Friday, March 07, 2014

Phil’s not flying anytime soon

Phil Rudd's court victory, clearing his name of a charge of lying about drug use on a Civil Aviation Authority medical report, doesn't mean the rescinded certificate will be immediately reinstated.

The charge against the 59-year-old AC/DC drummer was dismissed by Judge Louis Bidois on Tuesday in a reserved decision following a judge alone defended hearing.

However, Rudd has been convicted on charge of failing to maintain a logbook, and was fined $750 plus $150 court costs.

Phil Rudd has been unable to fly his helicopter since the medical certificate was rescinded by the CAA, which alleged Phil lied about his drug use when applying for a private pilot license in June last year.

Police found 23 grams of cannabis on Phil's boat in 2010. He was convicted, and the conviction overturned on appeal. In evidence Phil says he hasn't used cannabis since then.

In his decision, Judge Bidois is critical of the wording of the questions in the CAA medical questionnaire and suggests changes in layout and content to remove exiting ambiguities.

There should be a specific section for drugs, legal and illegal – just as there is for smoking tobacco and alcohol, says the Judge.

While the question was intended to read as asking if the intending pilot had ever used legal or illegal recreational drugs or substances, it could also be honestly answered by someone who was not using at the time.

Judge Bidois added that Rudd admitted to a long history of not necessarily regular use of cannabis; and being asked about it two years after his arrest, it should have all come flooding back.

Rudd made other mistakes in the form, filling in his Christian name instead of his surname, and missing answers to several questions.

The Judge was also critical of Phil's attitude and demeanour, but found there was not enough evidence to convict him on the charge of wilfully giving a false answer.

In Wellington, CAA spokesman Mike Richards says the authority will examine the Judge's sentencing notes before making any decision on reinstating Rudd's rescinded medical certificate.

“What we are doing is we are reviewing the written judgement before we decide what to do next. We'll have a look at it, go through it with our legal team, and just determine what we need to do next.”

Story and photo:

Gloucestershire Airport, UK

Light-aircraft crashes at Gloucestershire Airport

A light-aircraft crash landed at Gloucestershire Airport on Friday evening.

Pictured, this Pitts Special aerobatic biplane tipped onto its nose following an attempted landing just before 5pm.

The pilot was uninjured.

Air accident investigation have been alerted to the incident.

Darren Lewington, head of operations at the airport based in Staverton, said: “The pilot has had a minor incident on landing this afternoon when it tipped on its nose.

“The pilot is absolutely fine and the aircraft, which has been recovered, will remain at the airport for the time being.

“There is minimal damage and the Air Accident Investigation Branch has been advised of the incident which is standard procedure.”

Story, photo and comments/reaction:

Boeing to Inspect Wings of Undelivered Dreamliners for Cracks: Plane Maker Says Manufacturing Defect Could Cause Delays in Delivering the Jets

The Wall Street Journal
By  Jon Ostrower

Updated March 7, 2014 4:14 p.m. ET

Boeing Co.  and a key supplier are inspecting the wings on 42 yet-to-be-delivered 787 Dreamliner jets after discovering hairline cracks caused during manufacture and prompting the aerospace giant to delay deliveries to some airlines.

The defect is a major headache for Boeing, which has boosted output after years of delays and is working to maintain production this year of 10 Dreamliners a month. The company still plans to deliver around 110 of the jets in 2014 and said its revenue guidance for the year remained unchanged.

The wings are made by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, which told Boeing that a change in its manufacturing process may cause the cracks, according to a spokesman for the U.S. company. Subsequent inspections revealed cracks on some jets.

The inspections and repairs at Boeing plants in Washington state, South Carolina and Mitsubishi facilities in Japan illustrate how manufacturing problems can be spread quickly through the supply chain while it builds Dreamliners at a record rate.

Last year, Boeing halted 787 deliveries due to problems with the jet's lithium-ion batteries. Global regulators grounded the Dreamliner for about three months until the company could find a way to safely contain the battery in the event of a failure.

Boeing said none of the 123 Dreamliners delivered to date are affected by the wing issue. The company was told by Mitsubishi in the second half of February of the issue after its routine quality checks, said a person familiar with the matter.

Boeing has accelerated production to meet high demand for the more-fuel efficient aircraft, and Boeing expects to add 17 new customers of the jet in 2014, including American Airlines Group Inc., Air Canada and Kenya Airways. "We will work with customers to adjust delivery schedules as required," said a spokesman.

Boeing and its partner are inspecting 787s with line numbers running from 151 to 193, representing around a fifth of all Dreamliners built since 2007, according to the same person familiar with the issue.

The latest problem to affect the Dreamliner program stems from fasteners used to connect aluminum shear ties on the wing ribs to the carbon fiber composite wing panel, according to two people familiar with the situation.

The fasteners were over-tightened without the use of manufacturing fillers, compressing a gap in the structure and in some cases caused hairline cracks of less than an inch. If left unchecked can cause unintended stress on the jet's structure and could lead to further damage.

"We understand the issue, what must be done to correct it, and are completing inspections of potentially affected airplanes. We are addressing affected airplanes as required," said the Boeing spokesman.

The manufacturing defect is a rare significant quality defect for Mitsubishi, whose quality control has traditionally been a model for Boeing to emulate inside its own factories. The Japanese company wasn't immediately available for comment.

A Boeing supplier in Italy made a similar manufacturing error that was discovered in 2010 when assembling horizontal tails for the Dreamliner, requiring significant work on dozens of aircraft.

Mitsubishi builds the carbon fiber composite 787 wings at its Nagoya, Japan factory before they are shipped by a heavily-modified 747 jumbo jet to Boeing's final assembly lines in Everett, Wash. and North Charleston, S.C. Japanese suppliers build 35% of the Dreamliner, the first jetliner to be made from a majority of carbon fiber composites

Boeing said it expects each jet will take one to two weeks to inspect and correct, depending on its position in the production process. About 17 of the 42 aircraft are fully completed and seven have been undergoing pre-delivery flight tests, according to external sources tracking the program.

The rest of the 787s are in various states of assembly, or the wings are still in Japan and have yet to be shipped for final assembly.

The company said its 2014 revenue target of $87.5 billion to $90.5 billion remains unchanged and it still plans to deliver 110 787s this year. However, deliveries planned for the first quarter could slip beyond March, the close of the company's first quarter.

Separately, Airbus Group NV on Friday said it was recommending airlines inspect the wing spars on earliest A380 superjumbo jetliners delivered at six and 12 years after delivery. The company had found potential cracking as part of a structural fatigue test that stresses the aircraft more than three times its expected lifetime in service. The earliest A380s, now over six years old, have already been inspected with no findings, an Airbus spokesman said. 


Zivko Edge 540T, N149WA: Accident occurred March 07, 2014 at Doha-Al Khor Airstrip

‘Poor light or bad weather not behind Al Khor crash’

 “It wasn’t the weather or poor light conditions that caused the tragic accident of Tamas Nadas. He has performed under such conditions hundreds of times,” said Saad Hakim, director of sales and marketing at Westland Morgan, the company that brought the world champion aerobatic pilot for the performance at the Al Khor airstrip.  

Following the death of Tamas in a crash while performing an upside-down stunt on Friday as part of Qatar Racing Club’s Qatar Mile event, Saad said: “What happened is a complete mystery to us, we don’t know how this happened. An upside-down stunt has a huge ‘wow’ factor for us ordinary folk, but for a seasoned performer like Tamas, it is a simple manoeuvre as there is no G-force involved. The aeroplane that Tamas was flying was in perfect condition and Tamas himself was both mentally and physically in ‘top’ condition. It was his third routine for the day, following a test round and one performance round.”

“As a seasoned pilot he would have definitely known if there was something wrong. Having worked with him in the past, I know how particular he is about all details related to safety. Just before he was going to take off for the fateful round, Tamas looked and sounded very confident and was in fact raring to go,” added Saad in a state of complete shock.  

Hungary-based Tamas has a very strong fan base in Europe. Referring to the aerobatic pilot’s plans for the future, Saad said: “Tamas had recently purchased a new plane for his performance in the upcoming European championship in July, which incidentally is not the plane he was flying here at Al Khor. As for Tamas’ dream – it was to have a world championship in Qatar, titled the ‘Skymasters World Championship’. He had hoped that it would be the coming together of the ‘masters of the art’.

“The idea was to invite 12 of the top pilots from around the world for the event. This championship was to be conducted in two categories: one would be a regular aerobatic championship with judges and scoring cards, etc. The other category would involve a more exciting concept - the idea was to define virtual air-tracks in the sky; two pilots would then go through this route and be judged based on their speed, style and performance. The whole thing was his idea. As a matter of fact, we had been in conversation with the authorities in Qatar regarding this. We might still go ahead with this idea in Europe  – naming it after him. We believe he would have liked it. This was to be the real thing, with no marketing strategy involved.”

