Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's A Blatant Lie If Presidency Claims Mahama Has No Link With Engineers & Planners Jet In Iran: Bombardier Challenger 604, N604EP:

Deputy Communications Director of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Ernest Owusu Bempah, has vowed to expose the dealings of President John Mahama in connection with the U.S air craft that landed in Iran which is under investigations by US authorities. 
Speaking to, Owusu Bempah stated emphatically that President Mahama cannot deny knowledge of his involvement in the allegations leveled against the country since he was seen at various locations that the US registered Bombardier Challenger, N604EP landed.

The US has begun investigations into the case because according to them, Iran is under strict international economic sanctions.

According to Owusu Bempah, “if anybody tells you that the President does not know anything about what is going on, it’s a lie. It’s a blatant lie. The President knows something about it. So, he should come out and tell the whole world about what he knows about it before some of us, come out and expose him.”

“...anytime the President travels anywhere in the world, that plane (US jet); the so-called plane that belongs to his brother will travel two days ahead of time and lay the foundation before the President gets there," he added.

The NDP firebrand therefore sought to know the mission of the President's younger brother Ibrahim Mahama and the topnotch Ghanaian business delegation to Iran on the blind side of the nation and the US authorities.

“Why would he introduce his brother to top businessmen in all those countries that he’s doing those businesses in the name of Ghana?” he questioned.

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Michael Omari Wadie
Former Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency Chairman of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Michael Omari Wadie, is livid that the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government is denying any link with a U.S. registered 

A report by the New York Times over the weekend stated that a US flagged plane owned by a small community bank in Utah mysteriously parked at Tehran’s airport in Iran. The report further stated the said plane had been leased by a Ghanaian mining company, Engineers and Planners, owned by President John Mahama’s brother.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry is also reported to have claimed that the plane had been used to transport top Ghanaian officials as part of a broader push to expand cooperation between the two countries.

The report sparked a storm in a tea-cup as critics believe Ghana breached international aviation rules because the plane is said to have landed without approval.

Government has vehemently denied any ties with the US plane, and has described the New York Times report as speculative; adding that the President has never used the plane in question.

But reacting to the government's denial on Okay Fm’s Ghana Decides program, Omari Wadie posited that the stance of the NDC government gives room to suggest that Engineers and Planners’ plane carried some fraudsters to Iran posing as top Ghanaian officials.

He added that the speculation has aggravated as a result of the fact that the purpose of the visit to Iran remain unknown to Ghanaians.

“The Iran Foreign Minister who received the delegation said they were top Ghanaian officials as part of a broader push to expand cooperation between the two come the NDC is now saying there were no government officials among the delegation?......Or were they 419 people carried out to Iran?....that means the plane carried some 419 people to Iran who posed as top Ghanaian officials; is Engineers and Planners now a 419 company which carry people pretending to be top Ghanaian officials?” he quizzed.

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Bombardier Challenger, N604EP jet which nearly caused a diplomatic furore following its landing in Iran. Bombardier Challenger 604, N604EP: Mystery Plane and Lessons Learned for the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act -National Law Review
Article By:
Conrad Shawn Kee
Jackson Lewis P.C.
posted on: Thursday, April 24, 2014

 A few days ago, the New York Times printed a photo of an U.S. registered Bombardier Challenger private jet at the Tehran airport that turned out to be registered to the Bank of Utah, a small community bank in Ogden, Utah, that apparently holds the trust certificates for many aircraft.  Later, it was reported that the plane may be owned by Engineers & Planners Company Ltd., a Ghanaian mining services company whose CEO is the brother of the Ghanaian President.  More recently, the reports say the plane was used by Ghanaian officials to travel to Iran.

The story highlights risks under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Some stories suggest an unnamed U.S. mining company has a long-term charter on the aircraft.  If so, it appears the U.S. mining company is obtaining services from a company controlled by the Ghanaian President.  This situation highlights at least three parts of an effective compliance program: due diligence on third-party vendors, internal investigations and training.

A long-term charter of a private jet from a company controlled by the relative of a government official obviously presents risks under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the UK Bribery Act and other anti-corruption laws.  Recent guidance from the DOJ and SEC in the U.S. and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the UK make clear that due diligence is particularly important in these circumstances.  For example, determining the ownership, assessing the business rationale of chartering the jet from this particular company, and evaluating the terms of the transaction are critical to protecting the company from potential criminal charges.

When a company becomes aware of a potential issue, it’s important to promptly conduct an internal investigation to determine the facts.  As the DOJ and SEC recently suggested in their published FCPA resource guide, “companies should have in place an efficient, reliable, and properly funded process for investigating the allegation and documenting the company’s response, including any disciplinary or remediation measures taken.”

Once an investigation is concluded, it’s important to consider lessons learned.  Were policies followed?  Was the policy clear?  Were employees trained?  What remedial measures do we need to take?  The company also should consider whether to self-report to the DOJ.  By swiftly investigating to determine whether there was an issue, taking appropriate internal action, and self-reporting to the DOJ, SFO or other government agencies, the company may avoid prosecution or mitigate penalties.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2014 


Kweku Baako reveals government official on US flagged plane 

Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jr. has disclosed the name of the public official who was part of the alleged government business delegation on board a US plane that was grounded in Iran.

Brouhaha over a US-flagged private jet said to belong to Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, brother of President John Dramani Mahama which landed in Iran with a business delegation without approval seems to linger on.

Iran had said that the plane, which landed in Tehran last week, was leased to the office of Ghana’s President, and carrying a business delegation from the West African nation.

Tehran’s comments came after The New York Times reported on Thursday that a plane, owned by the Bank of Utah, was parked in Mehrabad Airport in Tehran on Tuesday.

It was later reported that the plane was leased to Engineers and Planners (E&P), a mining firm founded by Ibrahim Mahama, brother of Ghana’s President.

The presence of an American plane in Iran was striking as Washington and Tehran have been caught up in a longstanding diplomatic standoff for decades, and the Islamic Republic is under a number of economic sanctions.

On Friday, Iran’s State news agency, IRNA, quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, as saying that the plane was transporting Ibrahim Mahama, the brother of Ghana’s President and a mining delegation.

“The plane is on lease to Ghana’s presidential office, and its passengers were Ghanaian senior officials led by the president’s brother. None of its crew members were American,” Afkham was quoted as saying.

He also added that the “Ghanaian senior officials” were in Tehran to follow up on agreements reached between the two countries two years ago.

There are widespread reports that there was a government appointee on board the private jet, government communicators as well as the Information Ministry, refused to disclose his or her name.

But contributing to a panel discussion on ‘Kokrokoo,' Kweku Baako found it surprising that government officials are shunning away from disclosing such information because to him, ‘it is no secret’.

He said the Manifest of an airplane is there for everybody to see and “so even if government officials do not say anything, anybody can walk in and get such information” and he mentioned Dr. Mustapha Ahmed, Minister of State in charge of Development and Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayawaso East as the government official on the private jet.

“What is the secret about this? There should be no effort to hide the people on the plane. He is a public figure and so I don’t see why he should be hidden. He was on the plane, but it was not for an official visit. The Iranians have even constructed a hospital in his constitution and so he already has a relationship with the Iranian government,” he stated.

Kweku Baako also added that to help end the controversy, it will be in the interest of Dr. Mustapha Ahmed to speak to the issue and clear the air.

“It is not a big deal. Ghana has no obligation to follow the US sanctions against the Iranians. It is a storm in a tea cup,” he added.

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N604EP Mystery Solved: ‘It’s much ado about nothing’- Says Engineers & Planners
The mystery of a US Flagged plane spotted at a Tehran airport last week and reported on by the New York Times has apparently been solved.

The US-registered Bombardier corporate jet, carrying the registration number N604EP, is owned and operated by a Ghana-based engineering firm, an aviation expert said Friday. The visitors it brought to Iran last week were senior Ghanaian officials, an Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman said Friday.

