Friday, November 30, 2012

Allegiant Air to End Service from Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport (KSBY), Salisbury, Maryland

SALISBURY, Md- After less than a year of providing discount flights, Allegiant Air announced it will end its scheduled service from Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport. 

The carrier's last day of service will be Jan. 5, 2013. According to Allegiant, customers with reservations beyond that date will be contacted directly for full refund.

"We are always disappointed to end service in a market," said Eric Fletcher, Allegiant Travel Co. Manager of Airports. "We thank Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport for their partnership and apologize to any travelers who are inconvenienced by this decision."

Allegiant began service from Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport on Feb. 16, 2012 with the promise of offering flights to bigger cities.  Orlando, Florida was one of its key destinations.

California pilot who flew 55 pounds of marijuana into Boulder gets 2 years probation, $10,000 fine

A Boulder judge this afternoon didn't buy a California pilot's claim that the 55 pounds of pot he flew into Boulder Municipal Airport earlier this year was fresh inventory for a local medical marijuana facility and imposed a fine of $10,000 and two years probation as punishment. 

 “I think you were dealing,” Boulder District Judge Thomas Mulvahill told defendant Carl Steven Gruber as he handed down his sentence from the bench. “I'm not convinced this was a benevolent transfer of medical marijuana to Colorado. I hear that explanation and my eyebrows go way up.”

Gruber's attorney said his client, a professional pilot who flies in air shows and for the film industry, inadvertently caught the attention of the Department of Homeland Security and was swept up in a drug smuggling investigation.

“It seems like Homeland Security was tracking the wrong plane, and they got lucky,” said lawyer David Moorhead. “He didn't think it was legal, but he didn't think it was that big a deal to transport pot to a medical marijuana dispensary.”

An arrest report in the case stated that Boulder police received a request from the Department of Homeland Security to assist with a suspicious plane that had landed at the Boulder Municipal Airport in late January.

Mulvahill significantly reduced the $25,000 fine the prosecution was seeking after Moorhead told him his client was “destitute” and that Gruber's plane, which provided him with his livelihood, had been seized.

“Money is very, very tight,” Moorhead said. “He's not going to be able to pay a $25,000 fine.”

Gruber, 46, admitted to the judge that what he did on Jan. 28, the day police arrested him at Boulder Municipal Airport with 55 pounds of pot on board his plane, was a “big mistake.” He said he lost his house in California and now lives in a trailer there.

“It has cost me everything I've worked for,” he said.

Gruber was originally charged with possession of between five and 100 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of more than 12 ounces of marijuana. In October, he pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of distributing less than five pounds of the drug, while prosecutors dismissed the more serious counts.

Prosecutor Karen Peters said this afternoon that her office decided against seeking jail time for Gruber because he didn't appear to be in possession of marijuana for his own use.

“From my understanding of the pre-sentence investigation, he's not an addict – he's more of a businessman,” she said. “I think the focus should be on taking away the profit.”

She said a $25,000 fine seemed like a reasonable estimate of the profit level on what police said was an illegal cargo valued at $165,000 in Gruber's plane.

Mulvahill said Gruber could complete his probation in California.

Story and photo:

Credit card safety at 30,000 feet

Maybe it was the Bloody Mary that got Jean Shanley into trouble on a recent flight from Louisville to Las Vegas.

She paid for the $5 beverage with her American Express card and then slipped the card back into her pocketbook, where it stayed for the rest of her vacation. When she returned home, Shanley, a sales associate for a department store in Burlington, Ky., found $1,300 in fraudulent charges on the card — and she suspects that Southwest Airlines is responsible for the security breach.

Travelers are easy prey for “carders,” who take illegal credit card impressions in a crime called cloning or skimming. Airline passengers such as Shanley may feel extra vulnerable, because on a plane, plastic is often the only payment option for beverages, meals or duty-free items. (Airlines euphemistically call it a “cashless environment.”)

Apart from the timing of the charges, several other clues point to Southwest as the responsible party. First, Shanley says, the flight attendant took 15 minutes to return her card; and second, she’d never had a fraudulent credit card charge until she made the in-flight purchase. “I think it’s strange that the charges showed up two days after that flight, and I have never had a problem before,” she says.

Southwest says it isn’t responsible. “Cardholders tend to focus on the last known legitimate charge as being the point of compromise,” airline spokeswoman Linda Rutherford says. “However, our security folks advise us that it could be any number of merchants where the card was used prior to the Southwest flight.” She says Southwest has “no reason” to suspect the crew on Shanley’s flight but agreed to forward her complaint to management “for their review.”

Shanley’s credit card company reversed the bogus charges.

But Shanley’s problem raises two bigger questions for air travelers who want to buy something on board: Is it safe? And is there a way to protect your card?

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First down-payment made on six new 50-seater aircraft for LIAT

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, said that the shareholder governments of the regional airline LIAT have already made the first down-payment for the six new 50-seater aircraft, which are being purchased as part of the fleet renewal program.

The prime minister made the announcement on Friday and said the first payment of $3.8 million dollars has already been made, and payments will continue in 2013 and 2014.

Gonsalves said three of the six aircraft are expected to be delivered next year.

He also said that LIAT’s shareholder governments are now considering whether to purchase 70-seater aircraft as part of their fleet expansion program.

The report from Kingstown made no mention of the name of the supplier of the new aircraft but, according to earlier reports, the carrier was in the final stages of negotiations with French aircraft manufacturer Avions de Transporte Regionale (ATR).

New LIAT chief executive officer Ian Brunton is known to favor the ATRs.

Wetumpka Municipal Airport (08A), Alabama: Tenants, city await ruling from Federal Aviation Administration

It’s now up to the FAA.

Earlier this month attorneys for the City of Wetumpka and four tenants of the Wetumpka Airport responded and rebutted allegations made by both sides regarding grant assurances and the relocation of the airport.

Now it is left up to the Federal Aviation Administration to determine which side is right.

In late October the Washington D.C.-based law office of Spiegel & McDiarmid, representing the City of Wetumpka, answered the FAA complaint as well as a motion to dismiss.

In its answer to the complaint, the city’s attorneys said the decision to limit the length of new leases at the airport was based on a “strategic assessment of the future” of the airport.

The city, in conjunction with the Elmore County Economic Development Authority, is awaiting a feasibility study by the Alabama Department of Transportation to evaluate the conditions of the existing airport and determine the ability to expand at the current site or to relocate the airport.

The answer to that question came two paragraphs later in the city’s answer to the FAA, where it stated, “depending on the results of the feasibility study, there is a real possibility that the city may seek to relocate the airport.”

The initial report of the feasibility study is expected to be issued by February 2013.

The reason for possible relocation of the airport may be there is no room for the current airport to expand.

Currently there are two runways at the airport. One is paved, and the other is turf

The city contends the current length of the runways will not “support a balanced field takeoff” for larger airplanes or small jets.

The city also contends the current pavement at the airport would not be able to withstand the operation of larger aircraft.

So to curtail the city from moving forward to relocate the airport, current hangar tennants McDonough Properties, managed by David Ramsey, M&R Holdings, managed by Roger Kemp, Tri-D, owned by Theresa Harvey and managed by her husband Richard Chaput, and Col. Frank Barnett, filed an FAA complaint against the City of Wetumpka on Aug. 29.

The complainants say the city is failing to provide a long-term rental lease under the stipulations of a FAA grant assurance.

Further in the complaint, it contends the city is not doing what it can to make it a viable, working airport under the stipulations of another FAA grant assurance.

While attorney Wade Ramsey, who is representing the complainants, contends “the city cannot use the excuse that is relocating the airport to justify its violation of its grant assurances,” the complainants make no bones that they don’t want to see a larger airport in Wetumpka.

