Thursday, November 07, 2013

Mooney M20R Ovation, N1006A: Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport (KFNL), Colorado

A small aircraft was wrecked in a crash-landing at Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport at 11:30 Thursday morning. No injuries were reported. 

Officials said part of the landing gear on the four-passenger Mooney plane broke, causing the plane to swerve off the runway. The only person onboard was the pilot, whom Loveland Fire Rescue Authority spokesman Jason Starck said was unharmed. No fire or hazardous debris was reported.

"It was a pretty benign accident," Starck said, adding that the plane is intact but likely totaled.

The airport's main runway was closed for about an hour while crews responded to the accident. 



How Airlines Mine Personal Data In-Flight: Flight Attendants Are Likely to Know What Fliers Will Buy on Board

The Wall Street Journal

By  Jack Nicas

Updated Nov. 7, 2013 8:23 p.m. ET

One day soon, frequent fliers should expect flight attendants to know their birthdays, how they like their coffee, and what they're likely to buy on board.

After years of dithering, airlines are learning to use the wealth of customer data they collect. Greater stability in an industry long roiled by bankruptcies is enabling carriers to invest in technology to personalize the flying experience and better target promotions. But the airlines sometimes struggle to do all that without making customers uncomfortable.

On some airlines, flight attendants armed with tablet computers will soon have far more data on fliers at their fingertips, including their allergies, seat preferences and whether the carrier lost both their bags last trip. Airlines' marketing pitches are also becoming more relevant, in part based on customers' online-browsing history, their likes on Facebook and their income.

"Data is key to almost everything we're doing," says Maya Leibman, chief technology and information officer at AMR Corp.'s  American Airlines. But with the push into data, she says, the carrier is learning to walk the line "between providing excellent customer service and suddenly becoming creepy."

Big Data is already a big deal in many industries, from retail to health care to banking. But few companies possess both voluminous customer information and the marketing opportunities—and risks—that come with unfettered access to customers in close quarters for long stretches.

American, for example, has prohibited its attendants from saving most data about fliers, such as what they ordered for breakfast, because of "a gut reaction" that it would violate fliers' privacy, Ms. Leibman says. As airlines use customers' data more, "there's a whole host of... social questions that need to be answered," she said.

Airlines have largely been stuck in the 1990s when it comes to knowing their customers, saddled with older technology systems structured to keep different sets of information—loyalty programs, operations, bookings—in separate silos. That has made it difficult, for instance, for an airline to notice and react if it habitually delays the flights of a particularly lucrative customer.

Some carriers, including American; British Airways; United Continental Holdings Inc.  and JetBlue Airways Corp., are now pouring the disparate data into unified digital warehouses and stitching together customers' information using unique identifiers, including frequent-flier numbers, email addresses and phone numbers.

The resulting customer profiles can be accessed by cabin crews on their new tablet computers or smartphones, which show seat maps with details on most fliers. That is a far cry from the paper flight manifests most airlines still use. Suddenly, flight attendants can know that the flier in seat 23B is a vegetarian and the couple behind him are on their honeymoon.

"We have a system that can tell you who the top five customers are in the cabin," says Dave O'Flanagan, chief executive of Boxever, which analyzes data for three airlines.

Thomas Davenport, a Babson College professor who has studied how airlines use data, says such systems will help carriers make strides in onboard revenue, an area where they have long missed the opportunity presented by bored, typically affluent buyers trapped in one place for several hours. "And the best they can do is SkyMall," he says, the kitschy catalog found on most U.S. passenger flights.

But not everyone is convinced investing in data is worth it. Jay Sorenson, president of airline-consulting firm IdeaWorks Co., said frequent fliers are more interested in seat upgrades than a flight attendant remembering their favorite cocktail. "It's more sizzle than meat," he said.

United is working on connecting its 3.5 petabytes of data—about the same amount as 45 years of high-definition video—while rebuilding its website, kiosks and mobile app to better use that data and capture more, said Jeffrey Foland, executive vice president of marketing, technology and strategy. Sales of United's economy-plus seats have surged since it started using data to target fliers who are more likely to buy them, he said. "The more we know about someone, the better."

Some sense of the potential for targeted in-flight sales is evident at Allegiant Travel Co., a small Las Vegas-based carrier that sells products on board based on a flight's destination. En route to Vegas, attendants pitch show tickets and helicopter tours over the public-address system. In the 2013 first half, Allegiant sold $21 million of third-party products, including almost 500,000 rental-car days.

JetBlue said it plans to provide Apple iPad minis to its cabin crews next year to increase onboard sales, in part by ensuring its planes are stocked with the products that fliers on a specific flight have a history of buying.

But some airlines have found that more data can result in a backlash.

Delta Air Lines Inc.  upset some customers this year when they discovered their personal information in obscure computer code on Delta's website, including their ages, estimated annual incomes and home values. While individuals had to be logged into their accounts to see their data, some were disturbed to learn the airline was collecting it. "I felt a little bit creeped out," said Nathan Eggen, a Seattle software executive who discussed the data on a frequent-flier forum. The information "was very accurate overall."

