Monday, April 29, 2013

United States Citizens Accused of Drug Trafficking in Honduras

Utila BICA an WSORC Light Hawk Volunteers free and clear in Honduras
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Editors Note:   Above is the final video recap of the experience USA LightHawk Volunteers in Honduras endured after being accused of drug trafficking in Honduras. As you can see in the video, the accused have been “cleared of all charges”.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank the various volunteers in Utila, Roatan, La Ceiba, El Progreso and Tegucigalpa who assisted in clearing up this unfortunate error.

We would like to also thank the Honduras law enforcement and forensic team for doing their jobs in a very professional and expedient manner, the lawyers and interpreters, the fiscalia, and the Ministerio Publico de Honduras. In addition, the Utila United effort, as well as the Utila police force, which as you can see, treated our Honduras guests with the utmost respect.

In addition, thank you very much to the ICF, BICA, CANATURH, Fundación Cuero y Salado, as well as the media, who helped cover this incident in a responsible fashion. HQTV Utila, Tele Progresso (TP) and its various affiliate TV stations in Honduras, Radio Ceiba, Estereo 100, Radio America, and HRN. 

Last but not least, the many volunteers and tourists who assisted.   Additionally, special appreciation goes out to our Honduras.com Team photographer and video productions editor, Carlos Melgar, for his numerous hours, and our Honduras national correspondent, Roberto Zuniga.

Editors Note: Si se puede Catrachos! 

Editors Note - Breaking News:  The  US citizens accused of drug trafficking in Honduras (LightHawk volunteers) left Utila at 1:00 pm, Honduras time for Belize today, where they will continue their mission work.  The two individuals stated they will return to Honduras in the future.  A live interview was taped and is being edited for publication. Please check back to see the final video interview with the LightHawk volunteers.

April 26, 2013

Editors Note:  Moments ago we received a phone call stating that the Accused have had their belongings returned and will be in Utila shortly.  Honduras.com will provide their story once they have a chance to “re-group”. 9:15 AM Friday April 26, 2013. Thanks to everyone who assisted, and to the Honduras Government for recognizing their mistake. – Team Honduras.com [ LightHawk, please accept our sincere apology, and don't let this dissuade you from continuing to help our country.]

The public ministry granted two US citizens accused of drug trafficking in Honduras, release on their own recognizance.  The Americans were piloting a small plane and subsequently arrested last Friday (April 19, 2013) in Utila, Bay Islands, on suspicion of a drug trafficking crime.

The authorities will practice an ion test on the seized aircraft to identify possible traces of drugs.

Carl Wayne Mattson and Julie Anna Boyd were set free, but are still under investigation by prosecutors and police.

The report of the Departmental Headquarter number 11 states that according to research and information from the Directorate of Drug Trafficking and the Air Force, the plane piloted by both citizens unloaded drugs in the sector of Cuero y Salado (a Wildlife Refuge where Manatees enjoy their freedom, as well as many other species of protected wildlife), and then flew to La Ceiba, where they refueled.

Later they left for the island of  Utila.  When the plane landed, they were stopped immediately by policemen who awaited their arrival, and then taken to the police headquarters, where their statements were taken.

The case was reported to the prosecutor on duty, who gave instructions to keep the plane in police custody and the pilots kept under guard, as they were considered responsible for a drug trafficking crime.  As the investigation continues, the foreigners must remain in Honduras.

Read more here:  http://www.honduras.com

Mooney M20F Executive, N9524M: Search for pilot to resume in June -- Solvang resident went missing in December

A search for a missing Solvang pilot whose single-engine airplane apparently crashed near Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome will be resumed in June, park officials said. 

 Nicol Wilson’s 1966 Mooney M20F disappeared from radar Dec. 17 after he left Santa Ynez Airport headed for Mammoth Lakes Airport to join his family for a holiday celebration. Wilson, 66, was the only person aboard the aircraft.

Officials were able to discern the approximate location of the missing plane at the point where it was last detected by radar, but rescuers have been unable to reach the site because of bad weather. The location, which covers more than 600 square miles, remains cloaked in heavy snow.

A park spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle last year, “This is definitely like looking for a needle in a haystack. This is a very small plane, it is a single engine plane and it was white. The area they are looking in is completely covered in snow, so the chances of spotting the plane are going to be extremely hard. Also, with the sun being so low this time of the year, it has created shadows from some of the peaks making it difficult to see in the dark areas of those shadows.”

Story and Reaction/Comments:  https://calcoastnews.com


http://registry.faa.gov/N9524M

NTSB Identification: WPR13FAMS1
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, December 17, 2012 in Yosemite Valley, CA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20F, registration: N9524M
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 December 17, 2012, about 1230 Pacific standard time, a Mooney M20F airplane, N9524M, was reported overdue/missing near Yosemite Valley, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, sustained unknown injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the personal flight. The flight originated from the Santa Ynez Airport (IZA), Santa Ynez, California, about 1025 with an intended destination of Mammoth Lakes, California. An emergency locator beacon signal has not been reported.

A family member of the pilot reported the airplane overdue to local law enforcement the evening of December 17, 2012, after becoming concerned when the pilot had not arrived at his intended destination. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Alert Notification (ALNOT) for the missing airplane at 2309.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Airliner struck by lightning: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Reported by: Erik Avanier,  WDEF-12

Published: 4:15 pm
Updated: 5:23 pm

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDED) – Passengers on board Allegiant Airline flight 804 to Chattanooga were startled Sunday morning when their plane was hit by lightning.

It happened about 100 miles from Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport when the MD80 aircraft was beginning to descend from a higher altitude into thick gray clouds.

“It was pretty scary and terrifying to see the actual lightning and feel the jolt of the plane,” said passenger Darcy Barella.

The plane took-off from St. Petersburg / Clearwater International Airport shortly after 7 A.M. and was due to arrive in Chattanooga by 8:30 A.M.

Prior to boarding the aircraft in Clearwater Florida, passengers were warned about a weather advisory in the Chattanooga area.

Nearly fifty minutes into the flight, the ride became very bumpy as the plane began to descend from a higher altitude with clear conditions into a lower altitude with dark clouds. When lightning hit the aircraft, many passengers including one flight attendant began to worry.

Several passengers seated near the rear of the aircraft with window seats confirmed to flight attendants that a bolt of lightning appeared to strike the planes right wing.

“I just happen to be looking out the window when lightning struck and it was like an explosion. It looked like it was inside the cabin but you could tell it was outside. My palms were never so sweaty while we were landing,” said passenger Tanaha Coontz.

The plane landed 15 minutes after it was hit and once it came to complete stop on the tarmac, a flight attendant came close to opening the rear left side emergency exit but later decided it was safe for everyone to get off at the front exit ramp.

Aside from some jilted nerves, no injuries were reported.



Source:  http://www.wdef.com

Gallons of fuel spill out from plane: Buffalo Niagara International Airport (KBUF), New York

Photo courtesy of Daniel Grosskopf


Updated: Sunday, 28 Apr 2013, 2:53 PM EDT 
Published : Sunday, 28 Apr 2013, 2:31 PM EDT

By: Liz Reiman,  WIVB-4

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Gallons of jet fuel spilled of out an open fuel vent Sunday morning.

According to Vice President Marketing at Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Doug Hartmayer, around 11 a.m., Prior Aviation was refueling a jet when an open fuel vent caused 15-20 gallons to spill.

No fuel leaked on the Buffalo Niagara International Airport property, and the area has since been isolated.

Prior Aviation cleaned up the spill. The Airport Fire Department responded to the incident.

Story and Photo:  http://www.wivb.com

Economic decline hurts El Paso International Airport (KELP), Texas

By Evan Mohl \ El Paso Times
Posted:   04/28/2013 01:33:36 AM MDT

The El Paso International Airport is facing a decline in passenger traffic and additional cancellations of flights -- something that is causing growing concern among city leaders.