The plane was chartered by Ghanaian officials, no American was on board, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told Iranian media Friday, journalist MojtabaMousavi and Shargh newspaper reported.

Tyler Bowron, an aviation expert at Cerretanni Aviation group in Boulder, Colorado, told Al-Monitor that the company that in fact owns and operates the plane is called Engineers and Planners, based in Accra, Ghana.

The Ghana firm “owns and operates” the plane, Bowron told Al-Monitor. Bank of Utah, which is listed on Federal Aviation Administration records as the trustee for the 22-seat corporate jet, “is just the trustee,” Bowron said. “They have nothing to do with it.”

The New York Times first reported Thursday on the mystery of the US “N-registered” plane seen by the paper at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport on Tuesday. The Blaze first reported Bowron’s identification of the Ghana firm that owns and operates the plane.

A Bank of Utah spokesperson said the bank was solely acting as a trustee for the airplane’s real owner.

“Bank of Utah… acts as trustee for aircraft of behalf of the beneficiary,” Scott H. Parkinson, senior vice president for marketing at the Bank of Utah, told Al-Monitor by email Friday. “The Bank has no operational control, financial exposure and is not a lender for this transaction.”

“The Bank’s trust agreements do not allow aircraft be used in any illegal activity,” Parkinson said.

International law experts said the US-registered plane, even if owned by a foreign entity, would have probably required a temporary sojourn license from the US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to legally visit Iran. US officials declined to comment Friday on the specific facts of this case.

“We can’t comment on license applications or requests,” a Treasury Department spokesperson told Al-Monitor Friday.

U.S. Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (“ITSR”) prohibit the exportation of goods, services or technology directly or indirectly from the United States or by a U.S. person to Iran, and would generally prevent U.S.-registered aircraft from flying to Iran.

“A determination as to whether a violation of the ITSR has occurred is fact specific,” a source familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity, said.

The Ghana firm said to own the plane, Engineers and Planners, “was formed in 1997 to provide mining, construction and engineering services to the many mining companies that were setting up in Ghana at the time,” the firm said in a 2012 statement concerning a plane it had acquired and would offer for lease.

“Recently, the company has entered into an agreement with an American Company to provide it with air services using a challenger 600 aircraft,” the company statement continued. “The arrangement makes the aircraft commercially available for rental by mining companies, oil service companies and other corporate institutions when not in use by Engineers and Planners.”

The company press statement identified its CEO as Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, the younger brother of Ghana’s then-Vice President H.E. John DramaniMahama, who became Ghana’s president in July, 2012.

Engineers and Planner’s listed executive director, AdiAyitevie, previously served as procurement manager at a Maryland-based firm, MNM Communications, that received several U.S. government contracts to provide construction services at US embassies abroad and domestic facilities, including the FBI academy at Quantico, according to his Linkedin bio and the firm’s client list.

Iranian and Ghanaian officials have in meetings over the past year proclaimed mutual interest in cooperating on mining and other economic development projects, media reports show.

It is common for foreign entities to acquire US “N-registered” aircraft, using trusteeships such as those provided by the Bank of Utah, that conceal the owner’s identity, aviation and legal experts said.

Meanwhile, Engineers & Planners (E&P) says it has not breached any international aviation rules regarding a Bombardier jet aircraft it operates which landed in Iran without approval.

A statement signed by the Executive Director of Engineers and Planners, Mr. Adi Ayitevie said, ”our attention has been drawn to a number of articles circulating in both the international and local media regarding a Bombardier jet aircraft we operated in Ghana.”

The statement added that the said aircraft only transported a group of Ghanaian business executives to Iran and has since returned to Ghana.

”The said trip was made in conformity with all international aviation laws,” it said.

The statement also disputed claims by the New York Times Newspaper that President Mahama was once transported by the said aircraft.

”We wish to also state that the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has never been transported by the said aircraft,” the E&P statement noted.

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SALT LAKE CITY April 22, 2014   (AP)
By MICHELLE L. PRICE  -Associated Press 

A Utah bank confirmed Tuesday that an airplane registered to the bank was used by a Ghana mining company to take Ghanaian businessmen to Iran last week.
The New York Times published a story last week revealing the presence of the plane, which had a small American flag on the tail, in Iran.

Aviation records show the plane is registered to the Bank of Utah through an arrangement in which the bank serves as a trustee for aircraft owners.

Except for some approved activities by the U.S. Department of Treasury, federal regulations prohibit most economic activity between the U.S. and Iran. The Treasury Department said in a statement Tuesday that sanctions on Iran generally prevent U.S.-registered aircraft from flying to that country. Determining if a violation "has occurred is fact specific, and Treasury is unable to comment on this situation," the statement said.

Scott Parkinson, senior vice president for marketing and communication with the Ogden-based bank, confirmed Tuesday morning that the Ghana company Engineers & Planners had been using the Bombardier CL-600.

Parkinson said the Bank of Utah has been cooperating with the State Department and other federal agencies since the plane was spotted in Iran but wouldn't comment further about what those agencies are looking at or to what degree they are investigating.

Engineers & Planners said in a statement Saturday that the plane's trip did not violate any international aviation laws.

The company's chief executive is Ibrahim Mahama, the younger brother of Ghanaian President John Mahama.

While the company has said the passengers on the flight were businessmen, initial reports were that it was carrying a governmental delegation, and an anti-corruption group, Ghana Integrity Initiative, has asked the government to explain.

Felix Ofosu-Kwakye, the deputy minister of information, denied on Ghanaian radio Tuesday that the government had sent a delegation to Iran and added that it had not leased any plane from the company.

Parkinson said his bank, which offers aviation ownership trusts as one part of its business, has no reason to believe there's a problem with their trust agreement for this specific aircraft.

"Of course we're looking at all of our policies regarding this, but we're pretty confident that what we've done is appropriate," he said.

The aviation trust arrangements have prompted two warnings from a government watchdog in the past year.

A government watchdog warned last June and again in January that non-U.S. citizens have registered 5,600 planes with the Federal Aviation Administration through trustees, concealing the owners' identities.

Under FAA regulations, this can be done by the owner creating an agreement to transfer the plane's title to a trustee that is a U.S. citizen. The trustee then registers the plane. The agreements provide little information on the identity of the owner or who uses the plane, according to a memorandum by the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General.

On Friday, Parkinson said his bank performs due diligence required by regulators in terms of aircraft ownership and its trust agreements make it clear that the bank does not permit any illegal activity.

FAA regulations don't require trustees to identify aircraft owners or operators as a condition of registration. The FAA recently updated its policies to require trustees to produce this information, but only within 48 hours of an FAA request, the memorandum said.

The FAA has at times experienced problems identifying owners and operators of U.S. registered planes involved in accidents or incidents, the memo said.

Associated Press Writer Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report. Francis Kokutse reported from Accra, Ghana.

 No Gov’t official used E&P jet – Kwakye Ofosu 

The Government of Ghana has denied claims by a pressure group that some government officials used a private jet belonging to private mining firm, Engineers & Planners – a company with affiliations to the president’s brother.

Ghanaians for a Better Government had insisted in a press statement that the U.S.-flagged plane that landed in Tehran and was traced to E&P, ferried top government officials to Iran, and not a business delegation as claimed by the jet’s operators, (E&P).

A statement issued at the weekend by E&P, signed by Executive Director Adi Ayitevie, also denied rumours that the jet ferried President Mahama to certain locations.

“We wish to also state that the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has never been transported by the said aircraft,” E&P said. Ghanaians for a Better Government however said the explanation offered by E&P is at variance with information divulged by the Iranian government regarding the calibre of people who used the plane.

Deputy Minister of Information and Media Relations, Felix Kwakye Ofosu told XYZ Breakfast show host Moro Awudu on Tuesday that the explanation and clarification offered by E&P should settle the matter.

