Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hundreds gather to watch Blue Angels flyover at Naval Air Station Pensacola (photos)

PENSACOLA, Florida -- Several hundred visitors turned out at the National Museum of Naval Aviation Saturday to watch a flyover by the Blue Angels over Veterans Day weekend, as the Navy's famous Flight Demonstration Squadron marked the end of its sequester-shortened 2013 season. 

The Blue Angels performed a Delta Flat Pass and a Pitch-up Break maneuver over the museum's parking lot, but the brief flyover was a far cry from the full air show or practice that usually delights crowds across the nation during air shows and at the museum every Tuesday and Thursday during the show season. 

The Blue Angels performed only two air shows this year before the budget cuts known as the sequester forced the Navy to cancel 33 scheduled shows, including the Homecoming show at Naval Air Station Pensacola, which would have been Nov. 1-2. The Blue Angels will leave soon for their winter training facility in El Centro, Calif. 

Despite the brevity of Saturday's flyover, the people gathered at the museum were just happy to see the Blues take to the sky again. David Sampson, a former Navy pilot living in Pensacola, was in the crowd with his wife Brenda. 

"We look forward to any opportunity to watch the Blues fly and with them being curtailed this year, myself along with a lot of other people seem to be very happy to see them go again," Sampson said. 

"You can never see the Blue Angels too many times," said Howard Rundell, a retired Navy pilot who is now a tour guide at the museum.

Rundell led an afternoon tour of museum that he wrapped up in time to see the flyover just after 2 p.m.

While many in the crowd have seen the Blues dozens of times or more, there were a few first-timers as well.

One of those was Mike Williams, Sr. of Beaumont, Texas. Williams witnessed the flyover with his son Mike Williams, Jr., who just graduated from the Navy's Air Crew Candidate School at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The NACCS is the only path for enlisted Navy personnel to become pilots. 

Mike Williams, Jr. is preparing to ship off to California for the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) School and hopes to eventually fly F/A-18s himself. 

Scroll through the gallery for photos from the flyover and the crowd gathered to watch it at the National Naval Aviation Museum.

Story and Photo Gallery:

Proud Bird, aerospace watering hole, about to run dry

The longtime airport-area restaurant, which for decades welcomed legendary fliers and aviation workers, falls victim to rising rents and the decline of L.A.'s aerospace industry.  

With a martini in hand, John Cashen was deep in a discussion of military electronics, when a 747 jetliner seemed to float past in slow motion onto LAX's south runway complex. 

 Cashen, who pioneered the radar-evading design of the B-2 Stealth bomber, stopped to watch the plane — just a few hundred yards away — thunder past his table at the Proud Bird, the aerospace industry's favorite watering hole for more than a half-century.

"There's no place else like this in the world," said Cashen, 76, who retired from Northrop Grumman in 1993 but still consults for the firm.

The biggest names in aerospace have sat at the bar here to watch the planes land, people such as Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh and Neil Armstrong.

But the Proud Bird's days may be numbered.

John Tallichet, the current owner and son of the late founder, said it will close Nov. 21, after an unsuccessful two-year effort to negotiate a new lease from the property owners, Los Angeles World Airports.

The Los Angeles World Airports Commission says it can't help the historic gathering place, saying that federal law, which controls some aspects of airport operations, requires current market value for rents.

Although Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman Corp., the Aerospace Corp. and Raytheon Co. all have major facilities nearby, the industry is much smaller than in its heyday and less able to support the red-meat-and-fish dining room.

Nonetheless, supporters of the restaurant are outraged by the upcoming closure, saying that it would mean the loss of an important piece of Los Angeles' history.

Tallichet blames a tangle of federal and city laws that have raised his costs.

Under city law, airport businesses must pay a "living wage" of nearly $16 per hour, even though the Proud Bird merely sits on LAX-owned land. It can't compete with nearby restaurants not subject to the rule, Tallichet said.

At the same time, federal law compels the airport to charge a market-based rent for the property. Tallichet's lease expired two years ago and he had hoped to obtain a new 20-year lease, based on the old rent of about $200,000 per year, he said. But the airport commission said it would have to set the rent at about $500,000 annually, based on its market assessment.

Airport commission Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey said she does not want to drive out the Proud Bird, but the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation already has opened an investigation that includes the Proud Bird lease and has been pressuring the agency to explain why it has not already increased the rent.

"We are not seeking to close down the Proud Bird," Lindsey said. "It is not something that is fixable by the Los Angeles World Airports. We have actually done what we can to help them."

If a historic Hollywood restaurant with connections to the entertainment industry were in a similar situation, patrons say, the city would rush to save it. A spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti had no immediate comment.

Tallichet is hoping for an eleventh-hour miracle, though he has formally notified employees, patrons and the airport that it is closing.

Lovers of airplanes have a lot to appreciate at the Proud Bird, which was opened in 1958 by Tallichet's father, David, who flew a B-17 over Europe during World War II.

The restaurant is surrounded by about 20 vintage aircraft, some mounted on poles and others parked on an adjacent grass field.

The collection includes some of the most important airplanes built in Southern California, including the North American P-51 Mustang, considered the top fighter of World War II, and the Douglas DC-3 transport, which dominated civil aviation for more than a decade.

A few of the planes are genuine aircraft, but others are fiberglass replicas that were produced by the Tallichet family.

"At one time, we had the largest collection of World War II aircraft," Tallichet said. "My dad traveled around the world looking for old planes. I didn't see a lot of him when I was growing up."

Inside, hundreds of photographs line the walls, paying tribute to the industry that has helped propel the Southern California economy, starting with Glenn Martin's aircraft shop in 1912 that was housed in a former Santa Ana church.

There are special exhibits for the elite contractors once headquartered in Southern California: Lockheed, Northrop, Douglas, Hughes, North American Aviation, Consolidated Aircraft and Vultee Aircraft, among others, many of them long forgotten by the public.

The most renowned test pilots have their own displays, among them Tony Levier, the late Lockheed pilot who made the first flight in the U-2 spy plane, and Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier.

The restaurant recognizes heroes of past wars, such as the Tuskegee Airmen, African American pilots who flew with a distinguished record in World War II. It named a special banquet room for them, and the few remaining members of the unit and many survivors of the late airmen make regular visits.

"There's nothing like the Proud Bird," said Theodore Lumpkin, 93, a Tuskegee Airman who served in Italy during the war. "It makes a connection with the community in so many ways, spreading the word about the Tuskegee Airmen."

"That would be a disaster if the city put them out," said Craig Huntly, the historian for the local chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen. "The Proud Bird is more than a restaurant. It is a custodian of a rich history of our city and made it available to the public."

In a narrow, wood-paneled hallway, there is a tribute to women aviators, among them famed racing pilot Jacqueline Cochran, wing-walker Lillian Boyer, African American pilot Bessie Coleman and, of course, Amelia Earhart.

The restaurant, and its adjoining banquet rooms, have counted on the aerospace industry near LAX for decades, hosting celebrations of mission successes, retirements and promotions.

Test pilots from Edwards Air Force Base have long held their annual bash at the Proud Bird. Hughes Aircraft has held giant parties for their missions, such as the 20th anniversary of Surveyor, the first spacecraft to successfully land on the moon.

Robert Hoover, a World War II fighter pilot who gained later fame as a test pilot, said he has been going to the restaurant since the 1960s, dining with Lindbergh, Doolittle and Yeager, as well as Paul Tibbets Jr., the pilot of the Enola Gay bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb.

"It will be a sad day for aviation in our city if it closes," Hoover said.

Story, Photo Gallery: and Comments/Reaction:

Key West-Cuba charter flights postponed

Ambitious plans announced last month by a Miami travel agency to offer small charter flights between Key West and Cuba beginning Nov. 15 have been pushed back to a Dec. 15 kick-off by Mambi International's partners at Air Marbrisa Airlines.

In a Wednesday e-mail to Peter Horton, the Monroe County airports director, Bob Curtis from Air Marbrisa said the delay is due to Mambi not yet having what's called a 380 certificate.

That document, provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation, establishes an operator, in this case Air Marbrisa, as a public charter based on specific regulations.

Mambi spokesman Isaac Valdes said he couldn't comment on the certificate but said flights will start Dec. 15.

But "if we performed the service [of using Key West International Airport to fly to and from Jose Marti International Airport now], we would be in violation" of federal rules, Curtis wrote to Horton. "I won't do that, therefore I have terminated any service for 30 days. It is our intent to begin the service on or around Dec. 15."

"Everything else remains the same," Curtis continued. "All our licenses and approvals are in place. We are delaying the service for 30 days so that when we do perform, we are performing in accordance with all regulations."

Last month, Horton cautioned that Mambi's plans may be overly ambitious and Curtis said the company announced the pending flights to the media prematurely.

The process of designating Key West International as an international point of entry began in 2009 with a request to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Following that was a three-phase, two-year, $2.25 million project to have the airport reclassified as a federal inspection station, instead of the current label of a general aviation facility.

Horton said the feds signed off on the upgrades in October 2011.

Flights are scheduled to leave Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays at 3:30 p.m., returning the following morning aboard a Metro II turboprop plane. The round trip is slated to cost $449 and each flight, lasting about 30 minutes. The plane can accommodate up to 10 people, including the pilot.

The last time planes regularly flew between Key West International and Jose Marti in Havana, just 90 miles from the Southernmost City, was in 1962.

Would-be visitors must obtain either a general or specific license from the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control.


No injuries in Concordia plane crash: Blosser Municipal Airport (KCNK), Kansas

CONCORDIA - A single-engine Piper airplane crashed Saturday morning as it was taking off from Blosser Municipal Airport.

