Thursday, October 9, 2014

Glazers weigh options after crash: Socata TBM700N (TBM900), N900KN, fatal accident occurred September 05, 2014 in open water near the coast of northeast Jamaica

While federal investigators probe what led to the fatal plane crash that killed Larry and Jane Glazer, the family is evaluating legal options and whether to dispatch a private search team to recover the wreckage.

“We will know in a short time what we are going to do,” said Ken Glazer, the couple’s younger son and new managing partner of Buckingham Properties. “We certainly are not just giving up.”

His parents’ plane apparently lost cabin pressure on Sept. 5, lowering oxygen levels and rendering the couple unconscious while en route to Naples, Fla.

U.S. fighter jets trailed the Glazers’ Socata TBM700N (TBM900) plane for a time, with a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 overhead. The private aircraft continued out over the Caribbean, eventually ran out of fuel and crashed into the waters north of Jamaica. The C-130 crew reported spotting a debris field that first day and dropping markers, but boat crews found nothing when they searched over the next two days.

This week in an interview, their first since the crash, the Glazer sons said they have coordinates of the crash site from the National Transportation Safety Board, and a proposal from a recovery firm to do the work. The family lawyer, meanwhile, is interviewing specialty law firms nationally to evaluate the possibility of a lawsuit.

The family is not waiting on NTSB investigators, who could take eight or nine months, if not longer, to reach a conclusion.

“We are doing that (due) diligence right now,” said Rick Glazer, the older son and also a partner in Buckingham.

The plane is likely in waters more than 6,000 feet deep. Few pieces of equipment in the world are capable of operating at those depths. That equipment must be located, and then there are issues of “when can we use it, how much does it cost. There is a lot of coordination,” Ken Glazer said.

There also are questions of what there is to find, given what would happen to a plane hitting the water at high speeds, and if it could provide answers. The aircraft, a French-built  Socata TBM700N (TBM900), did not archive flight data in a “black box” hardened to withstand the impact of a crash, but rather stored it on a lightly protected computer chip.

“I think there are going to be a bunch of questions that just won’t be answered,” Rick Glazer said. “But if I focus on it, I won’t be able to live my life.”

He has done some research, he said, including talking to other pilots. In the event of a loss of pressure, there should have been multiple visual and audible alarms, and ample time to descend to a safe altitude.

“You’ve got to remember, this was a guy, he was sharp as they get,” Ken Glazer said of his father. “He was methodical about a (safety and operations) checklist when he flew. If there were any buzzers going off, there were two people in the plane who could have understood what was going on.”

Jane Glazer also was a instrument-rated commercial pilot.

“I don’t think they really had a chance, obviously.”

Rich Clark often flew with Larry Glazer. The Rochester pilot was the one who originally brought the plane over from France for his friend, and joined him on a trip to Florida for specialized training — including how to respond to a loss of cabin pressure — a week or so before the crash.

The plane had no past issues with cabin pressure or other maintenance problems, Clark said. And Glazer had more than 5,000 hours on TBMs, making him perhaps the most experienced pilot of those high-performance aircraft in the nation, he said.

“In the end, it happened. We have to come to grips with it, and it’s tough,” Ken Glazer said, but the family is focused on finding a balance. “Trying to figure out why did it happen, it can lead to some anger. But I think for their sake, they want us to get up in the morning — and remember the good things.”

- Source:

Transcript of N900KN conversations with air traffic control before the pilot lost consciousness

Pilot: TBM 900KN flight level 280

ATC: November 900KN Atlanta…

Pilot: 900KN we need to descend down to about [flight level] 180, we have an indication … not correct in the plane.

ATC: 900KN descend and maintain 250.

Pilot: 250 we need to get lower 900KN.

ATC: Working on that.

Pilot: Have to get down. And reserve fuel… limit a return… thirty-three left… have to get down.

ATC: Thirty left 900KN

Pilot: 00900KN (holds transmit button)

ATC: N0KN you’re cleared direct to Taylor.

ATC: 0KN, cleared direct to Taylor.

Pilot: Direct Taylor, 900KN.

ATC: Copy that you got descent (slope?) 200…

Pilot: (mumbling)

ATC: Descent and maintain flight level 200, and you are cleared direct Taylor.

