Sunday, March 31, 2013

Eurocopter AS 350B3 AStar, Alaska State Troopers, N911AA: Accident occurred March 30, 2013 in Talkeetna, Alaska

NTSB Identification: ANC13GA036 
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Saturday, March 30, 2013 in Talkeetna, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/28/2015
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS350, registration: N911AA
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 public aircraft accident report.

The Safety Board's full report is available at http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/aviation.aspx. The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-14/03.

On March 30, 2013, at 2320 Alaska daylight time, a Eurocopter AS350 B3 helicopter, N911AA, impacted terrain while maneuvering during a search and rescue (SAR) flight near Talkeetna, Alaska. The airline transport pilot, an Alaska state trooper serving as a flight observer for the pilot, and a stranded snowmobiler who had requested rescue were killed, and the helicopter was destroyed by impact and postcrash fire. The helicopter was registered to and operated by the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) as a public aircraft operations flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed in the area at the time of the accident. The flight originated at 2313 from a frozen pond near the snowmobiler's rescue location and was destined for an off-airport location about 16 mi south.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's decision to continue flight under visual flight rules into deteriorating weather conditions, which resulted in the pilot's spatial disorientation and loss of control. Also causal was the Alaska Department of Public Safety's punitive culture and inadequate safety management, which prevented the organization from identifying and correcting latent deficiencies in risk management and pilot training. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's exceptionally high motivation to complete search and rescue missions, which increased his risk tolerance and adversely affected his decision-making.

The Safety Board's full report is available at http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/aviation.aspx. The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-14/03.

NTSB Identification: ANC13GA036 
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Saturday, March 30, 2013 in Talkeetna, AK
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS350, registration: N911AA
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 public aircraft accident report.

On March 30, 2013, at 2320 Alaska daylight time, a Eurocopter AS 350 B3 single-engine helicopter, N911AA, impacted terrain while maneuvering near Talkeetna, Alaska. The airline transport certificated pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was destroyed by impact and post-crash fire. The helicopter was registered to and operated by the State of Alaska, Department of Public Safety (DPS), as a public aircraft operations flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions were reported in the area at the time of the accident, and department flight following procedures were in effect. The flight originated from the passenger rescue location at 2313 and was destined for an off airport location in Talkeetna.

According to Alaska State Troopers personnel and dispatch records, at 1935, a distressed individual requested assistance in an area near Talkeetna, and a search and rescue (SAR) mission with the helicopter was initiated. The pilot departed the DPS facility at Anchorage International Airport, Anchorage, Alaska, at 2117. The pilot flew to Talkeetna and at 2142, picked up an Alaska State Trooper near the Talkeetna Trooper Post facility to aid in the SAR mission. The distressed individual was located, and the helicopter landed at the remote location at 2201. At 2313, the helicopter departed the remote location and was destined for an off airport location in Talkeetna to meet emergency medical ground support.

On March 31, 2013, at 0044, attempts were made by trooper dispatch personnel to contact the pilot and trooper via radio and their cellular telephones, without success. Due to weather conditions in the Talkeetna area, search efforts were delayed. At 0923, the helicopter accident site was located by search and rescue personnel.

The accident site was located approximately 5.6 miles east of Talkeetna in wooded and snow covered terrain. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, tailboom, engine, and skid assembly. Several sections of fragmented fuselage were located near the main wreckage. A post-crash fire consumed a majority of the fuselage. An Appareo Vision 1000 cockpit imaging and flight data monitoring device, and a Garmin 296 global positioning system (GPS) were recovered from the accident site and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, DC, for data extraction. A comprehensive wreckage examination is pending following recovery efforts.

The closest official weather observation station was at the Talkeetna Airport (PATK). At 2114, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) reported, in part: wind calm, visibility 7 miles with decreasing snow, broken clouds at 900 and 1,300 feet, sky overcast at 2,400 feet, temperature 34 degrees F, dew point 34 degrees F, and altimeter 30.22 inHg.

===========

 Alaska State Troopers identified the victims of Saturday night's rescue helicopter crash during a press conference at the Tudor Road headquarters Monday afternoon.  

The dead have been tentatively identified as 50-year-old Mel Nading, an Anchorage-based pilot, 40-year-old Trooper Tage Toll and the man the helicopter went out to rescue, Carl Ober. A positive identification has not yet been made and is awaiting results of an examination of the remains that were recovered from the helicopter crash site.

The State Troopers Helo-1 helicopter was dispatched after a report came in at about 7:30 pm on Saturday night. The helicopter stopped to pick up Trooper Toll and then proceeded to the area that Ober was at. It was reported that Ober was located and picked up by the helicopter at about 10 pm and the helicopter was last heard from about an hour later when it was reported that the helicopter was returning to the Sunshine Tesoro to drop Ober off to waiting medics.

The helicopter never arrived. Later the FAA would notify the Alaska Air National Guard who was able to begin their search at approximately 5 am. Searchers located the crash site mid-morning on Sunday.

The Alaska Air National Guard assisted in the recovery of the men's bodies. They were then taken from Palmer to the State Medical Examiner's office in Anchorage.

NTSB Investigator Clint Johnson said outside investigators will fly to Alaska to carry out the investigation as to the cause of the crash.


Story, Photo, Reaction/Comments:  http://www.adn.com

Plane crash in Southeast Saskatchewan leaves six people with minor injuries

 
(Courtesy RCMP)


Six people are alive after a small plane they were travelling in hit a hill and crashed into a snowy field north of the community of Kisbey, Sask.

Emergency crews received a call about a plane going down at about 10:13 a.m. CST. Paramedics were on scene helping with injured passengers.

Early reports state there were six people on the aircraft and they all survived.

Bev McArthur was minutes from the location and saw the aftermath of the crash.

"I guess apparently…it hit one of the hills and then it must have slid over there or something," she told CBC News.

Her daughter Armanda McArthur was also nearby.

"From the way that we saw it from the main grid road it looked fine, but I guess on the other side it was missing a wing," she said. "I didn't see any major wreckage around it or anything like that."

"It looked fine, but I guess it was flying too low and that's where they crashed, just north of my parents," Armanda continued.

RCMP said they don't know at this point where the plane took off from or where it was going.

Transport Canada has been called.

The crash scene is located about eight kilometres north of the community of Kisbey and about 100 metres from Highway 605.

Kisbey is located about 87 kilometres east of Weyburn, Sask.


Story and Photos:  http://www.cbc.ca

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, N55093: Accident occurred March 31, 2013 in Castle Rock. Colorado

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA219 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 30, 2013 in Castle Rock, CO
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-140, registration: N55093
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

On March 30, 2013, about 2000 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA28-140, N55093, registered to the pilot, was substantially damaged after impacting terrain while maneuvering in the vicinity of Castle Rock, Colorado. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. Dusk visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity and no flight plan was filed for the personal cross-country flight that was being conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated at 1715 from the Sandia Airpark Estes East Airport (1N1), Albuquerque, New Mexico, and its planned destination was Centennial Airport (APA), Denver, Colorado.

