to the seating configuration document, or when they were made, were unsuccessful.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The FFZ 1854 automated weather observation included wind from 350 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 40 miles, few clouds at 20,000 feet, temperature 23 degrees C, dew point -1 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.93 inches of Mercury. US Naval Observatory data for November 23, 2011, indicated that the moon, which was a waning crescent of 3%, set at 1605, and local sunset occurred at 1721.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION

Neither FFZ nor SAD was equipped with a VOR ground navigation facility. Navigation between the two airports via available VOR stations would result in an indirect flight route.

The flight from SAD to FFZ and the accident flight were both conducted in VMC as VFR flights. No flight plan was filed for either flight, and neither pilot had requested air traffic control (ATC) flight following services. Available radar data and interviews with PAI personnel indicated that the pilot had flown between SAD and FFZ several times previously and that he tended to use his iPad, equipped with ForeFlight software and GPS, to fly directly between the two. The software could display FAA VFR aeronautical charts (including FAA-published terrain depiction) and overlay airplane track and position data on the chart depiction. According to the pilot's brother, the pilot's habit pattern was to depart the airport, identify the track needed to fly directly to the destination, and turn the airplane onto that track. Remnants of an iPad were found in the wreckage. Damage precluded determination of its positive association with a particular owner, its functionality, or its operational status at the time of the accident.

Radar tracking data from the accident flight indicated that the airplane began its right turn on course to SAD about 1.5 miles northeast of FFZ. Comparison of the direct line track data from two different initial locations (FFZ, and northeast of FFZ after completion of the turn) to SAD revealed that while the direct track from FFZ to SAD passed about 3 miles south of the impact mountain, the direct track from northeast of FFZ to SAD overlaid the impact mountain location. That resulting ground track was also coincident with the accident flight radar data ground track.

COMMUNICATIONS

Sequence of Events

The pilot first contacted FFZ ground control at 1820:21. The pilot was instructed to taxi to runway 4R via taxiway D, and he taxied as instructed without incident. At 1823:35, the pilot contacted FFZ local control and advised that he was holding short and was ready for departure. The pilot was advised to again hold short to wait for landing traffic. At 1825:00, the controller instructed the pilot to "fly straight out" until advised due to landing traffic and cleared him for takeoff from runway 4R. The airplane became airborne at 1826:14. At 1826:47, the controller issued the "right turn approved" advisory to the pilot. At that point, the airplane was still on the runway heading, about 1.45 nautical miles (nm) from FFZ, and climbing through an altitude of about 2,200 feet. The pilot responded to the transmission with "right turn approved." No further radio transmissions to or from the accident pilot were recorded.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

General

FFZ was equipped with two runways designated 4/22 L and R. The airplane's arrival and departure runway (4R) measured 5,101 feet by 100 feet. Airport elevation was 1,394 feet msl. The local topography consisted of a flat basin floor bounded by mountainous terrain, primarily to the north and east. FFZ was situated about 15 miles west-northwest of the impact mountain, which rose very steeply to a charted maximum elevation of 5,057 feet msl, or about 3,700 feet above FFZ.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Accident Site

The accident site was on the northwest face near the top of the Flatiron region of Superstition Mountain. The accident site consisted of two basic terrain areas: a sloped area (about 45 degrees downhill to the northwest), abutted by a vertical rock formation on its southeast side.

The sloped area was primarily rock, interlaced with cracks, soil patches, boulders, and sparse vegetation. The rock formation rose about 100 feet above the southeastern edge of the sloped area. Airplane debris was scattered on the sloped area in a primary field that measured about 150 feet southeast-northwest by about 80 feet northeast-southwest. A significant amount of debris was clustered near the base of the vertical face, with some debris strewn or caught on the face. The southeast section of the sloped area and much of the vertical face were fire damaged, soot covered, or scorched. The northwest edge of the sloped debris field was about 150 feet southeast of the end of the sloped terrain, which then became very steep (sometimes near vertical) and fell irregularly away to the valley floor about 3,000 feet below.

On-Site Wreckage Observations

The impact site was located on steep rocky terrain at an elevation of about 4,500 feet msl that was essentially only accessible by helicopter. The wreckage was recovered by helicopter and transported to a secure facility for subsequent detailed examination.

The airplane was highly fragmented. The debris pattern axis was oriented northwest to southeast, and the debris and fire damage were arrayed in a fan-like pattern consistent with the approximate flight direction. Most airplane components were severely impact and fire-damaged. Some debris (heavier/denser items, such as engine gearbox components and generators) was found northwest (downhill) of the main debris field, consistent with those components rolling downhill after impact. The largest wreckage section was a portion of an inboard wing box with one engine attached. Paint transfer marks on the rock face were consistent with a wings-level (roll axis) impact.

Both engines and portions of their propellers were identified in the wreckage. Propeller, engine, and gearbox damage was consistent with high power rotation at impact. All three landing gear were identified in the wreckage, and damage patterns were consistent with the landing gear being retracted at impact. Some airplane skin segments exhibited significant accordion-like crush damage. Many cockpit-related items, including instruments, instrument panel sections, and pilots' seat fragments, were found on the terrain beyond the vertical rock formation; some were several hundred feet beyond the vertical rock formation.

Damage patterns were consistent with the engines developing power at the time of impact. The majority of the first-stage compressor impeller blades were separated at the hubs. The second-stage compressor impeller blades were bent opposite the direction of rotation. There was rotational scoring on the aft side of the third-stage turbine blade platforms and metal spray deposits on the suction side of the third-stage turbine blades. No preimpact discrepancies that would have precluded normal engine operation were identified.

The blade damage to both propellers was severe, with leading-edge damage, multiple bends, twisting, concave bending of the blade chord at the tips, and tips that had fractured and separated. Two separate blade angle witness marks were each consistent with impact while at a normal (not in feather and not in reverse) operating position. No preimpact discrepancies that would have precluded normal propeller operation were identified.

ORGANIZATIONAL AND MANAGEMENT INFORMATION

Ponderosa Aviation, Inc.

PAI was founded in 1975 by the pilot-rated passenger's father. Later, the pilot and his brother purchased the company, and, in January 2011, the pilot-rated passenger, who had worked there for many years, bought into a partnership with them.

At the time of the accident, PAI, which was based at SAD, employed 25 people, including 13 pilots (10 on a seasonal/part-time basis) and 9 maintenance personnel. PAI owned a total of 14 airplanes, including the accident airplane. The fleet included three Rockwell International (Aero Commander) 690 models and nine 500 models.

PAI held a 14 CFR Part 135 operating certificate for on-demand air carrier operations in the contiguous United States and the District of Columbia. However, PAI rarely exercised the privileges of that certificate and averaged about two revenue passenger transport flights per year. PAI's primary purpose for obtaining and maintaining the certificate was to be qualified to contract with the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for air attack missions (the application of aerial resources, by both fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft, on a fire).

Eight of the PAI airplanes were on the 14 CFR Part 135 certificate; the accident airplane had not yet been added to the certificate.

FAA Oversight

The FAA FSDO in Scottsdale, Arizona, was the assigned certificate-holding district office for PAI and oversaw about 60 Part 135 certificated operators, no Part 121 certificated operators, and about 520 Part 91 operators.

The POI was assigned to PAI in 2007. Her duties included oversight of 12 designees and 30 check airmen and POI for 54 operators. PAI was one of 10 Part 135 operators assigned to the POI. She estimated that she had about 100 hours in Rockwell International/Aero Commander airplanes, 25 of which were in the 690 model. The POI considered PAI to be a "low-maintenance operator," meaning that PAI was compliant with FAA requirements and presented few issues of concern. She physically visited PAI about once per year. Due to the distance between the FSDO and SAD, she never made unannounced visits. Her visits would take about 2 days, during which she would oversee pilot training, examine records and recordkeeping, and conduct base inspections and ramp checks. She never gave checkrides to PAI pilots; those were conducted by another inspector. The POI qualified the pilot-rated passenger as a "good" chief pilot. He was the person at PAI with whom the POI had the most contact, and she would mainly communicate her concerns and questions to him. She did not have much familiarity with the pilot.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Homeowner's Surveillance Camera Imagery

The airplane's preimpact flightpath, impact explosion, postimpact fire, and initial arrival of search and rescue aircraft were captured on a private citizen's home surveillance camera. That camera was located about 6 miles south of and 3,700 feet lower than the impact site. A file that contained about 50 minutes of image data, during the period from about 1810 to 1900, was provided to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The time stamp data was provided by the camera owner and was not independently correlated or verified by the NTSB; therefore, all times are approximate.