In the reply to the city’s response to the complaint, Ramsey wrote, “it is utterly ridiculous to think that Wetumpka needs a larger airport when nearby facilities will more than adequately serve the commercial aviation needs of Wetumpka.”

Now, it’s up to the FAA to decide.

Federal Aviation Administration records 2,253 wildlife strikes in Arizona since '90

PHOENIX -- On April 17, 2000, a United Airlines jet struck a turkey vulture on approach to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and landed with $50,000 worth of damage to a wing.

On Aug. 27, 2002, a Southwest Airlines jet that apparently sucked a dove into an engine after taking off from Tucson International Airport made an emergency landing in Phoenix with six dented fan blades.

On Aug. 18, 2004, a small turboprop plane operated by a medical transport company slammed nose-first into an elk while landing at Show Low Regional Airport. The impact killed the elk, caused the pilot to momentarily lose control of the plane and resulted in $416,200 worth of damage.

These were among 2,253 instances of aircraft striking wildlife at and around Arizona airports documented in the Federal Aviation Administration's Wildlife Strike Database from 1990 through Oct. 31 of this year.

The data covers incidents voluntarily reported by airports, airlines and others.

A Cronkite News Service review found eight Arizona strikes that resulted in injuries, none of them fatal and none involving commercial flights. Forty-seven of the reports cited damage of $1,000 or more.

Wildlife strikes are most commonly associated with areas that have more bodies of water than Arizona. The January 2009 emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River is the best-known recent example.

But aviation officials here say they are aware of the threat of wildlife strikes and doing all they can to reduce the risks.

Sky Harbor, for instance, worked with Tempe to make sure Tempe Town Lake, in the airport's flight path, is surrounded by desert landscaping rather than vegetation that would attract birds, said Deborah Ostreicher, a deputy aviation director for the city of Phoenix.

"We're very focused here on preventative and proactive measures," she said.

Sky Harbor has had the most reported strikes in Arizona since 1990 with 1,150. Tucson International and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway, Arizona's next-busiest airports, have had the second- and third-most with 389 and 277 reported strikes, respectively.

Although Tucson International has birds, rabbits, javelinas and the occasional skunk in the area, it doesn't have much of a wildlife problem, according to Danette Bewley, the airport's director of operations. However, she said that officials monitor wildlife to assess potential hazards.

"We're looking at our surrounding environment to see what is out there -- beyond the obvious -- and what should we be looking for, and how we should be tracking it," she said.

Gateway's efforts include working with a nearby golf course to keep trees and shrubs trimmed to reduce the number of birds congregating there and taking other steps to control the environment around the airport, according to spokesman Brian Sexton.

Should Gateway face a sudden increase in the bird population, its plan includes using noisemakers, he said.

"We're in a desert climate, so there's not a lot of large fowl that will come into the area that would need water," Sexton said. "So we have a little bit of an advantage on keeping that bird population down."

At Lake Havasu City Airport, there have been two reported incidents in the past 23 years. The first, on Sept. 4, 2001, involved an unknown bird hitting a small jet shortly after takeoff and causing no damage or injuries. On Aug. 15, 2011, an unknown bird or bat struck an F-16 flying at 17,500 feet, with no damage or injuries reported.

Steve Johnston, the airport's supervisor, attributed the lack of strikes to a 7-foot-tall chain-link perimeter fence installed in 2005, the airport's distance from Lake Havasu and "blind dumb luck."

"It's that old real estate dynamic: location, location, location," he said. "And in this location, we just don't have a whole lot going for us to attract wildlife."

Arizona's 2,253 reported incidents since 1990 are the 18th-most among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. California reported the most with 11,383, while Wyoming reported the fewest with 190.

But in the opinion of Archie Dickey, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a higher number of reported strikes at a given airport or in a given state doesn't necessarily indicate a greater threat. Instead, it likely means that airport or state is doing a more thorough job of reporting.

Arizona's lack of water actually makes it very safe compared to other states, according to Dickey.

"If you think about airports in the eastern part of the United States or even on the West Coast, many of them have been built next to a river, next to the ocean, things like that which end up being habitats and places for birds to hang out and come to," he said.

South Tewksbury: Low flying aircraft reportedly circled the area twice before flying off


Did South Tewksbury get buzzed by a UFO on the night of Thursday, Nov. 29? 

 No cattle are missing, there are no reported abductions and no crop circles but there was certainly some odd activity in the skies.

Resident Tom DeVeau took video of what appears and sounds to be a jet aircraft of some type flying very low over his South Tewksbury neighborhood.

That, in itself, might not be so strange, but Deveau said the aircraft circled his neighborhood twice before flying off. The video he took was of the aircraft making its second pass.

Tewksbury Police had not heard about the incident. A spokesman for the FAA said they are looking at the DeVeau video and checking radar data and will try and come up with an answer for what type of aircraft it was and what it was doing.

Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee B, N7746W: Accident occurred November 17, 2011 in Perryville, Arkansas

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA072 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 17, 2011 in Perryville, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/27/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180, registration: N7746W
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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

About 2 hours after departure, radar data tracked the airplane at 7,000 feet before the airplane then initiated a right, descending turn before disappearing from radar. Witnesses reported seeing the airplane flying low, descending, making several turns, before impacting terrain. Impact signatures were consistent with a steep, nose-low attitude. An examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any preimpact anomalies. The reason for the pilot's loss of control could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:The pilot's loss of control in flight.


On November 17, 2011, about 1610 central standard time, a Piper PA-28-180 airplane, N7746W, impacted the ground near Perryville, Arkansas. The commercial rated pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from Stillwater Regional Airport (SWO), Stillwater, Oklahoma, about 1415, and was destined for North Little Rock Municipal Airport (ORK), North Little Rock, Arkansas.

The purpose of the flight was to transport two Oklahoma State University (OSU) coaches to Little Rock, Arkansas, in order to support the Oklahoma State University (OSU) athletic recruitment program. The coaches are hereafter referred to as passengers for the report.

Employees at SWO’s fixed base operator (FBO) reported that the airplane landed approximately 1345, picked up two passengers, and departed for ORK. The airplane did not receive any services at SWO.

About 2 hours after departure, radar data showed the airplane level at 7,000 feet mean sea level on a southeasterly heading. At 1610:49, the airplane entered a right turn and descended. The airplane disappeared from radar shortly after. There were no air traffic control communications with the airplane.

Witnesses, who were near the accident site, reported seeing the airplane flying at a low altitude and making turns. They then observed the airplane enter a steep nose-low attitude prior to descending toward the terrain.



The pilot, age 82, held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. In addition, he held a certificated flight instructor certificate for airplane single engine airplanes. He was issued a third class medical certificate on April 1, 2010, with a restriction for corrective lenses for near and distant vision. A review of the pilot’s log book revealed that the pilot had accrued over 2,200 hours total time, with over 350 hours in the accident airplane. The pilot’s last flight review was flown on April 9, 2010, and his most recent night time was on April 25, 2011, at which time he had logged night landings. The last entry in the pilot’s log book was on October 20, 2011.

The pilot was a graduate of and contributor to OSU. He volunteered his flight services to assist with the athletic department’s recruiting efforts, was not compensated for his flight time, and was not contracted by the university.

Pilot rated passenger

The passenger seated behind the pilot, age 79, held a private pilot certificate for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. She was issued a third class medical on Aug 26, 2011, without restrictions. A review of her log book revealed that she had accrued over 1,145 hours, a majority of which in the accident airplane. Of note, her most recent night time was logged on November 10, 2007. The last entry in the log book was on October 21, 2011.

On the previous flight, the pilot rated passenger had flown with the accident pilot from Ponca City, Oklahoma, to SWO. For the accident flight she was seated behind the accident pilot.


