Saturday, September 28, 2013

Enstrom F-28C, Heritage Rotors LLC, N631DP: Accident occurred September 27, 2013 in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania


Bloomsburg, Columbia County -- "It puts a little bit of sorrow on the last day."

The last day of the Bloomsburg Fair is always bittersweet, but tragedy struck the fairgrounds on Friday night. A helicopter pilot for the company that offers rides to fairgoers was struck by a rotor. The helicopter had landed and was in the process of refueling and changing pilots.

"He went back to talk to the other pilot, and that's when the rotor struck him," said William Barratt with the Bloomsburg Fair Association.

69-year-old Carl Enlow of Reading was transported by Life Flight to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, where he died. Enlow had over 50 years of experience, and he was also a former military pilot.

"That just goes to prove that anything can happen," said Barratt.

"He's been doing this for many years," said Dawn Kingston of Bloomsburg. "I'm sure that a lot of people who return to the fair probably know him."

Heritage Rotors has been giving helicopter rides since 1993, and the attraction is popular at the Bloomsburg Fair. His friends say Enlow enjoyed helping other people, and last year he fulfilled the dying wish of a six-year-old Hazleton girl battling cancer.

"He was a very sweet man with a heart of gold, and we really appreciated everything he did," said Kingston.

The Bloomsburg Fair Association is returning its profits from the helicopter rides to Enlow's widow.

"The fair board is going to do whatever we can to help her with whatever she needs," said Barratt.

A memorial fund is set-up for the family of Carl Enlow. Anyone interested in making a donation can send a check to the Bloomsburg Fair Association.

Original article:

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NTSB Identification: ERA13LA433
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 27, 2013 in Bloomsburg, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/14/2014
Aircraft: ENSTROM F-28C, registration: N631DP
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot/owner had just taken control of the helicopter from another pilot. As the relieved pilot was walking away from the helicopter and between the 10- and 11-o’clock position forward of the helicopter, he came into contact with a rotating main rotor blade. The pilot/owner stated that, when exiting the helicopter, it was the company’s practice to disengage the rotor drive system and secure the collective control. In this condition, the rotor blades droop below the normal height, and the drooping is most pronounced in the 9- to 12-o’clock position of the rotor disk. According to the helicopter manufacturer representative, the main rotor height can vary depending on how the helicopter landing gear was serviced. In addition, depending on the position of the cyclic, the main rotor can descend lower than 6 feet when the main rotor is operating. It is likely that the pilot/owner unintentionally moved the cyclic, which resulted in the rotor blade descending, and, in combination with the rotor droop, the main rotor blade would have been low enough to strike the relieved pilot’s head. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The relieved pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from the rotating main rotor blades after he exited the helicopter.

On September 27, 2013, at 1938 eastern daylight time, an Estrom F-28C, N631DP, received minor damage when a relieved pilot, who was walking from the helicopter, was fatally injured after coming into contact with a rotating main rotor blade, near Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. The airline transport pilot, seated at the controls in the helicopter, was the sole occupant and was not injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Heritage Rotors, LLC, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a local sightseeing flight at a local fair. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. 

According to the pilot/owner's written statement in the NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report, he "approached the left side of the helicopter and rested on the seat and looked into the helicopter… [he] was looking down onto the pilot seat considering the location of the pilot seat belt, the headset, and the general condition of the interior. At this point, nothing in the cockpit was touched and was exactly as [the relieved pilot] had left it. It was at this moment that [the pilot] heard a 'thud.'"

According to local law enforcement personnel, the pilot/owner seated in the left front seat of the helicopter had just taken over from the pilot who was walking away from the helicopter when the accident occurred. The pilot in the helicopter stated to local law enforcement immediately after the accident that he saw the previous pilot walking away, thought he had walked beyond the main rotor blades, and looked down to fasten his seatbelt. While he was fastening his seatbelt, he heard the main rotor blades strike something, looked up, and saw the relieved pilot on the ground. 

The local law enforcement report stated that the relieved pilot was located between the 10 and 11 o'clock position forward of the helicopter. In addition, the helipad was located in a level, grassy area near the entrance to the fair grounds. 

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the relieved pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single-engine and multiengine land, airplane single-engine sea, instrument airplane and helicopter, glider, and rotorcraft helicopter. He reported on his last insurance application that he accumulated 3,900 hours of total flight time, of which, 600 hours were in the same make and model as the accident helicopter. His most recent second-class medical certificate was issued in December 2012. At that time, the pilot reported a height of 71 inches. According to the helicopter flight manual, the main rotor could droop to a minimum height of 72 inches. 

According to the FAA records, the helicopter was manufactured in 1980 and registered to the operator in 2010. According to the pilot/owner, the most recent annual inspection was performed on July 2, 2013. At the time of the accident, the helicopter had accumulated 2198 hours of total flight time. According to the helicopter manufacturer training guide, the helicopter was equipped with a crew compartment that consisted of "pilot and passenger/co-pilot seating, instrument panel, radio console, and pilot and co-pilot flight controls mounted to the aluminum floor structure and enclosed in the fiberglass cabin shell. The co-pilot controls are removable and a seat cushion for the third passenger is inserted into the space vacated when the co-pilot collective is removed." 

The pilot/owner, reported that there were no mechanical anomalies or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation prior to the accident. He further reported that he and the relieved pilot both "conducted every aspect of [the] operation purposely for our safety and that of our patrons and neighbors." In addition, he stated that when exiting the helicopter, it is the company's practice to "disengage the rotor drive system and secure the collective control by means of the friction lock…In this condition, the rotor blades 'droop' below the normal height. This drooping is non-symmetrical and most pronounced in the 9 – 12 o'clock position of the rotor [disk]." 

In the Operator/Owner Recommendation section of the NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report, the pilot/owner stated that he "cannot conceive why [the relieved pilot] would knowingly approach the aircraft in a position he knew well to be the lowest point of the rotor system. This was not our practice and absolutely not his habit." 

The weather conditions reported at an airport about 26 nautical miles northwest of the accident location around the time of the accident included calm wind. 

According to the helicopter manufacturer representative, the main rotor height can vary depending on how the helicopter landing gear was serviced. In addition, depending on the position of the cyclic, the main rotor can descend lower than six feet when the main rotor is operating. 

According to the FAA Helicopter Flying Handbook, "The cyclic pitch control is usually projected upward from the cockpit floor, between the pilot's legs or between the two pilot seats in some models. This primary flight control allows the pilot to fly the helicopter in any direction of travel: forward, rearward, left, and right…The purpose of the cyclic pitch control is to tilt the tip-path plane in the direction of the desired horizontal direction. The cyclic controls the rotor disk tilt versus the horizon, which directs the rotor disk thrust to enable the pilot to control the direction of travel of the helicopter. The rotor disk tilts in the same direction the cyclic pitch control is moved. If the cyclic is moved forward, the rotor disk tilts forward; if the cyclic is moved aft, the disk tilts aft, and so on."

Near Death Encounter With Magni Gyrocopter

A Nederland woman was traveling from Gold Hill to Nederland Saturday, Sept. 21, afternoon when she heard the thwacking of a helicopter coming up on the east side of the highway. Suddenly it loomed right over her and landed on the Peak to Peak Highway about 20 feet in front of her car.   After the hitting the pavement the Magni gyrocopter immediately bounced about eight feet into the air, spun around wildly and came down in the northbound land where oncoming traffic was barely able to swerve off the road before running into the gyrocopter which had two men in it.

The pilot was able to steer the aircraft off the highway and park. 

Another woman traveling north on the highway said she had just come down a hill and around a large curve to the right when she found herself on a head-on collision course with the aircraft with the men in it. She watched the gyro-copter bounce on the asphalt and spin around, coming right at her. She managed to swerve her car into the southbound lane and the small helicopter swerved to his left. The car passed under the blades of aircraft. The women said they felt something tap on their car, maybe the rotors or skids.