The 1810 image depicted the mountain in silhouette form, but as night fell, the mountain disappeared from the image. No lights were visible on the mountain. Due to the night conditions, the optical resolution capability of the camera, and the distance of the airplane from the camera, the imagery provided only a macro view and associated timeline of the events. The airplane itself was not visible; its position was manifested by its blinking beacon or strobe lights only. The lights of the airplane first appeared in the field of view at 1830:00 and remained visible until 1830:48, when the lights disappeared behind the terrain. A large flash of light appeared at 1830:52, followed by a second, much larger and brighter flash about 3 seconds later. Lights indicative of a fire remained visible until about 1844, and the first responding aircraft (again only visible as lights) appeared about 1848.

Examination of the path of the airplane's lights on the image field of view did not reveal any erratic motions or changes of direction; the stability of the flightpath was similar to that depicted in the ground tracking radar data.

Weight and Balance Information

Maintenance records indicated that on at least 15 occasions, modifications that affected the airplane's weight and balance values were accomplished; however, no records of the actual revised weight and balance data were discovered during the investigation.

Calculations that used the original empty weight plus other known or presumed values resulted in an estimated accident flight weight of 8,953 pounds, which was below the maximum allowable weight, and a center of gravity within the allowable envelope.

Airplane Performance

The derived level-flight ground speed for the last 2 minutes of the flight was approximately 190 knots, which was slightly higher than the pilot's operating handbook maximum range speed for similar conditions. Surface wind data indicated that the airplane would have experienced a slight tailwind during the climbout and level-flight segments.

TAWS-Related Guidance for FAA Inspectors

Published FAA guidance for FAA inspectors to use to determine whether the airplane seating configuration changes (if properly accomplished) would have exempted the airplane from the TAWS requirement was examined in detail. The relevant FAA guidance included FAA Order 8900.1 and 14 CFR Part 1, Part 21, Part 43 (Appendix 1), Part 91, and Part 135.

Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) Class B Airspace Information

The Phoenix metropolitan area was designated and charted as Class B airspace, centered on PHX and the PHX VOR (PXR). The airspace elevation boundaries were defined by floor and ceiling altitudes, with lateral boundaries defined by distance and bearing from defined locations. Class B airspace is typically described as having the shape of an "upside-down wedding cake," where the airspace floor altitudes increase as the distance from the center increases. Aircraft operating under VFR are prohibited from entering Class B airspace without explicit permission from the responsible ATC facility. Mountainous terrain rises to 4,500 feet less than 1 nm east of the 5-000-foot Class B airspace, and the terrain rises to a maximum elevation of 5,057 feet about 3 1/2 miles east.

The NTSB ATC group chairman's factual report provides detailed information regarding the Class B airspace around the Phoenix area. For more information, see the docket for this accident (NTSB case number WPR12MA046).

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) Accidents

The FAA defines a CFIT accident as a situation that occurs when a properly functioning aircraft "is flown under the control of a qualified pilot, into terrain (water or obstacles) with inadequate awareness on the part of the pilot of the impending collision."

In 1998, the FAA formed the General Aviation (GA) CFIT Joint Safety Analysis Team (JSAT) as part of the FAA "Safer Skies" program. The stated goal of the Safer Skies initiative was to significantly reduce fatal accidents over a 10-year period via a comprehensive review of aviation accident causes and implementation of safety intervention strategies. In April 1999, the GA CFIT JSAT published its final report, which identified 55 interventions to address CFIT accident causes. The FAA CFIT Joint Safety Implementation Team (JSIT) was formed to develop detailed CFIT accident reduction strategies based upon the top 10 JSAT interventions that were considered to be the most effective and feasible. The CFIT JSIT final report was published in 2000, and JSIT recommended interventions included the following:

- Improve safety culture within the aviation community,
- Promote development and use of low-cost terrain clearance and/or look-ahead device,
- Improve pilot training regarding decision-making and human factors,
- Enhance the biennial flight review and/or instrument competency check, and
- Develop and distribute mountain flying technique advisory material.

In March 2003, as part of its response to the CFIT JSIT, the FAA issued Advisory Circular (AC) 61-134, "General Aviation Controlled Flight Into Terrain Awareness." The AC "highlights the inherent risk" that CFIT poses for GA pilots. According to the AC, one primary cause of CFIT accidents was loss of situational awareness.

Situational Awareness

The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25) defined situational awareness as the "accurate perception of the operational and environmental factors that affect the airplane, pilot, and passengers during a specific period of time." The handbook stated that a situationally aware pilot "has an overview of the total operation and is not fixated on one perceived significant factor." The handbook stated that "some of the elements inside the airplane to be considered are the status of airplane systems, and also the pilot and passengers" and cautioned that "an awareness of the environmental conditions of the flight, such as spatial orientation of the airplane, and its relationship to terrain, traffic, weather, and airspace must be maintained."

The handbook stated that obstacles to maintaining situational awareness included fatigue, stress, and task overload and that a contributing factor in many accidents is a distraction that diverts the pilot's attention. Complacency was cited as another obstacle to maintaining situational awareness. When activities become routine, there is a tendency to relax and not put as much effort into performance. Like fatigue, complacency reduces a pilot's effectiveness in the cockpit. However, complacency is harder to recognize than fatigue, since everything is perceived to be progressing smoothly.

NTSB Safety Alert

In January 2008, the NTSB issued a safety alert titled "Controlled Flight Into Terrain in Visual Conditions: Nighttime Visual Flight Operations Are Resulting in Avoidable Accidents." The safety alert stated that recent investigations identified several accidents that involved CFIT by pilots operating under visual flight conditions at night in remote areas, that the pilots appeared unaware that the aircraft were in danger, and that increased altitude awareness and better preflight planning likely would have prevented the accidents.

The safety alert suggested that pilots could avoid becoming involved in a similar accident by proper preflight planning, obtaining flight route terrain familiarization via sectional charts or other topographic references, maintaining awareness of visual limitations for operations in remote areas, following instrument flight rules practices until well above surrounding terrain, advising ATC and taking action to reach a safe altitude, and employing a GPS-based terrain awareness unit.


NTSB Identification: WPR12MA046 
 Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 23, 2011 in Apache Junction, AZ
Aircraft: ROCKWELL 690, registration: N690SM
Injuries: 6 Fatal.

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

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 23, 2011, about 1831 mountain standard time, a Rockwell International (Aero Commander) 690A airplane, N690SM, was destroyed when it impacted terrain in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction, Arizona. The commercial pilot and the five passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Ponderosa Aviation, Inc. (PAI) and operated by PAI under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The airplane had departed Falcon Field (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona, about 1825 and was destined for Safford Regional Airport (SAD), Safford, Arizona.

PAI’s director of maintenance (DOM) and the director of operations (DO), who were co owners of PAI along with the president, conducted a personal flight from SAD to FFZ. The DO flew the leg from SAD to FFZ under visual flight rules (VFR) in night VMC. After arriving at FFZ and in preparation for the flight back to SAD, the DOM moved to the left front seat to act as the pilot flying. The airplane departed FFZ about 12 minutes after it arrived. According to a witness, engine start and taxi-out appeared normal.

Review of the recorded communications between the pilot and the FFZ tower air traffic controllers revealed that when the pilot requested taxi clearance, he advised the ground controller that he was planning an "eastbound departure." The flight was cleared for takeoff on runway 4R, and the pilot was instructed to maintain runway heading until advised, due to an inbound aircraft. About 90 seconds later, when the airplane was about 1.1 miles from the departure end of the runway, the tower local controller issued a "right turn approved" advisory to the flight, which the pilot acknowledged. Radar data revealed that the airplane flew the runway heading for about 1.5 miles then began a right turn toward SAD and climbed through an altitude of about 2,600 feet mean sea level (msl). About 1828, after it momentarily climbed to an altitude of 4,700 feet, the airplane descended to an altitude of 4,500 feet, where it remained and tracked in an essentially straight line until it impacted the mountain. The last radar return was received at 1830:56 and was approximately coincident with the impact location. The impact location was near the top of a steep mountain that projected to over 5,000 feet msl. Witnesses reported seeing a fireball, and law enforcement helicopters were dispatched.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Pilot (General Information)

The pilot, age 31, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine and multiengine land and instrument airplane. He also held a mechanic certificate with ratings for airframe and powerplant. His Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second class medical certificate was issued in July 2011. The pilot was a co-owner of PAI and was PAI’s DOM.