The single engine, low wing, fixed landing gear, four seat airplane, N7746W, serial number 28-1756, was manufactured in 1964. It was powered by a 180-horsepower Lycoming O-360-A3A, serial number L-7030-36. A review of maintenance records found that the last annual inspection was completed on November 8, 2011, at a total time of 5,800.8 hours. During the annual inspection, the mechanic noted that the muffler was inspected, removed, weld repaired, and reinstalled.

An aircraft flight log was found in the wreckage. It contained flights on October 25, 2011, November 16, 2011, and a partial entry on November 17, 2011. Prior to the accident flight, the airplane had about 5,802 hours total time. It is unknown if the pilot flew another airplane between October 25 and November 16.


At 1553, an automated weather reporting station at the Russellville Regional Airport (KRUE), Russellville, Arkansas, located about 22 nautical miles north-northwest of the accident site, reported wind from 200 degrees at 3 knots, 10 miles visibility, a clear sky, temperature 52 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 19 F, and a barometric pressure of 30.35 inches of mercury.

There were no associated hazards forecasted along the airplane’s route of flight.


The accident site was located in a heavily wooded area of the Ouachita National Forest, about 8 miles southwest of Perryville, Arkansas. The initial ground impact scar was consistent with the airplane’s right wing leading edge contacting the ground. An impact crater, about 10 feet in diameter and about 3.5 feet deep contained most of the airplane. Ground scars and witness marks to trees surrounding the accident site were consistent with the airplane being approximately 50 to 60 degrees nose low at the time of impact. Wreckage debris was distributed in a “V” from the impact site between 280 degrees to 310 degrees with a field about 80 yards long. Numerous trees throughout the debris field exhibited signs of impact damage.

Examination of the wreckage revealed several of the flight control cables were fractured in multiple places. Each fracture was consistent with overload. Most of the cockpit instrumentation sustained impact damage, was unreadable or unreliable, or destroyed. The engine case and engine components were impact damaged. The blades of the fixed-pitch, two-bladed propeller displayed signs of leading edge polishing, chordwise scratches, and S-bending. The propeller hub was fractured in torsional overload. The airplane’s muffler was disassembled and displayed no sooting or preimpact anomalies. No preimpact anomalies with the airframe or engine were found which would have precluded normal operation.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Little Rock, Arkansas, on November 18, 2011. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The manner of death was ruled an accident. The autopsy noted that the condition of the remains did not allow for identification of any medical conditions which may have contributed to the crash.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Specimens submitted were not suitable for the detection of carbon monoxide and cyanide. No ethanol or drugs were detected in the muscle.


Selection of seats for the flight

Personnel at the SWO fixed base operator’s office recalled the airplane’s arrival to fly the passengers to their destination. Due to a hearing condition, the pilot spoke loudly, so personnel could hear his conversation with the passengers. The pilot decided that the male passenger would ride in the right pilot seat for the flight to Little Rock. The female passenger and pilot rated passenger would sit in the rear seats. The pilot rated passenger sat behind the male pilot.

Seat belts

A review of the occupants’ seat belts at the accident site, found that the forward two occupants restraint buckles remained latched. The rear occupants’ seat belt restraint buckles were found unlatched. Neither latch plate showed any gouging or deformity. In addition, neither belt exhibited signatures of loading of the clasps. The rear left occupants belt containing the buckle and the rear right occupants belt containing latch plate remained secured to the fuselage. The left belt containing the latch plate and the right belt containing the buckle were fractured in overload at the belt to fuselage cable.

Night time flight requirements

Neither pilot had documentation in their logbook supporting that the currency requirements to land at night with passengers had been accomplished in accordance with 14 CFR Part 61.57. Although not relevant to the accident flight, the planned itinerary for the roundtrip flight would have included a night landing, about 2300.

Donor flight program

Prior to the accident, the Oklahoma State University had limited oversight of the donor flight program. Coaches and staff were allowed to arrange travel directly with the donors without notification to the university. There was no requirement to verify pilot qualifications and airplane inspections; in this case, the pilots did not have documentation supporting the completion of currency requirements for a night landing with passengers. Although the athletic department had an oversight program for student athletes, coaches and staff were exempt from the requirement. OSU's travel policy has since been modified to include coaches and staff into a program similar to the oversight provided to student athletes. The new policy would include a review of pilots and aircraft by an aviation consultant.


LANGSTON, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State regents on Friday approved tougher oversight of the airplanes that employees use on official business following the death of women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and three others in a crash a year ago.

The new policy requires an aviation consultant to pre-approve any private aircraft and the pilot who'll be flying it. It applies to all OSU employees, from coaches to administrators and student employees.

"We want, whoever they are and however they may travel, that they travel safely and that they come home safely," said vice president and general counsel Gary Clark, chairman of the task force that put together the policy.

Budke, assistant Miranda Serna, pilot Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula Branstetter, died on a recruiting trip to Arkansas last year. A federal report on the cause of the crash is pending, but weather has been ruled out as a factor.

Clark said he didn't know whether that flight would have been approved under the current policy. At a minimum, the plane's maintenance records and the pilot's history would have been checked before takeoff. A pilot will have the final say when it comes to weather conditions.

"We didn't really try to look at or address our policy to that accident. What we were looking at were the general safety standards that are out there," Clark said.

Oklahoma State had already instituted a policy for team travel following a 2001 plane crash that resulted in the deaths of 10 men associated with the Cowboys basketball team on their way back from a game at Colorado. Clark said that policy had been interpreted over the years to allow coaches to control their own travel without the team, and it was amended in 2004 in an attempt to clarify that stance.

"From the very beginning, the actual practice has been that it has been the coaches' discretion," Clark said.

That no longer will be the case. Wrestling coach John Smith, women's tennis coach Chris Young and athletic director Mike Holder were part of the task force, and Clark said others were consulted during the drafting of the policy.

"The coaches probably would have preferred to have something that allowed them greater latitude than what the policy provides," Clark said. "I think it may limit them to some extent, but we think that the limits are reasonable under the circumstances."

The policy specifically prohibits travel on home-built and light sport aircraft, but no other planes are specifically prohibited. There are requirements that must be met for single-engine planes.

The aviation consultant's approval of an aircraft or a pilot will be good for six months before another round of checks will be needed.

"In order to avoid some kind of disruption of their plans, we're going to encourage them to plan well ahead of time," Clark said.

Clark added that the coaches involved suggested a change to the team travel policy, which currently would require a stop-over if a team drove to Austin, Texas — home of Big 12 foe Texas — because it is about 30 minutes outside the current maximum.

"I think we're going to look at those and see if, in the process, the lines may have been drawn that didn't really work as well as maybe what we had in mind," Clark said. "We'll at least look at those. I can't say that those changes will be made."

Although the policy takes effect immediately, Clark said some time will be needed to choose the aviation consultant and get the pre-approval process started.

There are no specific penalties laid out for violating the policy.

"Basically what we would want to do is have the supervisor to look at the seriousness of the violation and have an appropriate discipline action taken, whatever that might be," Clark said.

20 percent vacancy rate for licensed pilot inspectors cause for concern: union

OTTAWA - The union representing federal licensed pilot inspectors says one in five inspection jobs is vacant, jeopardizing airline safety.

The Canadian Federal Pilots Association has released a study that shows there are 100 openings for licensed pilot inspectors out of a federal workforce that is supposed to total 499.

The association says that's the highest vacancy rate ever.

The study found that 30 percent of aviation enforcement jobs are unfilled and 29 percent of aviation safety system jobs are empty.

Capt. Daniel Slunder, the president of the pilots association, says major air carriers such as Air Canada, West Jet and Air Transat are no longer closely inspected because of the staffing shortfall, coupled with a system of airline self-regulation.

"You only get concerned when something goes wrong," Slunder said in an interview, citing the recent tainted meat scandals.

"Our government is fond of saying we have one of the safest aviation systems in the world. Well, they're absolutely correct, but we'd like to see it kept that way."

