Thursday, March 14, 2013

Plane lands in ditch, no injuries





CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - State Police say a single-engine plane taxiing out of a local airport ran into a ditch Thursday night.

According to Michelle Anaya with Virginia State Police, the incident happened at approximately 8:30 p.m. at the Chesapeake-Portsmouth Airport, 5000 West Military Highway.

The pilot, who spoke with WAVY.com off-camera, said there was a light out on the airstrip and he did not see where he was going, landing into a ditch.

No one was injured and the National Transportation Safety Board will treat it as an incident, not an accident.
http://www.wavy.com

CHESAPEAKE- A single engine Cessna ended up a drainage culvert at the Hampton Roads Airport Thursday night.

The incident happened around 8:40 p.m. at the airport in the 5000 block of Military Highway.  When firefighters arrived they found the pilot outside the plane waiting for them.

The pilot was treated at the scene and not transported to a hospital.

The fire department determined there were no hazards and when the State Police arrived, they turned the scene over to them.

According to Chief Mike Thiebault, the State Police will be heading up the investigation.

http://www.wvec.com

 

Federal Aviation Administration Grounds Aerial Photo Business (With Video)

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (WCCO) – Charles Eide and Mike Danielson have been flying radio controlled aircraft since they little kids growing up in the same neighborhood. 

 As adults they formed a business, sharing a love of video production and photography.

Soon, they discovered their hobby could merge with their business, which took a huge leap when they began taking on aerial photographic work.

By mounting stabilized cameras onto the bellies of the drone aircraft, Eide and Danielson can offer customers a bird’s-eye view of anything from construction sites, to city attractions, to real estate listings.

“It helps sell houses, which is really in my opinion a huge economic impact in the Twin Cities — helps houses move faster,” Eide said.

Business was booming, until a call came from the Minneapolis office of the Federal Aviation Administration. They were simply told to ground their commercial use of the aircraft. Turns out, current regulations don’t allow unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes.

In fact, their use is strictly prohibited from operating in what the FAA defines as “Class B” airspace. That’s found in densely populated areas around key airport traffic routes, most often the airspace surrounding the busiest airports with a high volume of commercial air traffic.

Eide says he understands the need for safety regulations, but argues that his company has its own flight safety protocols. They rarely fly more than 200 feet above the ground and will never operate near airports.

“What we’re doing is low-range stuff to show off the real estate market and features in a house or property,” Danielson said.

The FAA says the urban airspace demands strict safety restrictions. Eide understands, but argues with tens of thousands of dollars invested in radio controlled aircraft, flying safely is job No. 1.

“I agree that there should be regulation on this stuff because there are more and more hands touching this stuff,” Eide said. “However, we need to work together here.”

The duo wants to work with the FAA over this. The current rules are clear, but the FAA is going to look at these rules on Friday.

Story and Video:  http://minnesota.cbslocal.com

Guthrie-Edmond Regional (KGOK), Guthrie, Oklahoma: Airport board unhappy with contractor

GUTHRIE — The Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport Board Tuesday approved asking the Guthrie City Council to review and consider whether a Guthrie contractor is in possible default of contract on an almost $1.2 million airport construction project.

Curtis Brown of Garver Engineering told the board that it determined that Total Investment Company of Guthrie to be in default on the GERA Northwest Development, taxiway rehabilitation and Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) wiring project because of failure to perform the work in a suitable and timely manner, failure to ensure the work would be acceptable as defined in contract documents and failure to carry on the work in an acceptable manner.

“It is our recommendation that he is in default,” Brown said.

Wade Inman, owner of Total Investment Company, said via cell phone Thursday from Michigan that he was not aware of the GERA board request and didn’t’ want to comment further until he had more details.

‘This is the first I have heard of it,” Inman said. “At this point in time I want to find out a little bit more about it before I comment.”

GERA manager Justin Heid said in his airport manager’s report the project is only partially completed and was scheduled to be finished in June. He said the project likely would not be completed until this fall.

“Currently the taxi lane connection has been laid but not opened,” Heid said. “The wires have been trenched to the PAPIs but not hooked and the Northwest development area is still in the initial dirt work phase. Reports from Garver Engineering indicate that the contractor is past the half-way point of the project timeline, but less than 15 percent complete and greater than 90 days behind schedule.”

Guthrie City Manager Sereniah Breland told the board she would try and put the issue on the council’s next meeting agenda.

The council could ask the project insurance carrier to find the company in default and move forward with surety, which is a promise to pay one party a certain amount if a second party fails to meet some obligation, such as fulfilling the terms of a contract. The surety bond protects GERA against losses resulting from the principal's failure to meet the obligation.

If surety occurs then Total Investment’s contract would be terminated and the insurance company would send the project out for new bids.

In another matter, the board also approved a recommendation that the Guthrie City Council move forward with contacting GERA tenant Spirit Wing Aviation and advising them they are not in compliance of their lease.

Guthrie board member Joe Underwood said Guthrie City Attorney Randel Shadid has sent a series of letters to Spirit Wing advising them that they were not in compliance with their lease agreement by housing farm equipment at their facility.

Heid said Spirit Wing’s lease includes language that states exterior storage shall be prohibited.

“It’s an exterior storage issue rather than an aviation issue,” Heid said.

Underwood said this has been an ongoing issue for some time and he wants to see the equipment removed.

“The lease needs to be followed or why do we have it?” Underwood said.

In other matters, GERA board chairman Richard Geib of Edmond said a joint meeting of the Guthrie and Edmond City Councils will be April 19 at GERA to discuss GERA’s request to become an airport trust authority.

“It’s an important opportunity for everyone to get together,” Geib said.

Board members tabled action on adding installation of a self-service 24-hour credit card machine for low level fuel at GERA. Initial cost for the machine would have been $17,631 with funding coming from possibly both cities.

The board also took under advisement a list of services that Crabtree Aircraft Services who serves as GERA’s fix-based operator (FBO) could offer for the 2014 U.S. Golf Association Senior Open scheduled at Oak Tree National Golf Course in Edmond.

If GERA is selected as a destination airport for the event, then the FBO could agree to provide certain services including extended airport hours; an airport service attendant and wireless Internet services among other options.

In his GERA manager’s report, Heid told the board that Zivko has nearly completed work on Hangar No. 9; Herman Hogue and Stan Young have raised the steel structure for Hangar No. 17 and Buzz Holloway has withdrawn his letter of interest in building an eight-unit T-hangar.

Heid said there were no wildlife issues this past month and that USDA has performed checks on the airport property for bird, coyote and deer populations.

He added work is currently under way on planning for the 2013 GERA Community Day scheduled for Sept. 21.

The GERA board also changed leadership with Wade becoming the new chairman replacing Geib and Edmond member Rowland Denman serving as vice chairman.

Source:  http://www.edmondsun.com

Boeing Fixes to Be Extensive: WSJ

Updated March 14, 2013, 7:43 p.m. ET

By ANDY PASZTOR And JON OSTROWER

The Wall Street Journal


With Boeing Co. about to start testing a redesigned battery system for its grounded 787 Dreamliner, the company now faces the challenge of manufacturing and installing fixes that are more extensive than many industry officials expected.

The package of fixes to the 787's lithium-ion battery system, which U.S. regulators tentatively approved this week, includes a redesigned battery charger, according to Boeing and industry officials familiar with the details.