Tight economic times and ongoing challenges of airline companies have caused city officials and leaders to search for ways to maintain and increase the airport's flights and passenger traffic.

The airline industry's struggles with profitability, increasing fuel costs and mergers have drastically affected small and midsize airports that depend on airlines for business, said Brent Bowen, professor and head of aviation technology at Purdue University.

The El Paso airport, with a taxpayer-funded budget of about $48 million, is not immune.

The airport's traffic is down 15 percent since 2010, said Monica Lombrana, the city's director of aviation. Lombrana also said Southwest Airlines, which operates more than half of El Paso's daily flights, plans to stop its direct flight to San Diego in the near future.

The announcement comes a few months after the airline stopped its two nonstop flights to Albuquerque.

"It's a pretty stark situation for medium-sized airports," Bowen said. "And it has pretty much everything to do with the airline industry, which those airports have little or no control over."

The airport's struggle to increase passengers and add flights coincides with a decade-long tailspin of the airline industry that's brought consolidation, bankruptcies, mergers and cuts. The New York Times reported that most airlines have struggled to turn a profit, while some airports, including Pittsburgh and St. Louis, are searching for ways to use empty space because of decreased traffic.

Passenger traffic at the El Paso airport used to hover at more than 3 million a year, even in the 2008 and 2009 recession years. But in 2012, the number dropped below 2.9 million.

So far this year, it doesn't look better. Through the first three months in 2013, the number of passengers was down 3 percent compared with the same period in 2012.

The airport also faces another uncertainty.

In October 2014, the federal Wright Amendment, which restricts flights from Dallas Love Field to certain states surrounding Texas, expires. The amendment was part of the International Transportation Act of 1979 and designed to protect and grow Dallas Forth Worth International Airport.

The amendment has meant that Southwest flights going from Dallas to many destinations such as San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles could not be direct and had to stop in a bordering state or Texas city such as El Paso.

Southwest, based in Dallas, states on its website that repealing the Wright Amendment will not necessarily reduce or add to flights at other airports. Rather, the company says passengers will have more options while cities, such as El Paso, can market itself to previously unreachable cities.

Southwest is based in Dallas, and Love Field is getting multimillion-dollar improvements.

Lombrana said that the El Paso airport is carefully monitoring the situation. She said the cancellation of the San Diego flight could be part of Southwest's plans with the end of the Wright Amendment.

Southwest spokeswoman Katie McDonald said that she could not comment on future plans and that scheduling strategy is based on demand. Southwest has 28 nonstop departures to eight cities out of El Paso. The next closest airline is American, with 12 daily flights that serve three cities.

"We've got some challenges," Lombrana said. "But we're not alone."

Other airports around the country are facing similar situations, Bowen said. Bowen explained that it's more profitable and cheaper for airlines to send 10 regional jet flights -- that have about 40 and 70 seats -- between two major cities relatively close to each other rather than send a full-size plane once or twice a day to a distant midsize city.

The numbers are not all doom and gloom, Lombrana said. Lombrana pointed out that while travel dropped 15 percent since 2010, prices have increased at a rate of 23 percent.

El Paso also has not suffered as much as some other Southwest cities, according to a study provided by a consultant to the El Paso airport.

From 2008 to 2011, El Paso lost 10 percent of its traffic while the Albuquerque airport traffic fell 12 percent and Reno, Nev., airport traffic dropped 15 percent. From 2008 to 2012, Tucson had nonstop service destinations fall nearly 50 percent, while El Paso lost 30 percent.

El Paso has a bigger population than all three of the other cities and fewer gates at the airport.

Bowen said El Paso has some intrinsic advantages. Though its isolation makes travel more expensive, there are no other close alternatives, and car trips are long.

"People are going to need to travel out of El Paso by air," he said. "And unlike some smaller airports that are an hour or two away from major airports, El Paso is not in that situation."

Outreach


El Paso, however, cannot rely just on isolation to attract passengers, Bowen said. The city must campaign and promote the airport, tourism and business opportunities.

That's exactly what Lombrana and airport officials are doing. They have had meetings with Southwest officials and are trying to tap into the Mexican market by reaching out to Aeromexico and Volaris.

Bowen said keeping Southwest active in El Paso is critical, given the airline's financial strength and current traffic at the airport.

In a meeting with the City Council, Lombrana showed a part of a presentation given at the Southwest meeting. The slide show highlights El Paso as regional destination with Juárez and Southern New Mexico. It points out magazine rankings and accolades such as best midsize city for job growth, safest city, one of the best cities for the cost of doing business and a top metro area for projected job growth.

Border business gets significant time in the presentation -- in 2011, 18 percent of all trade between the U.S. and Mexico came through El Paso -- while the $5 billion expansion at Fort Bliss is highlighted.

Lombrana said the next step is proving that the El Paso airport is affordable and worth the airline's money. The tax the airport charges the airline per passenger is well below the national average, but she said the city needs to do more.

As a result, officials want to increase the existing incentives to airlines. Lombrana said the airport now matches the airline's marketing up to $25,000 if the airline adds a new, nonstop destination that departs at least five times a week.

Airport officials want to increase that incentive to $50,000.

Other incentives include a reduction in landing fees.

Airport officials and City Council members agree that the private sector must get involved. City Rep. Steve Ortega said Albuquerque was able to add a nonstop flight to New York City by guaranteeing a certain number of seats purchased.

Lombrana said that had to do with business, something the airport can't do under government regulations.

"We have to market ourselves as a growing city that's not just a border town but with growing industry like electronics and systems," Ortega said. "We need cooperation from the business side."

Officials in December met with Southwest officials about adding nonstop service to the Washington, D.C., area with flights to Baltimore. Lombrana said Washington, D.C., is by far the top destination for El Paso passengers the airport doesn't have nonstop service to. It has 35 percent more passengers than the next-closest city, New York.

Lombrana attributes that to Fort Bliss and government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security.

Story and Comments/Reaction:  http://www.elpasotimes.com

Federal Aviation Administration investigates fatal skydiving accident: Alexander Municipal Airport (E80), Belen, New Mexico



ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Emergency crews rushed to the Belen airport Saturday afternoon, after a day out for a New Mexico skydiver turned deadly. 

Witnesses say the skydiver's parachute did open, but he made a fast and hard turn to the ground.
   
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
   
Witnesses say the man was an experienced skydiver.
   
His name and age have not been released.
   
The Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating the accident. 

Shreveport Regional (KSHV), Louisiana: Airport reopens runway (With Video)

Repaving the secondary artery took 7 months, cost $5M+ 


Airport officials and community leaders had front-row seats to a takeoff and a sequence of landings Friday at Shreveport Regional Airport to celebrate the completion of a seven-month project to repave Runway 6-24. 

“This is a more than $5 million project to completely rebuild this runway,” said Bill Cooksey, deputy airports director “If you had driven this runway a year ago, you would have seen rock coming loose or gravel. It was deteriorating very rapidly and it was becoming, to us, a safety issue.”

Shreveport Regional is home to 85 general aviation aircraft. They are the ones that most often will use the secondary runway, which at 6,202 feet long can accommodate most plane types up to larger, narrow-body aircraft. Larger planes still have use of the airport’s primary runway, which is 8,351 feet long.

The repairs were funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s aviation division. While necessary, the project likely will have little effect on the local economy, according to Mark Crawford, marketing and public relations manager for Shreveport’s airports.

Airport Authority board member Margaret Sheehee said the repaired runway may have unforeseen benefits. “You never know, there could be. If we have better runways and better equipment, that does attract business,” she said, noting that Shreveport Regional is the primary airport for all of northwest Louisiana, not just Shreveport.

“We want people from Arkansas to come here, we want people from east Texas to come here, we want everybody to come here. With more safety and better equipment, the rising tide lifts all boats. It’s good for everybody.”