Delta said that "like other companies," it uses customers' demographic data to improve "how we communicate with them and design offers customized to their interests."

British Airways, , a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group PLC, was criticized recently in a U.K. newspaper after it said its employees were searching the Internet for images of frequent fliers in order to recognize and greet them personally. The airline, which has one of the most advanced data programs in the industry, said its employees no longer do that.

Airlines generally don't allow customers to opt out of the data programs. Several carriers said they have strict rules on how they use and protect customers' data internally. British Airways, for instance, said that if passengers ask a flight attendant not to personalize their service, notes would be added to their customer profiles to leave them alone, but the carrier would continue to collect their data.

In Australia, Qantas Airways Ltd.  asked a panel of frequent fliers what they thought of the carrier's efforts to use data to personalize customer service.

"Their overarching comment was 'I want you to know enough about me to make it useful, but I don't want you in my backyard,'" said Alison Webster, Qantas's head of international customer experience. "I do want you to know I like cappuccino," she quoted the fliers as telling Qantas, but "I don't want you to know that my dog's name is Sally."


Brainerd Lakes Regional (KBRD), Brainerd, Minnesota: Airport commission approves internship position

The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission voted unanimously to approve an airport internship position starting in the spring of 2014. The commission discussed the matter Tuesday at their regular monthly meeting.

The proposed position would be filled by a college student in an aviation/airport managerial program at a four-year university.

“We want to be able to provide our students an opportunity to work in airport management,” Wig said. “And Brainerd has a lot of advantages in being a place for an intern to get their feet wet.”

Wig sited Brainerd’s commercial service with Sky-West, size and number of aircraft as positive aspects of an internship at the airport.

“Plus, we are moving pretty pro-actively in areas of marketing and economic development,” he said. “There’s a lot of things we are trying to move forward with here and we could use another boot on the ground to make some of those things move forward in a more rapid fashion.”

The 120-day internship would start in the 2014 spring semester and include an hour-wage stipend that comes out to approximately $5,200. Wig said intern projects might include developing of minimum standards for incoming businesses, creating airport policies, and performance tracking.

Wig said he is comfortable working with student interns because of his previous work at Central Lakes College.

“I’ve directed numerous students on projects,” Wig said. “Properly pointed in the right direction they can cover a lot of ground for you.”

Commissioner Beth Pfingsten added that her own daughter recently completed an airport management internship in Atlanta, Ga.

“I’m an advocate for internships,” Pfingsten said. “It’s very beneficial for the company as well as the intern.”

Pfingsten warned that part of a successful internship is having good leadership to mentor the student. “I think we are poised for that right now,” she said.

Commissioner Jeff Czeczok expressed concern of the number of times the word “assist” was used in the memo Wig developed regarding the internship. “If we’re going to have somebody work and do information gathering that’s a rather independent thing — I understand that’s a benefit to us,” Czeczok said.

Czeczok said his concern comes from the training tasks described that would require more oversight.

“To bring somebody in to just shadow a person throughout the day to just learn different things — that’s not necessarily the biggest benefit to us,” he said. Czeczok said he is not opposed to the idea of an intern, he just waned to know their time would be well spent.

Wig assured Czeczok there would be plenty of work for an intern to do.

“I truly think we’ll get value in excess of what it costs us,” Wig said.

Wig said he would be comfortable with the idea of making the internship a pilot program in 2014. “If at the end of this the commission feels that we didn’t get any value out of it, it’s unlikely we’ll do it again,” Wig said.

The commission also discussed the airport manager’s probationary period evaluation. Commission Chairman Andy Larson said the discussion about Wig’s performance since becoming manager in February was largely positive.

“We are very lucky to have you out here,” added Commissioner Gary Scheeler.

Wig’s probationary period was supposed to last six months and his salary increased at the end of the probation period. Because of scheduling conflicts, the commission’s evaluation was postponed until October. Czeczok motioned to increase Wig’s salary according to his employment agreement and do so retroactively so that the increase would apply back to the six-month mark of Wig’s employment. The motion was approved.

The fixed-based operation (FBO) report from Airmotive, Inc. manager Mike Monahan included an update on the FBO’s maintenance department. Monahan said the maintenance team conducted two engine changes on planes for the Department of Natural Resource (DNR)

“It’s a pretty big job,” Monahan said. The maintenance team also conducted 20 annual inspections and is considering becoming a Enstrom helicopter service center.

“We’re still in the process of getting all that paper work straightened out,” Monahan.

Czeczok questioned whether the cost of maintenance and repairs have stayed the same with the transition of ownership of Airmotive, Inc. Monahan said he was not certain, but that he had yet to receive any direct complaints.

“I’m sure there were some changes but that’s just something I’m not really aware of,” Monahan said.

Commissioner Don Jacobson asked if Airmotive has received requests for chartered planes in the last quarter to which Monahan answered they had not.

“We had some earlier in the year,” he said, adding that the requests were for higher powered airplanes with more seating capacity — something Airmotive does not currently have access to. Monahan explained that investing in the purchase of a larger plane would cost a significant amount of money, in addition paperwork and training.

“It’s an expensive process and a long drawn out process,” Monahan said. “I think there had to be a demand for it and we have to be a position to make the capital investment to be able to do it.”