He denied categorically that officials of the Government of Ghana ever travelled on the Bombadier for to Iran for any official purpose.

“Engineers and planners had issued a statement in which they clarified the issues. They state without fear of equivocation that the President has never travelled on the Engineers and Planners jet. Secondly Government has not sent any delegation that has travelled in that jet to Iran and I believe that should end the matter.”

Mr Kwakey Ofosu accused the pressure group of pursuing the agenda of the main opposition New Patriotic Party. “That group is nothing more than another appendage of the NPP. All the members of that group are known NPP activists and so they don’t fool anybody at all.”

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N604EP Saga: Group accuses presidency of conflict of interest 

 A pressure group insists a U.S.-flagged plane that landed in Tehran and was traced to private mining firm, Engineers & Planners (E&P) – a company affiliated to President John Mahama’s brother, Ibrahim Mahama – ferried top government officials to Iran, and not a business delegation as claimed by the jet’s operators (E&P).

Ghanaians for a Better Government, in a statement, expressed “worry and reservations” about the “dodgy, dark and clandestine” circumstances surrounding the plane’s use.

The group said its major concern is in connection with the “blatant conflict of interest”, in that, the President allowed “government to hire for official functions, a private jet acquired by his brother.”

The landing of the U.S.-flagged Bombadier in Tehran caught the eyes of the international media last week.

According to the New York Times, the plane - held in trust by a small US community bank, the Bank of Utah - landed in Tehran without permission, but a statement issued by E&P clarified that: “The said aircraft transported a group of Ghanaian business executives to Iran and has since returned to Ghana,” adding that: “The said trip was made in conformity with all international aviation laws.”

The E&P statement signed by Executive Director Adi Ayitevie also denied rumours that the jet ferried President Mahama to certain locations.

“We wish to also state that the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has never been transported by the said aircraft.”

Ghanaians for a Better Government however says the explanation offered by E&P is at variance with information divulged by the Iranian government regarding the calibre of people who used the plane.

“We are calling on government to come clean and clarify the obvious contradiction between an official statement issued by the Iranian government Friday that the plane carried Ghana government officials to Tehran for official meetings with the government of Iran, and a statement subsequently issued by the company of President Mahama’s brother that the plane only carried a group of business people from Ghana,” the group demanded.

The group quoted the New York Times as having said: “Iran’s Foreign Ministry, bombarded with questions over why an American plane was parked at the airport [Tehran], said on Friday that the plane had been used to transport top Ghanaian officials as part of a broader push to expand cooperation between the two countries.”

The statement, jointly signed by David Asante, Spokesperson; and members John Hall and Charles Nii Teiko Tagoe, said: “Indeed, according to Iranian news agencies, the Spokeswoman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Marzieh Afkhan, stated emphatically that: “This plane was carrying a high-ranking delegation from Ghana and according to an announcement by the country’s government, the jet was in possession of the US, and chartered by Ghana’s presidency.”

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U.S.-Registered Jet in Iran Is Ghanaian: Plane That Mysteriously Landed in Heavily Sanctioned Tehran Turns Out Not to Be U.S. Owned  
Iran reacts to news on landing of American plane in Tehran

Tehran, Apr 19, IRNA – Foreign Ministry spokeswoman reacting to broadcasted news on landing of an American plane in Tehran╦łs Mehrabad Airport said on Friday that the US plane was chartered by Ghana Presidential Office and was carrying a high ranking Ghanaian delegation.

Read more here:
 By  Drew Hinshaw And  Tom McGinty

The Wall Street Journal 

 April 18, 2014 4:28 p.m. ET

ACCRA, Ghana—A U.S.-registered jet that reportedly landed in Iran, sparking a mystery over its intent in the heavily sanctioned country, is operated by a Ghanaian mining contractor, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times reported on Friday that a corporate jet with a small American flag was parked in Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, saying that the Bank of Utah was its owner. It also reported the bank acted as a trustee for investors in the plane.

Documents show that the tiny bank is only holding the jet in trust to "ensure the eligibility of the aircraft for U.S. registration with the Federal Aviation Administration," according to a contract seen by The Journal.

The firm operating the plane, according to that contract, is Engineers & Planners Company Ltd.—a Ghanaian contractor whose chief executive, Ibrahim Mahama, is the younger brother of Ghana's president, John Mahama.

Engineers & Planners, whose website says it services mining companies, didn't respond immediately to emails and calls to its office phone didn't connect. It wasn't clear whether Ghana would be in violation of any Western sanctions against Iran

The Bank of Utah—which lists only 13 branches on its website—said it "has no operational control, financial exposure and is not a lender" for the jet.

State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Friday that U.S. sanctions regulations "would generally prohibit U.S.-registered aircraft from flying to Iran," but that it was up to the Treasury Department to determine if violations of sanctions rules had occurred. Treasury wasn't immediately available for comment.

No one has accused the bank of violating any U.S. sanctions against Iran in relation to the country's nuclear program.

An Iranian aviation official dismissed reports that an American plane landed in Tehran, according to the semiofficial Tehran Times.

The episode marks another chapter in the storied life of what appears to be the same Challenger 600 jet that has been both celebrated as a symbol of Africa's new jet setting class and made into a lightning rod for allegations of political extravagance in Ghana.

Engineers & Planners began operating the plane in June 2012, according to a company statement posted to independent local news website Modern Ghana at the time.

That was a season of hot politics in Ghana, one of Africa's most closely-contested democracies. President Mahama was at the time vice president, and the most public face of a party fighting for re-election.

Radio reports of his brother flying around in a private jet became the subject of a small political dispute in a country where most people are far too poor to afford air travel.

"We wish to emphatically state that the aircraft has no association direct or indirect with the Vice President, H.E. John Dramani Mahama, who incidentally happens to be the elder brother of our Chief Executive Officer," said the 2012 company statement.

Meanwhile, others at the time reveled in the plane's arrival as testimony to the wealth creeping into this small, West African nation.

"His private jet is soooooo telling of where we Ghanaians are at right now," wrote Ghana Rising, a blog that catalogs the country's growing spending power and haute culture. "Can't we at least start to celebrate some of the yummy prosperity and stuff going on in our Ghana?"


Despite complex trade rules against doing business with Iran, a corporate jet with a small American flag turned up in Tehran. 

Bombardier Challenger 604, N604EP: Iran Gets an Unlikely Visitor, an American Plane, but No One Seems to Know Why

The New York Times


APRIL 17, 2014

President Obama has warned that Iran is not open for business, even as the United States has loosened some of its punishing economic sanctions as part of an interim nuclear pact.

Yet, on Tuesday morning, Iran had an unlikely visitor: a plane, owned by the Bank of Utah, a community bank in Ogden that has 13 branches throughout the state. Bearing a small American flag on its tail, the aircraft was parked in a highly visible section of  Mehrabad Airport in Tehran.

But from there, the story surrounding the plane, and why it was in Iran — where all but a few United States and European business activities are prohibited — grows more mysterious.

While federal aviation records show the plane is held in a trust by the Bank of Utah, Brett King, one of its executives in Salt Lake City, said, “We have no idea why that plane was at that airport.”

He said that the Bank of Utah acted as a trustee for investors who have a financial stake in the plane and that the bank was investigating further.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it had no information about the investors in the aircraft or who was operating it. Officials waiting at the gangway at Mehrabad Airport said only that the aircraft was “V.I.P.”

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the federal government’s primary enforcer of sanctions against Iran, declined to comment on the plane’s presence there. Under United States law, any American aircraft would usually need prior approval from the department to go to Iran without violating a complicated patchwork of rules governing trade.

In the case of this particular aircraft, powered by engines made by General Electric, the Commerce Department typically would have to grant its own clearance for American-made parts to touch down on Iranian soil.