Saad said the passing away of Tamas was a huge loss. “His family was not here in Qatar and were not at the venue watching the event. They are in Hungary. We are in touch with them and trying to get all the paperwork done. We would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the civil aviation authorities, Qatar Racing Club and all the authorities and officials involved. They have been a tremendous source of support.”

Story and photo:

World champion aerobatic pilot Tamas Nadas died in a plane crash while performing a daring stunt at Al Khor airstrip yesterday.

Hungarian Nadas, popularly known as the “Schumacher of the sky”, was flying his plane upside down above the runway as part of a race with a sports car when it spun out of control and hit the ground.

Rescue teams rushed to the spot but were unable to save the 44-year-old’s life, casting a pall of gloom on the high-octane world of aerobatics of which he had been a star for several years.

He was an expert at flying several types of single-seater aircraft and it was not immediately clear what model he was piloting when the tragedy happened.

The stunt was part of the Qatar Racing Club organized Qatar Mile event which was billed as the “biggest speed festival of the region”.

Qatar Racing Club posted a message on its Facebook page last night condoling Nadas’ death. Today’s races in the two-day event have been cancelled following the tragedy.

“On behalf of Qatar Racing Club we would like to inform you that the Qatar Mile will not take place tomorrow (Saturday) as scheduled,” the statement said. “This is in respect for the courageous pilot Tamas Nadas who unfortunately lost his life today in the airshow doing what he loved. We would like to express our deepest condolences and our prayers are with his family and friends, may his soul rest in peace.”

Racing enthusiast Mubasher Zaman, who saw the plane hit the ground, told Gulf Times that it was Nadas’ second stunt of the day.

The plane was flying upside down very close to the runway and I thought it wobbled a little before crashing to the ground at the end of the airstrip. I immediately knew it was going to be serious,” said Zaman. He added that it was held late in the afternoon and probably the twilight must have contributed to the tragedy.

Zaman said Nadas’ family was also watching his show at the venue. “He had thrilled the crowd during his first stunt, but the second went horribly wrong. It’s a sad day, a horrible tragedy especially it happened when his family were at the venue,” he said.

Another witness, Hugo Nascimento, also told Gulf Times that the plane was flying too close to the ground.

“The pilot was Hungarian Tamas Nadas and he was flying upside down, close to the runway when the plane crashed. I was too far away to see in detail. May he rest in peace,” Nascimento said.

Earlier the Ministry of Interior had tweeted that an accident had taken place at Al Khor airstrip. However, the tweet didn’t have the pilot’s name, merely stating that he was of European nationality.

Nadas was a regular at stunt shows in the Gulf and had performed in Qatar as recently as last January when he wowed spectators at the seventh Al Khor Fly-In.

Nadas himself had posted a few pictures only a couple of hours before his death on his Facebook page. Those pictures, however, were not connected to yesterday’s event at Al Khor airstrip.

He got hooked to flying after a pleasure flight in 1998 when he was 28 years old and got his pilot’s license the very same year after which he decided to pursue a career in aerobatics.

In a January interview with Gulf Times, Nadas had said he took to aerobatics because “straight flying” didn’t excite him very much.

“Initially, I had absolutely no interest in flying at all. My first experience with flying was in 1998 when I was 28. I had just gone along with friend for a joy ride. That was the turning point - the experience had such an impact on me that I was totally hooked. I enrolled for flying lessons right away and after 30 days had earned my own license,” he had said.

“However, just straight-forward flying wasn’t satisfactory enough, so I went on to learning aerobatic manoeuvres and stunts. This is where my passion lies.”

Nadas had also added that he was a self-taught aerobat.

“The single biggest challenge was that some of the stunts that I now perform were not taught to me by any instructor - they are all self-taught. I had to risk my life as I tried some of these challenging manoeuvres. There have been several occasions when I felt I was going straight down, but thankfully I would somehow regain control at the last minute”, Tamas had said.

Unfortunately, fate willed otherwise yesterday.

Tamas Nadas’ achievements

2009:  Hungarian Championship: gold medal

European Championship programme Q: gold medal

International Cup silver medal

Mediterranean Cup bronze medal

2010:  Hungarian Championship gold medal

World Championship: overall 8th place

2011 :  Hungarian Championship: gold medal

Hungarian Aviation Association Aerobatics Pilot of the Year

2012 : Hungarian Championship: gold medal

10th FAI World Advanced Aerobatic Championship Programme Free: gold medal

2013 :  Hungarian Aviation Association: Aerobatics Pilot of the Year

Story and photos:

Helmet Cam Captures Parachute Crash, Skydiver Now Suing Over ‘Worn’ Gear

MONTEREY COUNTY (KPIX 5) – A terrifying near-death experience caught on video has prompted a Bay Area man to file suit against a Monterey County skydiving company.

Gerardo Flores claims that the parachute he rented from Skydive Monterey was in such bad shape that it opened prematurely. Flores was taking his 30th birthday jump when the chute opened at 13,000 feet, sending him into a tailspin.

“It just opened up,” recalled Flores. “You never open above 6,000 feet.”

He provided video of  the 2012 “jump that could have killed him” for a KPIX 5 report last year.

After he hit the ground at what he said was 35-40 miles-per-hour, the video shows paramedics working on his unconscious body after the jump school called 911. He suffered head injuries and fractured ribs, requiring a medical airlift to the hospital. He would not regain consciousness for two weeks.

Skydivers are typically asked to sign waivers before skydiving, but this case focuses specifically on the equipment and whether the company did or should have known it was faulty.

An FAA report on his accident stated that some of his rented gear was worn “beyond serviceable limits.”

Gear is normally checked by an FAA-certified rigger, who can be an employee of the company.

“I put my trust and life on the line trusting the school,” said Flores, who had trained for two years with the company, “never again.”

Minutes after our 2013 story aired, irate emails started pouring in from fellow skydivers, all blaming Flores, specifically because he jumped with a camera. On Flores’ YouTube site, where he posts all his jumps, the comments were vicious:

“Enjoy your injuries you s*head, you deserve them,” said one. “I am very disappointed that you are still alive,” said another. And “You were rewarded with pain, stay out of my sky,” said a third.

Skydive Monterey turned down a KPIX 5 request for an interview, but sent out a release saying his gear was in proper working order, and that the incident was caused by improper use by the jumper. 

Story, video and photo:

Piper PA-25-260 Pawnee C, N138AB, Aerial Banners Inc: Accident occurred March 07, 2014 near North Perry Airport (KHWO), Pembroke Pines, Florida

NORTHEAST MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) – A small bright yellow banner plane crashed into a northeast Miami-Dade County lake Friday afternoon. The pilot walked away from the crash. 

The crash happened at 12:47 p.m. in a lake near the intersection of NE 7th Avenue and 193rd Street.

The plane is a Piper PA-25 with a tail number of N138AB. The flight was inbound to North Perry Airport when it crashed into the lake.

The Pilot, Rob Ramirez told CBS4′s Maggie Newland he couldn’t discuss the details of the crash until after speaking to investigators, but said he was thankful no one was hurt. “Everything actually came out on the good side, if there’s a good side for a plane crash, anyway,” he said.

Neighbors were surprised to see the yellow plane in the lake and the pilot calmly walking out of the water.

Alvaro Psevoznik recalled, “I was on the phone with somebody.  I said ‘Dude, a plane just crashed in my backyard.’”

Psevoznik rushed out of his house and took cell phone video of the plane and pilot.

“He was very calm. He told me he ran out of gas. He knew he wouldn’t make it to the airport so he started to fly around. He just saw the lake and made it to the lake,” said Psevoznik.

Ramirez said his main concern was making sure no one was injured. His goal was “not to hit any of the houses or anything on the ground. That’s why I chose the water,” he said, adding, “It was harder than I thought. You hear water’s soft.  It’s not, but thank God I was just able to land it wings level and everything worked out good.”

Story, video, photos:

Cessna U206C Stationair, Eugene Damschroder, N29122: Accident occurred June 08, 2008 in Fremont, Ohio

NTSB Identification: CHI08FA156 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 08, 2008 in Fremont, OH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/15/2010
Aircraft: CESSNA U206C, registration: N29122
Injuries: 6 Fatal.