Wig added that most of the air industry has moved from an on-demand charter model to a fractional aircraft ownership model. Czeczok asked if a fraction aircraft ownership model is “like a condo with wings” to which Wig replied, “Pretty much.”


Downed plane in Venezuela draws questions from Mexico

Este incursor aereo fue inmovilizado por medios aereos de nuestra AMB, 7 MN al norte Buena vista del Meta, Edo. Apure

MEXICO CITY -- When a high-ranking officer in the Venezuelan military posted the picture of the burned-up remnants of a small Mexican aircraft this week on Twitter, it launched a flurry of questions. 

Who had been in the plane? What had it been doing in Venezuela? Was it involved in the drug trade? Why had it gone up in flames? And where was the crew?

Those key questions remained unanswered Thursday afternoon, two days after Venezuelan military officer Vladimir Padrino Lopez posted the photo of the blackened, smoking ruins of the plane, which he identified as a small Hawker passenger jet. The mystery was threatening to create a row between two nations whose diplomatic relationship has been particularly rocky in recent years.

Padrino sent out a pair of tweets Tuesday in which he partially described the fate of the plane. In the first message, he said that the country’s Aerospace Defense Command “detected and intercepted” the plane Monday.

The other message included the image of the blackened, smoking, partially destroyed plane on what appeared to be a broad, grassy plain. Padrino referred to the plane as an “air invader” that had been “immobilized” by Venezuela’s air force in the state of Apure, which borders Colombia.

Apure state is well known as a place where airplanes take off packed with Colombian cocaine bound for points north, typically Central America. From there, the drug is typically moved by Mexican cartels north to the United States.

On Wednesday evening, Mexico’s interior minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, told reporters that Venezuelan officials had informed their Mexican counterparts that the plane had been asked to land by Venezuelan officials, who then set fire to the aircraft after it landed.

But Osorio Chong said the Mexicans lacked “much information” about the incident. Among other things, he said, the Mexicans wanted to know if “there is the involvement, or there are people, of Mexican nationality.”

The Mexican newspaper El Universal, citing a government official, reported that the plane took off from an airport in Queretaro, Mexico, on Monday around noon, and must have had to make at least one refueling stop before flying on to Venezuela, given the size of its fuel tank.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, meanwhile, gave a speech on national television Wednesday in which he boasted that 30 airplanes linked to drug trafficking had been brought down while in Venezuelan airspace since the passage of a 2012 law aggressively targeting such planes. The last such plane, he said, had “recently” been taken down in “national waters.”

Despite Maduro’s contention that the Venezuelans are adamantly fighting the drug traffickers, U.S. officials have long suspected Venezuela’s socialist government of maintaining ties with Colombia’s left-wing rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which is believed to be heavily involved in large-scale cocaine smuggling operations.

In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department accused two senior Venezuelan government officials and one former official of “materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities” of the FARC.

The airplane incident has the potential to threaten diplomatic ties between Venezuela and Mexico that have been on the mend of late. The two countries broke diplomatic ties in 2005 after Venezuela's late president, Hugo Chavez, insulted his Mexican counterpart, Vicente Fox, calling him a “puppy dog” of the U.S. “empire.”

Diplomatic relations were reestablished in 2007, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto traveled to Caracas in March to attend Chavez’s funeral.


Danbury Municipal (KDXR), Connecticut: U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty on fact finding mission at airport

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty speaks with Danbury Control Tower Manager Dan May, center, and Oxford Control Tower Manager Benjamin Baker inside the control tower at the Danbury Municipal Airport in Danbury, Conn. on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. Rep. Esty visited the facilities to assess the funding of the control tower, which costs about $600,000 per year to operate. 
Photo: Tyler Sizemore

DANBURY -- U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty stressed the importance of local airports and their impact on the surrounding economy Thursday during a visit to the Danbury Municipal Airport. She vowed to do what she can to keep local airports open. 

Esty, who was recently appointed to a congressional subcommittee on aviation, said she hopes to keep the funding for the towers in place as budget talks loom on the horizon. The congresswoman visited the tower at Danbury Airport, she said, to gather information to use in the fight to retain the funding.

"It's foolish when we want to rebuild our economy to cut some of these core areas that spur economic growth," Esty said.

Earlier this year, officials with the Federal Aviation Administration threatened to close 149 towers, including the one located in Danbury, as a result of the federal sequestration.

While not always easily quantifiable, Michael Safranek, the airport's assistant administrator, stressed that the facility and others like it serve as economic engines for the region. A recent study completed at the Oxford Airport, which has less traffic than Danbury Airport, showed it helps to create tens of millions in economic activity for the surrounding area.

Safranek noted that Danbury is the second busiest airport in the state after Bradley. Danbury has more than 70,000 flights from the facility each year. Tower manager Dan May stressed the safety factor of keeping the towers open.

Safranek said that while planes will fly whether or not the tower is operating, the situation is much like an intersection with a broken traffic light.

"Cars are still going to use the intersection, but it would be a lot safer if the traffic light worked," he said.