Iranian officials also declined to comment on the purpose of the plane’s visit or passengers’ identities. A spokesman for Iran’s United Nations mission in New York, Hamid Babaei, said: “We don’t have any information in this regard. I refer you to the owner.”

The tracking of planes has become a kind of global sport, as largely amateur photographers post thousands of images showing arrivals and departures in their attempts to chronicle flight paths. In the case of this plane, for example, one spotter spied it leaving an airport in Zurich around the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, held in January. Another photographer tracked the plane, identified by its call letters N604EP on the tail engines, departing a London-area airport for Ghana last October.

But this week’s spotting by a New York Times reporter in Tehran carries particular intrigue because it involves Iran, a country still effectively shunned by the global financial system.

Even some former federal officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the very presence of an American-flagged aircraft parked in broad daylight suggested its flight had been approved as part of a legitimate business trip. What is more, they said, the easily identifiable plane was not likely to be part of a covert diplomatic mission.

The secrecy surrounding the plane is compounded by federal aviation regulations that can make it virtually impossible to determine who was flying it.

The private plane, like thousands of similar ones, is owned through a trust — a complex legal structure often established to help foreign individuals or corporations invest in planes that can fly freely within the United States. Aside from that benefit, the structure enables investors and operators to remain largely anonymous to the public. The trustee — in this case, the Bank of Utah — is the sole entity recorded as owner in a vast database maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Bank of Utah is listed as a trustee for 1,169 aircraft, ranging from Boeing 747s to single-engine Cessnas, according to a review by The New York Times of the database. The Bank of Utah acts as a trustee for more planes than just about any other bank, the review shows.

Mr. King, who helps run the bank’s trust services business, said the bank had no “operational control” or “financial exposure” to any of the planes.

He said he was not allowed to disclose the identity of the plane’s investors. “As fiduciary, we must keep information confidential when it comes to the beneficiary,” Mr. King said.

While the trusts allow celebrities and corporate executives to travel discreetly, they also help obscure who is operating vast fleets of aircraft and why.

The shadowy role of American banks in private aircraft ownership has grown even as financial regulators work to shine a light on Wall Street’s activities, a legacy of the 2008 financial crisis.

Bank dealings with Iran in particular are subject to extraordinary scrutiny by the United States government, part of a broader crackdown on the flow of money to foreign countries and individuals that American officials say is tied to terrorism.

The British bank HSBC, for example, reached a record $1.92 billion settlement with federal authorities in 2012 to resolve accusations that it funneled billions of dollars on behalf of Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to move tainted money through its United States subsidiaries.

Even before the current sanctions, American aircraft rarely landed in the country. The animosity between the two countries has grown so intense that even the occasional emergency landing by a United States commercial airliner sets off a flurry of speculative news reports.

For his part, Mr. King said Thursday in an interview that he was trying to get to the bottom of the aircraft’s presence in Tehran. “The Bank of Utah is very conservative, and located in the conservative state of Utah,” he said. “If there is any hint of illegal activity, we are going to find out and see whether we need to resign” as trustee.

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Inmarsat to Offer Airlines Free Tracking Service: Company Helped Narrow Search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

The Wall Street Journal

By  Jon Ostrower

April 17, 2014 10:24 a.m. ET

LONDON—Satellite communications company Inmarsat  PLC plans to offer basic tracking services free of charge to airlines, its chairman said, in the strongest sign yet of the aerospace industry's intentions to enhance monitoring abilities for commercial jets after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Airlines have long resisted making satellite tracking routine, in part because of the costs. But since Flight 370's disappearance on March 8, airlines and international safety organizations have shown new interest in such efforts.

For Inmarsat's offer to become a reality, any ultimate industry standards for satellite tracking would have to encompass its communications satellites. Andrew Sukawaty, Inmarsat's executive chairman, said in an interview that he has told regulatory authorities that if the company is part of a global tracking service, it would offer its tracking free to ease the cost of acceptance.

Inmarsat estimates that offering the service free would mean forgoing $10 million to $15 million in revenue annually, but "This is such small potatoes against what we're providing" commercially, Mr. Sukawaty said. Inmarsat collected $1.25 billion in revenue in 2013.

If its system is used, Inmarsat would cover any required costs to upgrade its network to support the service, Mr. Sukawaty said. But airlines would still have to cover the cost of additional hardware—and its installation—to periodically transmit their aircrafts' position, speed and altitude, he said. Inmarsat doesn't sell that equipment.

Inmarsat has been central to the hunt for Flight 370 after the company developed and refined a method for analyzing digital transmissions from the plane that has allowed international searchers to focus their hunt in an area of the southern Indian Ocean. No physical trace of the missing Boeing 777-200ER has yet been found.

Commercial jets currently are tracked mainly using ground-based radar. Calls to use additional systems intensified after the crash of Air France 447 in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, in which searchers quickly recovered some aircraft debris but needed nearly two years to locate the jet's so-called black boxes. Despite recommendations from aviation authorities, however, no changes were made to how jetliners are monitored.

It is unclear how exactly a global system of satellite tracking of jetliners would be developed and implemented. The International Air Transport Association has convened a task force to produce conclusions by the end of 2014 for implementing a tracking system.

Mr. Sukawaty said mandatory tracking for maritime operations offers a guide. Today, dedicated transmitters onboard ships, sold by third-party companies, operate safety services at no charge on Inmarsat's satellite network as part of the Global Maritime Distress and Signal System.

One thorny issue for airlines is potential disagreement between carriers that already pay to track their fleets and those potentially unwilling to adopt a global mandate. Airlines such as Air France and Deutsche Lufthansa AG  already pay to embed position data in other data transmissions that report the status of the airplane for maintenance and operational purposes.

And Mr. Sukawaty said some state-owned airlines are considered extensions of air forces and may be reluctant to incorporate global tracking for national-security reasons.


China's business aviation slackens

After a few years of powering forward China's business aviation has started to slow burdened by insufficient support.

"China's business aviation market is eye-catching with great potential," said Wang Zhiqing deputy administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). "But the country's business aviation market has slowed down since last year," he said at the Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (ABACE).

The annual conference is the region's largest event dedicated to business aviation. It ran from April 15 to 17 this year.

Business aviation is the use of general aviation airplanes or helicopters for a business purpose.

By the end of 2013, there were less than 300 business aircraft operating in the Chinese mainland, much less than the 20,000 in the United States and the 3,000 in Brazil.

With its vast area and growing number of high powered executives, there is a huge market for business jets in China, said Einar Tangen, principal of DGI Design Group, an interior design provider for homes, jets, yachts and cars.

"To balance their duties they need to make the most efficient use of their time," said Tangen.


Still in its infancy, with an underdeveloped infrastructure, few professionals and limited progress in opening up airspace, business aviation has started to drag.

Nearly all operators and leasing providers in the industry have noticed the market slow down since last year, said Wu Jingkui, vice president of sales and market development in North Asia of Cessna Aircraft.

"China is facing a tough task. It's not easy to purchase more aircraft or open up airspace," said Wang.

It comes down to airspace, airport construction, professional personnel development and cultivation of support services, he said.

"There is an extreme shortage when it comes to infrastructure," said Jiao Jian, vice manager with Deer Jet, the largest business jet company in the Asian-Pacific region.

The company boasts the largest fleet of business jets in Asia. Its fleet accounts for about 40 percent of all China's business aircraft.

There is no executive airport, and no standard fixed-base operation (FBO) with a complete maintenance and support system in China, said Jiao.

By the end of last year, there were 399 airports or landing points for general aviation nationwide. Meanwhile, the U.S has about 5,000 airports and 19,000 landing points for general aircraft.

During the conference, it was announced construction of China's first executive airport will be begin by the end of the year in Beijing's neighboring Hebei Province.

Sanhe Executive Airport will be about 60 km east of the capital.

At the conference, Deer Jet announced it would build between four and six FBOs within the year.

But as already mentioned, other areas also need improving.

