Friday, March 15, 2013

Deputies call for aviation law: China

China's top legislature should accelerate the introduction of an aviation law to ensure the industry can enjoy sound development and rapid growth, lawmakers suggested.

"An aviation industry is one of the defining factors that determine the world ranking of a country and represents the level of the country's science and technology, industrial capability and military power," said Fan Huitao, a deputy to the 12th National People's Congress and chief designer at the China Airborne Missile Academy.


"According to research findings, each percentage increase in the sales volume of aircraft will in turn produce a 0.7 percentage rise in the national economy, and a high-tech aviation company could benefit 15 other companies in related industries," he told China Daily on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the NPC in Beijing.

Fan's academy is one of China's top defense technology research institutes and belongs to Aviation Industry Corp of China, the nation's biggest aircraft manufacturer.

During the annual session of the national legislature in 2008, deputies from the aviation sector submitted a proposal for an aviation law, he said.

"However, they were told conditions had not matured enough for such a law to be made at that time."

He noted almost every country that has a strong aviation industry has published laws on the sector, citing the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 in the United States and the Brazilian Aeronautical Code as examples of legislation boosting the industry's rapid development.

The scrapping of the ambitious Y-10 project, China's first attempt to develop an indigenous, large jetliner, was caused by divergence between civil aviation authorities and the aircraft manufacturing sector, and the absence of an aviation law, said Hong Jiansheng, another deputy and a senior executive at the AVIC Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.

"Without a national law regulating the aviation industry, a haphazard decision or shifts in policies will have a huge effect on the industry and slow its development."

The country's air traffic control authorities have drafted an aviation law, but related government departments are still debating a series of issues such as which department should initiate the legislation and the air traffic management mechanism, leading to the legislation being stalled, Legal Daily reported in January.

"We call on the government to treat the aviation industry as a strategically important sector by introducing the aviation law, and we hope the top legislature could find a place for the law in its legislative agenda," said Fan.

In addition to the legislative proposal, lawmakers from the aviation sector also urged the central government to give more support and favorable policies to State-owned defense technology enterprises that are located in remote, underdeveloped areas and haunted with financial difficulties.

During the climax of the Cold War, China constructed or relocated more than 1,100 defense technology institutes and plants to remote, inland regions, and those institutes and plants had made remarkable contributions to the nation's national defense through the sacrifice and devotion of millions of researchers and workers, said Ma Yongsheng, an NPC deputy and chairman of AVIC Aerospace.

"Many such enterprises have been struggling with financial problems, a continuing brain drain as well as heavy burdens from a vast group of retirees and their healthcare costs," he said, noting there are more than 100,000 workers and retirees in about 50 State-owned aviation companies in Guizhou province, and just paying their incomes has inflicted colossal costs for those companies.

"Therefore, we deputies from State-owned defense enterprises submitted a proposal calling for favorable tax and loan policies, special subsidies and measures for attracting talent."


Source:  http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn

Helicopter landing in Downtown El Paso will close several streets Sunday

Streets marked in red indicate closures from 7 a.m. to noon Sunday. 
(Provided by city of El Paso)


The installation of a new public safety communication system delivered via helicopter will cause a number of temporary road closures Sunday morning in Downtown. 

Because a back-up generator will be installed via airlift on the roof of the Wells Fargo Building on Kansas Street, several streets will close from 7 a.m. to noon Sunday.

The streets affected will be:

  • Kansas Street, from Franklin to Texas
  • Stanton Street, from Main to Texas
  • Campbell Street, from Main to Texas
  • Main Street, from Stanton to Campbell
  • Mills Avenue, from Mesa to Florence
  • Texas Avenue, from Mesa to Florence

  • Julie Lozano, a spokeswoman for the city of El Paso, said the operation was scheduled for Sunday morning to minimize the disruption of traffic. 

    The lift operation requires the load to be slung beneath the helicopter. A city spokeswoman said the helicopter is prohibited from flying over occupied facilities. The top floors of the Wells Fargo building and the new City Hall will be closed. El Paso police and El Paso fire officials will provide help with this operation.

    City officials said the top floors of the Wells Fargo Building will also be closed. 

    Source:  http://www.elpasotimes.com

    Loyola Med Student Feels Success After Plane, Car Crashes: Beechcraft B36TC Bonanza, N4BA, Accident occurred April 01, 2010 in Dayton, Ohio


    View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

    Loyola University medical student Ali Hausfeld overcame the plane crash that killed her father and sister and the car crash that injured her and her boyfriend. Charlie Wojciechowski reports. 


    A first-year medical student at Loyola University considered dropping out of school after her father and sister died in a tragic plane crash, but four years later she is graduating in May and completing her residency at the university of her choice.

    During her first year at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine, Ali Hausfeld learned that her father and sister died in a plane crash on their way to pick her up for Easter weekend. The two set off from Dayton, Ohio and crashed moments later after the plane’s engine died.

    Hausfeld considered dropping out of school, but her mother convinced her to continue.

    "It was extremely difficult and I didn’t know if I could continue in medical school or if I needed to be home with my mom. I think with the support I had here at Loyola and the support of my family, I was able to continue on with medical school," Hausfeld said.

    Less than three years after the tragedy, Hausfeld and her boyfriend were involved in a head-on collision after another drive fell asleep at the wheel. Hausfeld suffered five broken ribs, a broken rib and dislocated ankle.

    Following surgery and months in physical therapy, Hausfeld returned to her studies and developed an interest in internal and emergency medicine.

    "My circumstances have given me perspective that make me calm during stressful situation. I think this will help me in my career, particularly if I pursue emergency medicine," Hausfeld said.

    Hausfeld learned earlier this week that she had been matched at a residency program following her graduation in May. At Loyola’s Match Day ceremony Friday, Hausfeld learned she will be completing her five-year residency in internal and emergency medicine at Ohio State University, a university much closer to home.

    She was surrounded by more than 20 family members, friends and more than 100 classmates when she picked up the sealed envelope revealing her residency location. Hausfeld received one of 27 slots available nationwide in her field of study, and the only slot available at Ohio State.

    Although Hausfeld’s father and sister weren’t with her to celebrate this moment in her career, she knows they are proud of her and she is excited for this new chapter in her life.

    "Happy to be going home with my mom and cousins here," Hausfeld said.  

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

    NTSB Identification: CEN10FA180 
    14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
    Accident occurred Thursday, April 01, 2010 in Dayton, OH
    Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/20/2011
    Aircraft: BEECH B36TC, registration: N4BA
    Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

    Approximately 1 minute after takeoff, as the airplane was about 1 mile southwest of the airport, the pilot reported an engine failure to air traffic controllers and initiated a return to the airport. One witness, located about 1 mile west of the airport, reported that the sound of the engine changed abruptly; noting that the engine seemed to lose power completely. Another witness, located near the airport, observed the airplane approach from the west and turn to align with the downwind runway. During the turn, the left wingtip struck the ground and the airplane impacted short of the runway. A postimpact fire ensued. Although the pilot initiated a return to the airport, an interstate highway and an open grass area short of the runway were both potentially available for an emergency landing. A postaccident examination of the engine revealed that the No. 1 (aft) main crankshaft bearing failed due to unknown circumstances. The progressive failure of the bearing likely precipitated secondary failures of the crankcase through-bolt and the fuel pump coupling, which resulted in a complete loss of engine power.

    The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
    The complete loss of engine power due to failure of the No. 1 main bearing, and the secondary failure of a crankcase through-bolt and the fuel pump drive coupling. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to attempt a return to the airport for a downwind forced landing, despite having an interstate highway and an open grass area short of the runway as available emergency landing sites.

    Caribbean Airlines passenger who became ill in flight dies

    The Caribbean Media Corporation says that Caribbean Airlines (CAL) today confirmed that a 35 year-old, who had taken ill on a flight from Miami to Trinidad and Tobago died in Puerto Rico where the plane was forced to land after the male passenger began suffering “from a medical condition”.

    CAL communications manager Clint Williams, speaking on local radio said that flight BW483 with 91 passengers on board had to be diverted to Puerto Rico on Thursday night, CMC said. The name of the passenger was not provided.

    United Airlines Mistakenly Sends Phoenix-Bound Dog From Newark To Ireland: 6-Year-Old 'Hendrix' Ended Up On 3 Flights In 24 Hours; His Owner Isn't Pleased

    NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Right ticket, wrong destination — by 5,000 miles!

    A dog that was supposed to fly from Newark Liberty International Airport to Arizona ended up in Ireland.

    But why?

    Six-year-old Springer Spaniel “Hendrix,” who was named after the jet-setting rock star, endured a long journey. Like his legendary namesake Jimi, the dog is now an international traveler, but was not supposed to be.

    “I was not happy,” the dog’s owner, Edith Alback, told CBS 2′s Dave Carlin.

    United Airlines is now in the dog house with Alback. She paid $408 for Hendrix to fly, plus $160 for the crate, while fully expecting safe transportation for the dog to Phoenix, Ariz.

    But instead, the pooch wound up in lush, green Ireland.