The pilot's personal flight records contained entries until February 2011, at which time the pilot recorded that he had 1,151.9 hours in single-engine airplanes and 951.5 hours in multiengine airplanes. On his most recent FAA medical certificate application, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 2,500 hours.

The computerized PAI flight record (which began tracking 14 CFR Part 135 flights only in February 2011) indicated that the pilot had 116.5 hours total flight experience, including 18 hours in night VMC. According to the records, during the preceding 90 and 30 days, the pilot had accumulated about 28.5 and 5.3 flight hours, respectively. The records showed that the pilot had flown 2 hours on two different flights in the week before the accident. The most recent flight was in night VMC from SAD to FFZ and back. Examination of the flight records revealed that the pilot had flown that round trip flight at least twice, in the previous 2 weeks.

Pilot Training

According to PAI and its FAA principal operations inspector (POI), employee pilots receive annual training over a 2- to 3-day period. The chief pilot organized most of the training, which consisted of regulation review, company policy, and actual flight training. The POI observed parts of the training. According to company training records, the pilot's most recent 14 CFR Part 135 competency/proficiency check was satisfactorily completed on September 24, 2011.

Pilot’s 72-Hour History

According to the pilot’s wife, in the 3 days before and including the accident day, the pilot awoke about 0630 and left for work about 0700. Two days before the accident, he flew to FFZ, arriving back at SAD about 2145.

Relatives of the pilot stated that nothing unusual had occurred in his life in the 72-hour period before the accident. His wife reported that the pilot did not take medications, aside from a hypothyroidism medication that he had reported to the FAA, and he did not have any physical conditions or ailments aside from the hypothyroidism.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Forensic Science Center in Tucson, Arizona, conducted an autopsy on the pilot; the cause of death was cited as blunt force trauma. The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team at the Civil Aviation Medical Institute performed toxicological testing of specimens collected during the autopsy. The results of the specimens were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and listed drugs.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

General

The airplane was manufactured in 1976 by Rockwell International, and the type certificate holder at the time of the accident was Twin Commander, LLC. The airplane was equipped with two Honeywell TPE-331-series turboshaft engines and two Hartzell three-blade propellers. Maintenance records indicated that the airframe had accumulated a total time in service of about 8,188 hours. The left engine had accumulated a total time since major overhaul of about 545 hours, and the right engine had accumulated a total time since major overhaul of about 1,482 hours.

The airplane was recently purchased by PAI and was flown about 1,200 miles from Indiana to the PAI facility at SAD about 1 week before the accident. It was certificated for single-pilot operation. At the time of the accident, the airplane was configured for a pilot (left side), a copilot (right side), and five passengers.

According to the sale advertisement listing for the airplane, the airplane was equipped with very high frequency omnirange (VOR) and GPS (KLN 90B) navigation units, a radar altimeter, and an Avidyne EX-500 multifunction display, which were destroyed in the accident.

Ferry Permit Information

At the time of purchase by PAI, the airplane was not in compliance with an FAA required 150-hour inspection requirement, and PAI requested an FAA ferry permit to fly the airplane from Eagle Creek Airpark (EYE), Indianapolis, Indiana, to the PAI facility in Safford, Arizona. On November 16, 2011, the FAA issued a ferry permit for the relocation of the airplane. The permit was valid until arrival at SAD or November 25, 2011, whichever came first. It only permitted a direct flight between EYE and SAD and only allowed the pilot and essential crew on board. The airplane was flown by the PAI president, who was the brother of the accident pilot, from EYE to SAD on November 17, 2011. The arrival at SAD terminated the ferry permit.

PAI and FAA Scottsdale Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) personnel estimated that it would normally require two people 2 days to conduct the inspection necessary to render the airplane in compliance with the outstanding airworthiness items, exclusive of correcting any identified deficiencies. All available evidence indicated that no maintenance activity was accomplished on the airplane between its arrival at SAD and its departure to FFZ on the night of the accident; the condition that warranted the ferry permit had not been corrected.

Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) Equipment Information

Title 14 CFR 91.223 stated that with certain exceptions, turbine-powered, US registered airplanes configured with six or more passenger seats and manufactured before early 2002 could not be operated after March 29, 2005, unless the airplane was equipped with an approved TAWS unit.

Since the accident airplane was manufactured in 1976 and was turbine-powered, any exclusion from the TAWS requirement required that the airplane had to be configured with five or fewer passenger seating positions. According to the type certificate holder's documentation, the airplane was manufactured and delivered with six passenger seating positions. Therefore, the airplane's as manufactured configuration required the installation of TAWS by March 2005. No records indicating that the number of passenger seating positions was ever less than six before May 2005 were located. However, a detailed review of airplane maintenance records, preaccident photographs, TAWS equipment manufacturer's data, and a detailed inventory of the recovered wreckage indicated that the accident airplane was never equipped with TAWS. (The sale advertisement information for the airplane indicated that it was equipped with a KGP-560 TAWS B unit.)

Maintenance documentation indicated that in May 2005, the airplane seating configuration was changed to reduce passenger seat provisions from six to five by removing a seat belt from the aft divan, which was originally configured with seat belts for three people. Per the requirements of 14 CFR 91.223 and the reduced passenger seat count, the airplane was not required to be equipped with TAWS.

However, FAA and manufacturer/type certificate holder guidance indicated that any seating configuration changes should be approved by either the FAA or the manufacturer/type certificate holder, and examination of the maintenance documentation for the accident airplane revealed that neither requirement had been satisfied. The seating modification was not approved by the FAA or any other agency or documented either via a supplemental type certificate and/or FAA Form 337 (Major Repair and Alteration). Postaccident review of the documentation that was used to substantiate the seating configuration change revealed that the modified seating position plan was not one of the manufacturer's/type certificate holder's approved configurations. The document that was used to substantiate the change was determined to be an altered version of the manufacturer's original document, but it was incorrectly represented as a manufacturer's original document. Attempts to determine who made the improper and unauthorized changes to the seating configuration document, or when they were made, were unsuccessful.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The FFZ 1854 automated weather observation included wind from 350 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 40 miles, few clouds at 20,000 feet, temperature 23 degrees C, dew point -1 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.93 inches of Mercury. US Naval Observatory data for November 23, 2011, indicated that the moon, which was a waning crescent of 3%, set at 1605, and local sunset occurred at 1721.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION

Neither FFZ nor SAD was equipped with a VOR ground navigation facility. Navigation between the two airports via available VOR stations would result in an indirect flight route.

The flight from SAD to FFZ and the accident flight were both conducted in VMC as VFR flights. No flight plan was filed for either flight, and neither pilot had requested air traffic control (ATC) flight following services. Available radar data and interviews with PAI personnel indicated that the pilot had flown between SAD and FFZ several times previously and that he tended to use his iPad, equipped with ForeFlight software and GPS, to fly directly between the two. The software could display FAA VFR aeronautical charts (including FAA-published terrain depiction) and overlay airplane track and position data on the chart depiction. According to the pilot's brother, the pilot's habit pattern was to depart the airport, identify the track needed to fly directly to the destination, and turn the airplane onto that track. Remnants of an iPad were found in the wreckage. Damage precluded determination of its positive association with a particular owner, its functionality, or its operational status at the time of the accident.

Radar tracking data from the accident flight indicated that the airplane began its right turn on course to SAD about 1.5 miles northeast of FFZ. Comparison of the direct line track data from two different initial locations (FFZ, and northeast of FFZ after completion of the turn) to SAD revealed that while the direct track from FFZ to SAD passed about 3 miles south of the impact mountain, the direct track from northeast of FFZ to SAD overlaid the impact mountain location. That resulting ground track was also coincident with the accident flight radar data ground track.

COMMUNICATIONS

Sequence of Events

The pilot first contacted FFZ ground control at 1820:21. The pilot was instructed to taxi to runway 4R via taxiway D, and he taxied as instructed without incident. At 1823:35, the pilot contacted FFZ local control and advised that he was holding short and was ready for departure. The pilot was advised to again hold short to wait for landing traffic. At 1825:00, the controller instructed the pilot to "fly straight out" until advised due to landing traffic and cleared him for takeoff from runway 4R. The airplane became airborne at 1826:14. At 1826:47, the controller issued the "right turn approved" advisory to the pilot. At that point, the airplane was still on the runway heading, about 1.45 nautical miles (nm) from FFZ, and climbing through an altitude of about 2,200 feet. The pilot responded to the transmission with "right turn approved." No further radio transmissions to or from the accident pilot were recorded.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

General

FFZ was equipped with two runways designated 4/22 L and R. The airplane's arrival and departure runway (4R) measured 5,101 feet by 100 feet. Airport elevation was 1,394 feet msl. The local topography consisted of a flat basin floor bounded by mountainous terrain, primarily to the north and east. FFZ was situated about 15 miles west-northwest of the impact mountain, which rose very steeply to a charted maximum elevation of 5,057 feet msl, or about 3,700 feet above FFZ.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Accident Site

The accident site was on the northwest face near the top of the Flatiron region of Superstition Mountain. The accident site consisted of two basic terrain areas: a sloped area (about 45 degrees downhill to the northwest), abutted by a vertical rock formation on its southeast side.