By the end of last year, there were only 1,655 registered Chinese pilots in the general aviation sector.

It is estimated that China needs more than 6,000 in the next three years. This will increase to 15,000 in a decade.

The country's current training capacity is only about 1,000 per year.


Operating costs of a business aircraft in China are among the highest in the world.

"Maintenance, flight, airport and air route usage costs are all very expensive," said Liao Xuefeng, chairman with the China Business Aviation Group.

The cost on using airports for a small-size business jet on a Beijing-Shanghai trip is far more expensive than the cost of the flight.

"The excessive costs are a critical factor that is dragging development of the industry," Liao said.

"There is also unconfirmed information that some government authorities will impose a luxury tax on business aircraft. That will be damaging if it becomes true," said Jiao Jian.

In the next two decades, there will be 2,420 business aircraft delivered to China, which is forecast to become the world's third largest business aviation market after North America and Europe, according to research by manufacturer Bombardier.

"It's is a huge and lucrative high tech market, which China should not miss out on," Einar Tangen said.


Pilots, Northampton County discuss ways to keep Braden Airpark (N43) near Easton: With airport authority set to decide Forks airpark's fate, they ask for six more months to raise money to buy it

Small-plane pilots and Northampton County Council members are making an 11th-hour pitch in hopes of preventing Braden Airpark from being closed by the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority. 

While pilots have upped their offer to buy the 80-acre airfield in Forks Township, County Council President Peg Ferraro said she believes the county would be willing to kick in perhaps $50,000. Both are looking for a six-month extension to find a way to keep the single runway airfield open.

Meanwhile, airport authority officials have laid out the five options they'll chose from next week, including a new one that would surcharge the owners of the more than 200 small planes based in the Lehigh Valley to cover operating losses at Braden. With only 30 of those owners based at Braden, it's a bogus option designed to pit pilot against pilot, Braden supporters say.

"It's just ridiculous," said Michael Rosenfeld, president of the Lehigh Valley General Aviation Association. "Pilots aren't the only people benefiting from Braden and they can't afford that. This will never fly."

All the latest jockeying comes as the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority prepares for a Tuesday meeting in which it is scheduled to decide what to do with Braden Airpark. The authority, which runs Lehigh Valley International Airport, has been trying to sell unnecessary assets to help pay off a $26 million court debt for taking a developer's land in the 1990s, and they're trying to decide whether Braden should be closed and sold.

Authority Executive Director Charles Everett Jr. recommended selling the airport last year, but the authority last September gave pilots six months to find a way to buy or lease it themselves. That initial six-month clock runs out Tuesday.

Pilots have argued the airfield where thousands of local pilots have learned to fly since it opened in 1938 is too important to the community, while authority officials say the authority can no longer afford to subsidize an airport that loses money and needs $500,000 in capital improvements.

This week, pilots upped their offer to buy the airport from $1.25 million to $1.6 million, said Ed Lozano, an Easton businessman representing the pilot's group. And the authority lowered its asking price from $3.5 million to $3 million, but that still leaves the sides far apart.

Added to the mix is a late push by county officials to keep the debate going. County Council doesn't meet again until after the airport authority, but Ferraro said she believes the county can at least help cover Braden's losses if the authority agrees to a six-month extension.

County Community Development Administrator Lori Sywensky said County Executive John Brown has also discussed spending perhaps $50,000 to help bridge the annual gap between what pilots are willing to pay and what the authority says it needs.

The $50,000 figure is mostly related to what the county can spare, rather than what is being demanded by the airport.

"There's a feeling on council that we should do something. I know $50,000 has been kicked around," Ferraro said. "Braden is an important community asset. At the very least, it's worth talking about for another six months."

The authority will get a chance to extend the debate Tuesday, but Everett said he'll be making a recommendation from five options. They include the authority continuing to operate it, leasing it to a private operator, selling it to a private operator such as the pilots or closing it to sell for development.

The final option would be to operate it and pass the cost of the annual losses on to the small-plane owners across the Valley. Everett contends that loss is $250,000 a year, translating to more than $1,000 a year for every plane owner.

Pilots contend that's not only a disingenuous plan, but the loss number is false because it includes a $160,000 payment for a loan that was used to buy not just Braden in 1999 but also for several projects that had nothing to do with the airfield.

Everett hasn't revealed what his recommendation will be, but it's entirely possible the authority board won't need to hear it until October.

"Everyone would like to see the airport stay open, as long as it can support itself," Authority Chairman Marc Troutman said. "I think board members would consider an extension if we think it will lead to definite answers."

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Foothills Regional Airport (KMRN) former manager receives delay in reporting to prison

MORGANTON, NC — The former manager of Foothills Regional Airport won’t have to report to prison for at least 60 days.

Alex Nelson requested a delay in reporting to prison so he could square away the care of various family members. Nelson was supposed to report April 8 to a federal prison in Beaver, W.Va.

Nelson was sentenced Feb. 25 to three years in federal prison for conspiracy to engage in public corruption, embezzlement and money laundering. He pleaded guilty to the crimes in September 2012.

Nelson is out on bond. At his sentencing in February, Nelson was not taken into custody and was allowed to self-report to prison.

In a motion to extend the date he has to report to prison, Nelson’s attorney M. Gordon Widenhouse Jr. said Nelson having to report so soon has caused him serious issues. Those issues are due to Nelson’s responsibilities as primary caregiver for many members of his immediate family, the motion says.

The motion says Nelson has been through a number of serious family emergencies, including a car wreck he was involved in March 25, where he sustained a concussion and cervical strain.

The motion says Nelson’s wife needs constant care for acute depression and anxiety. His mother is in a nursing home, his mother-in-law needs daily care due to dementia and his father-in-law is nearly 100 percent disabled. It says Nelson needs more time to arrange for their care.

Widenhouse, in the motion, says he doesn’t expect to have to request an extension of time past June 7.

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Reidinger granted request for extended time for Nelson to report to prison.

Nelson also has filed an appeal of his sentencing to the Fourth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. Nelson said in March he has questions about the sentencing process used in his case.

Brad Adkins, the former airport operations manager who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and embezzlement on the same day as Nelson, has not yet been sentenced.

The federal government revoked the bond of Adkins and he has been held at the McDowell County jail. Adkins faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

No sentencing date has been set for Randy Hullette, former chairman of the board of Foothills Regional Airport, who pleaded guilty to embezzlement and witness tampering Aug. 21. He faces a total maximum sentence of 30 years. No presentence investigation report on Hullette has been filed yet, which is required before sentencing.

The FBI raided the airport in June 2012, seizing files, records, computers, log books and other information. The warrant included records from the airport involving Nelson, Adkins and Hullette defrauding the airport of at least $100,000.

The warrant also called for seizing any files, records or information related to Hullette Aviation, Burkemont Service Center, RANMAC Inc., Jeffrey Rose, Grady Rose Tree Service, Jimmy “Ron” Gilbert, Gilbert Grading and Construction, Simon Roofing and Parton Lumber.


State Police Increase Air Patrols Over Boston Marathon

BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts State Police are adding eyes in the sky for marathon Monday. 

Last year, they had one helicopter flying along the route. This year state police will have four helicopters flying throughout the day.

The choppers have high-powered and infrared cameras that send crucial information down to officers on the ground. The technology was in place during last year’s search for the marathon bombers.

“The detail was phenomenal, he was actually standing up in the boat,” said Mark Spencer of the Massachusetts State Police Air Wing.

Spencer is one of the three airmen who were in the helicopter that spotted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They will be back in the air on Monday.

Some of the helicopters are six months old and the technology is even better than a year ago.

Police said they will not focus on abandoned bags or packages; They will patrol the crowds. They are also key in responding quickly to scenes when ground officers are delayed.