The pilot, Terry L. Lambert, 49, and passenger, Francis J. Williams, 45, both of Concordia, were not injured.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported that the aircraft was just going airborne and making a left turn into the wind at 10:40 a.m. when it stalled and crashed while making an emergency landing, about three-tenths of a mile south of the runway.

The patrol reported that Lambert and Williams were wearing seat belts.

The airplane was to be removed after the Federal Aviation Administration concluded its investigation.


Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority commences investigation of Aero Contractors airline for ‘shoddy’ treatment of passengers

An NCAA official witnessed the poor treatment of the passengers.

Nigerian aviation authorities are currently investigating complaints from at least 12 passengers over the ‘shoddy’ treatment meted on them by Aero Contractors, an aviation spokesperson has said.

Yakubu Datti, the coordinating spokesperson for Nigeria’s aviation parastatals, confirmed the receipt of the complaints by the agency on Saturday evening.

“Yes we have received complaints from 12 passengers, and appropriate actions will be taken,” Mr. Datti told PREMIUM TIMES.

While aviation authorities investigate the allegations, PREMIUM TIMES can report that by delaying a flight for over 11 hours, all through the night, and failing to provide either refreshment or hotel accommodation for the affected passengers, Aero Contractors violated sections of the Passenger Bill of Rights.

The Bill, put in place by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority to protect the rights of passengers and airlines, provides, among others, guidelines that must be followed by airlines in cases such as flight delays, cancellations, and over-bookings.

Aero had delayed its flight AJ132 from Abuja to Lagos on Friday, first for about three hours (from 6:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.), then for over 11 hours till 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.

Most of the passengers were informed via sms and email of the first delay several hours to departure.

“This is to inform you that our flight AJ132 from Abuja to Lagos Today the 8th of November 2013, has been rescheduled to 21:40hrs due to operational reasons. Check in starts two (2) hours before and ends forty(40) minutes before departure. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. For rescheduling, please call: 01-6284140 or mail,” the airline said in the message sent to the passengers.

However, dozens of the passengers who started arriving the airport as early as 1:00 p.m. on Friday were shocked when the airline announced a delay of the flight again.
When the plane that was to convey the passengers finally arrived Abuja at about 12:00 midnight, the pilot simply refused to fly.

The violations

Section states the actions that must be taken by an airline that delays a flight.

The law states that “For domestic flights, when an operating air carrier reasonably expects a flight to be delayed beyond its scheduled time of departure, it shall provide the passengers the assistance specified below:

“a. immediately after one hour, the assistance specified in section (Refreshments) and section (telephone calls, SMS and E-mails).

“b. at a time between 10p.m. and 4a.m., or at a time when the airport is closed at the point of departure or final destination, the assistance specified in sections and (hotel accommodation and transport);”

In other words, Aero was supposed to provide not only refreshments, but also hotel accommodation for the almost 60 passengers it made to sleep on the airport floors because of the flight delay.

The airline provided neither.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the passengers had survived through the night at the airport, which is currently undergoing renovation with no place for rest. Some of the passengers were walked out of an Aero jet they had slept in at about 3:00 a.m. by a soldier.

“The treatment was really shoddy. Not only did they not provide any (refreshment or hotel), they could not even apologize to us officially when we eventually flew to Lagos (on Saturday morning),” Charles Musa, one of the affected passengers, said.

Mr. Musa, who is among those who complained to the NCAA, said that an official of the agency was with the passengers all through the night and pledged not to leave the airport until the passengers travelled to Lagos.

Aero’s likely penalties

Apart from providing guidelines to be followed by airlines during flight delays and cancellation, the Passenger Bill of Rights also provides penalties for defaulters that fail to adhere to the guideline.

The law provides “civil penalties as minimum, moderate or maximum for a single violation of a particular regulation.”
While the minimum penalty is N100, 000, the moderate is N250, 000, and the maximum is N500, 000.

Apart from this recommended penalty, the Bill also states that “The Authority may also refer the violator for criminal prosecution as provided in the Civil Aviation Act 2006.”

Mr. Datti explained that the NCAA was determined to enforce its laws to the latter after investigation of the complaints and urged passengers who continuously suffer from such delays by airlines in Nigeria to report such cases as the agency can only act after a formal report.

However, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that some of the passengers may be preparing a court action against Aero.

Aero is yet to react to PREMIUM TIMES inquiry. Calls made to its spokesperson, Simon Tumba’s telephone numbers were unanswered, while a text message inquiry was not responded to.


Spirit Airlines Airbus A319-100, N504NK, Flight NK-409: Dropped engine cowling at Chicago O'Hare International Airport (KORD), Illinois

A Spirit Airlines plane sits at O'Hare International Airport after it lost part of its right engine cover--known as the engine cowlings--on takeoff early Saturday. 
(WGN-TV / November 9, 2013)

A Spirit Airlines plane had to return to O’Hare International Airport soon after takeoff when part of the housing for one of its engines fell off, officials said. 

No one was injured when the cowling for the right engine on Flight 409, headed for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., became detached and the flight crew had to return to O’Hare just after takeoff a little after 5:30 a.m., said Misty Pinson, spokeswoman for the Florida-based airline.

About 5:45 a.m. after the plane took off from runway 28R, a passenger saw that the engine cowlings on the right side of the Airbus A319 were missing, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said. The crew “received an indication of a possible mechanical issue,” and declared an emergency, Pinson said in an email.

The plane returned to O’Hare and landed on runway 28, Cory said.

The plane was brought back to the gate, and customers were able to leave the plane safely with crew help, Pinson said. Those who wanted to were able to get on another plane that headed to Fort Lauderdale, while those needing to make connections were rebooked. Customers also were offered refunds if they preferred.

The Chicago Fire Department declared an aircraft standby response for the incident, which includes six ambulances being dispatched, but no one wsa injured, a Fire Department spokesman said. The right engine cowlings were found on airport property, and Spirit crews were inspecting the plane and the cowlings, Pinson said.

The FAA was to take possession of the cowlings as part of its investigation of the incident, Cory said.

Story, Photo and Comments/Reaction:

San Francisco International Airport (KSFO) Construction to Shut Down More Runways

Two runways at San Francisco International Airport will be closed next summer for the final phase of a construction project, airport officials said today.

Runways 1L and 1R will be reconfigured to create longer thresholds in case an airplane overshoots the runway as part of a federally mandated Runway Safety Area construction project, airport spokesman Doug Yakel said in a statement.

In addition, a new Engineered Material Arresting System will be installed that can safely catch a plane's landing gear if it overshoots.

Landing lights, navigation systems and other equipment will also be relocated as part of the project, Yakel said. Construction will start May 17, 2014, and last through September 2014. Work will be conducted day and night, seven days a week in order to complete the project quickly and minimize disruptions.

The airport will exclusively use its two main runways, Runways 28L and 28R, during the closures.

Travelers may experience minor delays during peak periods in good weather, and should expect more serious delays on bad weather days, similar to what the airports sees on winter days, Yakel said.

"We have been working with the FAA and the airlines for the past several years to develop a plan to adjust schedules and capacity in advance of the temporary closure in order to minimize the impact to our customers during construction," Yakel said in a statement. "Closing both runways at the same time is the safest and fastest option," Yakel said.

The airport previously closed a major runway in February this year as part of the same safety improvement project.


Virginia Beach | HamptonRoads: Mayors' trip on private jet with local developer raises questions


VIRGINIA BEACH -- Two Hampton Roads' mayors are under the microscope after hopping on a private jet with a wealthy developer to attend Terry McAuliffe's election party Tuesday night. 

 Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim flew to Washington, D.C. with developer Bruce Thompson on a small private jet, the two mayors confirm.

Thompson is the developer behind the Cavalier re-development project at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and the planned hotel and convention center in Downtown Norfolk.

Thompson received millions of dollars in public funds and tax assistance from both cities for the respective projects.

Both Sessoms and Fraim said they split the cost of the flight with Thompson.

"I'm concerned about appearances all the time," Fraim said. "I've been doing this for a while. The fact that we paid for our trip to go there, I thought was appropriate."

Sessoms also said he didn't see anything wrong with the trip, and pointed out that he abstained from the vote to approve $18 million in funds for Thompson's project at the Cavalier.

Fraim said he thinks the criticism is worth the good relationship with Thompson.

"There will be people who question our relationship with any developer," Fraim said. "Mr Thompson is going to invest nearly $70 million in this city, you know, the mayor should be friends with him."

Story and Video:

Readington, New Jersey: Committee sets closed-door meeting to discuss Solberg Airport (N51) family land

Family-owned-and-operated Solberg Airport in Readington Township was founded in 1941 by Thor Solberg. It covers 102 acres and is surrounded by another 625 acres owned by the Solberg Family. 

READINGTON TWP. — The mayor and Township Committee plan to meet behind closed doors to discuss Solberg Airport family land on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 8 a.m. at the Municipal Building. 

 If they take any action, that would happen in open session.

The township on Nov. 7 learned that it lost another round in the continuing court battle with Solberg Airport. Findings of an awaited Superior Court judge's decision came the day after about 500 people attended a hearing on the issue.

Barring further amendments, the case is set to go to trial in March, Solberg representatives said.

Judge Yolanda Ciccone denied the township's second amended complaint, in which the township wanted to change its lawsuit to allow Readington to buy the 102 acres used for airport operations — and then operate it as a public airport — rather that purchase the development rights only.

Ciccone further lifted a stay on a suit filed by the Solbergs in 2006 against the then-members of the Township Committee, saying that Readington officials have failed to comply with state law and zone for an airport safety zone and re-zone of the existing airport to a conforming use.

Stay with for more on this issue.

Boeing 747’s era long gone because of jet’s jumbo size, fuel use: Plane revolutionized air travel in the ’70s

For decades, the Boeing 747 was the Queen of the Skies. But the glamorous, double-decker jumbo jet that revolutionized air travel and shrank the globe could be nearing the end of the line.