The sloped area was primarily rock, interlaced with cracks, soil patches, boulders, and sparse vegetation. The rock formation rose about 100 feet above the southeastern edge of the sloped area. Airplane debris was scattered on the sloped area in a primary field that measured about 150 feet southeast-northwest by about 80 feet northeast-southwest. A significant amount of debris was clustered near the base of the vertical face, with some debris strewn or caught on the face. The southeast section of the sloped area and much of the vertical face were fire damaged, soot covered, or scorched. The northwest edge of the sloped debris field was about 150 feet southeast of the end of the sloped terrain, which then became very steep (sometimes near vertical) and fell irregularly away to the valley floor about 3,000 feet below.

On-Site Wreckage Observations

The impact site was located on steep rocky terrain at an elevation of about 4,500 feet msl that was essentially only accessible by helicopter. The wreckage was recovered by helicopter and transported to a secure facility for subsequent detailed examination.

The airplane was highly fragmented. The debris pattern axis was oriented northwest to southeast, and the debris and fire damage were arrayed in a fan-like pattern consistent with the approximate flight direction. Most airplane components were severely impact and fire-damaged. Some debris (heavier/denser items, such as engine gearbox components and generators) was found northwest (downhill) of the main debris field, consistent with those components rolling downhill after impact. The largest wreckage section was a portion of an inboard wing box with one engine attached. Paint transfer marks on the rock face were consistent with a wings-level (roll axis) impact.

Both engines and portions of their propellers were identified in the wreckage. Propeller, engine, and gearbox damage was consistent with high power rotation at impact. All three landing gear were identified in the wreckage, and damage patterns were consistent with the landing gear being retracted at impact. Some airplane skin segments exhibited significant accordion-like crush damage. Many cockpit-related items, including instruments, instrument panel sections, and pilots' seat fragments, were found on the terrain beyond the vertical rock formation; some were several hundred feet beyond the vertical rock formation.

Damage patterns were consistent with the engines developing power at the time of impact. The majority of the first-stage compressor impeller blades were separated at the hubs. The second-stage compressor impeller blades were bent opposite the direction of rotation. There was rotational scoring on the aft side of the third-stage turbine blade platforms and metal spray deposits on the suction side of the third-stage turbine blades. No preimpact discrepancies that would have precluded normal engine operation were identified.

The blade damage to both propellers was severe, with leading-edge damage, multiple bends, twisting, concave bending of the blade chord at the tips, and tips that had fractured and separated. Two separate blade angle witness marks were each consistent with impact while at a normal (not in feather and not in reverse) operating position. No preimpact discrepancies that would have precluded normal propeller operation were identified.

ORGANIZATIONAL AND MANAGEMENT INFORMATION

Ponderosa Aviation, Inc.

PAI was founded in 1975 by the pilot-rated passenger’s father. Later, the pilot and his brother purchased the company, and, in January 2011, the pilot-rated passenger, who had worked there for many years, bought into a partnership with them.

At the time of the accident, PAI, which was based at SAD, employed 25 people, including 13 pilots (10 on a seasonal/part-time basis) and 9 maintenance personnel. PAI owned a total of 14 airplanes, including the accident airplane. The fleet included three Rockwell International (Aero Commander) 690 models and nine 500 models.

PAI held a 14 CFR Part 135 operating certificate for on-demand air carrier operations in the contiguous United States and the District of Columbia. However, PAI rarely exercised the privileges of that certificate and averaged about two revenue passenger transport flights per year. PAI's primary purpose for obtaining and maintaining the certificate was to be qualified to contract with the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for air attack missions (the application of aerial resources, by both fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft, on a fire).

Eight of the PAI airplanes were on the 14 CFR Part 135 certificate; the accident airplane had not yet been added to the certificate.

FAA Oversight

The FAA FSDO in Scottsdale, Arizona, was the assigned certificate-holding district office for PAI and oversaw about 60 Part 135 certificated operators, no Part 121 certificated operators, and about 520 Part 91 operators.

The POI was assigned to PAI in 2007. Her duties included oversight of 12 designees and 30 check airmen and POI for 54 operators. PAI was one of 10 Part 135 operators assigned to the POI. She estimated that she had about 100 hours in Rockwell International/Aero Commander airplanes, 25 of which were in the 690 model. The POI considered PAI to be a "low-maintenance operator," meaning that PAI was compliant with FAA requirements and presented few issues of concern. She physically visited PAI about once per year. Due to the distance between the FSDO and SAD, she never made unannounced visits. Her visits would take about 2 days, during which she would oversee pilot training, examine records and recordkeeping, and conduct base inspections and ramp checks. She never gave checkrides to PAI pilots; those were conducted by another inspector. The POI qualified the pilot-rated passenger as a "good" chief pilot. He was the person at PAI with whom the POI had the most contact, and she would mainly communicate her concerns and questions to him. She did not have much familiarity with the pilot.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Homeowner's Surveillance Camera Imagery

The airplane’s preimpact flightpath, impact explosion, postimpact fire, and initial arrival of search and rescue aircraft were captured on a private citizen's home surveillance camera. That camera was located about 6 miles south of and 3,700 feet lower than the impact site. A file that contained about 50 minutes of image data, during the period from about 1810 to 1900, was provided to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The time stamp data was provided by the camera owner and was not independently correlated or verified by the NTSB; therefore, all times are approximate.

The 1810 image depicted the mountain in silhouette form, but as night fell, the mountain disappeared from the image. No lights were visible on the mountain. Due to the night conditions, the optical resolution capability of the camera, and the distance of the airplane from the camera, the imagery provided only a macro view and associated timeline of the events. The airplane itself was not visible; its position was manifested by its blinking beacon or strobe lights only. The lights of the airplane first appeared in the field of view at 1830:00 and remained visible until 1830:48, when the lights disappeared behind the terrain. A large flash of light appeared at 1830:52, followed by a second, much larger and brighter flash about 3 seconds later. Lights indicative of a fire remained visible until about 1844, and the first responding aircraft (again only visible as lights) appeared about 1848.

Examination of the path of the airplane's lights on the image field of view did not reveal any erratic motions or changes of direction; the stability of the flightpath was similar to that depicted in the ground tracking radar data.

Weight and Balance Information

Maintenance records indicated that on at least 15 occasions, modifications that affected the airplane's weight and balance values were accomplished; however, no records of the actual revised weight and balance data were discovered during the investigation.

Calculations that used the original empty weight plus other known or presumed values resulted in an estimated accident flight weight of 8,953 pounds, which was below the maximum allowable weight, and a center of gravity within the allowable envelope.

Airplane Performance

The derived level-flight ground speed for the last 2 minutes of the flight was approximately 190 knots, which was slightly higher than the pilot’s operating handbook maximum range speed for similar conditions. Surface wind data indicated that the airplane would have experienced a slight tailwind during the climbout and level-flight segments.

TAWS-Related Guidance for FAA Inspectors

Published FAA guidance for FAA inspectors to use to determine whether the airplane seating configuration changes (if properly accomplished) would have exempted the airplane from the TAWS requirement was examined in detail. The relevant FAA guidance included FAA Order 8900.1 and 14 CFR Part 1, Part 21, Part 43 (Appendix 1), Part 91, and Part 135.

Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) Class B Airspace Information

The Phoenix metropolitan area was designated and charted as Class B airspace, centered on PHX and the PHX VOR (PXR). The airspace elevation boundaries were defined by floor and ceiling altitudes, with lateral boundaries defined by distance and bearing from defined locations. Class B airspace is typically described as having the shape of an "upside-down wedding cake," where the airspace floor altitudes increase as the distance from the center increases. Aircraft operating under VFR are prohibited from entering Class B airspace without explicit permission from the responsible ATC facility. Mountainous terrain rises to 4,500 feet less than 1 nm east of the 5-000-foot Class B airspace, and the terrain rises to a maximum elevation of 5,057 feet about 3 1/2 miles east.

