Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Sikorsky HH-60G Pavehawk, United States Air Force 48th Fighter Wing: Accident occurred January 07, 2014 in Marshland near Cley-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Bodies of Four U.S. Helicopter Airmen Killed in Crash in U.K. Remain at Scene: Difficult Terrain, Scattered Munitions Impede Investigation 

The Wall Street Journal

By Nicholas Winning

Updated Jan. 8, 2014 4:28 p.m. ET

The bodies of four airmen killed when a U.S. Air Force helicopter crashed in English marshland Tuesday and the wreckage of their aircraft will remain on site for a second night so as not to disrupt evidence, police said Wednesday after investigators spent a day contending with difficult terrain and scattered munitions to work out what had happened.

The HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 48th Fighter Wing at Lakenheath Royal Air Force base went down during a low-level training mission after dark Tuesday in a nature reserve on the Norfolk coast, some 130 miles northeast of London, police and the U.S. Air Force said.

Lakenheath, the largest U.S. Air Force-operated base in England, named the four crew in a statement as Captain Christopher Stover and Captain Sean Ruane, who were piloting the helicopter, and Technical Sergeant Dale Mathews and Staff Sergeant Afton M. Ponce, who were the special mission operators. The base press office declined to give their ages but said the next of kin had been notified.

U.S. Staff Sergeant Stephen Linch at Lakenheath said the U.S. Air Force had no information about the cause of the crash or details about the safety record and age of the helicopter, but added that it was the first time an HH-60G Pave Hawk had crashed since it began operating on the base in 2006. Colonel Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander, is scheduled to hold a news conference at the base at 0800 GMT Thursday.

Police said they continued to lead the investigation at the crash site on behalf of the local coroner, with assistance from the British Ministry of Defense's Air Accident Investigation Branch and the U.S. Air Force.

Chief Superintendent Bob Scully said Wednesday that the crash site was about the size of a soccer field and investigators faced a challenging and lengthy process because of the difficult terrain and the fact that ammunition had been scattered across the area.

Aerial footage of the site on BBC television showed debris and mangled metal strewed across the marshy area with no pieces that were recognizable as a helicopter. The area has been cordoned off while the investigation continues and was likely to remain out of bounds to the public for a number of days, the police said.

"There will be some tasks taking place during the hours of darkness, however, the aircraft and those who have died will remain in situ overnight as their removal could disrupt evidence," police said in a statement.

Lakenheath, some 70 miles northeast of London, is home to five squadrons of F-16 fighter jets and Pave Hawks. The helicopters are manufactured by Sikorsky, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

Frans Jurgens, a spokesman for Sikorsky, said the U.S. Air Force is looking to replace its aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks, which were mostly delivered in the 1980s, but the contract depends on a budget review. Although they are an old aircraft, they have an exemplary safety record and have been used extensively in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"They fly where no one else goes," Mr. Jurgens said by phone from the company's headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut.

Officials at Lakenheath said the crews at the base that operate the Pave Hawk helicopters, a modified version of the Black Hawk used for search and rescue missions behind enemy lines, routinely train for low-level flights and night operations in all weathers.

A second helicopter from Lakenheath that was taking part in the same training exercise and landed on the site shortly after the crash will also remain there overnight so as not to disturb the scene, the police said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron sent his condolences to the families of those who had lost their lives. "Our thoughts should…go to the victims of the U.S. helicopter crash in Norfolk about which details are still emerging," he told parliament.

Matthew Barzun, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K., said in a twitter message: "My thoughts & prayers are with the four U.S. airmen tragically lost in Norfolk last night & their families."

Source:  http://online.wsj.com 

 Live bullets are strewn across the scene of the helicopter crash at Cley as police and military experts probe the cause of the accident, which killed four USAF personnel. 

 Members of the public are being urged to stay away from the site on the marshes off Cley and Salthouse for safety reasons, and to allow the investigation to proceed unhindered.