Customers and others initially briefed on the aerospace giant's plans hadn't anticipated modifications to the battery charger, manufactured by Securaplane Technologies Inc., a U.S.-based unit of Britain's Meggitt PLC.

The decision to redo the battery charger highlights the interdependence of portions of the jet's cutting-edge electrical system, which relies more heavily on lithium power packs than did any previous jetliner. The charger hasn't been directly tied to battery problems, but it is part of a complex electrical web that requires a delicate balancing act in order to prevent potentially dangerous power surges or rapid discharges.

The package also includes a redesign of the interior spacing of the battery, a more-fireproof metal container, and a new system to vent smoke and fumes overboard.

Boeing's flagship jetliner has been grounded for eight weeks, after batteries burned in January aboard a pair of Dreamliners operated by Japanese carriers. In both instances, investigators determined there were sharp, unexpected fluctuations in voltage shortly before the batteries overheated, though there was no evidence of overcharging.

U.S. and Japanese investigators haven't pinpointed a specific cause for the overheating.

In describing pending battery-system changes on Tuesday, Boeing didn't specifically mention a redone battery charger. The Chicago plane maker did say that some of its proposed improvements "focus on tightening of the system's voltage range," an apparent reference to unwanted power fluctuations.

The National Transportation Safety Board this month said it didn't find any problems of "anomalies" when it tested a battery charger—along with another electrical component made by Securaplane—taken off a Japan Airlines Co.  plane that had one of its lithium-ion batteries ignite on the ground in Boston.

Securaplane didn't respond to requests for comment.

While preparing for flight tests anticipated to start as early as this weekend, Boeing has been finalizing a detailed manufacturing and installation plan for the design changes. Before new hardware is delivered, That implementation plan must be approved by U.S. and Japanese aviation regulators who will oversee quality-control measures. A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration didn't have any immediate comment.

Ray Conner, the head of Boeing's commercial airplane unit, 10 days ago said that company officials anticipate incorporation of the fixes "will move really fast" once final FAA approval is granted. Mr. Conner and other senior Boeing officials were scheduled to hold a press conference in Japan Friday outlining their plans for the 787.

Late last month, FAA chief Michael Huerta told lawmakers that investigators looking into the Boston event had identified "a handful of potential areas of probable cause, and they are all within the battery."

Boeing faces other potential complications as it looks to carry out its 787 recovery plan. Industry officials said at least one major 787 customer has asked Boeing about the possibility of finding a second supplier for the lithium-ion batteries. Japan's GS Yuasa Corp.is currently the sole supplier.

One person familiar with the customer's push to add another supplier said an alternate version with different lithium-ion electrochemistry would help mitigate long-term concerns about the jet.

Boeing has said it remains committed to using lithium-ion batteries on the 787 and that its relationship with Yuasa is strong.

"We see no need to bring on an additional battery supplier," said Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel.

Sourcing 787 aircraft systems from multiple suppliers is not uncommon. Airlines currently can choose between providers of galley equipment, brakes and in-flight entertainment, for example.

Airlines are expected to do their own flight testing--after fixes are installed but before their 787s return to service--to ensure that the planes, which have sat dormant since Jan. 16, are performing normally.

But reaching final agreement on manufacturing and quality-control issues could be time consuming. Last month, the FAA chief told a House aviation subcommittee that after agency approval of the overall concept for fixes, there still would have to be "a great deal of further analysis and re-engineering" before the planes could resume passenger flights.

The prospect of flight tests has cheered investors and analysts, prompting some upgrades of Boeing's stock. The shares closed at $84.62 in 4 p.m. trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange, down 0.15% on the day but about 9% above their level before the battery problems emerged.

Still another headache for Boeing is persuading Japanese regulators, renowned for their caution and often slow-moving decision process, to rapidly embrace the FAA-approved fixes. Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways Co., the 787's launch customer, together own nearly half of the 50 Dreamliners delivered so far. All Nippon Airways also experienced a burning lithium-ion battery on one of its 787s in January, prompting an emergency landing and passenger evacuation.

Mr. Conner was in Tokyo roughly two weeks ago to privately brief the two carriers about progress, and he apologized for Boeing's slipups. His Friday press briefing there is intended to be the plane maker's first in-depth explanation of the jet's redesigned battery system.

In addition to onboard fixes, the package of safety enhancements backed by the FAA calls for stepped-up inspections and quality-control testing at Yuasa's battery factory. U.S. air-safety officials continue to delve into Yuasa's manufacturing safeguards, though the NTSB hasn't pinpointed an internal battery defect or contaminant as the cause of the overheating. 


Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Bede BD-5B (Mfr. Allen), N30BA: Accident occurred March 14, 2013 in Mount Airy, North Carolina

http://registry.faa.gov/N30BA

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA167  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, March 14, 2013 in Mount Airy, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/11/2013
Aircraft: ALLEN BD-5, registration: N30BA
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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

The pilot reported that he intended to perform a flyby before landing. As he approached the runway about 50 feet above ground level, the pilot advanced the throttle to full; however, the engine immediately stopped. He responded by pitching the airplane up and to the right. The airplane then entered a steep left turn. The airspeed decreased to 100 mph, and the airplane started to vibrate, so the pilot quickly leveled the wings and pitched downward to prevent the airplane from entering a stall. The pilot continued to fly a wings-level descent until the airplane impacted terrain. Examination of the airplane revealed that the engine choke cable was rigged backwards; therefore, pulling the choke knob out opened the choke valve and pushing it in closed it. The choke knob, which is located directly behind the pilot's head, was found pushed in during postaccident examination. Therefore, it was likely that the pilot's head contacted the choke while he was responding to the loss of engine power, which resulted in a closed choke and a corresponding total loss of engine power. The experimental amateur-built airplane was equipped with an automobile engine and was never certified as airworthy; therefore, it was never issued an airworthiness certificate.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A total loss of engine power due to the pilot's inadvertent closing of the engine choke. Contributing to the accident was the improper rigging of the engine choke cable.

On March 14, 2013, about 1915 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built BD-5 airplane, N30BA, was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground, following a total loss of engine power while performing a flyby at Mount Airy/Surry County Airport (MWK), Mount Airy, North Carolina. The private pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight. The flight originated from Statesville Regional Airport (SVH), Statesville, North Carolina. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot reported on the common traffic advisory frequency that he was on final approach to runway 36. According to witnesses, the airplane was observed in a low pass to the east of the runway when it entered a climb and banked to the right, then banked steeply to the left. The airplane subsequently entered a descent, impacted terrain and came to rest in a ravine on airport property.

The pilot stated that he intended to perform a flyby prior to landing at SVH. He approached runway 36 about 50 feet above ground level and 140 mph. When he advanced the throttle to full power the engine stopped immediately and he responded by pitching the airplane up and to the right. The airspeed then decreased to 120 mph and he entered a steep left turn, about 60 degrees. The airspeed decreased to 100 mph and the airplane started to vibrate, so he quickly leveled the wings and pitched downward to prevent the airplane from entering a stall. The pilot continued to fly in a wings level descent before impacting terrain in a slight nose down attitude. The wreckage was oriented about 040 degrees magnetic with a ground scar to the left of the aircraft nose 36 inches in length and approximately 18 inches deep. Small trees were stacked by the left wing root.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. The pilot’s most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on July 29, 2008. The pilot reported 1,100 total hours of flight experience and three hours in make and model.


