Thursday, January 02, 2014

Kansas City-bound AirTran flight diverted to Oklahoma City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - More than 110 Kansas City-bound passengers on an AirTran flight made an unplanned visit to Oklahoma City Thursday night.

The passengers on AirTran Flight 442 from Houston to Kansas City took off from Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport just before 5 p.m. Thursday. During the flight, the pilot reported a minor mechanical issue and diverted the flight, which was over east-central Oklahoma at the time, to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson said passengers were taken off the first aircraft and boarded a second aircraft that was available to take the passengers on to Kansas City, a flight that arrived at Kansas City International Airport just before 8:30 p.m.

The spokesperson said the original plane, a Boeing 717, was inspected at the airport and nothing was immediately found wrong with the plane.

Control that air rage: Airlines want clearer rules on rowdy passengers

  • Bad passenger behavior is on the increase, according to airlines
  • Aircraft captains and crew are reportedly worried they could be sued for assault if they take actions
  • IATA wants to clarify the rules on unruly passengers

(CNN) -- From a famous French actor accused of relieving himself in the gangway of a cabin to a unruly passenger that to be restrained on a flight from Iceland to New York last year, bad behavior on planes comes in a variety of forms.

Carriers have said they face daily issues like passengers watching pornography, throwing drinks at cabin crew or being verbally abusive.

But captains and crew are often worried they could be sued for assault if they take action in response.

That's why the International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants to clarify what measurements are allowed to be taken in situations that aren't a clear safety threat.

Airlines have reported over 15,000 incidents to IATA since it started collecting reports of bad passenger behavior in 2007.

"It's something we need to tackle as an industry and across the globe," said IATA spokesperson Chris Goater.

The association wants to address the issue at a diplomatic conference in Montreal in March, hoping for a global agreement on new guidelines.

Golden days of flying a thing of the past 

The current legislation is based on the 1963 Tokyo Convention, which governs criminal offenses that pose as serious safety threats, but "the reality of today's industry is very different to that when the Tokyo Convention was developed," states IATA.

Psychologist Robert Bor, who has specialized in passenger behavior and fear of flying, agrees that much has changed since the 1960s.

"In those days flying was dreamlike -- people would dress up to go traveling and the airline adverts reflected the actual experience," he said.

Bor thinks the increase in air rage can be explained by more efficient reporting on one hand, but also by looking at society in general.

"It's evident that people are under a lot of pressure with their time and money," he said. He thinks the proposed revision of the Tokyo Convention is a step in the right direction.

"It is very important that we learn more about air range and that there is common policy between different countries about how to address it."

Stealing wine and threatening crew

But what really causes passengers to behave so badly on flights?

Bor says there are many different factors coming together.

"If you look at air rage cases it's often a fairly ordinary person, and a trigger can be another person who might put their seat back, added with a bit of alcohol consumption and a fear of flying."

Another factor could be the cabin layout and the environment in the aircraft.

"We know by research that lack of space can cause stress or even anger and people can become territorial," said Bor.

"We might think of it as small trivial things, but actually we know that stress is cumulative."

What might be defined as rowdy passenger behavior can vary widely, and IATA has no grading system, says Goater.

Many cases involve alcohol consumption, like a man reportedly stealing wine from a trolley to lock himself in the toilet to drink it.

With a common policy Goater hopes passengers will then have a clear message of the consequences of acting up in the air.

"The small minority that commit unruly behavior and acts will begin to understand the serious consequences of their actions as police authorities and courts will have the necessary legal tools to deal with them in adequate manner," he said.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Aviation Unit Finds Stolen Construction Equipment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – High-tech tracking equipment led law enforcement agencies to some pricey stolen construction equipment.

Officials said the Tennessee Highway Patrol Aviation Unit and the Criminal Investigation Division were able to track down two stolen mini excavators on December 26.

One was found stolen from a job site in Rutherford County. The other was taken in Williamson County. Both machines were valued at about $100,000.

The first theft happened two days before Thanksgiving. Officials with the Murfreesboro Police Department said the owner of a 2007 Kubotoa Mini Excavator reported it missing.

The excavator had a theft recovery transponder. It was activated when police entered the machinery information into state and federal crime computers.

While helping with a search and rescue operation in Putnam County, THP's Aviation Unit came across a signal from the stolen excavator. The Criminal Investigation Division was able to later return to the location and found the machine at a homeowner's construction site.

During their investigation, officials found information that led to the second excavator. They said a 2010 Caterpillar Mini Excavator was stolen on December 5. It was recovered at a separate location.

Officials said the theft recovery system from LoJack was the only system operated by law enforcement. Two of the THP helicopters have the tracking equipment installed, and this was the first time equipment has been recovered by the unit.

Details about possible arrests were not available.


Mercy Air Med lawsuit on hold

MASON CITY | A federal lawsuit filed by the relatives of Shelly Lair-Langenbau, a flight nurse killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 2, 2013, is on hold until the official investigation is complete.
According to a status update filed on Dec. 13 in the Northern District of Iowa, the lawsuit cannot move forward until the National Transportation Safety Board releases the final factual report relating to the incident and releases the wreckage of the helicopter.

Both are expected to be released early this year, according to court documents.

Lair-Langenbau's husband, Jay Langenbau; two minor children; and her parents Gerald and Karen Lair, filed the lawsuit in Cerro Gordo County District Court in July 2013. It was moved to federal court the next month.

The defendant in the case is Med-Trans Corp., Lewisville, Texas, which operates the helicopter service under contract to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa. The family is alleging negligence on the parts of Med-Trans Corp. and the pilot, Gene Grell, who was also killed in the crash, for taking off in icy conditions.

Lair-Langenbau, 44, of Hanlontown was the flight nurse on the Bell 407 helicopter, owned by Med-Trans and piloted by Grell, that took off in what the suit claims was icing conditions from Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa for Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg.

The helicopter crashed in a field shortly after takeoff, killing Lair- Langenbau, Grell, 53, of Texas, and paramedic Russell Piehl, 48, of Forest City.

The suit claims Med-Trans knew that Bell 407 helicopters were not safe to operate in certain weather conditions, including icing.

Also, the suit says Med-Trans is liable for the actions of Grell who, the suit claims, did not properly assess the weather before taking off, failed to abort the flight when he knew of the icing conditions, improperly flew the helicopter and failed to maintain control over it, and failed to obtain proper weather data prior to the flight.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages for the alleged wrongful death of Lair-Langenbau, punitive damages sufficient to punish and deter Med-Trans from further wrongdoing, court costs of the plaintiffs, and any further relief the court deems appropriate. 


NTSB Identification: CEN13FA122 
14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 02, 2013 in Clear Lake, IA
Aircraft: Bell Helicopter 407, registration: N445MT
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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

On January 2, 2013, about 2057 central standard time, a Bell Helicopter model 407, N445MT, impacted terrain near Clear Lake, Iowa. The pilot and two medical crew members sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to Suntrust Equipment Leasing & Finance Corporation and operated by Med-Trans Corporation under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a positioning flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was operated on a company flight plan. A flight plan was not filed with the Federal Aviation Administration. The flight originated from the Mercy Medical Center, Mason City, Iowa, about 2049, with an intended destination of the Palo Alto County Hospital, (IA76), Emmetsburg, Iowa.