The crash scene is the size of a football pitch, and police and military staff are at the scene - alongside a second helicopter, which was taking part in a military exercise when the other helicopter crashed.

A strict cordon remains in place around the Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve, and those involved in the investigation include Ministry of Defence, Air Accident Investigation Branch, US Air Force and HM Coroner.

Two helicopters were involved in the training activity last night and following the crash the second aircraft landed nearby to assist.

Speaking from the scene, Chief Supt Bob Scully said: “The crash site is about the size of a football pitch, with difficult terrain which makes this a challenging and lengthy process.

“This is mainly on marshland although some debris which was close to the beach has been moved as it would be vulnerable to high tide.

“Further close examinations of the scene will take place this morning and the bodies of the deceased will be removed once this has taken place.

“The helicopter was carrying ammunition this was in the form of bullets which are scattered across the site, which is why the restrictions are necessary.

“We would like to thank the local community for their patience and understanding at such a challenging time and our thoughts remain with those affected by this tragic incident.”

Specialist military personnel will attend to assess the environmental impact while the A149 remains closed through Cley. Access to Beach Road and East Bank is also restricted and there is no coastline access to the crash site.

The crashed aircraft is a USAF Pave Hawk HH60 helicopter from RAF Lakenheath, which came down at the north end of East Bank at around 7pm.

Names of the airmen killed in the crash will be released 24 hours after next-of-kin notifications.

The aircraft, assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing, was performing a low-level training mission along the coast when the crash occurred.

A second helicopter from RAF Lakenheath was also in the area at the time of the crash and set down on the marshes to try to assist, this was within the cordon and so this aircraft remains at the scene while inquiries are ongoing.

A five-mile radius exclusion zone for any aircraft in the north Norfolk area has been put in place.

Due to the geography and the munitions from the crashed helicopter, inquiries into the cause of the collision, the recovery of the wreckage and second aircraft and an environmental assessment are expected to take a number of days to complete.

Last night people in the area spoke of their shock at the tragedy and told of hearing a “heavy and very unusual” sound overhead as the helicopter plummeted into marshland.

Peter and Sue Mcknespiey, who run Cookies Crabshop in Salthouse, heard what sounded like a helicopter and then jets flying overhead before becoming aware of fire engines, police and emergency services outside.

She said: “It just seemed an unusual thing. It didn’t seem normal because it was so low and they don’t fly low anymore.”

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said the crash was “utterly tragic”, adding: “My heart goes out to the families of the crew, and it is all the more difficult because I suspect the families are from a long way away and the news is just filtering through.

“It is highly traumatic too for the local communities but it was quite close to the villages and could have been even more horrific if it came down on buildings.”

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said six fire crews were in attendance until around 11.30pm.

A spokesman for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution said: “We were asked for three lifeboats to respond to reports that an aircraft had possibly ditched in the sea.

“Lifeboats Wells, Sheringham and Cromer were launched at the request of the coastguard but were stood down when it was confirmed that the aircraft had come down over land.”

Source:  http://www.edp24.co.uk

The scene at Cley next the Sea after an American military helicopter crashed and another landed after the incident. What is thought to be some of the wreckage lies on the marshes. 

(CNN) -- Recovery of the bodies of the four U.S. Air Force personnel who died Tuesday evening when their military helicopter crashed near Cley, on the North Sea coast of England, could take more than a day, an official said.

 "You would be very much mistaken if you thought that this would be a quick process," Norfolk Constabulary Chief Superintendent Bob Scully told reporters.

"A lot hinges on our ability to understand what happened to the aircraft that crashed, and that includes the detailed investigation that needs to be done."

The U.S. Air Force Pave Hawk HH-60G helicopter, from a British base in Lakenheath, crashed in a nature preserve.

The Royal Air Force base said the crash occurred during an evening training mission while the helicopter was flying low.

Cley is 180 kilometers (about 110 miles) northeast of London.

