Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Luscombe 8A Silvaire, N45923: Accident occurred January 02, 2013 in Oceano, California

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA083
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 02, 2013 in Oceano, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/20/2015
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8A, registration: N45923
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.

Witnesses reported that they observed the airplane flying low above the beach before it ascended abruptly. When the airplane was about 150 to 200 feet above the ground, the ascent stopped, and the airplane then descended in a nose low attitude to ground impact. Witnesses also reported that the engine sounded normal during the accident sequence. Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. 

The pilot had a reported history of marijuana abuse. Toxicology testing on the pilot was positive for tetrahydrocannabinol at levels that indicate he was likely impaired during the flight. This impairment likely affected the pilot’s ability to maintain airplane control and his decision to begin a low-level flight maneuver at an altitude that was not sufficient for recovery before impact with the ground. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control and his improper decision to begin a low-level maneuver at an altitude that was not sufficient for recovery before ground impact. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s impairment from marijuana use.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 2, 2013, about 1605 Pacific standard time, a Luscombe 8A, N45923, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain about 2 miles south of the Oceano County Airport (L52), Oceano, California. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 local personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from L52 at an unknown time. 

Witnesses reported that they observed the airplane flying low above the beach when it ascended abruptly. When the airplane was approximately 150-200 feet above the ground, it appeared to stop and descended abruptly before it impacted the sand dunes below. The witnesses did not see the initial impact, but they observed the airplane bounce. Witnesses reported that the engine sounded normal during the accident sequence. 

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

At the time of the accident, the pilot, age 56, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single- and multi-engine land privileges. The pilot also held an airframe and powerplant mechanics certificate. The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second class medical was issued on October 1, 2012 with the restriction that he must possess glasses for near and intermediate vision. During his examination, the pilot reported he had a total of 7,000 flight hours, 185 of which were within the six months preceding the examination. The pilot's logbooks were not located.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The two-seat, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number 2450, was manufactured in 1946. It was powered by a Continental Motors A-65-8, 65 horsepower engine and was equipped with a fixed-pitch propeller. The airplane's maintenance logbooks were not located. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The nearest weather reporting station, San Luis Obispo Regional Airport (SBP), located approximately 10 miles north of the accident site reported at 1756, calm wind, 10 statute miles of visibility, clear skies, temperature 17 degrees C, dewpoint -6 degrees C, and an altimeter reading of 30.08 inches of mercury. 

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT


The wreckage debris path was approximately 720 feet long with a heading of about 19 degrees. The first identified point of impact was a divot on the ridge of a sand dune that was consistent with a tire mark. Almost immediately following the initial point of impact was an about 8 foot by 3 foot section of heavily disrupted sand, with three foot wide sliding marks extending toward an approximate 2 foot by 6 inch impact point. After the impact point, there was about 7 feet of undisturbed sand followed by the main wreckage, which was a total of about 120 feet beyond the first point of impact. The final piece of debris was a wheel that was located about 600 feet beyond the main wreckage on the other side of a second sand dune. 

Examination of the main wreckage revealed that the airplane came to rest in a nose low attitude. The forward fuselage sustained extensive crush damage, and the cabin area came to rest on top of the engine. The aft fuselage and empennage were still attached by the airplane's belly skin; however, it was folded underneath the airplane's wings and came to rest inverted in the sand. The empennage sustained minimal damage. The left and right horizontal stabilizers had a different paint scheme from the rest of the yellow empennage and airframe. The wings were still attached to the cabin and mostly intact; both wings sustained leading edge crushing throughout. Evidence of corrosion was noted at the wing spar attachment points and scattered throughout the remainder of the airframe. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to their respective flight control surfaces. 

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The autopsy was performed on the pilot by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff – Coroner Office in San Luis Obispo, California. The cause of death was sharp force injury and the autopsy noted that the pilot had an enlarged heart. Toxicology testing detected tetrahydrocannabinol in lung (0.0485 ug/ml), liver (0.011 ug/ml), and blood (0.0062 ug/ml). Tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid, was detected in urine (0.0965 ug/ml), liver (0.0369 ug/ml), blood (0.0067 ug/ml), and lung (0.0053 ug/ml).

The pilot had a history of cannabis abuse with a positive Department of Transportation required random test in 1999. The FAA had evaluated his history and determined him to be eligible for a second class medical certificate in 2003 and thereafter. Although additional random drug tests were recommended, they were not performed. 

For more detailed information see the Medical Factual Report located in the accident docket. 

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Engine Examination


The engine was removed from the firewall and slung from a hoist. Initial visual inspection of the recovered engine revealed no visual anomalies. The cylinder rocker covers and spark plugs were removed; the spark plug electrode areas were consistent with 'worn out - normal' when compared to the Champion AV-27 chart. The valves were undamaged and contained no abnormal thermal discoloration. When the propeller was rotated by hand, thumb compression was established on all cylinders, all valves moved in sequence and had similar amounts of lift, and the accessory gears rotated. The carburetor was fracture separated at the throttle plate neck; both pieces of the carburetor were removed from the engine. Sand was found inside of the carburetor and was consistent with the sand on scene. Both the throttle and mixture levers moved freely from stop to stop when manipulated by hand. The carburetor bowl was removed; there was no fuel in the carburetor bowl or the undamaged metal float. The oil screen was removed and contained some carbon flakes.


http://registry.faa.gov/N45923 

http://www.parks.ca.gov

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA083
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 02, 2013 in Oceano, CA
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8A, registration: N45923
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 January 2, 2013, about 1605 pacific standard time, a Luscombe 8A, N45923, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain about 2 miles south of the Oceano County Airport (L52), Oceano, California. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 local personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from L52 at an unknown time.

Witnesses reported that the airplane was circling and maneuvering at a low altitude around the beach area when they observed it ascend abruptly. Approximately 150-200 feet above the ground, the airplane appeared to stop, make a sharp turn and descend at an approximately 55 degree angle. The airplane appeared to start to level off when it impacted the top of a sand dune. Witnesses observed the airplane bounce before it went out of sight.