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

On the day of the accident, the 86-year-old accident pilot was providing rides in his single-engine, six-seat airplane at the airport that he owned and managed. Passengers purchased tickets for the rides in the airport office. The rides were given concurrently with a Lions Club International charitable “fly-in breakfast” at the airport, which had been advertised in the local newspaper. According to a representative of the Lions Club, the air rides were a separate activity, and the money collected for the air ride tickets was not given to the charity (evidence indicates that the pilot retained the money). The accident flight was the fifth or sixth airplane ride the pilot gave that day. Videotapes of previous flights and of the beginning of the accident flight indicated that the pilot was performing nonstandard takeoffs. Rather than beginning a normal climb after lifting off from the ground, the pilot would maintain an altitude just above treetop level until reaching the departure end of the runway, at which point he would initiate a steep pitch-up maneuver followed by a pushover maneuver. Also, a witness, who was a pilot, reported that the accident pilot commonly performed a nonstandard maneuver called a “buttonhook turn” to align the airplane with final approach for landing. The maneuver involved flying the airplane at an altitude of about 300 feet above ground level perpendicular to the final approach course and then executing a 270-degree turn to the final approach. The witness stated that he observed the pilot perform this maneuver during one of the passenger-carrying flights preceding the accident flight.

About 30 minutes after the airplane departed on the accident flight, witnesses observed it returning to the airport. Witnesses near the accident site reported that the airplane was flying at a low altitude toward the runway when it banked, descended, and impacted the ground. One witness stated that the airplane “appeared to be flying very slow, almost on the edge of a stall.” This witness heard the engine “throttle up” and observed the airplane stall, with the left wing “dipping,” and then descend below the tree line.

The accident site was about 0.75 mile east of the approach end of runway 27. Ground scarring and wreckage distribution covered a relatively small area, consistent with an accident due to an aerodynamic stall. Examination of the airplane revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. During a test cell run, the airplane’s engine performed within the manufacturer’s specifications.

Review of the pilot’s personal medical records indicated that he had been treated for age-related macular degeneration in both eyes for over 2 years. About 3 weeks before the accident, his distant visual acuity without correction was recorded as 20/200 for each eye. On at least two occasions, the pilot’s retinal specialist advised him not to drive. However, the pilot continued to drive and was involved in a traffic accident, in which he turned in front of an oncoming vehicle, 10 days before the aircraft accident. The pilot’s visual deficiency would have made it difficult for him to decipher the readings on cockpit instruments and to distinguish objects on the ground. This lack of visual acuity increased the likelihood that the pilot would fly at an inappropriate speed or altitude, thus increasing the chances of a stall.

About 1 year before the accident, the pilot applied for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airman Medical Certificate and provided false information about his eye condition (he did not report his visits to the retinal specialist). Even so, the pilot’s visual deficiency, given its severity, should have been detectable during the vision examinations required before issuance of such an Airman Medical Certificate. However, the pilot's aviation medical examiner (AME) reported normal eye test results, including 20/20 uncorrected vision, and issued the pilot a second-class medical certificate. About 7 months after the accident, the FAA decertified the AME for improper issuance of medical certificates.

The pilot’s autopsy noted severe coronary artery disease, which could have increased the likelihood of a heart attack or abnormal heart rhythm, resulting in impairment or incapacitation. There was no evidence of such an event, but no such evidence would necessarily be expected if death occurred within a few minutes to an hour of the impairment or incapacitation. The pilot’s personal medical records did not indicate coronary artery disease.

Either the pilot’s macular degeneration or his unrecognized coronary artery disease could have contributed to his failure to maintain control of the airplane. The NTSB could not conclusively determine whether either condition directly resulted in the accident. However, given the incompatibility of the pilot’s vision deficiency with safe motor vehicle operation and the pilot’s awareness of this, the pilot displayed extremely poor judgment in not only continuing to fly but in deciding to perform passenger-carrying flights. Furthermore, the pilot did not provide all of the required information on his most recent application for an Aviation Medical Certificate, and his AME did not adequately evaluate the pilot’s eyesight.

The passenger seated in the right front seat of the accident airplane was one of the accident pilot’s former student pilots who purchased a ride in the airplane. He held a private pilot certificate, but did not hold a current Airman Medical Certificate. If the accident pilot had become incapacitated, it is possible this passenger could have taken control of the airplane. There was insufficient evidence to determine whether or not this passenger was manipulating the flight controls when the accident occurred.

The local FAA flight standards district office had no records of any concerns raised or complaints about the pilot. Also, the FAA had no record of the pilot applying for a Letter of Authorization to conduct passenger-carrying flights for compensation or hire, which is required by 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 91.147 for all passenger-carrying flights not conducted under 14 CFR 91.146 (flights for the benefit of a charitable, nonprofit, or community event). Therefore, the FAA was unaware of, and provided no oversight of, the pilot’s passenger-carrying flights.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control for an undetermined reason, which resulted in an inadvertent stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's poor judgment in continuing to fly with his severe visual deficiency. Also contributing to the accident was the aviation medical examiner’s failure to accurately assess and report the pilot’s visual deficiency. 


 On June 8, 2008, about 1256 eastern daylight time, a Cessna U206C, N29122, piloted by a commercial pilot, impacted terrain about 0.75 miles east of the approach end of runway 27 at Fremont Airport (14G), Fremont, Ohio. The pilot was providing rides during a scheduled Lions Club “fly-in breakfast” at the airport at the time of the accident. The pilot and five passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 flight was not operating on a flight plan. The local flight originated from 14G about 1226.

The fly-in had been held for about the last 10 years at the airport, which was owned by the accident pilot, who was also a Lions Club member. According to the local Lions Club District 13B president, the air rides provided by the accident pilot were a separate activity, and money received from air rides was not given to the Lions Club.

An advertisement for the Fremont Lions Club was "ordered" and "approved" by the accident pilot. The advertisement ran in the June 5, 2008, edition of the Fremont News Messenger and stated, in part: "Ride in an Historic DC-3 airplane" and "Fly a REAL T-6 Texan."

The pilot of a North American T-6 stated that the accident pilot invited him to attend the fly-in. The T-6 pilot had attended 3 of the 5 fly-ins held during the last 5 years. The T-6 pilot stated that he provided flight lessons to pilots who attended the fly-in. On the day of the accident, he provided an instructional flight that consisted of "typical" introductory flight maneuvers.

The T-6 pilot said that the accident pilot had no involvement in the T-6 instructional flights. The T-6 pilot also stated that he is a flight instructor and provides T-6 training and tailwheel endorsements from his home base.

As he had done several years prior, the accident pilot also had requested an Emergency Medical Service (EMS) operator to attend the event. The EMS operator attended the fly-in for promotional purposes only and did not provide any rides during the event. It was against the EMS operator's policy to provide such rides.

A witness who had been helping passengers board the accident airplane stated that the accident pilot was short of help because the other pilots who were supposed to help him did not show up for the fly-in except for one pilot who used to be a flight instructor at 14G. The witness arrived at 14G about 0830 and the air rides began "shortly thereafter," at about 0930, which was the time the witness started helping. The witness reported that there were two women sitting at a table in a hangar next to a World War II display selling tickets, but the witness did not know their identities. The accident pilot first used an airplane other than the Cessna U206C for the first flight but then switched to the Cessna U206C because the radio in the first airplane was not working. That first airplane was put in a hangar. The witness did not know what time the accident pilot began using the Cessna U206C.

The accident pilot had a third airplane, which he did not use. The witness stated that "almost all the rides" that the accident pilot provided were in the Cessna U206C. The accident pilot flew about 8 to 10 flights in the Cessna U206C and would have had 2 to 3 flights remaining if the accident had not occurred. Passengers were charged $20 per person per ride or $10 per person per ride if that person weighed 50 pounds or less. The flights lasted 10 to 15 minutes. The air ride pilot placed all the air ride tickets that he collected from passengers in his pocket. The tickets were orange in color and similar to carnival ride tickets and the pilot had about 40 to 50 tickets. Nobody asked for passenger weights. The pilot ensured that the passengers were wearing their seat belts for the air rides. Each time that the accident pilot taxied the airplane onto the ramp, the airplane engine was shut down. The airplane engine started "good every time," according to the witness but prior to the accident flight, it took three attempts to start the engine. About 1030 or 1100, they checked the fuel and the airplane had "plenty of fuel," about 30 gallons in the left fuel tank and about 20 gallons in the right fuel tank. The other pilot, who was also providing air rides, began flying about 1200 in a Cessna 172M with registration markings of N73131.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the accident pilot did not apply for, nor receive, a Letter of Authorization (LOA) in order to conduct sightseeing or commercial air tours, as required by Federal Aviation Regulations (see “Tests and Research” section below for additional details).