According to radar data provided by the FAA, the airplane's flight was on a course directly to its planned destination of APA. About 18 miles southwest of APA, the radar track showed the airplane make several turns off its track, then resume its track toward the airport. Radar contact was lost about 16 miles from APA.

The wreckage of the airplane was found in a ranch pasture by a local ranch worker on the morning of March 31, 2013.


 
(Photo courtesy: Douglas County S.O.)



DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. - One person was found dead in a single-engine plane that crashed in Douglas County. The plane had been missing since Sunday morning.

 Douglas County sheriff's spokeswoman Deborah Sherman says a rancher found the Piper Cherokee PA-28  plane in a cow pasture Sunday.

The plane departed Saturday from Sandia Airpark Estates East Airport in Edgewood New Mexico with one person on board and was heading to the Centennial Airport, according to Ian Gregor, Public Affairs Manager for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Sherman reported that the man on board the plane was killed in the crash. Release of the identity of the man killed is delayed, pending notification of his family.

The plane's registered owner is from Texas.

Sherman told 7NEWS a rancher spotted the crashed plane while checking on his cows Sunday morning. The rancher called to report the crash around 10:43 a.m.

Sherman said search and rescue crews from the sheriff's department were already looking for the plane when the rancher called. Crews found wreckage from the plane in the field about 10 miles away from the Centennial Airport, Gregor said.

The crash is being investigated by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

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

Lancair LC42-550FG, N6506L: Accident occurred March 31, 2013 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA184
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 31, 2013 in Winston-Salem, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/30/2014
Aircraft: LANCAIR LC42 - 550FG, registration: N6506L
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

The airplane was in cruise flight about 5,000 feet mean sea level (msl) in instrument meteorological conditions when the pilot declared an emergency and reported a loss of “fuel pressure” and engine power. The air traffic controller vectored the airplane toward the nearest airport, and, during the descent and when the airplane was about 6 miles from the airport, the pilot reported that smoke was in the cockpit and that the engine was “barely” producing power. No further transmissions were received from the pilot. The airplane collided with flat, wooded terrain and was significantly damaged by postcrash fire. 
Data downloaded from the primary and multifunction cockpit displays indicate that the engine began steadily losing oil pressure during the airplane’s initial climb until it leveled off at a cruise altitude of 5,000 feet msl. Data suggest that, at that time, the pilot leaned the fuel mixture for cruise flight. Although the pilot could have detected the decreasing oil pressure at that time, he did not report a loss of fuel pressure and engine power to the air traffic controller until about 6 minutes later. Data also indicate that there were multiple additional indications and cues of a loss of engine oil pressure in the cockpit but that the pilot did not respond to these in a timely manner. The operations manual indicates that the pilot should land as soon as possible if the engine oil pressure drops and then to prepare for a loss of engine power and an emergency landing. The pilot’s delayed recognition of the drop in engine oil pressure was likely the result of a breakdown in her instrument scan, specifically, her systems monitoring during the climb and initial cruise phases of flight, during which time, her attention was likely directed at airplane control, power management, and navigation. The reason for the loss of engine oil pressure could not be determined during postaccident examinations due to postcrash fire damage.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to detect multiple indications and cues in the cockpit of the steady loss of engine oil pressure, which resulted in a catastrophic engine failure over terrain unsuitable for landing. Also causal was the loss of internal engine lubrication for reasons that could not be determined during postaccident examinations due to postcrash fire damage.


HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 31, 2013, at 1250 eastern daylight time, a Lancair LC42-550FG, N6506L, was destroyed when it collided with trees and terrain during a forced landing after a loss of engine power near Smith Reynolds Airport (INT), Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight which originated from Wilkes County Airport (UKF), North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, at 1230, and was destined for Warren Field Airport (OCW), Washington, North Carolina. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. 

Information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the flight departed UKF at 1230 and climbed to 5,000 feet. The flight was in cruise flight about 5,000 feet when at 12:46.34, the pilot declared an emergency and reported a "low fuel pressure – engine's quitting." The air traffic controller vectored the airplane toward INT, and during the descent the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit and subsequently reported that the engine was "barely" producing power. At last report, the airplane was about 6 miles from INT, and no further transmissions were received from the pilot.

In an email, one witness stated that he heard the airplane, but could not see it due to low, irregular clouds. He said the airplane was "making a slightly uneven noise – like a sputter but more like its power was changing erratically." The witness further stated that the sound of the engine didn't not fade gradually as he expected, but "went abruptly silent." He later learned that the airplane crashed about six miles from the spot where he heard the sounds overhead.

Another witness reported to police that he saw the airplane flying just above the trees. He stated that the airplane was not trailing smoke, and that the propeller was not rotating. A third witness said the airplane was flying close to the tops of the trees, and the engine was sputtering as though it "may have run out of gas." A fourth witness reported seeing a "large blue object" just above the fence in her back yard before it exploded and burst into flames. She stated she heard no noise and didn't discover the object was an airplane until later.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. Her most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on December 2, 2011, and she reported 800 total hours of flight experience on that date. An examination of the pilot's logbook revealed about 963 total hours of flight experience, 291 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model.

The pilot-rated passenger held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent third-class medical certificate was issued on November 19, 2010 and he reported 300 total hours of flight experience on that date. Examination of the pilot-rated passenger's logbook revealed that it was severely damage by fire and water. The total hours of flight experience, and time in make and model could not be determined, however it's estimated that the total hours of flight experience were about 460 hours. The last entries in the logbook appeared to be in December 2012 based on entries in previous pages.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was manufactured in 2003, and was a pre-molded, composite built, semi-monocoque, four-seat, single engine, low wing, tricycle design airplane. The airplane was certified in the utility category and was used primarily for transportation and general aviation uses. The airplane was equipped with a Continental IO-550N, 310-horsepower engine. Examination of FAA records and copies of maintenance receipts revealed its most recent annual inspection was completed July 26, 2012 at 1,088 aircraft hours. 

Subsequent to the annual inspection, the airplane underwent service and maintenance on five occasions. The work included an oil change, alternator change (2), and a starter adapter change. Each time an engine run was performed and a leak check was noted. The most recent maintenance run and leak check was annotated February 11, 2013.

Engine oil history

A review of the maintenance records revealed that the previous owner of the airplane had engine oil leaks corrected during 2009 and 2010. The repairs to and replacement of pushrod tubes, rocker covers, sump gaskets, and a front crankshaft seal were noted. Further, the Nos. 1, 2, and 5 cylinders were replaced on September 28, 2010.