The single-engine, pusher-propeller configured airplane was powered by a 1976 Honda Civic, 130 horsepower, automobile engine. According to FAA records, the airplane was never certified airworthy and therefore was never issued an airworthiness certificate. The pilot stated that the engine accrued about three hours since installation.

Examination of the engine by FAA inspectors revealed that the choke cable was rigged backwards; pulling the choke knob out would open the choke valve and pushing it in would close it. The choke knob was located directly behind the pilot's head; therefore, any aft movement of the pilot's head could push the choke cable in causing the engine to stall. The cable connecting the choke knob to the carburetor could be moved freely.

The propeller had minor damage and rotated freely. The propeller drive belts were off the drive pulleys but were intact and the drive pulley rotated freely. The flywheel was rotated successfully by hand and the engine did not display any evidence consistent with seizing. The propeller clutch also appeared to be functioning correctly. The engine drive pulley was in place and rotated freely. Compression could not be determined due to the inaccessibility of the engine at the accident site. Continuity of the throttle and mixture controls to the carburetor was established. All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the scene and flight control continuity was confirmed for all major flight control surfaces. Both wing fuel tanks were breached but the fuselage fuel tank appeared full.

At 1935, the weather observation at Mount Airy/Surry County Airport (MWK), Mount Airy, North Carolina, reported wind from 280 degrees at 3 knots, 10 miles visibility and sky clear. The temperature was 7 degrees C, dew point minus 13 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.13 inches of mercury.



NTSB Identification: ERA13LA167 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, March 14, 2013 in Mount Airy, NC
Aircraft: ALLEN BD-5, registration: N30BA
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 March 14, 2013, about 1920 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built BD-5 airplane, N30BA, was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground following a loss of control while on final approach to Mount Airy/Surry County Airport (MWK), Mount Airy, North Carolina. The private pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight. The flight originated from Statesville Regional Airport (SVH), Statesville, North Carolina. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot reported on the common traffic advisory frequency that he was on final approach to runway 36. According to witnesses, the airplane was observed in a low pass to the east of runway 36 when it pulled up and banked to the right, then banked steeply to the left while climbing. The airplane continued in a left bank and subsequently impacted the ground and came to rest in a ravine on airport property. The pilot was airlifted to a hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Initial examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed the fuselage had separated in half.


 
 Bede BD-5B (Mfr. Allen), N30BA 

 
 Bede BD-5B (Mfr. Allen), N30BA


 

A pilot involved in a crash Thursday night at Mount Airy-Surry County Airport has been identified. 

 Chris Gammons was the person injured in the incident, according to Myron Waddell, senior supervisor of Surry County Emergency Services.

Gammons is about 35 and has a Statesville address, Waddell said, and is a former Surry County resident.

He was alone in a BD-5, a small single-engine experimental aircraft, which had left Statesville Municipal Airport and was attempting to land at Mount Airy-Surry County Airport shortly before 7:30 Thursday.

Gammons had to be extricated from the cockpit of the badly damaged craft and was airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem. He was complaining of back pain, and possibly suffered a broken back, based on social media sources, which also indicate that Gammons might have no feeling in his legs.

About 40 members of various public safety units in Surry County responded to the scene.

Included was Surry County Haz-Mart, which Sheriff Graham Atkinson said had to contain about a 20-gallon fuel spill from the crash.

Plane “Deregistered”

Meanwhile, a check of Federal Aviation Administration records revealed that the aircraft Gammons was piloting had its registration canceled last September due to an expiration.

“The FAA will investigate the registration of the aircraft,” Kathleen Bergen, a spokesman for that agency, advised Friday.

Before its deregistration, the plane — a 1976 model — was listed as registered to a resident of Carson City, Nev.

Gammons had posted multiple YouTube videos in the past week showing him flying the experimental plane.

A witness reported that it seemed to experience mechanical difficulty before attempting to land at Mount Airy-Surry County Airport Thursday night and crashing west of a runway down an embankment in a brier thicket.

Representatives of the FAA were on the scene to investigate the mishap Friday, but were tight-lipped about their work here.

“FAA safety inspectors are not available to the media at accident sites,” Bergen explained.

“The FAA also does not provide updates or progress reports on accident investigations. The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation and will provide all updates.”

A spokesman for the NTSB said Friday that his agency would rely on information from the FAA in investigating the probable cause of the accident here. “It doesn’t appear that we will be sending anyone,” said Keith Holloway of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Washington office.

The FAA safety inspectors who were at the airport Friday planned to have the wrecked plane moved into a hangar, Sheriff Atkinson said.

Holloway added that the NTSB is not involved with issuing fines or any disciplinary actions in such cases, but determining the cause of the crash. “Our investigation will look at the safety aspect of it,” he said of Thursday night’s incident.

Bergen indicated Friday that what happened here does not signal an inherent problem with experimental planes.

“Experimental and amateur-built aircraft are quite common. According to FAA records, there were 24,800 aircraft in this category as of Dec. 31, 2010, which is the latest-available info I have.” 


http://www.mtairynews.com




MOUNT AIRY, N.C.– A single-engine plane crashed at Mt. Airy airport around 7:20 p.m. on Thursday evening, according to officials. 

 The pilot was airlifted by AirCare to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center with non life-threatening injuries.

The plane crashed in a ravine on the west side of the runway near the north end, when the pilot was trying to land. Witnesses say, they heard the plane sputtering just before the crash.

“It could have been me in there with him,” said Devon Byrd, who frequently flies in and out of the airport for fun.

Officials say the pilot, whose name has not been released, is very lucky he made it out of the aircraft alive.

“Based on where that plane crashed, and the condition of the plane at that time, I would say he’s very, very fortunate to be alive,” said Sheriff Graham Atkinson.

The FAA is expected to investigate the crash on Friday morning.


Watch Video:   http://myfox8.com



 Fire and rescue crews work to gain access to patients, the number of which are unknown, in a plane crash off the side of the runway at the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport at about 7:30 p.m. tonight.


Deputies with the Surry County Sheriff’s Office secured the scene of a single-engine aircraft accident Thursday night at Mount Airy-Surry County Airport until a team of Federal Aviation Administration investigators can arrive Friday.
 
According to airport spokesperson John Springthorpe, at around 7:30 p.m. a single-engine light aircraft with identification numbers N30BA, which was said to be a BD-5, was on its final approach to land. He said an airport attendant next observed the plane crash into a gully west of the runway and called 911.

“It was a small, single-engine experimental plane,” said Scottie Chilton, chief of the Bannertown Volunteer Fire Department. The pilot, described as a white male in his 30s, possibly with the name of Gammons, was the only occupant. He is believed to be a local resident.

Sheriff Graham Atkinson said witness reports indicated that the craft seemed to be having mechanical difficulty.

It went down in a deep ravine on the west side of the airport, where rescuers had to wade through thick briers and underbrush, with the cockpit smashed by the impact.

“He had to be extricated out of the cockpit,” Chilton said of a process that took about 20 minutes.

Springthorpe said the pilot was treated on the scene before being transported to Wake Forest Baptist Health aboard an AirCare helicopter ambulance.