The NTSB ATC group chairman's factual report provides detailed information regarding the Class B airspace around the Phoenix area. For more information, see the docket for this accident (NTSB case number WPR12MA046).

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) Accidents

The FAA defines a CFIT accident as a situation that occurs when a properly functioning aircraft "is flown under the control of a qualified pilot, into terrain (water or obstacles) with inadequate awareness on the part of the pilot of the impending collision."

In 1998, the FAA formed the General Aviation (GA) CFIT Joint Safety Analysis Team (JSAT) as part of the FAA "Safer Skies" program. The stated goal of the Safer Skies initiative was to significantly reduce fatal accidents over a 10-year period via a comprehensive review of aviation accident causes and implementation of safety intervention strategies. In April 1999, the GA CFIT JSAT published its final report, which identified 55 interventions to address CFIT accident causes. The FAA CFIT Joint Safety Implementation Team (JSIT) was formed to develop detailed CFIT accident reduction strategies based upon the top 10 JSAT interventions that were considered to be the most effective and feasible. The CFIT JSIT final report was published in 2000, and JSIT recommended interventions included the following:

- Improve safety culture within the aviation community,
- Promote development and use of low-cost terrain clearance and/or look-ahead device,
- Improve pilot training regarding decision-making and human factors,
- Enhance the biennial flight review and/or instrument competency check, and
- Develop and distribute mountain flying technique advisory material.

In March 2003, as part of its response to the CFIT JSIT, the FAA issued Advisory Circular (AC) 61-134, "General Aviation Controlled Flight Into Terrain Awareness." The AC "highlights the inherent risk" that CFIT poses for GA pilots. According to the AC, one primary cause of CFIT accidents was loss of situational awareness.

Situational Awareness

The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25) defined situational awareness as the "accurate perception of the operational and environmental factors that affect the airplane, pilot, and passengers during a specific period of time." The handbook stated that a situationally aware pilot "has an overview of the total operation and is not fixated on one perceived significant factor." The handbook stated that "some of the elements inside the airplane to be considered are the status of airplane systems, and also the pilot and passengers" and cautioned that "an awareness of the environmental conditions of the flight, such as spatial orientation of the airplane, and its relationship to terrain, traffic, weather, and airspace must be maintained."

The handbook stated that obstacles to maintaining situational awareness included fatigue, stress, and task overload and that a contributing factor in many accidents is a distraction that diverts the pilot’s attention. Complacency was cited as another obstacle to maintaining situational awareness. When activities become routine, there is a tendency to relax and not put as much effort into performance. Like fatigue, complacency reduces a pilot’s effectiveness in the cockpit. However, complacency is harder to recognize than fatigue, since everything is perceived to be progressing smoothly.

NTSB Safety Alert

In January 2008, the NTSB issued a safety alert titled "Controlled Flight Into Terrain in Visual Conditions: Nighttime Visual Flight Operations Are Resulting in Avoidable Accidents." The safety alert stated that recent investigations identified several accidents that involved CFIT by pilots operating under visual flight conditions at night in remote areas, that the pilots appeared unaware that the aircraft were in danger, and that increased altitude awareness and better preflight planning likely would have prevented the accidents.

The safety alert suggested that pilots could avoid becoming involved in a similar accident by proper preflight planning, obtaining flight route terrain familiarization via sectional charts or other topographic references, maintaining awareness of visual limitations for operations in remote areas, following instrument flight rules practices until well above surrounding terrain, advising ATC and taking action to reach a safe altitude, and employing a GPS-based terrain awareness unit.

 =========


NTSB Identification: WPR12MA046 
 Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 23, 2011 in Apache Junction, AZ
Aircraft: ROCKWELL 690, registration: N690SM
Injuries: 6 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 used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On November 23, 2011, about 1831 mountain standard time (MST), a Rockwell International 690A, N690SM, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction, Arizona, about 5 minutes after takeoff from Falcon Field (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona. The certificated commercial pilot and the five passengers, who included two adults and three children, were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Ponderosa Aviation, which held a Part 135 operating certificate, and which was based at Safford Regional Airport (SAD), Safford, Arizona. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed.

According to several witnesses, the children's father, who was a co-owner of Ponderosa Aviation and who lived near SAD, regularly used the operator's airplanes to transport the children, who lived near FFZ, between FFZ and SAD or vice versa. According to a fixed base operation (FBO) line serviceman who was familiar with the children and their father, on the night of the accident, the children arrived at FFZ about 15 minutes before the airplane arrived. The airplane was marshaled into a parking spot adjacent to the FBO building; it was already dark. The father was seated in the front left seat and operating the airplane, and another individual was in the front right seat. After shutdown, the father and a third individual, whom the line serviceman had not seen before, exited the airplane. The individual in the front right seat did not exit the airplane; he remained in the cockpit with a flashlight, accomplishing unknown tasks, and subsequently repositioned himself to the front left seat.

The father went into the FBO to escort the children to the airplane. The father, three children and the third individual returned to the airplane. The individual in the front left seat remained in that seat, the third individual seated himself in the front right seat, and the father and three children situated themselves in the rear of the airplane. Engine start and taxi-out appeared normal to the line serviceman, who marshaled the airplane out of its parking spot.

Review of the recorded communications between the airplane and the FFZ air traffic control tower (ATCT) revealed that when the pilot requested taxi clearance, he advised the ground controller that he was planning an "eastbound departure." The flight was cleared for takeoff on runway 4R, and was instructed to maintain runway heading until advised, due to an inbound aircraft. About 90 seconds later, the ATCT local controller issued a "right turn approved" clearance to the flight. Review of the preliminary ground-based radar tracking data revealed that the takeoff roll began about 1826 MST, and the airplane began its right turn towards SAD when it was about 2 miles east of FFZ, and climbing through an altitude of about 2,600 feet above mean sea level (msl). About 1828, the airplane reached an altitude of 4,500 feet msl, where it remained, and tracked in an essentially straight line, until it impacted the terrain. The last radar return was received at 1830:56, and was approximately coincident with the impact location. The airplane's transponder was transmitting on a code of 1200 for the entire flight.

The impact site was located on steep rocky terrain, at an elevation of about 4,650 feet, approximately 150 feet below the top of the local peak. Ground scars were consistent with impact in a wings-level attitude. Terrain conditions, and impact- and fire-damage precluded a thorough on-site wreckage examination. All six propeller blades, both engines, and most major flight control surfaces were identified in the wreckage. Propeller and engine damage signatures were consistent with the engines developing power at the time of impact. The wreckage was recovered to a secure facility, where it will be examined in detail.

According to the operator's and FAA records, the pilot had approximately 2,500 total hours of flight experience. He held multiple certificates and ratings, including a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine, multi-engine, and instrument-airplane ratings. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued in July 2011, and his most recent flight review was completed in September 2011.

According to FAA information, the airplane was manufactured in 1976, and was equipped with two Honeywell TPE-331 series turboshaft engines. The airplane was recently purchased by the operator, and was flown from Indiana to the operator's base in Arizona about 1 week prior to the accident. The airframe had accumulated a total time in service (TT) of approximately 8,188 hours. The left engine had accumulated a TT since major overhaul (SMOH) of about 545 hours, and the right engine had accumulated a TTSMOH of 1,482 hours.

The FFZ 1854 automated weather observation included winds from 350 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 40 miles; few clouds at 20,000 feet; temperature 23 degrees C; dew point -1 degrees C; and an altimeter setting of 29.93 inches of mercury. U.S. Naval Observatory data for November 23 indicated that the moon, which was a waning crescent of 3 percent, set at 1605, and local sunset occurred at 1721.

NTSB Identification: WPR12MA046
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 23, 2011 in Apache Junction, AZ
Aircraft: ROCKWELL 690, registration: N690SM
Injuries: 6 Fatal.

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

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 23, 2011, about 1831 mountain standard time, a Rockwell International (Aero Commander) 690A airplane, N690SM, was destroyed when it impacted terrain in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction, Arizona. The commercial pilot and the five passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Ponderosa Aviation, Inc. (PAI) and operated by PAI under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The airplane had departed Falcon Field (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona, about 1825 and was destined for Safford Regional Airport (SAD), Safford, Arizona.

PAI’s director of maintenance (DOM) and the director of operations (DO), who were co owners of PAI along with the president, conducted a personal flight from SAD to FFZ. The DO flew the leg from SAD to FFZ under visual flight rules (VFR) in night VMC. After arriving at FFZ and in preparation for the flight back to SAD, the DOM moved to the left front seat to act as the pilot flying. The airplane departed FFZ about 12 minutes after it arrived. According to a witness, engine start and taxi-out appeared normal.