On July 25, 2012, during the owner's pre-purchase inspection of the airplane, the left magneto oil seal was replaced due to "leaking." No further engine oil leaks were noted in the airplane's maintenance records.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1254, the weather conditions reported at INT, at 969 feet elevation and 4 miles east of the accident site, included an overcast ceiling at 800 feet, visibility 7 miles, temperature 13 degrees C, dew point 11 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.89 inches of mercury. The winds were from 240 degrees at 7 knots. 

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The accident site was located on flat, wooded terrain in a residential area approximately 3 miles west of INT, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage path was oriented approximately 078 degrees magnetic and about 400 feet in length. The initial impact point was in a tree top; about 50 feet above the ground, and fragments of the airplane were distributed along the wreckage path. 

The cockpit, cabin area, and engine compartment were consumed by postcrash fire. The main wreckage rested on its left side, and had been cut and displaced by first responders. Control continuity could not be determined due to significant fire damage, but flight control components that were examined exhibited fractures consistent with overload failure.

The engine remained in its mounts, attached to the fuselage, and each of the three propeller blades exhibited aft bending and spanwise scratching. The engine was severely damaged by fire and impact. The engine oil sump was completely burned away, and the engine case exhibited holes from both internal and external impact. Due to the extent of the damage, and the hazard of burned composite materials, no examination of the engine was conducted on site. The engine was retained for a detailed examination at a later date.

No evidence of oil streaking or staining of the airframe could be identified, as the airframe surrounding and aft of the engine compartment was completely destroyed by fire. The tail section was separated from the airplane, and displayed impact and postcrash fire damage. The exterior surfaces were stained from soot consistent with the postcrash fire.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology performed the autopsies on the pilot and the pilot-rated passenger. The autopsy report indicated that each died as a result of "multiple injuries."

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of the pilot. The testing was negative for drugs, alcohol, and carbon monoxide.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The engine was examined in Mobile, Alabama at the manufacturer's facility under the supervision of an NTSB senior air safety investigator. The engine exhibited significant impact and thermal damage, and the crankcase was breached above the Nos. 4, 5, and 6 cylinders. Disassembly revealed connecting rod, bearing cap, piston skirt, and hardware fragments in the oil sump. These fragments could not be matched with their associated engine components. 

The Nos. 1 and 2 connecting rod assemblies were intact, but displayed thermal discoloration. Their respective connecting rod bearings exhibited lubrication distress and thermal smearing of the surface babbit, exposing the copper layer.

The Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6 connecting rods were separated from the crankshaft. The No. 6 connecting rod separated from the crankcase and was not recovered.

The airplane was equipped with Avidyne Multi-Function Display (MFD) and Primary Flight Display (PFD), as well as analog engine instruments on the left side of the instrument panel, and analog flight instruments between the PFD and MFD in the center of the panel. 

The MFD unit displayed the pilot checklist, terrain/map information, approach chart information and other aircraft/operational information depending on the specific configuration and options installed. One of the options available was comprehensive engine monitoring and performance data.

The PFD unit included a solid state Air Data and Attitude Heading Reference System (ADAHRS) and displayed aircraft flight data including altitude, airspeed, attitude, vertical speed, and heading. The PFD unit had external pitot and static port inputs for altitude, airspeed, and vertical speed information. Each PFD contained two TSOP2 Flash memory devices mounted on a riser card. The flash memory stored information the PFD unit used to generate the various PFD displays. Additionally, the PFD had a data logging function which is used by the manufacturer for maintenance and diagnostics.

The MFD and PFD were examined in the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory on November 1, 2013. Both displays exhibited major fire damage, and disassembly revealed major fire damage to the compact flash (CF) cards as well. The memory flash chips were removed, re-soldered to their respective CF cards, and placed in an Avidyne test bench equipped with a surrogate MFD and PFD.

The data was downloaded from each CF card, both engine and flight parameters were graphed, and a Google Earth overlay of the flight path was plotted. Engine parameters graphed included engine rpm, exhaust gas temperature, cylinder head temperature, fuel flow, and engine oil pressure. Airplane flight parameters such as auto pilot states, aircraft attitudes, accelerations, Flight Director, and Auto Pilot modes were also plotted.

The data showed the airplane departed UKF around 12:30:00, and the last valid GPS point was recorded at 12:49:14. About 12:38:40, during the initial climb, the oil pressure began a steady decline. About 12:40:00, while pressure altitude leveled around 5,000 feet, a decline in fuel flow and simultaneous increase in exhaust gas temperature, consistent with leaning of the fuel mixture for cruise flight, was noted. At 12:40:12, while in straight and level flight, the engine oil pressure dropped below 30 psi, and out of the normal operating range of 30 – 60 psi. At 12:42:28, the engine oil pressure dropped below the minimum pressure of 10 psi, and at 12:46:00, the exhaust gas temperatures and engine RPM dropped to zero. 

The airplane maintained its heading, airspeed, and altitude for about 6 minutes with the engine oil pressure below the normal operating range, and for about 3.5 minutes with the oil pressure below the minimum allowable pressure at idle.

According to the Continental Installation and Operation Manual for the IO-550 series engines:

4-4.7. Low Oil Pressure

WARNING

If oil pressure drops below 30 psi, an engine failure is imminent. Follow AFM/POH emergency procedures.

If the oil pressure drops suddenly from a normal indication of 30-60 psi, monitor temperature closely and LAND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. 

Troubleshoot and correct the cause of the low oil pressure indication prior to further flight.

According to the Lancair Pilot's Operating Handbook, the engine oil pressure indication displayed red on both the map and engine pages when oil pressure decayed below 10 psi. An oil pressure annunciator also illuminated below 5psi. 

The published emergency procedure for LOSS OF OIL PRESSURE:

1. Oil Temperature – CHECK WITHIN PROPER RANGES FROM 170 TO 220 [degrees]

1.1 If oil temperature is within operating range – LAND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
1.2 If oil temperature is above operating range 
1.2.1. Throttle –REDUCE to the minimum required power
1.2.2. LAND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
1.2.3. BE PREPARED FOR LOSS OF ENGINE POWER AND PREPARE FOR AN EMERGENCY LANDING.

At the time the engine oil pressure decayed below 30 psi, the airplane was approximately 16 miles east of the departure airport, and about 2 miles south of Elkin Municipal Airport (ZEF), where the GPS RWY 25 instrument approach procedure was available.


http://registry.faa.gov/N6506L


NTSB Identification: ERA13FA184 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 31, 2013 in Winston-Salem, NC
Aircraft: LANCAIR LC43-550FG, registration: 6506L
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On March 31, 2013, at 1250 eastern daylight time, a Lancair LC42-550FG, N6506L, was destroyed when it collided with trees and terrain during a forced landing after a loss of engine power near Smith Reynolds Airport (INT), Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The certificated commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight which originated from Wilkes County Airport (UKF), North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and destined for Warren Field Airport (OCW), Washington, North Carolina. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the flight was in cruise flight at 4,000 feet when the pilot declared a “loss of fuel pressure.” The air traffic controller vectored the airplane toward INT, and during the descent the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit and subsequently reported that the engine was "barely" producing power. At last report, the airplane was about six miles from INT, and no further transmissions were received from the airplane.