A witness who had flown into 14G stated that he arrived about 0830. He stated that, by 0930, the winds increased. He stated that it took "every bit" of his piloting skills to land and he considered not landing due to the winds. During the witness's approach to 14G, he saw the accident pilot perform a "buttonhook turn," a term reportedly used by the accident pilot to describe a turn to final approach for landing. The witness stated that he was keeping an eye on the accident pilot because he knew that the accident pilot was going to perform that maneuver. The witness described the maneuver as flying the airplane downwind "a little bit lower" to base leg, continuing through the final approach, and then making a 270-degree turn onto final approach. The witnessing pilot estimated the altitude of this maneuver was 300 feet above ground level, near where the accident site was located. He said that he almost had a midair collision with the Cessna U206C during the approach to 14G.

The witness said that while he was at the airport office paying for his fuel, people came in to purchase tickets for air rides. The witness stated approximately 100 people were given rides that day. The witness stated that a Cessna 172 was initially used for the air rides but the accident pilot started using the Cessna U206C about 1100 because something had malfunctioned on the Cessna 172. It was the first time that the witness had seen the Cessna U206C. The witness left about 1200; at that time there were about 25 people in line waiting for an air ride. There were probably 5 to 6 air ride flights performed in the Cessna U206C before the accident..

Another witness, who had flown into 14G on the day of the accident, stated that there was heavy air traffic at the airport, and the accident pilot was not using his radio to provide position reports while flying. The witness heard ground personnel telling the air ride pilot to turn his radio on. After landing at the airport, the witness heard from another pilot that a near midair collision between the Cessna 206 and a homebuilt Van’s RV airplane occurred when the Cessna U206C entered a low right base and the RV was on final from a left base approach.

Witnesses who observed the accident reported that the Cessna U206C was flying at a low altitude heading towards the west/southwest when it banked, descended, and impacted a field behind a house. One witness stated that the airplane was flying very slowly, almost on the edge of a stall. This witness further stated that he heard the engine "throttle up" and then the airplane appeared to stall with the left wing "dipping." The airplane then descended below the tree line.


The 86-year-old accident pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine and multiengine land and sea ratings based upon military competency by the Civil Aeronautics Administration on March 6, 1945.

On October 10, 1987, he received his last issuance for an airman certificate and/or rating. The pilot was issued a Douglas DC-3 airplane rating at with a total flight time of 22,620 hours, which was listed on his airman certificate and/or rating application. The FAA inspector who issued the certificate checked the following statement indicating that he "personally reviewed this applicant's pilot logbook..."

On February 6, 1964, he was issued an initial flight instructor certificate, which was last renewed on January 14, 2007, with single- and multiengine airplane and instrument ratings based upon completion of a flight instructor renewal course.

On December 19, 1994, he was issued a mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings. On January 12, 2007, he received a renewal for inspection authorization based on having performed 9 annual inspections on aircraft.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Investigator-In-Charge (IIC) did not receive any of the accident pilot's logbooks following requests made to the pilot's son during the on-scene portion and subsequent portions of the investigation. The pilot's wife and son stated that they did not know where the pilot's logbooks were.

The accident pilot's airman medical certificate application, dated July 29, 1988, lists his total airplane flight time as 25,000 hours and 250 hours in the past 6 months. Subsequent medical applications had the following total and 6 month flight times, respectively.

August 3, 1989; 30,000 hours and 200 hours
August 30, 1990; 30,000 hours and 300 hours
September 3, 1991; 25,000 hours and 250 hours
October 8, 1992; 30,000 hours and 250 hours
November 4, 1993; 31,000 hours and 250 hours
November 7, 1994; 35,000 hours and 100 hours
August 17, 1995; 35,000 hours and 185 hours
August 28, 1996; 35,000 hours and 200 hours
August 14, 1997; 38,000 hours and 250 hours
September 4, 1998; 40,000 hours and 100 hours
October 1, 1999; 50,000 hours and 100 hours
November 1, 2000; 50,000 hours and 150 hours
November 26, 2001; 50,000 hours and 150 hours
December 21, 2002; 56,500 hours and 210 hours
January 2, 2004; 50,000 hours and 200 hours
January 7, 2005; 50,000 hours and 150 hours
March 2, 2006; 50,000 hours and 250 hours
May 4, 2007; 55,000 hours and 35 hours

FAA records show that the accident pilot was involved in an aviation incident on April 1, 2004, while piloting a Cessna 210L, N93948. The accident pilot was seated in the right pilot seat providing flight instruction to a private pilot in the left seat while they were en route to Bluffton Airport (5G7), Bluffton, Ohio, where the airplane was to undergo an adjustment to the landing gear warning horn. During the descent to 5G7, the landing gear warning sounded, and the private pilot asked the accident pilot if the landing gear should be lowered. The air accident pilot responded by saying that he would wait until they were on final approach to lower the landing gear. The landing warning horn continued to sound. The airplane impacted runway 5 during the landing. Following the incident, the accident pilot said that he became distracted and forgot to lower the landing gear because he was providing flight instruction while encountering strong crosswinds.

A company owned by the accident pilot was issued a Part 135 on-demand passenger operating certificate for a single-pilot operation on April 29, 1965. NTSB records show that the operator had an aviation accident on January 26, 1973, in a Cessna 207, N1582U, near Marion, Illinois. The airplane was piloted by a pilot other than the accident pilot. The pilot received serious injuries and the passenger was fatally injured. The NTSB investigated this accident under accident number CHI73AC066. The accident pilot last received a Part 135 check ride by the FAA's Cleveland Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) on August 12, 2004, during which he passed the ground and flight portions of the check ride. The air ride pilot voluntarily surrendered the company's operating certificate on May 24, 2005.

According to the FAA's Cleveland FSDO, there had been no concerns or complaints regarding the accident pilot made to the FSDO office. before the accident.

According to Ohio State Highway Patrol and Fremont Police Department records, the air ride pilot was involved in four traffic accidents from 1998 to 2008, with the most recent occurring on May 30, 2008, near the intersection of State Route (SR)53 and the entrance to 14G when the air ride pilot's vehicle was hit by another vehicle. The air ride pilot reported to the Ohio State Highway Patrol that he was southbound on SR53. The sun was glaring into his vehicle, and he assumed that he had enough room to make a left turn into the airport entrance. He said that he saw the other vehicle when he was already into the turn. The driver of the other vehicle stated that the air ride pilot's vehicle turned 50-60 feet in front of her. A witness to the accident stated that the distance of the air ride pilot's vehicle was 20-30 feet from the other vehicle when the turn was made.

The right front seat passenger aboard the accident flight was a former student pilot of the air ride pilot. The right seat passenger held a private pilot certificate, and he was last issued a third class airman medical certificate on January 13, 1993. FAA airman medical records show that the right seat passenger accumulated a total flight time of 85 hours at the time of his medical certificate application.


The airplane was a 1968 Cessna U206C airplane for which an application for registration was made by the air ride pilot's company on May 1, 1968. On September 20, 1995, application for registration was made by the pilot's trust, which the pilot was a trustee. A search of FAA aircraft registry information revealed eleven additional aircraft were registered to the pilot as trustee.

All maintenance entries in the aircraft and engine logbooks were made by the pilot beginning May 10, 1998, at 1,620 hours. The last airplane logbook entry was dated July 14, 2007, when an annual inspection was performed by the air ride pilot. The total airframe time was listed as 1,714 hours (1,710 hours was annotated with a line through this number).

The airplane was powered by a Continental IO-520-F fuel-injected, reciprocating engine, serial number 168387-8-F. According to the engine logbooks, the first entry dated June 23, 1968, lists the engine total time as 1.25 hours. The last entry in the engine logbook is dated July 14, 2007, for an annual inspection at 1,710 hours.

Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) Service Information Letter SIL98-9A, provides time limits between major overhauls and lists the time between overhaul for TCM IO-520-F engines as 1,700 hours or 12 years.


Fremont Airport (14G) incorporated two runways: runway 09/27 (4,137 feet by 60 feet, asphalt) and runway 18/36 (2,238 feet by 130 feet, turf). The airport was owned and managed by the air ride pilot, who purchased it about 1960.

A wood sign with "AIR RIDES - TRIPS" and "LEARN TO FLY" was located at the driveway entrance of 14G.

Air BP had sold fuel to 14G until July 15, 2006, at which time they debranded those sales due to recurring issues of:

- No documented training for personnel fueling aircraft or performing quality control/quality assurance checks

- No documented quality control/quality assurance records

- No misfueling and cross-drop prevention training in place

- Non-aviation grade hoses in use

- Nozzle screens missing from the over wing nozzle

The airport fuel facility was inspected during the on-scene portion of the investigation. There were no dates listed on the fuel pump fuel filters indicating when those filters were to be changed. Additionally, no records were presented upon request by the NTSB IIC listing inspection of the fuel facility and fuel filter change dates. Fuel dispensed from the fuel pump nozzles was blue in color with no visible water or contaminant. The filter sump on one tank contained brown colored liquid and the filter sump from an adjacent pump was blue in color with no visible water or contaminant.