Boeing has cut its production target twice in six months. Only 18 will be produced in each of the next two years. Counting cancellations, Boeing hasn’t sold a 747 this year. Some new 747s go into storage as soon as they leave the plant.

Boeing says it’s committed to the 747 and sees a market for it in regions such as Asia. But most airlines no longer want big, four-engine planes; they prefer newer two-engine jets that fly the same distance while burning less fuel.

“We had four engines when jet-engine technology wasn’t advanced,” Delta Air Lines Inc. CEO Richard Anderson said at a recent conference. “Now, jet engines are amazing, amazing machines, and you only need two of them.”

Delta inherited 16 747s when it bought Northwest Airlines in 2008. Northwest last ordered a 747 in 2001, according to Flightglobal’s Ascend Online Fleets.

Seats to fill

Part of the problem is all those seats. A 747 can seat 380 to 560 people, depending on how an airline sets it up. A full one is a moneymaker. But an airline that can’t fill all the seats has to spread the cost of 63,000 gallons of jet fuel — roughly $200,000 — among fewer passengers.

The jets also are too big for most markets. There aren’t enough passengers who want to fly each day between Atlanta and Paris, for example, to justify several jumbo-jet flights. And business travelers want more than one flight to choose from. So airlines fly smaller planes several times a day instead.

“No one wants the extra capacity” that comes with jumbo jets like the 747 and the Airbus A380, said Teal Group aviation consultant Richard Aboulafia.

The game changer

The 747 once stood alone, with more seats than any other jet and a range of 6,000 miles, longer than any other plane.

The plane is massive: six stories tall and longer than the distance the Wright brothers traveled on their first flight.

On the early planes, the distinctive bulbous upper deck was a lounge, so it had only six windows. The plane epitomized the modern age of international jet travel.

“Everyone on the flight was dressed up,” recalls passenger Thomas Lee, who was 17 when he took the inaugural passenger flight on Pan Am from New York to London in 1970. “After all, it was still back in the day when the romance of flight was alive and thriving.”

International travel was limited mostly to those who could afford the pricey flights. The 747 changed that. The first 747s could seat twice as many passengers as the preferred international jet of the time, the Boeing 707. Long flights became more economical for the airlines. Ticket prices fell, and soon a summer vacation in Europe was no longer just for the wealthy.

The plane’s profile was enhanced by its role as Air Force One and by flying the space shuttle — piggyback — across the country. The 747 became the world’s most-recognizable aircraft.

Boeing began building 747s in the late 1960s. Production peaked at 122 in 1990. Overall, Boeing sold 1,418 747s before redesigning the plane in 2011. The 747’s success helped put Boeing ahead of U.S. competitors Lockheed, which left the passenger-jet business in 1983, and McDonnell Douglas, which Boeing acquired in 1997.

But technology eventually caught up with the 747.

As engines became more powerful and reliable, the government in 1988 started allowing certain planes with only two engines to fly over the ocean, as far as three hours from the nearest airport. Within a

decade, twin-engine planes such as the Airbus A330 and the Boeing 777 began to dominate long-haul routes.

Air Force One, the sequel

At least the president of the United States still prefers to fly in a jumbo jet.

Air Force One is the world’s most-visible airplane. The two modified Boeing 747-200s that do the job now will be 30 years old in 2017. The Air Force is seeking a four-engine replacement, making the Pentagon one of the last airplane shoppers eager to buy fuel for four engines instead of two. Boeing and Airbus are the only Western jetmakers with such a plane.

Boeing has said it wants the job and has responded to an Air Force request for information. Airbus has not.

Impact on Boeing

Boeing says that slowing 747 production won’t have a significant financial impact.

Boeing’s stock closed at $133.45 yesterday, near its all-time high. It has gained 77 percent this year, nearly four times the gain in the Dow Jones industrial average.

Boeing has a backlog of 4,787 planes, most of that orders for the best-selling 737. It has sped up production of the 737, and the 777, and plans to boost its output of 787s in 2016. Boeing gets the bulk of the money from a new plane upon delivery, so faster deliveries mean better cash flow.

Boeing is expected to begin offering customers a new version of the 777 this year. With about 400 seats, that plane is widely expected to kill off demand for the 747 from passenger airlines, although the freighter version might survive longer.

Still, 747 fans can take heart. Most planes last three decades or longer, so there will be 747s in the sky for a long time.

Story and Photos:

Iranian Passenger Jet Makes Emergency Landing in Beijing, No Injuries Reported

TEHRAN (FNA)- An Iran Air passenger plane made an emergency landing in Beijing International Airport minutes after takeoff, but none of the passengers onboard was hurt.

Speaking to FNA, an Iran Air official said that the airline’s Boeing 747 on a flight to Tehran from Beijing had an emergency landing in the Chinese capital due to technical problems.

“Engine number 4 of the plane stopped functioning minutes after takeoff and the pilot returned the plane to (Beijing Airport) with three engines and without any incident,” Iran Air Public Relations Director-General Shahrokh Noushabadi said.

Noushabadi pointed to the skillfulness and agility of the pilot, and said, “ … Iran Air immediately sent backup plane for Beijing from Tehran.”

He underlined that passengers of the plane have flown to Tehran on another flight.


New Jersey: Roseland Fire Department Responds to East Hanover NorthSTAR Medevac Landing

Photo Credit: Nick Bellomo

Photo Credit: Nick Bellomo

ROSELAND, NJ - Wednesday, at about 3:30 p.m. East Hanover police and fire departments responded to a serious motor vehicle accident at 520 Ridgedale Avenue, in East Hanover.

According to witnesses, a delivery truck hit a tree head on. At 3:48 p.m., the fire department requested that the Roseland Fire Department assist them with setting up a landing zone for the New Jersey State Police medevac helicopter which was called to the scene.  

After arriving at the location, the Roseland firefighters set up a perimeter in order to allow for a safe landing of the helicopter. The protocols for a medevac landing require that an engine company, with a hose line already filled with water and pressurized, be present when the helicopter lands in case of a fire or any other issue.

Piloted by the New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit,  the Northern Shock-Trauma Air Rescue unit (NorthSTAR) provides life support while in transit by air to trauma centers.

Story and Photos:

Van's Aircraft: Emirates engineering team with their RV-12 - the result of thousands of hours of dedication by a group of trainees

Photo Courtesy: Emirates airline

The thousands of hours needed to assemble the 11,000 parts have proven invaluable for the 40 students, exposing them to the attention to detail needed in plane building. 

“Constructing this aircraft from scratch is a tremendous achievement for our trainees whose knowledge and hands on technical experience have now been significantly enhanced,” said Adel Al Redha, Emirates Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer.

The two-seater RV-12 is six metres long, has a top speed of 217kph and a range of 900km, meaning it could fly to Qatar capital Doha, Salalah in Oman or Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

“The trainees’ first task was to unpack the crates, check the components against the inventory and create a storage system where items could be easily retrieved,” Al Redha said.

“The canopy and rear window proved to be a huge challenge as the thermoplastic glass had to be drilled without cracking. This required extreme patience and was fortunately completed without any mishaps.”

The aircraft will be used to promote Emirates’ UAE National training programs. It will also be on display at the Dubai Air Show, which starts next Sunday at Al Maktoum International, Dubai World Central.

Story, Video and Photo:

More Than 30 Laser Strikes Reported at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport (KMSP) in 2013

You can buy a small, handheld laser pointer for less than $20, they're used in business presentations all the time. But the Federal Aviation Administration says that cheap little light can be extremely dangerous to pilots.

Since 2006, reports of laser pointers being aimed at planes have sky rocketed. So far in 2013, the FAA says there have been more than 3,000 laser strikes across the country. 31 of those hit planes flying into or out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

"It could be potentially catastrophic," explained Trever Rossini, who owns In Flight Pilot Training at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie.

The FAA says one reason it's so dangerous is light expands as it travels, so if a laser hits a plane thousands of feet in the air, the light can flood the cockpit, surprising and potentially injuring a pilot.

"If that happens to you," Rossini said, "you could potentially make a fatal error." He would know. After reading about other pilots being hit with laser pointers, he asked a friend to shine a laser pointer at his own plane so he'd know how to handle it. "I was actually surprised, A, at how far the beam could travel and secondly how powerful the light actually was."

It's why the FAA reports laser strikes to the FBI immediately, and why Rossini hopes his planned laser strike is the only one he ever has to deal with.

The FAA can fine people $11,000 for aiming a laser pointer at a plane. On top of that, law enforcement agencies can get involved too. Those penalties vary depending on where they occur.

Story, Video and Comments/Reaction:

State filing confirms Evergreen shutdown: Evergreen International Airlines exec declares McMinnville company will close, but founder demurs

Del Smith, founder and owner of Evergreen International Aviation, issued a statement at the close of the business day Friday denying a News-Register report that it intends to close its air cargo subsidiary, Evergreen International Airlines, at the end of the month.

However, Smith's statement was flatly contradicted in an internal company memo Evergreen filed earlier in the day under the WARN Act, which requires notice of mass layoffs and plant closures.

A Friday press release from the state agency said, "The number to be laid off is 131."

In a Thursday memo copied to Smith and other Evergreen executives, and filed with the state Friday, Evergreen Human Resources Manager Monique Gregory said the cargo carrier intends to "end all operations." The memo was addressed to "All Evergreen International Airlines Employees."

“The last day of all operations will be November 30, 2013," Gregory said in her memo. "Therefore, the last day of employment for employees will range from current day (11/07/2013) through November 30, 2013, with a small number of specific employees remaining to complete the closing requirements. … The loss of our company is very unfortunate; however, we appreciate your continued excellent service during this ending phase.”