    At home last night in the Great Kills section of Staten Island, Alback was thinking her dog would land in Arizona any minute.

    However, that changed when a United Airlines representative contacted her.

    “Somebody called me and told me that there was something wrong with the dog, and that the dog was on its way to Ireland instead of to Phoenix,” Alback said.

    In a 24-hour period, Hendrix took not one, but three flights.

    One from from Newark to Shannon, Ireland that took seven hours. He then spent two hours on the ground there. Then the dog headed back from Shannon to Newark and finally from Newark to Phoenix on a five-hour flight.

    “So this dog’s been in a crate since last night,” Alback said.

    The airline is giving the family a refund.

    “The point was they put a live animal on a plane to go internationally and it was just not called for, it was not right,” Alback said.

    The dog’s situation is rare, but not unheard of. CBS 2′s Carlin headed to a local veterinary hospital to get some expert advice on the topic.

    “I think you need to scrutinize the airline, make sure that you fill in paperwork appropriately — ask questions,” said veterinarian Ben Davidson.

    The next time Hendrix’s owner will see him is April 1 when she joins the rest of her family — all of them are moving to Arizona.

    “In the future, I’ll drive anywhere I go,” Alback said.

    United Airlines has yet to figure out what happened, but the airline released this statement:

    “United Airlines is committed on making travel safe and comfortable for pets. We are reviewing the circumstances and taking steps to prevent this from happening again.”


    Story and Reaction/Comments:  http://newyork.cbslocal.com

    Oracle CEO Buys Airline Serving Hawaiian Island

    Larry Ellison bought a small commuter airline in Hawaii in part to ensure it would continue service to the island that is mostly owned by the Oracle Corp. CEO, according to a representative for the billionaire's personal investment company.

    The danger that Island Air could go out of business pushed Ellison's company to prepare contingency plans in case the airline failed, Lawrence Investments LLC Vice President Paul Marinelli said this week in a telephone interview. One option considered was to sign contracts with other interisland carriers to provide flights to Lanai.

    Ellison purchased 98 percent of the land on Lanai from Castle and Cooke Inc. last year.

    "There were almost 250 employees that if Mr. Ellison didn't step forward, I'm not sure they would be still employed," said Marinelli, who is based in Walnut Creek, Calif. "That's my impression based on the circumstances before we acquired it."

    Marinelli said the purchase also would improve flight connections for residents and visitors. Those travelers would likely stay at the hotels Ellison also bought when he purchased the land on the island.

    Layovers are often a big consideration for travelers, especially when tourists from the U.S. West Coast have the option of taking direct flights to Maui or Kauai instead of changing planes in Honolulu. The company hopes that by improving Island Air's flight schedule, for example, a traveler from California will only have a one hour layover in Honolulu when flying to Lanai instead of waiting three hours for a connecting flight.

    The company also wanted to ensure Lanai residents can visit relatives and get medical care on other islands and otherwise come and go.

    Island Air will remain an interisland carrier, Marinelli said. The company has no plans for direct flights outside Hawaii, but it plans to increase service to airports it currently flies to on Molokai, Maui, Kauai, Oahu, the Big Island and Lanai, he said.

    Hawaiian Airlines holds a dominant share of the interisland market, which is also served by Mokulele Airlines and go! Airlines.

    Hawaii's aviation history is littered with failed interisland carriers. Marinelli said Ellison's company was aware of that, but Ellison's enterprise has a different economic model because it owns both hotels and an airline.

    "You may lose a little bit of money flying an extra flight from Maui or Honolulu to Lanai," Marinelli said. "But if that flight includes visitors that otherwise would not have come and spent time on Lanai, then that could well be an overall positive or shall we say, profitable additional flight."

    Ellison's company expects to be competitive and successful with Island Air, Marinelli said.

    Many media reports have called Lanai Ellison's island, or mentioned how Ellison bought his own Hawaiian island. Marinelli said Ellison uses the term "our island" to refer to Lanai, Marinelli said.

    "It's not 'Larry's island,'" Marinelli said. "He doesn't think of it that way and I think that's important."


    Source:   http://abcnews.go.com

    Man Arrested For Breaking Into Airport To Steal Beer: Key West International (KEYW), Florida


    If Jimmy Buffett hasn't already written a sappy acoustic ballad about the foibles of Thomas Knight, it's probably only a matter of time. The 57-year-old Conch had such a strong hankering for another cold one, local police say, that he broke into the Key West Airport to steal a six pack from the terminal bar.

    Which, come to think of it, raises a question or two about security at the Conch Republic's international airport.

    An airport security worker named Sonja Fleita was on her early morning rounds around 5:45 a.m. last Friday when she noticed a figure walking through the empty terminal, says Becky Herrin, a spokeswoman for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

    She went to investigate and found Knight, a deliveryman who lives on Stock Island, rooting around behind the First Call Beach Bar in the arrivals area.

    Fleita watched Knight grab a six pack and walk away before confronting him. Though he claimed he was just looking for someone to pay for the beer, she arrested him and charged him with trespassing.

    Knight was let off with a warning, but deputies reviewed security footage and saw Knight drinking a soda and taking beer out of a refrigerator. On Tuesday, he was arrested and charged with burglary and theft.

    Get on it, Jimmy: The Conch so thirsty he broke into the airport to get a buzz.

    Oh, and Homeland Security -- you may want to look into the setup at Key West International if you've got a second.

    Story and Photo:   http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com

    Air France Airbus A330-200, F-GZCO: Incident or mishap to decide plane fate

    MUMBAI: The Air France plane, which made an emergency landing after engine failure 15 minutes after take-off on Monday, will remain at the Mumbai airport's international parking bay for some time now.

    Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) officials said the aircraft was repaired by a special maintenance team called in from France a day after the incident, but it is the classification of the episode that will decide if the aircraft can fly out of Mumbai.

    "If the episode is classified as an incident, it will be probed by the French authorities and the aircraft can be authorized to fly to Paris. But if it is classified as accident, it will be within the purview of the DGCA," said an official.

    Ground inspection had revealed the presence of a chisel-like tool in the hood of the engine, which had caused massive damage and perhaps led to the failure.

    "If it is an incident, the aircraft can be authorized to fly to Paris. In case of it being called an 'accident', the local aviation body will take charge and probe it," said a DGCA official.

    Officials said a preliminary report has been prepared, but final conclusions may take time as the matter involves inter-country legalities as well. "The report is still pending. It is not just an investigation on what went wrong, but also a legal and political matter between two countries. The legalities have to be smoothed out to ensure that a fair conclusion is reached," said an officer.

    The final report on the incident may take a few months before it is finalized.

    This incident is being regarded as similar to the Turkish Airlines case when an aircraft skid off the Mumbai's runway and was stuck at the airport for three days last year.


    Source:  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

    4 walk away from plane crash at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC), Denver, Colorado

    (Photo courtesy: Airtracker7)



    (Photo courtesy: Airtracker7)



    BROOMFIELD, Colo. - A single-engine airplane crashed at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport near Broomfield on Friday afternoon. 

    The plane, with Navy markings, could be seen tipped on to its nose in the grass next to a runway just after 3 p.m.

     A spokeswoman with the airport said four people were in the plane at the time of the crash and all were able to walk away with no injuries.

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

    Cougar helicopter returns to base again after indicator light comes on

    A Cougar helicopter en route to the SeaRose FPSO today with 10 passengers onboard conducted a precautionary return to base after an indicator light came on.

    It’s the same helicopter that made a precautionary return for the same reason on Thursday.

    The aircraft was approximately 17 miles from St. John's today when a FADEC 2 fault caution illuminated for number 2 engine.

    FADEC (Full authority digital engine control) is a system consisting of a digital computer and its related accessories that control all aspects of aircraft engine performance.

    The crew elected to return to base to have maintenance investigate. After commencing turn-around the illumination was sporadic. The aircraft landed safely and without further incident.

    No safety of flight issue was present at anytime. Maintenance crews investigated and are currently replacing the FADEC on the aircraft.


    •••

    (Earlier story)

    A Cougar helicopter with 12 passengers onboard made a precautionary return to base on Thursday, the C-NLOPB announced in an incident bulletin.

    The bulletin states: “The aircraft was en route to the Terra Nova FPSO and was approximately 14 miles from St. John's when a FADEC 2 fault caution illuminated for number 2 engine. The crew elected to return to base to have maintenance investigate. After commencing turn-around the fault cleared. The aircraft landed safely and without further incident. No safety of flight issue was present at anytime.”


    Source:   http://www.thetelegram.com

    Sikorsky S-76A++, Era Helicopters LLC, N574EH: Fatal accident occurred March 15, 2013 in Grand Lake, Louisiana

    The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

    Additional Participating Entities:

    Federal Aviation Administration; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Sikorsky Aircraft Company; Stratford, Connecticut
    Turbomeca USA; Grand Prairie, Texas
    Era Helicopters; Lake Charles, Louisiana 
    Bell Helicopter; Fort Worth, Texas 
    Federal Aviation Administration; Boston, Massachusetts 

    Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


    Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms


    Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


    http://registry.faa.gov/N574EH 



    NTSB Identification: CEN13FA192
    14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
    Accident occurred Friday, March 15, 2013 in Grand Lake, LA
    Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/27/2015
    Aircraft: SIKORSKY S-76A++, registration: N574EH
    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.