Story and Video:   http://www.shreveporttimes.com

Classic Biplane Tours: Louisville, Kentucky


Photo Credit: WDRB 41 Louisville
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There is lots to see in our city, from Churchill Downs to the Slugger Factor. But it's a whole new perspective up in the air! 

Steve Koch bought a biplane 10 years ago but he didn't want to keep it all to himself. He started his business, Classic Biplane Tours, which has taken off!

"It's just a real cool experience like riding an airplane that's like a convertible," says Koch.

We couldn't just take his word for it, so we jumped in the front seat to try it out ourselves.

"Louisville's got some pretty interesting places to see we've got Churchill Downs, Papa John's Stadium, we've got the museums downtown the waterfront is beautiful in the air," said Koch.

It is truly the best way to see our city. We traveled east along the Ohio River, touring the countryside and landed back to Churchill

Classic Biplane Tours flies everyday, through October.

For information on how to book your flight, go to www.classicbiplanetours.com


Story, Photo, Video:   http://www.wdrb.com

Hundreds attend airport open house: Madison (I39), Richmond, Kentucky

Alek Masters, 9, of Richmond jumps from the wing of a Diamond DA40 Saturday after returning from a Young Eagle flight provided by the Madison County chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The free flights for children from age 8-17 were offered as the Madison Airport conducted its annual open house.


April 28, 2013 

By Bill Robinson, Richmond Register



RICHMOND — The Madison Airport gave its second annual open house Saturday, and despite the threat of rain, at least 300 showed up.

Among them were 80 children, or Young Eagles, who were given free rides in light airplanes by members of the local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter.

The open house was an occasion for the airport board and Eastern Kentucky University, its fixed base operator, to announce the airport had been awarded the Federal Aviation Administration's annual regional safety award.

Despite the increased traffic from EKU's flight training program, which keeps 14 leased aircraft at the airport, the extra 500 feet added to its runway and its new full-length taxiway helped the airport attain the safety record which won the award, said Jason Bonham, the airport manager.

The university, which operates the only baccalaureate aviation program in Kentucky, has 80 students taking flight instruction.  Additional students are enrolled as aviation majors.

The free flights for children age 8 through 17 were scheduled from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., but they were cut short when a light rain began to fall around 1 p.m.

That didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the children, many of whom were making their first flight, or at least their first flight in a light plane.

His flight was like riding a roller coaster, said Alek Masters, 9, a home-schooled student who lives in Richmond.

“It went up and down and then sideways,” he said after stepping from the small plane’s passenger section onto its wing and then jumping to the pavement.

Peggie Moore, 15, who recently moved to Richmond from New Orleans with her family, said she got a good view of the mountains and saw islands of trees when she flew. From the air, cattle looked like dots on the ground, she said, and described a house in the shape of a compass.

Studies have shown that children who get to fly in light planes develop an interest in science and make better grades than their counterparts who don’t have the experience, said Dr. Wilma Walker, the airport board chairman and retired head of EKU’s aviation program.

The airport is staying busy, Walker said, and it has a waiting list for hangar space.

Even tie-down space on the airport apron is getting scarce, she said, calling an expanded apron and additional hanger space among the facility’s greatest needs. Both are listed as priorities on the airport improvement plan it has filed with state government and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Tonita Goodwin, executive director of the Richmond Industrial Development Corp., said the airport is an important asset in industrial recruitment. Industrial and retail prospects, as well as existing industries and retail chains in Madison County are frequent users of the airport.


Story and Photos:  http://richmondregister.com

GE Aviation: Skilled workforce keeps manufacturer flying high

 Posted on April 28, 2013

By Mike Faulk, Yakima Herald-Republic


When people think aerospace and Washington state, those thoughts drift west of the Cascades to Boeing and Seattle. But Yakima has its own successful aerospace parts manufacturing plant at GE Aviation near the Yakima Air Terminal.

The manufacturing plant, which was acquired by General Electric from Smiths Aerospace in 2007, employs 309 Yakima-area residents. That makes the company one of the largest durable goods manufacturers in the county. (The largest is Shields Bag & Printing, a plastic packaging company in Yakima, with about 500 employees.)

The vast majority of GE Aviation’s machinists, technicians and other employees work almost exclusively in constructing parts for aerospace systems from landing gear to electronics systems, Washington, D.C.-based spokeswoman Kelly Walsh said.

Walsh said nationwide about 85 percent of engines made by the company were sold as exports. She said the company doesn’t track export estimates for individual plants.

“The nice part of our business is we make it here, we sell it there,” Walsh said. “It’s a key economic driver for the U.S. economy.”

The plant is best known for making internal locking actuators and repeatable release holdback bars, which are used to launch military planes from aircraft carriers.

Nearly 35 percent of the plant’s products are built for the military, and the remainder are made for commercial customers.

GE Aviation, with its headquarters in Cincinnati, has about 25,000 employees nationally and 39,000 globally, Walsh said.

The company has increased its number of employees in Yakima by more than 50 in just the past three years, Walsh said. In 2010, she said there were about 250 employees compared with the 309 employees as of April.

The company would not release wage and salary information. David McFadden, CEO of the county’s economic development agency, New Vision, said GE Aviation has “some of the best wages of any manufacturer in the Valley.”

Last fall, the company announced it was seeking a buyer for the Yakima manufacturing plant, but Walsh said none has been found so far. Without delving into specifics, Walsh said the plant is up for sale because the parts it manufactures no longer fit into the company’s long-term vision for its portfolio.

Walsh said regardless of which company owns the plant, the Yakima location would always remain in the aerospace manufacturing business.

The Yakima plant has changed company hands several times since its founding in 1921 by brothers Roy, Henry and Ray Decoto.

GE Aviation first went into business building “turbosuperchargers” for military aircraft engines during World War I. The company eventually turned to the commercial sector and grew rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s.


Story and Photo:  http://www.yakimaherald.com

Lincoln, Nebraska: Cusick is lone Airport Authority candidate

Nick Cusick is the only candidate for an open seat on the Lincoln Airport Authority.

The 62-year-old co-founder and CEO of Lincoln manufacturer IMSCORP has served on the five-member board since May 2012, when he was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Dr. Ed Raines.

Once elected, Cusick will serve a six-year unpaid term on the Airport Authority, which meets once a month and is responsible for management of commercial air service, general aviation and the Air Park industrial park.

Read more here:   http://journalstar.com

Opinion: Details, if not clarity, on airport struggle -- Charlotte/Douglas International (KCLT), North Carolina

Posted: Sunday, April 28, 2013 
 

We’re still not sure exactly what led to Charlotte being on the brink of losing control of its airport, but a more palatable path forward seemed to become clearer last week.

A draft report of a city-funded study, released Thursday, recommended that Charlotte-Douglas International Airport be overseen by an independent regional authority. That would seem to be a victory for state legislators and others who’ve pushed a bill that would take the airport from the city, but he study recommends that the authority give Charlotte more representation than is currently called for in the bill.

The recommendations may offer Charlotte at least a partial salvaging of control over the airport it has run since 1935. It also may offer the appearance of compromise for legislators pushing the bill. Is it the best solution for the airport? Given what we don’t know, that’s a difficult question.

More details surrounding the airport emerged last week from former city councilman Stan Campbell, who told the Observer’s Rick Rothacker that Charlotte business leaders and U.S. Airways representative met 10 months ago to address concerns that city officials were trying to get longtime airport director Jerry Orr to retire. That meeting, Campbell says, led to an email from US Airways containing a draft of legislation that eventually led to the bill awaiting N.C. House approval.

Details, however, don’t necessarily equal clarity. The mayor says he never tried to get Orr to retire – and in fact has turned down Orr’s offers to do so. Former city manager Curt Walton isn’t talking about those conversations, and Orr isn’t talking at all. US Airways CEO Doug Parker initially told the Observer on Wednesday he wasn’t aware of an email containing draft legislation, but the company fessed up to it Friday.

