Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vietnam Airlines suspends pilot, flight attendants over smuggling suspicion

Vietnam national carrier, Vietnam Airlines, on Thursday announced to suspend five flight attendants and one co-pilot to investigate their suspected smuggling attempt.

According to Vietnam's state-run news agency, among the five attendants, one was earlier arrested by Japanese police while carrying 21 items of stolen clothing worth 125,000 Japanese yen ( about 1,218 US dollars) on a bus carrying the aircrew from a hotel in Osaka to Kansai International Airport in Japan last September.

The arrest of the flight attendant was reported earlier by Japanese media on Feb. 27. She is suspected of transporting stolen goods worth 3 million Japanese yen (29,220 US dollars) from a 30- year-old Vietnamese woman in Japan since June 2013.

About 20 employees of Vietnam Airlines were also suspected of involving in the smuggling case.

On Thursday, Vietnam Airlines' office in Tokyo has provided all relevant information and documents upon request of Japanese police to serve the investigation, said Vietnam News Agency.

This is the second time an employee of Vietnam Airlines has involved in a smuggling case in Japan. Earlier in 2009, a pilot of the carrier was also arrested and was kept in custody for a few months in Japan.


Court Upholds Ban on Older Pilots at Exxon: Courthouse News Service


(CN) - Exxon Mobil does not discriminate against older pilots in banning the 60-plus crowd from flying its corporate aircraft, the 5th Circuit ruled.

On behalf of three implicated workers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the oil giant in 2006, calling the mandatory retirement of pilots at age 60 a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon countered that the policy was a bona fide occupational qualification, of BFAQ, similar to a ban by the Federal Aviation Administration against older commercial pilots.

 U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas granted Exxon summary judgment, but the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit deemed that ruling premature and called for further discovery to ascertain whether the policy is a BFAQ. 

The trial court reached the same conclusion after that inquiry, however, and this time did not face a reversal from the federal appeals court. 

"We conclude that Exxon has established its mandatory age retirement rule is BFOQ and the EEOC has not demonstrated a genuine issue of material fact," the unsigned Tuesday opinion states. "Therefore, we affirm the District Court."

The appeals court shot down the EEOC's attempt to distinguish the jobs of the Exxon pilots from those of commercial pilots under the FAA rule.

"Exxon has put forth significant evidence demonstrating that its pilots fly similar planes, in similar conditions, and in the same airspace and airports as commercial pilots," the 13-page opinion states. "Exxon's pilots must obtain some of their own pre-flight information, fly with little advance warning, allow passengers to change itineraries mid-flight, and occasionally fly into and out of unfamiliar remote airports. Although Exxon's pilots may face different regulations, certifications, and testing, the essence of their occupation - piloting Exxon's corporate aircraft - is congruent to the essence of commercial piloting."

Likewise, the EEOC failed to show that evidence supporting the FAA's rule was inapplicable to Exxon's operations.

"Although the FAA has not applied the Age 60 Rule to corporate pilots, that alone is insufficient to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact concerning the applicability of the FAA's safety rationale," the opinion states. "To imply such an automatic conclusion ignores the relevancy of federal regulations or statutes in a private employer's ability to establish a BFOQ."
 Exxon had also not failed to prove it was compelled to establish and keep the policy. The EEOC contended that age is not an adequate gauge of fitness, and that individual testing is practical and possible.

"Exxon has established that it was compelled to adopt the rule because there are no adequate means of individually testing each pilot," the opinion states. "Exxon presented the testimony of several medical professionals - including a cardiologist and neurologist-and the reports of multiple organizations on the issue. Each affirmed the notion that there are no adequate medical tests that would help Exxon predict whether a pilot was at risk for suffering sudden and subtle incapacitation while in flight. Further, the evidence confirmed that the risk for this incapacitation increased significantly with age and no individualized testing could account for this increased risk."

Exxon has not returned a request for comment. 



Prescott Municipal Airport, Ernest A. Love Field (KPRC), Prescott, Arizona

Editorial: 'Just right' is not forever

It's a Goldilocks situation.

"This one's too big. This one's too small. But this one is just right."

For many years, "just right" has ended up being the answer of choice when it comes to deciding the future of the Prescott Municipal Airport. It's primarily general aviation, with a little bit of commercial mixed in, and as it hosts Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's flight line, it has traffic enough to be counted as one of the busiest airports in the nation.

Despite its "just right" status, city officials have, over the years, repeatedly turned their eyes to the north of downtown and tried to figure out how to make it better. They've battled through a number of providers that, with the aid of government grants, have come to provide Essential Air Service, none with great success. They've only recently realized that the rents they've been charging for commercial and hangar space was far enough below market value that the market may as well have been on the moon.

Little fixes and touch-ups are all well and good but, as with everything else in life, "just right" doesn't remain so forever.

It's time to spend some money, if only so that folks arriving for the first time don't walk into the 3,800 square-foot, 1947-vintage terminal and ask, "Where's the terminal?"

The choices are to do improvements necessary to remain a quality general aviation airport, at a cost of about $30 million, or to take a leap of faith and do enough improvements to become a regional airport, with a price tag of about $95 million.

That's a lot of money. But wait, with numerous federal and state grants available, the cost of going regional could end up somewhere between $6 million and $7 million. Not sofa-cushion change, but clearly doable.

The regional idea has a nearby proven example. In St. George, Utah, the folks there took the plunge in 2011 and now have a 35,000 square-foot terminal and two airlines - Skywest-Delta and United Express, funneling passengers to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. St George is a larger city than Prescott, but its Washington County population is nearly 100,000 less than Yavapai County's.

Airports bring people and airports bring business and airports bring jobs. And, given the local history of spotty passenger service, combined with mandated improvements that will eat up a great deal of dough regardless of what future the City Council chooses, going regional seems to be the clear choice.

We have only one question: Why haven't we already done this?

Article and comments/reaction:

Sloulin Field International Airport (KISN), Williston, North Dakota

City makes changes at airport 

The city of Williston recently signed a letter thanking Great Lakes Airlines for more than two decades of service.

“Great Lakes provided services when no one else could or would for a long time,” Steven Kjergaard, the airport manager at Sloulin Field International Airport in Williston, said Wednesday.

The Wyoming-based regional airline announced earlier in the month it was suspending its services to Williston and Dickinson. In January, it pulled out of Devils Lake and Jamestown.

The airline couldn’t find pilots to staff flights and was having trouble regularly operating its flights, Kjergaard said.

With Great Lakes leaving, Kjergaard said space is now open in the new city hangar.

“The best fit for that is our fixed-base operated on the field Williston jet,” Kjergaard said in a city commissioner briefing. “This lease will supersede their previous one and be a term of five years for an amount of $14,000 per month.”

The city commission approved the recommendation and two others proposed by the airport manager, involving a lease transfer of car rental services and an update to land leasing costs.

The airport manager was unable to determine how current land leasing prices were determined.

“This is due to none of the square footage rates being the same as well as the current lease descriptions clearly stating what area is being rented,” Kjergaard said.

However, the issue will be corrected as the airport manager plans to add a map to each lease showing the areas rented, and each rate will be the same.

The commission approved his recommendation that the annual hangar rates increase from a range of 2 cents to 4 cents per square foot to 22.5 cents per square foot on Jan. 1, 2015.