Pilot: KN900KN (sounds confused)

ATC: Understand me, descend and maintain flight level 200, flight level 200, for N900KN

ATC: TBM, TBM 0KN, descend and maintain flight level 200

ATC: 0KN, if you hear this, transmit and ident.

ATC: N900KN, Atlanta center, how do you read?

ATC: N900KN, Atlanta Center… AC5685, keep trying N900KN

AC5685: TBM900KN, this is AC5685, how do you read? (Military aircraft?)

ATC: N900KN, Atlanta Center, how do you read?

AC5685: TBM900KN, AC5685, how do you read?

ATC: N900KN, TBM, 900KN, Atlanta Center, how do you hear this…

ATC: N0KN, descent now, descent now to flight level 200.

ATC: N900KN, TBM 900KN, if you hear this transmission, contact … center 127.87

ATC: N0KN, TBM 0KN, contact … center 127.87 if you hear this…

Any witnesses should email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email


NTSB Identification: ERA14LA424 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 05, 2014 in Open Water, Jamaica
Aircraft: SOCATA TBM 700, registration: N900KN
Injuries: 2 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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 5, 2014, about 1410 eastern daylight time (EDT), a Socata TBM700 (marketed as TBM900), N900KN, impacted open water near the coast of northeast Jamaica. The commercial pilot/owner and his passenger were fatally injured. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the planned flight that originated from Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC), Rochester, New York at 0826 and destined for Naples Municipal Airport (APF), Naples, Florida. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) data received from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), after departing ROC the pilot climbed to FL280 and leveled off. About 1000 the pilot contacted ATC to report an "indication that is not correct in the plane" and to request a descent to FL180. The controller issued instructions to the pilot to descend to FL250 and subsequently, due to traffic, instructed him to turn 30 degrees to the left and then descend to FL200. During this sequence the pilot became unresponsive. An Air National Guard intercept that consisted of two fighter jets was dispatched from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Eastover, South Carolina and intercepted the airplane at FL250 about 40 miles northwest of Charleston, South Carolina. The fighters were relieved by two fighter jets from Homestead Air Force Base, Homestead, Florida that followed the airplane to Andros Island, Bahamas, and disengaged prior to entering Cuban airspace. The airplane flew through Cuban airspace, eventually began a descent from FL250 and impacted open water northeast of Port Antonio, Jamaica.

According to a review of preliminary radar data received from the FAA, the airplane entered a high rate of descent from FL250 prior to impacting the water. The last radar target was recorded over open water about 10,000 feet at 18.3547N, -76.44049W.

The Jamaican Defense Authority and United States Coast Guard conducted a search and rescue operation. Search aircraft observed an oil slick and small pieces of debris scattered over one-quarter mile that were located near the last radar target. Both entities concluded their search on September 7, 2014.

Lost Nation Airport ownership transferred to Lake County and Port Authority

Lost Nation Airport now belongs to Lake County and the Lake County Port and Economic Development Authority.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved the ownership change from the city of Willoughby and the transfer was officially recorded at the Lake County Recorder’s Office on Oct. 8 just before the close of business.

The transaction ends eight years of discussions between the city, county and FAA and lifts the limbo on whether the airport will remain open.

The city in 2006 asked commissioners to take over the airport’s assets. Lake County commissioners created the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority in 2007 to be the county’s economic development branch and shortly after the agency formed it began the task to investigate a potential airport ownership transfer and to see whether it made the most sense to keep the facility open.

The Authority conducted a lengthy two-phase study that included public hearings to examine the best use of the airport facility before it was determined to keep the airport open.

Commissioners, Authority and Willoughby officials each approved the transfer in August and were then granted final approval this week by the FAA.

Authority Board of Directors Harry Allen and Anthony Debevc have been a part of the agency since the Authority was created.

Allen, who has served as board chairman since inception, said the airport transfer is one of the Authority’s top accomplishments.

“To reflect back on the years of planning, finally accomplishing something that I think is great for the county and business community,” Allen said. “It’s a bright day for the county.”

He said one of the reasons the Authority was formed was to develop a entity that could address issues such as the airport for the entire county and not fall victim to any one municipality’s interest.

The next step is to work with the FAA to further develop the airport’s master plan to serve as a prototype for what a regional airport will look like in the future.