The airframe and engine have been moved to a secure location for further examination.

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/01/03/2345140/oceano-dunes-plane-crash.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/01/03/2345140/oceano-dunes-plane-crash.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/01/03/2345140/oceano-dunes-plane-crash.html#storylink=cpy
IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 45923        Make/Model: L8        Description: 8, T8, 50, MASTER, SILVAIRE, OBSERVER
  Date: 01/03/2013     Time: 0004

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

LOCATION
  City: OCEANO   State: CA   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, THE 1 PERSON ON BOARD WAS 
  FATALLY INJURED, NEAR OCEANO, CA

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


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: SAN JOSE, CA  (WP15)                  Entry date: 01/03/2013 


 
Glen Ray



 
Glen Ray




Oceano Dunes plane crash victim remembered for 'heart of gold' 

 The man who died in the Oceano Dunes while flying his single-engine vintage aircraft was “a consummate pilot” with “one of the biggest hearts you’d ever want to meet,” several friends said Thursday.

Glen Philip Ray, 56, died Wednesday following the 4:05 p.m. crash. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office released his name Thursday, and said he died as a result of sharp force trauma injuries.

Ray, a Grover Beach resident, was the registered owner of the 1946 single-engine, two-seat Luscombe 8A that he was piloting on Wednesday afternoon. It’s still unknown from which airport Ray had departed and where he was headed.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, with the NTSB taking the lead on the investigation. Further information about the cause is not expected until mid-January.

 But one thing is clear — Ray loved to fly. He was the registered owner of two aircraft, the Luscombe and a 1939 single-engine Monocoupe 90A, according to an FAA registry.

 Most of the photos on his Facebook page are of planes. During his life, friends said, he flew commercial cargo planes, restored planes and took side jobs working on all types of aircraft. And he flew daily, said friend Teri Bayus, who met Ray in 1998 when she owned a mailing and shipping business on Price Street.

“I know the plane he crashed he had been working on a long time,” she said.
Bayus and friend Frank Lindsay remembered Ray’s wonderful sense of humor, his “heart of gold,” and his love of bikes and beach volleyball.

For years, Ray shied away from owning a car, preferring to get around instead by bike.

For about 10 years, Ray lived on the Price Historical Park property, taking care of the grounds and ensuring that transients or curious teenagers didn’t damage the property, said Lindsay, former president of Friends of Price House.

At the same time, Ray helped homeless people living in Price Canyon fix their bikes, and in exchange they agreed to help keep an eye on the property, Lindsay said.

“We even had a Thanksgiving dinner out there for the homeless one year,” Lindsay said. “He was an amazing person who embraced everyone as being equal.”

Ray’s friends said he once worked for NASA, as a hydraulics engineer on the Space Shuttle Challenger project in the 1980s. A NASA spokesman said the agency doesn’t have readily available records to verify Ray’s work history.

Lindsay said Ray also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Ray’s Facebook profile describes him as an “aerospace engineer, aerospace technologist, commercial heavy multiengine pilot, human power advocate, beach volleyball fanatic, luscombe lunatic, blue water sloop racing, and lover of life.”

“He was a Renaissance man,” Bayus said.

More recently, Ray had gone to the Santa Rosa area to care for his father, who was ill. He returned to San Luis Obispo County after his father died.

Ray is survived by a son, who lives in Northern California. Friends are planning to hold a service locally within the next week or two.

In the meantime, the NTSB will continue its work, with air safety investigator Howard Plagens studying the accident scene. Plagens will secure the scene, preserve any perishable evidence, collect all electronic devices and visually document the crash scene, said Eric Weiss, a NTSB spokesman.

A preliminary report will be filed 10 business days after the accident on the NTSB website but determining the likely cause of the plane crash could take more than a year, he said.

After the initial report is complete, a more extensive examination is done on the “man, the machine and the environment,” Weiss said. At the end, a clear picture of what exactly happened from when the flight took off to when it ended will emerge.

Though it’s still unknown where Ray planned to land, the aircraft was pointing toward the Oceano County Airport, said Craig Angello, whose family owns Angello’s ATV Rentals.

Angello is also a captain with the Five Cities Fire Authority but was not on duty when he heard information about the crash on a police scanner.

He responded to see if he could help. By the time he arrived, state parks rangers were on scene and performing CPR, he said. Firefighters with the Five Cities Fire Authority also responded.
Angello walked around the plane to make sure it wasn’t a fire hazard. He noticed the battery was located about 50 to 60 feet from the wreckage. The aircraft itself “was completely destroyed, folded in half essentially,” he said. 

Story and Photos:   http://www.sanluisobispo.com

Friends remember Grover Beach man killed in plane crash at Oceano Dunes 

 "We are desperately looking for the details from the FAA and the examiner so that we can piece together what happened because it is such a tragic loss for us all," said Jolie Lucas, cofounder of Friends of Oceano Airport.

The Central Coast aviation community mourns the loss of Glen Philip Ray, 56, who was killed Wednesday in a plane crash on the Oceano Dunes.

"He just loved flying that airplane," said Lucas, who was describing Ray's Luscombe 8A, a two-seater vintage tail dragger.

"He was at Oceano a lot at Lompoc and Santa Maria. Just having good fun," said Lucas.
He soared above the Central Coast a few times per week and friends said his talent and passion were sky-high.

"He was an exquisite mechanic, a very skilled pilot. He had a great sense of humanity and wonderful sense of humor," said Lucas.

Lucas said Ray was father and a brother.

"What comes to mind is the ear to ear smile. A lover of life. Loved to help you and would do anything for you," said Lucas.

Friends and family are left with many unanswered questions about the crash, but there is no question about his legacy.

"Glen would tell us to remember him with a smile on our face and to keep flying and loving aviation. And we didn't want to lose him, but he went out doing what he loves to do and that's flying that plane," said Lucas.