The accident site was located on flat, wooded terrain in a residential area approximately 4 miles west of INT, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage path was oriented approximately 078 degrees magnetic and about 400 feet in length. The initial impact point was in a tree top; about 50 feet above the ground, and fragments of the airplane were distributed along the wreckage path. The cockpit, cabin area, and engine compartments were consumed by post-crash fire. The main wreckage rested on its left side, and had been cut and displaced by first responders. The engine remained in its mounts, attached to the fuselage, and each of the three propeller blades exhibited aft bending and spanwise scratching.

Control continuity could not be determined due to significant fire damage, but flight control components that were examined exhibited fractures consistent with overload failure.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. Her most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on December 2, 2011, and she reported 800 total hours of flight experience on that date. The pilot's logbook was not recovered.

The pilot-rated passenger held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent third-class medical certificate was issued on November 19, 2010 and he reported 300 total hours of flight experience on that date.

Examination of FAA records and copies of maintenance receipts revealed the airplane was manufactured in 2003, and its most recent annual inspection was completed July 26, 2012 at 1,022 aircraft hours. The airplane's maintenance logbooks were not recovered.

The engine, along with the primary flight and multi-function displays were retained for examination at a later date.




 


Debra Cohen O'Neal
Dennis Alan O'Neal

Obituary


BLOUNTS CREEK - Dr. Dennis Alan O'Neal, 58, and wife, Debra Cohen O'Neal, 56, died Sunday, March 31, 2013 in a plane crash. Their beloved pet Golden Retriever, Amelia, was also killed in the accident. A memorial service will be held today at 1 p.m. at Rock Springs Center, 4025 NC Highway 43 N., Greenville.


If there's one thing you could say about Dennis and Debbie O'Neal, it's that they lived life to the fullest. They loved, they lived, and they laughed their whole way through their marriage. They never stopped moving forward, and their love for each other was eclipsed only by their love for their children and their dog Amelia. Avid pilots, sailors, bikers, and all around adventurers, they gave everything 100%. Debbie was a passionate teacher and instructor, and touched so many lives through her work that it wasn't uncommon for many of her students and mentees to refer to her as a second mother. Dennis was an optometrist who was more than just a doctor; he was a humanitarian. He truly cared for his patients with a compassion that was unrivaled in his field. Both were avid members in North Carolina communities from Beaufort County to Boone. Proud of their Jewish heritage and darn proud to be Damn Yankees, the amazing couple leaves behind three loving children, Juliana, Douglas, and Kevin. Dennis is also survived by a sister, Martha Clark and husband, Kevin; and a brother, Michael O'Neal; and Debbie is also survived by a brother, Fred Cohen and wife, Dhana; sister, Jan Cohen Weiss and partner, Rick; and mother, Lorna Cohen; in addition to a network of friends and family that extends around the globe.


In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Beaufort County Association for the Blind, PO Box 491, Washington, NC 27889, or Wright Flight, PO Box 2105, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948.


On-line condolences at www.wilkersonfuneralhome.com.


Arrangements by Wilkerson Funeral Home & Crematory, Greenville.


 Obituary and Guest Book:  http://www.legacy.com

  Officials said the plane and crashed into a wooded area at 900 Kearns Avenue, between Kearns and Chatham Farm Road at around 12:50 p.m.

Authorities said 58-year-old Dennis Alan O’Neal and 56-year-old Deborah Dee O’Neal, both of Blounts Creek, were pronounced dead.

911 calls flooded in just after the plane narrowly missed the houses. One caller said she, “Heard a bug crash and a big ploom of smoke went up in the air.”

Witnesses say they did not hear the engine, but only saw the small plane flying low surrounded by heavy smoke.

“As a former flight attendant i feel strongly that this pilot knew exactly what he was doing that he was headed to a place that looked uninhabited,” said Mary Lea Bradford, who lives near the crash site.

Authorities described the plane as a “fixed-wing, single-engine Lancair LC-42” that departed from North Wilkesboro around 12:35 p.m. and was headed to Washington, N.C.

Air traffic controllers were trying to divert the plane to Smith Reynolds Airport, but with clouds reported a thousand feet up, investigators can’t say for sure if the pilot had time to pinpoint a landing spot.

“If someone were to represent what they saw as an attempt by the pilot to avoid homes or people, I wouldn’t dispute it,” said Brian Raynor, an NTSB investigator.

Officials said the aircraft was destroyed by fire. They said the pilot reported a partial loss of engine power.

Officials said the plane did not hit any structures or people on the ground, but it did miss hitting some homes by about 50 yards. About $500,000 in property was damaged, authorities said. They said the couple’s dog was also killed.

O’Neal was an eye doctor at Washington Eye Clinic in Washington, N.C., which is in Beaufort County, according to the clinic’s website. O’Neal, 58, had a wife named Debbie Dee O’Neal, and three children. O’Neal lists flying as one of his interests.

Authorities said the plane was registered to Dennis O’Neal.


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Opinion: Fund controllers

Posted: March 31, 2013 - 2:42pm

As a pilot of 23 years, I am deeply concerned over the proposed cuts of air-traffic controllers from our two Topeka airports.

Now that the Forbes Field tower has been spared, the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority must consider ways to restore controller funding for the tower at Philip Billard Municipal Airport.

I have personally witnessed dozens of aircraft being skillfully managed for hours on end by the controllers at Billard. I have also flown into airports that are uncontrolled, and they are not nearly as safe.

Uncontrolled airports require that pilots accurately judge and announce their positions, agree upon which runways to use, agree upon landing order, and then actually see each other to maintain a safe degree of separation.

Such actions usually take place over cities or crowded neighborhoods. That would certainly be the case if the Topeka airspace lacked air-traffic controllers.

I would say that Topeka has one of the best run air-traffic systems that I have flown into.

We also must not discount the potential loss of revenue from air traffic and business that comes to Topeka via Billard airport by personal, corporate or governmental aviation.

At Billard airport, there is a steady hum of corporate and personal aircraft that vastly increases on the weekends.

It is chilling to think of that traffic coming into Billard uncontrolled. Much of the traffic approaches over the heart of the city. The Billard air traffic also frequently crosses into the Forbes airspace, and that also takes place over the city. Imagine the results of a midair collision.

We must support our local air-traffic system.