Debevc has served on the board’s committee to oversee the airport issue and has devoted much of his time studying the ownership transfer.

“I think it’s a piece of infrastructure that will be preserved for the future and I think it needed to be upgraded and have new progressive ideas,” he said. “We hope that the people of Lake County see it as a real jewel.”

Debevc said he travels a lot for business and has had the opportunity to see and compare many other smaller county airports including many located in rural areas nowhere near businesses.

“Lost Nation is located in a great business district that is ready for growth,” Debevc said.

“That’s what business people like, they can fly from one airport to another, do their business and leave without a lot of driving.”

Willoughby Mayor David Anderson was pleased the transfer is completed.

“I just think this is a great thing for the airport and the right thing for the county to be doing,” Anderson said. “Anybody who wants to make an investment in the airport hasn’t been able to do that.” 

- Source:

Ottawa International Airport sued over damage to planes that ran off runways

A pair of incidents where United Express flights left wet runways at Ottawa’s main airport caused more than $10 million in damage to the two planes, according to the airline, which is suing the federal government, Ottawa International Airport Authority and air traffic controllers in an effort to recoup their losses.

Trans States Airlines and its insurance company have filed separate lawsuits alleging Transport Canada, the airport and Nav Canada were negligent in a June 2010 runway overrun and a September 2011 incident where a plane skidded off the side of a runway.

In the lawsuits, the airline alleges the runways didn’t meet Canadian and international standards because they failed to provide good friction when wet. They also allege that their pilots received inadequate warnings about the weather conditions and state of the runways.

Both lawsuits were filed before the Transportation Safety Board released findings that suggested pilot error and weather were a factor in both incidents.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

The Attorney General of Canada, Ottawa International Airport Authority and Nav Canada all deny the allegations by Trans States Airlines, instead alleging in court documents that the pilots and airline were to blame and that the airport met the recommended standards.

According to the Trans States lawsuit, the Embraer 145 jet en route from Washington, D.C., on June 16, 2010, needed slightly more than $5.4 million in repairs after its landing gear collapsed when it left the end of runway 07/25.

The exact amount of damage to the Embraer 145 jet in the September 2011 incident wasn’t specified, although that plane’s landing gear collapsed and it suffered damage to a wing causing a fuel leak after leaving runway 14/32. Trans States Airlines and its insurer allege $6.5 million in damages for repairs to the airplane and other costs. It was the third time a Trans States Airlines Embraer 145 had left an Ottawa runway — another jet had overrun a runway in 2004.

The first lawsuit was filed in 2012; the second in 2013. They have been slowly winding their way through the courts, with a judge recently rejecting a bid by the Attorney General to quash portions of the 2012 lawsuit. In that lawsuit, the airline alleges friction tests on a wet runway were below minimum standards and no corrective maintenance was scheduled. The Ottawa International Airport Authority denies the allegation.

In a report released in March, the Transportation Safety Board found that the speed of the jet in the September 2011 incident exceeded the airline’s approach criteria. The flight crew didn’t follow procedure by doing a go-around and increased engine power just prior to landing in the heavy rain. The TSB found that the plane went out of control and left the runway after hydroplaning as a result of the higher landing speed, soft landing on underinflated tires, and use of the emergency/parking brake, which disabled the anti-skid system and prolonged the skid.

The TSB also found speed was a factor in the June 2010 incident. According to the TSB, the pilots calculated an inaccurate target approach speed and the plane crossed the threshold of the runway at an airspeed of 139 knots, or eight knots faster than that calculated for the landing weight of the aircraft.

The TSB also noted that Trans States Airlines didn’t provide its pilots with information or adequate training about landing on ungrooved runways in Canada. Grooved runways help to reduce hydroplaning and remove standing water. There are no requirements that runways be grooved in Canada, although grooved runways are common in the United States.

In the meantime, Ottawa’s airport has undergone major upgrades. Runway 07/25 has since been grooved, and runway 14/32 will be grooved next year once new asphalt applied this summer has properly cured. Ottawa is the only major airport in the country to have grooved runways.

Drainage on the runways has also been improved, and both runways now have Runway End Safety Areas that meet the standards set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United States Federal Aviation Administration runway safety.

Those upgrades were planned long in advance of the June 2010 incident, airport spokeswoman Krista Kealey said.

