Monday, April 8, 2013

Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N75558: Jury awards $26M to families of victims killed in plane crash - Accident occurred July 27, 2008 in McMurray, Washington


SEATTLE —  A defective carburetor is blamed for the 2008 crash of a small plane north of Arlington that killed three people.

A King County Superior Court jury awarded two families $26.1 million for the deaths of  Dr. Tory Becker, an Auburn spine surgeon, Enumclaw airline pilot Brenda Houston, and her 10-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Crews.

The jury awarded both compensatory and punitive damages against the engine manufacturer.

The single-engine Cessna was flying from San Juan Island to Auburn when its engine failed, causing the airplane to crash into a heavily forested area north of Arlington.  Investigators at the scene discovered that the carburetor float, an accessory which supplies fuel to the engine, had leaked and was full of fuel. 

“Once we analyzed the defects in the carburetor, our investigation focused on the carburetor design, manufacturing process, and failure history,” said Robert Hedrick, an attorney with Aviation Law Group in Seattle who represents the Becker family.  “Sure enough there was a significant history of similar failures for years before this accident,” Hedrick said.

Attorneys said the manufacturer implemented a fix for the carburetor problem more than two years before the crash but the fix was not implemented for thousands of aircraft already operating the field, including the Cessna that crashed.

The trial took place in February and March in Seattle. After hearing testimony and arguments from both sides, the jury awarded compensatory damages to the families. In a second phase of the trial, the jury awarded $6 million in punitive damages.

Becker was in private practice in Auburn and was a staff surgeon at Auburn Regional Medical Center. 

Brenda Houston was an experienced airline pilot with United Airlines.

NTSB Identification: LAX08FA246 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 27, 2008 in McMurray, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/29/2009
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N75558
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 instrument rated commercial pilot departed under visual flight rules (VFR) for a planned cross-country flight. Shortly after departure, the pilot was receiving radar flight following for about 15 minutes. During this time, the controller advised the pilot that no one had successfully proceeded south VFR and that low ceilings and reduced visibility existed between her destination and her point of departure. Radar data revealed that the flight was initially on a southeasterly heading at an altitude of about 2,400 feet. About 18 minutes after departure, the flight initiated a descent to 900 feet while remaining on the southeasterly heading. As the flight approached an uncontrolled airport, radar data showed a slight climb to 1,400 feet, followed by a climbing 180-degree turn to the northwest, which was opposite the direction of her intended destination. Two minutes later the flight initiated a right turn to a northerly course, while continuing to climb. As the flight proceeded northward, radar data depicted a series of turns to the left and right with the altitude fluctuating between 1,500 feet and 2,900 feet before radar contact was lost. Wreckage and impact signatures were consistent with the airplane impacting trees and mountainous terrain at 2,250 feet msl within a heavily wooded area on an easterly heading. All major components of the airframe were located at the accident site. Review of recorded weather data revealed that instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time of the accident, with restricted visibilities in rain showers, and overcast clouds with bases and tops at 1,900 and 10,000 feet, respectively. Examination of the recovered airframe revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Examination of the engine revealed that the number four cylinder exhaust valve was stuck in the open position and was bent. The camshaft was intact and each of the camshaft cam lobes exhibited severe wear and spalling signatures. The corresponding tappets exhibited severe spalling on their respective camshaft contact surfaces. The engine exhibited signatures consistent with a high time engine.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's improper decision to continue VFR flight into instrument meteorological weather conditions. Contributing to the accident were low ceilings, reduced visibility, and mountainous terrain.

Yeager Airport unveils veteran memorial project

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Twenty Air National Guard members who died 62 years ago in one of the worst air tragedies in southern West Virginia are being honored in a living memorial at Yeager Airport

The special project, which aims to recognize contributions of West Virginia veterans, features photographs in the baggage claim area for the Wall of Honor. The wall was unveiled Monday, with the 130th Air Guard Honor Guard displaying post and retire colors. 

The focal point of the first display is a tragic chapter of Yeager Airport's own history.

In 1951, an Air National Guard transport plane clipped the top of a hill and crashed about 10 miles north of Charleston. Nineteen servicemen immediately died; two others died later of their severe burns. Twenty of the 21 were from West Virginia.

The servicemen were flying home from Godman Air Base in Fort Knox, Ky., for the funeral of Major Woodford "Jock" Sutherland, who had been piloting an airplane in Florida that had gone the wrong direction on a taxiway and ended in a ground collision between two F-51 fighter planes.

"This event has big ties to the community," said Tim Murnahan, assistant director of the Yeager Airport. "It's altogether fitting and proper for this flight group to be our first showcase of photos on the 62nd anniversary of the crash."