Removal of the dead from the aircraft "can disrupt the evidence and so it has to be done methodically, step by step ... possibly until tomorrow," Scully said.

Specialists from the Royal Air Force, the U.S. Air Force and investigators from the Norfolk Constabulary were working together to find out what happened, he said.

Scully said he did not know whether families of the dead had been notified.

Though ammunition scattered across the site during the crash, "the community do not need to be concerned" as long as they respect the cordon erected around the site, he said.

Roads near the site have been closed and will probably remain that way until Monday, he said.

According to the Air Force website, a Pave Hawk is a "highly modified" version of a Black Hawk helicopter that often carries a crew of two pilots, one flight engineer and one gunner.

Story, video and comments/reaction:   http://www.cnn.com

Salthouse helicopter scene first light Wednesday. 

First light has provided an early glimpse of the helicopter crash scene at Cley. 

 This shot by Cley villager Sarah Whittley shows the second Pave Hawk aircraft involved in the training exercise, landed close to the crash area - which police says sees debris, including bullets, covering the size of a football pitch.

Ms Whittley from the Pinkfoot art gallery said the area was busy with incoming US military traffic, including a low loader with a digger on the back which was struggling to get through the village’s winding streets.

Police this morning said the bodies of the four crew from RAF Lakenheath have not yet been recovered.

The coast road remains closed and a 400m cordon in place around the crash site.

In pictures: Norfolk fatal US helicopter crash at Cley

Boeing's Key Mission: Cut Dreamliner Cost

The Wall Street Journal

By  Jon Ostrower

Jan. 7, 2014 8:14 p.m. ET

Boeing Co. showed in 2013 that having burning batteries aboard its most-advanced aircraft wasn't necessarily bad for business.

Despite a series of embarrassments, including the temporary grounding of its flagship 787 Dreamliner after two battery incidents, Boeing's commercial-jet business had one of its best years ever.

This is expected to be another banner year for the company, but to succeed in the long run, Boeing will have to slash the cost of building the Dreamliner while meeting ambitious delivery schedules for six new commercial-jet models it plans to churn out in the next six years.

Boeing booked its fourth consecutive increase in net new aircraft orders last year. The aerospace giant also topped its previous record for jet deliveries, and is set to surpass rival Airbus Group NV for the second year in a row. Operating profit at Boeing's commercial-jet division soared 24% to $4.3 billion in the first nine months of 2013, and the full-year number likely exceeded the high of $4.7 billion set in 2012.

Boeing shares, meanwhile, are trading near an all-time high after rising more than 80% last year, making the stock the year's best performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The strong financial performance came even as Boeing was beset by the 3½-month grounding of the Dreamliner, an unrelated fire aboard one of the new planes and a spate of reliability issues that have frustrated the aircraft's customers. The gains partly stem from the airline industry's voracious demand for new fuel-efficient jets.

"At the end of the day airlines are focused on economics, and the economics [of the 787] look pretty good," said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis for the Teal Group aerospace consulting firm.

For Boeing, the cost of producing the Dreamliner, which was delayed by 3½ years because of design and manufacturing problems, is a thorny issue. The Dreamliners delivered so far continue to cost the company much more to make than what it charges for them, a fact obscured by its soaring financial results.

In effect, Boeing's accounting method lets it book future profits now by spreading out the costs and revenue from the 1,300 Dreamliners it expects to deliver over roughly a decade. Boeing says it uses this "program accounting" because of the huge sums needed to develop new jetliners and to manufacture early versions of them, before production becomes more efficient.

If Boeing booked the difference between current sales and costs for each product it delivers, the way most companies do, its commercial-jet division's operating profit for the first nine months of 2013 would instead have been a $69 million loss, according to company figures.

Boeing's cumulative Dreamliner sales pushed past 1,000 in 2013, its first strongly positive sales year since 2008, helped by its launch in June of the new stretched version, dubbed the 787-10.