Story, Comments and Photo:
This United Express Embraer 145 slid off the side of runway 14/32 in the September 2011. Its landing gear collapsed and it suffered damage to a wing causing a fuel leak. 
Mike Carroccetto / Ottawa Citizen

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, N12373, Era Alaska: Accident occurred November 29, 2013 in St. Marys, Alaska

Docket And Docket Items:

NTSB Identification: ANC14MA008 
 Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, November 29, 2013 in Saint Marys, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/26/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 208B, registration: N12373
Injuries: 4 Fatal, 6 Serious.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The scheduled commuter flight departed 40 minutes late for a two-stop flight. During the first leg of the night visual flight rules (VFR) flight, weather at the first destination airport deteriorated, so the pilot diverted to the second destination airport. The pilot requested and received a special VFR clearance from an air route traffic controller into the diversion airport area. Review of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast data transmitted by the airplane showed that, after the clearance was issued, the airplane's track changed and proceeded in a direct line to the diversion airport.

Postaccident examination of the pilot's radio showed that his audio panel was selected to the air route traffic control (ARTCC) frequency rather than the destination airport frequency; therefore, although the pilot attempted to activate the pilot-controlled lighting at the destination airport, as heard on the ARTCC frequency, it did not activate. Further, witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's reported that the airport lighting system was not activated when they saw the accident airplane fly over, and then proceed away from the airport. Witnesses in the area described the weather at the airport as deteriorating with fog and ice. About 1 mile from the runway, the airplane began to descend, followed by a descending right turn and controlled flight into terrain. The pilot appeared to be in control of the airplane up to the point of the right descending turn. Given the lack of runway lighting, the restricted visibility due to fog, and the witness statements, the pilot likely lost situational awareness of the airplane's geographic position, which led to his subsequent controlled flight into terrain.

After the airplane proceeded away from the airport, the witnesses attempted to contact the pilot by radio. When the pilot did not respond, they accessed the company's flight tracking software and noted that the airplane's last reported position was in the area of the airplane's observed flightpath. They proceeded to search the area where they believed the airplane was located and found the airplane about 1 hour later.

Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. About 3/4 inch of ice was noted on the nonprotected surfaces of the empennage. However, ice formation on the airplane's inflatable leading edge de-ice boots was consistent with normal operation of the de-ice system, and structural icing likely was not a factor in the accident.

According to the company's General Operations Manual (GOM), operational control was held by the flight coordinator for the accident flight, and the flight coordinator and pilot-in-command (PIC) were jointly responsible for preflight planning, flight delay, and release of the flight, which included the risk assessment process. The flight coordinator assigned the flight a risk level of 2 (on a scale of 1 to 4) due to instrument meteorological and night conditions and contaminated runways at both of the destination airports. The first flight coordinator assigned another flight coordinator to create the manifest, which listed eight passengers and a risk assessment level of 2. According to company risk assessment and operational control procedures, a risk level of 2 required a discussion between the PIC and flight coordinator about the risks involved. However, the flight coordinators did not discuss with the pilot the risks and weather conditions associated with the flight. Neither of the flight coordinators working the flight had received company training on the risk assessment program. At the time of the accident, no signoff was required for flight coordinators or pilots on the risk assessment form, and the form was not integrated into the company manuals.

A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) surveillance activities revealed that aviation safety inspectors had performed numerous operational control inspections and repeatedly noted deficiencies within the company's training, risk management, and operational control procedures. Enforcement Information System records indicated that FAA inspectors observed multiple incidences of the operator's noncompliance related to flight operations and that they opened investigations; however, the investigations were closed after only administrative action had been taken. Therefore, although FAA inspectors were providing surveillance and noting discrepancies within the company's procedures and processes, the FAA did not hold the operator sufficiently accountable for correcting the types of operational deficiencies evident in this accident, such as the operator's failure to comply with its operations specifications, operations training manual, and GOM and applicable federal regulations.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's decision to initiate a visual flight rules approach into an area of instrument meteorological conditions at night and the flight coordinators' release of the flight without discussing the risks with the pilot, which resulted in the pilot experiencing a loss of situational awareness and subsequent controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident were the operator's inadequate procedures for operational control and flight release and its inadequate training and oversight of operational control personnel. Also contributing to the accident was the Federal Aviation Administration's failure to hold the operator accountable for correcting known operational deficiencies and ensuring compliance with its operational control procedures.