State rules require that such notices be filed 60 days in advance, but Evergreen actually provided fewer than 30 days. A former company employee estimated that the cargo hauler was already down to fewer than 140 employees when the notice was issued, but that could not be officially confirmed.

The News-Register began getting word Thursday morning, from both current and former employees, of the closure memo.

A reporter placed multiple calls to the company seeking comment, but they went unreturned Thursday and Friday, even though the story began circulating Thursday evening online and Friday morning in print.

The denial released under Smith's name arrived shortly before 5 p.m. Friday. It came less than an hour after state issuance of a press release on the company's WARN Act filing.

In the release, Smith said:

“As has previously been reported in the press, Evergreen's business has been adversely impacted over the past several years by decreased demand in military spending and weakness in global economic markets. Management has moved to aggressively address these challenges, including through the divestiture of businesses and assets and the significant reduction of secured debt. Evergreen is in discussions with its significant constituencies and is exploring available strategic alternatives with those constituencies. While Evergreen does not generally comment on market rumor or conjecture, rumors that a decision has been made to cease operations at this time are false. Evergreen remains committed to continuing to address the current business environment with its customers.”

The contradiction could not be immediately rectified, as the business day had closed by the time it was received.

The Portland Business Journal was the first news outlet to obtain a copy of the memo filed with the state and report on its contents. It filed a story early Friday evening noting the discrepancy between Smith's statement and the memo filed with the state.


In 1980, Evergreen International Airlines Inc. flew the deposed Shah of Iran from Panama to Egypt, where he gained refuge.

Six years later, the McMinnville company launched an undercover airline service to fly U.S. anti-terrorist teams to world trouble spots.

And six years after that, Evergreen shipped the Spruce Goose the late billionaire Howard Hughes’ wooden plane – to a new museum across Oregon 18 from company’s headquarters.

Fast forward to this week: Despite a denial by its octogenarian founder, the storied airline appears to be in a tailspin, planning to lay off 131 employees before closing at the end of November.

Monique Gregory, Evergreen’s human resources manager, wrote in a memo dated Thursday to all the airline’s employees that the privately held company would end operations Nov. 30.

“The loss of our company is very unfortunate,” Gregory wrote. “However, we appreciate your continued excellent service during this ending phase.” 

Staggering debt could be the main culprit in Evergreen’s demise, airline analysts said, judging by the state of the industry and payment deadlines missed by the company. High fuel prices and excess capacity also hinder the global freighter business.

Military contracts wound down along with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And privately held Evergreen has fought for years in labor negotiations with its pilots and flight engineers, enduring several strike threats.

Mike Hines, Evergreen International Aviation’s chairman, said Friday that the 131 announced job losses would follow other recent layoffs. Evergreen employed 363 in McMinnville as recently as March, when debt forced a sale of the helicopter division that employed 100 there.

“It’s a shame,” said Mary Stern, a commissioner in Yamhill County, where the airline and related enterprises amount to one of the biggest employers. “So many people in the community will be out of work.”

A big question in McMinnville, a town of 33,000 about 30 miles southwest of Portland, is whether Evergreen’s nonprofit operations – major tourist draws conceived by founder Delford Smith – will survive. The Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark and the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum rival wineries in attracting visitors to boost the local economy.

“Oh, I hope so, yeah, they’re not tied to Evergreen,” Hines said of the nonprofits’ survival. “Del wants that legacy to survive forever.”

Tax forms filed by the nonprofits reflect financially sound enterprises. But they have heavily depended on Smith’s support.

For example Smith contributed more than $23 million to the Michael King Smith Foundation in 2011. The organization – named for Del Smith’s son, who died in a 1995 auto accident – invested $35.7 million that year in the water park, an attraction deemed “educational” in tax filings. 

The Oregon Department of Justice is investigating money transfers between the nonprofit and commercial entities, so it’s difficult to tell whether the nonprofits are truly self-sustaining. In 2011 for instance, another nonprofit – Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum and the Capt. Michael King Smith Educational Institute paid $343,837 to Evergreen International Aviation for miscellaneous services.

Smith, Evergreen International Aviation’s chief executive officer, did not return phone calls Thursday and Friday.

In a statement released Friday, though, Smith acknowledged his companies had been hurt by decreased military spending and global economic weakness. But, he said, Evergreen is in talks with “significant constituencies” in an effort to continue.

“Rumors that a decision has been made to cease operations at this time are false,” Smith said. His statement contradicted Gregory’s memo and a recorded phone message received by pilots, who reported calling in this week to hear an executive announce the closure planned, they said, for Nov. 29.

Richard Gritta, a finance professor at the University of Portland’s Pamplin School of Business, noted the tremendous amount of financial leverage among airlines. “This downturn has hurt them all, and if they can’t merge and get out of it then they have to restructure somehow, and that may be his plan,” he said of Smith.

Towering debt prompted Evergreen to sell off its helicopter subsidiary for $250 million. Smith said at the time that the deal would enable Evergreen to pay off as much as $276 million of its $300 million in debt.

But debt continued to hound Evergreen, according to the Air Line Pilots Association, International. In August, the union cited unpaid judgments and debts to airline vendors, crew members and other employees.

“It’s hard to go to work, sometimes on the other side of the world, and not know if the airline will shut down or if you’re going to get paid for your services,” said Capt. James Touchette, the Evergreen union chairman, in a written statement at the time.

A union statement said then that a Yamhill County judge had granted judgments against the airline for overdue contributions to the pilots’ pension plans. Yet the company missed the first agreed payment of $744,651 in May and the second payment of $680,359 in August, the union said.

Crew members experienced late paychecks, delays in their voluntary 401(k) contributions and denials of company credit cards at foreign hotels, the union said.

“We are alarmed that Evergreen has so much debt and isn’t taking the necessary steps to pay it off and get back on track to keep the airline afloat,” Touchette said in his August statement. “We have to ask, ‘Will the airline survive?’”

Other airlines are consolidating their cargo operations. Two weeks ago, Asiana Cargo airlines suspended a four-day-a-week cargo service it had operated for two years between Portland and Inchon, South Korea. The airline moved the operation to Seattle, where it also operates passenger planes.

“We still think there’s an opportunity for freighter service” to replace Asiana, said David Zielke, Port of Portland general manager of air service development. “We’re currently evaluating those options.”
As for Evergreen, it has endured near-death experiences before. 

In 1994 as investors unloaded Evergreen junk bonds, Smith held tight to the debt-ridden company he founded in 1960, bucking the advice of his lawyers to seek reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code. 

Losses continued through 1996, but by 1997 the company achieved a $21.2 million profit. In 1998, the airline added service from Indonesia to New York via Columbus, Ohio. Revenues rose despite the Asian financial crisis, enabling Smith to open the aviation museum in 2000.

Eleven years later he opened the 70,000-square-foot water park. The attraction has become a local landmark, with a giant Evergreen B747-100 aircraft perched on the roof.

Story and Comments/Reaction:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Central Washington University seeks new flight contractor to continue aviation program

Central Washington University has issued a request for information from flight school contractors about providing flight instruction for the school’s aviation program.

CWU faculty, through the aviation program, teach in the classroom, but contractor Midstate Aviation has provided the flight training at Bowers Field for many years.

Midstate chose not to renew its contract, and Central cited issues surrounding university control over curriculum and flight instructors as the stumbling block during negotiations. The contract expires in August.

Midstate owner Ron Mitchell previously declined to comment on negotiations, and wished the program continued success in a written statement.

Messages left Thursday for Mitchell were not immediately returned.

FAA rules

New Federal Aviation Administration rules require pilots to have more flight time to fly passenger and cargo airlines — 1,500 hours — but allow 1,000 hours for graduates of accredited four-year aviation programs, according to the release.

Before the FAA passed the rule, CWU’s aviation program had not been accredited, and the request for information requires a new contractor be an FAA-approved flight school and provide certified flight instructors who hold bachelor’s degrees.

Traditional pilot training doesn’t require instructors have academic degrees, but accreditation for a four-year degree granting program does.

Contractors also must ensure curriculum is approved by CWU. Both elements — requirements for instructors and curriculum control — are necessary to meet the requirements of CWU’s accrediting agency.

After fielding information from contractors, CWU will put out a request for proposals, soliciting offers for the contract, CWU Public Affairs Director Linda Schactler said.The request for information cites a preference for instruction to occur at Bowers Field to keep it convenient for students and to keep Bowers Field active.

Central said the program’s 95 students fly nearly 6,800 hours per year, and account for about 80 percent of the takeoffs and landings at the airport.

“Bowers Field is an important asset to the economic profile of Kittitas County in general, and Ellensburg in particular,” CWU President James Gaudino said in the release.

He said Central already has been contacted for more information by regional flight training providers.

“We will continue to provide excellent flight training for our students, and I do hope it can be at Bowers Field. But there are many facilities and contractors in the state that can provide this service,” he said.

Demand for pilots is expected to increase, with half a million more commercial pilot jobs over the next 20 years, said Amy Hoover, the chairwoman of the Department of Aviation, in the release.

The new flight hour requirements are six times what they had been, she said, which will add to the time and money it takes to become a pilot, and other new rules for pilot rest schedules will require some airlines to increase their pilot workforce by 5 percent.

Central has direct hire agreements with Horizon Air, American Eagle, and Pinnacle Airlines, Hoover said.

County sues to evict Oxford Aviation

PARIS — Oxford County is attempting to evict Oxford Aviation from Oxford County Regional Airport, accusing the company of violating multiple terms of its lease.

In a complaint filed in 11th District Court on Oct. 29, the county claims Oxford Aviation breached its lease obligations and demands judgment for possession of the property, which is off Number Six Road in Oxford.

According to the county, Oxford Aviation violated 11 terms of the lease it signed with county commissioners less than a year ago, following a three-year negotiation. The lease expires in 2027.