The company doesn't provide cost and sales data for specific planes, but its single-aisle 737 and long-range 777 generate millions of profit on each delivery, helping to offset the Dreamliner's cash drain.

"On a cash basis, [Boeing is] losing quite a bit of money on every [787] aircraft they ship," said Joseph Nadol, an analyst at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Mr. Nadol estimates that Boeing's unit costs for delivering each 787 exceeded the plane's estimated $115 million average selling price by $45 million in the third quarter, down from $73 million in the first quarter.

Mr. Nadol expects Boeing to continue outperforming the market. But, he adds, the question of whether it can reverse the loss per plane on its forecast schedule in the coming years remains the "elephant in the room."

Boeing classifies the gap between what it currently costs to build a Dreamliner and the program's average estimated costs as "deferred production costs."

It has made aggressive efforts to reduce the aircraft's costs by reorganizing its plants for greater efficiency and renegotiating contracts with suppliers and its labor unions. But it projects that deferred costs for the aircraft will rise to $25 billion before it breaks even on the Dreamliner's average costs and the program starts to dig itself out of the hole, likely around 2015.

The comparable hole for Boeing's last new twin-aisle jet, the 777, first delivered in 1995, was about $3.7 billion, adjusted for inflation, Boeing data show.

Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith said in October that Boeing no longer considered deferred production costs a useful indicator of the Dreamliner program's progress. But analysts say it remains the clearest measure of the 787's cash consumption.

Boeing says it plans to increase production, which is now 10 jets a month, to 12 a month in 2016 and 14 a month by the end of the decade. And, it said that as output accelerates, it will plug the $25 billion gap more quickly.

In October, Boeing increased its estimate of deferred-production from $20 billion, citing higher costs to introduce the 787-10 and changes in its factories to increase production. In December, the company detailed plans to add capacity at its factory and flight line in North Charleston, S.C. in 2014 and 2015, according to documents from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

For the Dreamliner's customers, the payoff has been quicker. The jet's carbon-fiber fuselage, next-generation engines and advanced electronics were designed to lower airlines' costs.

The chief executive of LOT Polish Airlines, another Dreamliner customer, said last month that the 787's cost savings were central to the airline's restructuring efforts and attracted lucrative premium and business-class travelers, helping the carrier narrow a projected operating loss for fiscal 2013 to $6.6 million from $47 million. LOT also said it was compensated by Boeing for Dreamliner troubles, but didn't disclose the amount.

Dreamliners flown by United Continental Holdings Inc., the plane's sole U.S. operator, have been roughly 6% more cost-efficient per seat to operate in 2013 than the equivalent-sized Airbus A330s flown by several other U.S. airlines, according to an analysis by aviation consulting firm AirInsight of the carriers' filings with the Transportation Department. Such figures are often revised as airlines provide additional information.

A United spokeswoman said the 787 "offers vast improvements from previous generation aircraft" and helps hedge against fluctuating fuel prices. As the only aircraft of its size that can fly nonstop for more than 14 hours, it is opening new routes to Asia and Africa, she said.

Crawford Hamilton, a senior marketing executive at Airbus, said its A330 is 6% cheaper to operate in total than the Dreamliner when factoring in the A330's lower purchase and lease costs.

Though safety investigators in the U.S. and Japan have yet to pinpoint what caused the lithium-ion batteries aboard two Dreamliners to overheat last January, they lifted the grounding in April after Boeing made changes in the battery system that included a steel containment box and a new venting system. Since then the number of Dreamliners in service has doubled to more than 100.

In July, an Ethiopian Airlines 787 parked at London's Heathrow Airport caught fire. No one was injured, but the damage was extensive. Investigators have focused their inquiry on emergency-locator beacons made by another company and installed on thousands of airplanes world-wide

The Dreamliner still faces more routine technical problems. Top officials from long-haul low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA were in the U.S. Tuesday to discuss with Boeing the carrier's continuing headaches with the Dreamliner. The airline says it spent 101 million Norwegian kroner ($17 million) to lease replacement aircraft that burn more fuel and to provide accommodation, food and drink for delayed passengers. 

Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines: Woes continue

It seems that there is no stopping the restoration of the country’s Category 1 status by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The announcement for the lifting of the Category 2 sanction imposed on Philippine aviation by the United States was supposed to happen late last year. Unfortunately, a final audit by the US FAA team was moved to this month because there are two other countries that the team is supposed to visit first.

Officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) however are of the belief that all the issues raised against the country have already been resolved and that it is just a matter of time before the Category 2 sanction is lifted, and the Philippines is returned to Category 1 status.

The European Union (EU) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have lifted their sanction on the CAAP recently, saying, “there are no more safety issues as far as we are concerned.”

Five years ago, the US FAA downgraded the then-Air Transportation Office (ATO) to Category 2 from Category 1 status, following a comprehensive review showing that there are many safety concerns that remain to be addressed by the country’s aviation regulator.

“Under the International Convention on Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), each country has the sole power to conduct safety oversight of its own air carriers.  Thus, the FAA is not permitted to evaluate a foreign carrier within its own sovereign state.  Its power is restricted to assessing the civil aviation authority (CAA) of each country that has carriers operating to the US… On Jan. 8, 2008, the FAA issued the results of its IASA and it included the Philippines or particularly the CAAP, as one of the state CAAs listed under the Category 2 status.  With this status, the Philippine CAAP is considered as a CAA that does not meet the standards of the ICAO and air carriers regulated by the CAAP and operating to the US will not be permitted to initiate new service and limited to current levels of any existing service to the US while remedial measures are being performed.  No code sharing arrangements between Philippine carriers and US carriers will also be allowed while the Philippine carriers can also be subjected to additional inspection requirements while using US airports. Generally, the grounds for finding a CAA as deficient and therefore, warranting a Category 2 status are: (1) The country to which the CAA belongs lacks laws or regulations necessary to support the certification and oversight of air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards; (2) The CAA lacks the technical expertise, resources and organization to license of oversee air carrier operations; (3) The CAA does not have adequately trained and qualified technical personnel; (4) The CAA does not provide adequate inspector guidance to ensure enforcement of, and compliance with, minimum international standards; and/or (5) The CAA has insufficient documentation and records of certification and inadequate continuing oversight and surveillance of air carrier operations.”

The downgrade to Category 2 status prevented Philippine Airlines (PAL) and other Philippine carriers from increasing their flights to the continental US.

Two years after the FAA ruling, the EU banned Philippine air carriers from flying into the EU, while discouraging their citizens from patronizing Philippine air carriers.

In 2012, the ICAO cleared the CAAP of sanctions, prompting the EU to lift the ban early last year, allowing PAL to resume flying to London last October and, eventually, other European destinations like France, Germany, and possibly Italy.

So what happens after the sanction is lifted by the FAA?

True, Philippine Airlines can increase the frequency of its flights to the West Coast and even mount new flights to the East Coast. It can upgrade its planes that fly to the US without any problem. Cebu Pacific can also finally join PAL in flying to the US, with the former eyeing routes that include Guam and Hawaii.

But have the problems of our CAAP been really resolved?

According to official sources, the issues raised against the CAAP all boil down to availability of funds. One official told this writer that if they are not able to improve their collections, then they will be forced to shut down some provincial airports that it operates, just to save on funds. CAAP manages all of the more than 80 airports in the country and many of these airports do not make money at all such that maintaining their current number of personnel no longer makes sense.

Take for instance one issue that was raised against the CAAP – that is it does not have adequately trained and qualified technical personnel. This would require huge funds on the part of CAAP to train and maintain qualified technical personnel.

A ranking official of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said the low remuneration of pilot-inspectors is affecting the autonomy of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

ICAO Asia Pacific Regional Office director Mokhtar Awan was quoted as saying that said the low remuneration package of pilot-inspectors is a “major factor” in the CAAP’s failure to recruit and retain qualified technical personnel who inspect public utility aircraft.