On November 29, 2013, at 1824 Alaska standard time, a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan airplane, N12373, sustained substantial damage after impacting terrain about 1 mile southeast of St. Mary's Airport, St. Mary's, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as flight 1453 by Hageland Aviation Services, Inc., dba Era Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) scheduled commuter flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135. Of the 10 people on board, the commercial pilot and three passengers sustained fatal injuries, and six passengers sustained serious injuries. Night, instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at St. Mary's Airport at the time of the accident, and company flight-following procedures were in effect. Flight 1453 departed from Bethel Airport, Bethel, Alaska, at 1741 destined for Mountain Village, Alaska. Before reaching Mountain Village, the flight diverted to St. Mary's due to deteriorating weather conditions.

The pilot's flight and duty records indicated that, on the day of the accident, the pilot arrived at the company office in St. Mary's about 0800. The accident flight was the pilot's fifth flight of the day. Flight 1453 was to depart Bethel Airport with eight adult passengers and one infant passenger (who was not listed on the flight manifest), make a stop in Mountain Village, and then proceed to St. Mary's.

Hageland Aviation Services had recently incorporated a risk assessment program into its operational control procedures, which required each flight be assigned a risk level on a scale of 1 to 4, with the intention of mitigating the hazards for high-risk flights. Although not required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the risk assessment was being used as part of the company's operational control procedures; however, it had not been incorporated into the company General Operations Manual (GOM).

Before departure, the flight coordinator checked the weather and assigned the flight a risk assessment level of 2 due to IMC and night conditions and contaminated runways at both of the destination airports. He assigned another flight coordinator to create the manifest, which listed eight passengers and a risk assessment level of 2.

A risk assessment level 2 required a conversation between the flight coordinator and the pilot about possible hazards associated with the flight. However, the flight coordinators did not discuss with the pilot the risk assessment level assigned to the flight, current weather conditions or hazards, or ways to mitigate the hazards as required by the risk assessment program. Neither of the flight coordinators working the flight had received company training on the risk assessment program.

The flight was scheduled to depart at 1700, but it was late arriving into Bethel and did not depart until 1741. The pilot reported his departure from Bethel Airport to the company flight coordinator via radio at 1741, reporting 10 souls on board and 4 hours of fuel.

According to a passenger, they had been flying for about 30 minutes when the airplane entered thick fog. He reported that the airplane was picking up ice and had accumulated about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of ice on the lift strut.

According to an Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) recording, about 18 miles from Mountain Village, the pilot made an announcement to the passengers that, due to deteriorating weather conditions, the flight was diverting to St. Mary's, which is about 13 miles east of Mountain Village.

At 1819:20, the pilot contacted the Anchorage ARTCC and requested a special VFR clearance to St. Mary's Airport.

At 1819:43, an Anchorage ARTCC controller cleared the flight into the St. Mary's surface area, told the pilot to maintain special VFR conditions, and provided the St. Mary's altimeter setting of 30.35 inches of Mercury (inHg). This was the last communication with the airplane.

About 1822, sounds similar to that of a microphone being keyed to activate pilot-controlled approach lighting were heard on the ARTCC frequency. Postaccident examination of the pilot's radio showed that his audio panel was still selected to the ARTCC frequency rather than the destination airport frequency; therefore, the pilot-controlled lighting would not have activated. Witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's reported that the pilot-controlled airport lighting system was not activated when they saw the accident airplane fly over the airport. A passenger reported that no lights were visible but that she saw the ground about 30 ft below the airplane and was able to make out dark patches of trees.

Witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's Airport reported seeing the airplane fly over the airport at a relatively low altitude, about 300 to 400 ft, traveling southeast. They watched the airplane travel away from the airport until its rotating beacon disappeared. One witness stated that he saw the landing lights of the airplane illuminate something white before he lost sight of the beacon, and he assumed that the airplane had entered the clouds. Due to concern about the direction and altitude the airplane was flying, the witnesses attempted to contact the pilot on the radio, but the pilot did not respond. They then heard another pilot report on the radio that there was an emergency locator transmitter broadcasting in the vicinity of St. Mary's. After checking for the airplane's last reported position on the company's flight-following software, a search was initiated.