“I had to move quickly back into the lane to avoid oncoming traffic. There were cars behind us who also swerved to avoid hitting the ‘helicopter.’ There was no place to pull off the road and we weren’t hit so I kept on driving. The little chopper seemed to stop safely.” The first woman drove until she could pull over and turn around. By the time she got back to the scene, the experimental gyrocopter was still there, but the men were gone. No reports have been filed about the incident and no further information was available. The gyrocopter was registered to an Illinois address about four years ago. If the person piloting the aircraft is the owner, he has logged many hours of flying the machine.

One thing for sure is that quite a few travelers thanked their lucky stars. Just a few seconds either way and it could have been a multi-vehicle disaster.

Original article and phto:

Man wanted plane to visit father -- Coeur d'Alene Airport (KCOE), Idaho

HAYDEN - The 23-year-old Hayden man who allegedly attempted to steal a corporate jet at the Coeur d'Alene Airport planned on flying across the country with it.

Clyde C. Stemberg wanted to take the $20 million Bombardier Challenger 600 to Massachusetts to see his father who is hospitalized with internal bleeding, a Kootenai County Sheriff's Office incident report said.

Stemberg is charged with attempted grand theft and three counts of burglary, all felonies, according to court documents.

The incident report said Stemberg was taking a flight lesson on Saturday, Sept. 21. Following the lesson, he slipped into a hangar where he stayed overnight. The next morning is when he allegedly tried to steal the plane.

He apparently had gone a long way toward taking off with the jet, but a worker at the airport spotted some suspicious behavior and confronted Stemberg.

He was working his way through the flight check-list when he was interrupted.

He first responded by claiming he was a mechanic working on some electrical problems in the aircraft. When his story started falling apart under questioning, he came clean about his intentions, the incident report said.

Stemberg was booked into Kootenai County jail before posting $50,000 bond. He returned to Innercept, a residential program located in Coeur d'Alene for struggling teens and young adults.

The plane was inspected and it was determined no damage was done to the plane.

Court documents said the plane is owned by Richard David Weinftein, 61, of Chesterfield, Mo.

Original article:

Volusia sheriff’s eyes in sky: Helicopters patrol, rush injured to hospital

High in the air, Greg Brooks and Michael Miller have a commanding view of the Volusia County neighborhoods they patrol for criminal activity.

“We get to see a lot from up here,” said Miller, a paramedic, as the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office helicopter rose from the DeLand Municipal Airport.

At 500 feet, pilot Brooks increased speed to 149 mph, simulating the transportation of a trauma patient to Halifax Health Medical Center. The green-and-white flying machine, known to law enforcement officers as Air One, headed east over the Tomoka Correctional Institution and Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium. Seven minutes later, the helicopter landed at the helipad atop Halifax Health Medical Center and sat for 90 seconds — the time it takes to unload trauma patients and take them downstairs to the trauma center.

The air ship took off from the hospital pad and resumed its patrol at a speed of 103 mph.

The radio crackled.

Daytona Beach police were looking for a suspicious car. Brooks radioed that he and Miller were headed to the area to help. The chopper banked right and then left and in less than a minute the black Acura came into view at School Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Brooks radioed its location as Miller quickly activated the controls of the camera to take a closer look at the car and its license plate. The crew switched channels to talk with ground patrols and quickly led marked units to the parking lot where the car had stopped. The chopper hovered above until Daytona Beach police said all was clear.

“That’s what we do when we are on patrol,” Brooks said. “We assist other agencies with whatever they are working on.”


Brooks, one of four pilots, and Miller, one of four paramedics with the Sheriff’s Office, fly routing patrols — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — over areas where statistics show high criminal activity, said Capt. Eric Dietrich, commander of the Sheriff’s Office Special Services Division.

The Bell 407 helicopter, powered by a 750 shafted horse power engine, is one of three in the fleet. One is assigned to the day shift, another to the night shift. One is always in reserve and goes into service when a helicopter needs maintenance service that can take eight hours to a month. The helicopters are serviced at 50-hour intervals, said mechanic and aircraft maintenance supervisor, Neil Ridout.

Purchased in 2008, 2009, and 2010, half of the $5.9 million cost of all three was paid by Halifax Health Medical Center.

The Sheriff’s Office and Halifax have a partnership and under the agreement the Sheriff’s Office staffs and flies for the regional trauma network that includes Halifax. The Sheriff’s Office is among the few local governments in the country with the authority to operate under a Federal Aviation Administration certificate that permits Halifax to receive compensation from trauma patients flown to its facility, said Gary Davidson, sheriff’s spokesman.

“It is these patient fees that help defray the acquisition cost of the helicopters and keep the fiscal impact to taxpayers at a minimum,” Davidson said.

From January to July, Air One responded to 95 medical calls and flew 67 patients. From 2008 to 2012, the helicopters have responded to 1,035 medical calls, flying 802 patients, Dietrich said.


Medical calls take priority when helicopters are on patrol, but they also are used for search and rescue; aerial surveillance and narcotics interdiction missions; to assess crowd and traffic conditions during special events; and a variety of other jobs, like conducting manatee counts and assessing environmental damage such as beach erosion following major storms, Davidson said.

They are also used to fight fires, as they can carry both 110-gallon and 200-gallon buckets for fire suppression, Dietrich said.

In their daily patrols, the crew of Air One has found stolen cars dumped in retention ponds, fast-moving suspicious cars, sharks on the shallow waters off the beach and even marijuana plants in the woods near State Road 44 and Interstate 95. The crew has also tailed bank robbers and other criminals fleeing from Volusia.

“One time we followed a fleeing car all the way to Pine Hills (near Orlando),” Miller said. “It was the longest air pursuit I have been on.”

And criminals who have been caught with the help of the aircrew have a nickname for the chopper, Brooks said.

“When they get to jail they have said they could not get way from the ‘Ghetto Hawk,’” Brooks said, chuckling.

Brooks coasted along the beach on the way to New Smyrna Beach, crossing over Mosquito Lagoon before heading to a retention pond near State Road 44 and Interstate 4 where they helped capture two burglars on Sept. 6.

“This is the retention pond where one suspect jumped in and swam across to go into that swamp,” Brooks said.

The burglars had gotten away from DeLand police after breaking into a gas station and escaped with several cartons of cigarettes and cigars. The car crashed into a guardrail on Interstate 4 and the occupants ran into the woods. Air One came to the aid of foot patrols and helped capture the suspects. The chopper crew also had to make a water drop of a different sort from fighting fires.

“We retrieved water, portable batteries and a GPS tracking device,” Brooks said, as the helicopter slowly descended to its helipad at the DeLand airport after a 75-minute patrol. “We relocated the K-9 team and hovered over and dropped the water and other items to them.”

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Norwegian Airline Parks One of Its Dreamliners: WSJ

September 28, 2013, 1:13 p.m. ET


The Wall Street Journal

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA is taking one of its two Dreamliner 787 jetliners out of service and demanding Boeing Co. fix the aircraft before returning it to long-haul use, representing the latest wrinkle in a range of mishaps and coming shortly after the airline's management held a crisis meeting with Boeing executives.

"We're not at all satisfied with the performance of the aircraft," Norwegian spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen said Saturday, one day after the company's Dreamliner had technical problems in Bangkok. "Our customers have been experiencing such heavy delays."

A Boeing spokesman said in an emailed statement it was working "in consultation" with Norwegian to add "a number of enhancements to improve the airplane's in-service reliability" of one of the airline's two 787s. Boeing expects the plane to be out of service for "a matter of days" and regretted the "inconvenience and disruption caused to the airline and its passengers as a result of this process."

In addition to being the jet's manufacturer, Boeing provides the maintenance and spare parts to Norwegian's 787.