Officials from Transport Canada acknowledged to a parliamentary committee earlier this week that staffing levels are not where they should be, more than four years after a 2008 report by the auditor general highlighted inspection shortfalls.

However the department said in an email Friday that "Transport Canada has enough inspectors to do the job, and to do it well."

"The number of staffed inspector positions is constantly fluctuating as new inspectors join the department and other inspectors leave or retire," said spokeswoman Maryse Durette.

"Attrition numbers are being managed and are within the normal rate."

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had an incorrect spelling for Capt. Daniel Slunder's name.

Transport Minister says Canada has enough aviation inspectors despite vacant spots

OTTAWA – Transport Minister Denis Lebel says there are enough federal inspectors in place to maintain Canada’s strong aviation safety record, although his department says more than 100 inspector jobs have been vacant for years.

The government’s oversight plan for Canada’s civil aviation system includes a staff compliment of 880 inspectors. These positions include both licensed pilot inspectors, charged with ensuring companies and pilots are capable of conducting safe flight operations; and technical inspectors, tasked with making sure the equipment and associated systems to support the operations are safe to use.

There are 136 vacancies or unfilled inspection positions, Transport Canada confirmed, saying the current vacancy level “has been consistent for several years due to the normal attrition rate.”

Despite these chronic vacancies, Lebel said “we have enough inspectors and resources to do our job,” pointing to a 25 percent decrease in aviation accidents in Canada in the last decade. “They are at the lowest in all time,” Lebel said this week in answer to a question from NDP transport critic Olivia Chow.

Lebel’s spokesman, Mike Winterburn, added that the number of aviation inspector positions hasn’t been cut and the department is trying to fill vacancies. “While we have enough inspectors working to maintain Canada’s strong aviation safety record, Transport Canada continues to regularly run recruitment processes across the country to fill vacancies for inspectors and other safety personnel,” he said.

However, the head of the union representing pilot inspectors says the chronic vacancies creates a heightened safety risk for Canadian air travellers.

“I used their own charts to look at how many people they planned for or say they needed,” Daniel Slunder, president of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association, said Friday after releasing his association’s own study of staffing.

“You’re not doing all the work and you’re saying you’re short of people, but it’s okay. Well, I don’t see that as logical. It doesn’t sound truthful to me.”

According to his group’s study, 100 of 499 licensed pilot inspector positions are currently vacant. This includes a vacancy rate of 21 percent (60 of 289) among front-line pilot inspection positions in different regions, and a vacancy rate of 19 per cent (40 of 210 positions) at Transport Canada’s headquarters in Ottawa.

Overall, aviation enforcement (30 percent of positions are vacant) and aviation safety system (29 percent are vacant) are the most shorthanded operations at Transport Canada, the pilot inspector study concludes.

“I’m not sure what they’re doing to hire because I’m not seeing it,” said Slunder.

Martin Eley, director general of Transport Canada’s civil aviation branch, told parliamentarians earlier this week that the demographic reality of the workforce poses an additional challenge.

“(The) organization is 1,400 people altogether. With a natural turnover rate, it ends up giving you a significant number. In one area during the course of 12 months we recruited 36 people and we lost 37 so there is active recruitment going on. The baby boomers are part of that trend.

“We clearly need to staff the positions. It isn’t for a lack of trying,” Eley told members of the House of Commons public accounts committee.

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Akutan Once Again has Scheduled Service from Unalaska as Grant Aviation Begins Regular Flights

Akutan now has scheduled flight service back into their community as of Wednesday of this week after PenAir, the community's former scheduled air provider discontinued service there last month on Tuesday October 23rd.
PenAir cited the reason for discontinuing their service to the fish-processing community was the unavailibilty of a suitable landing area for their aging Grumman Goose that was built during the World War II era. Their former landing area was taken over and upgraded for the hovercraft providing service to the new airport. That new airport, with a 4,500 foot paved runway, is situated on a nearby island. This renovation of the ramp made it unsuitable for the aircraft. This only left a rocky area of the beach for the amphibious aircraft to pull out of the water at. Fearing damage to the high-maintenance aircraft that the company planned to sell, the decision was made to halt operations.

PenAir had previously sent a Termination of Service notice to the Department of Transporation in August of this year. The airline wanted to finish service by September 1 but continued service as long as possible to lessen the disruption of service to the community. PenAir had originally intended to continue air service into the new airport, but without weather monitoring at the site as well as a lack of instrument approach to the new facility, PenAir lacked the aircraft with the proper tools with the exception of the amphibious craft.

While Akutan welcomes the restart of scheduled service into the community, costs for transportation will rise for fliers and other services such as air freight and postal service. While the costs of an airline ticket into the airport are comparible to the cost with the former airline, added costs of the hovercraft will cause fliers to dig a little deeper into their pockets. PenAir charged $154-one way to Unalaska 35 miles away. Grant Aviation's price is slightly lower than that at $148, but the hovercraft service needed to complete the journey from the island to the community of Akutan will tack on an extra $100 onto the cost of a trip from Unalaska to Akutan.

The high cost of the 6-miile-trip is directly attributed to the high operating costs of the hovercraft which is owned by the Aleutians East Borough and operated by Hover Link of Seattle. The annual contract for the hovercraft is $2.5 million. That contract is based on a cost of $2,500 per hour at 1,000 hours a year, with fuel cost being extra. The crew of the hovercraft consists of a Captain, Pilot, Deckhand and Engineer.

Grant will maintain 12 scheduled flights a week into the community.

Denver International Airport (KDEN) rape victim: I don't feel safe anymore, rapist sentenced to at least 6 years


DENVER - The woman who was raped at Denver International Airport told the court Friday "I have a large fear of not being safe anymore."
 She spoke during a sentencing hearing for former Marine Noel Bertrand who was previously convicted of sexually assaulting the woman he had met at an airport bar.

Bertrand was sentenced to six years to life in prison for the April 2011 incident. Bertrand was facing life in prison.

The prosecution told the court Bertrand was a danger to the community and "probation would be a disgrace in this case."

The woman testified that after having drinks with Bertrand, the two moved to a concourse, where he attacked her after she refused a kiss.

She told jurors she didn't scream because she was being choked. Two airline mechanics intervened when they saw her struggling.

Bertrand served on Marine security details at U.S. embassies in Dublin, Ireland; Caracas, Venezuela; and Doha, Qatar.

Young glider pilot soars with the birds: Wurtsboro-Sullivan County Airport (N82), Wurtsboro, New York

Hannah Ploch and her instructor lift off behind a powered plane at Wurtsboro Airport in New York.

NORTH CALDWELL – You may think that soaring a few thousand feet in the air under no power except forward momentum and wind would count as an extreme sport, something prone to dramatic accidents and practiced mostly by teenage boys in logo-emblazoned jackets. 

Instead, Thomas Ploch said, “Gliders are very safe. The most dangerous part of gliding is driving to the airport.”

In fact, he thought it was the perfect activity for his 14-year-old daughter.

Having some experience helps: Hannah Ploch has been in and around small airplanes since she was two. She and her family live on Birch Avenue in North Caldwell but fly out of the Wurtsboro Airport in New York, where Hannah will soon receive her glider pilot rating certificate,

“Dad’s always been flying,” Hannah said in a phone interview. “He wanted me to do it, so I did it.”

The West Essex High School freshman said she started gliding lessons in the summer of 2012 and expects to get her solo license some time in the spring of 2013.

Gliders are non-powered planes that take off by towing behind a small powered plane. They can sustain flight using the wind and thermals, or patches of rising air, for up to an hour.

The glider is tied to a powered plane by a tow rope and pulled up to about 2,500 feet. The glider pilot needs to adjust his own flight to stay behind and level with the powered plane. Hannah said, “You don’t realize how many moves a plane makes until you’re in a glider.”