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Jabiru SPL-450, G-BZST

Fox blamed after plane from Exeter crashed at Dunkeswell air field 
A fox on the runway has been blamed in an official report for an incident in which a light aircraft out of Exeter was seriously damaged as it came in to land at Dunkeswell, east Devon

As the 2001 built two seater Jabiru – reg G BZST - owned by David and Leslie Rhys of Bovey Tracey, approached the runway the pilot and passenger spotted a fox on the runway.

And that was the point where things started to go wrong.

The aircraft, which had been flown from Exeter landed heavily. However, the 64-year-old pilot who had 999 hours flying experience continued to taxi to a parking area not realising the landing gear had been damaged.

When he braked though the nose dipped, the propeller hit the ground and the engine stopped damaging the engine and the propeller.

A newly published Air Accident Investigation Branch report into the incident says that the pilot told investigators that he and his passenger had noticed a fox crossing the runway ahead of them, something which was not unusual for the airfield.

But the report continues : “However, the distraction caused him to round out too high and at too low an airspeed. The aircraft dropped heavily onto the runway.”

It says that initially the pilot believed it had not been damaged but after the incident when he braked it was discovered that nose landing gear suspension rubber bushes had burst and some were missing completely.

The propeller had lost 6 to 7 mm from the end of its tips and had been split along its length. The engine had also been shock loaded. 


Summary:    The pilot was flying a short leg from Exeter to Dunkeswell prior to a longer trip planned for the next day. On final approach to Runway 17 at Dunkeswell, he and his passenger noticed a fox crossing the runway ahead of them, something which the pilot says is not unusual for this airfield. However, the distraction caused him to round out too high and at too low an airspeed. The aircraft dropped heavily onto the runway but the pilot initially believed it had not been damaged.

He taxied towards the grass in front of the flying clubhouse and applied the brakes to allow another aircraft to vacate the space he intended to park in. Upon doing so, the nose dipped sharply and the propeller struck the grass, stopping the engine. Upon examination it was found that the nose landing gear suspension rubber bushes had burst and some were missing completely, whilst the propeller had lost about 6-7 mm from each tip and had a large split along its length.

Rockwell 690B Turbo Commander, Meridian (Rgd. Ellumax Leasing LLC), N13622: Accident occurred August 09, 2013 in New Haven, Connecticut

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA358
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 09, 2013 in East Haven, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2014
Aircraft: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL 690B, registration: N13622
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.

The pilot was attempting a circling approach with a strong gusty tailwind. Radar data and an air traffic controller confirmed that the airplane was circling at or below the minimum descent altitude of 720 feet (708 feet above ground level [agl]) while flying in and out of an overcast ceiling that was varying between 600 feet and 1,100 feet agl. The airplane was flying at 100 knots and was close to the runway threshold on the left downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern, which would have required a 180-degree turn with a 45-degree or greater bank to align with the runway. Assuming a consistent bank of 45 degrees, and a stall speed of 88 to 94 knots, the airplane would have been near stall during that bank. If the bank was increased due to the tailwind, the stall speed would have increased above 100 knots. Additionally, witnesses saw the airplane descend out of the clouds in a nose-down attitude. Thus, it was likely the pilot encountered an aerodynamic stall as he was banking sharply, while flying in and out of clouds, trying to align the airplane with the runway. Toxicological testing revealed the presence of zolpidem, which is a sleep aid marketed under the brand name Ambien; however, the levels were well below the therapeutic range and consistent with the pilot taking the medication the evening before the accident. Therefore, the pilot was not impaired due to the zolpidem. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain airspeed while banking aggressively in and out of clouds for landing in gusty tailwind conditions, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and uncontrolled descent.


On August 9, 2013, about 1121 eastern daylight time, a Rockwell International 690B, N13622, was destroyed after impacting two homes while maneuvering for landing in East Haven, Connecticut. The airplane was registered to Ellumax, LLC, and was operated by a private individual. The commercial pilot, one passenger, and two people on the ground were fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey, about 1049 and was destined for Tweed-New Haven Airport (HVN), New Haven, Connecticut.

Review of data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that at 1104, the pilot was advised by a New York Approach controller to expect an instrument landing system (ILS) approach to runway 2, with a circle to land runway 20 at HVN, which he acknowledged. At 1115, the flight was cleared for that approach and the pilot was instructed to contact the HVN tower, which he did. At 1116, the pilot reported to the tower controller that the airplane was 7.5 miles from the final approach fix and the controller instructed the pilot to report a left downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 20. The pilot then asked if anybody had landed straight in and the controller replied no, the winds were 190 degrees at 17 knots, which the pilot acknowledged. At 1119 the pilot reported that the airplane was on a left downwind and the controller cleared the flight to land. 

At 1120:42, the controller stated, "November one two two are you going to be able to maintain visual contact with the airport?" The pilot replied "are you talking to six two two" and the controller replied "six two two affirmative." At 1520:51, the pilot replied, "six two two is in visual contact now." No further communications were received from the accident airplane. The last recorded radar target was at 1120:53, about .7 miles north of the runway 20 threshold indicating an altitude of 800 feet mean seal level. 

After the accident, the HVN tower controller stated that he observed the airplane on a midfield left downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern for runway 20 and it was "skimming" the cloud bases. He asked the pilot if he could maintain visual contact with the runway and the pilot replied yes. The controller then lost visual contact with the airplane and about 2 to 3 seconds later, it re-appeared nose-down, rotating counter-clockwise and descending from the clouds to the ground. Several other witnesses near the accident site reported seeing the airplane descend in an unusual attitude and/or the sound of loud engine noise just before impact. 


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on September 13, 2011. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 1,952 hours. 

Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated a total flight experience of approximately 2,067 hours; of which, about 1,407 hours were in multiengine airplanes and 574 hours of that were in turbine aircraft. The pilot had flown about 394 hours in actual instrument meteorological conditions. Additionally, the pilot completed a flight review and instrument proficiency check on March 2 and March 18, 2013, respectively. The last entry in the pilot's logbook was dated March 19, 2013. There was no record of flight time between that date and the accident. A determination could not be made of how many circling approaches the pilot had performed in actual conditions. 


The 11-seat, high wing, retractable gear airplane, serial number 11469, was manufactured in 1978. It was powered by two Honeywell TPE331 engines, serial numbers P79297C, and P79001C respectively. According to FAA records, the airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on March 8, 1982. Review of copies of maintenance logbook records revealed an annual inspection was completed February 13, 2013 at a recorded tachometer reading of 1250.1 hours, airframe total time of 8827.1 hours, and engine time since major overhaul of 1249.5 hours. The tachometer and the Hobbs hour-meter were not located at the accident site. 


The recorded weather at HVN, at 1126, was: wind from 170 degrees at 12 knots, gusting to 19 knots; visibility 9 miles in light rain, overcast ceiling at 900 feet; temperature 24 degrees C; dew point 23 degrees C; altimeter 29.88 inches Hg. Remarks: Rain began at 18 minutes after the hour, and the ceiling height was variable between 600 feet and 1,100 feet. 

Prior to the accident flight, the pilot contacted flight service and received an abbreviated weather briefing for the accident flight. For more information, see Meteorology Factual Report in the public docket. 


The airplane was located inverted, with about one-half of the cockpit and fuselage inside a house and basement. The wreckage came to rest on a magnetic heading about 185 degrees. The total circumference of the wreckage debris field was approximately 90 feet. The distance and direction from the wreckage to the approach end of runway 20 at HVN was 180 degrees magnetic and about .6 mile.

The cockpit section rearward to the crew entrance door was separated from the fuselage, crushed, thermally damaged, and located inside the basement of the house. The instrument panel exhibited crushing and thermal damage. The cockpit windscreens were fragmented. The nose landing gear remained attached and in the down and locked position and corresponded with the landing gear selection handle on the instrument panel.