May added that control towers like Danbury's, which are operated privately under a contract with the federal government rather than FAA-controlled towers, are far less expensive because of higher salaries and staffing requirements in the federally operated towers. May said the federal government could save as much as $300 million annually if all towers in the country were privately operated.

Esty said she hopes to find bipartisan support to keep funding in place for contract towers.

"This is an issue that should receive bipartisan support," she said. "And I am looking for ways we can accomplish that."

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United Technologies-Raytheon Merger Builds Scale for Scale’s Sake: Merging the companies will create an aerospace and defense behemoth, but efficiency gains are a leap and the deal is messy

The Wall Street Journal
By Jon Sindreu and Lauren Silva Laughlin
Updated June 10, 2019 8:32 p.m. ET

United Technologies isn’t making things simple. The industrial conglomerate is buying Raytheon to create the U.S.’s second-largest aerospace-and-defense company by sales, while concurrently working on a spinoff.

Shareholders of both firms were mildly positive on the deal based on early-stock price reactions. If the former DowDuPont ’s merger-spin is any example, though, shareholders have a messy haul ahead. Meanwhile, the logic that changes in the aerospace business will favor a larger company has flaws.

Commercial aviation and defense will each make up roughly 50% of revenue for the combined firm once other businesses are shed. UTC is contributing Collins Aerospace, which manufactures engine parts, landing gear and the like, and its engine-making division, Pratt & Whitney. Raytheon specializes in radars and missiles, and 68% of its sales are to the U.S. government.

The logic of such a deal would be that together, the companies would be able to gain pricing leverage versus suppliers and clients at a time when the U.S. defense budget is expected to stop growing and a period of unprecedented appetite for commercial planes could be nearing its end.

It may be more a case of size for the sake of size, though. The respective market shares won’t necessarily grow. Analysts at Bernstein Research estimate a revenue overlap of less than 14% for the aerospace businesses, mostly related to sensors and other reconnaissance systems. The companies claim that synergies will save the new corporation $1 billion a year four years after the deal is done—peanuts relative to a likely joint market value of at least $100 billion.

Ensuring a smooth transition depends on Raytheon’s Tom Kennedy and United Technologies’s Greg Hayes, who will jointly integrate the company until Mr. Hayes takes over as chairman and CEO two years after the deal closes. The vast complexity of the aerospace industry makes it hard to efficiently run many businesses at once. This is why Boeing and Airbus have so far only timidly ventured into the hugely profitable market for post-sale services.

There is also the danger that corporate shuffling will delight bankers while distracting management and leaving less value for shareholders at the end. Raytheon shareholders will get stock in a smaller United Technologies after its Otis elevator and Carrier building-systems businesses separate. While it is being billed as a merger of equals, shareholders likely won’t know what they are receiving until the value of the independent company is clearer, likely closer to when the spinoffs occur.

The messy deal resembles the one former DowDuPont just completed. Chemical giants Dow and DuPont said they would merge back in December 2015 and then later decided to split up. It wasn’t until earlier this month that those plans were finally completed. In the two years leading up to its final stages, the company lost roughly a quarter of its value.

It isn’t as if UTC was lacking complexity even without a deal. Beyond spinning off Otis and Carrier, it completed the acquisition of Rockwell Collins just at the end of last year. It also faces problems with its new Geared Turbofan engine, which powers narrow-body planes like the popular Airbus A320neo, and running the math on whether to build engines for Boeing’s midsize jet project.

The company could have considered more useful and less-complicated mergers. Buying U.K. manufacturer Rolls-Royce, for example, would truly give it more heft in engines by taking it into the market for bigger planes. Now this seems less likely. As for Raytheon, its margins are coming under pressure mainly in its missile division, which has been besieged by delays and technological problems. The merger will only disguise these problems.

The proposed merger should at least be easy for regulators to swallow with little overlap between the two. However, that is just one reason investors should be skeptical.

Worcester, Massachusetts airport businesses hoping to cash in on JetBlue's service


(NECN: Katelyn Tivnan) –   With JetBlue finally taking off in Worcester, Mass., there are some new businesses hoping to cash in at the airport. 

Linda Tucker waited for her mother and a friend at the Worcester Regional Airport Thursday for the first time.

“They are both in their 80s so coming here it is just friendlier and easier to pick them up.”

Tucker says now that commercial service out of Worcester has returned she can't imagine she will be taking flights out of Boston. She anticipates her friends and family will also be using Worcester for traveling.

It's something Joseph Luis is eager to hear.

“We are looking for more people to be traveling more happy customers and now more flights and destinations.”

Luis and his wife run both a convenience store and snack bar inside the airport. When DirectAir cancelled its flight out of Worcester, the business took a direct hit.

Getting the chance to restock the shelves and reopen the doors has Luis and his wife looking forward to better days.

“Since DirectAir canceled, I was out of business; airport was closed; it was a struggle for a while; now thank God we're back in business.”

“Been a long time coming; waited about 13 years now since we've really seen commercial service return to Worcester so it's very exciting and great to see the airport humming again with activity," said Ed Bresnahan, who runs Thrifty car rental inside the airport.