The Plochs prefer Wurtsboro to the Essex County Airport because the New York mountain ranges create more updrafts.

Hannah spoke knowledgably about cloud formations, altitude, and speed. She proudly noted that she’d recently found out that her grandfather had also been a pilot.

She doesn’t find it unusual that she’ll be able to fly before she can drive a car. “Driving would be harder than flying,” she said. “There’s nothing to hit when you’re up there in the sky.”

Find this complete story in this week's print edition of The Progress.

Airport director leaving post: Pensacola International (KPNS), Florida

Pensacola International Airport Director Melinda Crawford is leaving her post to accept a similar job in Charlottesville, Va.

 Crawford told the News Journal this morning she will remain airport director in Pensacola until mid-February.

“My husband and I have always wanted to live in that part of the country,” she said.

Crawford is married to Jearil Crawford, a retired military veteran and former Bay County Sheriff’s deputy.

Charlottesville’s airport handles about 400,000 passengers, less than a third of Pensacola’s 1.5 million annual passengers.

Hired in 2002 as the airport’s finance director, Crawford was named director in December 2009 by former City Manager Al Coby.

Crawford succeeded Frank Miller, who accepted a job as director of San Antonio International Airport.

During her nearly three-year tenure as director Crawford has overseen a multi-million dollar remodeling of the airport terminal building and grounds.

She also has been instrumental in securing new air service by United Airlines, and additional air service from American Airlines and US Airways.

Article, photo, reaction/comments:

AerCap Says It Settles Suit With GE Over Brazil Airline

AerCap Holdings NV (AER) said it settled a lawsuit against units of General Electric Co. (GE) over servicing agreements relating to leases with the defunct Brazilian airline Transbrasil SA Lineas Areas.

AerCap said in a statement today that it has settled the lawsuit and withdrawn the complaint. Details of the agreement are confidential, Schiphol, Netherlands-based AerCap said.

AerCap’s Irish unit sued GE Capital Corp. and GE Capital Aviation Services in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan in February, accusing the units of Fairfield, Connecticut-based General Electric of failing to inform the aircraft-leasing company about a court case involving Transbrasil.

“Information exchanged since the initiation of AerCap’s lawsuit has satisfied AerCap that GECAS did not commit fraud and otherwise has a reasonable basis for the position that it did not breach the standard of care owed under the servicing agreements,” AerCap said. “GECAS was the servicer of aircraft owned by AerCap and leased to Transbrasil. The GECAS servicing relationship with AerCap ended in 2001.”

The airline had sued GE and AerCap in February 2001 to void promissory notes issued in 1999 in connection with the leases of two engines and an aircraft, according to the complaint filed in New York. GE lost an appeal of a 2007 judgment entered against AerCap and other defendants, and Transbrasil asked Brazilian courts to enforce the judgment, according to the complaint.

The settlement couldn’t be immediately confirmed in court records. Daniel Whitney, a spokesman for GE Capital Aviation Services, didn’t immediately respond to a voice-mail message seeking comment on AerCap’s statement.

The case is AerCap Ireland Ltd. v. General Electric Capital Corp., 650341/2012, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

SpiceJet rejects charges of mid-air argument over landing

NEW DELHI: Refuting charges that pilots of its two flights argued mid-air over landing, SpiceJet today said at no point any rule or procedure was violated or safety compromised by the two aircrafts.

"The pilots in command of the two flights meticulously followed the instructions of Air Traffic Controller (ATC) and safety was not compromised. The pilots of these flights were never engaged in any argument or discussion to claim priority landing as alleged," a SpiceJet spokesperson said in a statement.

According to airport sources, pilots of Delhi-Indore (SG-2326) and Hyderabad-Indore (SG-1053) flights allegedly got into a "verbal duel" on Thursday evening over who should land first.

Elaborating the sequence of events, the spokesperson said the Hyderabad-Indore flight was scheduled to arrive at Indore from Hyderabad at 7:04 PM on that day.

While approaching the Indore airport, the pilot in command of SG-1053 contacted ATC Indore for landing directions and after completing procedure turn was cleared to 3,700 ft inbound for Instrument Landing System (ILS).

"Subsequently, the Delhi-Indore flight which was scheduled to arrive at Indore from Delhi at 7:10 PM contacted ATC Indore for landing directions. When flight from Hyderabad was cleared for ILS, ATC Indore advised pilot of flight from Delhi to descend to 5,000 ft," the statement said.

After the Hyderabad-Indore flight was cleared for intercepting localizer of Runway 25, the Delhi-Indore flight was cleared to proceed outbound maintaining 5,000 ft which was complied by the pilot of that flight.

"When the Hyderabad-Indore flight intercepted localizer Runway 25 at 3,700 ft proceeding inbound, the Delhi-Indore flight was maintaining 5,000 ft. At the same time ATC Indore cleared it to descend and it was cleared to descend to 4,000 ft. Thereafter, the Delhi-Indore flight descended to 3,700 ft as per procedure to intercept localizer for Runway 25," the statement said.

McDaniel RV-6-CH, N424D: Accident occurred November 26, 2012 in Scio, Oregon

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA056 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 26, 2012 in Scio, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/20/2015
Aircraft: MCDANIEL RV-6-CH, registration: N424D
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

The purpose of the flight was for the pilot-rated passenger to show the owner/pilot how to perform rolls in the experimental kit-built airplane. A witness reported observing the airplane in level flight about 1,000 feet above ground level before it entered a steeply banked turn. The airplane was halfway through the turn when the right wing folded up over the fuselage. The wing departed the airframe, and the airplane rapidly descended to the ground. The right wing was located about 1,090 feet from the main wreckage. 

The owner/pilot was not the builder of the airplane, and he had no record of aerobatic flight experience. The pilot-rated passenger's logbook indicated that he had made a single 0.5-hour flight in another RV-6 that included performance of rolls and wing-overs. 

The operating limitations document for the airplane noted that aerobatic flight was prohibited unless such flights were satisfactorily accomplished and recorded in the aircraft logbook during its flight test period. No entries were found in the logbook that would satisfy this requirement. 

Postaccident examination of the separated right wing determined that the upper and lower spar-caps had failed in buckle and overload. Although the airplane was registered with the Federal Aviation Administration by the builder as an RV-6-CH model, the design of its spar caps was found to be substantially different from the kit manufacturer's design for the RV-6 model airplane, a model which can be approved for aerobatic maneuvers. Rather the design was similar to the wing cap spar design for the older RV-3 model airplane, a design which was found to be susceptible to failure in buckle when exposed to aerobatic flight. Following a number of inflight wing failures in RV-3 airplanes during aerobatic flight, the kit manufacturer recommended that no aerobatic maneuvers be performed in RV-3 model airplanes until wing spar modifications that increase the spar's stiffness and resistance to buckling have been accomplished. Because the purpose of the flight was performance of an aerobatic maneuver (rolls) and because the airplane's wing spar cap design was not suitable for aerobatic flight, it is likely that at some point during the flight, an aerobatic maneuver was performed that weakened the wing, and the final steep turn was then sufficient to overload the wing.

Toxicology results showed that the owner/pilot had therapeutic levels of diphenhydramine, a sedating antihistamine, in his system; however, it could not be determined if he was flying at the time of the accident or if this impairment contributed to the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's decision to perform aerobatics in an airplane that was prohibited from aerobatics as stated in its operating limitations document, which resulted in the failure of the right wing spar.


On November 26, 2012, at 1537 Pacific standard time, a McDaniel RV-6-CH, N424D, collided with terrain after its right wing departed the airplane 5 miles south of Scio, Oregon. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. The private pilot and the commercial pilot were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed. The personal flight originated at the Lebanon State Airport, Lebanon, Oregon, at 1531.