Fueling records show that nine aircraft had obtained fuel at 14G on the day of the accident. No reports of fuel-related anomalies were received from any of those aircraft.

During a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspection of the airport about nine days prior to the accident, a TSA inspector met with the air ride pilot and his wife during which time the Inspector requested the air ride pilot's logbook. The air ride pilot told the inspector that he did not know where his pilot logbook was.

The airport office had at least five advertisements/flyers for fly-in events at Ohio airports that offered breakfast/pancakes. Two of these noted events offered airplane rides for a per person fee. One of these flyers was for a "June 7th Fly-in/Drive-in Breakfast" with airplane rides for $20 per person. This flyer stated that the pancake breakfast was to be served by the Wooster Lions Club from 0700 to 1100.


The accident site was located in a grass field in a residential neighborhood. The main wreckage was resting on a heading of about 170 degrees and was located about 0.75 miles east of the airport at an elevation of about 665 feet. No broken trees consistent with an in-flight impact near the accident site were noted. The accident site exhibited ground scarring limited to an area several feet around the planform of the airplane. The fuselage from the firewall to the forward portion of the empennage, between and including both wing roots, was consumed by fire.

The wing struts were attached to the wings and fuselage. The left wing displayed greater relative damage than the right wing from about the left wing's midspan to the wing tip. The forward portion of the left wing was deformed upwards about 40 degrees. Both wing fuel tank caps were in place and both fuel tanks contained a liquid consistent in color and odor with 100 low lead aviation fuel. The flap actuator extension equated to a 30 degree flap extension. The elevator tab was in the 5 degree nose up position.

The fuel selector was in the LEFT TANK position. The left and right fuel tanks were broken open and each contained about 5 and 15 gallons of fuel, respectively.

The propeller was separated from the engine and the propeller blades displayed S-shaped bending along with chordwise scratching.

Flight and engine control continuity was confirmed.


On autopsy, the pilot was noted to have severe coronary artery disease with "only a pinpoint lumen remaining distally of the left anterior descending coronary artery," prostate cancer with evidence of radioactive seed implantation and no indications of spread beyond the prostate, and severe diverticulosis.

Review of the accident pilot's personal medical records indicated treatment for age-related macular degeneration in both eyes since at least April 2006. The accident pilot's left eye had been treated twice with laser photocoagulation, eleven times with bevacizumab injection, and once with combined photodynamic therapy and bevacizumab injection, with the last combined therapy on May 20, 2008. His records also note treatment of the right eye with laser photocoagulation on May 6, 2008. His distant visual acuity without correction was last noted on May 20, 2008, to be 20/200 for each eye. Distant visual acuity with correction was last noted on April 8, 2008, to be just worse than 20/100 for each eye. Near visual acuity was last noted on May 13, 2007, for his better (left) eye, with best possible correction, to be 20/40. On that same date, his uncorrected distant visual acuities were noted to be 20/160 for his right eye and 20/100 for his left eye. He had been advised not to drive on at least two separate occasions (in October 2007 and January 2008) by his retinal specialist. The accident pilot's personal medical records also noted (in August 2006) a history of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), with a hemoglobin A1c of 6.8 and blood glucose of 118, and of prostate cancer. There were no indications of heart disease in the personal medical records reviewed.

The accident pilot had not noted any conditions or treatments, and had specifically denied "Eye or vision trouble except glasses" and "Visits to Health Professional within Last 3 Years," on his most recent application for airman medical certificate, dated May 4, 2007, which has the following limitation: "must have available glasses for near vision." On the examination performed in conjunction with that application, his uncorrected distant vision was noted to be 20/20 in each eye separately and both eyes together, and his near vision was noted as corrected to 20/20 in each eye separately and both eyes together.

The records document the same aviation medical examiner (AME) on each application for Airman Medical Certificate and associated examinations since 1998. The FAA decertified the AME on January 28, 2009, for improper issuance of medical certificates.


Engine Examination

The engine was shipped to Teledyne Continental Motors for an engine test run under the supervision of the NTSB. The engine was started on the first attempt, and the engine speed was advanced in steps. The engine throttle was advanced to 1,350 rpm, 1,600 rpm, and 2,100 rpm and held at each of these engine speeds for 5 minutes. The engine was then advanced to full throttle six times. The engine tested within the manufacturer's test specifications.

Video Documentation.

A family member of two of the passengers aboard the accident flight provided a video of flights that occurred during the Fly-In in addition to the accident flight takeoff. The video is included in the docket of this report.


FAA Oversight

At the time of the accident, the Cleveland FSDO was responsible for the surveillance of 28 commercial aviation operators with Part 135 operating certificates in their territory. Their territory also contained five Part 141 flight schools, ten designated pilot examiners, and about 8,700 certified pilots. The FSDO employed four aviation safety inspectors dedicated for general aviation.

According to the FSDO’s Operations Unit Supervisor, inspectors would, on occasion, provide surveillance and inspection during charity ride events. The decision to provide this function depended on several aspects such as the size of the event, location, risks associated with the event/operator, and the availability of inspectors. The supervisor indicated that it was not uncommon to have one to five events per weekend that involved operations known to the FSDO via a Letter of Agreement (LOA).

In regard to the accident flight, the FSDO was not contacted prior to the breakfast that charity rides were taking place, nor did the pilot/operator provide written contact with the FSDO at least 7 days prior to the event in accordance with FAA regulations.

The Cleveland FSDO had no record of the accident pilot submitting information required under Part 91.146 Passenger-carrying Flights for the Benefit of a Charitable, Nonprofit, or Community Event, or being issued, an application for a Letter of Authorization as indicated by Part 91.147 Passenger Carrying Flights for Compensation or Hire.

The information that must be provided to the local FSDO under Part 91.146 is:

(1) A signed letter detailing the name of the sponsor, the purpose of the event, the date and time of the event, the location of the event, all prior events under this section participated in by the sponsor in the current calendar year.
(2) A photocopy of each pilot in command's pilot certificate, medical certificate, and logbook entries that show the pilot is current in accordance with 61.56 and 61.57 of this chapter and that any pilot has as least 500 hours of flight time; and
(3) A signed statement from each pilot that lists all prior events under this section in which the pilot has participated during the current calendar year.

The following information is required for the issuance of an LOA under Part 91.147:

(1) Name of Operator, agent, and any d/b/a (doing-business-as) under which that Operator does business;
(2) Principal business address and mailing address;
(3) Principal place of business (if different from business address);
(4) Name of person responsible for management of the business;
(5) Name of person responsible for aircraft maintenance;
(6) Type of aircraft, registration number(s), and make/model/series; and
(7) An Antidrug and Alcohol Misuse Prevention Program registration.

The Ohio State Medical Board has suspended for “not less than two years” the license of a Port Clinton physician who annually signed off on an airman medical certificate for a pilot whose declining vision was determined to be a factor in a fatal plane crash near Fremont.

The medical board said Dr. Jerome McTague “departed from or failed to conform to minimal standards of care” when he failed to detect and document Gene Damschroder’s deteriorating eyesight because of cataracts and macular degeneration.

On June 8, 2008, Mr. Damschroder, 86, was piloting a single-engine plane for a Lions Club “Drive-In/​Fly-In Breakfast” at the airport on State Rt. 53 near Fremont when his plane crashed, killing him and five passengers.

The families of those killed — Bill Ansted, 62, and his daughter, Allison, 23, both of Lindsey, Ohio; Matt Clearman, 25, of Maumee, who was Ms. Ansted’s fiancĂ©, and Danielle Gerwin, 31, and her daughter, Emily, 4, both of Gibsonburg — filed a wrongful-death suit in 2012 against Dr. McTague along with the estate of Gene Damschroder and the International Association of Lions Clubs.

While the case had been set for trial this week in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Dale Emch, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said Thursday that settlements had been reached with Dr. McTague, the Damschroders, and the International Association of Lions Clubs. Terms of the settlements were confidential, he said.

“After four or five years of often-contentious litigation, our clients are happy and relieved to have some closure,” said Mr. Emch, who was co-counsel in the case with the Cleveland law firm of Nurenberg, Paris, Heller, & McCarthy.

“The accident was a tragedy for four families — the three families that lost loved ones who flew with Gene Damschroder that day and for the Damschroder family,” Mr. Emch said.

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the probable cause of the crash was “the pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control for an undetermined reason, which resulted in an inadvertent stall.”