    The pilot and two mechanics were conducting a post-maintenance check flight of the helicopter’s avionics system. After testing the avionics, the pilot allowed the mechanic to fly the helicopter at 1,000 feet above ground level. The mechanic maneuvered the helicopter for about 1 minute and then stated that he was transferring control of the helicopter back to the pilot. Two seconds later, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) cut off. About 1 minute after the CVR cut off, the pilot made a routine radio call to the tower controller that he was returning to land. Two minutes after this call, the pilot radioed the tower controller and his company’s dispatcher, stating that he had a problem and would be landing off-airport immediately. Several ground witnesses noticed the helicopter as it flew toward the accident site, and it was making an unusual noise, described as grinding, screeching, or whistling. The helicopter impacted with a high vertical descent rate and a postcrash fire ensued.

    Examination of the helicopter revealed that the main rotor and tail rotor systems had low rotational energy at the time of ground impact. Two of the tail rotor blades (yellow and red) were fractured adjacent to the tail rotor hub. The fracture signatures on the red/yellow tail rotor spar assembly were consistent with the red tail rotor blade spar initially fracturing and the red tail rotor blade departing from the tail rotor. 

    The resultant imbalance of the tail rotor fractured the tail gearbox (TGB) output housing studs and most likely tripped the CVR g-switch, which cut off the CVR. The yellow tail rotor blade spar fractured due to high centrifugal forces as a result of the imbalance, and the yellow blade departed from the tail rotor; the tail rotor was then rebalanced. The two remaining tail rotor blades continued to provide partial tail rotor anti-torque, and tail rotor drive remained continuous through the TGB. The entirety of the red and yellow blade separation event likely occurred very quickly, with only a momentary bump or vibration at the time of blade separation.   

    As the TGB output housing began to separate from the center housing, the gears likely began going out of mesh, allowing the output bevel gear to eventually contact the TGB center housing. This condition likely resulted in the loud, unusual noise reported by witnesses, as well as a drag force on the tail rotor drive system. As the pilot attempted to land, he likely shut the engines down in conjunction with an autorotative landing. Because the tail rotor drive system and main transmission remained mechanically linked, when the engines were shut down, it is likely that main rotor speed (Nr) degraded due to the compromised TGB. As a result, the helicopter developed a high vertical descent rate until ground impact. 

    The red blade spar fracture signatures were consistent with a fast-growth failure mode. Plausible fast-growth failure modes that were examined included a discrete impact event (e.g. object strike), anomalous operation of the pivot bearing, and a fracture of the pitch horn box (the structure which attaches the pitch horn to the blade and to which the pivot bearings and bumper attaches). With the lack of available evidence because the red blade was not recovered, the specific failure mode could not be determined during the investigation.   

    The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
    Fracture of the red tail rotor blade spar, which resulted in the separation and departure of the red tail rotor blade from the helicopter and subsequent compromised tail gearbox. The red tail rotor blade was not recovered, thus the cause of the initial fracture could not be determined.

    HISTORY OF FLIGHT

    On March 15, 2013, about 1147 central daylight time, a Sikorsky S-76A++ helicopter, N574EH, was destroyed after ground impact near Grand Lake, Louisiana. All three occupants onboard, the pilot and two maintenance personnel, were fatally injured. The helicopter was registered to Era Helicopters LLC and was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a post-maintenance check flight of avionics systems. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which departed from Lake Charles Regional Airport (LCH), Lake Charles, Louisiana at 1119.

    At 1120, LCH tower controller instructed the pilot to report inbound to LCH at the completion of the maintenance flight. The pilot acknowledged and advised he would remain on the LCH air traffic control (ATC) frequency. At 1145, the pilot advised LCH ATC that he was about 10 miles to the south of LCH and would be returning for landing. 

    At 1146:57, the pilot called LCH tower controller and advised he had an emergency and would be immediately landing off the airport. At 11:47:02, the pilot called the Era Helicopters company dispatcher and advised that he had a problem and would be landing immediately. The wreckage of the helicopter was found about 5 miles southeast of the threshold for Runway 33 at LCH. The majority of the helicopter was consumed by a post-crash fire.

    Several witnesses noticed the accident helicopter as it flew toward the accident site. The first witness, a helicopter pilot, stated that he observed the accident helicopter in a shallow descent as it passed just east of his house about 600 feet above ground level. He stated that the helicopter was producing an unusual, grinding noise as it passed over his house. After watching the helicopter pass by his house, he walked inside his house to avoid directly viewing a possible crash. As he walked back outside, he noticed smoke plumes to the north of his house.

    A second witness, a previous Navy helicopter mechanic, recorded a cell phone video of the helicopter as it passed by his position. He stated the helicopter's rotor system sounded abnormal as it flew by, making a loud, screeching noise. He stated the helicopter appeared to slow down, then the helicopter's tail rose up and it started to spin. He heard a loud boom and saw a plume of smoke. 
    A third witness stated the helicopter was making a whistling type of noise as it flew toward LCH. At about 100 to 150 feet above the ground, he noticed the helicopter pitch down and then spin for about five revolutions. He stated that he did not hear any noise from the helicopter as it was spinning. After the helicopter impacted the ground, he noticed flames and smoke.
    A map of witness locations and the helicopter's flight path is located in the docket for this investigation. 


    PERSONNEL INFORMATION


    The pilot, age 69, held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument helicopter ratings. According to records provided by Era Helicopters, the pilot had accumulated 22,564 hours of total flight experience, with 54 hours in the last ninety days. The pilot had accumulated 850 hours of flight experience in the make and model of the accident helicopter. On February 8-9, 2013, the pilot completed recurrent training in a SK-76 simulator, which included 8 hours of flight time. Dual engine failure/autorotation and tail rotor malfunctions were accomplished during this recurrent training. 

    On April 2, 2012, the pilot was issued a Class 1 time limited special issuance medical certificate, which required corrective lenses be worn for near vision. During the last examination, the pilot was evaluated for his history of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris and coronary artery disease requiring percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, hypothyroidism, and the use of medication. 

    AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

    The Sikorsky S-76A++ helicopter has a four-bladed, fully articulated main rotor that provides helicopter lift and thrust, and a four-bladed flexible beam tail rotor (spar) that provides main rotor anti-torque and directional control. The helicopter is equipped with two Turbomeca Arriel 1S1 turboshaft engines that are positioned side-by-side behind the main transmission assembly. 
    The accident helicopter, serial number (S/N) 760369, was manufactured in 1990. Records show the helicopter had accumulated an aircraft total time (ATT) of 6,765.7 hours as of March 15, 2013. The No. 1 engine, S/N 3016, had a time since new (TSN) of 8361.10 hours and a time since overhaul (TSO) of 1475.11 hours as of March 15, 2013. The No. 2 engine, S/N 3508TEC, had a TSN of 6696.80 hours and a TSO of 1287.50 hours as of March 15, 2013.

    METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

    The weather observing station at LCH reported the following conditions at 1153: wind 180 degrees at 13 knots with gusts to 19 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 23 degrees Celsius, dew point 14 degrees Celsius, altimeter setting 30.05. 

    FLIGHT RECORDERS

    A solid-state cockpit voice recorder (CVR), model L3/Fairchild FA2100-1020, was recovered at the accident site and sent to the NTSB Audio Laboratory for readout. Timing of the accident flight CVR recording was aligned with timing information provided by a time-encoded ATC recording. Other transmissions in the CVR recording were used to validate the alignment of the two recordings. 
    A summary of the CVR is as follows:
    1113: The accident flight recording began, with a sound similar to an engine starting.
    1115: The pilot and a mechanic noted that the automatic flight control system (AFCS) test passed with no faults.
    1120: The mechanic noted that they needed to do a power check when they returned. The pilot agreed.
    1127: The mechanic asked if he could fly after the maintenance checks.
    1127-1142: The pilot performed a series of turns, climbs, and descents to check the avionics, flight directors, and autopilot systems. The pilot and mechanic agreed one of the two flight directors may have had a remaining problem.
    1142: The pilot asked the mechanic if he wanted to fly the helicopter. The mechanic agreed, and the pilot said he would set the helicopter up for the mechanic on a heading of 150 degrees at an altitude of 1,000 feet. The mechanic noted the helicopter was not like the Cessna 172 he had flown.
    1143:00: The pilot said to the mechanic, "it is all yours…do anything you want with it."
    1143:06: The mechanic asked if he needed to use the pedals. The pilot said only during power changes.
    1143:17: Two high pitched tones, similar to an altitude alert, were recorded.
    1143:42: The mechanic said "not quite as touchy as I thought it would be."
    1143:45: The pilot said, "oh that's because I've got everything turn on."
    1143:55: The pilot said, "What we'll do, we'll take these autopilots off. Take our forced trim off."
    1144:04: The mechanic said, "oh yea, there we go; now I'm flying something. Okay." 
    1144:10: The mechanic said, "Okay, you got her."
    1144:12: Two or three snapping sounds were recorded on the intercom. At the same time, the cockpit area microphone recorded a sound similar to the rotor or engine RPM increasing. The two or three snapping sounds, about 0.25 seconds in length, may have been a virtual artifact of the power removal from the CVR and not a physical sound that existed in the helicopter. 
    1144:13: The CVR recording ended.
    For additional information on the CVR, see the Sound Spectrum Study and full transcript of the CVR in the docket for this investigation.

    WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

    Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (SAC), and Era Helicopters were present for the documentation and investigation of the helicopter accident site. Of the four tail rotor blades, two of the tail rotor blades ('yellow' and 'red') were fractured adjacent to the tail rotor hub; at the time of this report, these two tail rotor blades have not been located and recovered. 

    The helicopter came to rest upright on a southerly heading. The majority of the airframe, including the cockpit, main cabin, and forward portion of the tailboom, was either consumed or heavily heat distressed by the post-crash fire.

    Three of the four main rotor blades remained connected to the main rotor hub and the main rotor blade spindles were oriented at about 11 o'clock, 2 o'clock, 5 o'clock, and 8 o'clock positions when viewed from above. The 11 o'clock blade had fractured chordwise outboard of its pitch horn but was found adjacent to the main wreckage about 6 feet away. All four main rotor blades exhibited evidence consistent with low rotational energy at ground impact. The 5 o'clock and 11 o'clock blades exhibited severe chordwise deformation of the spar consistent with exposure to extreme heat. The tip cap for the 5 o'clock blade was found separated from the blade and was found about 12 feet to the east of the main wreckage.

    The majority of the main transmission case was consumed by post-crash fire, exposing its internal gears which exhibited evidence of exposure to extreme heat. The main rotor controls were continuous from the three main rotor hydraulic actuators' lower attachment fittings through the swashplate and up to the pitch control rods' connection to the pitch horns. The main rotor controls forward of the hydraulic actuators were consumed by post-crash fire, thus its continuity could not be confirmed.

    The two engines were found behind the main transmission and were still covered by the engine cowling. Both engines exhibited evidence of exposure to the post-crash fire. Neither engine's axial compressor showed evidence of foreign object debris ingestion. Additionally, neither engine's free turbine exhibited evidence of blade shedding. The fuel control unit throttle block remained attached to the cable and the pointer was consistent with the shutdown position, but the throttle scale had been consumed by post-crash fire. 

    The empennage, consisting of the vertical stabilizer and the left and right horizontal stabilizers, was found immediately aft of the main wreckage, and generally aligned with longitudinal axis of the main wreckage. The empennage was found resting on its left side (i.e. the right horizontal stabilizer was pointed almost vertically upward) with the left horizontal stabilizer fractured chordwise adjacent to the vertical stabilizer. The empennage did not exhibit evidence of heat damage apart from the forward end which connected it to the heat-distressed tailboom. The surfaces of the empennage which were not heat damaged did not exhibit evidence of soot deposits. 

    Only two of the four tail rotor blades (the 'black' and 'blue' blades) were recovered at the accident site. The 'black' blade had fractured from the 'black'/'blue' tail rotor spar while the 'blue' blade remained attached to the spar. The 'blue' and 'black' blade surfaces were mostly intact and did not exhibit signatures of damage associated with high rotational energy. The 'black' and 'blue' pitch change links (PCL) remained attached on both ends to the pitch beam and their respective blade pitch horns. 

    The 'red' PCL had fractured at the pitch beam-side threads and the remainder of the 'red' PCL was not recovered. The remnant 'red' PCL remained attached to the pitch beam. The 'yellow' PCL remained whole and attached on its outboard end to the pitch beam, but the inboard rod end was observed to be free. The bolt and nut connecting the 'yellow' PCL to its respective blade pitch horn were not recovered. 

    Disassembly of the pitch beam and outboard retention plate revealed the 'red'/'yellow' tail rotor spar had shifted toward the 'yellow' blade side by evidence of the shifted spar nylon wraps. The elliptical plug of the 'red'/'yellow' spar exhibited crushing damage on the 'red' blade side, with the direction of crushing going toward the 'yellow' blade side.

    The intermediate gearbox, tail gearbox (TGB), tail rotor head components, tail rotor blades, rotor brake, and the Nos. 3, 4, and 5 tail rotor drive shafts were retained for further examination.

    For additional information on the wreckage, see the Airworthiness Group Chairman's Factual Report in the docket for this investigation.

    MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

    On March 16, 2013, an autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Calcasieu Parish Coroner's Office and Forensic Facility. The cause of death was due to blunt force injuries. 

    The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot, which was limited by specimens suitable for testing. No ethanol was detected in the muscle or brain. Atorvastatin (Lipitor), a lipid lowering agent used to treat lipid disorders and elevated cholesterol, was detected in the liver. Carvediliol (Coreg), a prescription nonselective ß-adrenergic blocking agent used to treat heart failure and hypertension (high blood pressure), was detected in the muscle and liver. Diltiazem (Cardizem), a prescription calcium ion cellular influx inhibitor used to treat high blood pressure and angina, was detected in the liver. 

    Review of available FAA medical certificates and supporting documentation indicated the pilot had a remote heart attack treated with angioplasty (opening of coronary arteries with a balloon) and ongoing treatment with medication. On January 25, 2012, a radionuclide stress test was conducted on the pilot and read normal. On March 6, 2013, an exercise stress test/stress echocardiogram was conducted on the pilot and read normal, with normal wall motion and no evidence of ischemia. 

    TESTS AND RESEARCH

    From April 9-11, 2013, the Airworthiness Group, consisting of participants from the NTSB, FAA, SAC, and Era Helicopters, convened to further examine the retained components. The examination revealed signatures consistent with the 'red' tail rotor blade initially separating from the tail rotor assembly, followed by the 'yellow' tail rotor blade separating from the tail rotor assembly due to forces caused by the shift in the center of mass along the span of the 'red'/'yellow' tail rotor blade spar.

    The spar fracture located near the root end of the 'red' tail rotor spar was adjacent to the 'red' blade's bumper plate. The area of the 'red' side bumper plate exhibited a slight bowing in the outboard direction (when looking outboard from the pylon-side of the spar). The remnant adhesive layout for the 'red' blade's pivot bearing retainer was observed on the spar fracture. 

    Examination of the remnant adhesive layout under a scanning electron microscope (SEM) revealed no definitive direction that the layout fibers were pulled. The fracture had a broomstraw appearance, with the broomstraw appearance more prevalent near the central width of the spar. Examination of the fracture under a SEM revealed no evidence consistent with composite matrix rubbing due to delamination. 
    The opposing spar fracture on the 'yellow' side was located near the edge of the retention plate. The 'red'/'yellow' spar had S/N "A-116-01207" stenciled on the surface of the spar. The spar fracture had an overall blunt and flat appearance.

    X-ray examination of the remnant 'red'/'yellow' spar and the 'black'/'blue' spar showed no evidence of "waviness" of the composite filaments in the undamaged areas. The 'black' and the 'blue' tail rotor blades exhibited no evidence of damage consistent with high rotational energy at the time of the accident.

    The TGB was examined and contained only traces of oil. No oil sample was submitted with the TGB. The TGB was not drained of oil when it was recovered at the accident site.

    The output housing of the TGB, containing the output bevel gear, was separated from the center housing; the mounting hardware for the tail rotor quadrant, spring capsules, and pulleys were holding the output housing to the center housing. Rotation of the input pinion by hand did not engage the output bevel gear. There was no evidence of binding when the input pinion was rotated. Rotation of the output bevel gear by hand revealed no evidence of binding. The pitch change shaft rotated in unison with the output bevel gear. The TGB exhibited no signatures of damage to its internal bearings. Additionally, the TGB housing exhibited no discoloration of its external paint or internal coatings consistent with heat distress. 

    The output bevel gear and output housing were removed from the TGB center housing as a single assembly. The splines and threads on the outboard end of the bevel gear exhibited no signatures of damage. The lock washer, large nut, and tapered split cone exhibited no signatures of damage. The top land of the output bevel gear teeth exhibited damage from the tooth heel to about 1/3 of the length of the top land. One of the twelve bolts securing the output bevel gear to the output gear shaft was fractured; the fracture surface exhibited signatures of overload. Small metallic flakes were found throughout the output bevel gear surfaces and the inner diameter of the output gear shaft. The flanges of the output housing that attaches to the center housing were fractured. The flanges remained attached to the center housing with their respective attaching nuts. All observed fracture surfaces of the output housing exhibited signatures consistent with overload.

    The nuts securing the input pinion and housing assembly to the center housing remained installed and intact. The input pinion and input housing were removed from the TGB center housing as a single assembly. The top land surface of the input pinion gear teeth exhibited damage from the tooth heel to about one half of the length of the top land. The driving and coasting surfaces of the input pinion gear teeth did not exhibit signatures of abnormal operation or of foreign object damage (FOD) ingestion through the gear mesh. Small metallic flakes were found throughout the surfaces of the input pinion.