“They said he was complaining of back pain,” the sheriff said, relaying reports from rescue personnel. There was speculation that the man might have suffered a broken back, Atkinson added.

Springthorpe said the attendant did not observe anything wrong with the aircraft before the incident or receive any indication of something being wrong in transmissions before the crash.

The airport was closed in support of the rescue operations in the estimated 40-foot gully where the aircraft came to rest, but officials anticipates the airport would within an hour.

In addition to the Bannertown Volunteer Fire Department, the Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain rescue squads, Surry County Haz-Mart, Surry County EMS and the N.C. Highway Patrol responded to the incident.

Bell 407, K-VA-T & W-L Aviation LLC, N407N: Accident occurred August 24, 2012 in Abingdon, Virginia

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA527
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 24, 2012 in Abingdon, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/08/2014
Aircraft: BELL 407, registration: N407N
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 pilot was transporting passengers across a lake and home from a race track at night. A witness who was boating on the lake across from the helicopter landing area watched the helicopter approach and land. He stated that the landing light was on during the landing. He watched the passengers exit the helicopter and then the helicopter lift off and turn toward the lake, descend down an embankment, and turn over the lake. The witness stated that the landing light was not on during the departure. The helicopter traveled about 150 yards when the bottom skids began to make the water spray. The helicopter then nosed over and impacted the water. The witness then directed his boat toward the impact area where he found the tail boom separated from the fuselage and the cockpit area submerged. 

Examination of the fuselage, including the top Plexiglas window and frame, revealed evidence of main rotor contact. The helicopter’s engine was torn from the fuselage and could not be located due to poor visibility in the water and its irregular bottom features. The engine control unit (ECU) was retrieved, and all of the data revealed that no engine operating exceedances occurred before impact, and no accumulated engine faults were recorded during the previous engine run. The ECU data and physical evidence are consistent with power being supplied to the main rotor at the moment of impact.

Security camera video footage revealed that the pilot had successfully conducted this low-level, rapid acceleration takeoff profile several times during the day when visual spatial references were plentiful. The available data and evidence, as well as the previous flights, are consistent with controlled flight into water while conducting a rapidly accelerating, low-altitude flight after takeoff over an unlit body of water in dark night conditions. The pilot’s decision to attempt a such a takeoff at night without the aid of ambient light or the use of helicopter lights denied him the visual spatial references needed to assure safe terrain and obstacle avoidance. Additionally, the conditions during the flight were conducive to a type of pilot spatial disorientation known as “somatogravic illusion,” in which aircraft acceleration may be misinterpreted by the pilot as an increasing nose-up pitch attitude and result in inappropriate nose-down control inputs. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s improper decision to make a low-level departure over water in dark night conditions without lights, which resulted in controlled flight into the water. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s likely spatial disorientation due to a vestibular illusion caused by the rapid acceleration during takeoff.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 24, 2012, about 2230 eastern daylight time, a Bell 407 helicopter, N407N, collided into South Holston Lake during a night departure from a river bank in Abingdon, Virginia. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged when it impacted the water. The helicopter was registered to and operated by K-VA-T&W-L Aviation LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual night meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight was originating from a private field at the time of the accident.

According to a witness, while boating on the lake across from the helicopter landing zone, he watched as the helicopter came in and landed. He recalled that the landing light was on, and he watched as the passengers exited the helicopter. The helicopter then lifted and turned toward the lake, descended down an embankment and made a turn over the lake. The witness said that he noticed that the landing light was not on during the departure flight. The helicopter traveled approximately 150 yards when the bottom skids began to make the water spray on the side of the helicopter. The helicopter then nosed over and made a loud splash. The witness waited for a short moment and then turned on his spot light and moved towards the position of the helicopter. As he moved towards the helicopter, his boat bumped into the tail boom, which was floating away from the fuselage. He continued towards the helicopter and came upon the helicopter floating upside down with the skids upright approximately 2 feet above the water. The witness shined his light throughout the cabin and cockpit but did not see anyone.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 64, held an airline transport pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, and rotorcraft-helicopter issued May 27, 2008, and a second-class airman medical certificate issued February 17, 2012, with limitations for corrective lenses. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for review. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot reported 26,000 flight hours on his last medical.

A review of the pilot's flight schedule for that day revealed that the pilot started the passenger flights at 1500 on the day of the accident. A review of the flight schedule times revealed that 10 passenger flights between Bristol Speedway to a private residence near South Holston Lake were made in a period of 1 hour and 20 minutes. After the pilot returned, he was informed that the next flight would start at 2100. During the flights, the pilot hot fueled at the landing site adjacent to the residence where he dropped off and picked up passengers. There is no record of the amount of fuel taken onboard the helicopter during the day. According to the wife of the pilot, he was well rested the night before and there was nothing abnormal about the day. She went on to say that the pilot was in good health.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The seven-seat, skid equipped helicopter, serial number 53077, was manufactured in 1996. It was powered by a Rolls-Royce model 250-C47B turbo-shaft 650-hp engine.

Review of copies of maintenance logbook records showed an annual inspection was completed March 20, 2012, at a recorded airframe total time of 2,339.1 hours, and an engine time of 2,091.0 hours. The Hobbs hour-meter showed 2,427.8 hours at the accident site. The engine control unit recorded an engine total time of 2,771.06.

Video footage from a security camera captured several daytime departures by the pilot earlier that day. In all the takeoffs, the helicopter was low enough to the surface of the lake to allow the main rotor to create a wake on the surface of the water. On the night of the accident, video footage showed the helicopter's anti-collision lights reflecting off of the lake's surface prior to the accident.

AERODROME INFORMATION

The intended landing site was in the backyard at the private residence of the owner of the helicopter, which is an area of turf grass. The landing site was elevated approximately 30 feet above the lake surface. The area is unlit and not a dedicated helipad and it was used frequently by the owner for helicopter operations.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A review of recorded data from the Virginia Highlands Airport, Abingdon, Virginia (VJI) automated weather observation station, elevation 2,087 feet, revealed that at 2235, conditions were wind 100 degrees at 4 knots, visibility of 10 miles, cloud conditions scattered at 11,000 feet above ground level (agl).

On the day of the accident, official sunset was at 2007, end of civil twilight was at 2033, moonset was at 1917 with an elevation more than 29 degrees below the horizon, and moonrise would be 1519 on August 25, 2012. Moon phase was a waxing crescent with 51% of visible disk illuminated. The evening trip took place under nighttime VFR conditions.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The fuselage of the helicopter was recovered on August 28, 2012, approximately 100 yards from the estimated location of the helicopter's original impact point on the water. The helicopter's engine was torn from the fuselage and could not be located due to poor visibility in the water and the irregular bottom features which rendered the search ineffective.

Examination of the cockpit area of the fuselage revealed that it had been breached during impact. The pilot and copilot's seat pans were broken away from their respective bases and deformed. The instrument panel was dislodged from its mount and held to the fuselage by wiring. A cursory examination of the instrument panel revealed that the landing light switch was found in the "both" position but the landing light circuit breaker was observed in the "out" position (turned off). Examination of the fuselage exhibited evidence of main rotor contact. The top Plexiglas window and frame exhibited evidence of main rotor contact.