“The percentage increase is pretty substantial...,” Kjergaard said. “Realistically, it’s not much compared to what it could be.”

The commission also approved recommendations to increase monthly rates of city-owned hangars from $52 to $100, and non-city owned hangars from an average of $90 to $150.

Commissioner Chris Brostuen asked if the current rates were adequate to fund maintenance.

“They don’t cover anything,” Kjergaard said, adding the increases will cover electricity, snow removal and upkeep.

He added the city last increased the rates in the late 1990s.

“It seems so cheap,” Commissioner Tate Cymbaluk said relating the rates to those of storage spaces.

Commissioner Brad Bekkedahl said the city had issues with hangar usage several years ago, with people using the space as private storage since the leases were so cheap.

In related news, Kjergaard said the owner of Priceless Care Rental requested to transfer his lease agreement to Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company.

The commission approved the transfer contingent on the city attorney reviewing the matter.


Carbon County Regional Airport (KPUC), Price, Utah

Airport soars as manager's vision leads to a new era 

Mark Francis

Assistant airport manager Jennifer Jensen and County Commissioner John Jones stand on the newly-rebuilt main runway.

Most anyone who looked at the Carbon County Airport 15 years ago would have seen a facility in shambles. A facility fraught with problems, and falling farther and farther away from what the Federal Aviation Administration would consider acceptable. The runways, fueling stations, lack of taxi area or apron and rancid reputation made it a liability for the county and anyone involved with it.

Mark Francis saw something else. For Francis, the property just north of Price had the potential to become a major resource for the Castle Country, and all he needed was the chance to make that happen.

Francis got that chance as he became the Airport's Manager in 1999.

"The place was in shambles when he took over," said Jennifer Jensen, the airport's assistant manager, speaking from stories she has heard and her own experiences before taking the assistant's job seven years ago. "The reputation was pretty bad out here and it wasn't far from true."

According to Jensen and Carbon County Commissioner John Jones, who began overseeing the facility when Commissioner Bill Krompel retired, that reputation began to change as soon as Francis took the job.

"He got rid of a lot of the things that were wrong with this place right off the bat," said Jones as we toured the airport recently. "From personnel to equipment and systems, Mark started making sure things were done the right way as soon as he started here. Bill (Commissioner Krompel) would often speak of the job Francis was doing."

And there was a great deal to be done.

"Let me put it to you like this, my first day as a commissioner, the terminal burned to the ground," said former Carbon County Commissioner Mike Milovich. "And it went down hill for four years after that."

According to Milovich, the airport suffered from ailments including pilots that wanted to cause fights after landing to inadequate landing lights and radar.

"When we asked for applications for the position, Mark rose right to the top," he continued. "He had a vision for what that airport could mean to this area and he has spent the last 15 years making it happen. He had a pecking order of what needed to be done and he started immediately."

Runway improvements as well as safety equipment and amenities for pilots was at the top of that list.

According to Jensen, Carbon County can be a difficult place to land because of the changes in wind direction and wind speed.

"Pilots like to land while flying into the wind and if they can't do that, especially in some of these smaller planes, they can really get beat up pretty bad," she said. "They can actually flip their plane over."

Jensen explained the local wind patterns often forced pilots to land on the runway which needed the most work at the airport. Photos she showed us during the tour demonstrated the weeds which had infested the runway and the thin strip of asphalt which challenged incoming pilots to keep their planes steady.

Francis and his assistant at the time Angie Johanssen began seeking funding and putting in the man hours necessary to address these issues immediately.

For those who are unfamiliar with the airport, it is a much larger facility than the taxiway and terminal that can be seen from Airport Road. The airport is a two square mile property with multiple runways and hangers which house both local and out-of-the-area planes.

The airport's longest runway was recently revamped by Francis and the commission, making it the preferred landing spot of Gulfstream jet-owning personalities from President George Bush to Hunt Oil Executives to Dallas Cowboy's Owner Jerry Jones.

The runway project cost nearly $6.5 million, $6 million of which Francis was able to secure in the form of a grants from various organizations. Construction began on May 15, 2013. Crews would strip the runway down nearly 27 inches before rebuilding the runway with the correct fill and compact ratio. The runway now includes LED Reils, high intensity lighting and pilot controlled systems.

The pilot control means that landing pilots can turn the LED lights on, they stay on for 15 minutes and then shut down, saving the county funds on both electricity and bulb replacement.

The entire project would cost Carbon County residents only $300,000 because of the work Francis put in.

"The knowledge and passion Mark possesses has helped to provided millions and millions of dollars worth of improvements for our airport," said Milovich. "He brought credibility to our airport. He brought professionalism and safety and that has created jobs."

According to airport assistant Jensen, the airport literally did not have a taxi area when Francis took over. Currently, the facility has FAA approved taxi and aprons which will see even more attention this year as the south apron as well as utility area aprons will be rehabilitated and constructed with FAA funds.

Because of his accomplishments, Francis was asked to speak as the Carbon County Airport was spotlighted at the most recent Utah Airport Operators Association's Spring Convention. Commission Jones attended with Francis and was highly impressed with the manner in which the airport manager continues to represent Carbon County.

"That airport is a major part of our continuing economic development," said Jones. "That would not be possible without Mark. He has taken a liability and turned it into these airport operators feel is one of the best facilities in the state." 

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (KMSY), Louisiana

Who is Iftikhar Ahmad, and why are we giving him a $35,000 raise?

By Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

In the last 50 years, there have been many Directors of Aviation at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport but few about whom there was any urgency to retain them. But the current Director of Aviation, Iftikhar Ahmad, is one of the hottest guys in the nation in his field of work and the New Orleans Aviation Board is giving him a $35,000 a year raise that he didn’t ask for because they want to keep him here.

Restaurateur Ti Martin, a member of the Aviation Board, says, “He has come to have a lot of affection for New Orleans and the region and we need to lock him to finish what he has started.”

What he has started, with the complete support of Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the Aviation Board, is the complete makeover of the 67-year-old airport. Ahmad and his staff have proposed a brand-new terminal costing $826 million to be built facing Veterans Boulevard in Kenner on the eastern end of the airport tract. Ahmad also has the complete backing of Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni who agrees with Ti Martin that Ahmad is someone we need to keep here.

So who is this guy?

Ahmad was recruited to come here in 2010 when the incumbent director of aviation was ruined by an insurance-related scandal. Ahmad was the highly-touted director of the Dayton, Ohio airport. He was one of six finalists for the New Orleans job and the Aviation Board feels like they landed the airport equivalent of a Drew Brees in Ahmad.

Since arriving here, he has purged overpaid consultants from the airport’s payroll, lowered landing fees that were among the highest in the nation, brought five new airlines to the airport, rewritten 160 airport contracts, brought local restaurants as concessionaires to the airport and moved the airport up to the 37th slot among the busiest airports in the nation. Recently, Ahmad announced that Southwest Airlines has started a direct flight to Washington D.C. that is expected to handle 85,000 passengers a year.

But, best of all, Ahmad has turned out to be a visionary who is planning a best-of-the-best new terminal for Armstrong International. If all goes well, they’ll be driving piles in October. And if all goes well, the new terminal will be this Mayor Landrieu’s Superdome.

So what kind of guy is this over-achiever?