Other contributing factors, the board found, were “the pilot’s poor judgment in continuing to fly with his severe visual deficiency” and “the aviation medical examiner’s failure to accurately assess and report the pilot’s visual deficiency.”

The State Medical Board cited the NTSB report in its inquiry into Dr. McTague, an emergency-room physician and a former Ottawa County coroner. The medical board reviewed Dr. McTague’s examinations of Mr. Damschroder from 1998 until 2007, finding that he listed the pilot’s uncorrected distant vision as 20/​20 at his last exam in May, 2007.

His uncorrected vision actually was 20/​200 just three weeks before the crash.

“Dr. McTague was required to review [Mr. Damschroder’s] medical information, conduct a thorough and careful examination of [Mr. Damschroder], fully complete each medical certificate, and issue a medical certificate only if [Mr. Damschroder] met the FAA’s medical standards,” Danielle Blue, hearing examiner for the medical board, wrote in her report.

Joan Wehrle, spokesman for the medical board, said that while the hearing examiner recommended Dr. McTague receive a 60-day license suspension, the medical board, after a lengthy discussion on Feb. 12, agreed to a two-year suspension effective Feb. 26.

“They believed his failure to conform to the standards of care regarding the continuing examination of this one patient, not noticing the visual deterioration of that patient, and saying he was still OK to fly, merited an extended suspension,” she said.

Dr. McTague has until March 13 to appeal his suspension to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Reached by phone Thursday, Dr. McTague declined to comment.

Attorneys for the Damschroder family and the Lions Club did not respond to requests for comment.

According to the board’s orders, when Dr. McTague applies for reinstatement of his medical license, he must show that he completed courses in personal/​professional ethics and in maintaining adequate and appropriate medical records. He must submit written reports on what he learned in those courses and how he will apply what he learned to his medical practice.

Upon reinstatement, Dr. McTague would be on probation for at least three years, during which time he would have regular interviews with the medical board and would be monitored by an approved physician.

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City of Medora, North Dakota, to host public meeting to discuss the “feasibility of reestablishing a recreational airstrip”

Medora to host public meeting on airport

DICKINSON, N.D. -- The city of Medora, N.D., will host a public meeting to discuss the “feasibility of reestablishing a recreational airstrip,” according to minutes from Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The meeting will take place beginning at 3 p.m. on March 15 at the Medora Community Center. During its February meeting, the council voted to move forward toward a feasibility study, which would explore the possibility of bringing an airstrip back to Medora. The area was once home to the Buddy Ranch Airport, though the small airstrip closed in the early 1980s.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Medora Mayor Doug Ellison said he recently met with North Dakota Aeronautics Commission and Federal Aviation Administration officials in Bismarck in an effort to gather “information necessary to asses moving forward with a feasibility study.” The city could be entitled to federal funding for an airport project, which would potentially pay for a large chunk of construction and maintenance costs.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Medora City Auditor Carrie Marman offered her resignation, which will be effective April 30. Minutes from the meeting show that “the councilmen stated (Marman) has done a terrific job and will be missed.”


Why Was There A Helicopter on Lake Sara Last Night?

That's the question people have been asking...why was there a helicopter on Lake Sara Thursday night?

The reason is the chopper is being used to trim back trees along an oil pipeline that runs past the lake.

Effingham Water Authority Lake Superintendent Mike Dirks said the helicopter is equipped with a long cable holding four circular saw blades.  The blades trim back vegetative growth along the route of the pipeline.  Dirks said it's done every few years and is done rather than hiring a ground crew to come in to trim back the growth.

The helicopter is hired by the pipeline company, not by the Water Authority.

Dirks heard the chopper was parked near the Lake Sara Road/Moccasin Road four-way stop overnight.


Women’s Day: Jet, GoAir offer discount, Air India all-women crew flight

Women travelers will get a 10 percent discount, for online bookings between March 8 and May 8, with travel validity of 11 months.

Domestic airlines are wooing women travelers with discounts and an all-women crew flights to mark the International Women’s Day, which falls on Saturday.

While private carrier Jet Airways has announced discounted tickets, with a two-months booking window and 11 months validity, budget carrier GoAir has offered upgrade to business class at low prices.

The national carrier Air India is mulling an all-women crew flight.

Naresh Goyal-promoted Jet Airways has offered discounted fares to women travellers with a two-month booking period, starting from Saturday.

Under the offer, women travellers will get a special 10 percent discount on base fares for international journey and a similar discount on base fare and fuel surcharge for domestic travel, it said on Friday.

All tickets, for both domestic and international travel, must be booked online between March 8 and May 8, with travel validity of 11 months, Jet Airways said adding the offer was applicable for Jet Airways and Jet Konnect.

Air India, which has been operating an all-women crew flight to mark the International Women’s Day for the last few years, now plans a similar flight this year too.

“We have been operating such flights for the last several years. And this year also, we will be operating flights with all-women crew on international and domestic sectors,” an Air India official said.

Such a move sends out a strong message that women are no different from the men when it comes to the tough job of flying, the official said.

Nusli Wadia promoted GoAir had on Friday announced a special scheme for women travelers, offering upgrade to business class for Rs.999.


Base to conduct joint exercise in Treasure Valley March 10-14

Military aircraft and personnel from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and Great Britain will operate out of Mountain Home Air Force Base for the Gunfighter Flag military exercise March 10-14.

Residents of Boise and Mountain Home will see and hear an increase in aircraft flying in their vicinity from 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. March 10-13, and from 1-4 p.m. March 14.

The exercise is designed to prepare multiple joint and coalition terminal attack controller teams for upcoming deployments as well as provide proficiency training for aircrews.

"This exercise epitomizes what we do at Mountain Home Air Force Base," said Col. Byron Anderson, 366th Fighter Wing vice commander. "We train combat-ready Airmen to deploy anywhere at any time and provide precision air power to our joint and coalition partners."

All training has been coordinated with the appropriate authorities.

For more information, contact the Mountain Home Air Force Base Public Affairs office at (208) 828-6800, or by email at 366FW/


Want a job in a fast growing industry? Look to the skies

To the naked eye, the gray windowless hangars next to Piedmont Triad International airport in Greensboro, N.C., may appear to be nothing out of the ordinary, but TIMCO Aviation wants students as young as fourth grade to see it differently. The company wants them to see it as a place where they can one day work. 

"Being around aircraft is fun, so we do like to go to elementary schools and get people interested in aviation," said Kip Blakely, TIMCO's vice president of industry and government relations.

The company has reason to be reaching out to students as young as 10—the aviation industry is booming. Boeing estimates global cargo and passenger traffic will expand 5 percent annually through 2032. To accommodate the growth, 20,930 aircraft will be added to the world's fleet. For companies like TIMCO, a unit of Hong Kong-based HAECO, this means it will need to add trained and certified workers for years, just as 30 percent to 40 percent of its workforce is preparing to retire.

"We have major plans to expand," said Blakely, but finding the 400 technicians to staff the two new hangars TIMCO wants to build is the hard part. "That is really a headwind to our expansion."

TIMCO is not alone. Even as the economy added 175,000 new jobs in February with the unemployment rate at 6.7 percent, a 2013 survey by Manpower found 38 percent of U.S. companies say a lack of skilled talent is impeding their growth.

TIMCO has 1,800 workers at the Greensboro plant, and Blakely estimates the firm will be hiring 350 new workers each year, for the next several years. To ensure a steady supply of trained employees, it is partnering with high schools, a local community college and a national program retraining adults in aviation.

So while outreach to young children is important, the real recruiting efforts begin in middle school. Interested eighth-graders can apply to attend Greensboro's Andrews Aviation Academy, one of only 50 high school aviation programs in the United States.

High school junior Bruno Cacace signed up, and in addition to the courses he has taken in drafting, physics and aviation fundamentals, he is shadowing an engineer at TIMCO this year. The floppy-haired 16-year-old said his experience gave him a new perspective on what being an engineer entails. "Actually seeing the environment that I'm going to be in helps because I can see myself working at the computers and working on different projects," he said. 

A future at TIMCO may be five years off though, since Cacace plans to go to college and study engineering. In the near term, TIMCO is working with Guilford Technical Community College on a two-year program where students are trained in the skills they need to become FAA certified technicians.

 "At the end of each class, we debrief them (TIMCO) to make sure that the students are meeting their needs and meeting the standards they have," said Audrey Floyd, Guilford's department chairwoman of aviation management.

She said Guilford has been working with TIMCO for about five years to create a pipeline to meet the needs of the industry.

Daniel Wade, a 28-year-old Guilford graduate, has been working as a technician at TIMCO for over a year now and is happy to tell you he has already received a raise. He works in one of TIMCO's four hangars, which can service 19 aircraft at a time. Wade will work on 737s, 757s, 767s, 777s or a KC-10s. Each plane takes an average of 30 days to service.