Examination of the flight controls revealed that all controls from the collective and cyclic to the vertical control tubes to the hydraulic actuators to the swash plate were intact and no notable damage was observed. The forward vertical firewall exhibited rotational witness marks from the engine to transmission shaft. Rotational witness marks were also present on the transmission shaft. The forward end of the transmission shaft remained attached to the main transmission; the K-Flex coupling on the aft end of the transmission shaft had failed in overload and was splayed outward. The main rotor mast had fractured in overload at its base but had not separated. Examination of the main transmission chip detector upper and lower was found clean of debris. The hydraulic reservoir was found full of hydraulic fluid and clean of debris.

Examination of the main rotor blades revealed that all four rotor blades were fractured consistent with a sudden stoppage. The blue, red, and green pitch change links were bent; the orange pitch change link was fractured in overload. All pitch link hardware was present, and all cotter keys were installed.

The tail boom was fractured at the aft bulkhead and the fracture surfaces were consistent with a main rotor strike. Strike marks were present on both of the top of the vertical stabilizers above the tail boom and the bottom of the vertical stabilizers below the tail boom. The foreword-most 4 feet of the tail boom was not recovered. The vertical fin was not damaged, and the anti-collision light remained intact. The tail boom drive shaft was fractured at the number 3 coupling. Examination of the 90-degree gearbox revealed that the chip detector was found clean and free of debris. The 90-degree gearbox rotated with no binding or grinding. Control continuity was confirmed from the forward fracture to the tail rotor control lever upper end. The tail rotor control lever attachment point showed signs of impact damage and remnants of the arm bearing were located in the lower end of the tail cone. No anomalies were found with the tail rotor which would have prevented normal operation and control.

The engine bay showed evidence of contact by the main rotor. The mounts, engine controls, fuel, oil and electrical connections were all severed from the helicopter. The only engine components present were the Engine Control Unit (ECU), part of a throttle control arm, and a small fragment of the starter/generator mount. All engine mounts were fractured in overload and deformed. The engine oil reservoir, oil cooler, and fan were missing.

Due to extensive impact damage, control continuity could not be established from the cockpit to the engine bay. The collective was fractured at its base. The throttle twist grip was deformed and not movable by hand. The throttle was found in the full-open (fly) position. A piece of the throttle engine's throttle arm was present in the engine bay, still attached to a deformed section of throttle control linkage. The airframe-mounted fuel filter was present. The outlet fuel line to the engine had been severed, allowing water contamination of the filter bowl. The filter bowl was opened and examined. A small amount of silt was present, from the river bed but the filter was otherwise normal. The ECU baseplate was deformed due to impact damage.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on August 28, 2012, by the Department of Health, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Roanoke, Virginia, as authorized by the medical examiner for Washington County.

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot with negative results for drugs and alcohol.

TEST AND RESEARCH

Examination of the recorded ECU data revealed that there were no engine operating exceedance prior to impact, and no accumulated engine faults were recorded during the previous engine run. No Incident recorder (IR) data had been written to file; however, a partial Snapshot trigger dataset had been recorded. The Snapshot trigger was caused by an Engine Torque Exceedance of 116%. Only seven sequential engine parameters were recorded in the Snapshot data. This is consistent with destruction of the helicopter occurring almost immediately after the initial over-torque event occurred. Electrical power was lost to the ECU before a full line of Snapshot data could be written or any IR data could be recorded.

Due to the limited amount of data recorded on the ECU, very little analysis of engine performance could be achieved. The disparity between main rotor rpm (Nr) and power turbine speed (Np) is attributable to the rapid deceleration of the main rotor as it impacted the water. There is a 24 millisecond cycle time for the data write; however, the Nr signal first passes through a digital converter before the Np signal. During a rapid deceleration of the main rotor, the recorded value for Np will be lower than that recorded for Nr. The recorded Nr data was sampled a few milliseconds before the recorded Np data. The Np data was recorded during or immediately following the main rotor strike of the water.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Spatial Disorientation

According to Spatial Disorientation in Aviation (F.H. Previc and W.R. Ercoline), the otoliths (tiny organs of the inner ear), sense the acceleration of gravity and the acceleration associated with translational motions. Because the otoliths cannot distinguish between these two types of acceleration, they can only sense a combination of these two forces, the gravitoinertial force (GIF) vector. During coordinated, unaccelerated flight, the GIF vector is directed straight down through the pilot's seat. When an aircraft accelerates rapidly, however, the GIF vector is displaced aft, causing a false sensation of pitching up. This misperception, known as the somatogravic illusion, is normally dispelled when the pilot views the external horizon and/or the flight instruments. If no external horizon is visible and the flight instruments are not continuously monitored or are not correctly interpreted, the somatogravic illusion can persist, leading to an inaccurate understanding of aircraft orientation and direction of motion known as spatial disorientation, a condition that can lead to inappropriate pilot control inputs.

Spatial disorientation illusions are described extensively in FAA pilot training literature. For example, the 2012 Aeronautical Information Manual states, "A rapid acceleration during takeoff can create the illusion of being in a nose up attitude." Similarly, the FAA Instrument Flying Handbook states, "A rapid acceleration, such as experienced during takeoff, stimulates the otolith organs in the same way as tilting the head backwards. This action creates the somatogravic illusion of being in a nose-up attitude, especially in situations without good visual references." The Manual and the Handbook warn that, "The disoriented pilot may push the aircraft into a nose-low or dive attitude." Identical information is included in the FAA's Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. This particular illusion is so well recognized that information about it is included in the FAA's private pilot, instrument rating, and airline transport pilot knowledge test guides and the FAA practical test standards for private pilots.


According to FAA Advisory Circular AC 60-4A, "Pilot's Spatial Disorientation," tests conducted with qualified instrument pilots indicated that it can take as long as 35 seconds to establish full control by instruments after a loss of visual reference of the earth's surface. AC 60-4A further states that surface references and the natural horizon may become obscured even though visibility may be above VFR minimums, and that an inability to perceive the natural horizon or surface references is common during flights over water, at night, in sparsely populated areas, and in low-visibility conditions.




 
Bill Starnes



 The helicopter landing zone at Bristol Motor Speedway was dedicated to Bill Starnes on Thursday afternoon. This memorial plaque was unveiled. 
(Photo by David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier)


BY ROGER BROWN | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER 


BRISTOL, Tenn. –– A somber ceremony honoring former longtime Food City pilot and military veteran Bill Starnes was held Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway – and the speedway's helipad was renamed in honor of Starnes, who died in a helicopter crash at South Holston Lake during last August's race week.

"We miss Bill every day," Steve Smith, Food City’s chief executive officer, said during the ceremony beside the Speedway helipad, as a plaque memorializing Starnes was unveiled and the site officially renamed in his honor.

"It's still a little bit raw," Smith said of Starnes' death from the Aug. 24 crash. "You just never expect to lose someone like that."

Starnes was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who spent decades flying military helicopters before becoming chief pilot for K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc., the parent company of Food City. He was piloting a Bell helicopter that crashed into South Holston Lake shortly after departing Smith's home.

The accident occurred shortly after the Food City 250 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

A Blountville native, Starnes was the only person aboard the K-Va-T helicopter during the fatal crash. He was 64.

During Thursday's ceremony, which drew more than 100 people including area Virginia lawmakers Israel O'Quinn and William Carrico and staffers for Virginia U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, and Tennessee U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, Starnes was hailed for his stellar military career, generous spirit and commitment to his work.