The company, which refurbishes and repaints aircraft, rents the 40,000-square-foot property, including hangars, shop, pilot lounge, classroom and offices. It was founded April 1, 1989, by owner and President James L. Horowitz and has a staff of 60, according to its website. It has always operated at the airport.

According to the lease, Oxford Aviation does not pay rent to the county but is responsible for the cost for maintaining the facilities it leases at the airport and for submitting quarterly maintenance records to the county commissioners.

In an answer to the complaint filed in the court Wednesday, Oxford Aviation denied it breached the terms of the agreement.

A hearing is scheduled in 11th District Court on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

An attempt to reach Horowitz on Thursday was unsuccessful.

On Sept. 23, sheriff's deputies served Oxford Aviation with a letter from County Administrator Scott Cole listing seven separate lease violations by the company and giving notice that the county intended to begin eviction proceedings.

The letter claims Oxford Aviation did not inform the county when its repair license was suspended by the Federal Aviation Administration in June, failed to conduct airport maintenance in accordance with FAA standards, did not provide quarterly maintenance reports from April to July 2013, and failed to give the county proof of insurance, among other violations of the lease.

According to the complaint, Oxford Aviation failed to respond to the initial notice, which was followed with another notice on Oct. 11, listing more alleged lease violations.

The October letter alleges the company failed to submit fees, maintain prices for parts, fuel and other services, failed and refused to advertise the availability of flight training and instruction and did not appropriately promote the county's airport facilities.

Reached on Thursday, Cole said the lease gives the company 90 days to correct any violations, but in this case it may be considered an "incurable" default.

"You can't unring the bell," Cole said.

This is the third lawsuit filed against Oxford Aviation in recent months. An Ohio couple is seeking more than $674,000 in damages in a case filed in August in which the company failed to properly reattach part of the tail of their plane, causing them to crash-land in Colorado in May.

In September, Community Concepts Finance Corp. sued the company for allegedly defaulting on a $62,500 loan made in 1996. CCFC is asking to take possession of collateral the company put up for the loan. A discovery deadline in that case is set for January.


Left Seat West closes its doors at Glendale Municipal Airport (KGEU), Arizona

 Photo courtesy Glendale Municipal Airport 

No more seating:   Left Seat West closed its doors Oct. 31.

For the tenth time since the late 1980s, the Left Seat West restaurant at the Glendale Municipal Airport is empty after the husband and wife team running it closed the doors Oct. 31.

The restaurant was most recently run by Ron and Karen Zamenski, who decided to close after weeks of slow business.

“The main reason (for the closure) was the lack of patronization,” said Glendale Airport Administrator Walt Fix. “It all boiled down to there weren’t enough customers and the costs were out pacing the income.”

The airport, located off Glendale Avenue on Glen Harbor Boulevard, is in an industrial park west of Loop 101. It sits eight miles from Westgate and was hurt by the lack of businesses in the business park.

“The restaurant is located almost a mile off Glendale Ave., and airport restaurants rely on tenant and pilots, but in a bigger sense the general public and customers that come in,” Fix said. “We don’t have a lot of business around us and it is tough for people to stop in for their lunch hour or before work.”

The Zamenskis opened the restaurant in January 2012, after closing their restaurant that was at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for seven years after a lease dispute.

They were told of the slow traffic at the airport, but were eager to try and make it work.

“It is just tough because of the location and the fact that the traffic at the airport is not what it was at (PIX),” Fix said. “It is tough to get regular customers on a daily basis to serve regular restaurant food at a price to make it go.”

Fix said the future of the restaurant location will depend on a few aspects that will be determined over some time.

“It was built for a restaurant and that infrastructure was built with city equipment,” he said. “The layout is for a restaurant, but we are going to take a breather and take a look at maybe, with more expertise, trying to get a more lasting prospect for that site.”

Fix said there have been inquiries, mostly from people wondering what happened to the restaurant, but no possible replacements. He also said that one possible replacement for the restaurant could be turning it into offices, but the airport will wait before making any decisions.


Pilot and Passenger that crashed plane sentenced to 2 years in federal prison: Yoakum County Airport (F98), Plains, Texas

Provided by The United States Attorney's Office

A pilot and his passenger, who belly landed their Beechcraft plane at the Yoakum County Airport on April 30, 2013, and subsequently admitted possessing with the intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana, were sentenced this morning in federal court in Lubbock, Texas. Pilot Gregory Thomas, 50, of Sacramento, California, and his passenger, Dorothea Cangelosi, 66, of Waller, Texas, were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings to 24 months in federal prison. Today's announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. SaldaƱa of the Northern District of Texas.

According to plea documents filed in the case, on April 30, 2013, deputies with the Yoakum County Sheriff's Department (YCSD) responded to a plane crash at the Yoakum County Airport, in Plains, Texas. When they arrived, they observed a Beechcraft Bonanza A36 plane that had belly landed in a field approximately 50 yards past the end of the runway.

On April 29, 2013, the day before the crash, Cangelosi flew a commercial airline from Houston, Texas, to Sacramento, California, where she met up with Thomas, a charter pilot, who was paid approximately $5,000 cash to fly her from Sacramento back to Houston. They left Sacramento during the early morning hours of April 30, 2013, and in route to Houston, landed in Plains to refuel. After fueling, the plane encountered engine problems when attempting to take off and crashed.

The YCSD received a 911 call from an individual who reported seeing a female with bags by a road that runs parallel to the airport. Later, deputies located four large canvas duffel bags that were hidden next to a bush more than 100 yards from the crash site. A YCSD drug-detector dog alerted on the bags for the presence of drugs and deputies discovered 151 individual packages of marijuana, with a total weight of 72.8 kilograms or 160 pounds. The drug-detector dog also alerted to the presence of drugs inside the plane.

Thomas admits that after the plane crashed, he and Cangelosi retrieved the duffel bags from the plane's passenger compartment and hid them more than 100 yards away, across two barbed-wire fences and a road, from the plane. Cangelosi admitted that Thomas carried most of the bags and threw some of them over the fence. They both admitted that they had intended to distribute the marijuana to other individuals in Houston.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the YCSD and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Cunningham prosecuted.


Eurocopter EC 130 (AS 350 B4), Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, N11QV: Accident occurred November 10, 2011 in Pukoo, Hawaii

NTSB Identification: WPR12MA034
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Thursday, November 10, 2011 in Pukoo, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/23/2014
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER EC 130 B4, registration: N11QV
Injuries: 5 Fatal.
NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

***This report was modified on July 25, 2014. Please see the docket for this accident to view the original report.***

The helicopter impacted terrain during a sightseeing flight scheduled to fly from the island of Maui to the island of Molokai and return. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure airport; however, scattered rain showers and low clouds were forecast and reported along the helicopter's route of flight. When the accident occurred, the helicopter was flying over mountainous terrain and likely traversing down one of several ridges leading from Molokai's central peaks toward the lower terrain near the shoreline in marginal weather conditions. 

Several witnesses reported that the accident occurred between rain squalls, and one witness reported that it occurred during a heavy rain squall. All of the witnesses reported that heavy localized rain showers with strong gusting wind conditions existed around the time of the accident. Two witnesses reported that their attention was drawn to the helicopter when they heard a "whoop whooping" sound. One of these witnesses observed the helicopter descending from the ridgeline, and the other witness, who was closest to, and had the clearest view of, the accident helicopter, reported that the helicopter went "straight down" and impacted the ground.

The debris field leading up to the main wreckage was about 1,330 feet long and consisted mostly of pieces from the fenestron, which is a shrouded tail rotor, indicating that the fenestron separated from the helicopter before the main wreckage impacted the ground. The remainder of the helicopter was accounted for at the main wreckage site except for the outboard portion of the right horizontal stabilizer, which was not identified in any of the recovered wreckage. 

A detailed examination of the wreckage indicated that the accident sequence of events likely began when the pilot failed to maintain sufficient terrain clearance, and the horizontal stabilizer and lower forward portion of the fenestron impacted vegetation and/or terrain. The upward and aft loading at the horizontal stabilizer, more pronounced on the right side, sheared the right attachment fittings, which allowed the right side of the stabilizer to travel aft. The combined loading from the horizontal stabilizer and the fenestron's impact with vegetation and/or terrain caused the stress in the forward flange of the junction frame to exceed its ultimate design strength. The forward flange of the junction frame fractured, which allowed the fenestron to separate from the tailboom. The torque input from the tail rotor drive shaft caused the separated fenestron to rotate counter-clockwise, which drove the lower portion of the fenestron into the main rotor disc, where it was impacted at least three times on the left side. After the fenestron separated from the tailboom, the helicopter lost yaw control, and its center of gravity shifted forward, which caused it to become uncontrollable and, subsequently, descend to the ground.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from mountainous terrain while operating in marginal weather conditions, which resulted in the impact of the horizontal stabilizer and lower forward portion of the fenestron with ground and/or vegetation and led to the separation of the fenestron and the pilot's subsequent inability to maintain control. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to operate into an area surrounded by rising terrain, low and possibly descending cloud bases, rain showers, and high wind.

***This report was modified on July 25, 2014. Please see the docket for this accident to view the original report.***


On November 10, 2011, about 1214 Hawaiian standard time, a Eurocopter EC130 B4 helicopter, N11QV, collided with mountainous terrain near Pukoo, Hawaii, on the island of Molokai. The commercial pilot and four passengers were fatally injured. The helicopter was registered to Nevada Helicopters Leasing, Henderson, Nevada, and operated by Helicopter Consultants of Maui, Inc., dba Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. The flight was operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) sightseeing flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of departure, and company flight-following procedures were in effect. The flight originated from the Kahului Airport, Kahului, Hawaii, on the island of Maui, about 1144.