The European low-cost carrier, which has leased its two delivered Dreamliners from International Lease Finance Corp., is the first airline to operate its 787s with Boeing handling its maintenance. Airlines traditionally conduct such work themselves or contract to a specialized maintenance provider.

Norwegian is leasing a plane made by Boeing rival Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., to handle long-haul duties while it waits for a fixed Dreamliner.

Mr. Sandaker-Nielsen said Norwegian is prepared to wait as long as it takes for a convincing fix. "The most important thing for us is having [the plane] as reliable as a new aircraft should be. We want Boeing to fix these issues before we enter it into long-term service."

Norwegian's problems with its two new Dreamliners have been well documented. Far beyond the expected issues typically seen with new aircraft, Norwegian has reported major delays and technical issues on multiple occasions.

The troubles were the subject of a meeting between the two companies earlier this week in Oslo. Mr. Sandaker-Nielsen said the decision to take a Dreamliner out of service was made after that meeting and Norwegian still plans to take delivery of six more Dreamliners between November and 2015.

For Norwegian, the Dreamliner purchases were meant to be the cornerstone of ambitious global growth plans.

Norwegian operates two Dreamliners on long-distance routes from Scandinavia to Asia and the U.S., and aims to ramp up its long-haul service. It has had to ground the aircraft several times in recent weeks due to technical issues including hydraulics problems, power-supply issues and indications of malfunctioning brakes. LOT Polish Airlines SA also had to halt flights recently due to technical issues with its Dreamliners, and Qatar Airways has become critical of the aircraft's reliability.


Air Zimbabwe Flew Uninsured - Report

Forensic auditors have exposed possible manipulation of aviation insurance policies at Air Zimbabwe which could have prejudiced the airline of millions of United States dollars between 2009 and this year.

The AirZim fleet, which has eight planes, is insured for US$750 million per aircraft per incident.

But new documents point to underhand transactions in the multimillion-dollar aviation insurance deals. They indicate that AirZim paid US$13.8 million to Navistar Insurance Brokers, whose appointment is now at the centre of a crack investigation by BCA Forensic Audit Services.

BCA alleges that Navistar, which was appointed the local aviation insurance broker in March 2009 in violation of tender regulations, "fraudulently" overcharged premiums by 5.1 million euros between April 2009 to April 2013.

Premiums to the tune of US$422,304 collected from AirZim by another local broker during the period were not remitted to global risk carriers.

AirZim acting CEO Innocent Mavhunga has been sent on forced leave to allow investigators to pry into AirZim's operations dating back to 2009 when Peter Chikumba was CEO.

Mavhunga, who took over from Chikumba in 2011, is under investigation for allegedly misinforming his board that as at March 20, 2013, AirZim owed Navistar US$2 million for aviation insurance, among several other issues.

BCA alleges that its investigations revealed that AirZim was up-to-date with payments.

Both Mavhunga and Chikumba, accused by investigators of approving a string of alleged irregular payments, declined to comment on the BCA findings.

The report said AirZim paid 713,921 euros in additional charges for three MA60 aircraft between April 2009 and April 2010, bringing total transactions under investigation to about US$20 million.

AirZim (Private) Limited acting managing director, Grace Pfumbidzayi, has also been suspended.

Auditors have questioned her role in what appears to be murky insurance deals, while she worked under both Mavhunga and Chikumba as company secretary. She denies any wrongdoing, blaming some of the decisions taken by the airline during the period to the hard-hitting European Union (EU) sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe, which are estimated to have cost the country a massive US$42 billion, which made it difficult for AirZim to operate normally.

The BCA report submitted to the AirZim board in July showed the predicament of an airline in dire need of a solid leadership. It insinuated that insurance brokers have been acting as they please. They have been keeping critical airline information to themselves and failing to remit premiums. They have doubled payments and destroyed crucial data, the report claims.

It took the grapevine to alert AirZim management that for two months in 2009, aeroplanes had flown without insurance cover after ZimRe had defaulted payments to Willis UK, the global insurer.

ZimRe had been placed on EU sanctions, but kept the cancellation a secret while it continued to collect premiums from AirZim, the report said. ZimRe has not replied to questions sent seven days ago.

The listed insurance firm lost the contract after it was placed on the EU sanctions list, resulting in Navistar being appointed to run AirZim's aviation insurance, which is now being questioned, with Pfumbidzayi facing a barrage of questions.

BCA is alleging that Pfumbidzayi irregularly awarded the Navistar contract and failed to ensure that the payments AirZim made were correct and in respect of the aviation insurance.

But she maintains that aviation insurance contracts were awarded collectively with full knowledge of the CEO and board.

Despite its lack of expertise in aviation insurance, Navistar was chosen as the local broker to work with a British insurer (name supplied) in transactions which involved busting sanctions that had started to threaten AirZim.

Navistar did not furnish AirZim with proof of professional indemnity cover, a critical requirement for insurance brokers. Immediately after Navistar's appointment, AirZim's insurance bill shot up by 88 percent to over 4,4 million euros between April 2011 and April 2012, from 2,2 million euros between July 2008 and July 2009.

"The growth (in premiums) was not supported by fleet growth, route expansion, increased landing and departure estimates, and fleet valuation," alleges BCA.

"To the contrary, AirZim's routes were reduced and some aircraft were grounded hence the reduced landings and departures between April 2009 and April 2013. The drastic increase is attributed to the appointment of Navistar on March 18, 2009, who upon being appointed started charging outrageous flat broker fees of 300,000 euros per quarter and other fraudulent claims... Navistar was appointed without going to tender in breach of the Procurement Act," BCA alleges.

The documents further allege:

Navistar "fraudulently" overcharged aviation insurance premiums from April 2009 to April 2013 by 5,1 million euros;

Navistar did not remit US$205,000 for hanger property damages between April 2009 and March 2010;

AirZim paid US$360,000 as premiums for two A320 aircraft leased last year to Navistar. The planes had already been insured by the leaser;

Navistar "fraudulently" charged and received US$142,300 as a top-up to the insurance premium of EC regulation 898-2005 which relates to EU sanctions;

AirZim was charged an additional 713,921 euros to insure its three MA60s between April 2009 and April 2010.

Navistar's operations director, Vukile Hlupo, said the issue of tenders would best be answered by AirZim.

He said some of the issues raised by BCA, such as the alleged overstatement of premiums, had been deployed to deal with the global embargo.

"Whatever action taken was for the purpose of addressing the circumstances," he said.

"Our charges were outlined to (AirZim) management and were approved and paid... we are not aware of any overpayment. Our charges were based on agreed rates and these were necessitated by circumstances prevailing and the client was fully aware (of these)."

Investigators were still trying to understand if Pfumbidzayi had no personal interest in Navistar after discovering that apart from the controversial contract, she held a private policy with the firm. She has told auditors that this was a mere coincidence.

Pfumbidzayi, who has worked for the airline for 28 years, declined to discuss the audit report. But in her responses to BCA, she reinforced Hlupo's argument that the handling of the aviation insurance was an offshoot of the crippling sanctions.

She said decisions which were now viewed as irregular, including the Navistar deal, were sanctions-busting measures undertaken to save AirZim.

"In December 2008, Willis UK, the airline's overseas insurer wrote to inform ZimRe that due to sanctions on ZimRe, it was no longer able to receive premiums for the AirZim programmes without breaching the regulations imposed by the UK and EU authorities," Pfumbidzayi explained.

"ZimRe did not notify the airline... what was clear was that (ZimRe) had been misrepresenting facts and the fleet was uninsured. Enquiries with the major overseas insurance companies were fruitless... indicating inability to assist for political reasons. The airline was then advised by some industry players to approach a company called (... ) who specialised in 'sanctions busting' insurance programmes.