Parker, in a meeting with the editorial board last month, said the airline didn’t care if Charlotte ran its airport. That apparently wasn’t true either. But Parker did make this clear: He wants to US Airways to have a substantial say about who succeeds the 72-year-old Orr, and there are strong indications the airline didn’t get assurances that would be the case from the city. If true, the city’s hubris turned disastrous.

That leaves us on the brink of a change that seems needlessly preemptive. Charlotte’s airport is among the nation’s most successful, in large part because it keeps costs low for airlines wanting to do business here. Charlotte Douglas’ cost-per-passenger is the lowest of the top 25 U.S. airports, said the draft of the study released Thursday. Its author, former US Airways vice president Bob Hazel, said the airport was “spectacularly successful.”

Still, Hazel said Charlotte Douglas would be best separated from city finances and politics. His compromise: The airport authority should include mostly appointments from Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and other local organizations. Surrounding counties should have limited representation, he said. The state doesn’t need any.

We still believe a regional authority removes a level of accountability that comes with having the airport supervised by an elected city council. But with the city appearing to be on the losing end of a old-school power play, we hope lawmakers take Hazel’s advice and make this unnecessary change a little more purposeful.

Source:  http://www.charlotteobserver.com

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Boulder owes man $260K for airport agreement, jury rules: City plans to appeal verdict concerning runway access

 
Barry Barnow, photographed in 2012, looks for air traffic as he prepares to taxi his plane across the end of the runway at the Boulder Municipal Airport to his property via an over 50 year old easement in Boulder.
 ( MARK LEFFINGWELL )


A Boulder County jury ruled this week the city of Boulder must pay almost $260,000 to nix a longstanding agreement with a Boulder man that allows him to access the Boulder Municipal Airport from his nearby property. 
 
After a four-day trial, the jury ruled that the city owes Barry Barnow, a pilot and owner of Boulder Valley Aviation, $259,900 for the access to the airport he has from his property at 5864 Rustic Knolls Drive.

"My interpretation is the jury was trying to tell the city something about their behavior throughout the process over these past six years," Barnow said Friday.

Barnow said he was "happy,' with Thursday's verdict, which comes after a long battle between him and the city over a "through the fence" agreement attached to the property, which Barnow bought in 2006. The city said the agreement -- which allows the property owner to taxi an aircraft directly to the airport runway -- posed a safety concern and did not comply with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines

After Barnow rejected both a $10,000 offer for the access agreement and a $350,000 offer for the entire property, the city decided to take the case to condemnation trial.

"We took this action because we wanted to make sure we complied with safety standards and in general with FAA rules and regulations," said Sarah Huntley, a spokeswoman with the city of Boulder. "We're definitely disappointed with the verdict. We believe the 'through the fence' agreement raises significant safety questions that we and the FAA have been seeking to address."

In 2009, the FAA decided that all such agreements should be eliminated, due to safety concerns. After some public outcry, the FAA created an interim policy that allows the use of the agreements as long as airports submit proof that the access meets federal requirements. That proof is required in order for airports such as Boulder's to receive FAA funds.

The city said in order for Barnow's agreement to meet regulations, it would have to build a taxiway from his property to the airport, so decided to instead take the matter to trial. The city valued the agreement's worth at $5,000 while Barnow estimated it's worth at $270,000.

"The city had maintained and still maintains, the 'through the fence' agreement did not contribute any value to the property." Huntley said. "The cost of building a taxiway to use the easement was over $1 million and that was cost-prohibitive."

Huntley said the city is considering an appeal. City attorneys said Boulder District Judge Maria Berkenkotter prevented the city from bringing in FAA experts to testify to the safety concerns of the agreement, but did allow Barnow's attorneys to call a former FAA employee who presented a dissenting opinion.

"We believe a ruling the judge made before this case went to trial had a significant impact on the jury's deliberation," Huntley said. "At this point we will look carefully at the ruling, and look very carefully at the law and make a decision probably by the end of May about whether we are going to appeal this ruling."

Barnow said he felt the judge's rulings were fair.

"I think she ran the trial with great expertise," he said of Berkenkotter.

In the meantime, the city has taken immediate possession of the access. Should the city decide not to appeal the case or lose the appeal, it will buy the access from Barnow for the $259,900.

"The city felt that it was necessary because of the immediate safety concerns," Huntley said. "If we are unable to prevail in an appeal or choose not to appeal, the city will purchase that agreement at that cost."

Story and Reaction/Comments:  http://www.dailycamera.com

Marsh Blaze Near Ferry Fought from Land, Air

NORTH CAPE MAY -- About 20 acres of marshland on or near the Cape May-Lewes Ferry property burned April 27.

Fighting the blaze on the ground were firefighters from Town Bank Fire Department, New Jersey Forest Fire Service.

Erma Fire Department at the Cape May County Airport helped to refill the forest fire tanker airplane that dropped water on the blaze.

Also responding to the call was Lower Township Police Department, Delaware River and Bay Authority police and Lower Township Rescue Squad.

The blaze was contained after about 1.5 hours.

Low-flying airplane ban backers to meet in Hempstead, New York

The Town-Village Aircraft Safety Noise Abatement Committee will host a meeting on Monday to discuss concerns over low-flying planes and ways to control jet noise in communities near Kennedy Airport.

The meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Nathan L.H. Bennett Pavilion, adjacent to Hempstead Town Hall, 1 Washington St. in Hempstead Village.

Voters to decide airport millage: West Michigan Regional (KBIV), Holland, Michigan

Holland —

Voters in Zeeland and Holland charter townships will decide on May 7 whether they will raise property taxes to support the West Michigan Regional Airport on Holland's south side.

The millage request is the same in both communities. Voters are being asked to approve paying 0.1 mill. That translates to 10 cents for each $1,000 in taxable property value or about $10 per year on a home with a taxable value of $100,000. If the measure passes, property owners would begin paying this year and continue through Dec. 31, 2017.

Holland Township voters rejected a similar measure in 2008, when voters in Park Township and the cities of Holland and Zeeland approved the levy.

The money would be used for a long list of bills, from planning and marketing to operations and new construction, according to the ballot language.

Holland Township tax revenues would amount to an estimated $111,108 this year, while Zeeland Township taxpayers this year would add about $32,000.

The West Michigan Airport Authority operates the airport and can apply for federal grants based on millages.

Absentee ballots for Holland Township voters are available by calling (616) 396-2345. You must submit an application before you may receive an absentee ballot. Those who would like to be on the township's permanent absentee voter list for being 60 years or older or having disabilities can call Laurie Slater at the Township office, (616) 396-2345.

Zeeland Township voters who need an absentee ballot must pick it up personally at the township office or have it mailed to them. Call (616) 772-6701 for details.

Story and Reaction/Comments:  http://www.hollandsentinel.com

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fantasy of Flight: New schedule closes attraction Mondays-Wednesdays

 

 Fantasy of Flight, the aviation-themed attraction in Polk County, is switching to a Thursday-through-Sunday schedule, effective May 6. It will operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those days.

It will no longer be open to guests on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Previously, Fantasy of Flight was open seven days a week.

Closing on non-peak days allows the attraction to focus on development, founder Kermit Weeks said.

"By reducing our days open, we will be able to deliver more focus to our daily customers and use the closed days to focus on developing an even better product that will touch even more people," he said.

For more information, go to FantasyofFlight.com.

Altitudes Café opens at Suffolk Executive Airport (KSFQ), Virginia

Travelers and hobbyists passing through the Suffolk Executive Airport will once again be able to get a bite to eat at the airport without putting quarters in the vending machines.

Altitudes Café held its grand opening last weekend. Set in the newly remodeled terminal building, the restaurant will serve breakfast platters, sandwiches, burgers and salads. Initially set to be open on weekends only, it will expand to Fridays as the weather warms up.