Story and Photos:

Asheville Regional Airport (KAVL), North Carolina: Plane Landing Gear Malfunction

A landing gear wheel on a twin-engine Cessna gave way upon landing this afternoon at Asheville Regional Airport, causing a fuel tank to rupture. 

 No one was injured in the 1:27 p.m. incident, according to airport spokeswoman Tina Kinsey. The Cessna 310 has three landing gear, and the wheel on the right side of the plane is the one that collapsed.

“The plane had to be removed from the runway,” Kinsey said. “The runway reopened at 2:26 p.m. A few flights were impacted with slight delays.”

A pilot and one passenger were on board. A fuel tank on the wing tip ruptured, but no fire resulted, Kinsey said.

No further information was available.

Man charged with murder after Welsh pilot found dead

Steven Barrett
A man has been charged with murder after a Welsh pilot was found dead in his Edinburgh flat over the weekend.

Steven Barrett, 27, originally from Kenfig Hill, near Bridgend, was found dead in Lochend Butterfly Way in the early hours of Saturday.

Mr Barrett had recently left the RAF and is understood to have been working as a first officer for budget airline Flybe out of Edinburgh Airport.

Police in Scotland said a 23-year-old man had been charged and is due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday.

Mr Barrett attended Cynffig Comprehensive School before earning a Bachelor of Science degree at Swansea University.

While at university he became an active member of the University of Wales Squadron.

He was then selected to go to Cranwell to begin training to be a pilot with the RAF, graduating as a flying officer in 2007.

From Cranwell he went to RAF Wynton and later to Linton-on-Ouse, successfully completing the Basic Jet Training Course.

He was presented with his wings, achieving the title Flight Lieutenant Stephen Barrett Bsc (Hons) RAF in 2009.

Following the news of his death, friends posted tributes on the internet.

A message from the Rest Bay Lifeguards Club – which Mr Barrett used to a member of – read: “Steven was a member in our junior section for several years.

“He went on to achieve his dream and worked as a pilot.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time.”

While Hywel Davies wrote: “This is really sad news.

“I have a happy memory during one of the junior training sessions before we did risk assessments of Steven breast stroking out through 8ft surf much faster than I could get out front crawl (I was trying to catch up to tell him to return to shore).

"Gareth Law was doing backstroke at the same speed.

“I remember Steven as an awesome athlete and him and his brother Stuart were most valued club members.

“My thoughts go out to his family.

On Twitter Sara Orwin said: “Can't understand why you were taken from us so soon and so young.

“You were a great guy, Steven Barrett #restinpeace.”

And Georgiana Browne wrote: “RIP Baz! You will be sorely missed by us all.”

Story and Photo:

Texas Turbine Conversions putting the brakes on expansion at North Texas Regional Airport (KGYI)

The development of North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field’s west side has hit a snag after the first prospective tenant for undeveloped portion of NTRA has decided to stay where they are for the time being.

Texas Turbine Conversions had planned to move to a built-to-suit hangar along Highway 289. On Thursday the company will ask the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority Board to release them from the lease agreement for the new hangar.

“There’s been a change in circumstance with them and they’ve requested (the Board) to … release them from their obligation,” said NTRA Director Mike Shahan.

The lease agreement between the airport and Texas Turbine called for the airport to construct the terminal shell and the company to finish the building. The company was to repay the airport for the cost of the hangar plus 5 percent interest over 20 years of a 40-year lease. Shahan said Texas Turbine has already made one down payment, slightly over $50,000, which will be forfeited with the termination of the agreement.

He stressed that the company, which has been modifying propeller aircraft since the 1990s, according to its website, still plans to operate out of the hangar it currently occupies at NTRA.

“They’re not moving or anything,” Shahan said. “They just can’t commit to such a big project right now.”

He said the airport still plans to complete construction of the 22,500-square-foot hangar. “We’re going to continue to work on the hangar and go ahead and finish it out,” Shahan said.

The airport director said NTRA has two prospects for the hangar. “We’ve got at least one company very seriously considering it,” he said.

“It’s a setback, but we’re moving on,” Shahan said. “We’ll get it built. We’ll get a tenant in there. Hopefully we’ll get a tenant in there before we even have it built.”

GRAYSON COUNTY, TEXAS -- What was a big economic announcement for North Texas Regional Airport this summer is now being put on hold.

This past July, Texas Turbine Conversions announced their plan to lease to purchase a hangar out at NTRA.

Grayson County Commissioners approved spending up to $1.8 million dollars to build a hangar for the company to lease.

Today, Airport Director Mike Shahan says Texas Turbines is "holding off" on their lease because of a "change of circumstance."