People headed to Pismo Beach Thursday afternoon to pay their respects to Ray.

Two investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were at the Oceano Dunes Thursday trying to figure out what caused the deadly crash, but no information has been released.

Ray was the only person onboard the aircraft when it went down.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said he died as a result of sharp force trauma injuries.

Story and Video:  http://www.ksby.com


A single engine two seat plane went down just after 4 p.m. Wednesday on the 
Oceano Dunes State Park south of Pismo Beach. Local Authorities confirm that the pilot was the only person on board, and he died on scene. The pilot's identity is not being released at this time.

CAL Fire, San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department, the CHP and State Parks all responded. The plane was a single engine, Luscombe 8a - a two-seat high-wing plane designed in 1937.

Officer Tony Cippola of the San Luis Obispo Sheriffs Dept tells us the pilot did not die on impact. CPR was administered but was not successful.

Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, is a park in SLO County where dune buggies and motorcycles are ridden on the beach. The crash site was more than a mile inland from the beach with limited access-- it's in an area where recreational activity is not permitted

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating


Story, photo, reaction/comments:   http://www.ksby.com

Story and reaction/comments:    http://www.sanluisobispo.com

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.: The plane that crashed at the Oceano Dunes is a single-engine vintage Luscombe 8A, according Ian Gregor, FAA spokesman for the Pacific Division. 

 The pilot, the only person on board, died in the crash. His identity has not yet been released.

The plane crashed for unknown reasons into the sand dunes east of post 14 around 4 p.m.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident, with the NTSB acting as the lead investigative agency. Determining a cause for the accident could take months, Gregor said.

Original story: One person was killed after a two-seater aircraft crashed in the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area this afternoon.

A Cal Fire official confirmed that one person has died in the crash, which was reported about 4:10 p.m. No one else was in the aircraft when it went down near post 14.

The plane is leaking some fuel, and county environmental health officials are also responding to the scene.

Piper PA-60-602P Aerostar, Managed Aviation Inc., N3AG: Accident occurred January 02, 2013 in North Las Vegas, Nevada

http://registry.faa.gov/N3AG


NTSB Identification: WPR13LA082
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 02, 2013 in North Las Vegas, NV
Aircraft: PIPER PA-60-602P, registration: N3AG
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 2, 2013, about 1615 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-60-602P, N3AG, veered off the runway during landing at North Las Vegas, Nevada. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot receiving instruction and the certified flight instructor (CFI) were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage from a post-crash fire. The local instructional flight departed North Las Vegas at an undetermined time. Visual meteorological (VMC) conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot was practicing simulated single-engine landings with the CFI on board. During landing, a main landing gear collapsed, and the airplane veered off the runway into the infield. The pilot and CFI egressed, and then the airplane caught fire.



IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 3AG        Make/Model: PA60      Description: PIPER PA 60
  Date: 01/03/2013     Time: 0014

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

LOCATION
  City: NORTH LAS VEGAS   State: NV   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT ON LANDING WENT OFF THE RUNWAY AND CAUGHT FIRE, NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV

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


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Landing      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: LAS VEGAS, NV  (WP19)                 Entry date: 01/03/2013 



 Norman B. Ivans might want to think twice before he tries to land another airplane at the North Las Vegas Airport during the first week of January - if the Federal Aviation Administration lets him fly at all. 

 Ivans was at the controls of the twin-engine Piper Aerostar that crash-landed and then burned Wednesday at Nevada's second-busiest airport .

He was flying a different twin-engine Piper Aerostar when it crash-landed at North Las Vegas on Jan. 5, 2012 - exactly 363 days from one crash to the next.

"That was me," Ivans confirmed Monday when asked whether he was at the controls Wednesday when the Aerostar with tail number N3AG skidded off the runway. He and his passenger, flight instructor Gary A. Marsh, escaped serious injury before flames engulfed the cabin.

The latest crash was strikingly similar to the 2012 accident. According to a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report, Ivans was trying to land his Piper Aerostar, tail number N104RM, at about 4 p.m. at the North Las Vegas Airport.

"Shortly after touchdown, the airplane veered to the left and departed the runway. It then veered right, crossed the runway and came to rest adjacent to it," the report said.

"Both wing tips were bent up, the left wing's fuel tank was compromised, and the fuselage had several holes in it," according to the report by investigator-in-charge James F. Struhsaker.

Ivans was alone in the plane and was not injured in the 2012 crash. The report, updated on Jan. 17, 2012, was still listed as "preliminary" Monday on the safety board's website. No probable cause for the crash was listed.

The preliminary report on last week's accident was not yet posted late Monday.

Standing inside the front door of his home in northwest Las Vegas, Ivans said he has been flying "close to 40 years" and attributed last week's crash to "a mechanical failure." He declined further comment about that, saying he is "involved with litigation."

FAA records show Ivans held a private pilot certificate issued in 2006 for single- and multi-engine aircraft over land, with required corrective lenses.

Ivans said kept his private pilot's license after last year's crash, but it was restricted to student pilot privileges, meaning he isn't allowed to carry passengers other than a certified flight instructor. Marsh, the flight instructor on board Wednesday, didn't respond to a call requesting comment.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor in an email said Ivans "physically turned in his private pilot certificate to the Las Vegas Flight Standards Office. He has a temporary, student certificate.

"As a result of the 2012 accident, we required Mr. Ivans to be re-examined by an FAA inspector to prove he is proficient at operating a Piper Aerostar."

How last week's crash will factor in the FAA's judgment remains to be seen. Calls to a National Transportation Safety Board investigator assigned to Wednesday's crash weren't returned Monday.

While no one was injured in either accident, crashing Piper Aerostars is expensive .

The six-seat plane destroyed last week was registered to Managed Aviation Inc., a Nevada corporation that lists Ivans as sole officer and director. Made in 1983, the Aerostar Superstar 700 model was offered for sale last year at $425,000 on an Aerostar aircraft website.