The flight departed with four passengers aboard for a scheduled 1 hour and 10 minute roundtrip sightseeing flight. The planned route of flight was to fly north-northwest from the Kahului Airport to the northern tip of Maui before proceeding northwesterly across the waterway between Maui and Molokai. The flight was to proceed to the northeastern shore of Molokai to view the Halawa Valley Waterfall, before continuing westbound along the sea cliffs on the northern shore to view Papalaua Falls. If the weather permitted, the flight was to continue into the Wailau Valley and climb up and over the valley wall to the southern side of Molokai. If weather conditions would not allow the pilot to use the Wailau Valley route, an alternate route was to reverse course and fly back eastbound along the northern shoreline, and then proceed around the eastern tip of the island to the south side. 

Pilots of other air tour helicopters in the vicinity of Molokai during the timeframe of the accident reported that overall weather conditions would not have allowed the accident pilot to fly through Wailau Valley. Additionally, they reported seeing the accident helicopter and/or talking with the accident pilot at various times and locations throughout the flight. These locations were near the Papalaua Waterfalls, the Halawa Valley Waterfall, and along the southern side of Molokai. 

The last pilot to observe the accident helicopter reported seeing it flying westbound above the mountainous terrain on the southern side of Molokai, just below the cloud ceiling, which he reported was about 2,000 feet mean sea level (msl). He stated that the accident helicopter appeared to be in straight and level flight and did not appear to be in any form of distress. For information about the weather conditions reported by this pilot, see the Meteorological Conditions section of this report.

Ground witnesses reported that their attention was drawn to the helicopter when they heard some form of "woop wooping" sound. One witness observed the helicopter descending from the island's central ridgeline; he reported that he observed pieces falling from the helicopter as it descended. Another witness, who was closest and had the clearest view of the accident helicopter, reported that the helicopter went "straight down" and impacted the ground sideways. Other witnesses reported that they observed a large "fire ball" when the helicopter impacted the ground.

The ground witnesses reported rain showers in the area during the timeframe of the accident. Several witnesses reported that the accident occurred between rain "squalls," and one reported that it occurred during a heavy rain "squall." Most witnesses interviewed described the weather conditions at the time of the accident as "poor." 


The pilot, age 30, held a commercial pilot certificate with a rotorcraft helicopter rating and a helicopter instrument rating. He also held a certified flight instructor certificate with a rotorcraft helicopter rating. In addition, he held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and multi-engine land ratings. His most recent second-class medical certificate was issued on March 14, 2011, with the limitation that he must possess corrective lenses for near and intermediate vision. 

Company personnel reported that the pilot's previous helicopter flight experience was gained as a pilot flying Bell 407 and 206B series helicopters for Bristow International Helicopters in the Gulf of Mexico. During his employment with Bristow International, he accrued about 3,300 flight hours; his last flight with Bristow International occurred on June 22, 2011.

The pilot was hired by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters on July 1, 2011; at that time, the pilot had no flight time in an EC130 B4 helicopter and a total helicopter flight time of about 4,500 hours. 

On July 10, 2011, the pilot completed initial company training, which included EC130 B4 pilot ground and flight training, and he was subsequently assigned to fly EC130 B4 helicopters at the company's base on Maui. While employed with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, the pilot accrued about 306 flight hours in EC130 B4 helicopters. On November 9 (the day before the accident), he completed a 14 CFR Part 135.293/299 airman competency check ride, which was administered by the FAA's principal operations inspector (POI) for Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. The check ride included instrument navigation and communications procedures, inadvertent IMC procedures, and unusual attitude recovery. According to the POI, the accident pilot was capable and current in all of his required pilot tasks and training.

The pilot was off duty on November 7 and 8. On November 9, his duty day started at 0700 and ended at 1700, and the only flight time accrued that day was 1.2 hours on the Part 135 check ride.

On the day of the accident, the pilot arrived at the company office about 0730, which was indicated by other company pilots as his typical arrival time. After checking the weather, he completed a preflight inspection on the assigned helicopter and then waited for his first passengers of the day to arrive. The pilot subsequently completed two sightseeing flights without incident. 

The accident flight was the pilot's third flight of the day. 

Additional pilot/operational information can be found in the Operations/Witness Factual Report located in the public docket for this accident case file. 


The Eurocopter EC130 B4 is an 8-place single-engine helicopter powered by a Turbomeca Arriel 2B1 turboshaft engine, rated to 730 shaft horsepower and equipped with a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) unit. The helicopter has a three-bladed main rotor and a shrouded tail rotor, which is called a Fenestron. The Fenestron is a composite shell structure with the tail rotor mounted in the inner duct.

The accident helicopter, S/N 4909, was manufactured in France in 2010. According to the FAA registry, the aircraft received an FAA certificate of airworthiness on March 2, 2010. It was registered as N11QV on April 16, 2010. 

The helicopter was equipped with a Garmin G500H electronic flight display system. The G500H is an electronic flight information system that utilizes the primary flight display (PFD), multi-function display (MFD), air data computer (ADC) and attitude heading reference system (AHRS). The G500H system installed on N11QV included the optional Garmin Terrain - Helicopter Synthetic Vision Technology (HSVT) system. HSVT is primarily comprised of a computer generated, forward looking, attitude aligned view of the topography immediately in front of the aircraft from the pilot's perspective. The HSVT is shown on the pilot's PFD and offers a 3-dimensional view of terrain and obstacles with visual and audio alerts for terrain or obstacles supplied to the pilot. The system provides the pilot with real-time 3-dimensional moving-map graphics, terrain features, chart data, navigation aids, and flight plan routings; the system has the capability to identify threats, such as towers and terrain features. The PFD also depicted, in part, attitude, airspeed, vertical speed, climb rate, and course/heading information.

The helicopter was maintained in accordance with an FAA Approved Aircraft Inspection Program (AAIP). The most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on November 8, 2011, at 2431.4 hours total time since new (TTSN). During this 100-hour inspection, Eurocopter Emergency Alert Service Bulletin # 53A019 (Check of the tail boom / Fenestron junction frame for cracks) was complied with, and no defects were noted.

At the time the helicopter departed for the accident flight, it had accrued 2,439.6 hours TTSN. Based on an estimated time of 0.5 hours accrued during the accident flight, the aircraft TTSN at the time of the accident was about 2,440.1. 

The helicopter did not have, and was not required to have, a cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder.

The helicopter was equipped with a multi-camera digital video and audio recording system that was installed by the operator under an FAA field approval. The system incorporated three externally mounted color cameras and one internally mounted "lipstick" camera that recorded to onboard digital optic disc recorders. Camera selection was controlled by the pilot via a 4-way switch located on the cyclic. The recordings were provided to passengers for entertainment purposes after flightseeing tours. In addition, the recordings were reviewed by the operator for the purpose of operational quality control. The camera recording system were not hardened or designed to be crash resistant. The video data captured by this system was consumed by post-crash fire and therefore not available to the investigation team. 

The helicopter was configured with seven passenger seats and one pilot seat (eight total) arranged in two rows of four; the pilot always occupied the left outboard front seat. According to the Blue Hawaiian Helicopters pre-departure load manifest, the two front seat passengers occupied the right inboard and outboard seats, and the two aft seat passengers occupied the two outboard (window) seats. The load manifest indicated that the helicopter's fuel load at takeoff was 435 pounds (64 gallons), and the helicopter was loaded within weight and balance limits.


The last pilot to see the accident helicopter reported that throughout the morning, the weather conditions were continually deteriorating with a strong northeasterly wind and fast moving rain squalls. The pilot stated that when he had flown in the accident area earlier that day, he had experienced many updrafts, downdrafts, and microbursts, to the point that it scared him. He further reported that the visibility was "great" below the clouds and out of the heavy rain. The pilot reported that he departed Maui about 1130-1135 and was conducting a sightseeing flight around Molokai at the time of the accident. He estimated that during the flight, the cloud bases around the island were about 2,000 to 2,100 feet msl. His route of flight was southbound along the eastern side of the island and then westbound along the southern shore, where he experienced a "little bit of a bumpy ride." As noted previously, while flying along the south side of the island, he briefly observed the accident helicopter flying westbound along the south side of the island's central mountain ridges just below the clouds. 

Kapalua Airport (PHJH) in Lahaina, Hawaii, was located about 11 miles to the southeast of the accident site at an elevation of 256 feet, and was equipped with an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS). The following observations were recorded on November 10, 2011:

At 1150, PHJH reported wind from 070 degrees at 12 knots gusting to 20 knots, visibility of 7 miles, light rain showers, scattered clouds at 2,500 feet, ceiling broken at 4,000 feet, temperature 23 degrees Celsius(C), dew point temperature 19 degrees C, altimeter setting 30.00 inches of mercury. Remarks: visibility lower to the north.

At 1250, PHJH reported wind from 050 degrees at 17 knots gusting to 23 knots, visibility of 12 miles, showers in the vicinity, few clouds at 1,200 feet, scattered clouds at 2,500 feet, ceiling broken at 4,000 feet, temperature 23 degrees C, dew point temperature 19 degrees C, altimeter setting 30.04 inches of mercury. Remarks: showers in the vicinity to the north, southeast and west.

Molokai Airport (PHMK) in Kaunakakai, Hawaii, was located about 15 miles to the west-northwest of the accident site at an elevation of 454 feet, and was equipped with an Automated Surface Observing Station (ASOS). The following observations were recorded on November 10, 2011:

At 1154, PHMK reported wind from 040 degrees at 17 knots gusting to 27 knots, visibility of 8 miles, scattered clouds at 2,600 feet, scattered clouds at 3,100 feet, ceiling broken at 4,500 feet, temperature 24 degrees C, dew point temperature 19 degrees C, altimeter setting 30.08 inches of mercury.