“I’ve come to love New Orleans and the entire South Louisiana region,” he says. “I really didn’t ask for a raise. Of course, I’m very appreciative, not just for the money but because the Aviation Board thought so highly of me.” Ahmad says he wants to sink his roots into South Louisiana. He has his two sons enrolled in a prep school here that is renowned for teaching science and math. Under Ahmad’s direction, it appears that Armstrong International will soon handle more than 10 million passengers a year for the first time in its history.

Ahmad has also been selected to serve on the Greater New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. The CVB is hoping to increase the number of visitors to the city from the current nine million to 13 million by 2018, the city’s 300th birthday celebration. Ahmad is committed to using the airport as a catalyst for tourism growth. “The three things the airlines care about most are profits, profits and profits,” he says. “If we build a state of the art terminal and show them how we can help them increase their profits, they’ll be glad to come to New Orleans and South Louisiana.”

Ahmad admits other airports have been checking him out to see if he is interested in moving. “I’m very happy right here,” he says. “We’ve got a tremendous challenge ahead of us in building a new terminal. I’ve been able to put together a great team here and we’re working very hard to make this airport the best it has ever been. Wouldn’t that be great?”

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Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT), Colorado

Fired airport worker tipped Federal Bureau of Investigation 

  • Document: VanLandingham lawsuit

  • A nearly five-month-old federal fraud investigation focused on the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority originated from the airport’s former security coordinator, according to a Telluride attorney.

    Attorney John Steel said in a court filing that his client, Donna VanLandingham, who claimed in a federal lawsuit she was forced out in the face of threats to expose alleged wrongdoings by airport leadership, also sat down with the FBI and told her story.

    Steel said he was with VanLandingham during her interview with federal agents.

    Denver FBI spokeswoman Suzie Payne declined comment Wednesday.

    Steel’s disclosure came in a filing Monday, urging U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson to reject a pending motion from lawyers for Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority, which seeks dismissal of VanLandingham’s lawsuit.

    VanLandingham is a “compelling example” of why enforcement of signed legal waivers, or releases, should be forbidden in cases of whistleblowers, Steel argues.

    “Plaintiff believed she had incriminating evidence of illegality and wrongdoing,” Steel’s pleading says. “Plaintiff knew that her superior, the senior person managing the airport (former aviation director Rex Tippetts), was aware of and concerned about what she knew. She believed she was discharged solely because of her refusal to cover-up and lie to shield her supervisor.”

    Steel offers a chronology of events after VanLandingham was fired in January 2011, when she claims she signed under duress a “take-it-or-leave-it” separation agreement from Tippetts pledging not to sue the Airport Authority.

    She alleges she signed the deal to get $8,163 she was owed by the airport.

    “When plaintiff learned from an attorney familiar with these matters that the release might not be enforceable because it violated the public policy which encourages employees with evidence of illegality and fraud to come forward, she spoke to the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the undersigned,” Steel’s filing reads.

    It continues, “Without the public policy protecting whistleblowers when they courageously come forward, the overriding goal of protecting the United States from fraud and criminal behavior would be seriously hampered.”

    Steel urges Judge Jackson to allow VanLandingham’s lawsuit to go forward.

    Danielle Urban, a Denver attorney hired by the Airport Authority, argued in a motion earlier this month that VanLandingham waived all future claims when she signed a separation agreement and can’t sue. Urban’s filing also denies suggestions she signed the deal under duress.

    While Airport Authority lawyers are fighting VanLandingham’s claims, its board of directors in February adopted new policies specifying whistleblower protections, aside from the establishment of a fraud hotline.

    Tippetts was recently dismissed from VanLandingham’s lawsuit after parties, including Steel, agreed he can’t be sued. Steel said in a memorandum the dismissal of Tippetts from the lawsuit “is in no way” a concession of Tippetts defenses, merely an acknowledgement the law assigns him no individual liability.

    VanLandingham claimed she was first demoted by Tippetts to manage the Subway franchise at the airport, then fired Jan. 5, 2011, as retaliation for refusing to perpetuate alleged fraud by Tippetts against the Federal Aviation Administration. The lawsuit alleged Tippetts, and possibly unnamed members of the airport board, were engaged wide-ranging fraud and deception.

    No arrests have been made in the federal investigation, which became public Nov. 5 when the FBI executed search warrants at the airport’s administrative offices.

    Federal authorities have said they will pursue a civil forfeiture action to claim ownership of a pair of trucks seized in the investigation from Tippetts and former airport board chairman Denny Granum. Attorneys for the men have said they will fight the action in court.

    Story and comments/reaction:

    Dornier 228-202, Sita Air, 9N-AHA: Accident occurred September 28, 2012 in Kathmandu, Nepal

    Inquests into the deaths of two brothers from Bolton killed in a Nepal plane crash will be held next month.

    Vincent Kelly, aged 50, and Darren Kelly, aged 45, were among 19 people killed in the crash on September 28, 2012.

    Five other British tourists — Raymond Eagle, 58, Christopher Davey, 51, Timothy Oakes, 57, Stephen Holding, 60, and Benjamin Ogden, 27 — died in the crash.

    An inquest will be held into the deaths of the seven tourists at Warrington Coroners Court on Tuesday, April 8. The hearing is expected to last one day.

    Vincent Kelly, of The Hamlet Lostock, a married father of two children, was an avid fundraiser for Bolton Lads and Girls’ Club. He had raised funds to help the club replace its old Astroturf sports pitch by cycling 874 miles from John O’Groats to Land’s End in 2011.

    Mr Kelly, who worked at Doric Developments, had planned to take part in and Atlantic rowing challenge to raise money for the charity’s mentoring scheme.

    He was described by friends as a “fantastic and genuine guy”.

    His younger brother, Darren, was married and known for his passion for diving and living. His widow, Jannine said he was “kind, thoughtful and always enjoyed a chat and a joke”.

    He was as a property developer and businessman who was said to be semi-retired. He had moved to the Isle of Whithorn, a village in southern Galloway. His last address was listed as Canada Street, Heatherley, Stockport.

    The brothers grew up in Bolton and were laid to rest at a joint ceremony at St Mary’s Church in Deane.

    The twin-engine propeller Dornier plane crashed shortly after take-off at about 6.15am local time near Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.

    Five Chinese people and three passengers and four crew members from the Himalayan country were also killed. 


     NTSB Identification: DCA12RA153
    Accident occurred Friday, September 28, 2012 in Kathmandu, Nepal
    Aircraft: , registration:
    Injuries: 19 Fatal.

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

    On September 28, 2012, a Sita Air Dornier 228, registration 9N-AHA, with Garrett (Honeywell) TPE 331 engines, reported a bird strike shortly and crash shortly after takeoff from Kathmandu-Tribhuvan Airport (KTM), Kathmandu, Nepal. The three crew members and 16 passengers onboard were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The flight was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from KTM to Lukla Airport (LUA), Lukla, Nepal.

    The investigation is being conducted by the Nepal Ministry of Tourism. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13 as the State of Manufacture and Design of the engines.

    Birds threaten to ground Tribhuvan International Airport

    KATHMANDU: Birds affected movement of yet another aircraft today at Tribhuvan International Airport, in a sign that these flying vertebrates are becoming a menace to Nepal’s civil aviation industry.

    A Turkish Airlines plane, which was supposed to land at TIA at around eight in the morning today, was diverted to the Indian capital New Delhi after a flock of birds was sighted around the runway area. “We were informed about this morning’s bird incident and we were told those birds were crows,” a high-ranking TIA official told THT on condition of anonymity. The aircraft later landed at TIA at 11:53 am.