A witness located about 1 mile south of the accident site, reported observing the helicopter as it approached from the east. He noted that it appeared to slow and then turn to the north. When he looked again, the helicopter appeared to descend straight down. He subsequently went back into his house and called 911. He described the weather conditions as “misty,” with a light wind.

A second witness reported that he was working in his garage when he heard the helicopter. He stated that the sound of the helicopter changed as if it was turning, followed by what he described as a “thump” and then everything was quiet. He subsequently responded to the accident with the Ventura Fire Department. He reported that there was a coating of ice on his truck windshield that the wipers would not clear. He decided to drive another car to the fire station because it had been parked in the garage. While responding to the accident site with the fire department, as the fire truck he was on was waiting to cross Highway 18, they observed a Clear Lake police car, also responding to the accident, slide through the intersection. They informed dispatch to advise following units to expect slick road conditions. He noted that there was a haze in the air, which was evident when looking toward a street light; however, he did not recall any precipitation at the time.

A pilot located at the Mason City airport reported that he saw the helicopter fly overhead and estimated its altitude as 300 feet above ground level (agl). He was leaving the airport at that time and noted there was a glaze of ice on his car. He added that the roads were icy as he drove out of the airport and onto Highway 18. He commented that he had flown into Mason City about 1830 and encountered some light rime ice at that time.

Satellite tracking data depicted the helicopter becoming airborne at the medical center about 2049. According to the data, between 2050 and 2055, the helicopter proceeded westbound along Highway 18 about 1,800 feet mean sea level (msl). The final tracking data point was recorded about 2056 and was located approximately 1 mile north of Highway 18, along Balsam Avenue. The altitude associated with that data point was 2,648 feet msl. The accident site was located about one-quarter mile west of the final data point.

The helicopter impacted a harvested agricultural field. The debris path was about 100 feet long and oriented toward the west-southwest. The helicopter was fragmented, and the cockpit and cabin areas were compromised. The main wreckage consisted of the main rotor blades, transmission, engine, portions of the fuselage, and the tail boom. The tail rotor had separated from the tail boom and was located about 80 feet east-northeast of the main wreckage. The landing skids had separated from the fuselage. The left skid was located at the initial impact point; the right skid was located about 35 feet west of the main wreckage.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with helicopter and single-engine airplane ratings. His airplane rating was limited to private pilot privileges. He was issued a second class airman medical certificate on April 17, 2012, with a limitation for corrective lenses. His most recent regulatory checkride was completed on September 29, 2012, about the time of his initial employment with the operator. At that time, he reported having accumulated a total flight time of 2,808 hours, with 2,720 hours in helicopters.

Weather conditions recorded at the Mason City Municipal Airport, located about 7 miles east of the accident site, at 2053, were: wind from 300 degrees at 8 knots; 8 miles visibility; broken clouds at 1,700 feet agl, overcast clouds at 3,300 feet agl, temperature -3 degrees Celsius, dew point -5 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.05 inches of mercury. At 2117, the recorded conditions included broken clouds at 1,300 feet agl and overcast clouds at 1,800 feet agl.

Wrongful-death suit against Soffer quickly dropped

A lawsuit accusing Jeffrey Soffer of causing a fatal helicopter crash was abruptly withdrawn this week, 22 days after its filing made national news thanks to the wealthy developer’s status as Elle Macpherson’s husband.

No explanation was given for dropping the wrongful-death suit, which was withdrawn Tuesday, and plaintiff lawyers could not be reached for interviews.

Soffer’s team said it had not reached a deal with plaintiff Daria Gogoleva, whose husband, Lance Valdez died in a 2012 helicopter crash in the Bahamas that also injured Soffer. Gogoleva’s suit accused Soffer, an amateur pilot, of improperly taking the controls of the chopper, then launching an extensive effort to blame the crash on the professional pilot who Valdez had hired to fly it.

Valdez, a wealthy tax attorney, arranged the helicopter ride as a way to get Soffer and two traveling companions onto an exclusive island resort during a visit. Valdez and Soffer were longtime friends.

Soffer’s lawyers called the federal suit a fabrication when it was filed Dec. 9, with Good Morning America and the celebrity press covering the accusations. Gogoleva’s lawyers gave interviews, including an on-camera statement for the GMA segment headlined: “Supermodel Spouse Conspiracy?”

“We were not surprised by the decision to withdraw this lawsuit, which was riddled with factual errors and unfounded accusations,” Soffer lawyer Bob Martinez said in a statement issued Thursday. “The case collapsed ... before we even had a chance to respond, confirming that it was a frivolous lawsuit.”

In a press release, Soffer’s lawyers noted the suit mentioned Machpherson as “part of an effort to grab headlines.” In one of the interviews he granted after filing suit, Gogoleva lawyer Jeffrey Rosenberg said his client became suspicious of Soffer’s intentions toward her when she was not invited to the Soffer-Macpherson wedding in August 2013.

In the suit, Gogoleva’s lawyers included an account from the helicopter’s pilot, David Pearce, that Soffer asked to take the controls of the chopper while it was in the air over the exclusive Bakers Bay golf resort in the Abacos on Thanksgiving Day in 2012.

A crash followed, killing Valdez. The suit claimed Pearce, who told authorities he was in control of the helicopter, had changed his story and now said Soffer was flying. Soffer’s pilot license would not allow him to fly a helicopter, so the suit could have exposed Soffer to millions of dollars in liability for Valdez’s death.

Pearce, a professional pilot in the Bahamas, declined to comment when reached by phone on Thursday. He referred questions to Rosenberg, Gogoleva’s lawyer.

Also injured in the crash were Daniel Riordan, an executive at the Soffer family’s real estate firm, Turnberry, and Riordan’s wife, Paula. In the months after the crash, Soffer and the Riordans signed over their insurance claims to Gogoleva, resulting in a $2 million payout for the mother of three, according to the suit.

Story and Comments/Reaction:

NTSB Identification: ERA13WA066

Accident occurred Thursday, November 22, 2012 in Great Guana Cay, Bahamas
Aircraft: AEROSPATIALE AS-355F1, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal,4 Serious.

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

On November 22, 2012, about 1310 eastern standard time, an Aerospatiale AS 355F1, Bahamian registration C6-APV, registered to Pioneer Caribbean Logistics Ltd., impacted terrain while attempting to land at Baker's Bay Resort, Great Guana Cay, Bahamas. The pilot and three passengers were seriously injured, while a fourth passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, destined for Baker's Bay Resort.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of the Bahamas. Any further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Manager of Flight Standards Inspectorate, Bahamas
P.O. Box AP 59244
Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
Phone: (242) 377-3445/3448
Facsimile: (242) 377-6060

This report is for information purposes only, and contains only information released by or obtained for the Bahamian Government.

Lawrence County Airpark (KHTW), Chesapeake, Ohio

Looking to Federal Aviation Administration to pay for land at airport

CHESAPEAKE — Paying for acreage the county has acquired through an eminent domain lawsuit could come from federal dollars. It is now in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration how much, if any at all, it plans to pay.

At the end of October, the county reached an agreement with the Wilson family to buy acreage the family owned at the Lawrence County Airport. The county wanted the land to allow expansion of runways and cut down trees that were causing safety concerns.