Owner Raven Ford heard of the opportunity through the work of her husband, Orren Ford, who is an instructor at Skydive Suffolk. She spent lots of time at the facility and eventually met Kevin Hughes, the city’s economic development director.

“He asked me about opening the restaurant, and we just kind of went from there,” Ford said.

The restaurant is an expansion of Cravin’ Raven’s Cheesecakes, which she has operated for several years. It includes cheesecakes, birthday parties, sculpted cakes and special orders.

The airport has been without a restaurant operator since the Throttle Back Café closed.

“We’re kind of hoping it’s going to stay pretty busy,” Ford said. “But it’s going to be hard because the restaurant was closed for so long. I don’t think it will be a problem once the word gets out.”

Ford said she aims to provide good food at reasonable prices while enabling people — both fly-in and walk-in customers — to support a small business rather than eat fast food.

“We try to keep it around that same price range, but better quality food,” she said. “We’re trying to get to that point where people can go out and enjoy a meal and not take long, and it’s not something that comes in a wrapper.”

She also said she hopes to source at least some of her offerings from local farmers.

“We’re excited,” she said, speaking of herself and her business partner, Tanni Williams.

“We are so pleased to welcome Altitudes Café to the Suffolk Executive Airport,” Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson said in a press release. “For many travelers, our airport is both a welcome center and a central hub for their activities in our community. It will be a wonderful amenity for Suffolk’s fly-in visitors and guests to have dining options during their stay.”

To contact the restaurant, call 828-3512.

Story and Photo:   http://www.suffolknewsherald.com

New title, $33,000 raise, 4-year deal for Mike Dunn at Chicago/Rockford International Airport (KRFD), Illinois

 ROCKFORD — Mike Dunn got a new title and a $33,000 raise Thursday when the Greater Rockford Airport Authority approved a new four-year contract.

Dunn was named executive director of Chicago Rockford International Airport by a 3-0 voice vote. There was no discussion.

His salary: $175,000.

Commissioners Paul Cicero, Ray Wetzel and Tom Myers approved the contract. They are a quorum of the five-member board, which has two vacancies. Chairman Bharat Puri resigned in February, and Cicero said Phil Rubin resigned several weeks ago and plans to move to Florida.
Commissioners Darrin Golden and K. Edward Copeland were absent.

The airport authority will provide group life, health accident and disability insurance, and match up to $8,750 of Dunn’s contributions to a retirement plan. The airport will make all payments under the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

Dunn will get 20 vacation days and an automobile allowance of $1,000 a month. Total compensation will be about $200,000 a year.

“Mike came here with a short-term contract,” Cicero said. “We were confident he would do well and so was he.

“We’ve done a written personnel review of his first year and it was excellent on all accounts. Quite frankly, we want him to stay here.”

Dunn was hired for $142,000 in January 2012 as the director of government affairs and economic development. His contract was for one year and did not include insurance benefits.

His predecessor, Bob O’Brien, made $187,000. O’Brien and the board parted ways in March 2011.

The board did a national search to replace O’Brien, but decided none of the candidates were a good fit. They hired Dunn.

When Dunn was hired, the board said it also planned to hire an operations manager who would report directly to the board chairman. But that won’t happen.

The board also:

    Approved a reorganization that puts Dunn in charge of the operations manager and the board chairman. Dunn was the latter from 2004 to 2010.
    Appointed new officers: Cicero as chairman, Myers as vice chairman, Wetzel as treasurer and Copeland as secretary.

Story and Photo:  http://www.rrstar.com

Airport study recommends independent authority as long-term solution: Charlotte/Douglas International (KCLT), North Carolina

Airport study suggests independent authority may be long-term solution




CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 

A consultant hired by Charlotte city leaders recommends Charlotte Douglas airport remain in the city's hands for now, but that could change down the road.

"It is the hottest ticket in town -- reading this thing and going through it," councilman Andy Dulin said.

The 60-page study, obtained by Eyewitness News, cost taxpayers $150,000. State lawmakers have recently pushed a controversial plan that would take control of Charlotte Douglas away from the city and give it to a regional board.


Read the full report by clicking here.

The study praises the city's governance, saying the airport is "spectacularly successful."

"Charlotte has done a good job," Dulin said. "The authority is not a bad idea, but it's just not workable now."

Even after saying Charlotte has done a great job, in the end, the study did recommend control being handed over to an airport authority, saying a board would be less "politically involved" in airport management, function more like a corporation and keep finances separate from the city.

The authority the study talks about is very different from the one Rep. Bill Brawley introduced a bill to create.

"I think the whole state has a stake in the success of the airport," Brawley said.

The authority in the study would give more control to the city -- over picking board members -- and less to the entire region and surrounding counties.

"We would want to have the entire area that is impacted by the airport included to some extent," Brawley said.


Story and Video:  http://www.wsoctv.com

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Progress pleases Jetport authority: Cleveland Regional (KRZR), Tennessee

Much of the discussion among Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority members on Friday revolved around tidying up loose ends and working on minor discrepancies at Cleveland Regional Jetport.

One topic of discussion was the Instrument Approach Procedures scheduled for FAA publication on June 27.

Board member LeRoy Rymer Jr. said the airport opened less than three months ago and no one should expect it to be perfect at this stage.

“Frankly, I am amazed we are getting our instrument certification as quick as we are,” Rymer said. “Usually it takes a year and a half to two years to do this.”

He commended PDC Consultants for surveying the runway for the approach after the first pouring of concrete.

“I think we’re ahead of schedule. We get these little things from people and stuff like that and I tell them this is still a startup business,” he said.

“So far it has gone very, very well. I’m proud of where we are at this stage of the game.”

Fidler reported $5,700 in fuel sales on April 6 and an increase in the number of flight students.

In the first three months, the airport has sold 1,331 gallons of aviation gasoline and about 3,500 gallons of jet fuel, which equals about $21,000 of products sold in the first quarter of operation.

Fixed-base operator Taylor Newman said sales and traffic should increase as pilots discover the airport and what services are available.

An open house on April 27 is scheduled. It will include airplane rides for $15 each.

Airport Authority Chair Lynn DeVault said she was surprised no one has complained about the rainwater runoff from the storm on Wednesday.

She expressed concern that the drainage ditch where the sewer line was laid is deep enough.

“It’s not unusual to have that much runoff during construction. I was just concerned and trying to observe if the ditch seemed deep enough or not deep enough to a lay person like me,” she said.

Fidler reported the ditch is not deep enough because the dirt was simply pulled in over the sewer line with a backhoe.


Read more: Cleveland Daily Banner - Progress pleases Jetport authority

Pennsylvania lawmakers crafting new tax loophole for private aircraft

April 25, 2013

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s state sales tax code – already full of carve-outs for niche industries and special interests – is about to get a little more complicated.

The state General Assembly appears to be on the way to passing a new sales tax exemption for airplane parts and maintenance, meaning private plane sales and repair expenses would go untaxed. The change would mean a loss of $12 million dollars in tax revenue for the state General Fund.

The proposal is good news for plane owners, who might be paying thousands in 6 percent sales tax on a $50,000 repair. But some say the bill is further complicating a tax code that already gives plenty of specialized tax exemptions.

Proponents of the measure, like bill sponsor Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, said plane owners in Pennsylvania are flying their jets to other states in order to avoid paying sales tax on costly maintenance.

States like New York, Massachusetts, Ohio and Connecticut all have a partial or full sales and use tax exemption for aircraft. If Pennsylvania follows suit, it will boost a stagnant industry, Kortz said.

“The bottom line is I want people to work, make money, expand the business, and pay taxes,” Kortz said. “This will do just that in the aviation industry.”

There’s about 8,000 planes in Pennsylvania, and about 130 airports. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates planes must be inspected on a routine basis after certain numbers of hours of flying, and Kortz said this creates a built-in market for services.