"(It) agreed (and) requested the airline to submit profiles of local brokers... (it) informed AirZim that Navistar had been approved and advised the airline to appoint Navistar and provide proof to them. This was duly done... because of sanctions, the overseas insurance company which had agreed to handle AirZim under those circumstances was the one dictating the companies it was able to deal with based on the dictates of the UK compliance authorities. The decision was not AirZim's or the tender board to make. The overseas insurers were calling the shots.

"The difference between what could have been declared without falling foul of the overseas authorities and compromising third parties that had assisted, is what is now viewed as prejudice now that the crisis is over."

BCA has alleged creative accounting in the aviation insurance policies.

It explained: "We established that the SAP accounting system showed an outstanding amount of US$2.2 million to Navistar as at March 2013, whilst an excel schedule provided by the finance department showed an outstanding amount of US$620.470.

"The schedule provided by the finance department as the correct outstanding balance for creditors, including Navistar was maintained in excels in such a way that the outstanding amount could not be traced to individual invoices and debit notes."

BCA alleges that Mavhunga had misrepresented facts in a report to the board in February.

"AirZim had no outstanding premium for 2012 fourth quarter," alleges BCA.

AirZim chairman, Ozias Bvute, confirmed the suspensions but said his board was working hard to cleanse the airline of mismanagement. He said AirZim had been on a growth path recently, and the strategies his team had put in place were beginning to bear fruit.

Incoming Transport Minister, Obert Mpofu is said to have been fully briefed of the situation at the airline as well as the measures being implemented by the board to remedy the situation.

Original article:

Man stole airport bus, had access to plane: Easterwood Field Airport (KCLL), College Station, Texas

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- A man has been arrested after stealing a bus overnight at an airport near Texas A&M University and apparently gaining access to a passenger plane on the tarmac.

Texas A&M police say it's unclear what prompted David Cooper Thurmond of Bryan to enter Easterwood Airport early Saturday morning. Investigators say Thurmond drove his vehicle through a pedestrian gate before taking the 22-seat bus and driving it across runways. The 54-year-old Thurmond was confronted by an airport worker and the two struggled before police arrived.

A review of surveillance video shows Thurmond near an American Eagle airplane. A security seal on the door was found broken. The plane was inspected and its departure to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport delayed three hours.

Thurmond was held Saturday at the Brazos County jail on charges of theft, assault and criminal trespass.

Original article:

Guilty plea in Medford, Oregon, in 2008 fatal copter crash

An Oregon man has pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with the deadliest helicopter crash involving working firefighters in U.S. history.

Levi Phillips, 46, of Grants Pass faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in April. As part of a plea deal, he agreed to testify against another man, 42-year-old Steven Metheny of Central Point.  

Phillips was the director of maintenance for Carson Helicopters Inc., reporting directly to Metheny, a former vice president.

Prosecutors say that when the U.S. Forest Service solicited bids for helicopters to be used in firefighting operations, Metheny submitted proposals with altered performance charts and falsified weight and balance records. Then, after winning the $20 million contract, the incorrect information was given to pilots who had to calculate the maximum payload capacity during firefighting operations.

The Aug. 5, 2008, crash near Weaverville, Calif., killed the pilot, a Forest Service safety inspector and seven firefighters with Grayback Forestry of Merlin. The co-pilot and three firefighters were hurt. Witnesses said the helicopter took off more slowly than normal before clipping trees and then crashing into a hillside.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation showed the Sikorsky S-61N helicopter weighed more than 19,000 pounds when pilots tried to take off from a mountaintop clearing during the Iron 44 wildfire in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. If Forest Service guidelines had been followed, investigators said, the weight shouldn't have exceeded 15,840 pounds.

Phillips pleaded guilty Monday to a single charge of defrauding the Forest Service. Metheny remains charged with 22 counts of mail and wire fraud, making false statements to the Forest Service, endangering the safety of aircraft in flight, and theft from an interstate shipment.

A message left for Metheny's attorney, Steven L. Myers, wasn't immediately returned.

Relatives of the victims expressed relief to see someone accept responsibility.

Nina Charlson's 25-year old son, Scott Charlson, was one of the firefighters killed. Charlson said she is grateful that Phillips, who created the false charts, admitted his part in the scheme.

"Our one big hope is that this changes things," Charlson told the Mail Tribune  
( m "We don't want history to repeat itself ... the mess that greed has caused."
Information from: Mail Tribune,

NTSB Identification: LAX08PA259
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 05, 2008 in Weaverville, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/25/2011
Aircraft: SIKORSKY S-61N, registration: N612AZ
Injuries: 9 Fatal,4 Serious.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and obtained data from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

The Safety Board's full report is available at The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-10-06.

On August 5, 2008, about 1941 Pacific daylight time, a Sikorsky S-61N helicopter, N612AZ, impacted trees and terrain during the initial climb after takeoff from Helispot 44 (H-44), located at an elevation of about 6,000 feet in mountainous terrain near Weaverville, California. The pilot-in-command, the safety crewmember, and seven firefighters were fatally injured; the copilot and three firefighters were seriously injured. Impact forces and a postcrash fire destroyed the helicopter, which was being operated by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) as a public flight to transport firefighters from H-44 to another helispot. The USFS had contracted with Carson Helicopters, Inc. (CHI) of Grants Pass, Oregon, for the services of the helicopter, which was registered to CHI and leased to Carson Helicopter Services, Inc. of Grants Pass. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a company visual flight rules flight plan had been filed.

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

The following actions by Carson Helicopters: 1) the intentional understatement of the helicopter's empty weight, 2) the alteration of the power available chart to exaggerate the helicopter's lift capability, and 3) the practice of using unapproved above-minimum specification torque in performance calculations that, collectively, resulted in the pilots relying on performance calculations that significantly overestimated the helicopter's load-carrying capacity and did not provide an adequate performance margin for a successful takeoff; and insufficient oversight by the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Contributing to the accident was the failure of the flight crewmembers to address the fact that the helicopter had approached its maximum performance capability on their two prior departures from the accident site because they were accustomed to operating at the limit of the helicopter’s performance.

Contributing to the fatalities were the immediate, intense fire that resulted from the spillage of fuel upon impact from the fuel tanks that were not crash resistant, the separation from the floor of the cabin seats that were not crash resistant, and the use of an inappropriate release mechanism on the cabin seat restraints.

Jefferson County looking outside Sheriff’s Department for airport security: Watertown International Airport (KART), New York

In an effort to reduce the strain on its Sheriff’s Department, Jefferson County is looking to other agencies to provide security at Watertown International Airport near Dexter.

“We’re looking into all the options,” said County Highway Superintendent and Airport Manager James L. Lawrence Jr.

With the Sheriff’s Department down two deputies, the county is looking to the three villages near the airport — Brownville, Dexter and Glen Park — for support.

“Our primary focus is to just make sure there’s uninterrupted protection over there,” said Legislator Barry M. Ormsby, R-Belleville, chairman of the Board of Legislators’ airport ad-hoc committee. “It’s in the concept stage. We haven’t moved anything too far down the field.”

The Aviation and Transportation Act of 2001 requires at least one law enforcement officer at each Transportation Security Administration airport security screening location. There are two flights out of the airport each day Monday through Friday, and one flight on Saturdays and Sundays. This year, American Airlines submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation to add a second flight on Sundays through its American Eagle subsidiary, which provides service from Watertown to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

It is not clear whether police officers at the village level, who work primarily on a part-time basis, will be able to provide the kind of consistent coverage that the airport requires.

But County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III said that any agreement would be structured to provided full coverage at the airport.

A bigger problem concerns questions about what jurisdiction the officers will have at the airport, according to county attorney David J. Paulsen.

The Sheriff’s Department and the state police have countywide jurisdiction, Mr. Hagemann said. But the jurisdiction of village police may be restricted to the municipalities they serve.