Shahan would not give further comment. We'll bring you more information on this story as it becomes available.


Peru Perenco Helicopter Crash Leaves Nine Dead: Caída de helicóptero en Loreto deja al menos nueve muertos

A helicopter charted by French oil company Perenco SA in Peru crashed today in the northern Amazon jungle, killing all nine people on board, daily El Comercio reported in its online edition.

The Mil Mi-8PS carrying four crew members and five oil workers operated by Helicopteros del Pacifico fell to the ground near the Arabela River near where Perenco is drilling in Block 67, the Lima-based newspaper said.

It was the deadliest helicopter accident in the country since June 2010, when a chopper chartered by Samsung C&T Corp. and Korea Engineering Consultants Corp.  crashed in the southern jungle, killing 14, El Comercio said.

Telephone numbers listed for Perenco’s Lima office weren’t answered outside business hours. 

La nave se precipitó cerca del río Arabela, en el distrito de Napo, provincia de Maynas. Viajaban trabajadores de petrolera Perenco

Un helicóptero de la compañía Helipac (Helicópteros del Pacífico) cayó por causas que aún se desconocen cerca del río Arabela, en una zona con vegetación conocida como Curaray, correspondiente al distrito de Napo, provincia de Maynas, en la región Loreto.

Según pudo conocer El Comercio, la nave con cuatro tripulantes y cinco trabajadores de la empresa petrolera Perenco se dirigía al lote 67 de la base petrolera de esta compañía. Todos habrían muerto. Otras versiones señalan que serían 13 los fallecidos.

El helicóptero modelo MI-8 se precipitó aproximadamente a las 11:10 a.m. y aún continuaría ardiendo en llamas.

Un equipo de contingencia de la empresa Perenco y personal de Defensa Nacional del gobierno regional se dirigen a la zona. Aún se desconoce el nombre de los accidentados.

En los exteriores de la empresa petrolera, en Iquitos, se encuentran amigos y familiares de los trabajadores buscando información. Una mujer que dijo tener a un amigo y a su hermano entre las víctimas, comentó esta tarde a RPP que en representantes de la compañía le habían dicho que todos los ocupantes han fallecido.

Según reportó Canal N, tres de los fallecidos serían Hernán Cervantes, Máximo Rolando Cuello y Frider Pasmiño.


A helicopter Helipac Company (Pacific Helicopters) dropped for reasons still unknown about Arabela River, in an area known as Curaray vegetation, for the district of Napo province Maynas, in the Loreto region.

According to El Comercio could meet, the vessel with four crew and five employees of the oil company Perenco headed to lot 67 of the base oil from this company. All have died. Other versions say that the deceased would be 13.

The model helicopter MI-8 crashed at about 11:10 am and still continue to burn in flames.

A contingency team Perenco and Defence personnel regional government target area. Even the name is unknown to the injured.

In the foreign oil company in Iquitos, friends and family are workers looking information. A woman claiming to be a friend and brother among the victims, said this afternoon RPP that company representatives had been told that all passengers have died.

According to Canal N reported, three of the deceased would Hernán Cervantes, Rolando Maximum Neck and Frider Pasmiño.

Reno Air Races got $600,000 from government for insurance; should Nellis get help?

Monday, April 8, 2013, 1:55 a.m.

By Richard N. Velotta

Less than a year ago, the Nevada Tourism Commission rescued the Reno Air Races from certain cancellation after the show’s insurance premium spiked. The state delivered $600,000 to preserve one of the last air races in the world.

Now, fans of a Southern Nevada air show are hoping for a similar bailout.

Most Southern Nevadans’ only knowledge about the Reno Air Races came in the aftermath of a horrific 2011 crash that killed 11 people and hurt 69. It was the third-worst air show disaster in U.S. history.

As a result, the show’s insurance premium skyrocketed, and organizers complained they couldn’t cover the 500 percent increase. Race Director Mike Houghton was desperate and made the eleventh-hour pitch to the Tourism Commission.

It wasn’t shocking that members voted to rescue the show. The commission is composed primarily of Northern Nevada tourism leaders who know the history of the races and what they mean to the region’s economy.

The five-day event attracts 215,000 people, including 70,000 who travel from out of town. Officials estimate the races have an economic impact of $80 million on Northern Nevada. The state anticipates a $6 million return on its $600,000 investment.

Meanwhile, in Southern Nevada, Aviation Nation, Nellis Air Force Base’s annual display of military aircraft and precision flight teams, has been sequestrated out of existence. The defense budget was cut by $46 billion, forcing organizers to cancel the show.