He remained in business despite DirectAir leaving, but he admits it was a struggle. Bringing JetBlue to Worcester will give him a much needed boost.

“It's going to mean expansion, we'll have to expand hours, we'll have to hire some help when it really gets bus in the spring and summer, so I think economically it will be great for us and the community."

Bresnahan says he envisions only positive things moving forward, especially when it comes to business growing. He anticipates he could possibly double business by this summer.


Tweed-New Haven Airport (KHVN), Connecticut: Construction under way to rebuild driveways, parking lots

The construction site for the new Tweed New Haven Regional Airport parking lot is seen Thursday. 
Peter Hvizdak — NEW HAVEN Register

NEW HAVEN --   Tweed New Haven Regional Airport has begun work to rebuild the airport’s driveways, parking lots and taxi pick-up area as part of a $1.31 million project funded by the state and federal governments.

The work will include parking spaces closer to the airport terminal, a new walkway from the parking lot to the terminal and better drainage and lighting, said Tim Larson, executive director of the Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority.

It also will simplify the currently tangled, “pretzel” vehicle circulation pattern entering and exiting the airport, he said.

“The pretzel that we had” will now be “a circular configuration with a drop-off area,” Larson said. “We make it a lot more convenient for passengers and it improves the flow of traffic through the airport.”

In the new design, “effectively, we’ve consolidated the metered lot and the short-term lot into one 90-space parking lot,” he said.

The project, being done by Waters Construction Co. Inc. of Bridgeport, is expected to be complete by spring 2014, airport officials said. 

It is funded with about $400,000 from the Federal Aviation Administration, with the balance coming from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, Larson said.

“We’re excited about it,” Larson said. “It’s been a long time that this has been looked at.”
Tweed is administered by the Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority and managed by Avports, a private company hired by the authority.

The authority hired Dewberry Engineers Inc., which has a branch office in New Haven, as its engineering consultant. Dewberry’s design simplifies the current access drive “pretzel” to a one-way ring road, Larson said.

Parking fares will be unified with the installation of all-new fare collection equipment. 

While the work is going on, the airport will continue normal passenger operations, Larson said. “We put a fence line and a pedestrian walkway along the eastern side of the construction area ... so that pedestrians wouldn’t be walking through the construction area,” Larson said.

The airport’s terminal drop-off area, handicapped parking and access to the taxi queue and rental car lot also will be maintained throughout the work.

When the work is done, pedestrians will have a more direct route to the terminal from the parking areas via a slightly raised walkway, Larson said.


Piper Aerostar 602P, Young Living Essential Oils LLC, N35FD: Accident occurred September 23, 2013 in Sandpoint, Idaho

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SANDPOINT — The crash-damaged navigation equipment used for instrument landings at Sandpoint Airport will stay dimmed out this winter.

An antenna array for the distance-measuring equipment was destroyed when a Utah pilot crashed off the north end of the runway in September. Pilots can still rely on a GPS system to help guide landings, although the damaged localizer gave them a lower altitude to decide whether to land or not.

Airport Manager Dave Schuck said the antenna array is no longer in production, which means the equipment it serves will also have to be replaced, resulting in a total cost of about $270,000 that can be covered by insurance.

But damage to the existing system is underscoring how increasingly inadequate the localizer has become since it was installed in 1996.

The development of hangars on the northwest side of the airport has steadily degraded the localizer signal so significantly that the Federal Aviation Administration could soon order the county to take it off line and install a new system, according to Jim Nulle, a senior field service manager for Vaisala, Inc., which maintains the airport’s localizer.

“The system is on the ragged edge of just being shut off by the FAA,” Nulle told county commissioners on Tuesday.

Development of hangars on the northwest side of the airport apparently occurred at a time when the city of Sandpoint and the county were not communicating well.

Nulle said a dual-frequency localizer could be installed to overcome the issue of signal degradation, however, it is a more elaborate system that would add up to $100,000 to the replacement cost. It would also take four to six months to get the new system delivered.

Commission Chairman Cary Kelly questioned whether a ground-based navigation aid should be considered as space-based systems become more common.

“It seems to me the future is satellite, not ground-based,” said Kelly.

However, Nulle said most Sandpoint Airport users have navigational radios as opposed to instrument flight rules-certified GPS systems aboard their aircraft, which can cost upwards of $20,000.

“You have to consider the users,” said Nulle.

Commissioner Mike Nielsen said he has been approached by pilots who urged the county to retain its localizer.

Airport officials have made restoring the navigation system a priority because pilots who land here are a reliable source of income for local hotels, restaurants and tourism.

The airport’s total economic impact was estimated in 2009 to be $33 million.

Although commissioners appeared to agree that system upgrade was warranted, they said there’s no money in the current budget to fund it. And even if the system was replaced without an upgrade, it would take up to six months to get it installed.

“We have no ability to correct this situation immediately this winter regardless,” said Nielsen.

Nielsen moved to further investigate funding options through insurance and the FAA, although Nulle said the FAA has no interest in funding ground-based navigation systems for smaller general aviation airports such as Sandpoint. 