Although CAAP can generate its own funds, CAAP deputy director general Capt. John Andrews said it is not enough to make its compensation system at par with those being offered by commercial airline companies. As such, almost all of CAAP’s pilot-inspectors are already aged 65 years or more since these pilots are already retired from working in commercial operations.

Andrews said they are trying to convince government to take CAAP out of the coverage of the law governing GOCCs to attain fiscal autonomy because this will help sustain the progress that they have made in CAAP.

The recent spate of airport mishaps, the absence of a CCTV camera system at the NAIA 3 terminal, all point to the need for our government to seriously look into and act with decisiveness on the country’s aviation concerns. Our airports have become the laughing stock of the world, with NAIA Terminal 1 ranked as the worst airport worldwide last year.

Our airlines are world-class. Our tourism destinations are world-class. All that remains to be seen is a world-class airport terminal in the Philippines.

Source:  http://www.philstar.com

Airbus Names New U.S. Chief: Allan McArtor Succeeds Sean O'Keefe, Who Will Resign in March

The Wall Street Journal

By Doug Cameron

Updated Jan. 7, 2014 5:51 p.m. ET

Airbus Group NV's newly appointed U.S. chief outlined plans to continue expanding in the country beyond its soon-to-open commercial jet factory, but said the European company is no longer focusing on acquisitions to increase its scale.

The world's second-largest aerospace-and-defense company on Tuesday said Allan McArtor will become chairman and chief executive of its U.S. unit, Airbus Group Inc., in March following the retirement for medical reasons of Sean O'Keefe, who has led the business since 2009.

Mr. McArtor, 72, joined Airbus in 2001 and is currently chairman of its U.S. commercial arm, spearheading the development of a new factory in Mobile, Ala. that's due to start delivering A320 passenger jets in the first half of 2016.

Airbus has succeeded in breaking the monopoly of larger rival Boeing Co. in selling jets to some of the biggest U.S. airlines, but has struggled to make similar gains in the defense market. Airbus, for example, lost out to Boeing in a hotly-disputed contest for a multibillion-dollar contract to build aerial refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

Mr. McArtor in an interview singled out potential for growth in areas of the U.S. defense and space sectors such as unmanned aerial sensors, low-cost space launch systems and satellites and missiles technology. But he said Airbus has decided to steer away from deal-making to bolster its U.S. presence at a time when bulging jet order books have pushed up valuations, particularly in commercial aerospace.

"We had thought mergers and acquisitions would be a quick way to move forward," said Mr. McArtor, adding that it was no longer a "top priority."

Airbus this year shed its former corporate name European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. NV. Mr. McArtor, a former combat pilot and head of the Federal Aviation Administration, said the rebranding "makes our story easier to tell [in the U.S.]," while the new Mobile factory provides opportunities to leverage its commercial operations into other business lines.

Excluding commercial jet sales, Airbus generated revenue of around $1.4 billion in the U.S. last year, through sales of military and civilian helicopters, space equipment, and service contracts that include running 911 call centers for New York and other major cities.

Mr. McArtor's promotion comes amid a restructuring of Airbus that includes the grouping of its defense and space units into a single organization, alongside the company's commercial jet and helicopter production.

The loss of the aerial tanker deal to Boeing has placed more emphasis on the fortunes of selling more of its U.S.-built Lakota helicopters to the U.S. Army and Air Force, though Pentagon budget cuts have reduced the potential for the military to replace hundreds of Vietnam-era aircraft.

"I'm reasonably optimistic that the Lakota program will continue," Mr. McArtor said, though he admitted the fate of the Army's armed aerial scout replacement plan would be decided by budget priorities.

The new commercial jet assembly line in Mobile will join existing Airbus plants in France, Germany and China. Mr. McArtor said the plant would move as quickly as possible to its initial production rate of four planes a month, with any increase dictated by market conditions.