I dropped an email to Tourism Commission Chairman Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki asking if the commission would do anything to help restore the event, which typically draws more than 100,000 people.

Commission members haven’t deliberated on the matter yet, but Krolicki said the commission should do whatever it can to get Aviation Nation back in the air.

Clearly, the Reno Air Races and Aviation Nation are two different types of events. The Reno Air Races is a nonprofit show; Aviation Nation is a platform for America’s Defense Department. Remove the Reno Air Races from the calendar, and it disrupts a regional economy. Remove Aviation Nation, and it gives Southern Nevadans one less thing to do in November.

The Reno Air Races have to rely on state resources to survive. Aviation Nation could likely be restored with a few signatures on a budget document.

Still, there’s something that just isn’t right about the final outcome for these two shows — and it’s seemingly inevitable that South vs. North sentiments will enter the picture.

The Tourism Commission set a precedent when it voted to save the Reno Air Races. Right or wrong, it is bound to be criticized if Aviation Nation becomes a memory of an event that politicians took away from the public.


Beech A36TC, N36SG: Accident occurred April 06, 2013 in Big Bear City, California

NTSB Identification: WPR13LA184 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 06, 2013 in Big Bear City, CA
Aircraft: BEECH A36TC, registration: N36SG
Injuries: 1 Serious,3 Minor.

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

On April 6, 2013, about 1035 Pacific daylight time, a Beech A36TC airplane, N36SG, was substantially damaged during a forced landing in Big Bear Lake, Big Bear City, California. The pilot received serious injuries, and his three passengers received minor injuries. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident location. The airplane had departed on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan from McClellan-Palomar Airport (CRQ), Carlsbad, California, and was destined for Big Bear City Airport (L35).

According to the pilot, his passengers include his niece, her husband, and their 5-year-old son. En route, the pilot cancelled his IFR flight plan, and continued, using flight following services from SoCal Approach. The pilot planned to follow his normal route, which included a slow let down to L35 after passing ARRAN intersection. Shortly after the airplane passed ARRAN, at an estimated altitude of between 9,500 and 9,000 feet, the airplane experienced a "very sudden" onset, high-frequency vibration. The pilot reduced the power setting, and notified the air traffic controller of an engine problem. Initially the manifold pressure gauge provided very erratic indications, but the pilot was unable to discern whether this was a valid indication, or the instrument responding to the vibration. The airplane began to descend, and the pilot adjusted the engine controls to yield normal manifold pressure and rpm cruise values. However, the airplane did not respond commensurately with the indicated power setting, and continued its descent. When the airplane was approximately abeam the "observatory" (a visual landmark) at an altitude of about 6,900 feet, the pilot switched to the airport advisory frequency, and notified them of his engine problem. The pilot observed a causeway that crossed the lake between his position and the airport, and began a turn to his right (south) to avoid the causeway. At some point, the pilot recognized and broadcast that he was unable to make the airport, and planned to land in a field west of the airport. The pilot banked to the right to turn for the field, but the right wingtip contacted the lake. The airplane "flipped," and came to rest inverted in water about 1 to 3 feet deep. The impact location was about 0.3 miles southwest of the causeway, and about 1.25 miles southwest of the L35 runway 8 threshold. L35 elevation was 6,752 feet.

An eyewitness on his property on the lake was attracted to the airplane by its sound. He estimated that at that time he noticed the airplane, it was about 30 to 35 feet above the lake, and headed south, towards him. He then saw it bank right, and impact the lake. He summoned 911 assistance, and then ran into the lake to render assistance.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings. He reported that he had a total flight experience of approximately 1,300 hours, including about 1,250 hours in the accident airplane make and model. The airplane was manufactured in 1979, and was equipped with a Teledyne Continental TSIO-520 engine.

The L35 1035 automated weather observation included winds from 260 degrees at 8 knots, variable between 224 and 284 degrees; visibility 10 miles, clear skies; temperature 15 degrees C; dew point minus 8 degrees C; and an altimeter setting of 30.14 inches of mercury.

Two people were injured Saturday morning, April 6, when an airplane crashed in shallow water on the south shoreline of Big Bear Lake. 

 San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies described the crash as “more of a hard landing.” The injuries were minor.

The airplane, a Beech A36 Bonanza, lost engine power and ditched in shallow water at 10:41 a.m., according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer.

Three people were aboard, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, although Kenitzer said there may have been as many as four. The aircraft had substantial damage.

Details about the aircraft involved in the crash were not available, but specifications found on the Internet indicate it is normally a six-seat, single-engine aircraft.

No information was available on where the plane took off from or where it was headed.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating, Kenitzer said in an email, noting that it could take months before a preliminary report is prepared.