A witness described observing the airplane at 1,000 feet above ground level (agl). When the airplane was halfway through a turn, one of the wings folded up. The airplane then rapidly descended to the ground. The Linn County Sheriff's office reported that the airplane's right wing was located on Highway 226, and the main airplane wreckage was located in a pasture 1,090 feet south of the wing.

The Fixed Base Operator (FBO) proprietor at Lebanon State Airport stated that the pilot and commercial pilot-rated passenger were acquaintances. The pilot arrived earlier that day at Lebanon State Airport and met up with his passenger. The passenger had a set of portable remote cameras that he was going to mount onto the foot step on the airplane to video record the flight. Additionally, the pilot-rated passenger intended to show the pilot how to perform rolls.


The pilot, age 46, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane, issued June 4, 2010. He additionally held a third-class medical certificate with the limitation that he wear corrective lenses, issued April 2, 2012. Examination of the pilot's logbook revealed that as of November 25, 2012, he had accumulated 1,005.0 total flight hours of which 48.5 hours were in the accident airplane. On June 8, 2012, he received a tail wheel endorsement, an endorsement to act as pilot-in-command in a Vans RV-6 or RV-7 series aircraft, and a flight review. No record of aerobatic instruction was found in his logbook.

The passenger, age 45, held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating issued June 26, 2012, and a second-class medical certificate with the limitation that he wear corrective lenses issued on May 22, 2005. Examination of his logbook revealed that he had accumulated 590 total flight hours as of November 23, 2012, and his most recent flight review was on February 8, 2012. The logbook showed a single entry dated November 5, 2012, for 0.5 hours in a RV-6A, and the comment line states, "Rolls & wing overs." No other entries were found that included experience in Vans RV model of airplanes or of aerobatic instruction.


The two seat, low wing, fixed gear, tail-wheel configured airplane, serial number AC-3, was an experimental amateur-built airplane manufactured in 1996. The majority of the airframe was designed and built by an individual that was previously employed at Van's Aircraft. A second party bought the partially constructed airplane and completed the construction. The airplane was purchased by the pilot on May 29, 2012. The date of manufacture that is recorded on the FAA registration is 1996. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) letter defining N424D's Experimental Operating Limitations was dated May 17, 1996. Under Phase II of the Experimental Operating Limitations, subsection titled "The Following Limitations Apply Outside of Flight Test Area", line 4 states, "This aircraft is prohibited from acrobatic flight, unless such flight were satisfactorily accomplished and recorded in the aircraft logbook during the flight test period." Examination of the airplane's maintenance logbooks did not include any such entry that would satisfy this requirement.

The airplane was powered by a Continental IO-346-A, 165-horsepower engine, and equipped with a wooden fixed-pitch propeller. A review of copies of the airplane maintenance logbooks revealed that the most recent conditional inspection was performed on May 25, 2012, at a total airframe time of 557 hours. 

Although the airplane was designated an RV-6-CH and closely resembled the Van's RV-6 model of airplane, there were numerous differences between the accident airplane and the kit design that Van's Aircraft produces. The wing span of the accident airplane, as measured after the accident, was 22 feet. In contrast, the Van's RV-3 wing span is 20 feet, and the Van's RV-6 is 23 feet. There were additional differences in the wing spar construction. The wing spar construction of the accident airplane utilized the same materials and general design as the Van's RV-3 series of designs and the wing appeared to be a modified and extended version of the RV-3 wing. The original Van's RV-3 wing spar design consists of a 0.040 aluminum channel web with a build-up of seven 0.125 by 1.25-inch bars riveted together on to form the upper and lower spar caps. The accident airplane's spar consisted of a build-up of 4 pieces of aluminum channel web with nine 0.125 by 1.5-inch aluminum bars for the upper and lower spar caps. In contrast, the Van's RV-6 uses 2 pieces of 0.040 2043-T3 aluminum channel web with a build-up of four 0.250 by 1.5-inch aluminum bars plus one 0.125 by 1.5-inch bar.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on November 11, 2012, by the Oregon State Medical Examiner, Clackamas, Oregon. The cause of death was listed as "blunt force injuries of head and chest."

The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team performed toxicology on specimens from the pilot with positive results for diphenhydramine detected in blood (0.604 ug/ml), and ethanol detected in muscle (20 mg/dl), no ethanol was detected in the brain. Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms and as a sleep aid. It is available over the counter under various trade names including Benadryl and Unisom. Diphenhydramine carries the following warning: may impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, operating heavy machinery). There was an insufficient specimen amount to test for carbon monoxide, and the test for cyanide was not performed.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot-rated passenger November 27, 2012, by the Oregon State Medical Examiner, Clackamas. The cause of death was listed as, "Craniocerebral and chest trauma." The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team performed toxicology on specimens from the passenger with negative results for carbon monoxide, screened drugs, or ethanol.


The right wing was located on a highway paved with asphalt. The wing root and 2-3 rib bays had been crushed longitudinally into the wing. The inboard portion of the main wing spar, in the vicinity of the longitudinal crushing, was buckled in the shape of a double-S. Located in the center of the highway there was an indentation in the asphalt that was consistent with wing impact, and in the adjacent area was the odor of aviation fuel and fuel stains were observed. The wing's aft spar doubler plate was not present on the spar. The upper and lower spar caps were bent aft and outward, pointing down the wing span towards the wing tip. The lower spar-cap of the rear spar, at the attach bolt-hole location, was missing a section of material originating at the bolt hole. The aileron and flap were present on the wing, the aileron control rod was connected to the aileron, and the control rod had separated at the wing root. The wing skin did not exhibit any wrinkling or buckling.

A debris field extended from the right wing to the main wreckage and mostly consisted of Plexiglas fragments, and small cockpit items. The reported remote video camera that may have been mounted to the foot step was not located. Blister packs of Nicorette (4mg/piece) and Benadryl Allergy (25mg Diphenhydramin HCl liquid-gels) were identified in the debris.

The main wreckage was located about 1,090 feet to the south of the right wing, in a grass pasture, resting on its right side. It was oriented from tail to nose on a bearing of 138 degrees magnetic. The wreckage consisted of the left wing, fuselage, cockpit, tail, engine, and propeller. Flight control continuity was established on-scene by manually moving the aileron and elevator control surfaces and observing movement of the control stick in the cockpit area. Control continuity from the rudder to the cockpit was established by tracing the rudder cables from the rudder control surface attachment point to the rudder pedal cable anchors on the rudder pedals. The left horizontal stabilizer and vertical stabilizer appeared undamaged; the right horizontal stabilizer and elevator exhibited crush damage from ground impact. The left wing laid on top of and in line with the fuselage. The left wing main spar was continuous through the cabin and extended 14 inches into the right wing spar where it was fractured completely at the upper and lower spar caps. In the region of the fracture surfaces the spar ends were bent aft. The upper and lower spar caps were a buildup of 9, 0.125 thick aluminum bars and bolted together with through-bolts positioned every 1.25 inches. The fracture surface of each bar appeared bright and angular, with shear lips. The aft spar of the left wing remained attached to the carry through. The right side of the aft wing spar carry though contained the right wing aft-spar doubler plate and spar attach-bolt.

The cockpit cabin had been completely compromised, and the right side of the engine had imbedded about 2 feet into the ground. The right underside of the engine's case and oil pan had been broken and torn laterally. The right case-half contained a crack at the no. 3 cylinder location. The two magnetos had been displaced from their mounting pads. The right magneto produced spark at three terminals when rotated by hand; the left magneto was seized and could not be rotated by hand. The upper spark plugs were removed. The spark plugs were dark gray in color, all gaps were similar, and no mechanical damaged was observed. The engine was seized and could not be rotated by hand. The fuel distribution valve was intact, no debris was observed in the filter screen, and fuel was observed in the valve. The wood propeller was attached to the propeller hub. One blade was fractured at the hub, the other blade extended out 20 inches from the hub. A majority of wood blade-fragments were recovered with the engine.