Kortz faced some opposition on his proposal even within the Democratic caucus, as some felt it was favoring special interests with another tax break. The bill passed the state House with bipartisan support, though it saw 23 negative votes.

Bipartisan support also exists in the state Senate. The Democratic caucus has the exemption listed on their 2013-2014 budget plan, Sen. Dave Argall, R-Schuylkill, has a similar proposal in the works, and Kortz said he’s met with the governor’s staff to discuss the proposal.

To Kortz, the measure isn’t a tax break but a tax shift, as aviation industry jobs will balance out the lost sales tax dollars.

“If we get more tax dollars, I don’t care how we get it,” he said. “We’re stagnating in this industry.”

Read more here:  http://paindependent.com

Airport kicks off marketing campaign: Morristown Municipal (KMMU), New Jersey

HANOVER: Morristown Municipal Airport has launched a new marketing campaign, “Why Wait?” with the goal of educating the business aviation community about the convenience of MMU.

The campaign kicked off with an evening networking event and airport tour, co-sponsored with the Morris County Chamber’s Economic Development Corporation, according to a press release from the airport. Maria Sheridan, senior director of government affairs and business development, highlighted the many positive attributes of MMU, including the ability to service international flights and the airport’s proximity to New Jersey based corporate facilities.

“The Morristown Municipal Airport is a unique opportunity for corporations seeking quick and efficient executive travel. Combined with Morris County’s state-of-the-art Class A office space, the Airport provides Corporate America with international access in a suburban setting with an unparalleled quality of life,” said Jim Jones, executive director of the MCEDC.

Morristown Municipal Airport was built in 1942 and is is a general aviation airport that has served the business community for 70 years. The airport is capable of handling the largest of the fleet of business aircraft flying today, the release said.

Source:   http://www.dailyrecord.com

Another Airport Restaurant Goes Out of Business: North Central West Virginia (KCKB), Clarksburg, West Virginia

By Jeff Toquinto on April 24, 2013

Another North Central West Virginia Airport Restaurant, another one that closes its doors.

At today’s meeting of the Benedum Airport Authority – the governing body of the NCWV Airport – President Ron Watson announced that The Plane View Restaurant, which opened in September, is no longer in operations. The airport was notified of its closure April 8.

The closure is one of several involving the space reserved at the airport for an eatery since the 9/11 attacks. Prior to that, the Bland family owned and operated a restaurant that was successful for years at the terminal building. Since that time, despite the airport providing the facility at almost no cost and covering the cost of utilities, no restaurant has been able to make it.

Despite the fact no eatery has been able to make it for more than a decade, airport officials aren’t throwing in the towel. Airport Director Rick Rock is still of the belief that a restaurant is not only needed, but can prove to be viable.

“I’m not convinced that (a restaurant) can’t work,” said Rock.

Airport officials apparently aren’t convinced that one can’t work either. This morning, a request for proposal for those who may want to consider opening the space on the second floor of the terminal was published in media outlets. Proposals will be accepted until May 14 at 4 p.m.

“I think we need to see what we get from the RFPs that are out,” said Authority member Roger Diaz.

Rock said although the RFPs just went out, he has already received interest from at least one group that may want to open the space back up. In fact, Rock said he provided a recent tour of the now vacant space to a potential restaurateur.

While no one was certain if someone can make the space work, most were in agreement that doing things as have been done with recent tenants won’t work. Authority member and Marion County Commissioner Butch Tenant, who has a background in the restaurant business, said it can work, particularly if a lunch crowd can be served.

“You have to have something unique because you’re not in the downtown area,” said Tenant. “ … You’ve got to get in and be able to get out.”
Rock said that wasn’t the case with the most recent venture. He said during the early months of the operation there was plenty of individuals going to the restaurant, particularly at lunch time. However, he said comments regarding long waits at lunch time apparently led to a demise in the same traffic as the numbers decreased.

“We need someone committed to success. We need someone to have some cash involved so that they have a buy-in,” said Rock. “You need that for at least six months … I do think we have a potential game changer when it comes to restaurants.”

Who that “game changer” was, Rock did not elaborate on. He did say that airport restaurants can work as Hart Field, in Morgantown, has had a successful restaurant for years after struggling for years. Rock said the owner was committed to the business and its success.

Watson added that the airport may consider running the restaurant. That remained an option, but all involved wanted to see the response to the RFP before moving ahead.

"Hopefully we can find a person that has a reputation for good food that's good at business," said Authority member and Bridgeport Mayor  Jim Christie.


Story and Photos:  http://www.connect-bridgeport.com

Cessna 402B, My Plane LLC, N402RC: Accident occurred April 10, 2011 in Biddeford, Maine

A lawsuit says negligence led to an engine problem, which led to the pilot's death and the destruction of a house.



PORTLAND – The children of a highly decorated, retired Air Force pilot who died when his civilian plane crashed in Biddeford two years ago, and the couple whose home was destroyed by the crash, are jointly suing the companies that maintained and inspected the plane.

Edward L'Hommedieu, 71, of North Yarmouth was flying alone in the twin-engine Cessna 402B on April 10, 2011, as he approached Biddeford Municipal Airport at an altitude of about 500 feet when the plane lost partial or total power in its right engine.

The plane rapidly lost altitude and was going too slowly to stay aloft, says the lawsuit filed April 9 in Cumberland County Superior Court.

"L'Hommedieu, as an experienced pilot, would have understood that the aircraft was going to crash and that he was almost certain to die in such a crash," says the lawsuit.

The plane crashed into the home of Stephen and Kim Myers at 235 Granite St., near the Biddeford Municipal Airport, then "caught fire and became engulfed completely in flames," the lawsuit says.

"L'Hommedieu was alive and conscious subsequent to the crash" and "suffered severe and excruciating pain and discomfort prior to his death" as the plane and the house burned, the 13-page lawsuit says.

Lance Walker of the Portland law firm Norman, Hanson and DeTroy sued on behalf of L'Hommedieu's children, E. Chris L'Hommedieu and Heather Perreault, as representatives of his estate, and on behalf of the Myerses, seeking damages in a five-count complaint.

The lawsuit names as defendants nine companies that manufactured parts or maintained or inspected L'Hommedieu's plane.

"These are all companies that each did engine overhauls or they did what is called annuals, which are inspections for airworthiness," Walker said Tuesday. "When they certified it, they are certifying that it is airworthy. It's a heavy burden."

The companies are Ram Aircraft L.P. of Texas, McCauley Propeller Systems of Georgia, Maine Aviation Sales Inc. of Portland, Aircraft Maintenance of Maine Inc. of Portland, Yankee Aviation Services Inc. of Massachusetts, New England Propeller Service Inc. of Connecticut, Engine Component International Inc. of Texas, Champion Aerospace LLC of Delaware and Tom's Aircraft Maintenance Inc. of California.

Ron Caruso, president of Aircraft Maintenance of Maine, said his company did maintenance on the plane but did not work on the engine. He said his other company named in the lawsuit, Maine Aviation Sales, had no connection to the plane.

"We didn't do anything wrong," Caruso said. "We never inspected the part in question."

Caruso said he isn't surprised that his companies are named as defendants, because it is standard procedure in such lawsuits to name all of the companies that worked on a plane.

Representatives of Yankee Aviation, New England Propeller Service, Engine Components International and Tom's Aircraft said they had not been served with the lawsuit and declined comment. Phone messages left with Ram Aircraft and McCauley Propeller were not returned. No one answered the phone in several calls to Champion Aerospace.

Walker said the Myerses' home was insured and their insurance carrier is seeking to recoup its losses of as much as $500,000, claiming negligence.

L'Hommedieu's children are seeking an amount of money to be determined by a jury, claiming that their father's death was wrongful, that it was caused by negligence and that he suffered as a result.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the crash and determined in May 2012 that a combination of engine trouble and pilot error caused the crash.