The right wing impacted an adjacent house and separated from the fuselage. The wing was destroyed by thermal damage, and came to rest against the adjacent house. The right main landing gear separated from the attachment point to the wing. The left wing impacted the ground and was separated from the fuselage. There was thermal damage the entire length of the wing. The wing was lying inverted in the back of the main wreckage. The left aileron was present and attached to two connecting rods. The flap had separated and the preimpact flap setting could not be determined. The left main landing gear remained attached to the wing, was thermal damaged, and in the extended position.

The left engine was detached from the wing and lying in the basement of the primary house. The engine exhibited crushing and thermal damage. The right engine was detached from the wing and lying in a 12-inch crater between both houses. The engine exhibited crushing and thermal damage. A teardown examination of both engines was performed at the manufacturer facility under the supervision of an NTSB investigator. The examination did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operations. 

The left propeller remained connected to the gearbox and exhibited thermal damage and chordwise scratching of all three propeller blades. The right propeller remained also connected to its gearbox. All three propeller blades exhibited s-bending and chordwise scratching. A detailed examination of both propellers did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operations.

About 12 feet of fuselage was resting on the ground in between both houses, connected to the empennage section, and exhibited thermal damage. The vertical and horizontal surfaces remained connected to their respective connecting rods, and also exhibited thermal damage. Control cable continuity was confirmed from the elevator and rudder to the cockpit area. Due to impact and thermal damage, aileron control cable continuity could not be confirmed. 

An enhanced ground proximity warning system and cockpit display were recovered from the wreckage and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory, Washington, D.C.; however, due to thermal and impact damage, data could not be recovered from either unit.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on August 10, 2013, by the State of Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Farmington, Connecticut. Review of the autopsy report revealed that the cause of death was "blunt impact injuries of head, trunk, and extremities." 

Toxicological testing was performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Review of the toxicology report revealed: 

"0.029 (ug/ml, ug/g) Zolpidem detected in Liver
0.008 (ug/ml, ug/g) Zolpidem detected in Blood"


Review of an approach chart for the instrument landing system approach to runway 2, circle to land runway 20, revealed that the minimum descent altitude was 720 feet.

Further review of radar data by an NTSB performance engineer revealed that during the circling approach, the airplane flew as close as 1,800 feet east of the approach end of runway 20 (abeam the numbers) on the downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern, which would require an approximate 180-degree turn within a radius of 900 feet to align with the runway. At the last airspeed approximation from the radar trajectory of 100 knots, the airplane would have had to bank about 45 degrees to complete the turn (assuming a consistent bank throughout the turn and not accounting for the tailwind); however, the airplane's stall speed at that bank would increase to 88 knots in the landing configuration or 94 knots with flaps retracted. The stall speed would increase beyond 100 knots as the bank increased beyond 45 degrees. 

Additionally, at that time, the airplane was at 600 feet and the controller queried the pilot if he could maintain visual contact with the runway. The airplane then climbed to 800 feet into the clouds, before reappearing in a nose-down descent. 

For more information, see Aircraft Performance Study in the public docket.


Danny Zurlo, the East Haven resident whose home at 68 Charter Oak Ave. was destroyed in last August’s airplane crash, was on hand Thursday to watch the delivery of his new modular home.
 Peter Hvizdak — New Haven Register 

EAST HAVEN >> Wednesday was a long time coming for Charter Oak Avenue resident Danny Zurlo.

He was away at work on Aug. 9, the day the tail-end of a twin-prop airplane plunged into his house. The rest of the aircraft crashed into his neighbor’s house, killing two children there in addition to the pilot and his passenger son.

Zurlo vowed to rebuild.

On Wednesday, that promise finally appeared to become reality.

“It’s seriously been unbelievable,” Zurlo said about the wrangling he’s gone through with insurance companies, banks and a public adjuster. “I’m dying to get back. I haven’t slept in over two months. Coming home was always the ultimate goal.”

Immediately after the crash, Zurlo spent that Friday night with family and the next 2½ weeks in a hotel. He later rented a home on Shore Drive in Branford. Zurlo said he never imagined it would take this long to begin rebuilding.

Sections of his new house arrived via flatbed trucks just after 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Zurlo said he elected to build a modular home, citing costs and time.

Meanwhile, the home next door at 64 Charter Oak Ave. was quickly rebuilt in the fall. Zurlo said the rebuilt house his neighbor, Joanna Mitchell, once rented has already been sold to a couple. Mitchell was in another part of the house at the time of the crash. She survived but lost her daughters, Madisyn Aniyah Mitchell, 1, and Sade Auriel Brantley, 13.

Zurlo said he thinks of them every day.

“Knowing all this happened is still bugging me,” he said about the crash. “I’m still debating how I’ll feel when I move back in.”

Zurlo said he understood that all of the attention, donations and fundraisers were focused on Mitchell’s family.

“I didn’t get a dime,” he said, adding that if he did, he’d likely give it to Mitchell.

Also killed in the crash were pilot Bill Henningsgaard, 54, of Medina, Wash., and his 17-year-old son, Maxwell,

At the time of the crash, Zurlo was working a maintenance job at the Merritt Parkway’s New Canaan rest area. He recalled how his phone “started blowing up” with texts and calls from friends who said a plane went down on his street.

He later discovered part of the plane had landed in his bedroom.

But despite his concerns, Zurlo is proud of his new home at 68 Charter Oak Ave. He said he designed the building plans himself on a computer.

“I took them to the builders, and they said they could do it,” Zurlo said.

Work on the project is being done by Southern New England Modular Homes Inc.

Zurlo said he plans on completing the flooring himself.

When he showed up early Wednesday morning to watch the construction process, a neighbor across the street invited him over for coffee. Another neighbor allowed him to park in their driveway. Zurlo said the neighbors to his left, the Malone family, have accepted his mail every day since the crash.

“They’ve even brought it to me in Branford,” he added.

Zurlo said he’s hoping to be able to move into his new home in about three weeks. All that remains is setting up heating, ventilation and air conditioning and tying into town water and sewage. Zurlo added that his boss gave him Wednesday off from work so he could watch his new house come together.

Before the crash, Zurlo said he frequently had friends with children over to his house to sit in the back yard and watch the airplanes flying overhead.

“That’s what I’d even do sometimes at night by myself,” he said. “Just sit and watch the planes go over.”

On Wednesday morning, as Zurlo spoke outside his home, he paused as a loud propeller plane flew overhead on its approach to Tweed New Haven Regional Airport.

“They fly low here,” he said.

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA358
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 09, 2013 in New Haven, CT
Aircraft: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL 690B, registration: N13622
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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

On August 9, 2013, about 1121 eastern daylight time, a Rockwell International 690B, N13622, was destroyed after impacting two homes while maneuvering for landing in East Haven, Connecticut. The airplane was registered to Ellumax, LLC, and was operated by a private individual. The commercial pilot, one passenger, and two people on the ground were fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey, about 1049 and was destined for Tweed-New Haven Airport (HVN), New Haven, Connecticut.

Review of preliminary data from the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that at 1115:10, the flight was cleared for the instrument landing system (ILS) approach to runway 2, circle to land runway 20 at HVN by New York Approach Control (N90). At 1115:43 the pilot contacted HVN tower and reported 7 and one half miles from SALLT intersection. The HVN local controller instructed the pilot to enter a left downwind for runway 20. At 1119:26 the pilot reported to HVN air traffic control (ATC) that he was entering a left downwind for runway 20. HVN ATC cleared the pilot to land on runway 20. While circling to runway 20, the HVN tower controller asked the pilot if he would be able to maintain visual contact with the airport. The pilot replied "622 is in visual contact now". At 1120:55 the HVN air traffic controller made a truncated transmission with the call sign “622”. No further communications were received from the accident airplane. The last recorded radar target was at 1120:53, about .7 miles north of the runway 20 threshold indicating an altitude of 800 feet mean seal level.