ERIC VOTH, M.D.,

Topeka


Source:   http://cjonline.com/opinion

1930 Brunner Winkle Bird at the Poplar Grove Airport (C77), Illinois




My Favorite -- Snowplowing at the Poplar Grove Airport:

Beechcraft G58 Baron, N254F: Accident occurred March 29, 2013 in Kawhia Harbour, New Zealand

http://registry.faa.gov/N254F 

https://www.atsb.gov.au




On 30 March 2013, a Beechcraft Baron G58 aircraft, registered N254F,with two persons on board, took off from Ardmore Aerodrome, New Zealand on private instrument flight rules (IFR) flight to Timaru, New Zealand. Shortly after the aircraft reached the intended cruise altitude of 18,000 feet (Flight Level 180), the aircraft began descending at a high rate and subsequently collided with the water. Both occupants were fatally injured.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of New Zealand is investigating the accident. On 11 December 2013, investigating officials contacted the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and requested assistance with the analysis of air traffic control audio recordings containing transmissions from the accident aircraft. To facilitate this assistance and protect the audio data and sensitive information received from the CAA, an external investigation was initiated under the provisions of the Australian Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003. 

The ATSB has completed an analysis of the recordings and has provided the results of this analysis to the CAA of New Zealand.



The chief executive of 2degrees who died in a plane crash would not have been allowed to fly had he told authorities he had depression.

In a report released today, the Civil Aviation Authority said its investigators still cannot say for sure what caused the crash that killed American Eric Hertz, 58, and his wife Katherine, 64, in March 2013.

The couple died when their twin-engine Beechcraft Baron went into a spin and plunged into the sea off the coast of Raglan about 30 minutes into the flight.

The authority described the investigation of the crash as one of the most complex and high-profile ever.

"The investigation was extraordinarily complex from day one with a major recovery operation required involving Raglan Coastguard (Gallagher Rescue), police and Navy divers and use of the Navy's specialist dive vessel, the HMNZS Manawanui, complete with a crew of 40 people for 10 days," it said.

"The wreckage was submerged on the ocean floor 56 metres below the surface."

In its report, it does not conclusively say what caused the plane to lose airspeed, but a sudden loss of power in the left engine is suspected.

Mr Hertz was suffering from depression and anxiety and taking medication, and while the authority said this had no effect on the crash, he would never have been allowed to fly had it known.

The report did reference his mental illness several times.

"The pilot's loss of situational awareness was most likely caused by the aircraft being operated in cloud," it said.

"The pilot's mental health condition, and the associated medication that the pilot was taking, likely exacerbated his loss of situational awareness.

"It is likely that once, the aircraft was in a spin, the pilot could not have recovered... The CAA has not suggested this was the cause of the accident."

Mr Hertz was a US certificated pilot and the plane was a US registered aircraft.

The report recommends better oversight of privately operated, foreign-registered aircraft.

The families of Mr and Mrs Hertz issued a statement shortly after the report was released.

They said they were disappointed no conclusive reason for the crash was given.

"There are no answers yet as to why an aircraft that had recently experienced a similar engine failure on the very same engine, when fitted with an after-market turbocharger system with significant manufacturing inconsistencies, was then cleared to fly with a known insecure part on one engine," the statement said.

"The answers to these questions reach beyond our families, benefiting other owners of Beechcraft Baron Aircraft worldwide that either have been modified with this type of turbocharger system or are considering it.

"Ultimately our deepest concern at this point is that this doesn't happen again to others."

http://www.radionz.co.nz

NTSB Identification: WPR13WA177  
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Friday, March 29, 2013 in Kawhia Harbour, New Zealand, New Zealand
Aircraft: BEECH G58, registration: N254F
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On March 29, 2013, at 2320 universal coordinated time, a Beech G58, N254F, ditched in the ocean about 11 nautical miles west of Kawhia Harbour, New Zealand. The airplane was registered to Kiwi Lion LLC, and operated under the pertinent civil regulations of New Zealand. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed.

Just prior to the ditching, the pilot radioed a loss of engine power.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of New Zealand. This report is for information purposes only and contains only information released by the Government of New Zealand. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
P.O. Box 3555
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

Tel: (64) 4-560-9400
Fax: (64) 4-569-2024


The tragic crash that killed 2degrees chief executive Eric Hertz and his wife, Kathy, has puzzled one aviation expert. Michael Field , Jenna Lynch and Paul Easton report.

As experts prepare to investigate what caused the accident that killed 2degrees boss Eric Hertz and his wife, Kathy, police are warning that recovering their bodies off the coast of Kawhia will be a long process.

The couple were in their twin-engine Beechcraft G58 Baron on Saturday when it plunged into the sea about 20 kilometres northwest of the entrance to Kawhia Harbour.

Police say the debris field near Gannet Island suggests they hit the water at high speed.

They are believed to be in 60 metres of water and the depth will make recovering the bodies difficult.

Civil Aviation Authority will investigate the cause of the crash but Hamilton-based airline aviation expert Ewan Wilson who spoke to Mr Hertz just a day before the accident said when a twin-engine plane lost an engine, it didn't usually result in a fatal crash.

Mr Wilson said he did not want to speculate on the cause of the crash but media reports said Mr Hertz had radioed Airways New Zealand to report engine failure and seconds later vanished off the radar screen.

"It would be unusual to ditch an airplane with only one engine down.

"And it would be unusual for an airplane like the Beechcraft G58 Baron to crash with a single engine failure," he said.

Mr Wilson met Eric and Kathy Hertz on Good Friday at the Waihi Beach airport and they wished each other a happy flight.

But just after noon the next day, the couple's aircraft plummeted from the sky.

Mr Wilson remembered them as a "happy couple" who were "really passionate about aviation". He had discussed aviation and aircraft at length with Mr Hertz and was probably one of the last people to do so.

Conditions at the time of the accident were fine and clear and Mr Hertz, who had 10 years' flying experience, was instrument-rated. One of his brothers is a United States Navy aviation instructor.

Police yesterday sent out a dive squad with sonar equipment but Waikato police Inspector Marcus Lynam warned the depth of the wreck meant the recovery of the bodies would be difficult.

With the aircraft submerged at 60 metres, police needed to determine the structural integrity of the plane to see if they could recover the bodies safely, he said.

"It's a very complex operation . . . We believe the NZ Navy have dived that deep. However, it's very difficult to get down."

Police would do everything possible to get the bodies back to their family, Mr Lynam said.

The crash is an eerie echo of a 2005 tragedy in which liquor magnate Michael Erceg and companion Guus Klatte were killed when their helicopter crashed into a forested area between Kawhia and Raglan.

A keen aviator, Mr Hertz had flown extensively in his homeland and in New Zealand.

Last year he won a gold medal at a vintage airshow in Wisconsin for a World War II-era Beech 17 plane he also owns.