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









 





LAS VEGAS (AP) — Authorities say two people escaped serious injury in a small twin-engine aircraft crash at North Las Vegas Airport.

Airport spokesman Chris Jones says the Aerostar aircraft skidded off a runway and caught fire shortly after 4 p.m., but two people on board were able to get away before flames engulfed the cabin.

It wasn't immediately clear whether they received other injuries.

North Las Vegas Fire Capt. Cedric Williams says fire crews were responding to the fire at the busy general aviation airport a little under 8 miles northwest of downtown Las Vegas.

News 3's Mackenzie Warren is at the scene and gathering more information.


LAS VEGAS -- Crews have extinguished a fire that destroyed a twin-engine aircraft that broke out in flames after a hard landing at North Las Vegas Airport.

 Fire crews were seen about 4:20 p.m. Wednesday attempting to put out the flames, using a purple fire retardant.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the Piper Aerostar aircraft skidded off a runway after landing about 4:15 p.m. The plane came to rest and caught fire.

The two people on board were able to get away before flames engulfed the cabin, Las Vegas Fire spokesman Tim Szymanski said.

It wasn't immediately clear whether they received other injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash landing, Gregor said. The NTSB is not expected to have a probable cause of what caused the crash for months, he said.

Cirrus SR22 GTS G3 Turbo, VH-WYH: Accident occurred November 21, 2012 in Gilgandra, central New South Wales - Australia

Engine failure involving a Cirrus SR22, VH-WYH, 7 km S Gilgandra (ALA), NSW, 21 November 2012 
 
Investigation number: AO-2012-154
Investigation status: Completed

On 21 November 2012, at about 1055 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a Cirrus SR22 aircraft, registered VH-WYH, departed Emerald, Queensland for Dubbo, New South Wales, on a private flight conducted under the instrument flight rules. The pilot and one passenger were on board.

At about 1122, the oil pressure annunciator light illuminated, the engine oil pressure indicated 30 pounds per square inch. As the oil pressure continued to slowly drop, the pilot became increasingly concerned and, tracked via Gilgandra, New South Wales. At 1401, the engine failed the pilot turned the aircraft towards Gilgandra aerodrome. It became evident that a landing at Gilgandra aerodrome was not achievable and at about 1405, the pilot deployed the ballistic parachute. The aircraft impacted the ground the pilot received minor injuries and the passenger was uninjured.

The pilot reported that the oil pressure indication dropped very gradually giving a false sense of security and that he normally maintained the oil level between 5 and 5 ½ quarts.

The engine was removed and a detailed examination did not identify any external oil leaks or internal defects that were not attributed to a lack of oil.

The pilots operating handbook recommends that the engine should not be operated with less than six quarts of oil. Seven quarts is recommended for extended flights.

The accident highlights the importance of understanding the information contained in the manufacturers publications.


http://www.atsb.gov.au


 
 Prime7 News Central West 
Thanks to Malcolm Monson for this photo from the plane crash near Gilgandra on November 21, 2012


December 27, 2012

When a pilot suffered engine failure above Gilgandra, in central NSW, last month, he activated an unusual safety system.

The system saved his life and that of his passenger.

Businessman John Nixon was flying a single-engine Cirrus SR22-G3, a US-built aircraft equipped with a parachute that shoots out the back in an emergency.

The parachute is not worn by the occupants but is attached to the frame of the aircraft, lowering it to the ground wheels first.

Mr Nixon had flown from Emerald in Queensland on November 21 and was only about 60km short of Dubbo, his destination, when he encountered an oil pressure problem.

Less than a minute later, the plane, owned by a friend, had landed upright in a paddock.

Both occupants walked from the crash-landing, although Mr Nixon suffered a black eye after kneeing himself in the face upon landing.

It was the first time the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) had been deployed in Australia.

Mr Nixon, who has 1950 hours flying experience, said he was reluctant to talk about the emergency landing, because he had to file documents with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and also the aircraft's insurer.

But he said he had been back in the air, flying his own Cirrus SR22, only a few days after the crash-landing at Gilgandra.

"I do a lot of flying for business," he said. "Just got to deal with it and move on."

Mr Nixon's decision to use the parachute was criticized by anonymous commentators in online aviation forums and on news websites.

Some suggested that he had made the wrong choice in deploying the parachute and should have just glided to land in the paddock.

But the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association defended Mr Nixon, saying he would have risked serious injury in landing on uncertain terrain because of the fixed, non-steerable landing gear.

"Instead, John pulled the red handle to deploy the parachute and landed about 30km/h and bounced. And lived," COPA said in a comment that it retweeted last month.

Mr Nixon said the safety system was one reason he bought the Cirrus aircraft and recommended it to friends.

"It is the plane I choose to own," he told The Weekly Times.

A spokesman for Cirrus in Minnesota said this month that Cirrus pilots had deployed CAPS 39 times, saving the lives of 63 people.

Australian Pilot magazine reported in its latest issue that there had been fatal crashes involving Cirrus aircraft, including some in which the parachutes failed to save the aircraft.

Source:   http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au

http://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_report

Cessna 182P Skylane, Pacific Aviation Northwest, Inc., N58677: Accident occurred January 01, 2013 in Chiloquin, Oregon

http://registry.faa.gov/N58677

NTSB Identification: WPR13CA079 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 01, 2013 in Chiloquin, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 182P, registration: N58677
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

After the private pilot and flight instructor conducted a low pass over a snow-covered runway, the private pilot proposed returning to their home airport. However, the flight instructor elected to demonstrate a soft field touch-and-go landing on the snow-covered runway before the return flight. When the airplane touched down, the snow was deeper than the flight instructor anticipated, and the airplane slowed faster than he expected. The pilots added full power and increased back pressure on the control yoke; however, the airplane pitched forward on its nosewheel and then rolled right and left, striking both wings and substantially damaging both main wing spars. The pilots reported no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The flight instructor’s failure to maintain airplane control during a landing on a snow-covered runway.