"Bill [was] absolutely the embodiment of an incredible individual," said O'Quinn, who also is a K-VA-T executive. "You couldn't find a better guy than him."

Bristol Motor Speedway General Manager Jerry Caldwell said renaming the speedway's helipad site in Starnes' memory was a worthy way to remember a highly respected man and decorated pilot who counted the Bronze Star among his military honors.

"We're honoring a man who was so giving of himself to others," Caldwell said.

Starnes' widow, Lisa, was among numerous family members who attended Thursday's ceremony. She said renaming the helipad in her late husband's honor was "a fitting tribute" given his deep love for piloting.

“Bill was a wonderful man and flying was his passion," Lisa Starnes told the gathering. "We're so grateful that you have chosen to honor him in this manner – forever – at Bristol Motor Speedway."

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


http://registry.faa.gov/N407N

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA527

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 24, 2012 in Abingdon, VA
Aircraft: BELL 407, registration: N407N
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 August 24, 2012, about 2230 eastern daylight time, a Bell 407, N407N, crashed into South Holston Lake during a night departure from a river bank in Abingdon, Virginia. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged when it impacted the water. The helicopter was registered to and operated by K-VA-T&W-L Aviation LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight. Visual night meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to a witness in a boat, he watched the helicopter land with the landing light on and the passengers exit the helicopter. The helicopter then departed without the landing light on and turned toward the lake, descended down an embankment, and made a turn over the lake. The helicopter traveled approximately 150 yards when the bottom skids collided with the lake. The helicopter nosed over and made a loud splash. The witness waited for a short moment and then turned on his spot light and moved towards the position of the helicopter. As he moved forward, his boat collided with the tail boom which was floating away from the fuselage. He continued forward and the cabin area was floating upside down.


The helicopter was recovered from the lake and is pending further examination by the NTSB.

Robinson R-44, N392GP: Accident occurred March 14, 2013 in Eagle Nest, New Mexico

NTSB Identification: CEN13LA194 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, March 14, 2013 in Eagle Nest, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/24/2013
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N392GP
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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

The flight instructor and student pilot were cruising about 800 feet above ground level when they heard a loud “bang,” followed immediately by the low rotor rpm horn, a warning light illumination, and a rapid decrease in rotor rpm indication. In response, the instructor initiated an autorotation by lowering the collective, and the engine immediately lost power. The helicopter touched down and then rocked forward due to soft and downward-sloping terrain. The instructor applied slight aft cyclic to prevent the main rotor blades from contacting the ground; however, the main rotor blades struck and severed the tail boom. 

The engine was functionally tested, and it operated normally. However, one of the magnets used to provide rotor rpm indications was missing from the rotating transmission yoke and was found affixed to a bolt just aft of the yoke. It likely had become loose in flight, and its movement was the bang heard by the pilots. Scarring was found on one of the sensors opposite the magnet, indicating that the magnet had contacted the sensor. The separation of the magnet caused the rotor rpm indication to drop and the low rotor rpm warning horn and light to activate. Due to the control linkage between the collective and the throttle, when the instructor lowered the collective, the throttle closed rapidly. According to Robinson Helicopters, rapid throttle changes can result in a fuel-air ratio becoming too rich or too lean to sustain engine operation and result in an engine failure.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A total loss of engine power due to a rapid throttle change during autorotation, which the flight instructor initiated in response to a low rotor rpm warning, which resulted from the separation of one of the magnets used to provide rotor rpm indications from the rotating transmission yoke. Contributing to the accident was the flight instructor's aft cyclic input upon landing.

On March 14, 2013, about 1445 mountain daylight time, the flight instructor of a Robinson R-44, N392GP, was forced to make an autorotation to an open field after the engine lost power near Eagle Nest, New Mexico. The flight instructor and second pilot were not injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to Global Positioning Services, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska, and operated by Leading Edge Aviation, Inc., Bend, Oregon, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a visual flight rules flight plan had been filed but not activated. The flight originated from Dalhart, Texas, and was en route to Monte Vista, Colorado.

According to the instructor’s accident report, he and his student were cruising at 800 feet above the ground when they heard a loud “bang,” followed immediately by the low rotor RPM horn, warning light illumination, and a rapid decrease in rotor RPM. The instructor initiated an autorotation to an open field. The helicopter touched down and rocked forward due to the soft and downward sloping terrain. The pilot applied slight aft cyclic to prevent the main rotor blades from contacting the ground. The main rotor blades struck and severed the tail boom.

The helicopter was later transported to the operator’s facility in Bend, Oregon, where the engine was functionally tested. The engine was started and ran normally, and all parameters where within normal limits.

During the examination, it was discovered that one of the magnets used to provide rotor RPM indications was missing from the transmission yoke. There was scaring on one of the sensors opposite this magnet, indicating it had made contact with the magnet while the yoke was rotating. According to Robinson Helicopters, if one of the magnets or sensors opens, rotor RPM will drop and the low rotor RPM warning horn will activate. The magnet was later found affixed to a bolt just aft of the yoke, and a small dent was found on the horizontal firewall.

According to Robinson Helicopter, rapid throttle changes in the R44 can result in the fuel-air ratio becoming too rich or too lean to sustain engine operation and result in an engine failure, particularly at higher density altitudes.


NTSB Identification: CEN13LA194 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, March 14, 2013 in Eagle Nest, NM
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N392GP
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 March 14, 2013, about 1430 mountain daylight time, the pilot of a Robinson R-44, N392GP, was forced to autorotate to an open field after the engine lost power near Eagle Nest, New Mexico. The certificated flight instructor and student pilot were not injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to Global Positioning Services, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska, and was operated by Leading Edge Aviation, Inc., Bend, Oregon, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated at Fort Smith, Arkansas, with an en route stop at Dalhart, Texas, and was en route to Moab, Utah, and Bend, Oregon.

Preliminary information indicates the engine lost power while the helicopter was in cruise flight. The flight instructor autorotated the helicopter to an open field. The tail boom was severed by the main rotor blades when the helicopter struck the ground.




The tail of a helicopter broke off during a hard landing at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday (March 14) in a field near Eagle Nest.

Assistant Moreno Valley Fire Department Chief Craig Sime said that neither one of the two people onboard the aircraft were injured in the accident, which occurred near the village boundary northeast of Therma Way and Iron Queen Drive.

Village of Eagle Nest employee Amarante Tafoya said he was checking a road in the area when the helicopter came down.

“It just sounded like an engine cut out, and it just smoothly came down and hit the ground,” he said.

Tafoya estimated that the helicopter fell about 10 feet, and he said the tail broke off while it was still in the air.

“They were kind of sputtering, and then they got to their lowest point and they just cut out and landed right there,” he said.

The New Mexico State Police took control of the scene at about 4 p.m. Thursday.

The helicopter is registered to Global Positioning Services, Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska, according to a search of the aircraft’s N number on the Federal Aviation Administration website.

The helicopter accident came less than two weeks after four people died in a single-engine airplane crash March 3 in Angel Fire, which is about 10 miles south of Eagle Nest.