The TSA’s obligation is to discover a security problem, Mr. Hagemann said. After they discover the problem, the TSA turns it over to the local law enforcement entity.

“If an incident were to arise, to resolve or mitigate it, it gets turned over to the local policing agency,” Mr. Hagemann said.

And while village police still would have certain arresting powers as peace officers, they would not have the full complement of abilities they would in the normal course of their duties.

That means they likely would have to call in a sheriff’s deputy or a state trooper to assist in any serious situation.

The same would be true if the county decides to hire a private security agency, another option that is on the table, according to Mr. Hagemann.

The issue hinges, to a great extent, on economics.

In 2006, when the county took over the airport, the TSA provided a healthy stipend to subsidize security operations there. Seeing an opportunity to create a satellite outpost for the department, the county planned to station a platoon of four deputies at the airport.

Over the last several years, however, that money has all but dried up, leaving taxpayers on the hook for those extra positions, according to county officials.

The county currently receives about $29,000 from the TSA for security operations at the airport — a paltry sum compared with the more than $97,000 it was receiving just two years ago. That money could be used to hire additional part-time village police or private security contractors, though it may not cover the entire cost of those contracts, Mr. Hagemann said.

The Sheriff’s Department first raised concerns about the duty in early March, when Sheriff John P. Burns said that a personnel shortage would keep him from providing a detail to the airport. The department was down four deputies at the time.

In July, Undersheriff Paul W. Trudeau told legislators that despite two new hires, the department still was short-staffed and no longer would be able to guarantee a deputy at the airport.

At issue were the remaining two vacancies at the department. The Sheriff’s Department wants those positions filled to bring it up to full strength, but the county is looking to cut those positions to save money.

The two positions were part of the addition of four deputies to the department’s roster in 2006, during the early days of the county’s involvement with the airport.

Before agreeing to fill the two remaining vacant positions, county officials want to see a hard accounting of how the Sheriff’s Department is allocating its resources — something they say the department has been unwilling to provide.

Mr. Trudeau did give a presentation to county officials in March, after which he said he heard nothing for months.

With budget season in full swing, administrators and legislators are trying to scrape away every excess expense in a year in which revenues are down and state-mandated expenditures continue to mount.

At the same time, the airport has been such a resounding success that sustaining operations there has become more of a priority than ever.

The county just announced the name of the newly hired airport manager — Grant W. Sussey, director of aviation at Orange County Airport, Montgomery — plans are underway for a terminal expansion and, on Friday, workers were installing a new hangar at the site.

But the board hasn’t lost sight of the basics.

“When it comes to serving our customers at the airport, it’s up to us to have a plan A, B and C so that operation goes off without a hitch,” said Legislator Philip N. Reed, R-Fishers Landing, chairman of the board’s General Services Committee.

“We need to either fill those two positions or hire private security at the airport. ... It’s a discussion we’re having,” said board Chairwoman Carolyn D. Fitzpatrick, R-Watertown.

Mr. Burns and Mr. Trudeau did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

Story and Comments/Reaction:

Wilmington International Airport (KILM) uses Federal Aviation Administration grant for runway work

The Wilmington International Airport recently received more than $6 million from the Federal Aviation Administration for infrastructure improvements – a sign business leaders feel sends a “very good message” to businesses located locally and across the country.

“Meaningful improvements to the airport go a long way in continuing to show that our airport is doing well and is capable of improving business in our community,” said Wilmington Business Development CEO Scott Satterfield. “It could play well in our conversations with companies and could make a difference in their decision.”

The airport typically gets about $3 million from FAA in grant money based on passenger numbers, but this year the airport received an additional $3.5 million in discretionary grants to complete a runway project that has been in the works for several years.

The airport completed a 750-foot extension on the north end of the airport's north-south runway – which runs from Smith Creek to near the intersection of Blue Clay Road and North Kerr Avenue – back in August. But this extended area is not yet available to planes.

Julie Wilsey, the airport's deputy director, said the airport now has to purchase land near the end of the runway and remove some trees to clear the end of the runway for landing. It also plans to repave the entire runway, add additional navigational aids and mark the new runway threshold. Runway thresholds are markings across the runway that denote the beginning and end of the designated space for takeoffs and landings.

“We have a hard time doing anything simple. There are so many moving parts, so much funding needed,” Wilsey said. “We had to separate it out.”

Completing the runway and adding additional navigational aids has been on the airport's list of capital improvements for five years, according to Wilsey. Runways also have to be fully repaved every 20 years, so Wilsey said the timing was perfect to request funding from the FAA to finish the project.

Final work on the north-south runway project will not start until April, she added. The airport does not have an estimate on how long the work will take because much of it is weather dependent. The current runway, without the added length, will continue to operate until work begins.

Local contracting company S.T. Wooten Corp. will handle the work. Wooten was also the contractor on the original runway extension work.

Satterfield applauded the airport's use of a local contracting company.

“It's fantastic they would use this improvement to help boost the local economy,” he said.

Original article:

Piper Aerostar 602P, N35FD: Accident occurred September 23, 2013 in Sandpoint, Idaho

NTSB Identification: WPR13LA419 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 23, 2013 in Sandpoint, ID
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2014
Aircraft: PIPER PA60 602P, registration: N35FD
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

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

The pilot reported that, while on a right base leg visual approach, he received the current automated weather report and that he did not think that the 4-knot tailwind was an issue because the runway was 5,500 feet long. The pilot reported that, although the airplane landed long, he thought that he had sufficient runway to stop the airplane with heavy braking. However, as he applied the brakes, he felt the sensation of “no brakes” as the end of the runway quickly approached. The airplane’s owner, who occupied a seat in the rear cabin, reported that the pilot seemed to be having a problem aligning the airplane with the runway during the approach, that the airplane was high and fast and the flaps were full down, and that the pilot was trying to force the airplane down onto the runway. The passenger reported that he observed that the approach speed was 132 knots; per the airplane's flight manual, the calculated approach speed for the landing weight of the airplane was about 90 knots. The airplane subsequently ran off the end of the runway and impacted the localizer structure, which resulted in substantial damage to the airplane. A postaccident examination of the airplane's braking system revealed that the brakes were likely operating properly before the airplane exited the runway.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to fly the approach at the appropriate landing speed and attain the correct touchdown point, which resulted in a runway overrun.

On September 23, 2013, about 0815 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA60 602P, N35FD, sustained substantial damage as a result of a runway overrun and subsequent impact with the airport's localizer equipment at the Sandpoint Airport, Sandpoint, Idaho. The airplane was registered to Young Living Essential Oils LC, of Lehi, Utah. The commercial pilot and one passenger were not injured, while the remaining passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the corporate cross-country flight, which was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight departed the Provo Municipal Airport, Provo, Utah, about 0600 mountain daylight time, with SZT as its destination.

In a statement submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot reported while approaching SZT, he requested and was approved for the GPS approach [for Runway 01]. After descending out of the clouds at about 2,500 feet above ground level (agl), the pilot received the local automated weather; the wind was reported to be from 190 degrees at 4 knots. The pilot stated that as he was set up on a right base leg for runway 01, he considered the 4 knot tailwind minimal for the 5,500-foot runway. The pilot further stated that he landed quite a bit long, but thought he had sufficient room to stop with heavy braking, and [during the landing roll] had the sensation of "…no brakes at all." The airplane subsequently ran off the end of the runway, and impacted the localizer before coming to rest upright. The pilot concluded in his report that this accident could have been prevented by landing into the wind and on the numbers. The pilot reported no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. 