Mr. McArtor will also become a member of the Airbus group executive committee, the company's new, top decision-making body.

He takes over from Mr. O'Keefe, 57, who is stepping down to focus on continuing treatment for injuries sustained in a plane crash in 2010 that killed five people, including former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

—Marietta Cauchi contributed to this article

Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Cessna 172RG Cutlass, N9553B, Flight Safety Alaska Inc: Aircraft force landed on a road near Merrill Field Airport (PAMR), Anchorage, Alaska


A Cessna 172 Cutlass made an emergency landing Tuesday afternoon on a major thoroughfare in Anchorage due to engine failure after takeoff. The plane lost the power needed to land at a nearby military airstrip, so a break in traffic on the roadway was the best option.  

The red-and-white Cessna made a rough landing in the middle of Boniface Parkway near Perry Drive, touching down on a snowed-over median just after 1 p.m. The impact shoved snow into its nose-wheel compartment and appeared to have bent the landing gear.

The plane departed nearby Merrill Field around 1 o'clock with three people aboard. The pilot reported losing power after taking off, said Anchorage Police Lt. Mark Thelen.

“They were in the area that’s right over by the police station, right by the Campbell Airstrip area, and they thought they’d try to set it down there,” Thelen said. “But there were too many trees, so they elected at that point to follow Boniface” up to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson for an emergency landing.

The pilot -- a flight instructor at Land & Sea Aviation Alaska according to Arthur Racicot, a mechanic for the company who was aboard the plane -- saw the break in traffic and decided to land, Thelen said.

“It was the best decision they could’ve made,” the lieutenant said.

No one was injured during the landing, and the plane struck no vehicles on its way to a stop.
NTSB: Accident label may not apply

The crash closed traffic on Boniface for a short time, but police opened up one lane in both directions quickly. The plane’s three occupants appeared in good spirits as they waited for aviation officials to arrive, first the Federal Aviation Administration, which declined to comment, and next a National Transportation Safety Board investigator. Racicot helped dig out snow from around the plane before it was reeled onto a flatbed and strapped down. The tricky process took nearly an hour.

NTSB investigator Chris Shaver said he was unsure if the plane’s emergency landing warranted an accident classification. In order for the agency to call the landing an accident, the plane has to have substantial damage, “Enough to where it’s structurally unsound or its flight characteristics are affected,” he said.

The damage appeared minimal at a glance, Shaver said. And the landing gear and engine are excluded from what constitutes substantial damage.

“Those won’t count toward whether or not we look it at as an accident,” he said. “Once we get it back to the hangar and start to take things apart, we’ll begin to see the insides and whether anything is bent or tweaked. This will likely go down as just an incident.”


Photos Courtesy/Credit:  Loren Holmes and Alan Erickson

Photos Courtesy/Credit:  Loren Holmes and Alan Erickson

Photos Courtesy/Credit:  Loren Holmes and Alan Erickson

Photos Courtesy/Credit:  Loren Holmes and Alan Erickson

Photos Courtesy/Credit:  Loren Holmes and Alan Erickson

Photos Courtesy/Credit:  Loren Holmes and Alan Erickson

Photos Courtesy/Credit:  Loren Holmes and Alan Erickson

The pilot of a small plane made a successful emergency landing on an East Anchorage street, and neither he nor two passengers were injured, police and fire officials said.  

 The red-and-white Cessna 172 Cutlass landed in a snowy median, without hitting any vehicles, on Boniface Parkway near Perry Drive a little after 1 p.m. After the landing, the pilot and passengers stepped out, and the single-engine plane could be seen resting in the middle of Boniface as vehicles drove past on each side.

The two lanes of traffic closest to the plane on the four-lane street were soon closed. Later,

Police Lt. Mark Thelen said the pilot reported losing power after taking off from Merrill Field. The plan, at that point, was to attempt a landing at Campbell Airstrip, but the pilot saw too many trees and instead turned toward the runways at Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson, Thelen said.