At 1232, PHMK reported wind from 030 degrees at 12 knots gusting to 24 knots, visibility of 4 miles with haze, scattered clouds at 2,400 feet, ceiling broken at 2,900 feet, broken clouds at 5,000 feet, temperature 23 degrees C, dew point temperature 20 degrees C, altimeter setting 30.07 inches of mercury. 

An Area Forecast that included the Molokai area was issued at 0535 and was valid until 1800. It advised of a surface wind from the east-northeast with a magnitude of 25-30 knots over mountain ridges and through valleys. In addition, for the north through east sections of mountainous areas, as well as the waters adjacent to Molokai, the following conditions were forecasted: scattered clouds at 2,500 feet, ceiling broken at 4,500 feet, cloud tops to 9,000 feet; temporary conditions: ceiling broken at 2,000 feet and visibility 3 to 5 miles with rain showers and mist; isolated conditions: ceiling broken at 1,500 feet with cloud tops to 12,000 feet, visibility at or below 3 miles, heavy rain showers and mist.

An updated Area Forecast that included the Molokai area was issued at 1140 and was valid until 0000 on November 11, 2011. It advised of a surface wind from the east-northeast with a magnitude of 25-30 knots over mountain ridges and through valleys. In addition, for the north through east sections of mountainous areas, as well as the waters adjacent to Molokai, the following conditions were forecasted: scattered clouds at 2,500 feet, ceiling broken at 4,500 feet, cloud tops to 9,000 feet; temporary conditions of ceiling broken at 2,000 feet and visibility 3 to 5 miles with rain showers and mist; isolated conditions of ceiling broken at 1,500 feet with cloud tops to 12,000 feet, visibility at or below 3 miles, heavy rain showers and mist.

An AIRMET TANGO for temporary moderate turbulence below 10,000 feet was issued at 0530 for areas over and immediately south through west of mountains on all Hawaiian Islands. An updated AIRMET TANGO for temporary moderate turbulence below 10,000 feet was issued at 1145 for areas over and immediately south through west of mountains on all Hawaiian Islands. 

At 0736, a weather briefing was provided to the pilot by Lockheed Martin Flight Service. The weather briefing included the 0530 AIRMET TANGO and the 0535 Area Forecast. 

Additional weather information can be found in the Meteorology Factual Report located in the public docket. 


The pilot was not in radio contact with air traffic control, and no distress calls were heard by other pilots during the timeframe of the accident. 


The helicopter impacted mountainous terrain about 5 miles west of Pukoo, Hawaii. It came to rest on the apex of a north-south oriented ridgeline bordered by heavy vegetation that primarily consisted of thorny trees. The ridgeline was one of several in the area that led from the higher elevations of Molokai's central peaks south toward lower elevations near the shore. The elevation at the main wreckage was about 530 feet msl, and the terrain angle varied between 25-30 degrees.

The overall wreckage debris field measured approximately 1,330 feet in length. The lower main wreckage debris field (from upper Fenestron to burn area) encompassed an area approximately 400 feet in length (northwest to southeast). The main wreckage came to rest inverted on a heading of about 260 degrees and was located in the confines of a large burn area. A majority of the wreckage was located in the immediate area of the main wreckage and was mostly consumed by postimpact fire. (Fire extinguishing efforts were attempted; however, fire personnel were unable to immediately access the accident site with fire equipment due to the steep mountainous terrain.) 

A number of aircraft components including pieces of the Fenestron, a main rotor blade trim tab, Fenestron rotor and gearbox, and the aft vertical flanges of the aft junction frame were located outside the area of the main wreckage. A detailed wreckage diagram is located in the public docket for this case file.

Cockpit/Cabin and Flight Controls

The cockpit/cabin and instrument panel came to rest inverted and were consumed by post impact fire. The pilot's collective and cyclic controls were identified in the main wreckage; however, flight control continuity could not be confirmed due to fire and impact damage. The swashplate, control servos, mixing unit, control torque tubes and associated bell cranks were located in the wreckage but had sustained extensive impact and thermal damage. 

Main Gearbox (MGB)

The MGB assembly sustained extensive impact and thermal related damage. The main rotor shaft remained coupled to the MGB and the main rotor assembly. The magnesium MGB casing was consumed by postimpact fire. All MGB transmission gears appeared to be in place, and no preimpact anomalies were noted. The engine side coupling flange remained attached to the engine output flange. Small fragments of the forward flex coupling were found near the main rotor hub. The flange ear bolt holes exhibited some elongation in the drive direction. The input pinion, rotor brake, and input flange separated and were found adjacent to the MGB assembly. 

Main Rotor System

The main rotor hub exhibited impact and thermal damage. All three main rotor blades remained attached to the hub. The main rotor blades and respective components were not identifiable by color coding due to the thermal damage; therefore, the blades and corresponding components were labeled as "A", "B", and "C". The main rotor blades exhibited overall thermal damage (with less thermal damage observed on blade C). All blades exhibited leading edge impact damage, especially toward the outboard tips of the blades. 

Tail Boom and Horizontal Stabilizer 

The tail boom was located in the confines of the main burn area with the main wreckage. The aft section of the tail boom was mostly intact, but damaged from the aft end of the battery door to the aft junction frame. The aft section of the tail boom was displaced to the right, and the horizontal stabilizer as a whole was rotated counter-clockwise (as viewed looking down). The spar and spar strap on the left side of the horizontal stabilizer were deformed aft and up, and the trailing edge exhibited compression buckling. The left side of the horizontal stabilizer appeared to have been essentially intact before the postcrash fire. The inboard portion of the left side of the stabilizer was deformed up, but there was no obvious evidence of impact to any of the remaining portion on the left side. The outboard section on the right side of the horizontal stabilizer was separated. The remaining portion on the right side, including the main spar carry-through, the inboard leading edge, and a small amount of inboard trailing edge structure, was still attached to the tail boom assembly. The leading edge on the right side was deformed up and aft and crushed around the spar; the right outboard end of the spar was deformed aft and twisted leading edge down. The spar and upper spar strap on the right side were buckled just outboard of the attach point, and the inboard trailing edge was buckled.

Junction Frame

The forward flange of the aft junction frame was fractured circumferentially and remained attached to the tail boom. (For a detailed description of this fracture surface see the Metallurgical Examination section of this report and the Materials Laboratory report in the public docket.) The aft portion of the fractured junction frame including the vertical and aft flanges, with a small section of Fenestron structure attached to it, was recovered about 482 feet northwest of the main wreckage.


Sections of the Fenestron were found in multiple locations northwest of the main wreckage. The Fenestron gearbox was located about 80 feet north of the main wreckage. A large section of the upper Fenestron structure (approximately 10 o'clock to 4 o'clock when viewed from the left) was located about 398 feet northwest of the main wreckage. Two pieces of the lower Fenestron structure were recovered northwest of the main wreckage; one included the aft portion of the ventral fin and the other included the forward portion of the ventral fin. The piece that included the forward portion of the ventral fin had green plant debris and twigs lodged between the skin and the flange of the ventral fin in the area above the stinger attach point. The tail stinger was located in line with the debris path about 537 feet northwest of the main wreckage; the stinger attach bracket was located about 864 feet northwest of the main wreckage. 

Tail Rotor Drive System 

Pieces of the center tail rotor shaft with hanger bearings were found within the main wreckage burn area. The forward and aft tail rotor drive shafts were broken into several pieces, but were identified in the general area of the main wreckage.

Landing Gear

The landing gear came to rest inverted on top of the main wreckage. The aft cross tube was compressed near the aft attach point. The right aft skid extension was bent in a downward direction.

Hydraulic System

The hydraulic system was severely damaged by the postimpact fire. The belt-driven hydraulic pump assembly and transmission driven pump assembly were found separated near the main transmission. One main rotor servo was still attached at the upper and lower attachment points, and the other two servos were separated at one or more attach points. 

Fuel System

The fuel system was consumed by the postimpact fire.


The engine was found resting in a forward-down orientation with the forward section of the axial compressor in the dirt. The axial compressor blade tips were curled. The power turbine was only partially visible, and no blade shedding had occurred on the visible portion. The power turbine could not be rotated by hand. The hydro mechanical unit (HMU) was broken away from the accessory gearbox, but remained attached by the fuel heating transfer tubes. The HMU short shaft was broken off flush with the associated mounting flange. The gas generator turbine casing was dented and deformed. 

A majority of the engine accessories and the digital engine control unit (DECU) were consumed by the postimpact fire.

The reduction gearbox was removed and continuity through the gear train was confirmed. The input pinion slippage mark was misaligned approximately 2 millimeters in the tightening direction, consistent with a blade strike with power condition. The freewheel shaft was partially removed and showed twist in the clockwise direction, consistent with sudden tail rotor stoppage with power. 


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on November 14, 2011, by Pan Pacific Pathologists, Wailuku, Hawaii. 

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



The Turbomeca Arriel 2B1 turboshaft engine (serial no. 23067) was removed from the helicopter and shipped to Turbomeca's Grand Prairie, Texas, facility for disassembly and examination. 

The disassembly and examination revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Additional information can be found in the engine examination report located in the public docket for this accident case file.

Fenestron, Tail Boom, and Horizontal Stabilizer

Pieces of the Fenestron, tail boom, and horizontal stabilizer were shipped to NTSB facilities in Ashburn, Virginia, and Washington, DC, for additional examination.