    The exterior of the center housing exhibited no signatures of cracks or fractures aside from those associated with the fracture of the output housing. Small metallic flakes were found throughout the interior surfaces of the center housing and a trace amount of oil was found inside the housing. On the center housing, impressions of output bevel gear teeth impacting the sealing surface (the inner diameter mating surface) to the output housing were seen from about the 3 o'clock to the 8 o'clock position; the impressions were consistent with impact from a non-rotating output bevel gear. Damage to the center housing with an appearance similar to machining was found adjacent to the sealing surface from about the 7 o'clock to the 12 o'clock position; this damage was consistent with impact from a rotating output bevel gear. Additional static gear tooth impressions were found on the damaged area with the machined appearance.

    On September 5, 2013, the 'blue' and 'black' tail rotor blades were brought to the Feather Identification Lab in Washington, District of Columbia (DC), part of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, to determine if there was evidence of snarge (bird remains) on the blades. Additionally, on September 24, 2013, a specialist from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services in Louisiana examined the tail rotor area of the helicopter wreckage for evidence of snarge. No evidence of bird remains consistent with a bird strike were found on the components.

    Because of the relatively low time in service from the 'red'/'yellow' blade assembly's last 1,500 hour spar inspection (5.9 flight hours), the Airworthiness Group examined the S-76 tail rotor 1,500-hour inspection procedures for deficiencies and maintenance actions that could either damage the spar or affect the stresses on the spar. One particular action that was examined concerning the spar inspection is removal of the pivot bearing. Pivot bearing compression screws are used to compress the pivot bearings in order to remove them from the tail rotor blade assembly. Within the pivot bearing replacement procedures, found in Sikorsky S-76 Maintenance Manual No. SA 4047-76AA-2, exists a caution during the installation of the pivot bearings that states: "Ground support compression screw is not flight hardware. Make sure compression screw is removed before completing maintenance."

    On July 23, 2014, the Airworthiness Group, consisting of representatives from the NTSB, FAA, SAC, Bell Helicopter, and Era Helicopters, convened at Bell Helicopter Broussard to perform testing on a scrap tail rotor blade set to determine whether a tail rotor blade could be fully assembled with the compression screw still installed in the pivot bearing and the likelihood of detecting the compression screw. The Airworthiness Group determined that a tail rotor blade could be assembled with the compression screw installed. Additionally, a tail rotor blade assembled with a compression screw left installed in the pivot bearing was visually no different than one without a compression screw left installed in the pivot bearing. However, a tactile inspection of the tail rotor blade revealed a noticeable increase in the force required to pitch and flap a blade with a compression screw still installed in the pivot bearing versus a blade without the compression screw installed. 

    The Airworthiness Group also performed a tail rotor blade spar "flex check" on a known cracked blade spar and determined that the audible sound made by a cracked spar was relatively quiet. The Airworthiness Group determined that a compression screw within the pivot bearing would increase the stiffness of the pivot bearing and could affect the bending stresses on the spar during blade flapping, though no testing was done to determine what affect this stiffness would have on the pivot bearing in operation.

    For additional information on tests and research, see the Airworthiness Group Chairman's Factual Report in the docket for this investigation.

    MAINTENANCE HISTORY OF TAIL ROTOR BLADE ASSEMBLY 

    The 'red'/'yellow' blade assembly, S/N A137-00708X, was manufactured by SAC on June 14, 1984. The spar, part number (P/N) 76101-05017-045 and S/N A116-01207, was manufactured on May 16, 1984. According to maintenance records, all life limited components to blade assembly S/N A137-00708X were original since blade assembly manufacture with the exception of both pitch horns, which were replaced on October 25, 2007 due to the original pitch horns exceeding their life limit of 12,000 hours. 

    Blade assembly S/N A137-00708X was last removed from a different helicopter (N578EH) on January 7, 2012, with the cause for removal listed as paint erosion and a 1500 hour inspection that was due. Blade assembly S/N A137-00708X was subsequently sent to a Bell Helicopter Broussard, formerly Rotor Blades Inc. (RBI), in Broussard, Louisiana. Work performed on the blade assembly by Bell Helicopter Broussard, under work order no. S76T-137-00708, included replacement of the polyurethane strips, rubber boots, and compliance with the 500-hour and 1500-hour inspections. The airworthiness approval tag (FAA form 8130-3) for blade assembly S/NA137-00708X, signed on March 22, 2012, stated the blade was also refinished and balanced. 

    According to Era Helicopters, blade assembly S/N A137-00708X was kept in storage at Era Helicopters' facilities in Lake Charles, Louisiana until January 29, 2013, when the blade assembly was installed on the accident helicopter. On January 29, 2013, the ATT was 6,759.8 flight hours and blade assembly S/N A137-00708X had a time since new (TSN) of 14,800.5 flight hours. The accident helicopter accumulated about 5.9 flight hours from the 'red'/'yellow' blade installation onto N574EH until the accident flight.

    After blade assembly S/N A137-00708X was installed on the accident helicopter, maintenance records showed that an airworthiness check was performed on March 3, 2013 using the criteria required by the Era S-76 helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) approved airworthiness inspection program (AAIP). The airworthiness check was directed by an Era Helicopters Fleet Campaign Directive (FCD) No. FCD-000119-2012, which required a maintenance supervisor or lead to perform an airworthiness check of the aircraft with the technician. The S-76 HEMS AAIP airworthiness check requires inspection of the tail rotor blades for cracks, security, and condition, including a tail rotor spar flex check and force-deflection check. 

    On March 7, 2013, maintenance records showed that an Era technician performed a tail rotor balance 'light on wheels' inspection on the accident helicopter. This tail rotor balance inspection was approved by an Era supervisor on March 9, 2013. On March 10, 2013, a S-76 HEMS AAIP airworthiness check was accomplished as a final maintenance action to approve the helicopter for flight. 

    HISTORICAL S-76 TAIL ROTOR SPAR FAILURE INFORMATION

    On August 19, 1991, a Sikorsky S-76A+ helicopter, S/N 760223, performed a precautionary landing on an offshore platform after the crew experienced a heavy vibration that lasted about 4 seconds. The precautionary landing took place about 15 minutes after the crew experienced the heavy vibrations. Upon landing, two opposing tail rotor blades were found to have departed the tail rotor. The missing tail rotor blades were never recovered. A small central section of the affected spar was found between the retention plates. The affected components were sent to SAC's materials engineering lab for investigation. Lab examination revealed evidence consistent with one of the tail rotor blades fracturing first, and the resultant shift in the center of gravity and imbalance in centrifugal forces led to the opposing blade to eventually fracture as well. The remnant spar did not show evidence of ply waviness consistent with a manufacturing anomaly, rubbing of the plies consistent with spar delamination, or a material defect. The tail gearbox housing exhibited a partially circumferential overload fracture across three of the flanges used to attach the output housing to the center housing. Maintenance records revealed the tail rotor spar had a TSN of 1,571 hours, with 1,507 hours accumulated on the incident helicopter.

    NTSB Identification: CEN13FA192
    14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
    Accident occurred Friday, March 15, 2013 in Grand Lake, LA
    Aircraft: SIKORSKY S-76A, registration: N574EH
    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 March 15, 2013, about 1147 central daylight time, a Sikorsky S-76A++ helicopter, N574EH, was substantially damaged after ground impact near Grand Lake, Louisiana. All three occupants onboard, the pilot and two maintenance personnel, were fatally injured. The helicopter was registered to Era Helicopters LLC and was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a post-maintenance check flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which departed from Lake Charles Regional Airport (LCH), Lake Charles, Louisiana, at 1119.

    While returning to LCH in cruise flight about 1,000 feet above ground level (AGL), the pilot radioed to the LCH control tower that he had an emergency and would be immediately landing off the airport. Radar data provided by the FAA showed the helicopter in a descent prior to contact being lost. The wreckage of the helicopter was found about 5 miles southeast of the threshold for Runway 33 at LCH. The helicopter was consumed by a post-crash fire.

    A witness, who was a helicopter pilot, stated that he observed the accident helicopter in a shallow descent as it passed just east of his house about 600 feet AGL. He stated that the helicopter was producing an unusual, grinding noise as it passed over his house.

    On-scene investigation of the airframe revealed that two tail rotor blades were missing from the helicopter. The missing tail rotor blades have not been located as of the date of this preliminary report.

    The weather observing station at LCH reported the following conditions at 1153: wind 180 degrees at 13 knots with gusts to 19 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 23 degrees Celsius, dew point 14 degrees Celsius, altimeter setting 30.05.




    KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

    GRAND LAKE, LA (KPLC) - 

    Three people are dead following a helicopter crash near the Calcasieu-Cameron Parish line late Friday morning. 

    It happened in an unpopulated area approximately five miles southeast of the Lake Charles Regional Airport at about 11:45 a.m. Friday.

    Cameron Parish authorities identified the victims late Friday afternoon. 