He apparently noticed a break in traffic on Boniface and decided to put the plane down there, Thelen said.

"Obviously we don't have airplanes landing on the road very often," Thelen said.

Meredith Hazen, who was driving on Boniface at the time, recounted what happened next.

"I noticed it coming over the top of my car, from the back side," Hazen said. "It took me a second to realize, 'He's not flying that low on purpose.' I could see the belly of the plane out my windshield."

Hazen said the plane went straight down the middle of Boniface.

"I could see the left wing hit the ground, and the second car in front of me, I think, hit his brakes really hard. He went up on the snow in the barrier, because he didn't want to hit the wing," Hazen said.

Several drivers, including Hazen, pulled over to see if the plane's occupants were alright. Police officers and firefighters were at the crash site within minutes, she said, and it appeared as if the pilot had already radioed for help while still in the air.

Seeing the plane come down worried her, said Hazen, who works for commercial aviators Ravn Alaska, formerly Era Alaska.

"It was pretty scary," she said. "It was a smaller plane, and I know those smaller planes aren't as sturdy."

Read more here: http://www.adn.com

University Park Airport (KUNV), State College, Pennsylvania

Distressed plane returns safely to University Park Airport 

UNIVERSITY PARK — Emergency responders were dispatched to University Park Airport for reports of a distressed plane Tuesday morning. The incident ended with the plane landing safely.

After the small, private aircraft took off from University Park Airport, pilots noticed that it was having trouble maintaining altitude and speed, and it came back in for an emergency landing, Airport Director Bryan Rodgers said. He did not know the exact time that the plane took off.

Airport and local response teams were on standby but ultimately were not needed to assist in the landing process.

The plane landed at 11:37 a.m. without further problems, according to the airport’s general aviation desk.

Alpha Fire Company, which was dispatched to the airport, said it responded to “an aircraft in-air emergency.”

Rodgers said other emergency responders included Penn State Emergency Medical Services, Penn State Police, Penn State Hazmat, Bellefonte fire companies, and Centre County Emergency Management Agency.

Source:  http://www.centredaily.com

Photo Credit: Kathryn

University Park Airport to begin direct flights to Chicago 

Centre County residents looking for a direct flight to the Windy City now can hop aboard one of two daily United Airlines flights leaving from University Park Airport.

The two non-stop flights will connect State College to Chicago O’Hare International Airport beginning Tuesday.

United’s Express Jet will operate the flights with 50-seat jets, according to University Park Airport news release.

Outbound flights will depart at 6:20 a.m. and 5:03 p.m. and arrive at O’Hare at 7:17 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. Returning flights will leave Chicago at 1:55 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. and arrive in State College at 4:33 and 9:23 p.m., respectively, according to the release.

Source: http://www.centredaily.com

 Photo Credit: Kathryn

Susi Air plane shot by armed group in Papua

Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA News) - An armed group opened fire at a Nabire-bound Susi Air plane in the Mulia area of Papua, on Tuesday, at 12.00 a.m. local time.

According to a source of the ANTARA News in Papua, the shooting incident occurred after the plane had taken off and was crossing the "Pintu Angin" area.

Two flights of Susi Air had taken off from the Mulia area: one flight was bound for Nabire, while the other plane was headed for Jayapura.

The pilot of the Susi Air plane reported that the aircraft has been shot, but fortunately, the bullets missed the target.

The Jayapura-bound plane, which was carrying the corpse of a motorcycle driver from Mulia, had to abort its journey after the firing occurred.

The motorcycle driver, Abdul Halil, was buried in the Wuyuneri School Residence in Mulia, Puncak Jaya District.

The victim was fatally gunned down by an unidentified armed person in the Mulia area of Papua.

Abdul is survived by his wife, who works as a teacher in Wuyuneri I Senior High School.

Source:  http://www.antaranews.com