The tail boom is a simple stiffened tubular (semi-monocoque) structure that is attached to the fuselage. A drawing of the aft end of the tail boom is shown in Figure A, which is located in the public docket for this accident case file. The fasteners and horizontal stabilizer have been omitted for clarity. The Fenestron is attached to the aft end of the tail boom by a junction frame (shown in green on the right side of Figure A) that is riveted to the aluminum tail boom structure and to the composite Fenestron structure. The junction frame has three flanges: the forward flange, aft flange and vertical flange. There is a ring frame installed forward of the horizontal stabilizer (shown in green on the left side of Figure A). There are four longerons (shown in purple in Figure A), two on each side, installed between the forward ring frame and the aft junction frame. The horizontal stabilizer is a single piece unit that is installed through the tail boom and attached to the tail boom by two vertical attachment bolts (shown in red in Figure A). The upper and lower horizontal stabilizer attach fittings (shown in orange in Figure A) are attached to the longerons on each side of the tail boom. A shim plate is installed on each stabilizer fitting with two countersunk screws (shown in blue in Figure A). The horizontal stabilizer attachment bolts pass through the shim plates and the horizontal stabilizer spar attaching the horizontal stabilizer to the tail boom. Forward of the ring frame, the tail boom is of typical skin/frame/stringer construction with six internal stringers spaced unevenly around the circumference between the ring frame and the battery door cutout.

The helicopter's tail boom transmits the Fenestron and horizontal stabilizer loads and moments to the fuselage. The loads and moments generated by the Fenestron are transmitted into the tail boom through the aft junction frame. The loads and moments generated by the horizontal stabilizer are transmitted to the tail boom through the attachment hardware (bolts, shim plates, shim screws, and attach fittings) to the four longerons installed between the forward ring frame and the aft junction frame. The four longerons together act to distribute the various stresses from the Fenestron and horizontal stabilizer to the tail boom structure, forward of the ring frame.

The examination of the Fenestron wreckage revealed that several areas exhibited angled cuts and/or deformation of the composite and aluminum structure, rotor blades, stators, and the tail rotor drive shaft. All of the fractures and damage were mapped on an exemplar helicopter using colored adhesive tape. This procedure revealed that there were three distinct cuts through the lower portion of the Fenestron. One cut was located just aft of the junction frame, one was located at the midpoint of the tail guard, and one was located near the aft edge of the duct. The location, spacing, and deformation of the cuts in the composite and aluminum structure, rotor blades, stators, and the tail rotor drive shaft were consistent with the main rotor blades striking the lower Fenestron three times on the left side (rotor blades rotate clockwise as viewed from above).

The aft portion of the tail boom with attached remnants of the horizontal stabilizer was cut from the wreckage for further examination. The upper portion of the tail boom exhibited buckling damage to the structure just forward of the ring frame. The location was immediately forward of where the four longerons attach to the ring frame and extended clockwise from about 10 o'clock to about 2 o'clock as viewed looking forward. There was also buckling damage from about 2 o'clock to about 6 o'clock as viewed looking forward that corresponded to the location where the right horizontal stabilizer was displaced forward. 

The two horizontal stabilizer attach bolts were disassembled and removed, and the stabilizer was extracted from the tail boom; the upper steel spar straps remained fastened to the spar on both the left and right sides. On the left side, the spar and skin structure was deformed aft and exhibited moderate to heavy fire damage. On the right side, the spar was intact from the attach point out to the production end about 20 inches outboard of the attach point, and there was soil and wood debris embedded in the space between the spar and the spar strap on the aft side. The right side spar strap was buckled away from the spar; the outboard end of the right side spar was deformed aft and twisted leading edge down. The right side of the horizontal stabilizer leading edge structure remained attached to the spar from the attach point to about 15 inches outboard. It was deformed up and aft between about 6 inches and 11 inches outboard of the attach point and was crushed against the spar between about 11 inches and 15 inches outboard of the attach point. There were some small pieces of the upper and lower trailing edge skins attached to the inboard 14 inches of spar. The remaining trailing edge of the stabilizer on the right side exhibited buckling damage from the centerline outboard to the attach point. 

On the left side, the horizontal stabilizer attach fittings, attach bolt, shim, and shim screws were generally intact. On the right side, the screws in the upper and lower parts of the attach fitting were fractured in shear overstress. The direction of shear showed that the right side of the horizontal stabilizer had been moving aft when the screws fractured. The attach fitting had impressions consistent with multiple impacts from the right horizontal stabilizer attach bolt.

Metallurgical Examination

The circumferential fracture of the forward flange of the junction frame was examined in the NTSB Materials Laboratory. In general, the fracture surface showed relatively rough fracture features that were light gray in color. Multiple features including step patterns, branching patterns, and ridge patterns were used to determine fracture directions around the circumference of the fracture. 

The examination revealed that the fracture in the flange initiated near the 5 o'clock position (lower, right side looking forward) and progressed counter-clockwise up the right side and clockwise around the left side of the flange towards the top (12 o'clock) of the flange. The fracture features on the junction frame all exhibited ductile overstress signatures in tension, compression or shear. There were no indications of any pre-existing cracks that would reduce the strength of the fractured junction frame flange.


Blue Hawaiian Helicopters is a 14 CFR Part 135 air carrier and holds on-demand operations specifications. The company headquarters is located at the Kahului Airport, Kahului, with additional bases located in Hilo, Waikoloa, Honolulu, and Lihue, Hawaii. The chief executive officer, president, director of operations, and director of maintenance all reside in Kahului. The chief pilot and director of safety reside in Honolulu.

On April 17, 1987 (later revised on August 30, 1995), the FAA's Honolulu Flight Standards District Office issued Helicopter Consultants of Maui, Inc., dba Blue Hawaiian Helicopters of Kahului, air carrier certificate number HCMA601E, which permitted the operator to conduct on-demand air carrier operations in the United States. Pursuant to the certificate, the operator was authorized to carry passengers in Eurocopter AS350 and EC130 B4 series helicopters under day/night visual flight rules (VFR). Operations under instrument flight rules (IFR) were prohibited.


Based on the design of the EC130 B4 tail boom and Fenestron, and various accident or incident load cases, Eurocopter identified three critical areas of the tail boom that have experienced failures: 

Location 1, at the forward ring frame where the tail boom attaches to the fuselage, becomes critical under hard landing conditions. 

Location 2, at the battery door cutout, becomes critical for hard landings and tail skid impact conditions. 

Location 3, at the junction frame, becomes critical for horizontal stabilizer impact conditions.

Eurocopter provided NTSB investigators with numerous examples of failures at the forward ring frame (location 1) and battery door cutout (location 2) that occurred due to hard/crash landings well in excess of the certification load levels. 

According to Eurocopter, in addition to this accident, there have been four other accidents where the Fenestron separated from the tail boom at the junction frame during the accident sequence. Three of these cases involved a failure at the forward flange of the junction frame similar to the accident junction frame failure, and the fourth involved a failure at the aft flange of the junction frame. One case occurred during an in-flight collision with electrical power lines in the area of the horizontal stabilizer. The second case occurred during an uncontrolled crash landing in which the right horizontal stabilizer impacted a vehicle prior to ground impact. The third case occurred during controlled flight into terrain in which there was significant impact damage to the right horizontal stabilizer. The fourth case (failure of the aft flange) occurred during a hard landing with a significant tail skid impact. 

As a result of these cases, Eurocopter performed finite element stress analyses of the tail boom when subjected to loading at the ends of the horizontal stabilizer. The results indicated that loads can be applied at the end of one of the horizontal stabilizers that are below the stabilizer failure loads that cause stresses in the junction frame high enough to result in fracture of the forward flange as observed in the accident.

A tag from the Eurocopter EC130 B4 that crashed near Kilohana Elementary School.

HONOLULU (AP) — The widow of a pilot killed in a helicopter crash on Molokai in 2011 is suing the aircraft's manufacturer, saying defective design caused the crash that killed all five people aboard.

Violeta Escobar filed a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii this week against manufacturer European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. and the owner of the helicopter, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday ( ). The suit comes a few days before the statute of limitations expires on making a claim.

Escobar's husband, Nathan Cline, was the pilot for Blue Hawaiian Helicopters who died in the crash. The crash also killed four tourists: newlyweds Michael Abel and Nicole Abel of Pennsylvania, and Stuart Robertson and Eva Birgitta Wannersjo of Toronto.

Escobar claims in the lawsuit that that the companies should have known of manufacturing defects that could cause the structure and components of the Eurocopter EC-130 to fail without warning. But the lawsuit doesn't specify what was defective about the helicopter or the way it was built.

The Associated Press left messages for the manufacturer seeking comment.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not identified the cause of the crash or issued a final report. NTSB investigators have said a witness told them he saw "something black fall off" just before the helicopter crashed. He said the "tail fell."

Federal investigators have focused on the tail section, where a metal ring was fractured.

The NTSB has also said witnesses reported windy, rainy conditions with low, dark clouds.

Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser,
  NTSB Identification: WPR12MA034 
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Thursday, November 10, 2011 in Pukoo, HI
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER EC 130 B4, registration: N11QV
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 10, 2011, about 1214 Hawaiian standard time, a Eurocopter EC 130 B4, N11QV, collided with mountainous terrain near Pukoo (Island of Molokai), Hawaii. The commercial pilot and four passengers were fatally injured. The helicopter was registered to Nevada Helicopters Leasing, Henderson, Nevada, and operated by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Maui, Hawaii. The flight was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the local air tour flight. The flight originated from the Kahului Airport (PHOG), Kahului, Hawaii, about 1144.

Witnesses reported that their attention was drawn to the helicopter when they heard some form of “woop wooping” sound. One witness observed the helicopter descending from the ridgeline; he reported that he observed pieces falling from the helicopter as it descended. Another witness, who was closest and had the clearest view of the accident helicopter, reported that the helicopter went “straight down” and impacted the ground sideways.

All witnesses reported rain showers in the area during the time frame of the accident. Several witnesses reported that the accident occurred between rain “squalls” and one reported that it occurred during a heavy rain “squall.”