"I can change oil filters. I lube cables, remove and replace parts, do small troubleshooting, electrical stuff," Wade said. "Sometimes I do interiors, install chairs, panels, I do a little bit of everything here."

Wade has an Airframe and Power Plant certification from the FAA. This allows him to work on the planes when they come in for required maintenance. The work essentially involves taking the plane apart, inspecting its parts, fixing or replacing the one that are broken or old, and putting it back together.

Blakely said new technicians like Wade can earn up to $30,000 in their first year with overtime, and will receive benefits like health insurance and a 401(k). But for Wade, the most important part of the job is making sure everything he is doing is correct.

"I know I have people's lives in my hand every time I touch this plane," he said.

Wade still touches it under the watchful eye of a mentor at TIMCO. While certified, he will spend three years in what is basically an apprenticeship with one of TIMCO's veteran technicians. Blakely points out there are no robotics on the floor of these hangars—the work must be done by a human hand. A technician has to read the FAA's worksheet, do the assigned task, sign off on it and have it approved by a TIMCO inspector and others from the FAA and/or an airline.

Many long-time TIMCO workers are military veterans who entered the private workforce after the Vietnam War. Now as troops come home from Afghanistan and Iraq, TIMCO is hoping once again to tap this rich vein of workers.

"They've got about an 80 percent employment base with veterans, and as it (TIMCO) grows they are bringing in more and more employees from the veteran base," said Jesse Fletcher, TIMCO's military recruiter.

Seasoned workers from the private workforce are welcome, too. TIMCO and Guilford have been working on a program that retrains adults with a grant from the National Aviation Consortium. 

One of those adults is a recent TIMCO hire, Amy Essex. The 46-year-old mother of three boys formerly worked at a mental health services firm. Unemployed for seven months, she was selected for the program in July and has since passed her online courses and a mechanical test she said was one of the hardest things she has ever done.

"The learning curve is so high, the expectations are very high," she said, adding everything she did had to be perfect.

 Now, she will be working "off wing." She can assist other technicians but will not work directly on the plane. Those jobs are reserved for certified technicians. Essex plans to take the classes she needs to take to get certified, as she is working at TIMCO.

"This is the first step," she said. "Many good things to happen."

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Flights restricted over Keys for Obama visit

President Barack Obama is heading to the Keys Friday, according to numerous reports.

The White House rented several houses in the upscale Ocean Reef Club in North Key Largo for this week, said a resident who lives there.

“The place already looks like a compound,” said the source Wednesday morning. He added this would be Obama’s first stay at Ocean Reef.

In the meantime, the Federal Aviation Administration Thursday issued temporary flight restrictions over the Homestead/Miami area for Friday and over Key Largo from Friday through Sunday. This means pilots must avoid the area, said FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

Bergen would not confirm the restrictions were because of the president's visit. She referred that question to the White House, which could not be reached for comment.

Vice President Joseph Biden stayed at Ocean Reef in 2013. The club has two 18-hole, par 71 golf courses.

First Lady Michele Obama is in Miami this week to try to boost health insurance enrollments under the Affordable Care Act

Reportedly, the White House contacted Ocean Reef last week.

“They’ve already taken a number of houses and staff,” the source said.

The Keys have long been a destination for presidents, among them Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, FDR, Kennedy and Truman.


New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez Signs Aviation Maintenance Tax Cut

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez recently signed House Bill 14 at the War Eagles Air Museum in Santa Teresa. 

"House Bill 14 as amended is now law."

The bill allows aircraft manufacturers to deduct gross receipts tax, saving them about 7 percent of their costs.

"We want people to know how much we want you here…we are open for business."

New Mexico's economic development secretary, Jon Barela, was with business leaders.

"I was born and raised in this area…to see the border area develop…is very very exciting."

Director of aircraft company, Santa Fe Aero Services, Ronald Tarrson, sat here inside the museum aircraft hang. He looked up at the governor mention his business by name.

"I had tears in my eyes because we have worked very hard to make this happen."

He says 1996 was the first time he tried to get legislation passed for his company that has branches in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

"It's been a struggle ever since because airplanes…we just made it our mission to equalize the playing field."

Twenty years later, looks like Tarrson has his wish as his company plans expansion into Santa Teresa.

"The difference is the taxes…now without that tax we're on an even playing field with Colorado and Arizona."

Santa Fe Aero Services wasn't the only business making a commitment here. Five others were represented here on stage by their CEOs.

Jerry Pacheco of the Border Industrial Association stressed not just that 6 new businesses are moving here, but that the businesses aren't just in one field.

"We have logistics companies, metal companies…set up and achieve success."

In all, the 6 businesses plan to bring about 150 news jobs.

Here is a breakdown:

ERO Resources - 50 Jobs over 3 years
Transmaritime - 15 Jobs
Kalisch Iron & Metal - 20 Jobs
Stagecoach Cartage - 9 Jobs
Oak Tree Inn - 34 Jobs
Santa Fe Aero Services - 20 Jobs

New Mexico has been slow to recover from the recession, but economic secretary Barela believes this is one sign the state is finally taxiing toward the runway of bigger and better things.

"I believe that southern Dona Ana County…explosive job growth in the next few years."


Nepal Airlines de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, 9N-ABU: Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal

NAC aircraft makes emergency landing at TIA: Passengers‚ crew safe but airlines left with no plane for domestic flights

 KATHMANDU: Nepal Airlines Corporation will no longer be able to conduct any domestic flight for some time, as the only aircraft that was performing inland operations was grounded today following engine failure.

The state-owned airline company’s Twin Otter was grounded after it encountered technical problems in the right engine. The fault was detected soon after it took off for Lamidanda from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu this afternoon.

“The aircraft was only around 100 feet above the ground when the right engine encountered problem,” Deputy Director at TIA’s Rescue Coordination Centre Bimalesh Karna told THT. Captain Sanjay Vaidya, who was the aircraft’s

commander, then shut down the right engine and used the left one to land the aircraft back at TIA, a reliable NAC source said. All 15 passengers, including two infants and one child, and three crew members, including co-pilot Prashant Rai, are safe.

Although nothing unfortunate happened, the incident has left NAC with no plane to conduct domestic flights. “Our sales department has informed this to all travel agencies and asked them to cancel all bookings,” NAC Spokesperson Ram Hari Sharma said.

NAC, which used to own 12 Twin Otters in its heyday, was operating around 22 domestic flights with only two aircraft for the last several months, until one of them crashed at Masine Lek of Khachikot in Arghakhanchi last month. Since then it had halved its domestic operations, severely affecting passengers of hilly and remote areas that are not connected by roads. “We are not sure how long it will take to fix the engine so that domestic operations can be resumed,” Sharma said.

Although it is not known what caused the engine failure, people at NAC’s flight safety department suspect ‘compressor stall’—a situation that occurs due to abnormal flow of air into the compressor. As per experts, after propellers of aircraft suck the air in, the air is compressed by a compressor following which energy is developed in the combustion chamber. The exhaust turbine then develops power and pushes the aircraft forward. “During this process, the air flow must have been interrupted

and may have even caused damage to compressor blades, which caused the engine failure,” the NAC source said.

This, however, should not mean the aircraft’s engine was old, he added. The engines of the aircraft, which was brought to Nepal in mid-1980s, had undergone an overhaul recently, and the one that failed today had completed only 250 hours of flight, the source said, adding engine overhauls are conducted after completion of 4,000 hours of flight.

Tragedy averted

KATHMANDU: The aircraft was only around 100 feet above the ground when the right engine encountered problem. Immediate emergency landing with no casualty was possible because TIA’s runway is about 3,000 metres in length and Twin Otter can land on runways as short as 500-600 metres. The risk might have gone up if the same incident had occurred in some of the rural airports where airstrip length is not even 600 metres.

Women landing growing share of aviation jobs; Quest Aircraft in Sandpoint an example

SANDPOINT – When Amber Phillips was 15, her grandfather took her flying in a Piper Navajo.

Now she’s 26 and helps build airplanes next to the Sandpoint airport. Phillips is in charge of the subassembly area at Quest Aircraft Co., maker of the 10-seat KODIAK turboprop, a versatile plane used for mission work, tourism, skydiving and corporate trips.

“It was kind of a cool thing to call Grandpa and be like, ‘Hey, guess what I’m doing now?’ ” she said.

Aviation careers long have been dominated by men, but that is changing with encouragement from companies like Quest. It employs 39 women who make up almost one-quarter of the plant’s workforce.