The right-wing spar was sectioned out of the wing, and the wing carry through spar was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board's Materials Laboratory for a detailed examination. The entire Materials Laboratory Factual Report is contained in the official docket for this investigation.

The right wing separated approximately 1 foot from the centerline of the center section. The left wing remained attached to the center section. The wing structure was disassembled on-site from the fuselage to facilitate shipping, handling, and examination. The wing section contained a forward and aft spar. The forward spar at the fracture location contained a total of four reinforcement pieces for the web; nine reinforcement strips (1.5 inch by 0.125 inch) for the upper spar cap; and nine reinforcement strips (1.50 inch by 0.125 inch) for the lower spar cap. Examination of the forward spar revealed that the fracture faces of the lower spar cap at the inboard side contained less mechanical damage compared to those on the upper spar cap pieces.

The aft spar contained an attachment plate with two holes (about 0.75-inch diameter, each). When intact, the attachment plate extended between the aft spar of the center section and the aft spar of the right wing. The attachment plate is designed to be attached by rivets to the upper and lower brackets of the aft spar for the right wing. The inboard end of the plate is designed to be attached by two bolts and corresponding nuts to the aft spar of the center section. Examination of the attachment plate revealed the attachment rivets between the center section and right wing fractured at the shank. The fracture faces of the rivets exhibited metal flow consistent with ductile separation in shear mode. The outboard end of the attachment plate was deformed up and aft relative to the aft spar of the center section. The upper and lower brackets remained attached to the aft spar of the right wing.

Microscope examination of the fracture faces on the forward and aft spar sections of the wing structure and those on the center section showed gray-granular rough features on a slant plane consistent with overstress separation with no evidence of fatigue cracking.


RV-3 History

Van's Aircraft Service Bulletin SB-96-3-1, dated March 25, 1996, states in the synopsis, "After a number of in flight wing failures in RV-3 and RV-3A aircraft. Studies were initiated to identify any possible design deficiencies. These studies resulted in a recommendation by Van's Aircraft and the FAA to limit aerobatic flight of affected aircraft until main wing spar modifications have been accomplished."

The RV-3 wing spar design utilized a spar-cap stack up of 0.125-inch bar stock. This design was found to be susceptible to failure in buckle when exposed to aerobatic flight or high g-loading. An extensive discussion regarding this issue was addressed in Van's Aircraft RV-3 Safety Alert, dated March 25, 1996.

The Van's RV-6 wing spar design resolves the RV-3's spar failure issue by increasing the spar stiffness and resistance to buckling by increasing bar stock thickness from 0.125 to 0.25-inch bar stock in the wing spar stack up and construction.

 NTSB Identification: WPR13FA056 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 26, 2012 in Scio, OR
Aircraft: MCDANIEL RV-6-CH, registration: N424D
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On November 26, 2012, at 1537 Pacific standard time, a McDaniel RV-6-CH, N424D, collided with terrain after its right wing departed the airplane 5 miles south of Scio, Oregon. The airplane was operated by the owner under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot and the commercial pilot were both fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed. The flight originated at the Lebanon State Airport, Lebanon, Oregon, at 1531.

A witness described the airplane as being halfway through a turn at 1,000 feet above ground level (agl) when one of the wings folded up on the airplane. The airplane then rapidly descended to the ground. The Linn County Sheriff’s office reported that the airplane's right wing was located on Highway 226, and the main airplane wreckage was located in a pasture 1,000 feet south of the wing.

Timothy Dean Carter 
Family photo

The family of the owner of a two-seat experimental airplane that crashed Monday outside Scio will celebrate his life with a party on Saturday.

Valerie Tillia said her father, Timothy Dean Carter, didn’t want anyone to grieve when he died. Instead, he wanted them to have a good time in his honor.

So that’s what his relatives and friends plan to do. They’ll gather between 5 and 9 p.m. on Saturday at Juan Colorado Mexican Restaurant at 4708 N.W. Bethany Blvd. in Bethany Village, one of Carter’s favorite haunts, to eat, drink and sing karaoke.

“He loved karaoke,” Tillia said in an email. “His favorite was Sinatra and he had an incredible voice.”

Carter, 46 of Portland, was killed in the crash of the RV6, a kit-made plane designed by Van’s Aircraft in Aurora. His passenger, Jeff Earl "Tebo" Kropf, 45 of Halsey, also died. The two men about a year and a half ago at Lebanon Municipal Airport where Kropf worked.

Both men loved to fly, friends and relatives said. 

Carter, who married his childhood sweetheart in Idaho where he grew up, moved 23 years ago with his family to the Beaverton area, where he created a commercial plumbing business, Carter Mechanical. He had five children with his wife and a newly born grandson. 

Tillia said her father was devoted, curious, upbeat and had a wide circle of friends.

“He was a cool dad,” she said. “All my friends loved him.”

Tillia has organized a memorial table with pictures of her father and a book for people to share their thoughts and memories.

"An accident like this is so hard because no one got to say goodbye," Tillia said.

Southwest buyout of AirTran bittersweet for co-founder

As Southwest Airlines gradually transforms AirTran Airways’ planes into its own, for Lewis Jordan, it means letting go of a carrier he co-founded some 20 years ago.

Jordan helped launch AirTran predecessor ValuJet, led the airline through the 1996 crash of Flight 592 in the Everglades and the aftermath, and served on the AirTran board up until the acquisition by Dallas-based Southwest.

“I was the only person [on the board] who was there from the first day we went in business until the last day,” Jordan said in an interview after delivering a talk at an Atlanta Aero Club meeting.

He said there were “several paths” that could have kept AirTran a successful stand-alone airline, but volatile fuel costs limited the options. “When you are a steward of shareholders’ life savings and investments, you have a responsibility to protect them,” Jordan said. “One thing you learn is you have to put your personal feelings aside.”

In the end, the board vote was unanimous in favor of the acquisition by Southwest.

For Jordan, the marriage with Southwest “is like marching with my daughter on her wedding day down the aisle…. This was my baby.”

A year and a half after the deal closed, the combination of the two carriers’ operations is still in progress, and the AirTran name is expected to remain in some form into 2015. AirTran still had roughly 170 flights a day from Atlanta this fall, while Southwest had about 20 daily flights.

Next year, Southwest plans to connect AirTran’s route network with its own. Southwest has cut some AirTran routes as it gradually dismantles the AirTran hub in Atlanta to decrease the focus on connecting passengers.

Jordan, meanwhile, has started an organization called GratitudeAmerica, focusing on community resources for veterans.

He said it’s “highly unlikely” he’ll rejoin the airline industry, but added, “I can’t walk around without looking up to see if there’s an airplane up in the air.”

Story and reaction/comments:

Mid-Ohio Valley Regional (KPKB), Parkersburg, West Virginia: Airport Sees Surge In Passengers

Passenger traffic at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport is soaring this month.

Terry Moore, airport manager, said the airport has seen 594 passengers in November, as of this past weekend. He expects the number to grow to 700 by the end of Friday. That would top the 633 passengers in November 2011.

Moore said the airport is averaging about 25 passengers per day.

November's total received a boost from the Thanksgiving holiday. Moore says the traveling public's confidence in the airport also is growing because of the number of flights and reliability of the service.

Silver Airways hasn't a canceled any flights this month. The airline began offering service to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in October 2010.

High-flying attorney keeps his feet far from the ground: Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC), Denver, Colorado

Kathleen Lavine | Denver Business Journal 
Chris Leach, attorney at Moye White LLP, flies his plane in aerobatic competitions. He hangars the plane at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport in Broomfield.

The journey to becoming a competitive aerobatic pilot began in Chris Leach’s imagination. 

 “When you’re a kid and you’re playing with your little model planes, you make them do loops and you fly upside down,” said Leach, an attorney at Moye White LLP. “In my head, that’s always what I wanted to do.”