After conducting a low pass over the runway to judge the height of the snow, the flight instructor elected to demonstrate a soft field touch-and-go landing. When the airplane touched down, the snow height was greater than he anticipated and the airplane slowed faster than he expected. Full power was applied and the airplane pitched forward. The airplane continued forward on its nose wheel and rolled to the right and left, striking both wings on the ground which substantially damaged both main wing spars. The pilot reported no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.


Oregon State Police photo
 Plane loses control on snow-covered Chiloquin airport Two people were uninjured Tuesday afternoon when their plane received minor damage attempting a touch-and-go landing on the snow-covered Chiloquin Airport runway.



Two people were uninjured Tuesday afternoon when their plane received minor damage attempting a touch-and-go landing on the snow-covered Chiloquin Airport runway.

According to Trooper Aaron Boyce, on January 1, 2013 at approximately 3:15 p.m., a Cessna 182 attempted a touch-and-go landing at Chiloquin Airport on the runway which was closed due to about 18 inches of piled up snow.

As the airplane’s wheels touched ground, it dug into the snow and the 31-year old pilot, Brett Hopper, couldn’t pull the plane back up as he lost control. The wings and nose of the plane hit the ground damaging the prop and wings.

The pilot and 34-year old male passenger were not injured.

A small airplane crash landed at the Chiloquin State Airport Tuesday afternoon following a botched touch-and-go landing attempt, according to Dewaine Holster, fire chief for the Chiloquin-Agency Lake Rural Fire Protection District. 

A Cessna 182 piloted by Brett Hopper of Grants Pass intended to land briefly on the snow covered airstrip and immediately take off again, Holster said.

Second of two reports: At $130 Million A Plane, Critics Question The Cost Of The F-35 (Included: Listen to the story)

Second of two parts

In a mile-long building on the edge of Fort Worth, Texas, an assembly line is taking shape to build the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Lockheed Martin, which got the contract to build the jet back in 2001, is slowly cranking up production. It's hard to keep a plane current, when it takes so many years to develop.

But Lockheed's Kevin McCormack says the F-35 is designed to change as technology evolves.

"It's essentially a flying computer so we want to take advantage of what's going to be out there in the future and put it on board this airplane in a cost-effective manner," he says.

Many planes already rely heavily on computer code, but the F-35 is supposed to up the ante. With 9 million lines of code, it's also open to faster chips and better software as they become available.

But many budget hawks and defense geeks say the problem is that this plane just keeps getting more expensive. Right now, the cost of the Air Force version is nearly $130 million a plane. The Marine version, which flies like a jet but can land like a helicopter, is more than $160 million.

Lockheed says you shouldn't look at today's price because the cost will come down when this assembly line ramps up to full production later in the decade. Lockheed's Mike Rein says, as long as the militaries of the world keep buying planes, the average price will come down to $65 million per plane.

"You have to also look at the costs to maintain the platforms that this aircraft is replacing," he says. "Many of the countries are already seeing that their fourth-generation airplanes, some of them 40 or 50 years old, are extremely expensive to maintain."

Volume Would Cut Cost

But to keep the price of this new plane down, Lockheed has to sell a lot of them — about 3,000. The military will get a volume discount. But right now, it's paying a high price.

Many say this program has set a new standard for pricing complexity, even for the Pentagon. Winslow Wheeler, a defense expert with the Project on Government Oversight, says Lockheed uses a pricing vocabulary that masks rising costs.

"Flyaway costs, non-recurring and recurring costs. Lots of gobblygook and they'll say that comes to a number like 60, 70 million dollars, and it's complete baloney," he says.

Wheeler says if you figure in all the research and fixes to the design, the price rises out of sight. No matter what the actual cost, this issue has turned into a public relations battle for the military.

The Pentagon defends the F-35 in public, while chastising Lockheed over costs and delays.


Too Many Tasks?

F-35 critics say the basic concept was faulty from the start. This one plane is supposed to do the jobs of as many as 10 older airframes. Wheeler says the F-35 is stretched between too many tasks.

"They also made it a short takeoff and vertical landing airplane," he said. "That has lots of design requirements that contradict what you need for either a fighter or a bomber."

Wheeler says the result is a plane that is mediocre at everything.

 Questions about the F-35's cost and performance have created a new international sport: trashing the plane online.

It's a particularly popular game in the eight partner nations scheduled to buy hundreds of F-35s in the coming years.

Peter Goon of the think tank Air Power Australia says data on F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter or JSF, show that it's unable to achieve its main goal — competing with similar advanced fighters from China and Russia.

"Other countries are doing what they should be doing — that is producing capabilities to defend their sovereign nation. But unfortunately, the capabilities they are presenting now are far superior to the JSF," he says.

This past year, Australia said it would delay some of its F-35 purchases in order to save money. And recently, the Canadian government threw its purchase into question.

The Pentagon says budget numbers can't describe the huge return it expects from this plane.
Sure, it's expensive, says Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, "but it's also a procurement package that will put iron on the ramp for the next 50 years."

The growing cost of the program may be tempting for a Congress looking for budget reductions. But the military's bizarre procurement system could also protect the F-35: If the U.S. orders fewer planes, it will pay more for each. So it may be too expensive to buy and too expensive to cut.

Story, audio, reaction/comments:  http://www.npr.org

Piper PA-30-160 Twin Comanche, N7700Y: Accident occurred January 01, 2013 in Jasper, Alabama

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA101 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 01, 2013 in Jasper, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/07/2015
Aircraft: PIPER PA-30, registration: N7700Y
Injuries: 3 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.

According to the airport manager, who was also a flight instructor, the student pilot had completed 10 hours of dual instruction in a single-engine airplane and completed three supervised solos. After the student pilot's third supervised solo, he discontinued his training with the airport manager and enrolled in a flight program at a community college. The airport manager did not know if the student pilot continued with his training. A review of the student pilot's records revealed that he had no entries or endorsements related to multiengine, night, or instrument flights. 