In a telephone interview with the IIC, the owner of the airplane reported that he was seated in the rear cabin at the time of the accident. The owner stated that during the approach he detected that the pilot was having an alignment problem with the approach. He further reported that the pilot was high, the flaps were full down, the airspeed over the threshold was 132 knots, and that there was a tailwind of about 10 knots; the airplane flight manual states that the approach speed for the reported landing weight of 5,156 pounds and full flaps (45 degrees) would have been about 90 knots. The owner stated that over the runway threshold, the airplane dropped down then went back up, and that the pilot tried to force the airplane down. The owner added that after the airplane went off the end of the runway and came to a stop, he exited the aircraft and noticed that while the brakes were not smoking, they were hot.

A postaccident examination of the airplane's braking system was performed by a Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness inspector, on September 25, 2013. The inspector reported that an inspection of the brake reservoir revealed that all of the brake fluid was gone, however, the inside area of the reservoir was observed to be wet and shiny, indicative that there had been brake fluid present recently. Further, inspection of the brake actuators on the pilot's rudder pedals revealed that all components appeared to be working correctly. The inspector concluded that all evidence observed supports the contention that the brakes were most likely operating properly prior to the airplane leaving the runway.

SANDPOINT — A pretrial settlement agreement is being proposed to resolve a misdemeanor criminal charge against a Utah pilot who crashed a plane at Sandpoint Airport last fall.

Donald Moss Muirhead is charged with flying under the influence of prescription medication at the time of the Sept. 23 crash.

The terms of the agreement were not made public following a pretrial hearing in Muirhead’s case on Friday in Bonner County Magistrate Court. The agreement is slated for review by Judge Debra Heise, who is presiding over Muirhead’s trial on Thursday.

Muirhead, 55, of Orem, was at the controls of a Piper Aerostar 620P when he careened 600 feet off the north end of the runway and crashed into an antenna array that helps pilots make instrument landings.

Neither Muirhead nor his 61- and 39-year-old passengers were injured.

Muirhead, according to a Sandpoint Police report, blamed the crash on a mechanical issue. Witnesses, however, told police that believed Muirhead touched down on the runway too late and with too much speed, the report said.

Replacing the antenna array and attendant equipment is expected to cost about $270,000, although the system has been deemed obsolete by airport officials. The county is considering a dual-band system that will improve the localizer’s accuracy, adding about $100,000 to the cost.

NTSB Identification: WPR13LA419
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 23, 2013 in Sandpoint, ID
Aircraft: PIPER PA60 602P, registration: N35FD
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

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

On September 23, 2013, about 0815 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA60 602P, N35FD, sustained substantial damage as a result of a runway overrun and subsequent impact with the airport’s localizer equipment at the Sandpoint Airport, Sandpoint, Idaho. The airplane was registered to Young Living Essential Oils LC, of Lehi, Utah. The certified commercial pilot and one passenger were not injured, while the remaining passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the corporate cross-country flight, which was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight departed the Provo Municipal Airport, Provo, Utah, about 0600 mountain daylight time, with SZT as its destination.

In a post-accident interview with a Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspector, the pilot reported that on landing rollout he experienced a braking anomaly, which resulted in a runway overrun. During the overrun the airplane impacted the runway localizer array and a perimeter fence, which resulted in substantial damage to the airplane’s left wing.

The airplane was recoverd to a secured hangar for further investigation of the reported brake anomaly.

SANDPOINT — Drug test results are pending in the case of a pilot who crashed at Sandpoint Airport Monday.  

According to Sandpoint Police Chief Corey Coon, urine samples from Utah resident Donald Muirhead have been sent to the lab for analysis, which should be complete in three to four weeks.

Test results will likely factor into court proceedings regarding Muirhead’s alleged involvement in an plane crash that destroyed Sandpoint Airport’s landing instruments, Coon said. Muirhead is charged with flying an airplane under the influence of narcotics — not alcohol as previously reported.

The charges are connected to the Monday airport crash, during which the Aerostar 602P piloted by Muirhead slid off the runway and into perimeter fencing at the far end of the airfield. Neither Muirhead nor his two passengers were injured in the incident. However, the collision destroyed the antenna array used by pilots to negotiate landings in darkness or bad weather.

The cost of replacing the equipment could range from $380,000 to $400,000, according to initial estimates. Furthermore, the equipment could take as long as seven months to replace due to the difficulty in acquiring and installing the appropriate instruments, according to airport manager Dave Schuck.

While global positioning systems can still be used to plan a landing in poor visibility, the ground-based antenna array allows pilots to proceed with or abandon their landing from a lower altitude, Schuck said.

The reduced airport capabilities have some officials worrying about local economic impacts. Individuals landing in Sandpoint on personal or company-owned aircraft have historically been a reliable source of revenue for local hotels, restaurants and tourist industries. In 2009, the airport’s total economic impact was estimated to be $33 million.

Original article:

Answering celebrity rumors part of weekend work: Norfolk Regional Airport (KOFK), Nebraska

Extra fuel on hand for planes landing and taking off. Check.

Extra rental cars on hand or available. Check.

Extra personnel called in to work overnight security for planes or available to help as needed. Check.

If Terri Wachter, the Norfolk Regional Airport manager, was making a checklist, she had all these tasks and more covered Friday afternoon.

“We’re as prepared we we can be for what might happen,” Wachter said Friday afternoon from her office at the airport.

It’s a busy weekend in Norfolk and Northeast Nebraska, including the Lambrecht Auto Auction on Saturday and Sunday in Pierce, Norfolk’s Oktoberfest celebration, the annual Lions Club parade, Northeast Community College’s 40th anniversary celebration and the Riverpoint Arts Festival. Not to mention Friday night’s Foreigner concert.

Usually the airport keeps on hand about 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of jet fuel. This weekend, the airport started out with a 15,000-gallon tank and a 2,200 gallon tanker truck.

A fuel supplier in Omaha was also on alert, meaning thousands of gallons of additional fuel could be brought in, if needed, within a couple of hours, Wachter said.

“We’re full,” she said. “I joked to the guys that we’re so full it was leaking out (the top).”

Additional personnel were hired to watch the planes that landed Friday and Saturday that were staying in Norfolk for the Pierce auction or other activities around Norfolk.

Cars had been lined up with a rental company and local auto dealerships to handle the anticipated requests. Norfolk’s Checker Cab company also was available to shuttle guests from the airport.

On a typical day, the Norfolk Regional Airport probably has “about a half-dozen” planes land, Wachter said.

By mid-afternoon Friday, about a dozen had landed, with about six to eight containing passengers headed to the Pierce auction.

“Our fuel prices are low,” Wachter said. “Two (jets) dropped down just to buy fuel.”

And while activity was busier than usual Friday afternoon, it was expected to be the heaviest Friday evening and Saturday morning.

Wachter said Friday proved to be a fun day to be working at the airport. There were lots of calls from the public inquiring about rumors of celebrity sightings.

Some of the most repeated were about Jay Leno sightings and that John Travolta’s plane wanted to land at the airport, but the Norfolk runways weren’t long enough, so it was sent to Sioux City.

It wasn’t true, Watcher said.

“If John Travolta came in, I’d tuck him high under my wing and take him right to Pierce myself,” she said.

Along with a lot of phone calls, the airport also proved to be a popular place for those who just wanted to look around — in case one of those celebrity rumors proved true. Every few minutes, at least one or two vehicles would be circling the parking lot at the airport terminal.

Who could blame them? Outside of during the Great American Comedy Festival and concerts, few celebrities are seen in Norfolk.

Some representatives of the City of Norfolk also were on hand to greet visitors and answer questions or assist them.

Graison Frohberg, an airport line technician, said the band Foreigner was scheduled to leave from the Norfolk airport following its concert Friday evening.

Frohberg said he was not aware of Doc Severinsen being at the airport following Thursday’s concert and didn’t think he traveled in a plane.

“It’s a typical busy day,” he said Friday.

Original article:

US aviation regulator concerned over several vacancies in Directorate General of Civil Aviation

New Delhi: US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has expressed serious concern over a large number of vacancies in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), at a time when air traffic in India is growing at a rapid pace.