On Monday Lawrence County Commissioners Les Boggs and Freddie Hayes met with Bill Nenni, chair of the county airport advisory board, the county’s attorney in the eminent domain suit, Richard Meyers, and Patrick Leighty of E.L. Robinson.

“It was simply to determine which hoops we have to jump through for the FAA,” Boggs said. “They said you jump through these hoops and then we will make a determination.”

The FAA can either pay all of the amount agreed upon by the county and the Wilsons or a partial amount, Boggs said.

“We have reached a tentative agreement,” Boggs said. “What we are determining is how the tentative agreement is paid for. There are two different pieces of property that would make it possible to extend the runway and clear some trees.”

Originally the county had sought 47 acres of land at the airport, but the agreement has reduced that to a piece of property on the western end of the runway and an easement on the eastern end to allow the county to cut down those trees.

At the time the lawsuit was filed in 2012, the county had put a valuation on the 47 acres at $280,000 while the Wilsons said the land was worth $1.8 million.

However, the current cost of the land to be purchased has not been publicly released.

Now Nenni is organizing documents to send to the FAA including the settlement agreement and legal description of the property.

“I have sent some preliminary things to the FAA as a kind of draft of what we are going to send,” Nenni said. “I don’t anticipate any big holdups. I think all the stuff the FAA wants we already have. This has needed to happen for probably 20 years. We have tried other means to get the trees cut. The trees are hazardous for aviation. We have been working on it for quite some time.”

Boggs estimates the county should hear from the FAA within 60 days.

“We have strong feelings that the FAA will help purchase pieces of those properties, if not cover the entire amount,” he said. “At this time we do not anticipate any local tax dollars being used.”

5,000 creditors: Evergreen International Airlines files voluntary Chapter 7 petition on New Year's Eve

McMinnville-based Evergreen International Airlines took a large step toward dissolving itself Tuesday by filing a Chapter 7 petition in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. The filing followed by about two weeks an involuntary petition by a group of creditors.

The filing estimated the total assets of the Evergreen companies at up to $100 million and total debts up to $500 million. Evergreen said it has up to 5,000 creditors. The filing includes a 108-page list of creditors.

A former Evergreen employee relayed a Dec. 31 email from Evergreen's director of human relations that noted that a trustee will handle all human relations and public relations functions. The director, Monique Gregory, did not identify a trustee and the bankruptcy file lists no information beyond the company's voluntary petition. 

Gregory's email read:

To: all employees

Unfortunately, there is NO Cobra options available.  Please visit or the website that is specific to your state health insurance.  This will give you options for health coverage.

The 401k is managed by Heintzberger / Payne and you may reach them at 1-888-937-4015.

As of today, the HR and PR department will be handled by the trustee.

Monique Gregory

Evergreen officials and lawyers did not respond to phone and email queries on the holiday. Evergreen's website still contains a Nov. 8 note from founder Delford Smith that insisted the company would continue to serve its customers. He said much the same in an interview with The Oregonian less than two weeks ago.

The bankruptcy filing lists seven entities as submitting the Chapter 7 petition: Evergreen Aviation Ground Logistics Enterprise; Evergreen Defense and Security Services; Evergreen International Airlines; Evergreen International Aviation; Evergreen Systems Logistics; Evergreen Trade; and Supertanker Services.

The filing appears to mark the end for a proud company with a history of providing cargo and passenger services to the U.S. government and other customers. Smith founded the company as Evergreen Helicopters in 1960. Last year, Evergreen sold the helicopter company to Portland's Erickson Air-Crane for $250 million in cash and notes. Smith said later that money would be used to pay down debt.

Still unsettled is the fate of Evergreen's non-profit affiliates, the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum and the Wings and Waves Waterpark. The buildings are landmarks along Oregon Highway 18 on the eastern edge of McMinnville. The state Department of Justice has been investigating whether Evergreen's for-profit operations improperly commingled funds with the non-profits.

Story and Comments/Reaction: 

The final chapter in the Evergreen International Airlines story 

 The Oregonian has written extensively on Evergreen and its founder, Delford Smith. 

Last month, Richard Read cataloged Evergreen's aircraft, which range from Boeing 747s to a Learjet.
Read and our colleague Mark Graves compiled an interactive timeline tracing significant events in Evergreen history, along with an infographic that lays out the relationships of the various companies founded or controlled by Smith. By clicking on the various links, you can see accounts of such episodes as Evergreen's denial that it worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and the arrival of the Spruce Goose at the Evegreen Aviation and Space Museum.

We have written about the Oregon Attorney General's interest in whether Evergreen improperly shifted assets between its for-profit operations and the non-profit Evergreen museum and water park. And Read wrote last month about creditors' interest in the non-profit assets. 

In June 2001, we published this capsule bio for Del Smith:

Born: Feb. 25, 1930, Seattle

Education: B.S., University of Washington, 1953.

Founder: Evergreen International Aviation Inc., McMinnville.

Quotes: "My mother always taught me that the harder you worked, the luckier you got." "We're not trying to get any applause. We're just trying to help those who need it." "I'm a big believer in performance measuring. If you can't measure it, you aren't managing it properly." "Appearance is important. A lot of customers buy the shine."

Personal heroes: Mikhail Gorbachev; Mahatma Gandhi; Margaret Thatcher; the Dalai Lama.

Builder: Captain Michael King Smith Evergreen Aviation Educational Institute, new home of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose airplane.

Some charitable causes: Oregon Public Broadcasting, Oregon Symphony, Portland Boys and Girls Clubs, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Garden, Linfield College, World Affairs Council.

On Thursday, the bankruptcy court in Delaware assigned a judge and set the first meeting of Evergreen's creditors for Jan. 31. The trustee assigned to the case is Alfred Thomas Giuliano of West Berlin, N.J.

-- Mike Francis


Snow prompts US Airways to cancel some Tweed flights: Tweed-New Haven Airport (KHVN), New Haven, Connecticut

NEW HAVEN >> US Airways Express canceled its last flight into Tweed New Haven Regional Airport on Thursday as well as its first flight out on Friday in anticipation of heavy snow and blizzard-like conditions, Airport Manager Lori Hoffman-Soares said.

“I expect the midday flight tomorrow to also be canceled,” she said, although she had not yet gotten confirmation of that.

The last flight from Philadephia International Airport to Tweed leaves Philadelphia at 9:18 p.m. and arrives in New Haven at 10:23 p.m.

The first flight out leaves Tweed at 7 a.m. and arrives in Philadelphia at 8:16 a.m.

The two midday flights that could also be canceled arrive from Philadelphia at 12:13 p.m. and leave for Philadelphia at 12:35 p.m.

Tweed had no snow on its runways as of Thursday afternoon, Hoffman-Soares said.

But “we are expecting blizzard-like conditions after 9 p.m., and for safety reasons and our ability to keep up with the snow we will most likely close the airfield and reopen in the early morning, depending on conditions,” Hoffman-Soares said.

Meanwhile, “the tide gates are closed due to the flood watches and advisories,” Hoffman-Soares said. “They will remain closed until the storm has passed.”


Gary/Chicago International Airport (KGYY), Gary, Indiana: Collins Resigns from Airport Board

The Gazette is attempting to confirm a report that Thomas Collins, Sr. has resigned from the Board of the Gary/Chicago Regional Airport.  Collins served as President of the Board under legislation passed last year that was designed to provide professional and independent oversight over the airport.  Collins was the sole vote against the controversial public/private partnership plan known as P3.  Collins was appointed by Governor Pence in August of 2013.  The Gazette will continue to work on this breaking story.