    According to Sheriff Ron Johnson with the Cameron Parish Sheriff's Office, the deceased are as follows:

    William R. Croucher, 69, of California. He was the pilot of the aircraft. 

    Michael Lee Tyree, 55, of Iowa, La. He was a mechanic with Era Helicopters.

    Timothy Lloyd Goehring, 41, of Sulphur. He was a mechanic with Era Helicopters.


    "We deeply regret this unfortunate accident and we will use all of our resources to support the families of those involved. Our review will continue in concert with the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which has jurisdiction over this matter," said Era Helicopters CEO, Sten Gustafson.



    Investigators were at the site throughout the weekend. The Federal Aviation Administration has taken over the investigation, which will be led by the National Transportation Safety Board. 
    The crash site is near Tom Hebert and Helms Roads. north of Grand Lake. KPLC is told that the site has been cleared.

    Keith Holloway of the NTSB Public Affairs Office commented over the weekend.

    "The NTSB is continuing to collect information regarding this accident. So far, investigators have documented scene and examined the aircraft. There are no new details regarding the investigation at this time," Holloway said. "As you may know, the NTSB does not determine cause at this early stage in an investigation. The information that is gathered will be analyzed and help to determine cause at some point. Many of the NTSB's investigations can take about 12 -18 months to complete. I do suspect that there will be a preliminary report available on our website in about 10 days. This report will be factual in nature only."

    Lynn Lunsford, Mid-States Public Affairs Manager at the FAA, identified the aircraft as a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, tail number N574EH, that was based at the Lake Charles Regional Airport. 

    Timothy O'Leary with Era helicopters said the helicopter had been on a maintenance test flight for approximately 30 minutes when it crashed.

    According to Flightaware.com's database, the helicopter was a 1990 Sikorsky S-76 A Rotorcraft with 14 seats and two engines.

    According to its website, Era Helicopters operates over 170 helicopters in support of offshore oil and gas transport, air medical services, search and rescue operations (SAR), firefighting, flightseeing, and disaster relief efforts. The company has a training center located at its Lake Charles headquarters.

    http://www.kltv.com

    Piper PA-31T Cheyenne, Miami Aviation Specialist Inc., N63CA: Accident occurred March 15, 2013 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    NTSB Identification: ERA13FA168
    14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
    Accident occurred Friday, March 15, 2013 in Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/05/2014
    Aircraft: PIPER PA-31T, registration: N63CA
    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.

    The multiengine airplane had not been flown for about 4 months and was being prepared for export. The pilot was attempting a local test flight after avionics upgrades had been performed. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot transmitted that he was experiencing an "emergency"; however, he did not state the nature of the emergency. The airplane was observed experiencing difficulty climbing and entered a right turn back toward the airport. It subsequently stalled, rolled right about 90 degrees, and descended. The airplane impacted several parked vehicles and came to rest inverted. A postcrash fire destroyed the airframe. Both engines were destroyed by fire and impact damage. The left propeller assembly was fire damaged, and the right propeller assembly remained attached to the gearbox, which separated from the engine. Examination of wreckage did not reveal any preimpact malfunctions. It was noted that the left engine displayed more pronounced rotational signatures than the right engine, but this difference could be attributed to the impact sequence. The left propeller assembly displayed evidence of twisting and rotational damage, and the right propeller assembly did not display any significant evidence of twisting or rotational damage indicative of operation with a difference in power. The lack of flight recorders and the condition of the wreckage precluded the gathering of additional relevant information.

    The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
    The pilot's failure to maintain airplane control following an emergency, the nature of which could not be determined because of crash and fire damage, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

    HISTORY OF FLIGHT

    On March 15, 2013, about 1621 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-31T (Cheyenne), N63CA, owned by M.A.S. Inc., was destroyed after it impacted the ground shortly after takeoff from the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The airline transport pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the local maintenance test flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

    According to information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and personnel interviews, the airplane was purchased by its current owner during November 2012, for a third party in Columbia, and was being prepared for export. The pilot planned to conduct a local test flight after avionics upgrades had been performed. The passengers were a father and son, who both worked at the company that performed the avionics upgrades.

    Another pilot reported that he was asked by one of the passengers to conduct a test flight in the airplane 2 days before the accident. The pilot stated that he did not have time to conduct a test flight; however, he sat in the cockpit during a ground check of the right engine to troubleshoot a faulty oil temperature gauge. The engine performed normally, with the exception of the oil temperature gauge reading below zero. In addition, a functional check of the avionics was performed with no discrepancies noted.

    The owner reported that the airplane had undergone engine ground checks during the 4 days prior to the accident. He was not aware of any maintenance issues with the airframe or engines, which underwent detailed inspections at the time of the purchase.

    The airplane departed from runway 8, a 6,002-foot-long, asphalt runway, and was expected to turn to the left for a northwest departure. Shortly after takeoff, witnesses observed the airplane make a steep right turn back toward the airport. The pilot transmitted that he was experiencing an "emergency;" however, he did not state the nature of the emergency prior to the accident. One witness, who was a pilot in an airplane that was parked in the mid-field run-up area at FXE, stated that the accident airplane had difficulty climbing and barely cleared the obstacles located off the departure end of the runway. The airplane turned to the right, and "began to shake as if it was near stall speed." The airplane then appeared to stall, roll to the right about 90 degrees, and descend straight down toward the ground. Nearby surveillance video depicted the airplane entering a right roll that was at or about 90 degrees before it descended out of camera view.

    Radar data obtained from the FAA depicted a target consistent with the airplane at an altitude about 100 feet mean sea level (msl), about 3,600 feet from the beginning of runway 8, about 200 feet off the right side of the runway. The radar target continued to drift to the right, and reached a maximum ground speed about 110 knots, and a maximum altitude about 300 feet. The target then entered a progressively steepening right bank, and slowed to a ground speed about 90 knots before radar contact was lost about 800 feet east-northeast of the accident site.

    PERSONNEL INFORMATION

    The pilot, age 65, held an airline transport pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. The pilot also held type ratings for HS-125, CE-500, CE-650, CL-600, DA-200, G-1159 and Lear Jet series airplanes.

    His most recent FAA first-class medical certificate was issued on May 7, 2012. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of "10,000+" hours, which included 95 hours during the previous 6 months.

    The pilot's current logbook was not located. According to an FAA inspector, the accident pilot regularly flew several types of airplanes, including the Piper PA-31 series airplanes. Logbook excerpts current as of June 13, 2012, revealed about 70 hours logged since January 1, 2012, which included 12 hours in PA-31 series airplanes.

    AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

    The twin-engine, retractable-gear, low wing, all metal turbine powered airplane, serial number 31T-7820033, was manufactured in 1978. It was powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-28, 680-horsepower engines, equipped with three-bladed Hartzell constant-speed propeller assemblies.

    The airplane was equipped with a Stability Augmentation System (SAS) designed to automatically improve the static longitudinal stability of the airplane by providing variable elevator force. This was accomplished through tension changes in an elevator down spring. An angle of attack sensing vane located on the right side of the fuselage nose section signals the SAS computer, which powers the elevator down spring servo. Other functions of the SAS computer are activation of the stall warning horn and providing the signal for the visual stall margin indicator on the upper left side of the instrument panel. The stall margin indicator receives its signal from the angle-of-attach vane through the conditioning computer and presents a visual indication of the ratio of present speed to the stall speed in the same configuration.

    According to the airplane Pilot Operating Handbook, the listed Air Minimum Control Speed (Vmca), which was the lowest airspeed at which the airplane is controllable with one engine operating and no flaps was an indicated airspeed of 91 knots. The single engine best rate of climb speed was 113 knots.

    The airplane was equipped with four interconnected fuel tanks in each wing, in addition to a respective wingtip fuel tank. The right and left wing fuel systems were independent of each other and fuel was supplied to the engines by its respective inboard fuel cell. The total fuel system capacity was 374 gallons. According to fueling records, the airplane was refueled 51 gallons of Jet-A fuel prior to the accident flight. A line serviceman reported that approximately 25 gallons of fuel was added to the left and right wingtip fuel tanks. The total amount of fuel onboard the airplane at the time of the accident could not be determined.

    At the time of the accident, the airplane had been operated for about 5,030 total hours, which included about 25 hours since its most recent documented phase inspections, which were performed on January 31, 2012. The airplane was operated for about 12 total hours during 2011.

    In addition, at the time of the accident, the right and left engines had been operated for about 1,430 hours since they were overhauled during November 2000. The right propeller had been operated for about 3 hours since it was installed after overhaul during November 2012, and the left propeller had been operated for about 135 hours since it was installed after overhaul during November 2008.

    The registered owner reported that the airplane had flown about 3 additional hours in November, after the airplane was delivered from Sarasota, Florida, to FXE.

    Review of maintenance records did not reveal a current annual inspection for the airplane.

    An airframe and powerplant mechanic reported that he was hired by one of the passengers to conduct a 100 hour inspection of the airplane, which he worked on during the month prior to the accident, but was not completed due to the avionics work that was being performed at the time. He further stated that the airplane still required a landing gear swing, weight and balance check, and a flight control system check before the inspection could be completed and logged. The mechanic was not provided any "squawks" and was not aware of an issue with the right engine oil temperature gauge.

    METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

    The reported weather at FXE, elevation 13 feet, at 1639, was: wind 060 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles; scattered clouds at 4,000 feet; temperature 21 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 8 degrees C; altimeter 30.16 inches of mercury.

    FLIGHT RECORDERS

    The airplane was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped with a cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder.

    WRECKAGE INFORMATION

    The airplane impacted the ground and several parked vehicles, and came to rest inverted on a heading of about 275 degrees, about .6 miles southeast of the departure end of the runway. A postcrash fire consumed the airframe, with the exception of the right wingtip fuel tank, which was located about 20 feet south of the main wreckage, was not fire damaged, and contained about 3 quarts of fuel consistent with Jet-A. Both wings, the vertical stabilizer, rudder, horizontal stabilizer, elevators and trim tabs were destroyed. Due to the fragmented and fire damaged postaccident condition of the wreckage, flight control continuity could not be confirmed from the cockpit to the respective flight control surfaces. The right landing gear was found retracted in its respective gear well, while the structure around the nose and left main landing gears was compromised. The left and right flap actuator jackscrews indicated the flaps were in the retracted position. Recovered components from the stability augmentation system were impact and fire damaged; however, the control arm was observed in the up (airplane stalled) position.

    Both engines were destroyed by impact and fire damage. They were located amongst the main wreckage, attached to their mounts and partially attached to their respective firewalls. Examination of both engines did not reveal evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. The left engine displayed compressive deformation to the exhaust duct, combustion chamber liner, power turbine shaft housing, and the gas generator case. The propeller shaft and the compressor rear hub coupling displayed torsional overload and bending fractures. The right engine displayed compressive deformation to the exhaust duct, combustion chamber liner, power turbine shaft housing, and the gas generator case. The front reduction gearbox flange was partially fractured and the gearbox had separated from the engine. The left and right engine's compressor turbine and power turbine displayed rotational signatures indicative of rotation at impact. The damage was consistent with rotation somewhere between the low to mid-range power setting. It was noted that the left engine displayed more pronounced rotational signatures than the right engine. According to the engine manufacturer, the difference in rotational signatures between the left and right engine could be attributed to compression differences in the external cases and the internal components adjacent to the rotating components that occurred during the impact sequence.

    The left propeller assembly sustained severe thermal damage and separated at the engine shaft. One blade was fractured off the hub. Two blades remained attached and displayed rotational scoring and twisting damage. The right propeller remained attached to the gear box, which separated from the engine. One propeller blade was fractured off the hub. The two remaining blades exhibited mild bending with no twisting damage. Examination of both propeller assemblies did not reveal evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. According to representative of the propeller manufacturer, damage to the right propeller was consistent with "low to no power," while damage to the left propeller was consistent with "power on."

    MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

    Autopsies were performed on the pilot and passengers by the Broward County Medical Examiner, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The autopsy reports indicated the cause of death as "multiple blunt force injuries."

    Toxicological testing was performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with no anomalies noted.

    TESTS AND RESEARCH

    Sound Spectrum Study

    Three audio transmissions were received from the accident airplane during the flight. The audio transmissions were provided to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division's Laboratory for sound spectrum evaluation pertinent to engine operation. The first two transmissions were made while the airplane was operating on the ground prior to takeoff. The last transmission was made after the airplane became airborne, when the pilot reported that he was experiencing an emergency. Based on the evaluation of the transmissions, and information provided by the engine manufacturer, lines of energy observed in the first two transmissions were consistent with at least one engine operating at or near rotation rates consistent with a ground power idle setting. Lines of energy observed during the third transmission were consistent with at least one engine operating at or near rotation rates consistent with a takeoff power setting [Additional information can be found in the Sound Spectrum Study located in the public docket].


    http://registry.faa.gov/N63CA

    NTSB Identification: ERA13FA168
     14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
    Accident occurred Friday, March 15, 2013 in Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Aircraft: PIPER PA-31T, registration: N63CA
    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 March 15, 2013, about 1620 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-31T (Cheyenne), N63CA, owned by M.A.S. Inc., was destroyed after it impacted the ground shortly after takeoff from the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The airline transport pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the local maintenance test flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

    According to initial information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane was purchased by its current owner during November 2012, and was being prepared for export to a customer in Columbia. The pilot planned to conduct a local test flight after avionics upgrades had been performed.

    The owner stated that the airplane had undergone engine ground checks during the 4 days prior to the accident. He was not aware of any maintenance issues with the airframe or engines, which underwent detailed inspections at the time of the purchase.

    The airplane departed from runway 8, a 6,002-foot-long, asphalt runway, and was expected to turn to the left for a northwest departure. Shortly after takeoff, witnesses observed the airplane make a steep right turn back toward the airport. The pilot transmitted that he was experiencing an "emergency;" however, he did not state the nature of the emergency prior to the accident. One witness, who was a pilot on an airplane that was parked in the mid-field run-up area at FXE, stated that the accident airplane had difficulty climbing and barely cleared the obstacles located off the departure end of the runway. The airplane turned to the right, and "began to shake as if it was near stall speed". The airplane then appeared to stall, roll to the right about 90 degrees, and descend straight down toward the ground.

    The airplane impacted into about seven parked vehicles, and came to rest inverted about .6 miles from the departure end of the runway. A postcrash fire consumed the airframe, with the exception of the right wingtip fuel tank, which was located about 20 feet south of the main wreckage. The right landing gear was found retracted in its respective gear well, while the structure around the nose and left main landing gears was compromised. The left and right flap actuator jackscrews indicated the flaps were in the retracted position. The airplane's stability augmentation system control arm was observed in the up (airplane stalled) position. It was noted that internal damage to both engines was consistent with rotation somewhere between the low to mid-range power setting, with more pronounced damage observed to the left engine. The three-bladed right propeller assembly did not display any significant evidence of twisting or rotational damage, while the left propeller assembly displayed evidence of twisting and rotational damage.

    Initial review of the airplane's maintenance logbooks revealed that it had been operated for about 135 hours during the previous 5 years, and 20 hours since its most recent documented phase inspections, which were performed on January 31, 2012.



     Wallace Watson - Guest Book:  http://www.legacy.com/guestbook- wallace watson


     Kevin Watson - Guest Book:   http://www.legacy.com/guestbook - Kevin Watson


    FORT LAUDERDALE— The ill-fated plane was supposed to be in the air for a 15-minute avionics check. 

     Instead, it lost power shortly after liftoff and crashed east of Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on Friday. Federal officials say a mechanical malfunction was likely to blame.
     

    The crash took the lives of all three men onboard: Kevin Watson, 30, of Pompano Beach; his father Wally Watson, 66, of Boca Raton; and their friend, pilot Steven Waller, 65, of Deerfield Beach.

    It also left the surrounding neighborhoods in fear.

    "Imagine if it fell on top of Northeast High School?" former Oakland Park commissioner Suzanne Boisvenue said. "More needs to be done, but I don't think they're going to do anything until something huge and more catastrophic, like landing on top of a school and killing a bunch of kids, happens."

    Witnesses said they saw the 1978 Piper Cheyenne turboprop make a steep right turn in an apparent attempt to return to the airport before plunging into an impound lot and bursting into flames, setting ablaze a boat and numerous repossessed cars.

    On Saturday, federal air safety investigators said they would examine every aspect of the flight — from the plane's maintenance history to the pilot's emergency call to the control tower just before the 4:15 p.m. crash.

    "We're in fact-gathering mode," said Luke Schiada, senior accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. "We're not going to draw any conclusions or speculate."

    Kimberly Waller says she knows one thing: Her husband of 16 years, pilot Steven Waller, wasn't the reason the plane went down.

    "The plane fell from the friggin' sky," she said. "The plane was a piece of crap. Why that friggin' plane had a mechanical failure, I don't know."

    Wally Watson had asked her husband, a charter pilot, to take the plane up for a 15-minute test flight, she said.

    "Steve is an excellent pilot," she said. "He never took any chances."

    According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Waller had earned an airline transport pilot rating and was qualified to fly several types of corporate jets.

    The Watsons own the Avionics Engineering firm at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. The firm specializes in aircraft repairs and retrofit installations, according to the company website.

    Prior to the accident, the Piper Cheyenne had been taken to Avionics Engineering to have radio work performed, airport sources say. The aircraft is registered to Miami Aviation Specialist Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, an airplane parts firm. No one at either company could be reached for comment.

    Mary Lou Gallagher, president of a corporate flight attendant training company based at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, saw the plane flying low on Friday.

    "All of a sudden, he crashed," she said. She and a friend tried to get near the plane to save the pilots ''but there was no way to get close. It was a wall of fire.''

    On Saturday, investigators sifted through the mangled wreckage. The plane's fuselage was completely destroyed and parts, including the propellers, were strewn around the parking lot. A yellow loader was brought in to lift burned cars away from the impact area.

    The wreckage is expected to be trucked to a nearby hangar for further inspection.