Two Civil Aviation Authority investigators were preparing to study the cause of the crash yesterday.

The CAA could not start work until the crash scene was made available by police, who were taking all steps to find the occupants, spokesman Mike Richards said.

"The task of examining the wreckage will be quite difficult because of the depth of water."

Decompression sickness can be experienced at depths beyond around 30 metres, so the CAA would need specialist equipment and divers.

Read more here:   http://www.stuff.co.nz

Opinion: Closing Vista Field Airport (S98) makes most sense for Tri-Cities

Northwest Opinion Columns
Published: March 31, 2013



Sometimes, you have to just let go.

That's how we feel about the small but vocal contingent of folks still clinging to the idea that Vista Field is a viable airport and a valuable asset to our community at large.

The good fight has been fought, but it's time to move on.

We advocated for years for the Port of Kennewick to make a long-term decision on the airport, a facility that was left in limbo more often than not during the past decade.

When it was decided a couple of years back that the airport would remain open, we supported the decision.

But times have changed. Our enthusiasm for the airport is not what it once was. Vista Field has become a perk for a handful of users, not a community of aviators. And it has not become what the port envisioned when it decided to continue airport operations in 2010.

Much of that is the port's fault. The agency seemed to give a half-hearted effort in seeking a fixed-base operator to set up shop at the airport, placing unreasonable restrictions on potential operators. And the only person bidding on the opportunity didn't go out of his way to help the process along.

After the failed and faulty attempt to find an airport operator, the port decided a consulting firm should do an independent review of the 90-acre facility, which it operates at a loss each year. Operational losses came to $235,000 last year, according to the port.

The report gave three options: enhance the current facilities, redevelop the land for other uses or leave it as it currently sits.

Vista Field, which was once a training ground for landings on aircraft carriers, is largely a victim of its location. What was once wide open space has become the heart of the Tri-Cities retail and entertainment district.

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

Lee County Port Authority, Florida: Website service gives aircraft altitude, speed in real time

New online: A flight-tracking tool for the skies around Southwest Florida International and Page Field airports.

WebTrak is available 24 hours a day at Lee County Port Authority’s website, flylcpa.com.

Airport officials hope it will ease people’s minds and reduce complaints about overflight noise and other unpleasant effects, when residents realize the planes they hear usually are higher than they thought.

People who live in the most-used corridors for air traffic hope to get data showing whether pilots are following the rules and, when it’s safe to do so, flying even higher and farther from homes and businesses.

“We really appreciate (the tracking tool having) been put in place,” said Annie Babcock. She’s a Fort Myers Beach resident who has said arriving jets flying over her neighborhood during peak travel times brought noise akin to “living under a railroad track.”

The port authority has done flight studies and taken input from residents to recommend voluntary practices to airlines, Babcock said. As of Thursday, she hadn’t had time to give WebTrak a workout, but believes it could help prove whether those suggestions are being translated into action.

In Collier County, the Naples Airport Watch group recently reminded folks on its email list that information about instrument-based flights in their area is available by going to FlightAware.com’s “airport tracker info,” and inserting “KAPF” in the box next to “airport code.”

With WebTrak, users can get information about flights following visual or instrument protocols. This includes area flight paths, plane altitudes and more in near real-time. That means you can learn more about that plane you heard overhead maybe 15 minutes ago.

Data on flights going back to as many as 90 days also are accessible.

Aircraft icons on the map are color coded to help identify planes arriving or departing from the two Lee airports or just passing by. Users can drag a house icon to a spot on the map or use an address feature to determine how far a particular aircraft was from their homes or businesses.

Click on a specific plane, and users can get such details as flight number, aircraft type, origin, destination, height and speed.

WebTrak also allows users to make aviation-related noise complaints online. Click on the “Investigate” tab and then click the “Show Complaint Form.“ You do not have to identify a flight to register a complaint.

Airport officials don’t make the rules for flight paths and altitudes. However, they get many of the complaints. In 2012 Lee County Port Authority recorded 369 noise comments, up 27 percent from 291 complaints in 2011. Year-to-date, “we have received 65 percent fewer comments,” said authority spokeswoman Victoria Moreland.

Boca Raton Airport has used WebTrak for about four years, said spokeswoman Kim Whalen. She estimates it has reduced volume of complaints by about 25 percent.

Said Whalen: “It’s a great informational tool.”

Source:  http://www.news-press.com

http://www.flylcpa.com

Opinion/Letter: Even a trial period is unacceptable - Pueblo Memorial Airport (KPUB), Colorado

The Pueblo Chieftain
Opinion
Tell It To The Chieftain
Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2013 12:00 am


Re: One-year trial period for the Army's Chinook helicopter training over and around the Pueblo area, including Pueblo West (Steve Henson, Feb. 17):

I absolutely do not agree with your comments: "If it turns out that the noise is too much, then we would not renew the contract."

If local government, including airport management, allow the Army a "toehold" into the airport and the airspace around Pueblo, they will never relinquish it. It will turn out much like the renter who refuses to pay the rent, damages the property and refuses to leave without a court-ordered eviction.

As a resident of Pueblo West, I see and hear Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters on an almost daily basis. I have seen groups of Air Force or Marine Ospreys fly over my house at minimum flight levels. Air Force C130s have, on occasion, flown over so low that I can clearly see the pilot and copilot in the cockpit. We are not talking a single aircraft, but usually flights of three passing at the same height. These incursions shake my house and upset my pets every time that they occur.

So far the Army has laid out a "proposed" route for the night flights, but nothing is on paper regarding daytime flights. The noise from a single helicopter rotor blade is fairly significant. The Chinook helicopter has twin rotors, so double the potential noise pollution. The proposed night flights would cross west from the racetrack at exit 108 on I-25 to the practice range, which would put them directly over my house in Pueblo West.

The flights would be a problem to my peace and quiet and, at the very least, disturbing to my pets.

The Army needs to keep all of its aircraft on post, not at the Pueblo Memorial Airport unless we want to rename it South Fort Carson Airbase.

Why does the Army not look into an agreement with Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs? Could it be that the Colorado Springs Municipal airport does not want its commercial flights interrupted by the helicopter training?

The revenue brought in by the sale of aviation fuel amounts to a very small drop in the bucket compared to the potential loss of revenue from commercial and private aviation concerns that will take their business to another airport.

The Pueblo Memorial Airport manager recently said that the city would receives six cents per gallon of fuel sold at the airport, which includes the jet fuel sold to the Army. He has also said that the city should expect revenues of $225,000 per year. If the majority of that revenue is to be generated by fuel sales, he is expecting to sell over three million gallons of fuel just to the Army!

Each Chinook helicopter holds approximately 1,000 gallons. That is certainly a lot of fillups and a lot of flight time to create that revenue. I think the citizenry has a right to a complete accounting of how he expects this projected revenue to be earned.