    Today’s problem occurred due to damp climatic condition, which creates a breeding ground for flying ants to germinate, another high-ranking TIA official said. These ants, according to the official, have a life of around one to one and a half hours and attract birds

    in droves. “Because of this reason, coupled with the weather condition, which led to cancellation of few domestic flights, the aircraft had to be diverted,” the official said. Today’s incident occurred less than a week after Malaysia Airlines carrying 180 passengers hit some ‘unidentified migratory birds’ after landing at TIA. At least two birds were killed in the incident on Friday.

    It is also said Qatar Airways had to delay its flight for some time on Monday after reaching the runway’s take-off point because of the presence of a flock of birds. Birds around the runway area can be lethal, as they can collide with aircraft and cause damage to aircraft’s windshields and even engines.

    TIA has witnessed more than six dozen bird strikes since the early 1990s, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. The first victim of the bird strike was Thai Airways Airbus A330.

    At that time the aircraft encountered vultures while taking off. The second major incident took place in 2010 when the DC-10 aircraft of Biman Bangladesh faced similar situation. And in 2012, one of the reasons for Sita Air crash was said to be bird strike.


    Mike Paulson: Long time pilot and flight instructor being honored for his work and dedication


    Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A long-time pilot and flight instructor is being honored for his work and dedication to the industry.

    The National Air Transportation Association has awarded Mike Paulson its "Excellence in Pilot Training Award."

    Paulson got his Pilot's License at age 17 and has been flying 40-years.

    He is known for volunteering time to fly seniors or ill children on plane rides.

    During that time, he has trained thousands of pilots.

    Most of that time as manager of the flight school at the Fargo Jet Center.

    He also teaches at NDSU and is an FAA Pilot Examiner.

    Mike Paulson/Fargo Jet Center: “I received emails for the last 20 25 years and they say hey I just got my license and it was a spark you initiated several years ago.”

    Over the years, Paulson has logged more than 18 thousand hours in 200 models of aircraft.

    Story and video:

    Dr. Glenn Ramadharsingh still under police investigation

    Although Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh has been relieved of ministerial responsibility, he still remains under police investigations.

    Police sources said they have identified at least six persons who may be able to assist with investigations on whether Ramadharsingh was in breach of the Civil Aviation Act on the domestic flight from Tobago two Sundays ago.

    Section 60 of the Act states that: a person, while in an aircraft shall not do any act that threatens the safety of the aircraft or of persons on board...or use abusive language towards a crew member of passenger...or intentionally interfere with the performance of duty by a crew member.

    Section 60 also states that: a person on board an aircraft in flight who is intoxicated to such extent as to give rise to a reasonable apprehension that he or she is likely to be a danger aboard the aircraft...shall be guilty of an offense.

    The law also states that: anyone who commits an offense under Section 60 shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $25, one year in custody.

    Police sources have confirmed the investigator has been in contact with officials from Caribbean Airlines, and they said the company was cooperating fully with the police.

    It was also explained that it will take about a “week and a half” before a determination could potentially be made as to whether there was a breach of the law, and whether or not the former minister will be taken in for questioning.

    Police sources have said that, as of late yesterday, Dr Ramadharsingh had not been interviewed by police regarding this investigation.

    However, it was confirmed that the assault allegation initially made against him will not be pursued any further as the complainant in the matter has told police that she does not wish to press any further charges.


    Dillant-Hopkins Airport (KEEN) Keene, New Hampshire

    Keene still looking for airport tenant, council loosens process

    The Keene City Council has loosened the negotiation process for deals with potential tenants for vacant commercial space at the city-owned airport.

    Agreements in recent years have fallen through at Dillant-Hopkins Airport, sometimes because of the long process involved in renting from the city, and the council aimed to fix that last week.

    It will now allow City Manager John A. MacLean to negotiate a deal to near-completion, before getting a go-ahead from the council.

    “The intent was to try to shorten the process,” Mayor Kendall W. Lane said Tuesday. “Right now ... (tenant proposals) go back and forth four or five times before getting back to sign a lease. What we’ve discovered is, people don’t want to wait that long. When somebody’s ready, they’re ready to go and get in there.

    “It doesn’t eliminate the need to come back to council to get final approval to sign the lease, but it gets us to the point where we have someone ready to sign a lease before coming back to council.”

    The council’s unanimous vote came after a plan for a new Italian restaurant slated to fill the airport space left vacant by India Pavilion last year fell through.

    In January, the council voted unanimously to allow owner Gary L. Taylor and head chef Antonio Martino to open an Italian restaurant in the airport space.

    But that effort fell through recently when Martino decided to move out of state, Taylor said.

    “I’m not a trained chef, so that kind of put the kibosh on the whole thing,” Taylor said Tuesday.

    Before Taylor’s proposal, James Tempesta and his business partner Eddie Solomon, co-owners of JimEddie’s Restaurant on Winchester Street, had proposed opening a banquet-style function facility in the same space, but city officials weren’t sold on the idea, Tempesta said.

    “They’re pretty stern on the fact that they want a restaurant,” he said Tuesday. “To go off the beaten path to the airport for a restaurant, I think, is a difficult sell.”

    Tempesta said he often hears of Keene residents making plans at the Hidden Hills Banquet Facility in Rindge, and thought he could take a corner of the local market to the airport space.

    “I think Keene needs (a similar facility) here,” he said, adding that he envisioned hosting events ranging from weddings, dinner shows and barbecues to clam bakes and karaoke.

    “I’d want to see 150, 200 people (per function),” he said. “My idea was to take out two of the windows on the airport side and put a deck out there to have more seating, because it just wasn’t big enough for me.”

    But city officials didn’t agree with Tempesta on the viability of such a facility, he said, and the deal fizzled.

    In both cases, it appears negotiations fell apart for reasons other than time constraints on the part of prospective tenants.

    Still, Lane believes the step taken by the council will allow MacLean to negotiate more freely with potential tenants.

    Airport Director Ed J. Mattern agreed. “I think in the process of trying to identify a party we’d want to lease to, in many instances I’ve heard ‘We’re interested,’ but when you outline the process to essentially go through getting authority to negotiate, then coming back with arrangements for a deal, all being a public process, people shy away from that,” he said.

    Mattern said the adjustment will allow staff to streamline the process, “not so much in that we’re not seeking council authority, but to give some comfort, some relief, to negotiate arrangements and do everything we need to do up until the final signature.

    “Obviously,” he said, “it’s not in anybody’s best interest to have these false starts we’ve had.”

    If this process works in landing a new airport tenant, Lane said the council could extend it to other cases where the city has to negotiate leases, in an effort to make Keene more business-friendly. 


    Category One Safety Status: Aviation Ministry Expresses Readiness to Meet Federal Aviation Administration Next Week

    With barely five days to the arrival of the United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) inspection team in the country, the supervising Minister of Aviation, Mr. Samuel Ortom, yesterday promised that government was ready to open its doors for the international aviation inspection team to come in.

    Underscoring its readiness, he said all the necessary requirements towards making sure that Nigeria surpasses the Category One Safety status had been put in place.

    The Category One status was awarded to Nigeria in 2010 after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audit certified its airspace worthiness.