    The NTSB plans to release a preliminary accident report in about a week, a more detailed report in six to eight months and a final "probable cause" ruling in about 18 months.

    Family and friends of the three men shared their grief through postings on Facebook.

    "This is a picture of the last time I was with my 2nd dad and little bother just yesterday 3-14-13 ... life will never be the same," Steven Zide wrote.

    "No words can explain such a tragedy," Karen Longo Mauro wrote. "May God give them a better life in heaven."

    Kevin Watson was president of Avionics Engineering and his father, Wally, was the firm's engineer and design consultant.

    Kevin was engaged to Mindy Baer, and the two were heading to the altar in a week, a friend said. On Kevin's Facebook page were several photos of him posing with his 27-year-old fiance, clinking beers at a bar, embracing on a rooftop.

    Ricky White says he and his friend Kevin both loved fast cars, bonding quickly over a passion for the Mitsubishi Eclipse turbo.

    White said the last time he saw Kevin, they talked about White's fear of flying.

    White told his friend he witnessed a small plane crash and burn in 2005, shortly after takeoff from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. It landed in the street and crashed into a tree, White said, but all three onboard survived.

    "I told him, 'It's not like a car, where you're going to break down on the road. If there's a problem, you fall out of the sky,'" White recalled.

    Kevin reassured him that planes were safe, White said.

    "He told me he started working on planes when he was in the Air Force and that he's been doing it for years," White said. "He said a lot of the parts are redundant."

    When White first heard about the crash Friday, he called Kevin's cellphone.

    "It went straight to voicemail," White said. "So I drove by the hangar. It's crazy. He's just a good-hearted person. He didn't seem to have a care in the world."

    Many who live and work near the airport said they tend to get immune to the overhead traffic and spend no time fretting over potential catastrophes.

    "You don't think about," said Jay Wilson, a UPS driver who said he makes daily deliveries to the airport. "It happens though. It's unfortunate, but what can you do?"

    David Tyndale works at Need A Tire Inc., less than a block from Friday's crash. He said he saw the black smoke and "knew it was something bad."

    "I'm sorry about the fatalities, but it's the law of inevitability," Tyndale said. "What is going to happen is going to happen."

    But there's a lot at stake, former commissioner Boisvenue said, with neighborhoods, hospitals and half a dozen schools in the area.

    An Oakland Park house that suffered a direct hit from an April 2009 plane crash is barely a mile from Friday's crash site. All that remains are a mango tree, a tool shed and a 'No Trespassing' sign.

    Sue Soares, who lives around the corner with her husband and 11-year-old daughter, said they remember the horrific crash every time they pass by.

    "We felt it could be us," Soares said. "Now there's a second one near here? The frequency is not good. It really scares us."

    Story and Video:  http://www.sun-sentinel.com



     

    Steven Waller, Wallis "Wally" Watson and Kevin Watson were killed in Friday's crash, Fort Lauderdale Police said. 

     Police on Saturday preliminarily identified the three victims of Friday’s deadly plane crash in Fort Lauderdale.

    Steven Waller, 65, of Deerfield Beach, Wallis “Wally” Watson, 66, of Boca Raton and Kevin Watson, 30, of Pompano Beach were killed when their twin-engine Piper Cheyenne PA-31T crashed in a parking lot Friday afternoon, Fort Lauderdale Police said in a statement.

    The turboprop aircraft departed from Runway 08 at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport at about 4:20 p.m. and crashed just moments later into parked vehicles near a warehouse at 964 NE 53rd Court, authorities said Friday.

    Witnesses said explosions followed the plane’s impact. Firefighters quickly arrived to douse various vehicles that caught fire in the lot, which police said is used to store repossessed vehicles.

    Police said the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office would issue final confirmation of the plane’s occupants once it completes its evaluation.

    The National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and Fort Lauderdale Police are conducting a meticulous investigation, police said.

    “Our focus so far today has been documenting the aircraft on scene to the point where we can get it recovered off-site to look at it further,” Luke Schiada, a senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, said at the crash site Saturday. “We will continue to do that the rest of the day. We will also be gathering information on the pilot, his experience, his type of experience, medical certification, things like that.”

    The men’s families are making arrangements for their funerals.

     

    A small plane took off Friday afternoon from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, banked hard to the right, then plunged into a nearby parking lot in a fiery explosion, killing three people aboard and setting more than a dozen vehicles ablaze. 

    “It was like pop, and the plane just went boom, right into the ground,” said Rick Blackburn, a worker from a neighboring body shop.

    Black smoke from the crash could be seen for miles. No one on the ground was injured. No buildings were hit. The cars were repossessed vehicles in an impound lot.

    A crowd witnessed the explosion, but stood helpless to stop the fire from spreading from car to car. “There was people all over the place,” Blackburn said.

    Spectators called to one another to flee. Propane tanks exploded with loud reports amid the hissing flames.

    “The flame basically started cascading from one car to another,” said witness Stan LaPlanche.

    The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was a Piper PA31 twin-engine turboprop. City spokesman Matt Little said it was based in Fort Lauderdale and departing for a local flight.

    Next in line for takeoff was Trinity Air Ambulance pilot Martin Klucan, who heard the desperate last message of the doomed pilot just before he crashed, who yelled: “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday,” before the radio went silent, according to flight paramedic Kristen Schell.

    Authorities had not released the victims' identities Friday night, but Ricky White, a friend of one victim, said officials informed him that two of the dead were Kevin Watson, in his 30s, and his father, Wallace, who owned Avionics Engineering near the airport.

    The third victim remained unnamed.

    Kevin Watson was soon to be married. “He just seemed like he had no worries,” said White, 29, of Pompano Beach.

    It was the fifth high-profile crash in the airport's vicinity over the past decade.

    “It's a tragedy again,” said Linda Bird, of the nearby Lake Estates Homeowners Association. “It's a tragedy for the families of those on the plane, but it's also a tragedy for our neighborhoods.”

    Bird said the city should assign its own inspectors to check aircraft, along with federal inspectors to help deter future accidents. “We are in proximity of the airport, and these things continue to happen,” she said.

    Fire-rescue units were at the scene, in the parking ot at 964 NW 53rd Court, spraying water and foam on the wreckage. Most of the blaze was under control within 30 minutes, officials said. Cars, trucks and SUVs were blackened and charred, their tires consumed by the fire's intensity.

    The plane appeared to rest atop the unoccupied vehicles, Blackburn said.

    “They were just sitting there for storage,” said Fort Lauderdale police Detective DeAnna Garcia.

    Someone drove a damaged SUV out of the yard before the flames reached it, Blackburn said.

    Hours after the fire was extinguished, the strong smell of smoke remained. Many workers in the area stayed to watch fire officials clear the scene.

    Garido Gonzalez, a manager of another custom shop, said he had just driven away to go home when one of his employees called in a panic.

    “He said, ‘A plane just crashed next to us,' and hung up,” Gonzalez said. “I prayed the whole way that nobody was hurt.”

    Powerline Road, near the impound lot, was closed to traffic in both directions north of Commercial Boulevard for about 90 minutes. It reopened around 5:40 p.m.

    The National Transportation Safety Board is dispatching an accident investigator from New York to conduct the inquiry into what might have caused the plane to crash. He is not expected to be on the scene until Saturday morning. In the meantime, the FAA has an inspector at the crash site.

    The safety board will look into numerous factors that might have contributed to the accident, including the plane's maintenance history and the pilot's experience. Although the board is expected to release a preliminary report within the next week, it generally takes more than a year before the safety board determines a “probable cause” for such accidents.

    Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport is home to numerous corporate jets, smaller corporate planes and cargo planes. Because it is surrounded by schools, hospitals, business districts and homes, neighbors have repeatedly expressed concern that planes need to be better inspected and maintained.

    Four other crashes have occurred near the airport in recent years:

    In June 2004, shortly after takeoff, a single-engine Piper Archer crashed into an auto body shop about a half-mile from the runway. Two on board were killed; one survived.

    In June 2005, a DC-3 cargo plane lost power shortly after takeoff, flopped down on Northeast 56th Street and burst into flames. Three people on board survived.

    In September 2007, a cargo plane lost power after takeoff from Executive, clipped a government building and skidded to rest just off Interstate 95 north of Commercial Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The pilot was injured and made for an eerie sight as he sat in the shredded cockpit off the highway.

    In April 2009, a twin-engine plane took off from Executive and crashed into an home in Oakland Park, killing the elderly pilot.

    The business district around the airport includes body shops, machine shops and suppliers.

    Tom Berg, 59, with Craig's Carpet Care, was unfazed by the daily parade of planes overheard.

    “We see the planes flying over us all the time,” he said. “Do you think of them crashing? No, not really. I worry more about the cars on the street than the planes in the air.”


    Story and Video:  http://www.sun-sentinel.com


     
    ( Matt Little, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, courtesy / March 15, 2013 ) 
     Plane exploded on impact destroying vehicles in a parking lot


     
    Plane crashes in Fort Lauderdale 
    (Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel / March 15, 2013)

     
    Black smoke was visible from nearby Lockhart.
    YouReporter Steve.