The full text of the Governor’s statement appointing Collins is as follows:

Indianapolis, IN – Governor Mike Pence today appointed Thomas M. Collins, Sr. to a four-year term as President of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Board.

Collins, of Valparaiso, is President of Luke Oil Company, a family-owned and operated business which was founded in 1967 by his father-in-law Ralph Luke. Collins, who joined the company in 1986 after working as an electrician for ten years through IBEW Local 697, has played a critical role in growing the business and was personally responsible for Luke Oil’s north Lake County growth strategy in the late 1990’s. In 2005, the company purchased County Line Orchards, where they have held a number of fundraisers to benefit local charities including the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and various veterans’ organizations. Today, Collins spends much of his time managing and growing the wholesale fuel and transportation business and is active in the company’s growth plans, real estate development and investment opportunities. He recently completed a term as President of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers Association and serves as Indiana’s board member to the Petroleum Marketers of America Association. He is a lifelong resident of northwest Indiana.

“With nearly thirty years of firsthand economic development experience in northwest Indiana, Tom Collins, Sr. has the skills and unique perspective necessary to lead the Gary/Chicago International Airport Board,” said Governor Pence. “Under his leadership, I am certain the Board will ensure quality service and operation of the airport for Hoosier taxpayers in the region for years to come.”

The Board is a municipal corporation responsible for the management and operation of the Gary airport. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson names four appointments to the Board while the Governor, the Lake County Board of Commissioners and the Porter County Board of Commissioners each name one appointment.


Boeing's Biggest Union to Vote on Key Pact: Machinists' Decision Will Help Determine Assembly Site for 777X

The Wall Street Journal

By  Jon Ostrower

January  2, 2014 6:02 p.m. ET

Boeing Co.'s largest union is set to vote Friday on a contract that will likely shape the power of organized labor at one of the U.S.'s biggest manufacturers for years.

If members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents more than 32,000 Boeing employees, approve Boeing's eight-year contract offer, the aerospace company has vowed to assemble its planned 777X and manufacture its carbon-fiber wings in unionized factories in Washington state that assemble most of its jetliners.

If a majority rejects the offer, Boeing has threatened to assemble the 350-to-400-seat jet and its wings, which it plans to start delivering in 2020, in another state. Boeing, in disclosures to states reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, has said that work could eventually involve about 8,500 jobs. If it goes outside Washington, analysts say the company is likely to locate in a state less friendly to unions.

The 777X is pivotal for Boeing. The current 777 models that it will replace are part of the backbone of Boeing's top-earning jets—its best-selling model carries a $320 million list price before discounts. Boeing delivered at least 90 777s last year. Production of those current models is expected to be phased out gradually once Boeing starts manufacturing the 777X around 2017.

The contract deliberations have divided the union's local and national leaders. Members rejected an earlier offer for the contract, which would take effect in 2016, by a 2-to-1 margin on Nov. 13, with many criticizing Boeing's demands for deep concessions such as changes to the wage structure and a shift of future retirement earnings from the current defined-benefit pension to a 401(k) system.

A revised offer from Boeing early last month keeps the pension change and other key concessions, including increased health-care costs. But Boeing agreed to preserve the current wage structure that increases each member's hourly pay by 50 cents every six months—separate from planned raises and cost of living increases—and "zooms" workers to the top of a pay grade after six years, instead of indefinitely continuing the 50-cent increases in the November offer.

Local union leaders rejected the new offer, but other local groups of Machinists that have been formed in social media back the deal—a contrast to November when little support was evident for Boeing's first offer. International union leaders who called Friday's vote haven't explicitly endorsed the offer, but have emphasized that the contract would assure job security for Machinists in Puget Sound.

Thomas Buffenbarger, the union's international president, said that while he supports defined-benefit pensions, "I am experienced enough to know that we have now become the tail trying to wag the dog to keep it there when all other locations [at Boeing] have moved to the 401(k)-style system."

Mr. Buffenbarger, in an interview, argued that a deal is urgent, because he expects Boeing to decide soon where to build the 777X wings.

"We're out of time," he said, adding that if they don't strike a deal now, Boeing would likely be "even more entrenched the next time around" in negotiations for the 2016 contract.

Tom Wroblewski, president of the local union, said in a late-December message in the union's newsletter that the deal provides a "weak promise of job security" and reiterated the local leadership's recommendation to reject the deal. He declined further comment through a spokesman.

The vote comes weeks after Boeing announced the biggest cash deployment in its history, with plans to return $10 billion to shareholders and increase the company's regular quarterly dividend by 50%. That move angered many workers.

Boeing, which is likely to post a record profit for its commercial unit for 2013, has said that intense competition requires it to reduce costs.

"The airplanes we are selling today are at significant relative price discounts compared to those in the past," Alan May, vice president of human resources for the commercial unit, wrote in a letter to Machinists.

Mr. May urged members to ratify the contract and said placing the 777X manufacturing in Puget Sound "will help us establish in this region a skill base...upon which to build innovations for the future."

After November's vote, Boeing solicited proposals from other states for the 777X work, eventually receiving bids from 22 states for 54 possible locations. It has said it narrowed that list down, but didn't elaborate.

Should the membership reject the deal, Mr. Buffenbarger expects Boeing to find a site outside of Washington state for the 777X's wings. Boeing could still choose to assemble the jet in Puget Sound, adding a logistical challenge to moving the massive wings to the final assembly site.

Boeing already makes some of its other main widebody passenger jet, the 787 Dreamliner, in a nonunionized plant in South Carolina, which it has indicated it plans to expand. Putting the 777X work elsewhere would leave Puget Sound primarily making the company's single-aisle 737 planes, some 787s and a limited number of 767s and 747s, an important part of its business but still a major reduction in the overall capacity and importance of those factories.


Grand Canyon gives incentive for quieter aircraft

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The fees for air tour operators that use technology to quiet the sound of aircraft at Grand Canyon National Park have been reduced.

The new $20 fee per flight took effect Jan. 1 for any of eight operators authorized to take visitors sightseeing over the massive gorge. Operators that don't have the technology considered to be quiet will continue to pay $25 per flight.

The National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration were required to come up with incentives for quiet air technology aircraft at the Grand Canyon as part of a massive transportation bill passed in 2012.

Hikers and tourists on the ground have complained that aircraft noise interferes with the feeling of solitude and appreciation of nature.

"Any kind of a reduction from noise is going to provide a better experience for park visitors," said park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge. "It's not quiet, but it's quieter than the standard technology."

The FAA determines whether aircraft is considered quiet using a formula that takes into account noise certification levels and number of seats. About 60 percent of the aircraft conducting tours at the Grand Canyon already meet that standard, Oltrogge said. At full conversion, the reduced fee would save the operators $250,000 a year, she said.

Quiet technology is in use at other national parks, including Haleakala National Park in Hawaii and the Statue of Liberty in New York, according to the FAA.

The standard doesn't necessarily mean aircraft will be completely quiet. Operators could, for example, add more seats to existing aircraft or switch out engines to meet the definition of quiet technology.