According to a student pilot witness, who was traveling on interstate 95 (I-95) at exit 51; he looked to his right while traveling east bound and saw the airplane at the end of a right roll. The airplane was inverted and traveling at a high rate of speed, nose first, towards the ground in the vicinity of where HVN was located. He stated that he stopped at a local business and found out that the airplane had crashed.

According to another witness, who lives two houses from the impact point of the airplane, he was in his living room when he saw the airplane descending about 90 degrees right side down into the homes.

The airplane was located inverted, with the forward half of the airplane inside the basement of the primary home on a heading of 192 degrees magnetic. The cockpit, left engine and forward two-thirds of the fuselage were located inside the basement. The left wing was located on the back porch of the primary home. The right wing impacted a secondary adjacent house on the north side of the primary home. The right engine and propeller impacted the ground in between both homes. A postaccident fire ensued and consumed a majority of the wreckage.

The recorded weather at HVN, at 1126, included wind from 170 degrees at 12 knots, gusting to 19 knots, visibility 9 miles, and overcast ceiling at 900 feet.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox Jr., DDS - Aviation pioneer: Former Cape May County resident's huge, and unique, auto collection up for auction - Naval Air Station Wildwood at the Cape May Airport (KWWD), New Jersey

Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox Jr., DDS

LOWER TOWNSHIP — Auction houses often overtout estate sales as having something for everyone, but there’s one coming up at the Naval Air Station Wildwood Museum that just may live up to that billing.

The May 10 sale seems, at least, to have something for anyone interested in transportation. The sale items range from the horse-drawn era, to steam engines, to early internal combustion engines.

Items on the block will include a steam locomotive, a 1906 San Francisco cable car, an 1870 steam fire pumper, a Conestoga horse-drawn wagon, several antique airplane engines and various early-American vintage automobiles. They are just a few of the items that once made up the Frontier Village Transportation Museum at the Cape May Airport. Once owned by the late Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox Jr., they have been stored in a Rio Grande barn since the museum closed in 1964.

Cox, who founded U.S. Overseas Airlines at the airport shortly after World War II, loved to collect. He died two years ago at the age of 97, and the family has hired the auction house Bonhams to sell the more than 200 items in his collection. Next month’s auction will be at the NASW hangar, where the items were once showcased to the public.

Rupert Banner, of Bonhams’ International Motorcar Department, can’t speculate on how much the collection is worth because it is so unique.

“There’s no precedent for a lot of this,” Banner said. “It’s a good old-school collection of American cars and Americana. Pioneering collectors are very important to American history, which relies on these people saving this stuff,” he said.

Cox had the items fully restored in the 1950s and 1960s before showcasing them in the Frontier Village Transportation Museum, which was in the same World War II wooden airplane hangar that now hosts the NASW Museum. After Frontier Village closed, Cox moved them into his barn off Route 9 in Rio Grande, near the Wildwood Canadian Campground that he owned.

“I don’t think they’ve turned a wheel since that era. They were in pretty good shape before they were put in the barn and they were not out in the elements. They were in a tightly sealed barn,” said Banner.

Two of the best cars — a 1932 Auburn Twelve Speedster and a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Tourenwagen — have already been sold for almost $2 million. Cox, in a 2007 interview, said the Mercedes was from Germany and was reportedly owned by high-ranking Nazi officials.

There is a wide selection of cars, but Cox seemed to especially collect Fords — and not just common Model T’s. The auction includes a 10-horsepower 1904 Model AC Tonneau, A 1906 Model S Roadster, a 1931 Model A Deluxe Roadster, a 1934 Phaeton, a 1926 Model T Racer, a 1928 Model AR Sport Coupe with a rumble seat, a 1911 Model T Torpedo Roadster and two 1914 Model T touring cars.

Other cars include a 1909 Premier Model 45 Raceabout, a 1927 Franklin sedan, several Cadillacs, a 1923 Dodge truck, a 1900 Barouche and a 1906 Orient Buckboard Runabout.

The museum also had some unique forms of public transportation now on the block, including the San Francisco cable car, a 1925 open-top double decker bus, an 1890 Brill Streetcar and a 1927 Yellow Coach bus. The Baldwin Steam Locomotive will also be auctioned, though it will not be on site. Banner said it, like all items, will be sold to the highest bidder as it’s a “no reserve sale.” He figures the steam engine should bring up to $35,000.

“We’ll see how the market goes,” he said.

Cox also collected firefighting apparatus, including the 1870 Silsby steam pumper, a 1925 American La France ladder truck and a 1919 Mack “Bulldog” ladder truck.

The museum even had horse-drawn vehicles, including an ice wagon, a Conestoga wagon and an omnibus built in 1900. Farm vehicles include a 1916 International Harvester Model EX truck. There are also antique bicycles, airplane engines and car parts. The “automobilia” section includes dozens of brass lamps, speedometers, horns, engines and other car parts.

Cox also collected mechanical music machines. The auction includes two Mills Violano Virtuosos and a Seeburg Style G Orchestrian. There is also a World War II JB1 “buzz bomb.”

Cox graduated from dental school in 1938 but became a U.S. Navy flier in World War II. After the war he formed Ocean Air Tradeways at the Cape May Airport, later called U.S. Overseas Airlines. It ran charter flights all over the world and was a pioneer in low-cost passenger air service while also participating in the Berlin Airlift and the Korean Airlift. The service also responded in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Joe Salvatore, director of the NASW Museum, said Cox started it all with a single DC-3 after the war and before long had a fleet of planes flying to Paris, Japan, Hawaii and other destinations.

“He was the largest employer in Cape May County in the 1950s and 1960s. The place was wild,” Salvatore said.

Auction administrator Samantha Hamill said buyers do not have to bid in person. To learn more, go to Bonham’s website at:

If you go:   The auction begins 11 a.m. May 10 at Naval Air Station Wildwood at the Cape May Airport, 500 Forrestal Road, in Erma. The preview period is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 9 and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. May 10. 

For more information and to view items, visit 



Obituary: Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox Jr., DDS - Aviation Pioneer in Cape May
COX, RALPH WALDO EMERSON JR., DDS - aviation pioneer in Cape May passes away peacefully at age 97 on February 25, 2012. Born December 30, 1914 in Pittsburgh, PA; he attended the University of Pittsburgh and graduated from dental school in 1938. Ralph's dream was to fly aircraft, so he volunteered for the US Army Aviation pilot program. He joined the US Navy and flew anti sub patrols along the US Eastern Seaboard and the coast of Spain.

After Ralph's discharge in 1941, he supported the war effort joining American Overseas Airlines and Pan American which flew Sikorsky S44 flying boats. After the war, Ralph formed his own airline company "Ocean Air Tradeways" based at NAS Wildwood (now Cape May County Airport). Subsequently, the airline name was changed to US Overseas Airlines (USOA) and became an overhaul base and the largest employer in Cape May County. During its operating history, USOA was a major participant in the Berlin Airlift, Korean Airlift, and special airlift from Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis. During the 1950's USOA operated scheduled services to the Philippines, Okinawa, the Far East, San Juan, and the Caribbean. USOA was a major developer and pioneer of low cost coach passenger air service in the US transcontinental market to the islands of Hawaii. In 1964 Ralph opened the Wildwood Canadian Campground near his home in Rio Grande.

In the early 1970's Ralph participated in the US Congressional hearings which lead to the enactment of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 giving birth to the low cost airline service that we have today. Ralph is survived by his two children: Maureen Harris and Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox III; his son-in-law Jeffery Harris; and his three grandchildren: Ian and Andrew Harris and Kelly Cox.

There will be a funeral service at 11:00 AM on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at the Evoy Funeral Home, 3218 Bayshore Rd, North Cape May, NJ 08204; where friends may call from 10:00 to 11:00 AM. Interment will be private. 

The family suggests donations in Ralph's memory to the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum, 500 Forrestal Rd, Rio Grande, NJ 08242.