Review of the recorded communications between the pilot and the FFZ tower air traffic controllers revealed that when the pilot requested taxi clearance, he advised the ground controller that he was planning an "eastbound departure." The flight was cleared for takeoff on runway 4R, and the pilot was instructed to maintain runway heading until advised, due to an inbound aircraft. About 90 seconds later, when the airplane was about 1.1 miles from the departure end of the runway, the tower local controller issued a "right turn approved" advisory to the flight, which the pilot acknowledged. Radar data revealed that the airplane flew the runway heading for about 1.5 miles then began a right turn toward SAD and climbed through an altitude of about 2,600 feet mean sea level (msl). About 1828, after it momentarily climbed to an altitude of 4,700 feet, the airplane descended to an altitude of 4,500 feet, where it remained and tracked in an essentially straight line until it impacted the mountain. The last radar return was received at 1830:56 and was approximately coincident with the impact location. The impact location was near the top of a steep mountain that projected to over 5,000 feet msl. Witnesses reported seeing a fireball, and law enforcement helicopters were dispatched.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Pilot (General Information)

The pilot, age 31, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine and multiengine land and instrument airplane. He also held a mechanic certificate with ratings for airframe and powerplant. His Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second class medical certificate was issued in July 2011. The pilot was a co-owner of PAI and was PAI’s DOM.

The pilot's personal flight records contained entries until February 2011, at which time the pilot recorded that he had 1,151.9 hours in single-engine airplanes and 951.5 hours in multiengine airplanes. On his most recent FAA medical certificate application, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 2,500 hours.

The computerized PAI flight record (which began tracking 14 CFR Part 135 flights only in February 2011) indicated that the pilot had 116.5 hours total flight experience, including 18 hours in night VMC. According to the records, during the preceding 90 and 30 days, the pilot had accumulated about 28.5 and 5.3 flight hours, respectively. The records showed that the pilot had flown 2 hours on two different flights in the week before the accident. The most recent flight was in night VMC from SAD to FFZ and back. Examination of the flight records revealed that the pilot had flown that round trip flight at least twice, in the previous 2 weeks.

Pilot Training

According to PAI and its FAA principal operations inspector (POI), employee pilots receive annual training over a 2- to 3-day period. The chief pilot organized most of the training, which consisted of regulation review, company policy, and actual flight training. The POI observed parts of the training. According to company training records, the pilot's most recent 14 CFR Part 135 competency/proficiency check was satisfactorily completed on September 24, 2011.

Pilot’s 72-Hour History

According to the pilot’s wife, in the 3 days before and including the accident day, the pilot awoke about 0630 and left for work about 0700. Two days before the accident, he flew to FFZ, arriving back at SAD about 2145.

Relatives of the pilot stated that nothing unusual had occurred in his life in the 72-hour period before the accident. His wife reported that the pilot did not take medications, aside from a hypothyroidism medication that he had reported to the FAA, and he did not have any physical conditions or ailments aside from the hypothyroidism.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Forensic Science Center in Tucson, Arizona, conducted an autopsy on the pilot; the cause of death was cited as blunt force trauma. The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team at the Civil Aviation Medical Institute performed toxicological testing of specimens collected during the autopsy. The results of the specimens were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and listed drugs.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

General

The airplane was manufactured in 1976 by Rockwell International, and the type certificate holder at the time of the accident was Twin Commander, LLC. The airplane was equipped with two Honeywell TPE-331-series turboshaft engines and two Hartzell three-blade propellers. Maintenance records indicated that the airframe had accumulated a total time in service of about 8,188 hours. The left engine had accumulated a total time since major overhaul of about 545 hours, and the right engine had accumulated a total time since major overhaul of about 1,482 hours.

The airplane was recently purchased by PAI and was flown about 1,200 miles from Indiana to the PAI facility at SAD about 1 week before the accident. It was certificated for single-pilot operation. At the time of the accident, the airplane was configured for a pilot (left side), a copilot (right side), and five passengers.

According to the sale advertisement listing for the airplane, the airplane was equipped with very high frequency omnirange (VOR) and GPS (KLN 90B) navigation units, a radar altimeter, and an Avidyne EX-500 multifunction display, which were destroyed in the accident.

Ferry Permit Information

At the time of purchase by PAI, the airplane was not in compliance with an FAA required 150-hour inspection requirement, and PAI requested an FAA ferry permit to fly the airplane from Eagle Creek Airpark (EYE), Indianapolis, Indiana, to the PAI facility in Safford, Arizona. On November 16, 2011, the FAA issued a ferry permit for the relocation of the airplane. The permit was valid until arrival at SAD or November 25, 2011, whichever came first. It only permitted a direct flight between EYE and SAD and only allowed the pilot and essential crew on board. The airplane was flown by the PAI president, who was the brother of the accident pilot, from EYE to SAD on November 17, 2011. The arrival at SAD terminated the ferry permit.

PAI and FAA Scottsdale Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) personnel estimated that it would normally require two people 2 days to conduct the inspection necessary to render the airplane in compliance with the outstanding airworthiness items, exclusive of correcting any identified deficiencies. All available evidence indicated that no maintenance activity was accomplished on the airplane between its arrival at SAD and its departure to FFZ on the night of the accident; the condition that warranted the ferry permit had not been corrected.

Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) Equipment Information

Title 14 CFR 91.223 stated that with certain exceptions, turbine-powered, US registered airplanes configured with six or more passenger seats and manufactured before early 2002 could not be operated after March 29, 2005, unless the airplane was equipped with an approved TAWS unit.

Since the accident airplane was manufactured in 1976 and was turbine-powered, any exclusion from the TAWS requirement required that the airplane had to be configured with five or fewer passenger seating positions. According to the type certificate holder's documentation, the airplane was manufactured and delivered with six passenger seating positions. Therefore, the airplane's as manufactured configuration required the installation of TAWS by March 2005. No records indicating that the number of passenger seating positions was ever less than six before May 2005 were located. However, a detailed review of airplane maintenance records, preaccident photographs, TAWS equipment manufacturer's data, and a detailed inventory of the recovered wreckage indicated that the accident airplane was never equipped with TAWS. (The sale advertisement information for the airplane indicated that it was equipped with a KGP-560 TAWS B unit.)

Maintenance documentation indicated that in May 2005, the airplane seating configuration was changed to reduce passenger seat provisions from six to five by removing a seat belt from the aft divan, which was originally configured with seat belts for three people. Per the requirements of 14 CFR 91.223 and the reduced passenger seat count, the airplane was not required to be equipped with TAWS.

However, FAA and manufacturer/type certificate holder guidance indicated that any seating configuration changes should be approved by either the FAA or the manufacturer/type certificate holder, and examination of the maintenance documentation for the accident airplane revealed that neither requirement had been satisfied. The seating modification was not approved by the FAA or any other agency or documented either via a supplemental type certificate and/or FAA Form 337 (Major Repair and Alteration). Postaccident review of the documentation that was used to substantiate the seating configuration change revealed that the modified seating position plan was not one of the manufacturer's/type certificate holder's approved configurations. The document that was used to substantiate the change was determined to be an altered version of the manufacturer's original document, but it was incorrectly represented as a manufacturer's original document. Attempts to determine who made the improper and unauthorized changes to the seating configuration document, or when they were made, were unsuccessful.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The FFZ 1854 automated weather observation included wind from 350 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 40 miles, few clouds at 20,000 feet, temperature 23 degrees C, dew point -1 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.93 inches of Mercury. US Naval Observatory data for November 23, 2011, indicated that the moon, which was a waning crescent of 3%, set at 1605, and local sunset occurred at 1721.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION

Neither FFZ nor SAD was equipped with a VOR ground navigation facility. Navigation between the two airports via available VOR stations would result in an indirect flight route.

The flight from SAD to FFZ and the accident flight were both conducted in VMC as VFR flights. No flight plan was filed for either flight, and neither pilot had requested air traffic control (ATC) flight following services. Available radar data and interviews with PAI personnel indicated that the pilot had flown between SAD and FFZ several times previously and that he tended to use his iPad, equipped with ForeFlight software and GPS, to fly directly between the two. The software could display FAA VFR aeronautical charts (including FAA-published terrain depiction) and overlay airplane track and position data on the chart depiction. According to the pilot's brother, the pilot's habit pattern was to depart the airport, identify the track needed to fly directly to the destination, and turn the airplane onto that track. Remnants of an iPad were found in the wreckage. Damage precluded determination of its positive association with a particular owner, its functionality, or its operational status at the time of the accident.