Steve Brian, executive director of Glynn Airport Commission, resigns

BRUNSWICK, GA. | Steve Brian resigned Thursday as executive director of the Glynn County Airport Commission and, minutes later, so did Laura McKinley, chairwoman of the panel that oversee the county’s airports on St. Simons Island and in Brunswick.

Brian’s resignation date will be effective April 12 and the commission awarded him six months pay and voted to use him as a consultant on three projects that are in the offing.

In his letter of resignation tendered at a noon meeting, Brian said the past several months have been difficult because of criticism from those who feel he and the Airport Commission have not performed “as they would like.”

“Unfortunately, many of the detractors have not brought specific issues which the commission or I can address,’’ he said.

Without that, Brian said, he could not help the Airport Commission improve the situation.

“I do not see the situation improving with my presence at the commission, which is the reason for my resignation,’’ he wrote.

The Airport Commission accepted his resignation “with regret.”

Ironically, one of Brian’s most vocal detractors is Stambaugh Aviation, a company that refits and maintains Boeing jets at Brunswick Golden Isles Airport.

Stambaugh officials said they could not live with new airport regulations that gave Brian too much power and that he was a hindrance to their plans to expand their operations.

A number of years ago, Stambaugh went into bankruptcy to reorganize and got behind on its lease payments. Charles Rinkevich, a former Airport Commission chairman, said Brian worked with Stambaugh on the lease payments and retained them as a tenant.

Asked Thursday if he regretted helping Stambaugh officials given their recent unrelenting criticism, Brian said, “No. It was the right thing to do for the community.”

Other tenants, including the owners of small planes and other airport businesses, also complained about Brian’s management.

The Glynn County Commission, which owns the airports, held a public hearing Thursday to accept comments on its plans to change its ordinances that govern the Airport Commission. That meeting began at 2 p.m.

McKinley said she didn’t resign with any animosity, although there was plenty of disdain shown toward the Airport Commission members during the Wednesday meeting.

Her resignation opens up a seat on the Airport Commission for the County Commission to fill with an appointment and perhaps calm the situation and get things moving forward again.

McKinley said she was surprised at the deep animosity that tenants showed toward the Airport Commission members.

“I had no concept of how bad our relationship with the tenants was,’’ she said.

It is critical that the Airport Commission quickly establish a way to carry out projects at the airport especially the $12 million resurfacing of the runway at Brunswick Golden Isles Airport.

The Georgia Department of Transportation and FAA must be assured that the project will be carried out successfully, she said.

“If we don’t have a plan in place they’re comfortable with, they could pull those funds,’’ she said.


Source:   http://jacksonville.com

Aviation ministry misled Parliament on air safety report: council

UN watchdog’s audit of DGCA in December found the regulator wanting in its ability to oversee safety issues


New Delhi: The aviation ministry misled the Indian Parliament about a safety audit draft report by a United Nations watchdog, a member of the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council (CASAC) said in a letter to aviation minister Ajit Singh and aviation secretary K.N. Srivastava.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), of which India is a member, completed an audit of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in December and found it wanting in its ability to oversee safety issues, Mint reported on 11 March. The organization then clubbed India with Angola, Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Malawi, and São Tomé and Príncipe as far as safety levels were concerned.

DGCA said at the time that the regulator was taking corrective action based on the report, “which has been accepted by ICAO. This will be implemented by June 2013. Then we will invite ICAO’s team to verify the action taken”.

However, the aviation ministry, under which DGCA operates, told Parliament on 13 March that it wasn’t aware of any such report. This was in response to a question (No. 2748) by parliamentarian Shivaji Adhalrao Patil and four others with the subject line ICAO audits of DGCA in the Lok Sabha.

“I have taken note and I am working on moving a privilege motion against the minister (Ajit Singh),” Patil, who had asked the question, told Mint.

The question in Parliament was: “Whether in its audit report ICAO has pointed out the poor performance of DGCA in hiring and training of staff thereby jeopardizing safety of the passengers and if so the details in this regard with the reaction of the government thereto.”

The aviation ministry replied that it hadn’t got the report.

“The International Civil Aviation Organization has not made available the draft report to India of the audit carried out by them from 12th to 20th December 2012,” the ministry said.

A member of CASAC, which was established in the aftermath of the Mangalore crash of an Air India Express flight in 2010 that killed 158 people, questioned the ministry’s reply.

“I am shocked to find that a false statement has been filed in the Lok Sabha based on the data submitted to you by DGCA. You are aware of the concern we have raised regarding DGCA’s action in condoning fudged log books, fudged simulator hours and fudged data. We have seen no action to correct that. I am copying, below, the answer provided by the ministry of civil aviation for an unstarred question in the Lok Sabha,” Mohan Ranganathan, the member of CASAC, wrote in a letter on Thursday to Singh and Srivastava.

He said Parliament was being given false data, undermining any action on passenger safety.

“If the Parliament can be misled by false data from DGCA, there is no hope for safety in Indian aviation. India comes in the lowest 5% of member states in ICAO (13 states black-flagged in the list of 194 states), and where even the small neighbours like Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan have a clear rating, it is a shame that India needs urgent and drastic correction,” he wrote. “Officials in DGCA and AAI (Airports Authority of India) who have brought us down to this level must be held accountable.”

Aviation secretary Srivastava declined to comment. He is scheduled to travel to Montreal, ICAO’s headquarters, on Monday, to meet the agency’s leadership there, besides having other engagements, according to a ministry official who declined to be named.

A DGCA spokesperson on Thursday justified the reply in Parliament on the grounds that it hadn’t got ICAO’s full report.

Director general of civil aviation Arun Mishra said over phone: “ICAO has shared the significant safety concerns and corrective action plan (CAP) has been submitted and accepted by ICAO, and action is being taken to address the CAP. However, the draft report of the audit will be made available by ICAO after 90 days of audit, that is by end of March, after which 45 days are given to the state for comments on the draft report. Then the report is finalized by ICAO.”

Ranganathan said ICAO’s protocol contradicts Mishra’s contention.

“A copy of the interim audit report is left with DGCA by the ICAO team on the last day of the audit with their findings and recommendations. It is the state which has to respond to this interim report, which is the draft report, in 90 days. The...language is very clear on ICAO website.”

The ICAO website says that on the last day of the audit, the country’s regulator gets an “audit interim report” of the “findings and recommendations”. DGCA itself told Parliament that the last day of the audit was 20 December.

India’s former representative to ICAO said it was time the country tightened up safety processes.

“There has been a huge slippage in civil aviation over the last decade in the recruitment of technical officers at DGCA, which is reflecting in air safety,” said Sanat Kaul, a former civil aviation ministry officer and former representative of India in ICAO. “Better salaries and better headhunting (procedures), which are not reliant on the mercy of the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission), are urgently needed. The inadequacy of the recruitment system followed by UPSC is damaging the” country’s air safety.


Source:  http://www.livemint.com

Future up in the air for Barrier Aviation: boss slams grounding

Barrier Aviation boss David Kilin has accused the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of holding a "personal vendetta" against him which has caused the permanent grounding of his Cairns-based airline.

The managing director said the stoush over alleged maintenance issues, which came to light when CASA suspended the airline's operation in December, would eventually crush the charter company.

"In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, CASA's draconian approach has been a personal vendetta against me, hidden behind their catchcry 'it is all about safety'," Mr Kilin said in a statement issued yesterday.