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

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

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

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

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

Piper Aerostar 602P, Young Living Essential Oils LC, N35FD: Accident occurred September 23, 2013 in Sandpoint, Idaho

Penobscot Island Air: Air Taxi Owner Disputes Pilot Error in Matinicus Island, Maine, Plane Crashes - Cessna 207A Stationair 7, N70437 and Cessna U206G, N910TA

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a report last week claiming the Penobscot Island Air pilot was at fault in an October 2011 plane crash on Matinicus. The pilot, Don Campbell, was delivering groceries to the island when he died in the crash that resulted from a gusty crosswind that forced the Cessna 207A into a sharp banking dive to the right as he was attempting to land. According to the report, the crash was a result of the pilot's failure to maintain control during the approach when the plane was struck by a strong gust.

Kevin Waters, the owner of Penobscot Island Air, disputes pilot error.

"I do not concur that Don was careless," said Waters. "It was a windy day, but Don had been in and out of Matinicus that day. Microbursts are rare, but they do happen. If you are 2,000 feet up, you have time to recover. If you are 80 feet up, you don't."

According to the NTSB report, a witness who was at a house near the runway saw the plane approach in a normal position for landing, then a "queer gust of wind" hit, knocking plants off the porch. The witness reported that the wind had been gusty all day, but the one that hit as the plane approached was strong and abrupt.

Campbell was alone in the plane when it crashed.

Waters said he would not have been able to do anything different if he had been piloting the plane.

Pilot error was also cited by the NTSB in a report they issued last year on another Penobscot Island Air accident that occurred just after takeoff from Matinicus. After the plane climbed 200 feet it began losing power. Pilot Robert Hoffman switched to auxiliary fuel with no results, then turned into the wind and ditched the Cessna 206G in the ocean.

The NTSB report concluded that the "physical evidence indicates that the engine lost power as a result of fuel starvation due to the position of the fuel selector on the empty right tank." Their conclusion was based on the evidence that the right fuel tank was filled with sea water and one pint of fuel, while the left tank had about 27 gallons of fuel. The caps on both tanks were secure when the plane was recovered five days after the accident on the ocean floor in 80 feet of water.
Waters again disputes the NTSB conclusion that the right fuel tank was empty, noting that Hoffman had refueled the plane before takeoff and that the NTSB did not inspect the plane themselves, but relied on information submitted remotely.

In fact, the accident report states at the beginning that NTSB inspectors may not have traveled to investigate the accident, instead relying on data supplied by others.

Waters said the reason the right fuel tank was full of water, not fuel, was likely because it was damaged, noting that Hoffman, who was a retired commercial airline pilot with over 25,000 hours of flight experience, did precisely the right thing when the plane failed: he turned the nose into the wind and landed or "ditched" the plane in the ocean. Hoffman and the three passengers escaped the aircraft and waited for rescue, which was initiated by Penobscot Island Air when the Cessna pilot did not do a routine 15-minute check-in.

One passenger was seriously injured in the crash.

The NTSB report agrees with Waters that Hoffman and Penobscot Island Air followed standard procedures during the rescue, but states that the captain had failed to do a standard safety talk prior to takeoff or inform passengers that personal flotation devices were onboard the aircraft.

Since the accidents occurred in 2011, Penobscot Island Air has implemented several changes to their general operating procedures, according to the NTSB, including modifying all planes with emergency location devices that will contact the base in an emergency and mandating that all pilots attend an offshore survival training course in addition to their usual flight training for operating what are essentially bush planes out to the islands, where variable winds and short and unpaved runways are standard. Passengers are now also offered the opportunity to wear an inflatable personal flotation device while en route.

Waters said he has no plan to appeal the NTSB report issued last week, noting that the cost to do so was prohibitive.



NTSB Identification: ERA12FA007
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 05, 2011 in Matinicus Island, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/29/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 207A, registration: N70437
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

About the time of departure, the wind at the departure airport was reported to be from 330 degrees at 13 knots with gusts to 22 knots. The pilot departed with an adequate supply of fuel for the intended 15-minute cargo flight to a nearby island. He entered a left traffic pattern to runway 36 at the destination airport and turned onto final approach with 30 degrees of flaps extended. Witnesses on the island reported that, about this time, a sudden wind gust from the west occurred. A witness (a fisherman by trade) at the airport estimated the wind direction was down the runway at 35 to 40 knots, with slightly higher wind gusts. After the sudden wind gust, he noted the airplane suddenly bank to the right about 80 degrees and begin descending. It impacted trees and powerlines then the ground. The same witness reported the engine sound was steady during the entire approach and at no time did he hear the engine falter. About 30 minutes before the accident, a weather observing station located about 6 nautical miles south-southeast of the accident site indicated the wind from the north-northwest at 24 knots, with gusts to 27 knots. About 30 minutes after the accident, the station indicated the wind from the northwest at 30 knots, with gusts to 37 knots.

Postaccident examination of the airplane, its systems, and engine revealed no evidence of preimpact failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. The evidence is consistent with the airplane’s encounter with a gusty crosswind that led to the airplane’s right bank and the pilot’s loss of control, resulting in an accelerated stall.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control during the approach after encountering a gusty crosswind, which resulted in an accelerated stall and uncontrolled descent.