The benefit to visitors at the Grand Canyon depends on what action the operators take, said Jim McCarthy of the Sierra Club.

"It potentially could be counterproductive," McCarthy said.

The National Park Service was close to finalizing rules to manage air tours and noise at the Grand Canyon before the federal legislation forced the agency to change its goal for restoring natural quiet to the park. The Park Service wanted to make 67 percent of the canyon quiet for three-fourths of the day or longer.

Some members of Congress pushed a provision in the 2012 federal transportation bill to make half of the park free from commercial air tour noise for at least 75 percent of the day and provide incentives for quiet air technology. Many of the tours originate from Las Vegas.

Oltrogge said the Park Service's plan that had been in the works for decades since has been halted.

U.S. Sen. John McCain applauded the incentive and said he is looking forward to more meaningful initiatives that would improve access to popular flight corridors for quieter aircraft.

"This is the first step toward meeting the requirement set by Congress to convert all aircraft at the park to quiet technology in a way that protects tourism jobs and allows all visitors to enjoy some of the most breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon," he said in a statement. 

Sham Gurgaon firm 'trains' pilot, clips wings

GURGAON: Harish Abdul could see his dream of becoming a commercial pilot take off when he sat in the cockpit of a training aircraft in the Philippines. He hadn't foreseen a crash-landing only two days later.

Abdul, a 24-year-old Madurai resident, was sent back to India within 48 hours of his first flight. The training that cost him Rs 49 lakh and was being provided by a Gurgaon-based aviation company, was cut short abruptly and Abdul was asked to contact the company office in Gurgaon. But no one answered his call. The office, even the company, simply didn't exist.

The elaborate hoax pulled off by a group of frauds came to light on Wednesday when a complaint was filed at Sector 29 police station after J M Haroon, a Congress MP in Tamil Nadu, intervened on Abdul's behalf. In the complaint, Abdul said he had come to know about Ace Pilots Aviation, a Gurgaon-based company, through an online agent. The company promised flight training in the Philippines as part of its course, and a certificate. Eager to give his career a boost, an unsuspecting Abdul paid Rs 49,12,000 as course fee and donations.

Police believe the fraud had a conduit in the Philippines who arranged the training there. When Abdul made inquiries after returning to India, he was told no company by the name of Ace Pilots Aviation was authorized to provide pilot training. A case of fraud has been filed against two company officials named by Abdul - Lalitha Krishnamurthy and Anand Patel - after a preliminary investigation by the cyber cell.

A Gurgaon Police team will travel to Madurai. Abdul wasn't available for comment.


AĆ©rospatiale AS 350BA Ecureuil, ZK-HKU, Fox and Franz Hel Services: Fatal accident occurred November 21, 2015 in Fox Glacier, New Zealand

NTSB Identification: WPR16WA034
Accident occurred Saturday, November 21, 2015 in Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS350, registration:
Injuries: 7 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand has notified the NTSB of an accident involving a Eurocopter AS350BA helicopter, which occurred on November 21, 2015. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the New Zealand Transport Safety Investigation Commission investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13 as the State of Manufacture and Design of the engine.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of New Zealand. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:
New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission
Wellington, New Zealand


The seven people killed in Saturday's crash were: Mitchell Paul Gameren of Queenstown, 28, Andrew Virco of Cambridge in England, 50, Katharine Walker of Cambridge in England, 51, Nigel Edwin Charlton of Hampshire, 66, Cynthia Charlton of Hampshire, 70, Sovannmony Leang of New South Wales, 27, and Josephine Gibson of New South Wales, 29.

Katharine Walker was the head of Radiotherapy at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

Aircraft in short supply; But third highest cause of deaths

Editor’s note: This is the fifth part of a week-long series on wildland firefighter deaths in the West.

TWIN FALLS — When firefighters could no longer contain the flames threatening homes in Idaho’s Wood River Valley last summer, their crew leaders looked to the sky.

“Here comes the air show,” many shouted as air tankers and helicopters were called in to drop hundreds of thousands of gallons of retardant and water onto the flames.

The wildfire was ravaging the hills surrounding Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley just days after lightning sparked the fire Aug. 7. Due to the fire’s erratic behavior, the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office ordered mass evacuations. Thousands fled the area to avoid the invading smoke and flames.

By Day Eight of fighting the fire, officials met at base camp to strategize against a situation defying normal flame activity.

Above them, a DC-10 heavy air tanker – known as Tanker 910 – dropped almost 12,000 gallons of retardant in eight seconds on the southern flank of the fire. But as the pilots turned it around to refuel in Pocatello, the plane began experiencing engine failure.

The aircraft’s No. 2 engine in the tail was no longer working, but the two pilots managed to make a non-emergency landing at the reload base.

The air tanker would be out of commission for two days as mechanics replaced the faulty engine.

With no large air tanker flying above, firefighters back on the line at the Beaver Creek fire were left with smaller aircraft to assist the nation’s top priority wildfire.

Why couldn’t they find an air tanker replacement? The U.S. Forest Service didn’t have one to spare.

The Forest Service – the nation’s largest and most expensive firefighting agency — contracted just 11 air tankers for suppressing wildfires last summer.

Built in 1974, Tanker 910 was first flown as a wide-body jet airliner. It was converted in 2002 to fight fire in California, where the Forest Service eventually secured an exclusive-use contract this year.

Engine failure is rare on Tanker 910, but pilots are required to train on how to land if one of the three engines fails, said Rick Hatton, chief executive officer of 10 Tanker, the company that owns and flies Tanker 910 and its sister aircraft, Tanker 911.

“It’s not particularly troublesome, but it is costly,” he said. “It’ll happen again, but not often.”

Tankers 910 and 911 are the only two DC-10 air tankers the Forest Service contracts with to suppress wildfires. And Tanker 910 is scheduled to retire in 2014, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Forest Service

has been working with a limited fleet since 2002 when it reduced its aircraft supply from 44 to 11.

At the time, the agency said it would work to replace and replenish the aging fleet. But 10 years later, the number remains the same — while aviation accidents and firefighter fatalities are up.

In 2012, three aircraft crashes occurred while responding to wildfires, two of which resulted in six fatalities — the most since 2002, when five people were killed in two crashes.

Aircraft and air tanker deaths are the third highest cause of wildland firefighter fatalities, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, with heart attacks a close second.

Firefighting aircraft have been used by the Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for decades. But unlike helicopters and single-engine air tankers, large air tankers were not originally designed to suppress wildfires.

For years, federal officials retrofitted air tankers they obtained from military surplus to drop retardant. Private companies transformed commercial air tankers to meet FAA standards for fighting a wildland fire, but the strict requirements and high costs have deterred many companies over the years.

How many air tankers and other aircraft are needed is unknown, even by the U.S. Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture, according to an August report from the Governmental Accountability Office.

According to the report, the agencies failed to provide adequate information on performance and effectiveness when identifying what firefighting aircraft it needed.

The Forest Service wants to buy aircraft as part of its long-term aircraft plan, but it’s “unable to justify its previous plans for purchasing large air tankers to the Office of Management and Budget,” mainly because it has not provided proof of what works and what doesn’t, the report found.

“No accurate information on the effectiveness of aerial fire suppression exists and noted that the factors contributing to the success of wildfire suppression efforts are poorly understood,” the report stated. Instead, fire officials decide when and where to use aircraft based on observation and experience. While this may be effective, there is no empirical data supporting the anecdotes.