The vacancies include top posts of Joint Director General and Deputy Director General.

Of the 427 posts sanctioned by the government in 2009 for various directorates of the DGCA, it is understood that around 350 posts have lapsed as they were not filled up in so many years.

The vacancies include top technical positions of two Joint Directors General, five Deputy Directors General and over 100 Directors, Deputy Directors and Assistant Directors.

Admitting the existence of a large number of vacancies, Minister of State for Civil Aviation K C Venugopal had earlier informed Rajya Sabha that "a total of 528 posts are lying vacant against the sanctioned strength of 924".

In reply to a written question, he had said that filling up of the vacancies was "a continuous process and is done in accordance with the laid down procedure".

He also said that an additional 427 posts of Group A, B and C categories were created in the DGCA in 2009, out of which some were new posts for which no recruitment rules existed.

"In respect of other existing posts also, the recruitment rules were needed to be reviewed and amended."

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said in Lok Sabha that in 2011, 16 persons were recruited for DGCA, in 2012, it was 44 and this year, it was only seven till March 20.

FAA, which carried out an audit of the DGCA and put it on notice earlier this month, is also understood to have taken serious note of the lack of policy and procedures for selection of skilled manpower, on-the-job training (OJT) or even for surveillance of type-rated training organizations.

Original article:

Breedlove's Finney glider school opened June 1, 1942

Supplementing Aulyne King Breedlove’s interview in 1957 to Sylvan Dunn of Southwest Collections/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University, are the archived newspapers of the Plainview Evening Herald on microfilm. These microfilm rolls of the Herald are also located at Southwest Collections, with another set entrusted to Unger Memorial Library in Plainview.

The first mention of a glider school being located at Plainview in the Herald was on Friday, May 22, 1942. The article stated that plans for an Army Air Corps Primary Training school at Plainview had been on-going for the past two weeks and were finalized May 21. The school was scheduled to open June 1, 1942.

Clent Breedlove, veteran pilot and former manager of the Lubbock Municipal Airport, was to be in charge of the glider school as a civilian contractor and director.

The Herald went on to say that school would provide a 30-day course in special phases of flying, using light planes. At peak capacity, the school was expected to handle 160 students per month, with 40 graduating each week after the first month.

The contract glider school would have from three to six regular Army officers posted at the airfield along with from three to six civil service employees and from 25 to 30 pilot instructors.

As for the students, they would be enlisted men who previously had some primary training. At Finney Field, they would receive 30 hours of flight training and 60 hours of ground school.

As for their quarters, both the officers and men were to be housed at the Hilton Hotel in Plainview, and special provisions were going to be made for their room and board. Army jeeps and transport trucks would shuttle them back and forth from the airfield.

The Plainview Municipal Airport was to be the main base of operations, and the planes would be kept there as well, said the Herald.

In a recent interview, Doug McDonough, current editor of the Plainview Herald, explained that in 1942 the Plainview Municipal Airport was located north of Plainview at Finney Field, just to the west of the Amarillo Highway, US-87.

In addition to the main base at Finney Field, there would be three other airfields in the area that were contracted for glider training.

A 309-acre tract 9 miles southwest of the airport was one site. The second airfield was 160 acres in size and was to be located 6 miles northwest of Finney Field. The last airfield was also 160 acres and would be located 8 miles northeast of the airport. These would be the auxiliary airfields.

The article went on to say that the glider school at Finney Field was one of two in Texas and among 19 that were to be established in the United States by June 1. Big Spring was host to the other Texas glider school. The Plainview glider school at Finney Field was to be the third largest out of the 19, according to the Herald.

Charles Day said in a recent interview that there actually were only 18 contract glider schools in the United States during WWII. The discrepancy in the number of contract glider schools may be attributable to a change in plans by the government, or simply a misquote by the Herald in 1942. Day also noted that although the Army planned to have these contract schools open by June 1, not all of them met the deadline. Day is the secretary of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association and resides in Wisconsin.

Capt. G.A. Gilbert of the West Coast Air Corps Training Center was sent from Albuquerque, N.M., to Plainview to take temporary charge of the airfield and receive the planes which would be used in training. Capt. Gilbert was to be in charge of the airfield until the regular Army officers from the WCACTC arrived to take over command duties.

Although the training at Finney Field was expected to be tied in with glider training elsewhere in the nation, no gliders or sailplanes were to be located there. Instead, only light planes were going to be used at Plainview for training.

The Army would furnish the planes, said the Herald, and Breedlove was to be responsible for their maintenance and fueling. Breedlove’s contract would be for 90 days, stated the article.

The Herald also showed an article originally published on May 21 in Santa Ana, Calif., which gave many details about the glider program on a national level.

The Army Air Corps planned to train 3,000 glider pilots who would participate in commando raids. The gliders would be towed by American Flying Fortresses and other powerful aircraft. Each glider would have a complement of 15 men armed with rifles, machine guns and even light cannon.

The article stated that the number of gliders that each Flying Fortress could tow was a military secret. However, the article stated that transport planes in the German Luftwaffe towed anywhere from three to six gliders each, and that the Flying Fortress was a much more powerful plane than the German transport planes.

Regarding the capacity and specifications of the Army gliders in May 1942, Day believes that some of the information about gliders in the article from Santa Ana picked up by the Herald is possibly pure conjecture on the part of the reporter.

Day commented that “there were only two XCG-4 gliders delivered to Wright Field, the second of which was being flight tested in the middle of May to the middle of June, 1942 at Clinton County Army Air Field, Wilmington, Ohio.

“The second glider, with a dorsal fin, was not approved for production until around June 22, 1942,” stated Day.

“All the information concerning gliders and what they would do or carry was classified ‘Secret’ and was possibly sometimes exaggerated, or was stated in a misleading way by the Army and by any newspaper articles written about U.S. tugs and U.S. combat gliders,” said Day.

More information about the glider pilots of WWII can be found online at the National WWII Glider Pilots website at

Readers are also asked to visit the Silent Wings Museum website at and for more details about the glider program of WWII.

Anyone with information about the Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field should contact John McCullough at 806-793-4448 or email

Original article:

Garfield County Regional Airport (KRIL) master plan on approach

A 10-year master plan is under development for the Garfield County Regional Airport to help guides its future development and ensure its $45 million economic impact remains strong, according to Airport Manager Brian Condie.

An open house to explain the draft master plan and gather public input was held at the airport on Thursday, Sept. 19. The plan is funded by a $150,000 state grant, Condie said, and will update the last master plan, completed in 2002. The new plan will also feature a 10-year business plan, something most small commuter airports like Garfield County don’t have, Condie noted.

The 615-acre airport operates with a annual budget of approximately $800,000, he said, and brings in another $500,000 through aviation fuel sales, landing fees and hangar leases.

The same 2008 Colorado Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics economic impact study of commercial and general aviation airports statewide that found Garfield County’s airport generated more than $45 million in economic impacts also found it helped lead to an $18 million payroll. Condie said that includes all airport-based businesses, including UPS, flight instructors and eight limousine companies.

“We handle about 7,000 jet aircraft a year, with about half of them diversions” from mountain airports in Aspen and Eagle that often can’t land aircraft due to winter snow storms, Condie said.

The single 7,000-foot by 100-foot runway is open 24 hours a day, with GPS, instrument landing systems and radio navigation, Condie added. A aircraft fly-in was held on Saturday, Sept. 21, to help educate pilots on the use and benefits of the airport’s guidance system, he said.

Dave Nafie, planning manager for Jviation of Denver, one of the master plan consultants, said the draft plan proposes additions such as 500-foot runway extension, with an estimated cost of $16.2 million. That would likely require land acquisition, rerouting Mamm Creek Road and other expensive steps, Nafie said.

“It would be a political decision, too,” he added. “You’d have to consider what the surrounding airports offer, and it would likely be a tough sell. But it’s there in the plan now.”