NTSB Identification: ERA11LA405
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Sunday, July 17, 2011 in Matinicus Island, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/07/2012
Aircraft: CESSNA U206G, registration: N910TA
Injuries: 1 Serious,3 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
After takeoff from the island airport for the air taxi flight, the pilot made the initial power reduction when the airplane was at an estimated 200 feet above the ocean. At that time, the engine lost total power, and the pilot ditched the airplane. The pilot and the three passengers were able to exit the airplane before it sank. For about 1 hour until rescuers reached them, they held onto a section of the airplane’s belly cargo pod that had separated during the water impact. At the time of the wreckage recovery, the left and right fuel tank filler caps were found securely installed. The fuel selector was found in the right fuel tank position. About 25 gallons of sea water and 1 pint of aviation fuel were drained from the right fuel tank. About 27 gallons of aviation fuel and 2 gallons of sea water were drained from the left tank. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any discrepancies that would have prevented normal operation of the airplane. The physical evidence indicates that the engine lost power as a result of fuel starvation due to the position of the fuel selector on the empty right tank.

The operator required the pilot to provide the passengers a safety briefing before takeoff. However, none of the passengers were briefed or were aware that life vests were onboard the airplane. If a piece of wreckage had not been available for the passengers to hold on to, the failure of the pilot to notify the passengers of the availability of life vests could have increased the severity of the accident. As a result of the accident, the operator made numerous safety changes including mandating that the pilot read out loud a pre-takeoff briefing referencing the onboard passenger briefing guide card and offering all passengers a personal flotation device to wear during flights.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s improper fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.

(Courtesy of: Fields Dive Service )
The plane’s damaged nose and landing gear in 92 feet of water. 

The plane is lifted clear of the water.
(Courtesy of: Fields Dive Service) 

The plane's landing gear and engine compartment had the most apparent damage.

At Prock Marine's North End facility in Rockland, Investigator Rich Eilinger of the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Standards District Office in Portland discusses the plane with members of the Prock Marine crew.  

Muskoka Airport, Ontario: Fuel sales losing altitude

MUSKOKA – District of Muskoka councillors at an Oct. 21 meeting questioned why fuel sales at the Muskoka Airport have dipped by 25 percent.

Samantha Hastings, acting commissioner of planning and economic development, said the entire aviation industry was experiencing declines.

“The airport manager has advised me that there is a general downturn in the aviation industry this year. Other than that, I can’t really explain why we would have a lower number of flights this year than in previous years,” said Hastings.

But she noted that staff is finding ways to reduce spending at the airport to make up for the shortfall. 



Bird Strikes 2.0: The Resulting Crash Can’t Always Be Blamed on the Bird - “Pilot error” is cited in recent Arizona accident triggered by a trio of birds

The pilot saw “three dark flashes” flit in front of his F-16 fighter as he pulled up following a touch-and-go landing during a training flight last June 26 in Arizona. An acrid smell and buzzing instantly filled Radon 11’s cockpit. Then came a “pop” from the plane’s engine, followed by a “bang.” A pilot aboard Honker 11, a second F-16 4,000 feet behind Radon 11, saw an orange flame and sparks spitting from its engine. “Tower, Radon 11, emergency,” the first pilot radioed Luke Air Force Base. “We’ve got a bird strike…engine’s about to stall.”

Nothing concentrates a pilot’s mind like running out of sky by losing power close to the ground. “This created a worst-case emergency for a single-engine aircraft: low and slow with a questionable ability to produce thrust,” says the Air Force’s recently-released investigation into the accident.
But although three unidentified small birds triggered the emergency by flying into the F-16′s engine, the pilot at the controls of Radon 11 caused the ensuing crash, according to the investigation. While we noted earlier this week that bird strikes are a big problem for the Air Force, the crash of Radon 11 makes clear that such avian collisions are not tantamount to a Bail-Out-for-Free card.

Bird strikes are an occupational hazard for all pilots, and have downed 39 Air Force planes and killed 33 airmen since 1973. “Interviews conducted with airfield operations personnel and United States Department of Agriculture base representative validated bird counts were conducted the morning of the mishap as well as at midday and sunset. These counts indicated a low number of birds observed, resulting in a Bird Condition `Low’ being maintained throughout the day,” investigators found. “Pilots from aircraft in the pattern at the time of the mishap observed no bird activity on the airfield prior to the Mishap Aircraft ingesting birds on climb out from the touch-and-go.”

As the F-16’s engine sputtered following the bird strike, the pilot turned the plane to orient it for an emergency landing. But that reduced the plane’s altitude and speed, convincing the pilot that his plane was doomed. He pointed the plane toward an unpopulated area. He and his student pilot, undergoing refresher training (they had a combined total of 3,000 F-16 flight hours between them) safely ejected moments later. The unidentified pair bailed out at 1,550 feet, below the recommended 2,000-foot minimum.

Firefighters battle over 40 fires on mock-airplane: Columbia, Missouri

Firefighters from several mid-Missouri fire departments received training Wednesday that will help prepare them to fight airplane fires and how to respond to a plane crash scenario. 
The training took place from 2:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. Wednesday afternoon as part of a week-long FAA-mandated class on aircraft rescue firefighting.