    Making the disclosure in an interview with THISDAY in Abuja, Ortom said between 2010 and now, “you would agree with me that government has invested so much resources and energy in transforming our airports across the country.”

    According to him, the transformation that is currently ongoing in the sector was being acknowledged by all.

    He said: “The retention of the Category One status is very important to us at this particular point. Since assumption as the supervising Minister some weeks back, I have been preoccupied with all the agencies, in particular the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), in making sure that no stone is left unturned in our preparedness.

    “To the best of my knowledge, we are on top of the situation.” he said. While allaying fears of stakeholders, the minister said:  “My expectation is besides being certified, we shall even move a step further because of what has been put in place since 2010 when we got it.”

    While reassuring stakeholders of Nigeria’s preparedness, he added: “We have put all the necessary logistics together to make sure that we pass the test. Everything is in place, and areas where we need augmentation and adjustment are currently being put in place. All our engineering team are in place to make sure that we meet the international standards of the FAA and we are making sure that there is no gap.”

    Continuing, Ortom said: “I want to assure all stakeholders that there is no cause for alarm in the aviation section. I want to assure you that we must add value to what we have met.

    “My predecessor did well and I think we can build on that and no matter how short my administration is going to be, I’m going to make sure that that everybody is carried along.

    “What I’m doing right is putting all the stakeholders together by making sure that we work as a team. Everybody must carry out their roles to make sure we meet with international standards by making sure that aviation becomes the best means of transportation in the country.”

    On the security challenge in the country, he assured: “I’m aware that the ministry is not operating alone, the entire security agencies are working in consonance with us in securing the airport and also we have deployed sophisticated technology across the country to secure the airports.  “We are on top of the situation as we speak. Any step that we take now we must make sure that the right thing is done.”


    Directorate General of Civil Aviation asks Air India captain to prove he passed Class 12 or lose license

    NEW DELHI: A senior commander of Air India (domestic) has got a month to prove that he actually completed schooling — successfully — or else lose his flying license forever. The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday gave him a month to confirm beyond doubt that the Class 12 certificate he gave to qualify for a commercial pilot license (CPL) was genuine.

    "If he fails to do that, the DGCA will cancel his CPL. The basic requirement of a CPL is passing Class 12 with physics and maths, apart from scoring at least 70% in English. So if someone fraudulently manages to get a CPL without meeting the minimum qualification criteria, the license is invalid," said an official.

    The commander flies Airbus A-320 aircraft. AI has decided not to ground him as it can't act against him till proven guilty.

    The pilot's trouble started when his sister complained to the DGCA and AI that her brother had given a fake certificate to become a pilot. "This person's entire family is of pilots. His father retired from AI and his two siblings (not the one who complained) are also pilots. The fight in the family is possibly due to some property dispute which led to the sister complaining against her real brother," said sources.

    The latest controversy has revived memories of the fake pilot issue that scared flyers about five years back. At that time, it was discovered that a number of pilots had given false documents to get their CPLs. Worse, some had even fudged flying training records to get this coveted license.

    The DGCA had then launched a massive cleanup operation to weed out unqualified pilots and cracked down on some flying schools who would give false flying hours to trainees for a fee — without actual flying.

    DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar is learnt to have ordered a thorough check of all flying schools in India. "We hope to complete this exercise at the earliest," said an official.

    Story and comments/reaction:

    Cessna 172S, Epic Aviation, N65982: Fatal accident occurred July 30, 2005 in Key West, Florida

    NTSB Identification: MIA05FA140. 
     The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
    Accident occurred Saturday, July 30, 2005 in Key West, FL
    Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/25/2007
    Aircraft: Cessna 172S, registration: N65982
    Injuries: 4 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.

    Adverse weather delayed the instrument rated but not instrument current pilot's departure to her home airport. Additionally, lodging accommodations in Key West could not be obtained. The pilot elected to depart in night visual flight rules (VFR) conditions for a nearby airport at approximately 2118. After takeoff, while flying over water during the dark night, the pilot established two-way radio communications with Navy Key West Approach Control. The radar facility did not receive the assigned discrete transponder code (0210), despite several attempts by the controller to get the pilot to reset the transponder. The pilot did not make any distress calls. The aircraft crashed into the Straits of Florida, and some of the wreckage was located the following day. Several days later the majority of the wreckage was located; the left wing was not recovered. Examination of the recovered wreckage revealed no evidence of pre-impact failure or malfunction of the flight controls, engine, airframe, and attitude gyro. No evidence of fire or sort was noted on any of the recovered components. The transponder was found set to "SBY" or standby position; the transponder does not transmit in that position. No servicing or maintenance was performed to the airplane while at Key West. During the inbound flight into Key West, the flight was radar identified using the transponder. Prior to departure, the pilot talked with a dispatcher from the operator and did not advise that person of any discrepancy related to the airplane.

    The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
    The failure of the pilot-in-command to maintain directional control of the airplane during the dark, night flight over water, resulting in the uncontrolled descent and in-flight collision with the water. A contributing factor in the accident was the pilot's distraction with the inappropriately set transponder.


    On July 30, 2005, about 2120 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172S, N65982, registered to MFH Leasing, Inc., operated by Epic Aviation, crashed in the Straits of Florida shortly after takeoff from Key West International Airport, Key West, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR part 91 personal flight from Key West International Airport (KEYW), to The Florida Keys Marathon Airport (KMTH), Marathon, Florida. The airplane was destroyed, and the commercial-rated pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The flight originated about 2118, from Key West International Airport.

    According to a transcription of communications with Navy Key West Approach Control, at 2118:45, an occupant of the airplane established contacted with their facility and provided the airplane registration number. The controller replied, "squawk zero two one zero wind one three zero at seven Navy Key West altimeter three zero zero four say type Cessna destination and requested altitude." The next comment was from the controller advising the pilot to say the type of aircraft, the destination, and again advised the transponder code was 0210. At 2119:21, an occupant of the airplane replied, "Squawking zero two one zero. It's a Cessna Skyhawk six five nine eight two. We like southbound to transition your airspace to the south on a cross country to Marathon, yeah." The controller again advised the pilot to "squawk" 0210, to which an occupant replied at 2119:48 "zero two one zero Cessna six five nine eight two." The controller advised the pilot that the "transponder not observed reset and squawk zero two one zero." The pilot did not reply and there were no further recorded transmissions from the occupant of the accident airplane. The controller attempted numerous times to communicate with the pilot; the results were negative. There was no recorded distress call made by the pilot.

    According to the "Radar Supervisor/Approach Controller" at Navy Key West Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), after advising the pilot a second time to apply discrete transponder code 0210, he waited a few scans of the radar but he was never able to radar identify the flight. Additionally, he did not see a primary target departing KEYW. He attempted to communicate with the airplane on VHF guard (121.5) and also UHF guard (243.0) frequencies but there was no response. Knowing the KEYW air traffic control tower was closed, he also attempted to establish contact with the pilot on the KEYW Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (118.2 MHz); there was no response.

    Review of recorded radar data from Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center revealed there was no radar target associated with the assigned transponder code 0210. Two radar targets with beacon code 0201 were observed. The first radar target occurred at 2116:47, and the second target occurred at 2117:11, both were located over KEYW.