A plan advisory committee, including local pilots and other airport users, has had input into the plan, Nafie noted.

Other portions of the plan focused on future parking and roadway needs, a new building or terminal for the airport’s fixed base operator, which supplies fuel and aircraft services, and hangar development.

Jeff Kohlman, a principal with Aviation Management Consultant Group of Centennial, said the overall question with the plans is “what kind of airport does the county want in 10 years?”

“There hasn’t been much discussion of commercial service, but there has been a desire to keep adjacent land uses compatible with the airport,” he said.

How to bring more jobs and business investments was another area of discussion as the planning process, which began in December 2012, has proceeded, Kohlman added.

“The overall preference, I think, is to have a general aviation airport that is as financially self-sufficient as possible,” he said.

A new master and business plan for the airport is scheduled to be adopted by the county commissioners in June, Kohlman said, with revised draft versions released in about six months. Another open house is tentatively set for November or December, he noted.

Original article:

'War Horse' ready for taxi

The restored F-111 aircraft that was unveiled in June at the Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport will make its way Sunday to its permanent home at Aviation Heritage Park on Three Springs Road.

Moving the plane is the culmination of nearly a year of work since the F-111 arrived at the airport last October from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Phoenix, where it had been sitting in the boneyard, a storage space for retired planes. The aircraft, affectionately known as the “War Horse,” was reassembled and restored at the airport, where it has sat completed for the past three months.

“It’s been a long year, but at the same time, it’s been a very fulfilling effort,” said Arnie Franklin, a retired Air Force pilot and a member of the Aviation Heritage Park. “We know that Bowling Green and the surrounding area will be very proud when we get it out there.”

Franklin’s right wingman flew the plane during the El Dorado Canyon mission in 1986 that raided Libya, for which Franklin was mission commander. The plane was also part of more than 50 missions during the Gulf War before being retired in 1996.

Aviation Heritage Park officials had to wait until now to move the plane because of the lengthy planning and preparation needed to transport such a large aircraft, he said. At 73 feet long with a wingspan of 32 feet, it’s the largest plane the group has ever moved. 

At 10:30 p.m. Sunday, the “War Horse” will be towed by a tractor with the tow bar connected to the plane’s nose gear.

“Since it can’t be pulled under its own power, we’re going to tug it,” said Jim Wright, president of the Aviation Heritage Park.

The tractor hauling the plane will turn from the airport onto Scottsville Road and then onto Three Springs Road to the park. The convoy will include personnel from the Bowling Green Police Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Bowling Green Municipal Utilities and the airport.

The tractor is unable to pull the F-111 more than 3 mph, so it could take two to three hours to transport it, Wright said. The late time was chosen to avoid traffic and cause as little disruption as possible.

To make the plane easier to transport, its wings will be swept back and its nose, called the radome, will be taken off, Franklin said.

The pad where the aircraft will sit in the park had to be modified because the plane is so big, and the chain-link fence in the park was taken down temporarily in order to move the plane into place, he said. Steel plates will also be arranged on the ground of the park to act as a taxiway. Otherwise, the aircraft would sink into the ground because it’s so heavy.

Once the plane is in place, the nose will be reattached and a sign will be put in front of it, Franklin said.

Those tasks should be completed within a few days of the plane’s arrival at the park.

Aviation Heritage Park officials plan to have a dedication ceremony to celebrate the plane’s arrival at the park, though the date hasn’t been determined, Wright said.

Original story:

Widow of Nepal plane crash victim calls for safety improvements

The widow of a 60-year-old holidaymaker killed in a plane crash in Nepal has called for more safety improvements to stop further tragedies.

 Maggie Holding, of Barlaston, made the plea almost a year after her husband was killed in a crash.

Retired teacher Steve Holding was on a two-week holiday-of-a-lifetime when the tragedy happened.

Initial reports suggested the plane had crashed after striking a bird on September 28, 2012.

But a new report released by the Nepal Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission (NAAIC) has revealed a catalog of failures.

The report found:

The twin-turbo aircraft was overloaded by 78-kilograms;

An unexplained loss of power, probably in the left engine, started during the take-off run;

No evidence that hitting a bird caused the loss of power;

The pilot failed to use the correct speeds during the take-off and in the initial climb, causing the aircraft to fall;

Indications the crew was not trained to handle this type of emergency situation.

All 19 passengers and crew were killed in last year's crash.

Mr Holding, of Longton Road, had been heading to Mount Everest when the crash happened.

Mrs Holding said: "I believe this tragedy resulted from an accumulation of errors, none of which would have occurred if more rigorous systems, supervision, training and basic good practice had been in place.

"Mountaineers will always want to go to Nepal and for Steve this would have been the best trip ever.

"But for both of us, the trip cruelly ended the plans we had for many more happy years together."

She added: "The lamentably poor standard of practice detailed in the report simply should not be allowed to continue.

"It is vital that changes are made as soon as possible to prevent other wasted lives."

The families of the British victims are being represented by law firm Irwin Mitchell.

The firm's head of aviation law, Clive Garner said: "We hope the findings of the recent investigation into the crash will lead to a full review of flight safety in Nepal and effective action taken to protect aircraft passengers in the future.

"We are already liaising with the European Commission in this regard and remain determined to not only gain justice for our clients, but also ensure lessons are learned from this horrendous crash.

"It is too late to save the passengers who tragically died, but their families want assurances that lessons will be learnt."

Original article:

NTSB Identification: DCA12RA153
Accident occurred Friday, September 28, 2012 in Kathmandu, Nepal
Injuries: 19 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On September 28, 2012, a Sita Air Dornier 228, registration 9N-AHA, with Garrett (Honeywell) TPE 331 engines, reported a bird strike shortly and crash shortly after takeoff from Kathmandu-Tribhuvan Airport (KTM), Kathmandu, Nepal. The three crew members and 16 passengers onboard were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The flight was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from KTM to Lukla Airport (LUA), Lukla, Nepal.

The investigation is being conducted by the Nepal Ministry of Tourism. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13 as the State of Manufacture and Design of the engines.

Emergency landing raises questions about what determines whether pilots are fit to fly


In the wake of an emergency landing prompted by a pilot's heart attack, some are asking questions about what determines whether a pilot is fit to fly.

63-year-old Henry Skillern died after suffering a heart attack while in the cockpit of a Seattle-bound United Airlines flight.

He was just two years shy of the age at which the Federal Aviation Administration requires commercial airline pilots to retire.  There have also been reports that Skillern weighed about 300 pounds.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires commercial airline pilots over the age of 40 to undergo a medical screening every six months.

Dr. Richard Pellerin of Seattle has been administering those tests since 1985.  He's an FAA-designated Aviation Medical Examiner, and has evaluated 20,000 pilots over the years.

As soon as he heard Skillern might have been overweight, Pellerin says he knew passengers would be concerned.

"When I first heard that, what goes through my mind is that it's going to be very alarming to the public to hear that," he said.

Pellerin understands those concerns, but says the number on the scale is ultimately not enough to keep a pilot grounded.

"Weight is not allowed to be a criteria as a pass/fail mark," he said.

Instead, the medical screenings use an EKG to test heart function, but Pellerin says that doesn't necessarily pick up every condition.

He also looks for adult onset diabetes, which is often present in people who are overweight.

Still, Pellerin believes the rarity of incidents like this one are proof the FAA's system is working.

"This is the first time I've ever heard of this, the very first time," he said.  "What I hope the traveling public takes away from this is that the only person who died was the pilot.  They were all alive and well, just like they are on thousands of other flights every single day."

Back at SeaTac, passengers seemed to take that message to heart.

"It would be discriminatory," said one passenger, when asked if pilots over a certain weight shouldn't be allowed to fly.  "They said Skillern went through the physical and passed everything, so let him fly."

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