Instrument meteorological conditions existed on the night of the accident. An airport security video showed the accident airplane taxiing to the active runway. Shortly thereafter, the airplane’s strobe lights can be seen reflecting off of the runway and then illuminating in the low clouds; the strobe lights then disappear from the camera’s view. A witness in the area reported hearing an airplane flying low and then the sound of a loud crash. The witness subsequently contacted the local authorities, and the airplane was located 1 mile from the airport in a heavily wooded area. The airplane’s owner reported that he had not given the student pilot permission to use the airplane. An examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The student pilot’s poor judgment to take a multiengine airplane for which he did not have experience or permission to operate and depart into night instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in a loss of airplane control and impact with terrain.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 1, 2013, about 2240 central standard time, a twin-engine Piper PA-30, N7700Y, collided with terrain during an uncontrolled descent in Jasper, Alabama. The student pilot and two passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was unregistered and was owned by a private individual. The unauthorized flight was conducted in night, instrument meteorological conditions and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed from Walker County Airport-Bevill Field, Jasper, Alabama, at 2235.

Witnesses stated that, on the night of the accident, it was dark and raining. They heard an airplane flying very low and, shortly thereafter, they heard a loud crash. The witnesses called the local authorities and reported that the airplane had crashed. 

According to the airport manager/instructor, the student pilot worked as a cleanup person at the airport in trade for flight lessons. The airport manager said that the student pilot completed 10 hours of dual instruction and a solo flight on April 27, 2012. He also said that the student pilot received his flight lessons in a Cessna C-172 airplane. The student pilot completed two other supervised solos before enrolling at the Wallace State Community College aviation program. He continued coming to the airport and doing odd jobs for various airplane owners in exchange for rides. The airport manager and had no knowledge of the student ever taking any other lessons. 

The owner of the airplane stated that he knew the student pilot from seeing him around the airport. He went on to say that he never gave permission to the student pilot to fly his airplane. He said that the student pilot did not have a key for his airplane, and it was not kept locked. On the night of the accident, the owner was informed that his airplane was missing from the airport. When he arrived at the airport, he verified that his airplane was missing and reported that it was last seen on December 23, 2012.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the student pilot made no contact with air traffic control facilities prior to the accident, and there were no known radio transmissions.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 17, held a student pilot certificate and reported a total of 6 hours of flight time in the last 6 months as of the exam dated February 28, 2012. The student pilot was issued a class 3 medical certificate with limitations for corrective lenses. Review of FAA records did not reveal any other certifications other than the student pilot certificate. A review of copies of the student pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated total of 15.5 flight hours as of September 16, 2012. The logbook showed that, on April 27, 2012, he was signed off on his first solo flight. On August 26, 2012, he was signed off for the private pilot knowledge test, but there are no records of him taking the test. The student pilot's logbook did not show any entries or endorsements related to multi-engine, night, or instrument flights.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The four-seat, low-wing airplane, serial number 30-785, was manufactured in 1965. It was powered by two Lycoming model IO-320-B1A 160-hp engines equipped with Hartzell HC-E2YL-2BS hubs and F7663-4 blades. Review of copies of maintenance logbook records showed an annual inspection was completed August 13, 2012, at a recorded airframe total time of 1369.5 hours and a total time of 5160.6 hours. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The recorded weather at the Walker County-Bevill Field, Jasper, Alabama (JFX) at an elevation of 483 feet, revealed at 2255, conditions were wind 350 degrees at 8 knots, cloud conditions broken at 400 feet above ground level, temperature 45 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 43 degrees C; altimeter 30.11 inches of mercury. A witness reported that there was fog and mist in the area at the time of the accident.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION 

The airplane was found in heavily wooded area about 1 mile southwest from JFX. The fuselage of the airplane came to rest on a course of 050 degrees magnetic. The cockpit and cabin were crushed and fragmented. The nose gear assembly was broken away from the fuselage and located along the debris path. The instrument panel and instruments were impact damaged. The empennage remained attached to the fuselage and was buckled. The vertical and horizontal stabilizers were still attached and buckled. The rudder and elevators remained attached to the flight surfaces at the attachment points, and the respective flight control cables were connected. The left and right aileron cables were broken in overstress, and the ends of the cables remained attached to their respective bellcranks. Flight control continuity was established from the flight controls to the flight control surfaces. The left and right fuel selectors were found in the on position.

The right wing was attached to the fuselage at the wing root, and the outboard section was fragmented throughout the debris path. The right engine was broken away from the wing nacelle and was impact damaged. The right main fuel tanks were breached, and the fuel caps were secured to the wing. The main landing gear assembly was broken away from the wing and was located on the debris path in the extended position.

The left wing was attached to the fuselage at the wing root, and the outboard section extending past the engine nacelle was fragmented throughout the debris path. The engine remained attached to the wing nacelle and was impact damaged. The left main fuel tanks were breached, and the fuel caps were secure. The left main landing gear was found in the extended position.

Examination of both engines revealed that the propellers remained attached to the hubs. Both propeller blade assemblies displayed "S" bending and scoring throughout the blade spans. There was evidence of propeller blade cuts on tree branches throughout the accident site. The branches measured approximately 4-inches in diameter and were found within the debris path severed cleanly in diagonal linear patterns. There were no discrepancies noted that would have precluded normal operation of both propeller blade assemblies. Both engines remained attached to their respective wings, and each showed crush damage. Examination of both engines did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. 

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the student pilot on January 3, 2013, by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, Huntsville, Alabama. The autopsy findings included blunt force injuries, and the report listed the specific injuries. The cause of death was reported as three of the listed injuries.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated no ethanol was detected in the liver or the muscle, and no drugs were detected in the liver.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

A review of video footage retrieved from the airport security camera showed that, on the night of the accident, an airplane is seen taxiing on the ramp at a high rate of speed to the active runway. As the airplane departs the strobes lights are seen reflecting off of the runway and continue up into a low cloud ceiling. The strobes are then seen pulsating in the clouds before being lost from the camera's view.

Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 61.89(a) states, in part, that a student pilot may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying a passenger, or when the flight cannot be made with visual reference to the surface, or in any manner contrary to any limitations placed in the pilot's logbook by an authorized instructor.

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA101 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 01, 2013 in Jasper, AL
Aircraft: PIPER PA-30, registration: N7700Y
Injuries: 3 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 January 1, 2013, about 2240 central standard time, a twin engine Piper PA-30, N7700Y, collided with terrain during an uncontrolled descent in Jasper, Alabama. The student pilot and two passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was unregistered, and is owned by a private individual. The unauthorized flight was conducted in night, instrument meteorological conditions and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed from Walker County Airport-Bevill Field, Jasper, Alabama, at 2235.

Witnesses stated that on the night of the accident, it was dark and raining. They heard the airplane flying very low and, shortly thereafter they heard a loud crash. The witnesses called 911 and reported that the airplane had crashed.

According to the airport manager/instructor, the pilot worked as a cleanup person at the airport in trade for flight lessons. The airport manager said that student pilot completed his first solo flight on April 27, 2012. He also said that the student pilot received his flight lessons in a single engine Cessna C-172 airplane. After the student pilot’s solo, he no longer received lessons from the airport manager.

The owner of the airplane stated that he knew the student pilot from his work at the airport. He went on to say that he never gave permission to the student pilot to fly his airplane. The owner was asked if he ever took the student pilot flying in his airplane and he responded “no.” He said that the student pilot did not have a key for his airplane and it was not typically locked. On the night of the accident, the owner was informed that his airplane was missing from the airport. When he arrived at the airport, he verified that his airplane was missing and reported that it was last seen on December 23, 2012.

According to preliminary information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration, no air traffic control assistance and no radio transmissions were made by the pilot prior to the accident.


IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 7700Y        Make/Model: PA30      Description: PA-30/39 Twin Comanche, Twin Comanche CR
  Date: 01/02/2013     Time: 0440

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

LOCATION
  City: JASPER   State: AL   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, THE 3 PERSONS ON BOARD WERE 
  FATALLY INJURED, SUBJECT OF AN ALERT NOTICE, WRECKAGE LOCATED IN A WOODED 
  AREA 1 MILE FROM JASPER, AL

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   3
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   1     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   2     Fat:   2     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: BIRMINGHAM, AL  (SO09)                Entry date: 01/02/2013 
 
 
Jordan Smith. 
Source: Family photo/WBRC 

Tommy Smith, Jordan's father, was serving in Afghanistan with the National Guard when Jordan passed away. 
 Source: WBRC


JASPER, AL (WBRC) - Monday evening, family and friends attended the visitation for 17-year-old Jordan Smith, one of three teens who perished in a plane crash last week near the Walker County airport. 

 Tommy Smith, Jordan's father, has only been in town for a few days. He's in the National Guard and was away in Afghanistan when he got the horrible news about his son.

It's still a lot he doesn't know about the accident. He says his only concern right now is dealing with having to bury his son.

"I'm holding strong for my wife and other two boys," Smith said.

Tommy Smith and his family are getting a lot of support during a very difficult time. Hundreds of people were there for Jordan's visitation.

"That has helped me and my wife get through this. Just people we don't even know come up to us told us how much they love Jordan."

"I wish people could see him for love he had, had such a big heart," family friend Savannah Gilbert said. "He was always such a happy kid, do anything for anybody wish people knew him for the happy person he was."

Authorities say Jordan was flying the plane that crashed last week in Walker County. He, along with 17-year-old Jordan Montgomery and 19-year-old Brandon Ary, were all killed.

Jordan was a student pilot and his family says flying was his passion.

"I flew with him on Father's Day and that was my Father's Day gift. He was good at what he did," Smith said.

According to FAA records the plane Jordan and his friends flew that night was not registered to fly. Jordan's father couldn't tell us anything about why his son got into that plane.

"I've not even had a chance to get into that…my wife hasn't been able to make funeral arrangements until I got here. That's what my main focus has been," Smith said.

Smith says he doesn't know how life will be without his son. He hopes to deal with the heartbreak by relying on the fond memories.

"I'm gonna remember Jordan the way he lived .This is just a step to bury the body but my son I will remember him how he lived."

Smith says his son was not a typical teen. He was very outgoing and responsible. He worked at Cafe Bills, a restaurant in Jasper.

Jordan was a junior at Meeks High School and a lot of his classmates were at the visitation tonight. His funeral was held after the visitation.


 
This photograph shows security measures at Auburn University Regional Airport on April 24, 2012, as witnessed by al.com staffer Brian McAlister. The sign offers instructions to gain "temporary" access to the airfield -- the only security measure between the public parking and the planes themselves.
 (Brian McAlister | al.com)

 BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The facts about a fatal plane crash in Walker County late Tuesday night, in which three teens were killed, are trickling in Wednesday, but the situation has  already raised questions regarding security protocols at small airports. 

The little that is known at this time suggests that the teens did not have permission to use the aircraft, a Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche.

The aircraft, which authorities said was taken on a "joy ride," took off from the Walker County Airport. The plane crashed about 10:40 p.m., less than a mile from the airport, according to an FAA spokesperson. 

The victims have been identified as Jordan Montgomery, 17, Jordan Smith, 17, and Brandon Ary, 19.

What is security like at small airports? 

"The security at airports varies from okay, to good, to none," Robert Collins, president of the Aviation Crime Prevention Institute, told al.com Wednesday. "The only time the Federal Aviation Administration gets involved in security is if there are scheduled flights" at the airport. 