The ranchers took a stance defending the military expansion near Pinon Canyon declaring "Not One More Acre." Residents of Pueblo city and county need to take a similar stance defending our airspace. Once these military flights start, civilian and commercial aircraft will potentially have to deal with "Restricted Flight" areas and air congestion. Imagine how difficult it will become to recruit new commercial airline flights. It just will not happen.

David G. Springer

Pueblo West


Source:   http://www.chieftain.com/opinion

Sequestration, tower closings and the maturation of the aviation industry -By Mary F. Schiavo

By Mary F. Schiavo  

When I was a Professor of Aviation at the Ohio State University, the Chairman of our department was an Aviation Economist, probably the best. He even understood the airline seat pricing buckets and marginal pricing of airline add-ons. I was skeptical about only one thing he predicted, and that prediction has come true—aviation  is now a mature industry, and the number of airlines with excess capacity (empty seats) in the industry has diminished. We have fewer airlines, fewer flights, fewer empty seats and fuller planes. We also have far more fare categories as airlines learn to capture every additional marginal dollar we are willing to spend.

Today, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its 30-year forecast for the industry and confirmed everything my former Department Chairman predicted. We have just nine major carriers, down from hundreds of carriers in bygone eras.

What the FAA forecast reveals is instructive. While all of Washington, D.C., fights over sequestration, this document reveals that some belt tightening is in order because demand for governmental services, at least those of the FAA, has dropped as much as 30 percent in some categories.   

Read more here:  http://blog.motleyrice.com

South Lafourche Leonard Miller Jr. (KGAO), Galliano, Louisiana: Airport expanding its operations

Since being acquired by the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, the Leonard Miller Jr. Airport in Galliano has become a hub for the oil and gas servicing industry’s aerial activities and its mission is being expanded.

The airport is undergoing a series of improvements to better cater to the oil and gas industry, but it is also seeking to diversify its uses for everything from emergency response to training to recreation.

“The majority of our operations are people going offshore to work,” said Airport Manager Joe Wheeler. “We also have people using the airport for other reasons and we want to grow that also. There is too much stuff going on around here economically not to have a large airport.”

Wheeler said the activity at the airport has steadily increased in recent years and is on pace to increase again this year. The Federal Aviation Administration has projected the airport will grow more than any other airport in the state over the next 20 years, hence the new line-up of expansions to the facility.

Last year alone, the airport handled 20,000 operations or plane landings and takeoffs. That is up from 12,500 in 2011, and the airport already has had about 1,000 more operations this year than at the same point last year, Wheeler said.

“It just keeps growing and growing,” Wheeler said. “When the commission first bought the airport, there were only 500 operations out of it.”

The Greater Lafourche Port Commission has invested about $23 million in the airport since 2001 when it was acquired to assist business at Port Fourchon. Port Director Chett Chiasson said helicopter companies are now looking to do more business inland and are expecting to use the airport.

“This is an asset for economic development in the region. We have people that fly in to go to Grand Isle and go fishing in the summer. In the summer months we have fish spotters that go up to spot groups of fish.”

Wheeler also noted the airport’s availability for private training, which isn’t happening there, as well as military training.

“We are starting to get some military traffic through the area. They come in and do an approach and use it for practice,” Wheeler said.

Though, the airport is seeking diverse uses, oil and gas are still the dominant factors. Wheeler said there are three companies that have permanent facilities on the grounds. The airport is also set to complete a lease with an oilfield service company that has the potential to double the number of aircraft based at the facility from its current 34, Wheeler said.

The airport is ideal for oilfield service companies because certain helicopters require more open space than is available at landing pads nearer to the port, Wheeler said.

The airport is undergoing a laundry list of improvements that will make takeoffs and landings easier and safer while improving facilities to be more welcoming for work and leisure, Wheeler said.

A 3,500-foot taxiway was completed in September. The project cost $4.3 million, which came in under budget, Wheeler said.

“Ninety percent was funded by the FAA and 10 percent by the state. It was the third-largest single grant for general aviation in the state,” he said. “It was a great project. The FAA saw how fast we were growing, so they were able to get us that grant. It was a great effort.”

Among projects to be completed is the final component of the Instrument Landing System.

“There are three units to the system,” Wheeler said. “Right now we have two components, a localizer and the distance measuring equipment. We have the third part, the glidescope, in our possession. We just have to submit all engineering plans to the state to get it installed.”

The localizer and glidescope assist pilots in properly lining up with the runway. The inclusion of these components in the port’s offerings will not only make landing safer but also reduce the visibility required for landing, Wheeler said. .

The instillation of the glidescope is expected to take a month to construct and will be funded by the state.

Next on the list will be a $180,000 omni-directional lighting system scheduled to begin operating in late April.

When flying on an instrument flight plan in bad weather, there are specific paths an aircraft must take to land at an airport, Wheeler said. The lighting system helps these aircrafts with visibility. Right now the airport’s minimum visibility is set at a mile. Once the system is installed, it will decrease to three-quarters of a mile.

“All the equipment makes the airport more efficient,” Wheeler said. “Pilots won’t have to sit there and guess if they are going to be able to fly home in the bad weather anymore. This system will help them and increase traffic at the airport.”

The airport will also be expanding its parking space for aircraft to accommodate the growth.

“We will be working on a tarmac ramp that will be double in size for planes coming in and flying out,” Chiasson said.

Wheeler said the entire project will cost $3.2 million with 25 percent of it paid for by the state and the other 75 percent by the port commission.

Wheeler and Chiasson hope the project will begin by November, but construction depends on the status of the state money.

“It goes through the state aviation priority program, and right now it is sitting at No. 23 out of 52 projects. I am pretty sure it will get funded as long as it passes through Congress,” Wheeler said.

While construction of the ramp is underway, a new terminal building will also be built.

“We are looking to time it to the construction of the ramp so both projects can take place at the same time, allowing them to open together,” Wheeler said.

Construction of the ramp will take eight months to complete and the terminal between six and seven months.

The current 1,200-square-foot terminal will be upgraded to 3,000 square feet and cost the commission $1.5 million.

“Pilots can come in and rest up while waiting on passengers. There will be a law enforcement office for security. It is really our welcome mat for people that fly into the community,” Wheeler said.


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

Aviation Consultant Expert Solutions: Aircraft maintenance business takes off - Sioux Gateway Airport (KSUX), Sioux City, Iowa

Photo Provided
ACES Sponder and Stein Provided Aviation Consultant Expert Solutions owners Jim Sponder, left, and Travis Stein are shown in front of an aircraft at the company's new Sioux City maintenance and repair facility in January 2012.
 ~

SIOUX CITY | A Sioux City business recently overhauled and refurbished a commuter jet that transports passengers to Caribbean destinations.  