Without aircraft, fires can take longer to put out, said Eric Hipke, training specialist with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.

“If you have the money and the resources, you can fight (fire) differently,” Hipke said. “But you don’t always get what you want.”

But how much does aerial firefighting enhance the safety of ground crews?

Hipke is one of the few survivors of the 1994 South Canyon fire that killed 14 firefighters just outside of Glenwood Springs, Colo.

The day they died, smokejumpers and hotshot crews were sent to build a line around the fire to contain the flames. Unbeknownst to them, the fire was getting ready to blow up the steep ridge where they were digging line. Once it did blow, the fire outpaced many of the men and women desperately trying to get out of its path.

Over the years, many firefighters and officials have offered their two cents on what they would have done differently.

“I had one guy from Southern California tell me that he never would have gone in,” Hipke said. “He said he would have drowned the hill with water from helicopters. We just didn’t have them.”

In some instances, fire management officers are preferring to use helicopters and SEATs over the heavy air tankers.

Large air tankers may be beasts in the air, but they are monsters on limited federal budgets. Exclusive-use contracts with a large air tanker like a DC-10 cost as high as $12,000 per hour to use on a wildfire or $75,000 per day.

Helicopters, on the other hand, are much cheaper to use. A medium helicopter can be as high as $2,000 per hour or $12,000 per day.

“I’d like to see more helicopters,” said Josh Brinkley, fire operations supervisor for the BLM Twin Falls district office.

Helicopters can go to the nearest available water source, Brinkley said. Heavy air tankers must fly back to the nearest refuel stations, which can take more than hour to land, refuel and then fly back to a wildfire.

In an era in which budget cuts are the norm, getting fire officials what they want is rare.

This year, BLM budget constraints forced the agency’s Twin Falls District to rely on a type 3 helicopter instead of a type 2. A type 3 helicopter can hold a three-person crew and carries about 140 gallons of water. A type 2 aircraft can carry a six-person crew and carry nearly 300 gallons of water.

Hatton, on the other hand, argued that large tankers like his Tanker 910 offer the public more bang for their tax buck.

“The DC-10 brings the equivalent of five smaller airplanes,” he said. “You get more retardant sooner, which is what firefighters want.”


Grass menagerie: Thieves stole a Maryland airplane club’s prized lawn tractor

John Kelly

Gary Heath didn’t believe it at first, doing the sort of double take you do when your brain refuses to comprehend what your eyes are telling you. 

 On the morning of Sunday, Dec. 29, Gary peered into the big metal trailer where the Free State Aeromodelers club stores some of its equipment, only to find that the club’s prized John Deere Model Type D140 lawn tractor (serial number 1GXD140ETCC323493, with 48-inch cutting deck) was gone.

“It’s just so crushing,” Gary said.

The locks that secured the trailer’s doors had been bashed off, and a cable that looped around the tractor’s axle to keep it attached to the trailer’s floor had been snipped. The theft took some planning.

“They had to know it was there,” said Tom Salamon, treasurer-secretary of the club. “They had to bring tools with them: crowbars, saws, whatever the hell they used. They planned it.”

The club has one of the nicest facilities for flying radio-controlled planes and helicopters on the East Coast. It’s in Laurel, not far from the Gardens Ice House, on a road that includes a mulch operation and an asphalt plant, not the sort of neighbors who mind stuff buzzing around.

There are nearly 100 acres that the miniature aviators can fly over and a smooth, grass runway that’s 100 feet wide and 500 feet long. In warmer months, a lawn service comes once a week to mow it, but to keep it in tip-top condition club members manicure the field more often. They’d been using push mowers, but in 2012 they splurged on the $2,000 John Deere, a stretch for the 120-member club.

“Landing in tall grass is kind of like trying to land on Velcro,” said Tom, whose day job is designing swimming pools. “As soon as the wheels touch down, it’s like putting on the brakes. One tends to get a lot of nose-overs, and it makes it hard to taxi. You can’t get a good takeoff roll. So we like to keep the grass groomed on the runway.”

Tom said the tractor was uninsured because no firm would write a policy for equipment stored on leased property. The club is hoping that if I write about the stolen tractor, someone might recognize it and the group will get it back.

I explained that only good people read my column, not thieves.

“It only takes one good person to drop a dime on them,” said Bill Kahl, who writes software code for the Defense Department.

The club traditionally welcomes the new year by flying. On Wednesday morning, about two dozen members had brought various craft, from detailed scale reproductions of a Stearman biplane and a Super Sabre jet to a loud helicopter.

“It’s a bunch of old guys with toys,” said Gary, an electrician.

A bunch of old guys who don’t mind getting up at 7 a.m. on Jan. 1 to stand in the bone-chilling cold.

“We’re all divorced,” joked John McDermott of Silver Spring.

He was fiddling with a handmade plane he’d dubbed the Purple Haze, after the Jimi Hendrix song. The landing gear had come off after a previous rough touchdown, but John was confident he could get it back on.

“It’s been smacked up many, many times,” he said. “It will rise again, like a phoenix.”

For some, the appeal of the hobby is in building the planes. Others prefer buying finished planes off the shelf and flying them. Whichever category you’re in, you’re only as good as your last landing.

“Once you come in that gate, you’re not a doctor or a lawyer or a dentist,” said John, who is a construction supervisor. “You’re an airplane.”

Jerry Richards, a retired FBI agent from Laurel, stood admiring the aerobatics. He oversaw construction of the field in 2000 after encroaching development had forced the Free State Aeromodelers to abandon earlier locations.

“You could actually land a small plane here,” he said.

He meant a plane bigger than the small planes that were turning somersaults in the air.


Tom Salamon fiddles with his remote-controlled plane at the Free State Aeromodelers club field in Laurel on January 1.
John Kelly/The Washington Post

Parking donations: Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport (KRKS), Rock Springs, Wyoming

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) – People who park at the Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport may be asked to make a monetary donation.

The airport board has agreed in principle to start requesting voluntary donations from people parking their vehicles at the airport.

Airport manager Terry Doak says the idea likely will be discussed further at the next airport board meeting on Jan. 8.

Airport board member Jim Wamsley tells the Rock Springs Rocket Miner ( ) that the airport cannot charge a mandatory parking fee.

He says the Federal Aviation Administration stipulates that parking must be free because FAA money was originally provided to help build the airport parking lot.

Information from: Rock Springs (Wyo.) Rocket-Miner,

Planes, ferries to and from Block Island suspended

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Winter storm Hercules has cutoff Block Island from the mainland as New England Airlines canceled flights to the island and Interstate Navigation Company suspended the Block Island Ferry.

After one round-trip flight between Westerly and Block Island Thursday morning, New England Airlines canceled service to the island because the airport there closed. A spokeswoman for the airline said she hopes service will be able to resume Friday afternoon.

The news was the same for the Block Island Ferry. After one run from Point Judith out to the island at 6:30 a.m. and one run back at 8:15 a.m., heavy seas canceled remaining ferrys on Thursday.

Interstate Navigation Company operations manager Christian Myers said that service will be restored by Saturday, but that Friday is still up in the air. “We’re just waiting to see what happens overnight, how quickly this blows through.” He said he should know by 7 a.m. Friday what that day’s schedule will be.