    The controller who was talking with the pilot of the accident airplane contacted Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center (Miami ARTCC) about 2135, and questioned whether Miami ARTCC had established two-way communications with the accident airplane; the response was they had not. The controller also contacted fire rescue at Key West International Airport about 2145, and asked to have a ramp search performed. The individual reported that he advised the controller that the flight had departed at 2112, but a ramp check would be performed. Additionally, the Miami ARTCC reportedly established contact with personnel from KMTH, and requested a ramp search to be performed. Ramp searches were performed at KEYW and KMTH; the results were negative. On the evening of the accident, the U.S. Coast Guard was advised by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office of a report of a boater seeing a flash and hearing a loud sound. The U.S.C.G. dispatched a boat in the area and the crew of that boat later reported seeing lighting and hearing thunder from a nearby storm, but no wreckage was located. The following morning at approximately 0813, a boater contacted the U.S.C.G. and advised seeing a portion of one of the wings partially submerged. The U.S. Coast Guard contacted Monroe County Sheriff's office on July 31, 2005, at 0930, and requested underwater assistance with the aircraft wreckage. The wing was recovered and a search for the airplane and the occupants was then performed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Monroe County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Navy Police, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and NOAA. The wreckage consisting of the fuselage was located on August 2, 2005.


    The pilot was the holder of a commercial pilot certificate with ratings airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane, which was issued last on August 17, 2002. She was the holder of a first-class medical certificate issued on February 7, 2005, with the restriction or limitation "must wear corrective lenses." Her last "Flight Review" conducted in accordance with 14 CFR Part 61.56, occurred on July 27, 2005. The flight review was given by a flight instructor with Epic Aviation in a Cessna 172S.

    The flight review consisted of 1.0 hour ground, and 1.4 hours of flight. According to the flight instructor who performed the flight review, the ground review consisted of airplane performance, systems of the airplane, review of speed, airspace, VFR weather minimums, and emergency engine procedures. The flight instructor stated that the pilot was "...found to be very knowledgeable on covered topics." The flight review was conducted to the commercial practical test standards, and consisted of steep turns, slow flight, power-on departure stall, and several touch-and-go landings.

    NTSB review of the pilot's pilot logbook that contained entries from July 24, 1999, to the last entry dated July 27, 2005 (Flight Review), revealed her logged total time was 260.4 hours, of which 144.4 hours were as pilot-in-command. There were only 2 logged flights in Cessna type airplanes. Her total logged night time was listed as 9.4 hours. There were no logged flights between October 14, 2002, and the last logged flight on July 27, 2005. No determination could be made whether the pilot was current to fly at night.

    A review of the application for the pilot's last medical certificate dated February 7, 2005, revealed she listed a total flight time of 900 hours.


    The airplane was manufactured by Cessna aircraft Company in 2004, as a model 172S, and was designated serial number 172S9766. The airplane was certificated in the normal and utility categories, and was equipped with a McCauley fixed pitched propeller, model 1A170E/JHA7660, and a 180-horsepower Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine. The airplane was also equipped with a two-axis autopilot with altitude preselect and two engine-driven vacuum pumps, which provide vacuum necessary to operate the attitude indicator and directional gyro.

    A review of the airplane maintenance records revealed the airplane was last inspected in accordance with a "Phase II" inspection, which was signed off as being completed on July 29, 2005. The airplane had accumulated approximately 1.8 hours since the inspection at the time the airplane was rented by the accident pilot. Further review of the maintenance records revealed no entry indicating removal, replacement, or repair of the transponder.

    At the time of rental by the accident pilot, the installed hour meter indicated 653.2. At the time of the accident, the hour meter indicated 656.9.

    There was no record of fuel servicing or maintenance being performed to the airplane while at KEYW.


    A METAR weather observation taken at 2053, at Key West International Airport, or approximately 26 minutes before the accident, indicates the wind was from 100 degrees at 11 knots, the visibility was 10 statute miles, clear skies existed, the temperature and dewpoint were 30 and 23 degrees Celsius, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 30.03 inHg.

    On the day of the accident at 1647, the pilot phoned the Miami Automated International Flight Service Station (Miami AIFSS) and received a preflight weather briefing for a flight from KEYW to New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport (KEVB), New Smyrna Beach, Florida. At 1952, the pilot again phoned the Miami Automated International Flight Service Station and obtained an abbreviated preflight briefing for a flight from KMTH to KEVB.

    On the date, and area of the accident, the sunset was determined to have occurred at 2012, and the end of civil twilight occurred at 2037. The phase of the moon was waning crescent with 25 percent of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.


    The Key West International Airport (KEYW) air traffic control tower (ATCT) closed at 2100; and was not recording communications at the time the flight departed. A "Watch Log" which documents arriving and departing aircraft indicates that on the date of the accident at 2112, an airport fire department individual noted the flight departed.

    According to the individual who prepared the entry in the "Watch Log", the time "2112" was based on a digital watch.

    According to personnel from Key West Approach Control, their facility utilizes transponder codes that begin with 02, followed by two digits. On the night and time of the recorded 0201 radar targets, they had not assigned that transponder code to any aircraft. Approximately 2125, or approximately 7 minutes after the accident flight departed, another airplane (N122AW) departed KEYW and the pilot established contact with Key West Approach Control. There were no reported communication difficulties with that facility, and the airplane (N122AW) was radar identified. Additionally, there were no reported discrepancies related to the Key West Approach Control radar.


    The Key West International Airport is equipped with a one runway designated 09/27 which is 4,801 feet long and 100 feet wide.

    Review of a security tape from KEYW Airport revealed the airplane was captured taxiing for takeoff, and a portion of the takeoff was also captured. The flight was determined to have departed at 2118.


    The right wing was the first piece of wreckage found on July 31, 2005, and was located at 24 degrees 33.7 minutes North latitude, and 081 degrees 43,0 minutes West longitude. The fuselage was located on August 2, 2005, at 24 degrees 32.323 minutes North latitude, and 081 degrees 42.719 minutes West longitude, in 27 feet of water. The fuselage was inverted on a heading of 310 degrees, and the empennage was bent approximately 90 degrees to the right. The engine with attached propeller, firewall, and instrument panel were located on August 5, 2005, at 24 degrees 41.012 minutes North latitude, and 081 degrees 41.897 minutes West longitude. All observed/located wreckage was recovered for further examination.

    Examination of the wreckage revealed the left wing was separated and not located, and the right wing was separated at the wing root. The airframe structure from the instrument panel forward, and the cabin roof were separated. The cabin floor was displaced up approximately 2 feet between the main gear attach point and the aft cabin bulkhead. The vertical stabilizer remained attached to the airframe, and the rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer. Both horizontal stabilizers were structurally attached, and both elevators remained attached to both horizontal stabilizers.

    The left elevator was partially separated at midspan; the elevator was bent up nearly 180 degrees. The tip of the right elevator was displaced up. The elevator trim tab actuator measured 1.6 inches extended, which equates to 15 degrees trailing edge tab up. The left horizontal stabilizer was rotated down approximately 90 degrees, and aft crushing was noted. The right horizontal stabilizer tip was rotated down, and the full span of the leading edge was damaged.