Aerobatic competitions require pilots to complete a precise sequence of aerial maneuvers. Somewhat like ice skaters, pilots are judged on how well they fly each figure.

Leach competes at the relatively beginner Sportsman level, performing maneuvers such as a loop roll and a reverse half Cuban Eight: ...

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Duluth showing signs of economic revival (With Audio)

AAR Vice President Danny Martinez speaks inside the company's Duluth hangar, the size of a football field, on Nov. 16, 2012. Martinez says the company chose to put its new operation in Duluth because of the facility and the local workforce. The regional economy includes Cirrus and several other aerospace-related firms. (MPR Photo/Dan Kraker)

Story, photos, audio:
DULUTH, Minn. — A giant aircraft maintenance hangar at Duluth International Airport that has sat idle for six years is springing back to life this week, a sign that the region's economy is on the upswing. 

 AAR Corp. is servicing jets from Air Canada in the facility, originally built in the 1990s for Northwest Airlines.

"When we're up and running, there should be three aircraft in here at all times coming and going on a regular schedule," AAR Vice President Danny Martinez said.

After years of economic struggles and budget deficits, Duluth may be poised for a new era of prosperity. The city has announced several major industry investments in the area, the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.9 percent and the local economy is diversifying.

Business and civic leaders are more optimistic about the city's future than they've been in decades, and they point to the aircraft hanger as a sign of improving economic conditions.

When fully operational the facility will employ 225 workers. Martinez said the building was only part of the reason the company chose Duluth for its new facility.

"There was a lot of experienced folks here that we could bring on, and that's a unique combination," he said.

 The aircraft hangar is among a number of strong signs for Duluth's economy. In September, Mayor Don Ness announced another major new project: a new downtown office tower to be anchored by the clothing retailer Maurice's. The company plans to add 100 jobs in Duluth over the next few years.

In praising the project, Ness, 39, said the announcement marked "an exciting day in the history of our community."

The mayor's sunny outlook stems in part from his youth, when the sun seemed to have set over Duluth.

In the early 1980s, the city's unemployment rate soared to nearly 20 percent, then the second-highest the nation, notes University of Minnesota economist Jim Skurla.

Skurla recalls that on a billboard along Interstate 35 out of town someone even posted a billboard with a now infamous message: "The last one out, please turn out the lights."

Those memories are still vivid for Ness.

"I grew up in a Duluth that was very different, when Duluth was one of the 10 most distressed cities in the nation — super-high unemployment rate, a sense of pessimism all around us," he said.

 Ness credits his predecessors with laying the foundation for the revival he sees today. He said the city took advantage of the scenic power of Lake Superior by building a lake walk and creating the Canal Park tourist district that helped revitalize its downtown.

More recently, Ness has battled with retired city workers to cut the cost of their health care coverage, and erased huge multi-year budget deficits. He said those steps have helped foster a newfound sense of optimism.

"Companies like Maurice's don't invest $30 million in downtowns of small cities unless they sense the confidence that's here now, that we have something special here, that you can't create in the suburbs," Ness said. "We're starting to translate those advantages into economic development, into job creation, into a sense of confidence that leads people to make important investments."

But it's a slow process and not all change is positive. Although the unemployment rate in the Duluth Metropolitan statistical area which includes Superior, Wisconsin and St. Louis County, the unemployment rate is the lowest it's been in four years, the region has 5,000 fewer jobs than in 2008.

New jobs are on their way, but in August, Georgia Pacific closed a hardboard plant and laid off 141 workers.

 "Duluth has always had this tradition of taking two steps forward, then one step back," said Skurla, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at UM Duluth.

Duluth's economy has always been dominated by the three "Ts": taconite, timber and tourism. But Skurla said that is slowly changing, spurred in part by new entrepreneurship.

"We've always said kind of as a joke that Duluth was always an economy of workers. We worked for the steel industry; we worked for different industries here that have disappeared," he said. "And entrepreneurism wasn't built into our genes initially, our DNA."

Today, however, Duluth has a more diverse economy, with strong health care, education, and professional services sectors.

"A lot of the business growth that you truly in the back office see, but don't hear about a lot, is those of us that are adding one or two or three jobs continually, every month," said Bill Bennett, CEO of LHB, an engineering and architecture firm that employs 205 people. "It's not the home run."

Bennett said his company has added 40 employees in the last two years alone. For him, a big challenge for Duluth is attracting a talented workforce.

Historically, local companies have hired people with connections to Duluth, Bennett said.

But some are growing so fast they have to reach beyond that group.

"We bring in a lot of folks to be educated here in the Twin Ports, then unfortunately we hand them that degree, they pack their bags and leave," said Brian Hanson, president of the economic development organization APEX. "That's a tide we need to stem."

That remains one of the top priorities for Ness. After decades of struggle, the mayor said the city can now afford to focus on things like arts, culture and outdoor recreation.

Those efforts, Ness said, could help keep its college graduates and attract other workers Duluth needs to fuel a growing economy.

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Propeller Planes Come Back Amid High Fuel Prices (With Audio)

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Record-high fuel prices have hammered airlines, forcing executives to eliminate flights, cut back on unprofitable routes and make passengers pay for many perks that used to be free.

Now the airlines are looking at other ways to save money. That means a new opportunity for a plane from the past.

On a typical day at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the "Plane Train" ferries some 200,000 travelers a day between terminals. One of those passengers, Rebecca Hamilton, is on her way home to Florida.

"If I can do it economically, I fly out of Gainesville," she says.

Often, she finds that affordable ticket on Delta Air Lines. Hamilton knows that always means two things: a connection through Atlanta, and at least part of her trip will be on a smaller, regional jet. But that's changing.

Tonight, she's a bit surprised to board a plane branded "Silver Airways." And it's not a regional jet. It has propellers — something she has not seen in decades.

"Mostly I remember what other people say: that it's bouncier and that it's more turbulent and your stomach whooshes into your, you know, a little more often. But quite frankly, it takes a lot to make me feel scared and I just don't really mind it," Hamilton says.

Outside, the propeller blades create a rhythmic ruckus as they chop through the air. Inside, it's only a faint drone. Ninety minutes later, Hamilton is on the ground in Gainesville, ready for her short drive home. The airplane she came in on is also home.

These 34-seat Saab turboprops make up the entire Silver fleet. And each night at its 60,000-square-foot maintenance hangar at Gainesville's airport, crews check tires, landing gear and dozens of other components. Night maintenance supervisor Justin Hernandez is about to sign off on what looks like a new plane.

"Right now, to the left, Aircraft 352, that's our latest. Its aircraft name is Limitless. It just got here from conformity check," Hernandez says.

That's the last step before rotating into the Silver fleet. Regional carrier Mesaba once flew this plane, first with Northwest Airlines' colors, and more recently, Delta's.

Matthew Holiday, a vice president at Silver, says the carrier doesn't try to hide its turboprop fleet. Rather, it embraces it — right down to the logo, which mimics a spinning propeller.

"We want to be clear in our messaging to consumers that this is a turboprop. But it's not a bad thing," Holiday says.

Through the 1990s and 2000s, airlines replaced turboprops with faster regional jets. Jet fuel was about 87 cents per gallon. Now it's four times that much. Since turboprops use less fuel, flying one instead of a jet often means a profit instead of a loss. So expect to see more, says Regional Airline Association President Roger Cohen.

"After a steady decline in the ratio of turboprops to jets in the regional fleet, we've just seen here over the last year, year and a half, the first time that line started to move in the other direction," Cohen says.

The Federal Aviation Administration forecasts regional jets with fewer than 40 seats will disappear from fleets by 2015. This comes as reliance on larger turboprop aircraft doubles in the next decade. And with new technology that cancels most noise and vibration, they won't be your grandfather's turboprop.

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