Man arrested for shining laser light at helicopter

A Holly Hill man was arrested early New Year’s Day accused of shining a green laser light into the cockpit of a Volusia County sheriff’s helicopter as the craft flew on patrol over his neighborhood, investigating deputies said.

Andrew Decker, 18, a Daytona State College student, was charged with pointing a laser light at a pilot/driver.

Deputies said Air One was on patrol over the city of Holly Hill when the green laser light was shined at it at least four times around 12:18 a.m. On one occasion, the light was shone into the cockpit as the pilot wore night vision goggles trying to locate Decker, an arrest report shows.

The pilot guided deputies to 1569 Hammock Drive in Holly Hill where they found Decker outside with the laser in his hand. Even as deputies were walking toward Decker, he again pointed the laser at the helicopter, reports said.

Decker said he just wanted to find out if the laser could reach as high as the helicopter was flying, even after a neighbor told him it was a crime to do so, reports said.


Andrew Decker

Layoffs at Bangor International Airport (KBGR) and More Coming

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor International Airport laid off 15 employees Thursday and more layoffs are expected over the next two weeks, airport Director Tony Caruso said Thursday morning.

Caruso said more layoffs will be announced through next week. At that point, the airport will re-evaluate and determine what other changes might be needed to solidify its finances.

Caruso declined to say how many employees he expects to lose their jobs.

The cuts will be the “hardest thing I’ve had to do since I started at the airport,” Caruso said.

Most of the employees who received layoff notices Thursday were part-timers, some of whom may be invited to stay with the airport on an on-call basis. Caruso said the cuts would affect part-time and full-time employees, as well as union and nonunion employees, “across many divisions of the airport.”

During the past decade, the airport has served as a refueling point for more than 6,000 military charter flights. Those flights served as a significant revenue stream for the airport. Each time a military flight landed at the airport, BGR took in money for ground handling, passenger handling, gate use, fuel and service and maintenance equipment for the planes.

“We’ve had the privilege to work with these military flights for over a decade, but we knew eventually that business would start to go away,” Caruso said.

As the wars in the Middle East have wound down, the airport saw fewer and fewer military flights on the tarmac. That meant a decline in revenue. The airport has seen a 75 percent drop in the number of military flights since 2010, but the most significant hit came during 2012-2013, when the airport saw a 55 percent decrease.

Caruso said it’s difficult to pinpoint the monetary impact the decrease had on the airport because the military flight flow is unpredictable and varies year-to-year and month-to-month, but the reduction in flights has created fiscal concerns that call for changes.

Airport budget and employment totals were not immediately available.

As military action overseas continues to wind down, the airport is looking to bolster the revenue it receives from other sources, the director said. The airport has several new tenants, including Maine State Police, which moved its Orono barracks to Bangor, and C&L Aerospace, which is expanding its Bangor hub, and will continue to focus on developing those sorts of revenue streams, according to Caruso.

Caruso also said that the airport saw 5 percent growth in passenger numbers during the past year and hopes to continue to push that positive trend.

Caruso said he doesn’t expect passengers will see any major changes resulting from the lost and reduced positions.

RV-4, N416DH: Accident occurred December 01, 2012 in Carthage, North Carolina

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA072
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 01, 2012 in Carthage, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/23/2014
Aircraft: HANSEN DAVID DANIEL RV-4, registration: N416DH
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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

During cruise flight, the engine began losing power. The pilot in the front seat, who was flying the airplane, attempted to troubleshoot the engine issue, including activating the carburetor heat; however, the engine continued to run roughly, so he chose to divert to a nearby airport. The rear-seat pilot then took control of the airplane. While on final approach to the runway, the rear-seat pilot asked the front-seat pilot, who was seated near the wing flap control, to configure the flaps for landing. After the flaps fully extended, they retracted. The rear-seat pilot then asked the front-seat pilot to re-extend the flaps. About this time, the rear-seat pilot noticed that people and vehicles were at the end of the runway and chose to abort the landing by increasing engine power and turning the airplane toward an adjacent field. However, the airplane had sufficient altitude and power, so the pilot should have been able to make the runway and land safely. During the subsequent attempt to land the airplane, it stalled and then touched down hard. The airplane was substantially damaged, and both pilots were seriously injured. Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the wing flaps appeared to be fully extended. The front-seat pilot, who was a co-owner, had been working to rectify several maintenance discrepancies he had identified after purchasing the airplane 2 months earlier, one of which included a leaking right fuel tank; he had repaired the exterior of the tank. Examination of the engine and fuel system identified the presence of fuel tank sealant on the exterior of the steel braid of both fuel tanks’ flexible pick-up tubes and flaked pieces of fuel tank sealant and other contaminants within the gascolator. However, examinations revealed that the fuel screens at the engine-driven fuel pump and the carburetor were not contaminated. Both fuel tanks were found breached. An examination of the engine did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Although the temperature and dew point about the time of the accident were conducive to the formation of carburetor ice, it unlikely that carburetor ice played a role in the loss of engine power because the pilots’ reported using carburetor heat following the loss of engine power.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A partial loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examinations of the engine and fuel system revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the rear-seat pilots' decision to abort the landing with partial engine power and his failure to successfully perform a forced landing to an available airfield.

On December 1, 2012, about 1030 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built RV-4, N416DH, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during a forced landing following a partial loss of engine power near McConnell Airfield (5NC3), Carthage, North Carolina. The certificated commercial pilot/co-owner of the airplane and the certificated airline transport pilot were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from Long Island Airport (NC26), Long Island, North Carolina, and was destined for Rowan County Airport (RUQ), Salisbury, North Carolina. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. 

According to the commercial pilot, he had purchased the airplane about two months prior to the accident and had flown it home from Utah. Since then, he had been trying to identify and rectify some "squawks" he had noted with the airplane. One of the issues he had observed was that fuel seemed to be seeping from the right wing fuel tank, and he had been attempting to identify the source of the leak. About one week prior to the accident flight, he re-sealed all of the rivet lines on the fuel tank from the outside. The purpose of the accident flight was to test fly the airplane and determine if the leak had been fixed.

The commercial pilot, was seated in the front seat of the airplane, which was equipped with a fully functional set of flight/engine controls and instrumentation, while the airline transport pilot was seated in the rear seat, which was only equipped with basic flight and engine controls, and did not include flap or brake controls. The pilots planned to fly around the local area, and had anticipated stopping at several airports throughout the day. After performing a preflight inspection, the pilots filled the airplane's fuel tanks and departed from Lake Norman Airpark (14A), Mooresville, North Carolina. They then proceeded uneventfully to NC26, where after a brief stop, they departed on the accident flight.

About 5 minutes after departing, and while flying at an altitude of about 3,000 feet msl, the airplane's engine began losing power over a period of about 15 seconds, and continued to run roughly at a very low power output. The front seat pilot activated the carburetor heat, richened the mixture, activated the fuel boost pump, ensured that the primer was locked in place, and switched the fuel selector from the right to left fuel tank. The rear seat pilot then took control of the airplane and turned towards 5NC3, which was nearby.