About 1 hour after the search was initiated, the airplane was located, and rescue personnel confirmed that the pilot and two passengers died at the scene. One passenger died after being transported to the local clinic. The six surviving passengers were evacuated to Anchorage for treatment.

The airplane impacted the top of a ridge about 1 mile southeast of St. Mary's Airport at an elevation of about 425 ft mean seal level (msl) in a nose-high, upright attitude. The airplane came to rest upright about 200 ft from the initial impact point at an elevation of about 530 ft.


The pilot, age 68, held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land, single-engine sea, multiengine land, and instrument ratings. Pilot training records indicated that he had accumulated over 25,000 hours of flight time with over 1,800 hours in Cessna 208 airplanes. His most recent FAA second-class airman medical certificate was issued on August 21, 2013, with the limitation that the pilot must wear corrective lenses for distance and must possess corrective lenses for near vision. The pilot's personal logbooks were not located.

A review of Hageland Aviation Services personnel records indicated that the pilot was hired, completed his initial company training (which included pilot ground and flight training), and was assigned to fly Cessna 207A airplanes on December 18, 2012.

On February 11, 2013, the pilot completed initial Cessna 208B ground training. On June 14, 2013, he completed recurrent ground training. On June 19, 2013, he completed flight training and a check ride and was assigned to fly Cessna 208B airplanes out of the St. Mary's base.

Flight and duty records revealed that, in September 2013, the pilot was on duty for 15 days, flew 60.5 hours, and had 15 days off. In October 2013, the pilot was on duty for 16 days, flew 73.8 hours, and had 15 days off. In November 2013, the pilot was on duty November 1 to 16, flew 63.7 hours, was off duty November 17 to 28, and returned to work on November 29 (the day of the accident).

On the day of the accident, the pilot was on a 14-hour assigned duty day, starting at 0800 and ending at 2200. He flew four trips totaling about 4.4 hours before the accident flight.


The accident airplane was a turboprop Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, registration number N12373, manufactured in 1998. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated 12,653 total flight hours and was maintained under an approved aircraft inspection program. The most recent inspection of the airframe and engine was completed on November 12, 2013.

The airplane was equipped with a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-114A turbine engine that was rated at 675-shaft horsepower. The engine was overhauled 4,655 hours before the accident.

The airplane was equipped for instrument flight and flight into icing conditions and was certificated for single-pilot operation. The airplane was equipped with a Honeywell KGP-560 Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), and a Midcontinent Avionics MD41 Terrain Awareness Annunciator Control Unit. The fully integrated control unit provided annunciation and mode selection for both TAWS and the general aviation-enhanced ground proximity warning system (GA-EGPWS).


At the time of the accident, an airmen's meteorological information (AIRMET) valid for the accident site forecast mountain obscuration conditions due to clouds and precipitation. Another AIRMET for turbulence was valid for flight level (FL) 270 to FL 370. The area forecast issued at 1806 predicted few clouds at 500 ft above ground level (agl), scattered clouds at 2,000 ft, and a broken ceiling at 4,000 ft with tops to 12,000 ft. The ceiling was forecast to be occasionally at 2,000 ft with isolated light snow showers and visibility below 3 miles. No turbulence or icing conditions were forecast for the accident site at the accident time. The area forecast issued at 1210 predicted similar conditions to the 1806 area forecast; however, the 1210 area forecast predicted isolated moderate icing between 3,000 and 9,000 ft along the coast and inland through 1600.

The nearest official weather reporting station was St. Mary's Airport. About 8 minutes before the accident, at 1816, a meteorological aerodrome report (METAR) was reporting, in part, the following: wind from 230 degrees (true) at 6 knots, visibility 3 statute miles, sky condition overcast at 300 ft agl, temperature 18 degrees F, dew point -32 degrees F, and altimeter setting 30.35 inHg.

The 1836 METAR was reporting, in part, the following: wind from 240 degrees (true) at 5 knots, visibility 2.5 statute miles, sky condition overcast at 300 ft agl, temperature 18 degrees F, dew point -32 degrees F, and altimeter setting 30.35 inHg.