    The empennage was displaced to the right, and compression wrinkles were noted on the right side of the empennage. Examination of the separated right wing revealed the main spar was still attached to the carry-thru which was fractured mid-span. The rear spar attach point was pulled from the wing. The full span of the flap was installed, and the flap actuator indicated the flaps were retracted. Both flap cables were attached to the flap actuator. A section of aileron remained connected at the inboard and middle hinges; the aileron separated in the area of the bellcrank. Both aileron cables were connected to the right aileron bellcrank near the control surface, but both exhibited evidence of tension overload in the wing root area. Full-span leading edge damage was noted, and the main spar was rotated down approximately 180 degrees beginning about 1/3 span. Both cables for autopilot roll were connected to the roll servo; the capstan was noted to move freely.

    The fuel strainer bowl was separated; the screen had white colored debris adhering to it. Both main landing gear wheel assemblies were separated from the axles; the bearings were missing. The nose landing gear strut was separated from the nose landing gear strut housing. Both aileron control cables were connected in the cockpit, but exhibited tension overload in the wing root area. Rudder control cable continuity was confirmed. Elevator control cable continuity was confirmed for one of the cables, but the other cable was fractured near the bellcrank in the cockpit; no evidence of preexisting failure was noted on the fractured cable. No evidence of fire or soot was noted on any recovered component.

    Examination of the separated instrument panel revealed the clock was destroyed, and the airspeed indicator was reading off scale low (the needle moved freely). The vertical speed indicator indicated a descent of 2,000 feet-per-minute. The attitude indicator indicated a 30 degree nose low, and approximately 120 degree right bank. The directional gyro was indicating 270 degrees, and the electric turn coordinator was destroyed. The tachometer, fuel gauges, vacuum gauge, CHT gauge, oil temperature gauge, and amp meter were missing and not recovered. The throttle and mixture controls were in the full open, and full rich positions, respectively. The flap selector was at 10 degree extension, while the flap indicator was at 30 degrees. The cabin heat was off, and the cabin air was closed. The hour meter indicated 656.9. The horns of the pilot's control yoke were not fractured, while the right horn on the co-pilot's control yoke was fractured. The autopilot circuit breaker was in an open position. The transponder remained secured to the mounting rack but the mounting rack was separated from the instrument panel. The transponder, directional gyro, and attitude indicator were retained for further examination.

    Examination of the engine revealed impact damage to the left and bottom side of the engine, and the No. 2 cylinder exhibited impact damage including separation of the front pushrod. Additionally, the No. 2 cylinder injector nozzle was broken. The propeller remained secured to the engine. Compression was noted in all cylinders during hand rotation of the crankshaft. Crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity was confirmed with the exception of the missing No. 2 cylinder forward pushrod. The servo fuel injector (fuel servo) and mechanical fuel pump were separated but recovered. Examination of the fuel servo revealed the control connections were broken, and the inlet screen was separated and not located. Partial disassembly of the fuel servo revealed salt water and aviation fuel were present. Examination of the flow divider revealed the spring was not failed, and the valve piston was free to move. There were no obstructions of the flow divider, fuel injector lines, or fuel injector nozzles. The mechanical fuel pump was impact damaged; the top of the unit remained secured to the accessory case, while the lower portion was separated but recovered. Examination of the top of the mechanical fuel pump revealed the internal steel parts and diaphragm were not failed. Examination of the lower portion of the mechanical fuel pump revealed the internal valves and lower diaphragm were not failed. Impact damage and condition precluded testing of the ignition harness and spark plugs. All spark plugs were corroded, but all electrode wear was considered to be moderate. The upper vacuum pump remained attached to the accessory case, while the lower vacuum pump was separated and not located. Examination of the upper vacuum pump revealed the drive coupling, rotor, and rotor vanes were not failed. The oil suction screen and oil filter were clean. Both magnetos were retained for further examination.

    Examination of the propeller which remained secured to the engine revealed one blade was bent forward and exhibited torsional twisting, while the other blade was bent aft.


    Postmortem examinations of the pilot and three passengers were performed by District 16 Medical Examiner's Office. The cause of death for all occupants was listed as blunt force injury.

    Toxicological analysis of specimens of the pilot was performed by FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory (CAMI), located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The submitted specimens tested negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and tested drugs. Various levels of ethanol and N-Propanol were detected in the submitted specimens. A note on the toxicology report indicates, "The ethanol found in this case is from sources other than ingestion."


    According to Epic Aviation's "Overnight/All day Form" with the accident pilot's name and signature, dated July 28, 2005, indicates she was "instrument rated", but was not "instrument current." She indicated on the form that the flight would be flying to Key West, Florida, on July 30, 2005, and would return that same day to New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport (KEVB), New Smyrna Beach, Florida, with an estimated arrival time of 2100.

    The airplane was last fueled on July 30, 2005, at KEVB. The individual who fueled the airplane reported "...I topped it off with fuel. Once I was finished fueling the plane I checked for adequate oil and washed the windshield." While doing so, the accident pilot arrived, and being a friend of the pilot, they started talking. The pilot stated that she was going to key West.

    According to a flight progress strip from Key West Approach Control for the flight from KEVB to KEYW, the pilot first established contact with that facility at 1126 (1526 UTC), was assigned transponder code 1142, and the flight was radar identified. The last contact with that facility was at 1144 (1544 UTC), when air traffic control communications were transferred to KEYW Air Traffic Control Tower. There was no reported discrepancy with the transponder related to air traffic control on the flight.

    According to dispatcher with Epic Aviation, the pilot contacted the facility by phone sometime between 1400 and 1800 hours, and stated that she had spoken to a weather briefer who advised her about level 5 thunderstorms throughout Florida, and she probably would not be back in time. She (dispatcher) reportedly advised the pilot that the next scheduled flight in the accident airplane was at 0800 the next day, and if she wasn't going to make it by that time, to leave a voice mail message and, " wouldn't be a problem. She apologized for any inconveniences and I told her don't be sorry it's not a big deal. She said ok, then I guess I'll stay the night and leave early the next morning." She (dispatcher) relayed the message by leaving a note for the dispatcher to see the following morning. There was no mention by the pilot of any mechanical problem with the airplane.

    According to an customer service representative (CSR) at a fixed base operator (FBO) at the Key West International Airport, on July 30th, she spoke with the accident pilot several times throughout the afternoon and early evening. The pilot mentioned to her about wanting to wait until the weather cleared because, "...she was not comfortable flying IFR." The CSR reported that the pilot seemed pretty nervous and frazzled. Another individual with the same FBO reported that he and several other employees attempted to locate overnight accommodations for the pilot and passengers, but were unable. Sometime around 2100, the pilot came down from the pilot's lounge and stated to one of the individuals, "... forget about the hotel, they were going to fly to Marathon Key for the night." A few minutes later at the pilot's requested, he repositioned the accident airplane away from a nearby parked airplane. The same individual reported hearing the pilot have difficulty starting the engine, then after doing so, taxied, then departed. He was advised of the accident about 2220.

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicate that an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed with the Miami AIFSS on the accident date at 1954 hours. The IFR flight plan was for a flight from KMTH to KEVB, with a proposed departure from KMTH of 2100. The flight plan listed the accident pilot by her first name, but misspelled last name; the flight plan was not activated.

    A Sony handheld digital video recorder with installed memory stick and digital video tape, and a memory card from a Canon still digital camera were retained by NTSB for readout at the NTSB Video Recorders Laboratory, located in Washington, D.C. The results of the examination of the tape and memory stick from the video recorder revealed no stored images associated with the accident flight. The result of the examination of the memory card from the digital camera also revealed no stored images of the accident flight.