The SAAB 340B jet, owned by Seaborne Airlines, left Aviation Consultant Expert Solutions' hangar at at Sioux Gateway Airport in February.

“The ACES team has done a superb job supporting Seaborne Airlines in all aspects of adding the Saab 340 to the Seaborne fleet,” said Dave Ziemer, chief operating officer for the airline, which offers departures to San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda.

A similar Seaborne aircraft was featured in an episode of the hit ABC series "The Bachelor" this season.

ACES, owned by Jim Sponder and Travis Stein, has been attracting clients in the U.S., Caribbean, Mexico and Africa since starting up  operations in Sioux City last year. Certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, the business offers a variety of services, from routine checks to major overhauls, and specializes in serving commuter airlines operating regional jets with 30 to 100 seats.

In the last year, ACES has grown to employ 20 full-time repair mechanics. Company officials anticipates further hiring in the future.

“We are proud to be part of this community and pleased to see continued growth, not only for ACES, but also in the aviation industry taking place right here in our hometown,” Sponder said.

A Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School graduate, Sponder has more than more than two decades of aircraft maintenance experience. He is trained to work on not only regional jets, but also larger body aircraft, such as 757s and 767s.

His experience includes managing two different aircraft maintenance facilities formerly housed in Hangar 802, the same hangar that ACES now leases from the city-owned airport. After the second facility, operated by commuter carrier Mesaba Airlines, closed in 2008, the more than 40 skilled aircraft mechanics scattered to different parts of the globe.

Stein, a pilot for the last 20 years, is a former captain with Mesaba Airlines, flying connecting routes for the former Northwest Airlines into such small airports as Thief River Falls, Minn., and Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Later on, he moved into the maintenance and management side of the industry. Along the way, he performed nearly every job, from checking in passengers to working as a flight attendant. In 2003, he received his mechanics license.

They began by traveling to hangars around the country to work on aircraft. They eventually tired of being constantly on the road.

After considering sites in Illinois and Florida, they settled on the Sioux Gateway hangar. Sponder's strong family ties in Siouxland contributed to the decision.

The city of Sioux City also put together an attractive package of incentives, including tax credits from the state's Targeted Jobs program for border cities.

ACES signed a 20-year lease with the city for the 24,000-square-foot hangar, which also includes 12,000 square feet of office and shop space.


Aviation Consultant Expert Solutions (ACES), LLC:   http://www.top-aces.com

Story and Photo:  http://siouxcityjournal.com

Hagerstown Regional Airport (KHGR), Maryland: Tower closure concerns businesses (With Video)

Businesses at Hagerstown Regional Airport have expressed concerns about the potential closure of the airport’s air-traffic control tower as a result of federal budget cuts.

At a roundtable meeting Wednesday, organized by Rider Jet Center, representatives of those businesses met to “get a uniform voice” about the situation, Airport Director Phil Ridenour said.

According to Ridenour, the four-week phase-out of the 149 federal contract towers is set to begin April 7. Hagerstown’s tower is scheduled to close May 5, he said.
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Aaron Harrison, owner of Hagerstown Flight School LLC, said the tower closure is “absolutely going to affect” businesses if a solution is not in place by the closure date.

“I think everybody’s concerned,” Ridenour said.

Ridenour said county and airport officials have planned several meetings in the coming weeks to establish goals and backup funding plans to keep the tower open.

“We have no idea what that’s going to look like at this point, where funding may come from,” he said.

“Obviously, the best-case scenario would be for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to continue to keep our tower open and keep the funding in place. As a backup, the county is prepared to do whatever we need to do temporarily, at least, to keep our tower in operation.”

County officials have said local and/or state dollars could be an option to keep the tower staffed.

Ridenour stressed that airport operations will continue as normal even without an operational on-site tower.

“The airport will not close just because we don’t have an air-traffic control tower,” he said. “We are able to continue to operate, just under different conditions and through different operating centers as opposed to operating right from Hagerstown.”

Landings and takeoffs can be handled by the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center in Leesburg, Va., although having an on-site tower greatly increases safety of aircraft on the ground, officials have said.

Businesses concerned


For Harrison, with an active student load of about 50 to 75 students and who operates several flights a day, an operational on-site tower is crucial to his flight school business.

“Tower airports synchronize everything — air, ground, transition, in and out,” Harrison said. “They take care of it all. They are a vital part of everything we do.”

Rider Jet Center Vice President Ben Rider said his business, which provides services for aircraft and pilots, would be indirectly affected by a tower closure, which could result in less aircraft traffic.

Gary Hoyle, director of campus operations for Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, said PIA’s branch campus in Hagerstown trains aviation technicians and mechanics, who then are looking for employment at airport-related businesses.

“Without the tower, there will be an effect,” Hoyle said, adding that the effect to PIA is marginal compared to other businesses. “I think the biggest effect is going to be drawing industry to the airport itself.”

Searching for a solution

 
Washington County Commissioner John F. Barr said there is “tremendous interest” in keeping the tower open. With the second-longest runway in Maryland and the airport’s proximity to Camp David, Barr said the airport is in a strategic location with regard to national security.

“Airport commission staff, our local airport folks, our board of county commissioners, even city council members know and realize how important this regional airport is to this community,” he said. “We’ve got some thoughts and ideas of how to keep that tower open should the government continue moving in the direction of closure.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., said she wants to find a way to reverse the negative effects that the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration could have on Maryland and Western Maryland, and possibly regain federal funding for Hagerstown.

“There has to be another way to be able to do this, and I believe in a balanced approach,” she said during a visit to the airport Tuesday.

Mikulski said she and other leaders in Washington, D.C., plan to make another pitch to the FAA to keep the Capital region airport towers open. It’s possible, she said, Hagerstown could qualify for a waiver if it’s in the best interest of national security.

“And I don’t know what’s more important than helping our president,” Mikulski said.

County Commissioner William B. McKinley said Mikulski’s visit might have opened her eyes to some things she “maybe wasn’t aware of” at the regional airport, specifically about Hagerstown’s runway and its economic vitality.

“From her angle of national security, that’s a very, very important issue because, even though Frederick is also crucial, it’s possible that with that longer runway there are some planes that could land much more easily in Hagerstown ... so that makes our airport a little more unique,” he said.

U.S. Congressman John Delaney, who met with local airport officials earlier this month, also has said he was against the sequester and wants to find a way to help preserve federal funds for the towers at Hagerstown and Frederick Municipal Airport, which was also named for closure.

McKinley said he hopes the commissioners get to meet with airport officials in the “very near future” to discuss measures to keep the tower open.

Ridenour said he is currently working with the county’s public relations staff to set up a news conference sometime next week to provide updates on the “huge effort” already under way to keep the tower open.

Story, Video, Reaction/Comments:  http://www.herald-mail.com