L'Hommedieu's plane, built in 1977, lost power on a return trip from White Plains, N.Y., because O-rings in the engine throttle and control assembly were not properly installed, the NTSB found. The report is not admissible evidence in the lawsuit.

Walker said L'Hommedieu's children and the Myerses sued together because they agreed that pilot error was not an issue and that negligence in maintaining and inspecting the plane was the cause of the crash.

"The NTSB reports fairly frequently attribute at least partial responsibility to the pilot," Walker said. "In this case, we don't believe that was true. His airspeed and altitude were too low. He didn't have time to react."

On the day of the crash, L'Hommedieu flew from the Portland International Jetport to pick up a passenger on the island of Nantucket in Massachusetts, flew the passenger to Westchester County Airport in New York and then flew back to Biddeford, where he hoped to have dinner with a friend who lived nearby, according to the lawsuit.

L'Hommedieu began flying as a teenager, and joined the Air Force in 1964, flying B-52s and, later, FB-111s. During his 20-year Air Force career, he earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 12 Air Medals, the Cross of Gallantry and the Meritorious Service Medal.

He was a master navigator, a flight instructor and chief of operations and maintenance, according to the lawsuit.

Source:  http://www.pressherald.com

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA233
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 10, 2011 in Biddeford, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/14/2012
Aircraft: CESSNA 402B, registration: N402RC
Injuries: 1 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 multi-engine airplane was being repositioned to its base airport, and the pilot had requested to change the destination, but gave no reason for the destination change. Radar data indicated that the airplane entered the left downwind leg of the traffic pattern, flew at pattern attitude, and then performed a right approximate 250-degree turn to enter the final leg of the approach. During the final leg of the approach, the airplane crashed short of the runway into a house located in a residential neighborhood near the airport. According to the airplane's pilot operating handbook, the minimum multi-engine approach speed was 95 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS), and the minimum controllable airspeed was 82 KIAS. According to radar data, the airplane's groundspeed was about 69 knots with the probability of a direct crosswind.

Postaccident examination of the propellers indicated that both propellers were turning at a low power setting at impact. During a controlled test run of the right engine, a partial power loss was noted. After examination of the throttle and control assembly, two o-rings within the assembly were found to be damaged. The o-rings were replaced with comparable o-rings and the assembly was reinstalled. During the subsequent test run, the engine operated smoothly with no noted anomalies. Examination of the o-rings revealed that the damage was consistent with the o-rings being pinched between the corner of the top o-ring groove and the fuel inlet surface during installation. It is probable that the right engine had a partial loss of engine power while on final approach to the runway due to the damaged o-ring and that the pilot retarded the engine power to prevent the airplane from rolling to the right. The investigation found no mechanical malfunction of the left engine that would have prevented the airplane from maintaining the published airspeed.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot did not maintain minimum controllable airspeed while on final approach with a partial loss of power in the right engine, which resulted in a loss of control. Contributing to the accident was the partial loss of engine power in the right engine due to the improperly installed o-rings in the engine’s throttle and control assembly.

 HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 10, 2011, about 1815 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 402B, N402RC, was substantially damaged when it impacted a house near Biddeford, Maine. The airline transport certificated pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to My Plane, LLC, and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulation 91 as a positioning flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The airplane had departed from West Chester County Airport (HPN), White Plains, New York, about 1630.

The flight originated at Portland International Airport (PWM), Portland, Maine earlier in the day, flew to Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK), Nantucket, Massachusetts, and acquired 115.6 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel. Then picked up a passenger, flew to HPN, where the passenger disembarked, departed and the pilot was planning to land in PWM. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control transcripts, the pilot requested to change his destination to Biddeford Municipal Airport (B19), Biddeford, Maine. Radar data provided by the FAA Portland Air Traffic Control facility, revealed that the airplane overflew the south end of B19 at approximately 1,000 feet above mean sea level (msl), turned left, as if entering the left downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern. Then, approximately 2 miles from the approach end of runway 24, the airplane was observed, on radar, turning right about 250 degrees, and then a slight left turn in the direction of B19. The last radar data was recorded for the accident flight at 1804:29 and was in the vicinity of the accident location. The data indicated an altitude of 400 feet msl and a ground speed of 69 knots.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

According to FAA records, the pilot, age 71, held an Airline Transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multiengine land, commercial pilot privilege for airplane single-engine land, and a certificated flight instructor with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued February 4, 2011, and at the time of the examination the pilot reported 5,010 total hours of flight experience. According to a resume provided to the pilot's employer in August 2010, the pilot reported 4,735 total hours of civilian flight time as well as military navigator flight time. The resume also indicated 120 flight hours in the accident aircraft make and model. At the time of this writing no pilot logbooks had been located.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1977 and registered to the owner on October 18, 2000. It was equipped with two Continental Motors TSIO-520 series engines. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was dated on August 21, 2010. At the time of the inspection the reported aircraft total time was 6,624.5 time in service and a Hobbs time of 4,554.1 hours. At the time of the inspection the engines had 359.0 hours since overhaul. The most recent maintenance logbook entry was March 21, 2011, and indicated a Hobbs time of 4,567.2 hours. The Hobbs meter was not located in the wreckage.


METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1815 recorded weather observation at Sanford Regional Airport (SFM), Sanford, Maine, located approximately 16 miles to the southwest of the accident location, included wind from 150 degrees at 8 knots with gusts of 15 knots, the wind direction was variable from 100 degrees to 160 degrees, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 14 degrees C, dew point minus 2 degrees C; barometric altimeter 30.03 inches of mercury.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The airport was equipped with a single runway oriented northeast to southwest and designated as 06/24. The runway was 3000-feet-long and 75-feet-wide, constructed of asphalt, was equipped with a 4-box visual approach slope indicator (VASI) on the left side of runway 6; however, no visual slope indicators were available to runway 24. The airport did not have an air traffic control tower. Communication was accomplished utilizing a common traffic advisory frequency; however, it was not recorded. The airport was served by two approaches to runway 6; however, runway 24 was the preferred calm wind runway.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane impacted four trees varying in diameter from 3.2 inches to 8.75 inches and at a height of approximately 25 feet. The airplane came to rest on the roof of a single story residence that was located approximately 1,491 feet to the northeast of the runway 24 threshold. A post crash fire ensued engulfing the airplane. The left wing was thermally damaged and the outboard section of the wing was located on top of the roof. The left engine was located inside the residence. The right wing and engine were visible above the roof line. The airplane nose section, cabin, and empennage sections were thermally damaged. Portions of all flight controls were located at the accident location.

Examination of the wreckage indicated that the right main landing gear remained attached to the right wing attach point, and was in the down and locked position. The left main and nose gear were separated from the airframe and located within the residence.

The left wing's leading edge exhibited impact damage and the diameter of the damage was similar in dimensions to the diameter of the trees that were initially impacted. The left aileron was consumed by post impact fire. The fuel caps were secured and in place. The fuel tank selector handle located in the cockpit was found in the auxiliary tank position and the fuel valve located in the wing was found between the main and auxiliary tank position. The fuel strainer and filter were thermally damaged and had an area of corrosion in the bottom of the strainer approximately 30 degrees of coverage.

The right wing's aileron was separated and in the vicinity of the right wing. The right wing's outboard section approximately 2 feet inside the main fuel tank, located at the wingtip, was fractured but remained attached to the wing structure. The right main fuel tank was impact damaged near the leading edge of the tank. The right fuel tank selector handle, which was located in the cockpit and the fuel valve located in the wing, were in the main fuel tank position. The fuel strainer was removed from the wing and contained aviation gasoline, the filter was free of debris. The fuel strainer was noted as having an area of corrosion located in the bottom of the strainer and was approximately 30 degrees of coverage and was similar in appearance as the left fuel strainer.

The wing flaps were found in the extended position and were verified by the flap motor chain position located under the cabin floor. Continuity was confirmed from the flap motor to the flap actuator. The right wing flap remained attached to the wing, the left wing flap mechanism remained attached; however, the flap skin was consumed by post impact fire.