Radar tracking data from the accident flight indicated that the airplane began its right turn on course to SAD about 1.5 miles northeast of FFZ. Comparison of the direct line track data from two different initial locations (FFZ, and northeast of FFZ after completion of the turn) to SAD revealed that while the direct track from FFZ to SAD passed about 3 miles south of the impact mountain, the direct track from northeast of FFZ to SAD overlaid the impact mountain location. That resulting ground track was also coincident with the accident flight radar data ground track.

COMMUNICATIONS

Sequence of Events

The pilot first contacted FFZ ground control at 1820:21. The pilot was instructed to taxi to runway 4R via taxiway D, and he taxied as instructed without incident. At 1823:35, the pilot contacted FFZ local control and advised that he was holding short and was ready for departure. The pilot was advised to again hold short to wait for landing traffic. At 1825:00, the controller instructed the pilot to "fly straight out" until advised due to landing traffic and cleared him for takeoff from runway 4R. The airplane became airborne at 1826:14. At 1826:47, the controller issued the "right turn approved" advisory to the pilot. At that point, the airplane was still on the runway heading, about 1.45 nautical miles (nm) from FFZ, and climbing through an altitude of about 2,200 feet. The pilot responded to the transmission with "right turn approved." No further radio transmissions to or from the accident pilot were recorded.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

General

FFZ was equipped with two runways designated 4/22 L and R. The airplane's arrival and departure runway (4R) measured 5,101 feet by 100 feet. Airport elevation was 1,394 feet msl. The local topography consisted of a flat basin floor bounded by mountainous terrain, primarily to the north and east. FFZ was situated about 15 miles west-northwest of the impact mountain, which rose very steeply to a charted maximum elevation of 5,057 feet msl, or about 3,700 feet above FFZ.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Accident Site

The accident site was on the northwest face near the top of the Flatiron region of Superstition Mountain. The accident site consisted of two basic terrain areas: a sloped area (about 45 degrees downhill to the northwest), abutted by a vertical rock formation on its southeast side.

The sloped area was primarily rock, interlaced with cracks, soil patches, boulders, and sparse vegetation. The rock formation rose about 100 feet above the southeastern edge of the sloped area. Airplane debris was scattered on the sloped area in a primary field that measured about 150 feet southeast-northwest by about 80 feet northeast-southwest. A significant amount of debris was clustered near the base of the vertical face, with some debris strewn or caught on the face. The southeast section of the sloped area and much of the vertical face were fire damaged, soot covered, or scorched. The northwest edge of the sloped debris field was about 150 feet southeast of the end of the sloped terrain, which then became very steep (sometimes near vertical) and fell irregularly away to the valley floor about 3,000 feet below.

On-Site Wreckage Observations

The impact site was located on steep rocky terrain at an elevation of about 4,500 feet msl that was essentially only accessible by helicopter. The wreckage was recovered by helicopter and transported to a secure facility for subsequent detailed examination.

The airplane was highly fragmented. The debris pattern axis was oriented northwest to southeast, and the debris and fire damage were arrayed in a fan-like pattern consistent with the approximate flight direction. Most airplane components were severely impact and fire-damaged. Some debris (heavier/denser items, such as engine gearbox components and generators) was found northwest (downhill) of the main debris field, consistent with those components rolling downhill after impact. The largest wreckage section was a portion of an inboard wing box with one engine attached. Paint transfer marks on the rock face were consistent with a wings-level (roll axis) impact.

Both engines and portions of their propellers were identified in the wreckage. Propeller, engine, and gearbox damage was consistent with high power rotation at impact. All three landing gear were identified in the wreckage, and damage patterns were consistent with the landing gear being retracted at impact. Some airplane skin segments exhibited significant accordion-like crush damage. Many cockpit-related items, including instruments, instrument panel sections, and pilots' seat fragments, were found on the terrain beyond the vertical rock formation; some were several hundred feet beyond the vertical rock formation.

Damage patterns were consistent with the engines developing power at the time of impact. The majority of the first-stage compressor impeller blades were separated at the hubs. The second-stage compressor impeller blades were bent opposite the direction of rotation. There was rotational scoring on the aft side of the third-stage turbine blade platforms and metal spray deposits on the suction side of the third-stage turbine blades. No preimpact discrepancies that would have precluded normal engine operation were identified.

The blade damage to both propellers was severe, with leading-edge damage, multiple bends, twisting, concave bending of the blade chord at the tips, and tips that had fractured and separated. Two separate blade angle witness marks were each consistent with impact while at a normal (not in feather and not in reverse) operating position. No preimpact discrepancies that would have precluded normal propeller operation were identified.

ORGANIZATIONAL AND MANAGEMENT INFORMATION

Ponderosa Aviation, Inc.

PAI was founded in 1975 by the pilot-rated passenger’s father. Later, the pilot and his brother purchased the company, and, in January 2011, the pilot-rated passenger, who had worked there for many years, bought into a partnership with them.

At the time of the accident, PAI, which was based at SAD, employed 25 people, including 13 pilots (10 on a seasonal/part-time basis) and 9 maintenance personnel. PAI owned a total of 14 airplanes, including the accident airplane. The fleet included three Rockwell International (Aero Commander) 690 models and nine 500 models.

PAI held a 14 CFR Part 135 operating certificate for on-demand air carrier operations in the contiguous United States and the District of Columbia. However, PAI rarely exercised the privileges of that certificate and averaged about two revenue passenger transport flights per year. PAI's primary purpose for obtaining and maintaining the certificate was to be qualified to contract with the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for air attack missions (the application of aerial resources, by both fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft, on a fire).

Eight of the PAI airplanes were on the 14 CFR Part 135 certificate; the accident airplane had not yet been added to the certificate.

FAA Oversight

The FAA FSDO in Scottsdale, Arizona, was the assigned certificate-holding district office for PAI and oversaw about 60 Part 135 certificated operators, no Part 121 certificated operators, and about 520 Part 91 operators.

The POI was assigned to PAI in 2007. Her duties included oversight of 12 designees and 30 check airmen and POI for 54 operators. PAI was one of 10 Part 135 operators assigned to the POI. She estimated that she had about 100 hours in Rockwell International/Aero Commander airplanes, 25 of which were in the 690 model. The POI considered PAI to be a "low-maintenance operator," meaning that PAI was compliant with FAA requirements and presented few issues of concern. She physically visited PAI about once per year. Due to the distance between the FSDO and SAD, she never made unannounced visits. Her visits would take about 2 days, during which she would oversee pilot training, examine records and recordkeeping, and conduct base inspections and ramp checks. She never gave checkrides to PAI pilots; those were conducted by another inspector. The POI qualified the pilot-rated passenger as a "good" chief pilot. He was the person at PAI with whom the POI had the most contact, and she would mainly communicate her concerns and questions to him. She did not have much familiarity with the pilot.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Homeowner's Surveillance Camera Imagery

The airplane’s preimpact flightpath, impact explosion, postimpact fire, and initial arrival of search and rescue aircraft were captured on a private citizen's home surveillance camera. That camera was located about 6 miles south of and 3,700 feet lower than the impact site. A file that contained about 50 minutes of image data, during the period from about 1810 to 1900, was provided to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The time stamp data was provided by the camera owner and was not independently correlated or verified by the NTSB; therefore, all times are approximate.

The 1810 image depicted the mountain in silhouette form, but as night fell, the mountain disappeared from the image. No lights were visible on the mountain. Due to the night conditions, the optical resolution capability of the camera, and the distance of the airplane from the camera, the imagery provided only a macro view and associated timeline of the events. The airplane itself was not visible; its position was manifested by its blinking beacon or strobe lights only. The lights of the airplane first appeared in the field of view at 1830:00 and remained visible until 1830:48, when the lights disappeared behind the terrain. A large flash of light appeared at 1830:52, followed by a second, much larger and brighter flash about 3 seconds later. Lights indicative of a fire remained visible until about 1844, and the first responding aircraft (again only visible as lights) appeared about 1848.

Examination of the path of the airplane's lights on the image field of view did not reveal any erratic motions or changes of direction; the stability of the flightpath was similar to that depicted in the ground tracking radar data.

Weight and Balance Information

Maintenance records indicated that on at least 15 occasions, modifications that affected the airplane's weight and balance values were accomplished; however, no records of the actual revised weight and balance data were discovered during the investigation.