Access to small airports is supposed to be restricted to tenants (people who have aircraft at the airport) according to Barry Franks, who spoke with al.com Wednesday and described security protocols at Shelby County Airport. Franks works airport services at the Calera-based airfield, and spoke specifically to security there -- not for other small airports. 

"All of the airports have a secure gate around them, a fence all the way around airport property," Franks said. "For you to get on the property, you have to buzz at the gate, and we have to okay everyone who comes through the gate." 

 During business hours -- 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Shelby County Airport -- an airport staffer verifies the identity of people at the gate using a video camera system, and either lets them in or denies them. The first and last names of the tenants are recorded, Franks said.

But, at night, there is no attendant on duty to buzz tenants in. Access at that point is controlled by a gate code system.

"After hours, there is no access to the airport unless you're a tenant that has an aircraft here," Franks said. "At that point, you have to have your own code so you can get in the gate."

Once inside, tenants do not have their belongings checked, and they don't go through the extensive security checks that commercial passengers expect when they go to the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. During the day, video cameras help make sure that tenants are going where they're supposed to go. At night, there is added security at the Shelby County Airport because a Shelby County Sheriff's office substation is located on the property, Franks said, although that's not true of every airport.

The Transportation Safety Administration also requires airport employees to undergo airport security awareness training, which helps airport employees recognize suspicious behavior.

Rules require aircraft to be locked when not in use, but that does not always happen, according to Franks.

"One hundred percent of people, do they lock them? I couldn't tell you that," Franks said. "Probably not. But that is something that everybody is supposed to do."

Keys are required to start most aircraft, and the PA-30 Twin Comanche does require a key to operate, Franks said.

But could an unlicensed pilot fly a plane at a small airport? It could happen, Franks said, although he said airport staff would confront anyone who looks suspicious, or who they knew to be unlicensed.

"There's no way we could police that, and we don't have the authority to police that, really."

Aircraft thefts are very rare in the U.S., according to Robert Collins.

"It's rare that an airplane is stolen these days, and it's more rare that they are stolen for joy rides," Collins said. According to ACPI, two aircraft were stolen in 2012. "There are more aircraft burglaries," meaning thefts of avionic equipment from planes, than thefts of actual aircraft, according to Collins.

Fred Montgomery, the father of crash victim Jordan Montgomery, said Wednesday that he didn't think the plane that crashed late Tuesday was stolen.

"I don't think my son would steal a plane,'' he said. "If he was bad, I would tell you. But he's gone now."

Unauthorized joy rides aren't unheard of in Alabama's recent history. In 2005, for instance, a 14-year-old boy managed to gain access to the Fort Payne Municipal Airport, unhook the tie downs on a single-engine plane, take the keys he found on a clipboard and steal the plane for a 26-minute joy ride over Fort Payne. The boy crashed the plane trying to land, and was arrested.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. to include comments from Robert Collins, and a link to the al.com article identifying the victims of the Walker County crash. Updated at 3:45 p.m. to emphasize that Franks was speaking to security protocols only at Shelby County Airport, not at any other small airport. 

Story and Photos:   http://blog.al.com

Mumbai-Singapore fliers stranded, top executive shunted

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: The New Year has started with a double whammy for Air India. The airline rostered a pilot—who was suspended a day earlier—to operate the Mumbai-Singapore flight on Wednesday morning. Since that pilot did not report for work the flight had to be cancelled for "non-availability of crew", leaving 220 passengers stranded in Mumbai for over 24 hours.

After learning of the serious lapse, aviation minister Ajit Singh ordered the removal of the in-charge of pilot rostering—GM (operations) H Y Samant—from his position for deputing a suspended Captain R S Dhillon for the cancelled flight. Dhillon was suspended on December 31 for "irregularities regarding fudging of records of simulator training, (because of which) he became ineligible to fly".

"Taking a very serious view of this, the minister has instructed Air India management to immediately remove Samant, since it was his responsibility to ensure that the alternative arrangement for the crew is made well in time, more so when he was aware of the suspension of Dhillon and was also informed in this regard. It is seen as a gross dereliction of duty by Samant," an aviation ministry statement said.

The flight, AI 342, was scheduled to depart from Mumbai airport at 5am. However, about an hour before the departure, the airline announced a delay. According to airport officials, passengers had already checked in and were waiting at the terminal to board. "The airline informed them that the flight was delayed by a couple of hours. However, after some time, when passengers stared inquiring more, AI announced that the flight had been cancelled," said an official. Airport sources said that the flyers were agitated and there were many heated arguments before the situation calmed down.

This is the second time in ten days that an AI flight had to be cancelled at the eleventh hour due to a crew crisis. A Mumbai-Riyadh flight was delayed by 16 hours after the airline fell short of pilots.

"Most flyers were upset that the airline didn't inform them about the cancellation. Also, some of them had to go for urgent personal or professional commitments. These flyers were the most agitated," an airport official said. Some passenger, reportedly, booked seats on other airlines at the last minute.

An AI spokesperson confirmed that the passengers of the cancelled flight had been clubbed with the next flight at 5am. "Passengers have been provided accommodation," he added.

"The airline has expanded operations but hasn't recruited cockpit crew in the same proportion," said an official. This is why, he explained, the airline has not enough back-up during an emergency. "If a pilot reports sick at the last minute, often there is no one to fill in," he added.

Airline sources said that there is an estimated shortage of 20-25% pilots. "The airline needs to consider and act on the situation soon. Or else, flight delays and cancellations will become routine," an AI official said.

Ajit Singh has ordered an inquiry for this lapse and sought immediate disciplinary action be taken against Samant. AI's vigilance department "has now revealed that records with regard to training imparted on simulator were prima facie fudged by Dhillon. It has also been established that Dhillon has not conducted full eight hours of simulator training, in fact he has conducted less than 4 hours of training," the statement said, adding, "As this misconduct is fraught with serious implications on the training of pilots and consequently flight safety, Dhillon has been placed under suspension pending charge-sheet and further inquiry." 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com