An aircraft mechanic, Phillips has worked at Quest for six years and is close to getting her pilot’s license. She is involved with organizations such as Women in Aviation and Girls with Wings, and she’s spearheading an “aviation discovery” open house Saturday at Quest to show students and women of all ages they can find rewarding work in this field.

“In aviation in general it’s really hard to get women interested because they don’t think they’re qualified for it,” Phillips said. “Women are really good at paying attention to the fine details,” an advantageous skill for working on machines with thousands of parts.

Bunny Small is one of two electrical engineers at Quest. She grew up in Seattle and worked at Boeing for four years. When she and her husband looked to make a lifestyle change, they landed jobs with the Sandpoint company a year ago.

More opportunities are opening for women in aviation, Small said, but some hurdles do remain.

“Unfortunately some people still discourage girls early on, saying that’s such a hard field and they just can’t quite see a woman in it,” she said. “But then once we’re out there and we prove ourselves, it becomes easier. But, unfortunately, we do have to prove ourselves still.”

Small said she’s had no difficulty fitting in at Quest, where her work spans new design, production and customer service.

“We’re looked at for our skills and not for who we are and what gender we are,” she said. “We’re a family here; I really feel that.”

Heather Coop feels that way, too. The Sandpoint native joined Quest more than six years ago and works in wing assembly.

“It’s great to be working with the guys and get the chance to prove that girls can do it too,” Coop said.

“And I was never allowed to touch power tools before I worked here, so that’s great, too,” she added.

The men scattered throughout the sprawling assembly plant are very accepting of the growing ranks of women, Coop said.

“The last job I had was mostly women. And I fit in better here,” Coop said. “I think the guys have a healthy respect for a woman who can do what they do. They don’t see that as a bad thing. They enjoy watching the women succeed here.”

Women still hold a small share of aerospace jobs nationally and around the world. But with a growing emphasis on math, science and technology education for girls, the share of female graduates with science and engineering degrees is on the rise.

Gradually, more women are applying for these jobs. In Quest’s most recent two hires, seven women were among 41 applicants for an aircraft assembler position, and two women joined 32 men vying for an aerospace engineer job.

Women are starting to fill more positions with Coeur d’Alene-based Empire Aerospace, which performs heavy maintenance on regional-size turboprop planes, and Empire Airlines, a FedEx feeder carrier and the operator of Hawaiian Airlines’ Ohana by Hawaiian.

“I’m excited to see the number of women coming into more technical jobs in aviation, and it certainly is a trend,” said Empire President and CEO Timothy Komberec.

The company has five female pilots, plus four maintenance mechanics, four dispatchers and two other technical positions filled by women.

“I don’t think we see as great a differentiation between what men and women should traditionally do,” Komberec said. “Now, if you want to do that, you can go do that.”

Back at Quest, which turns out two $2 million planes a month, Coop recently gave her 9-year-old son a tour of the assembly plant.

“We stood underneath one of the wings and I said, ‘I built that.’ He was so excited. How many people get to bring their kids in and say, ‘Hey, look at that. I did that!’ ”

Aviation career open house

Quest Aircraft Co. will host an open house to introduce women to aviation careers. It’s part of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week.

When: Saturday, 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: 1200 Turbine Drive, Sandpoint.
On the Web:
Discover aviation
Quest Aircraft Co. will host an open house Saturday to introduce women to aviation careers. It’s part of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week.
When: 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: 1200 Turbine Drive, Sandpoint
On the Web:

Story and photo:

Letter: Crazy commission (Santa Monica Airport)

By Frank Greenberg on March 6, 2014 in Opinion


I think we need to change the name of the Airport Commission to something which is not so misleading (“Airport Commission recommends starving SMO,” March 3). I thought commissions were generally groups who worked for the betterment of something they were supposed to represent. Can you imagine a police commission who advocated eliminating the police force and releasing all the people in jail or a coastal commission who wanted to dump toxic waste into the ocean?

The Airport Commission is nothing more than a group of property owners who want to enrich themselves by removing a property use which was there before them and was a contributing reason they could even afford to move there in the first place. In this spirit, why don’t we have a housing commission composed of people who want to eliminate low-income housing and rent control. The idea is no less crazy that what we’ve got for the airport.

Frank Greenberg

Santa Monica


Barnstable Municipal Airport (KHYA), Hyannis, Massachusetts

Council questions airport’s ‘eyesore’ properties

Puts commission chairman on the spot regarding ‘Mildred’s’ and Kmart Plaza.

Barnstable Airport Commission Chairman Ron Persuitte gave the town council an update last week on ways the commission is looking for ways to increase revenue, including developing land that airport owns.

One of those parcels, on the airport side of Route 28, once held Mildred’s restaurant, was demolished several years ago because of FAA regulations. “We are looking at alternate solutions,” Persuitte said.

The reference to Mildred’s prompted a testy discussion with some council members and drew more questions about the Kmart Plaza on Route 132, which the airport also owns.

“Mildred’s is an eyesore,” Council VP Ann Canedy said. Until the commission decides what to do with the property, she suggested adding a fence and planting some grass on the vacant parcel to “make it look decent.”

To do that would cost a substantial amount of money and would be a short-term solution, Persuitte said. “We need a long-term solution.”

Canedy shot back, “I believe the airport is part of this town and the airport commission needs to understand that.”

Persuitte blamed the delay on the Cape Cod Commission, which he said had asked the airport to wait until a traffic study was completed on that section of Route 28. “We just got the result,” Persuitte said. He said the commission is trying to make the Mildred’s property more viable because it is the “second most valuable parcel the airport owns and should be generating $100,000 in revenue.

Persuitte did not mention Kmart Plaza in his initial report, but Councilor Jim Crocker asked for an update and Councilor Jen Cullum called it one of the “eyesores in this town.”

Persuitte responded, “The council shouldn’t be involved.” He said there is a question of who owns the property. “We are custodians of the land,” he said. The 25.8-acre parcel has 249,000 square feet of buildings across Route 132 from the Cape Cod Mall.

“We’re missing the boat on the Route 132 corridor. It’s where we want big box stores,” Cullum said.

Persuitte explained that the airport has a 56-year-old “ironclad” lease on the property that doesn’t expire until 2024 and produces only $65,000 in annual rent. “That {amount} is disgraceful,” he admitted. “Today we should be generating 10 times the rent for Kmart.”

When councilors Canedy and Cullum both asked why the airport doesn’t get an appraisal of the property for sale purposes, Persuitte said it would be “a waste of time” and cost $45,000 to $50,000. “You can do it if you want,” he told the council.

A developer talked to the airport commission about buying the plaza for $2.7 million, Crocker said, but Persuitte claimed the property is worth more than $6 million.

“Som time we’ll make a determination for the best use. Now there’s nothing we can do,” Persuitte said. “It’s an extremely bitter pill. If we had $800,000 to $900,000 more revenue a year, it would solve a lot of problems.”

Persuitte concluded his defense of the commission’s dealing with the two sites, saying, “We’re trying. This means a lot to us to develop these properties.”

He said a study would be done “down the line,” but Canedy said, “By time the lease expires, we’ll have demolition by neglect.”

At the end of the discussion, Council President Jessica Rapp Grassetti told Persuitte to take the council’s suggestions about an appraisal of the Kmart property under advisement and bring them to the full commission.

Other commission goals Persuitte listed included a jet fuel pricing program and development of a 60,000-gallon above-ground jet fuel storage center, known as an environmentally friendly fuel farm, to replace a 20-year-old underground tank. The airport is seeking state and federal funds for the fuel farm.

The commission also would like to attract non-aviation businesses to some of its properties and improve community awareness by rekindling a group to talk about airport issues, such as noise, water quality and traffic, Persuitte said.

At the same meeting, Barnstable Airport Manager Roland “Bud” Breault this week sought from the council a $5 million loan for the design and reconstruction of the airport’s East Ramp that was built around 1972 and has deteriorated, needing total reconstruction. It is the ramp where most of the jet planes park, including the President’s plane when he comes to Martha’s Vineyard in August, Breault said.

Breault said he was making the request because the notice of the state and federal funds came on short notice and had to be expended no later than June 30. Breault said the ramp would be done by the President’s visit. The council approved the loan.

Other airport projects Breault announced this week included two that are under way: the relocation of a taxiway 50 feet farther from a parallel runway along Barnstable Road and a central deicing pad near the air traffic control tower.

Construction is expected to begin this year on nearly 30 acres of ground-based photovoltaic solar panels on the airfield across from the terminal. Later this year, NStar is expected to begin installing a new high-capacity electric cable along the airfield easement between Mary Dunn Road and Mary Dunn Way near Route 28.

All the projects are part of the airport’s draft master plan.