Calculations that used the original empty weight plus other known or presumed values resulted in an estimated accident flight weight of 8,953 pounds, which was below the maximum allowable weight, and a center of gravity within the allowable envelope.

Airplane Performance

The derived level-flight ground speed for the last 2 minutes of the flight was approximately 190 knots, which was slightly higher than the pilot’s operating handbook maximum range speed for similar conditions. Surface wind data indicated that the airplane would have experienced a slight tailwind during the climbout and level-flight segments.

TAWS-Related Guidance for FAA Inspectors

Published FAA guidance for FAA inspectors to use to determine whether the airplane seating configuration changes (if properly accomplished) would have exempted the airplane from the TAWS requirement was examined in detail. The relevant FAA guidance included FAA Order 8900.1 and 14 CFR Part 1, Part 21, Part 43 (Appendix 1), Part 91, and Part 135.

Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) Class B Airspace Information

The Phoenix metropolitan area was designated and charted as Class B airspace, centered on PHX and the PHX VOR (PXR). The airspace elevation boundaries were defined by floor and ceiling altitudes, with lateral boundaries defined by distance and bearing from defined locations. Class B airspace is typically described as having the shape of an "upside-down wedding cake," where the airspace floor altitudes increase as the distance from the center increases. Aircraft operating under VFR are prohibited from entering Class B airspace without explicit permission from the responsible ATC facility. Mountainous terrain rises to 4,500 feet less than 1 nm east of the 5-000-foot Class B airspace, and the terrain rises to a maximum elevation of 5,057 feet about 3 1/2 miles east.

The NTSB ATC group chairman's factual report provides detailed information regarding the Class B airspace around the Phoenix area. For more information, see the docket for this accident (NTSB case number WPR12MA046).

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) Accidents

The FAA defines a CFIT accident as a situation that occurs when a properly functioning aircraft "is flown under the control of a qualified pilot, into terrain (water or obstacles) with inadequate awareness on the part of the pilot of the impending collision."

In 1998, the FAA formed the General Aviation (GA) CFIT Joint Safety Analysis Team (JSAT) as part of the FAA "Safer Skies" program. The stated goal of the Safer Skies initiative was to significantly reduce fatal accidents over a 10-year period via a comprehensive review of aviation accident causes and implementation of safety intervention strategies. In April 1999, the GA CFIT JSAT published its final report, which identified 55 interventions to address CFIT accident causes. The FAA CFIT Joint Safety Implementation Team (JSIT) was formed to develop detailed CFIT accident reduction strategies based upon the top 10 JSAT interventions that were considered to be the most effective and feasible. The CFIT JSIT final report was published in 2000, and JSIT recommended interventions included the following:

- Improve safety culture within the aviation community,
- Promote development and use of low-cost terrain clearance and/or look-ahead device,
- Improve pilot training regarding decision-making and human factors,
- Enhance the biennial flight review and/or instrument competency check, and
- Develop and distribute mountain flying technique advisory material.

In March 2003, as part of its response to the CFIT JSIT, the FAA issued Advisory Circular (AC) 61-134, "General Aviation Controlled Flight Into Terrain Awareness." The AC "highlights the inherent risk" that CFIT poses for GA pilots. According to the AC, one primary cause of CFIT accidents was loss of situational awareness.

Situational Awareness

The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25) defined situational awareness as the "accurate perception of the operational and environmental factors that affect the airplane, pilot, and passengers during a specific period of time." The handbook stated that a situationally aware pilot "has an overview of the total operation and is not fixated on one perceived significant factor." The handbook stated that "some of the elements inside the airplane to be considered are the status of airplane systems, and also the pilot and passengers" and cautioned that "an awareness of the environmental conditions of the flight, such as spatial orientation of the airplane, and its relationship to terrain, traffic, weather, and airspace must be maintained."

The handbook stated that obstacles to maintaining situational awareness included fatigue, stress, and task overload and that a contributing factor in many accidents is a distraction that diverts the pilot’s attention. Complacency was cited as another obstacle to maintaining situational awareness. When activities become routine, there is a tendency to relax and not put as much effort into performance. Like fatigue, complacency reduces a pilot’s effectiveness in the cockpit. However, complacency is harder to recognize than fatigue, since everything is perceived to be progressing smoothly.

NTSB Safety Alert

In January 2008, the NTSB issued a safety alert titled "Controlled Flight Into Terrain in Visual Conditions: Nighttime Visual Flight Operations Are Resulting in Avoidable Accidents." The safety alert stated that recent investigations identified several accidents that involved CFIT by pilots operating under visual flight conditions at night in remote areas, that the pilots appeared unaware that the aircraft were in danger, and that increased altitude awareness and better preflight planning likely would have prevented the accidents.

The safety alert suggested that pilots could avoid becoming involved in a similar accident by proper preflight planning, obtaining flight route terrain familiarization via sectional charts or other topographic references, maintaining awareness of visual limitations for operations in remote areas, following instrument flight rules practices until well above surrounding terrain, advising ATC and taking action to reach a safe altitude, and employing a GPS-based terrain awareness unit.



APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. - It's tough to forget this day a year ago when a terrible plane crash in the Superstition Mountains claimed the lives of six people, including three children for the east valley and their father.

She's one of the strongest people I've ever met.  Losing three children in an instant, left to carry on with the memories, the questions and the loss.

Karen Perry returned to the Superstition Mountains this week.

"As much as I love the mountain, my children died there too, so it's very emotional for me."

She sees it everyday -- right outside her front door.  She's hiked to the crash site twice.

"Obviously some kind soul that came left a memorial here and left some toys and pictures," she said.

Perry will return again this weekend.

"It's emotional for me because to me, that's the grave site of my children."

A year since that awful night and the painful days that followed.

Does it feel like a year to her?

Karen replied, "It's been surreal.  No it doesn't to me..like it happened yesterday."

Perry's children -- Morgan, 9, Logan, 8, and Luke, 6, boarded a plane with their father Shawn to spend Thanksgiving in Safford.  Minutes after departing Mesa's Falcon Field, the plan inexplicably plowed into the mountain, killing all six on board.

"It's not something that goes away, losing your kids is not something you get over."

She was sick in bed that night.  Her nanny had dropped the kids off at the airport.  She awoke to hear the phone ringing.

"I got a phone call from the children's nanny at about 8 p.m. who'd seen the news," she said.

For moths afterwards, she was in a fog.

"Remember bits and pieces but it's almost like being in an accident yourself and you know waking up in the hospital and not having a lot of memory of what happened, I guess it's our way of protecting ourselves from the pain of it.  I think two or three months went by before I have any recollection of what happened on a daily basis."

What she does remember, clearly, is how the community grieved along with her.

"Big boxes of mail started coming in from the post office and they would leave big boxes everyday..I was very touched," she said.  "The way the community and really the whole world reached out to me after the accident."

In the years since the crash, she's discovered hundreds of videos and photos of her children.  She rarely looked at them when they were alive -- she was too busy with life, too busy raising them.

"It's very fun for me to go look through their photos.  I know some people can't do that, but I've got lots of videos and lots of photos and it makes me smile."

After the crash, she stumbled upon a treasure Luke had left her.

"My youngest got ahold of my computer and got ahold of a photo.  He took hundreds of pictures of himself and left that as a gift to me."

Karen wants to know every detail of the crash, no matter how painful.

In May, we went to a Phoenix salvage yard to view the wreckage for the first time.

One of the many difficult steps she's taken in the past 365 days.

She's hiked up to the crash site twice in the past year -- an eight hour trip.

"It gives me a sense of peace to go up there and a sense of peace to come here..it's a memory for me and it brings me closer to the last time I saw them," she said.

And often, she comes to a certain spot.

"For me it's more comforting to be near their memories and close to where they passed away."

If there's one thing she's learned in the past year, it's take nothing for granted.

"Appreciate what you have and be grateful for it. I'm so grateful that I had those children even for the short amount of time I had them with me."

And she's grateful to the community that helped her make it through this past year.

"Thank you so much for all the support and love.  It's just been overwhelming it's been wonderful to see that side of people."

Somehow, she's moved forward.  Returning to her job as a flight attendant and she's in a relationship.

"I met a wonderful man back in May when I went back to work and that's made a huge difference and it's helped me in healing, it's helped me appreciate everything in my life," she said.

Karen says she is so touched by how the entire community and complete strangers have reached out to her after the crash.  She adds that the outpouring of support got her through this.

Story and video:   http://www.myfoxphoenix.com