"Their PR machine has been both cunning and manipulative, whilst we have been shackled and made to toe the line every step of the way."

The company, which operated services out of Cairns, Horn Island, Darwin and Gove and had 56 people on staff, is now managing with a skeleton staff and a minimum number of company-owned planes

According to CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson, Barrier Aviation was served a 66-page notice at 5pm on Wednesday outlining why the aviation watchdog had cancelled their air operator's certificate, and the carrier had 28 days to appeal the decision through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Mr Gibson said the notice outlined evidence of the company disregarding rules for maintenance and knowingly operating defected aircraft.

"There were three audits in the second half of 2012 and it was on the findings of those which led to the suspension in late December," he told The Cairns Post.

"Then there was an investigation between December and now, where we delved into the issues in great details.


"We have evidence of them undertaking unsafe operations ... "

Mr Gibson said CASA was not "making an example" out of Barrier Aviation but simply focusing on information of the company "undertaking unsafe operations".

"We make these decisions and take action purely on the evidence before us," he said.

While CASA would not publicly release the 66-page report saying it could affect Barrier Aviation's attempt to overturn the decision, Mr Gibson said the authority would turn their focus to other companies operating in Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait.

"We will continue to keep a close eye across all Far North Queensland and Torres Strait operators to make sure safety standards are being maintained."

With Cape Air Transport, Westwing and Hinterland Aviation taking over most of Barrier Aviation's flying contracts since the suspension, Hinterland Aviation managing director Mark Dorward confirmed their company would employ four extra staff to cope with the increased workload.

"We've experienced extra demand and it looks like some business will be ongoing," he said.

"We will have to increase staffing in the long term.

"Obviously if an ex-employee of Barrier Aviation applies, we'll look at them on a merit basis like anyone else."


Mr Dorward added: "No one likes to look at it from gaining on someone else's demise but at the end of the day you have to look after the people (clients)."

The Cairns Post understands that the Horn Island base was the major concern for CASA with defects not being written up on a maintenance release.

Mr Kilin said the company is now exploring opportunities with their legal team to fight for an appeal.

"It is ludicrous to think that Barrier Aviation would want anything but safe planes and practices for our staff and our passengers," he said.

"A clean, 20-year reputation and business is destroyed because of bureaucrats playing out their own agendas yet again.

"Qantas and Virgin are too big to be bullied by CASA  we are not.

"At this stage the future of Barrier is uncertain."


Source:  http://www.cairns.com.au

Not just for high-flyers: Private jets come within reach of business travelers

(CNN) — The last few years haven’t been kind to the private jet industry. A still-not-recovered global economy has meant a continued lull in the sales department, and many execs are wary of incurring the wrath of shareholders should they get caught cruising on a corporate jet.

The market is starting to find its footing, however, thanks in part to the innovations of a few savvy companies, who are working together to make private aviation faster, cheaper and more accessible.

According to WINGX Advance, a market intelligence provider for the aviation industry, the private jet industry (including fractional and whole ownership) was practically stagnant in the U.S. last year, and declined by nearly 4 percent in Europe.

By comparison, the charter business is soaring. Adam Twidell, the founder of PrivateFly, an online booking service that has done for the private jet industry what Expedia and Priceline did for commercial flights, has seen a yearly threefold growth since he launched his company in 2007. While third-party booking sites have become standard in the field of commercial aviation, in the private jet industry, PrivateFly is an innovator.

“When I really started looking around online, I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a way to book a private jet,” says Twidell. He recognized a gap in the market, and his wife and partner, Carol Cork, sold her house to help him start a new company that would fill the gap. Though Twidell jokes that his “mother-in-law still isn’t completely convinced it was a wise decision,” PrivateFly has since become Europe’s fastest growing aviation company.

The advantage to customers, he notes, is that they can compare prices of over 2,500 aircraft, either through the website or on the PrivateFly mobile app. They can also book a jet at practically a moment’s notice.

“Our record to get somebody airborne from having their request submitted is 40 minutes,” he notes.

For the 700 operators that list their jets through the site, they can ensure their planes aren’t sitting around, gathering dust and incurring parking fees.

“Essentially, it’s a matchmaking exercise,” says Twidell.

Making the connection between supply and demand less obscure has also helped bring down the price of private jets. For example, if an operator has an “empty leg,” that is, they’ve flown someone one way and face a potentially empty cabin on the return flight, they can offer a discount for that leg of the journey. In this way, private flight has become more affordable, and more accessible, than ever before.

PrivateFly isn’t the only company to take advantage of the empty leg. U.S. charter company JetSuite posts several empty leg sales daily (they dub these “SuiteDeals”) via Facebook and Twitter. These range from $499 to $1,499 for one leg of a journey on either a Phenom 100 (which seats up to four) or a CJ3 (which can seat six). That price is not per person; it’s per aircraft.

“Some of those trips are silly, like Santa Monica to Van Nuys. But sometimes you can get an entire plane for $499 that flies from Los Angeles to New York, and you can split the price between four people,” says JetSuite CEO Alex Wilcox. Granted, he notes, “that’s a rarity.”

JetSuite’s clients have to buy into a membership (and these start at $50,000), but they get considerably more bang for their buck. The number of flight hours they use is subtracted from the total, and JetSuite says they charge half of what their competition might charge, around $3,000.

“A lot of our competitors are still caught up in the 1980s, when private jets were all about champagne and caviar. We don’t serve food on board; we’re just a time machine,” says Wilcox, who was also a founding partner of JetBlue.

Aside from cutting food, JetSuite saves money by offering more transparency in booking. Customers, for instance, can choose to land in airports with lower taxi landing fees — a savings that is reflected in their total bill. It also opts for lighter, less expensive planes.

“We have an efficiency model,” says Wilcox. “Not only does the Phelon 100 cost less, but it burns less gas. We’re saving a ton of money on fuel and capital costs, and we pass those savings on.”

Though their model may come across as rather austere for a luxury product, Wilcox notes it’s more practical in the current climate.

“There’s a stigma attached to a corporation having their own airplanes right now,” he notes. “So a lot of companies are looking for alternative solutions. For guys who are afraid to use airplanes because their shareholders won’t like it, they use us.”

JumpJet, a private jet service that launched last October, is hoping to bring the price of bookings down even further, so they’re on par with first- and business-class commercial flights. The company is still in the process of gathering members and plans to launch its first flights in May. Like JetSuite, JumpJet is a membership program, with plans starting at $2,350 per month (these include 10 U.S. domestic round trip flights of up to 3.5 hours). Unlike JetSuites, JumpJet doesn’t own any planes. Rather, they purchase charters and allow members to divide the cost.

“We’re not one jet, one customer, which is a tradition for the industry,” notes Will Ashcroft, JumpJet’s CEO. Instead, JumpJet will try and pair members who are heading to the same place at the same time on a single flight.

While not all JumpJet flights will be equivalent to a first-class ticket, for a long-haul flight, the prices can be about equivalent, especially when you take into account the time savings.

“Most people give up three to five hours a day flying commercial, and when you fly private you get this time back,” says Ashcroft, referring to the hours saved avoiding security lines, bag checks and customs.

“Keeping that in mind, when you break down a coast-to-coast trip, it is $6,600 to fly JumpJet, versus $6,000 to fly first class with an airline. I’d take a private jet any day.”


Source:   http://wtkr.com