Upon arriving over the airport, the rear seat pilot circled overhead in order to lose altitude before turning onto the final approach to the runway and asking the front seat pilot to set the flaps to 30 degrees. Shortly before reaching the runway threshold, the rear seat pilot heard a loud "bang," and realized that the flaps had retracted from the 30- to the 10-degree position. The rear seat pilot then asked the front seat pilot to reposition the flaps back to the 30-degree position; but could not recall if the front seat pilot had done so. Seeing persons and vehicles near the departure end of the runway, the rear seat pilot elected to abort the landing, increased the throttle to the full forward position, and maneuvered the airplane toward a farm field to the south of the runway. While attempting to land, the airplane touched down hard, collapsing the landing gear, before coming to rest in a stand of trees, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed a cursory examination of the airplane at the accident site, and noted that the wing flaps appeared to be fully extended. The airplane was subsequently recovered from the accident site and examined. Both fuel tanks were breached at the inboard forward attach points where the fuel lines were installed. Both fuel tank caps were in place and their seals were in good condition. Interior inspection of the tanks revealed that they were absent of fuel, water, or contamination. A flop tube was installed in each tank and considerable amount of fuel tank sealant was present on the braided steel cover of each flop tube. 

The gascolator was removed opened for inspection, and was completely full of light-blue colored fuel that had a smell consistent with 100LL aviation fuel. About 1/2 teaspoon of solid contaminants was present at the bottom of the gascolator. The contaminants appeared consistent with flaked fuel tank sealant and dirt.
Fuel samples from the fuel pump and gascolator were tested for the presence of water, and none was found.

The cockpit fuel selector valve and fuel lines from the gascolator to the valve and from the valve to the wing roots were tested with compressed air. The valve operated normally and the lines were clear of obstructions. The fuel lines forward of the engine firewall were removed and examined for blockage, with no obstructions noted.

The engine-driven fuel pump was removed from the engine and its input was actuated manually. The pump operated normally and pumped fuel. The pump was subsequently disassembled and examined, and the fuel screen was absent of debris or contamination and the fuel inlet and outlet ports were normal in appearance.

The carburetor fuel inlet screen was examined and was absent of debris. The carburetor could not be tested due to impact damage; however, a visual examination of its components was unremarkable. The carburetor bowl was clean and dry; however, it was broken free from the upper half of the carburetor.

Continuity of the engine's powertrain and valvetrain were confirmed by rotation of the crankshaft at the propeller flange. The crankshaft turned with no binding noted, and suction and compression were observed on all cylinders. Rotation of the crankshaft produced spark at each of the impulse coupler-equipped right magneto's terminal leads, and the left magneto was not tested. The four top spark plugs were removed and all exhibited normal wear and were light gray in color.

According to FAA airworthiness records, the experimental amateur-built airplane was completed and certificated in 1991. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-E2A engine. Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent condition inspection was completed by the airplane's builder in March 2012.

The weather conditions reported at Moore County Airport (SOP), Pinehurst, North Carolina, located about 8 nautical miles south of the accident site, at 1035, included winds from 220 degrees at 5 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, clear skies below 12,000 feet, a temperature of 15 degrees C, a dew point of 7 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.41 inches of mercury. Consultation of a carburetor icing probability chart published by the FAA showed that the temperature/dewpoint conditions were favorable to the accumulation of "serious icing at glide power."

 Brett Hannaford

A South Carolina man who was paralyzed in a plane crash is learning to walk again. Special technology is allowing Brett Hannaford to walk again. "You know, I thought I was going to be confined to a wheelchair," Hannaford told WCCB-TV in Charlotte. 

 In December of 2012 the engine in a small plane he was piloting failed and he crashed in a Iredell County field.  "After being flown to Carolinas Medical Center, I was assessed and they had given me the news that I was paralyzed waist down."

Hannaford is one of the first to test an exo-skeleton device known as ReWalk. "For me, it's a such a confidence booster just to be able to stand back up, just to be able to talk to people at face level."

Carolinas Rehabilitation Center is one of a few hospitals across the county testing the technology.

He's been working with physical therapist Ashley Clark for about six months. "When he started walking, it was two people helping him and now he basically walks almost on his own today. So he's come a long long way. He'll be our first person to be completely independent on the device," said Clark.

Despite difficulties, Hannaford has a positive outlook. "I was very fortunate to survive that plane crash. Therefore, I realize that I have a second opportunity at life, and I can't dwell on what's happened. I can only move forward and do the best job that I can do."


(CNN) -- A South Carolina man who was paralyzed in a plane crash is learning to walk again. Special technology is being used to make his legs move.

It takes a little bit of effort but Brett Hannaford is doing something he never thought he'd do again. He's walking.

In December 2012, the engine in a small plane he was piloting failed and he crashed in an Iredell County field.

While most with spinal cord injuries similar to his never walk again, Hannaford is one of the first to test an exo-skeleton device known as ReWalk.

Carolinas Rehabilitation Center is one of a few hospitals across the county testing the technology.

Hannaford has been working with physical therapist Ashley Clark for about six months.

Despite the difficult circumstances he faces he has a positive attitude an constant smile.

He says things can only get better from here.

Plane crashes in Iredell County -

NTSB Identification: ERA13LA072
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 01, 2012 in Carthage, NC
Aircraft: HANSEN DAVID DANIEL RV-4, registration: N416DH
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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 December 1, 2012, about 1030 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built RV-4, N416DH, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during a forced landing following a partial loss of engine power near McConnell Airfield (5NC3), Carthage, North Carolina. The commercial pilot and the airline transport pilot were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from Long Island Airport (NC26), Long Island, North Carolina, and was destined for Rowan County Airport (RUQ), Salisbury, North Carolina. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The commercial pilot, seated in the front seat of the airplane, and the airline transport pilot, seated in the rear seat, planned to fly around the local area, and had anticipated stopping at several airports throughout the day. After performing a preflight inspection, the pilots filled the airplane’s fuel tanks and departed from Lake Norman Airpark (14A), Mooresville, North Carolina. They then proceeded uneventfully to NC26, where after a brief stop, they departed on the accident flight.

About 5 minutes after departing, and while flying at an altitude of about 3,000 feet msl, the airplane’s engine began losing power over a period of about 15 seconds, and continued to run roughly at a very low power output. The front seat pilot activated the carburetor heat, richened the mixture, activated the fuel boost pump, ensured that the primer was locked in place, and switched from the right to left fuel tank. The rear seat pilot then took control of the airplane and turned towards 5NC3, which was nearby.

Upon arriving over the airport, the rear seat pilot circled overhead in order to lose altitude before turning onto the final approach to the runway and asking the front seat pilot to set the flaps to 30 degrees. Shortly before reaching the runway threshold, the rear seat pilot heard a loud “bang,” and realized that the flaps had retracted from the 30 to the 10-degree position. The front seat pilot was unable to reposition the flaps and the airplane accelerated. Seeing persons and vehicles near the departure end of the runway, the rear seat pilot elected to abort the landing, and attempted to land in a farm field to the south of the runway. The airplane subsequently touched down hard, collapsing the landing gear, before coming to rest in a stand of trees, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings.

  Regis#: 416DH        Make/Model: EXP       Description: RV4
  Date: 12/01/2012     Time: 1630

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: Serious     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

  City: MOUNT ULLA   State: NC   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   2     Fat:   0     Ser:   2     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: CHARLOTTE, NC  (SO33)                 Entry date: 12/03/2012