The cockpit seats were separated and thermally damaged. Four of the five cabin seat frames remained attached to the cabin floor except for the most aft cabin seat which was located with portions of the flooring still attached to the seat feet.

Rudder continuity was confirmed from the rudder pedals to the rudder horn. The rudder counter weight was located in the wreckage in the vicinity of the empennage. Aileron continuity was confirmed from the cabin chain on the control columns to the aileron sector and then from the aileron sector to both ailerons bell cranks. The aileron sector was impact damaged in the positive direction. The aileron counter weights were located in the vicinity of the associated wing or attached to the wing. Elevator continuity was confirmed from the elevator horn to the swaged end of the cable. The right elevator counter weight remained attached; however, due to thermal damage the left counter weight could not be located.

The stall switch, located in the left wing, was removed and inspected; however, the internal mechanism was damaged and was found in the closed circuit position.

Left Engine

The engine and propeller assembly exhibited impact and thermal damage. The exhaust assembly including the turbocharger, controller, and wastegate assembly were separated from the engine and were located with the main wreckage. The wastegate actuator housing had extensive thermal damage and only the internal components were visible. The cylinders were thermal and impact damaged. The fuel system including the fuel manifold valve, fuel control, and lines had extensive thermal damage. The magnetos and ignition leads had thermal damage. The induction assembly had thermal damage. The induction elbows and air throttle assembly were not found during the inspection. The upper spark plugs were removed and had light gray to dark deposits. The cylinders were boroscoped and the combustion chambers were undamaged. The valves heads were undamaged and had normal thermal discoloration. The oil filler cap had thermal discoloration and damage. No oil was indicated on the engine oil dipstick.

Right Engine

The right engine remained partially attached with impact damage to the left aft mount leg. The engine was removed and the exhaust had impact damage. The exhaust wye-duct was torn and the left section remained attached to the impact damaged wing section. The propeller assembly had impact damage and was removed from the engine. The oil and fuel lines remained attached. The induction assembly was crushed and the No. 6 cylinder riser separated near the cylinder attachment. The fuel manifold valve was undamaged and disassembled. The diaphragm and retaining nut were undamaged and secure. The manifold valve cavity had fuel present and the screen was free of debris. The fuel control was undamaged and the linkages moved freely by hand. The fuel control inlet screen was removed and was free of debris. Approximately 2 ounces of fuel dripped from the fuel control inlet screen port. The upper spark plugs were removed and had light gray deposits. The cylinders were boroscoped and the combustion chambers were undamaged. The valve heads were undamaged and had normal thermal discoloration. The crankshaft was rotated by hand through the upper right accessory mount drive. Gear continuity was obtained to the crankshaft propeller flange and magneto drives. Compression was obtained from each cylinder. The ignition leads were undamaged and spark was obtained from the spark plug connections. The oil filler cap was undamaged and no oil was indicated on the engine oil dipstick.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on April 11, 2011, by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Augusta, Maine. The autopsy listed the cause of death as "smoke inhalation and thermal burns."

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot. The report stated 12 percent carbon monoxide, no cyanide or ethanol was detected in the blood, and Quinine was detected in the blood.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Engine Examination

The engines were sent to the Continental Motors facility in Mobile, Alabama manufacturers facility for examination. It was determined that the left engine exhibited thermal damage and was unable to be placed on a test stand and ran. The left engine was disassembled and no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures were found that would have precluded normal operation.

The right engine was examined and mounted on an engine test stand, and a test club propeller was installed. Approximately 20 minutes into the test the engine sustained a partial loss of power. Utilization of the manual primer restored engine power; however, when the primer was not used the engine would incur a partial power loss. No leaks were noted and the engine was shut down. The engine driven fuel pump was removed and placed on a test bench; the test results indicated that when compared to normal tolerance allowed by a new pump the accident airplane's pump would produce adequate to high pressure. The accident pump was reinstalled. The engine was restarted and subsequently backfired and sustained a partial loss of power. The engine was shut down and fuel was utilized from a temporary fuel tank; however, during operation the engine continued to sustain a partial power loss. The fuel screen was examined and free of contaminants. The throttle body assembly was removed and a replacement assembly was attached. The engine was started and operated smoothly at various power settings and was subjected to several rapid accelerations and decelerations. The engine responded to the power changes smoothly and without any noticeable delay.

Right Engine Throttle and Control Assembly

The Throttle and Control Assembly was examined and no noticeable malfunctions were noted. The unit was placed on a test stand, tested, and was classified as a "failed test." The unit was disassembled revealing the four o-rings on the cam, inside the unit. The cam was determined to be a -11 and according to manufacturers guidance should have been a -8 unit. The o-rings were examined and two of the o-rings had noticeable "flat spots" around the outer circumference. The o-rings were retained and sent to the NTSB's Materials Laboratory. Four new o-rings were installed; the unit was reassembled, and reattached to the accident engine for another test run. The engine started and idled smoothly with no noticeable malfunctions, accelerated to numerous power settings, including full power, with no noticeable indication of power loss. The engine was further subjected to several decelerations and accelerations and performed smoothly without hesitations.

Propellers

The propellers were removed from the engine and shipped to McCauley Propeller Systems the manufacturers facility for examination. The examination took place on July 12, 2011 at the propeller manufacturers facility in Wichita, Kansas and Federal oversight was provided by an inspector with the FAA. The examination revealed that propeller damage was consistent with impact damage and no evidence was noted of any indications of propeller failure prior to impact. Both propellers had evidence of rotation at the time of impact and were being operated under conditions of low power. Impact signature markings indicated that both propellers were operating at or near the low pitch position at the time of impact, and the feather stop mechanisms were undamaged. Blade bending, twisting, and damage on both propellers were consistent with low power at impact.

O-Rings

The two o-rings from the right engine throttle and control assembly were sent to the NTSB's Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C. for further examination. Both o-rings were examined utilizing a stereomicroscope. One o-ring had two semi-circular cuts; however, no material was missing from the damaged area and no mechanism was identified that could have caused the damage. The other o-ring was damaged in two areas of the outer diameter, material was missing from the damaged areas and the damage was consistent with the o-ring being pinched between the corner of the top o-ring groove and the fuel inlet surface during installation. For more information, the Materials Laboratory Report is located in the docket for this accident.

According to a right engine log book entry dated 02/16/04, several engine accessories were exchanged for remanufactured units; however, no reference to the Throttle and Control Assembly being changed was found in the logbook. According to the Authorized Certificate Release form the throttle controller unit was overhauled on 02/04/04. Based on the information from the last airframe logbook entry, the right engine Throttle and Control Assembly had accumulated more than 372.1 flight hours.

Pilot's Operating Handbook

According to Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) and FAA Approved Airplane Flight Manual (AFM), Section 4, Normal Procedures "Before Landing" checklist for the accident airplane model states in part "…Wing Flaps – Down 45° below 140 KIAS [knots indicated airspeed]… Minimum Multi-Engine Approach Speed – 95 KIAS at 6200 pounds … Air Minimum Control Speed – 82 KIAS."

According to the POH/AFM, Section 5 "Performance" the lowest aircraft weight provided by the "Normal Landing Distance" chart was 4300 pounds and a "Speed at 50-Foot Obstacle" was 79 KIAS.

Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25)

According to the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25), minimum control speed (Vmc) is defined as "the minimum flight speed at which a light, twin-engine airplane can be satisfactorily controlled when an engine suddenly becomes inoperative and the remaining engine is at takeoff power."

Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A)

The Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A), Chapter 12 "Transition to Multiengine Airplanes", states in part "If an engine fails below Vmc while airborne, directional control is not possible with the remaining engine producing takeoff power…the final approach should be made with power and at a speed recommended by the manufacturer…but in no case less than critical engine-out minimum control speed (Vmc)…"