    The retained Honeywell (formerly Bendix/King) KT 76C transponder was examined at the manufacturer's facility with FAA oversight on February 28, 2006, and again on March 16, 2006. Visual inspection of the unit revealed impact damage and corrosion which precluded bench testing. The power/mode selector shaft with attached knob was bent up and found positioned to the "SBY" or standby position. According to the manufacturer, with the mode selector switch in that position, the unit would not be transmitting. The power/mode selector shaft has 5-positions, which are "OFF", "SBY" (Standby), "TST" (Test), "ON", and "ALT" (Altitude). A ball-type detent is noted when the shaft is rotated to one of the 5 positions, and each of the 5 positions are located approximately 45 degrees apart. Approximately 180 degrees of rotation of the power/mode selector shaft is between the "OFF" and "ALT" positions. Approximately 135 degrees counter-clockwise rotation of the power/mode selector shaft is required to move it from the "ALT" to "SBY" position. An internal component (microcontroller) of the transponder, which retains the selected transponder code when power is lost or removed, was removed and cleaned, then placed in an exemplar transponder. Power was applied to the exemplar transponder and the displayed transponder code was 0210.

    The retained Sigma Tek, Inc., attitude indicator was examined at the manufacturer's facility with FAA oversight on February 8, 2006. The unit was not bench tested. Visual inspection revealed the airplane adjust knob was bent up approximately 30 degrees. The airplane silhouette indicated a pitch down of approximately 30 degrees (which agreed with the position as first viewed in the inverted instrument panel). The roll indication during the component examination was determined to be approximately 40 degree left bank (while the roll position when the instrument was first viewed in the inverted instrument panel was greater than 120 degree right bank). The vacuum flag depicting the word "gyro" was in view, or in the "off" position, and the mask and indices ring were cantilevered from the right side of the display and show acceleration deformation to the left side, "...such that the indices ring rests on the right side of the football." None of the gimballing was free to move due to salt water corrosion. Following removal of the bezel, the aft side of it was inspected and the bezel gasket exhibited paint transfer similar in color and shape of the vacuum flag, which, according to the gyro manufacturer, was consistent with the flag being out of view at the time of impact. By design, the flag is out of view when there is a differential of 4.2 inHg. vacuum across the mechanism. The flag reportedly comes into view when there is a vacuum differential of less than 1.0 inHg. The rotor housing did not shear off the pivots, nor did it break apart. Examination of top of the rotor and rotor cap revealed no scoring; the rotor housing was not failed.

    Examination of the directional gyro (DG) was performed with NTSB oversight. The examination revealed the heading select shaft was bent, and the aft portion of the case was dented on 1 side. The heading select was found at 175 degrees, and the heading was 270 degrees. Partial disassembly of the DG revealed no scoring of the rotor or rotor housing.

    Following initial examination of the magnetos which were submerged in either salt or fresh water for a period of approximately 18 days, they were retained for NTSB examination at an FAA certified repair station. Bench testing of the left magneto revealed the condenser tested unsatisfactory. The points were "dressed", the condenser replaced, and the magneto was placed on the test bench. The unit was noted to operate and produce spark at all ignition towers, but the spark was intermittent. Partial disassembly of the magneto revealed no internal etching or visual carbon tracking of the distributor block. Bench testing of the right magneto revealed the condenser checked good. The points were "dressed" and the unit was placed on a test bench where the unit sparked at all ignition towers. No internal etching or visual carbon tracking of the distributor block was noted.


    The airplane minus the retained components was released to Steve Mitchell, claims manager for Phoenix Aviation Managers, Inc., on May 23, 2007. All NTSB retained airplane components were also released to Mr. Mitchell on June 22, 2007. The retained Sony digital video recorder and memory card from the Canon digital camera were also released to Steve Mitchell on July 17, 2007.

    VOLUSIA COUNTY --  History was made in a Volusia County Courthouse on Wednesday, but it wasn't inside a courtroom. It was actually in the courthouse garage.

    The entire wreckage of a plane which crashed in 2005 was brought into the garage, and jurors had a firsthand look at the evidence. The parts were what were left of the Cessna single-engine plane, which crashed in South Florida in 2005.

    Now, the parts of the plane are inside the first floor of the Volusia County Courthouse's parking garage.

    Three South African skydivers with ties to Skydive DeLand and the pilot with a local charter airline were killed in the crash. Families of the skydivers are suing Cessna and a parts manufacturer, claiming the autopilot was to blame for the crash.

    Lawyers for the manufacturer, however, say pilot error is to blame.

    Until now, proceedings were being held inside a courtroom, but on Wednesday, jurors, lawyers and the judge got to see the remaining parts of the plane that were recovered from the ocean.

    A court spokesperson said bringing these parts to the first floor of the garage took several days.

    The wreckage is expected to remain in the parking garage for at least another 24 hours. The trial is expected to last another three weeks.

    Jurors, lawyers and the judge went into the Volusia County Courthouse garage on Wednesday, March  26, to see pieces of a Cessna single-engine place that crashed in 2005, killing three skydivers and the pilot.

    Jurors who presided over a civil trial that included pieces of a crashed airplane as evidence earlier this month said the manufacturer of the airplane and autopilot maker were not to blame for the 2005 crash that killed three local skydivers and a pilot. 

    In what might have been a first, pieces of the Cessna 172S, which crashed late on July 30, 2005, near Key West, sat next to a similar airplane, a Cessna SkyHawk, inside the parking garage of the Volusia County Courthouse in DeLand during the initial stages of the trial. The pieces were there to show jurors what the crashed plane looked like. Lawyers also used the SkyHawk to explain to the jurors how the Cessna operated.

    Attorney J. Lester Kaney, who was co-counsel for Honeywell International Inc, said the six-member jury took only about 1 1/2 hours to reach its decision on April 10 after the 13-day trial.

    “When you get through one of those and the jury validates your position it is very satisfying,” Kaney said.

    The pilot, Crystal Koch, who was a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, also died in the crash.

    The families of the sky divers who died in the crash, roommates from Ponce Inlet, filed suit in 2007 against the plane’s manufacturer, Cessna Aircraft Company, as well as Honeywell International, Inc. The plaintiffs, relatives of Egon Sussmann, Piers Littleford and Bruno Assmann, had asked the court for more than $4 million in damages, attorney fees and other costs.

    Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said pilot error caused the crash, but court documents show that lawyers for the families of the skydivers claimed that the autopilot designed and manufactured by Honeywell was defective, causing the deaths of the three skydivers.

    The suit also charged that Honeywell was negligent in its design and manufacture of the autopilot.

    The suit further claimed that the Cessna aircraft was defective, causing the skydivers’ deaths.

    In earlier reports of the crash, officials said Koch, was flying with the three sky divers, all originally from South Africa, from Key West to New Smyrna Beach. Koch’s logbook showed that she had 260 hours of flight between 1999 and the time of the crash in 2005. Of that, 144hours were as pilot-in-command. She had only two logged flights in Cessna type airplanes, the NTSB report said.

    Records show that jurors were asked if Honeywell was negligent and whether the company placed a defective autopilot on the market. Jurors were also asked if Cessna provided a defective aircraft, causing the deaths of the skydivers.

    The jurors said “No,” to each question as shown in the verdict form filed with the court.