The training is designed to prepare firefighters for a scenario in which a plane catches fire on the runway. Firefighters conducted about 50 burns on a specially-designed mock aircraft called the Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Trainer.

"I had one woman ask me, is that the space shuttle?" Said trainer Mark Lee. "I said, no, it's a fake airplane training apparatus. She asked me how fast it goes, I said 70 miles per hour on the freeway!"

Lee said, the equipment helps firefighters prepare for deadly scenarios in ways not possible without it.

"At most of the airports, the firefighters are stationed at those airports, and that's their primary job. They may not see a fire for a while compared to firefighters that are in the city and have more fires to respond to. So with more fires, more practice, there's more confidence in what they do."

The Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Trainer, or MAFT, doesn't come cheap, with a price tag over $1.5 million. Firefighters began using nearly full-size aircraft fire simulator in March, after an older unit that had been in use for 12 years got worn out.

"We got this unit through MODOT aviation department. Since we train people, they let us have it here and operate it. When we have to practice and make sure the unit works, Columbia Regional has the benefit of getting more burns done in a year," Lee said.

Lee said through the course of an average training day, his crew conducts between 40 and 50 training simulations. He said, the simulator is used by fire departments across the midwest to train their men and women on how to save lives.


Federal Aviation Administration to Map Out Drone Rules: Agency Is Expected to Say No Big Safeguards Needed, Likely Riling Privacy Advocates

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to say Thursday that no major privacy-protection initiatives are necessary before opening U.S. airspace to civilian drones, a finding likely to stoke an outcry amid heightened concerns about the government's surveillance capabilities.

In addition to that general policy on privacy protections, industry officials familiar with details of the plan expect FAA chief Michael Huerta to disclose a multiyear regulatory road map intended to eventually pave the way for extensive commercial operations of so-called remotely piloted aerial vehicles nationwide.

The Department of Homeland Security previously adopted a similar view on privacy safeguards, but the FAA is the lead agency responsible for developing the Obama administration's comprehensive policy for nonfederal domestic uses of drones. If the FAA's position prevails, it could remove a major stumbling block for the budding industry while speeding up federal approvals for a variety of applications.

"We don't need any new [privacy] procedures," said Ben Gielow, government-relations manager and general counsel for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Pointing to the Department of Homeland Security's view on privacy policy, Mr. Gielow said he expects "that position will be echoed" in Mr. Huerta's speech Thursday before industry leaders in Washington.

An FAA spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The expected announcement comes amid growing public concerns over the government's surveillance capabilities and bipartisan support in Washington for new privacy legislation regarding domestic drones.

"The FAA is flying into a privacy storm," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy-advocacy group. "For the agency to ignore what seems both necessary and likely is going to stall" the plan's takeoff.

Outside safety experts have been equally cautious about endorsing rapid integration of drones into U.S. airspace. Sean Cassidy, a senior safety official with the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest U.S. pilots union, told a safety conference last week that experts are still struggling "with the challenge of even understanding how we are going to classify these things."

Mr. Cassidy predicted a slow rollout of commercial drones, beginning with a relatively small number that will be examined, tested and reassessed before additional approvals are granted.

Currently, drones are effectively banned from flying outside specific federally designated areas, such as large swaths of the U.S.-Mexican border, where they are used to look for drug smugglers and those illegally sneaking into the country. Typically, other traffic is prohibited from simultaneously operating in areas where drones are flying.

By 2025, some government studies anticipate more than 30,000 drones operating over the U.S. Industry studies envision the creation of 100,000 jobs over the same period. Projected commercial uses for drones include surveillance of rails and pipelines to agricultural surveys to traffic monitoring.

A Department of Homeland Security report released last month acknowledged concerns that the agency's drones are quieter and more nimble than its manned aircraft, allowing them to be undetectable. But it concluded the unmanned operations comply with existing privacy laws, in part because the drones cannot "see through walls" or capture images in which people can be identified.

The FAA is months or years behind in complying with various congressionally mandated reports and deadlines to start opening up more airspace for remotely piloted aircraft. As a result, FAA officials have been under escalating pressure from industry and Capitol Hill to spell out more of their plans. By year-end, the FAA is expected to pick half a dozen sites across the U.S. to test drone safety and operations. Some two dozen states are competing for the opportunity.

The regulatory plan covers everything from certifying unmanned aircraft to establishing standards for data-links to training and licensing pilots and controllers who will be responsible for tracking drones from the ground. The FAA also intends to conduct a sweeping safety assessment of the potential hazards, particularly the ability of drones to detect and avoid nearby aircraft. In the past, Mr. Huerta said integrating drones must be done "in a way that doesn't reduce existing airspace capacity or impact" existing operators.

During the summer, the White House put the National Security Council in charge of an interagency committee to develop policies for domestic uses of drones by the U.S. government. The group was charged to look into cybersecurity and air-defense issues, among other areas.

Outside Washington, a growing number of state and local legislators are considering imposing restrictions on commercial and perhaps law-enforcement applications of drones.