None of the persons interviewed from the Bethel base had any knowledge of the accident pilot reviewing weather information before takeoff. The last known weather information received by the pilot was the weather at the top of the hour before takeoff for his destination (METARs around and before 1700).


There were no reported malfunctions or anomalies with aids to navigation at the time of the accident.


St. Mary's Airport is a public airport in Class E airspace, located 4 miles west of St. Mary's, Alaska, at a surveyed elevation of 312 ft msl. The airport had two open runways (17/35 and 6/24) at the time of the accident. Runway 17/35 was 6,008 ft long and 150 ft wide, and runway 6/24 was 1,520 ft long and 60 ft wide.

Runway 17 was equipped with pilot-controlled high-intensity runway edge lights, a visual approach slope indicator (VASI), and a 1,400-ft medium-intensity approach lighting system with runway alignment indicator lights, but they were not illuminated at the time of the accident. It was serviced by a LOC/DME and an RNAV (GPS) instrument approach. Runway 35 was equipped with high-intensity runway edge lights and a VASI and was serviced by an RNAV (GPS) instrument approach.


The accident airplane was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped with, a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Tracking and Recording

The airplane was equipped with ADS-B technology. In typical applications, an airplane equipped with ADS-B uses an ordinary GPS receiver to derive its precise position from the Global Navigation Satellite System constellation and then combines that position with any number of aircraft parameters, such as speed, heading, altitude and flight number. This information is then simultaneously broadcast to other aircraft equipped with ADS-B and to ADS-B ground or satellite communications transceivers, which then relay the aircraft's position and additional information to ARTCCs in real time.

A review of the ADS-B data received by the Anchorage ARTCC showed the following:

At 1820:31, the airplane passed 1 nautical mile (nm) west of the ONEPY intersection at 800 ft msl inbound to St. Mary's Airport on a heading of 357 degrees magnetic.

At 1823:01, the airplane started a descent from 900 ft msl (800 ft agl) while about 3/4 nm from the runway 35 threshold and 1/4 nm left of the runway 35 extended centerline.

At 1823:09, the airplane started a right turn that continued until radar contact was lost about 36 seconds later. The average turn rate was 7 degrees per second with an average ground speed in the turn of 119 knots and an average descent rate of 835 ft per minute. During the turn, at 1823:18, the airplane passed through the runway 35 extended centerline, about 1/10 nm from the runway threshold, passing through a heading of about 051 degrees magnetic.

The last radar return occurred at 1823:45, which showed the airplane at 450 ft msl (75 ft agl). The airplane heading showed that the airplane was flying toward rising terrain and that the last radar return was less than 1/10 nm from terrain that was 450 ft msl.


The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge and an inspector from the FAA Anchorage Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) traveled to the accident scene but continuous poor weather conditions prevented site access until December 1, 2013.

The wreckage path, which extended about 200 ft along a heading of 122 degrees magnetic, began at an area of broken small trees and disturbed ground. The initial impact site consisted of three separate ground disturbances. The first two disturbed areas were noted to be the contact points of the airplane's main landing gear, followed by a large impact crater where the nose and fuselage of the airplane impacted the up-sloping terrain. The majority of the airplane belly cargo pod and its contents remained in the initial impact crater with fragments of the belly pod structure and belly pod contents scattered forward from the initial impact point and along the wreckage path.

The main wreckage was located in an open area of snow-covered tundra, at an elevation of about 425 ft msl. The top of the ridge where the airplane impacted was at an elevation of about 530 ft msl. The main wreckage consisted of the right and left wings, empennage, main fuselage, cabin, and engine. About 3/4 inch of ice was noted on the nonprotected surfaces of the empennage. Ice formation on the airplane's inflatable leading edge de-ice boots was consistent with normal operation of the de-ice system.

The cockpit survivable space was severely compromised. The pilot's seat was crushed under the center wing structure and inboard of the left wing. The copilot seat was lying on its left side and was mostly buried by snow that entered the cockpit during the impact.

Examination of the airframe revealed extensive component and structural damage to the area of the fuselage near the carry-through structure for the wing spars. Both forward wing spar fittings were separated at the fuselage attachments, and each aft spar attachment showed twist deformation.

Elevator and rudder control cable continuity was established from the flight control surfaces to the cockpit area just before the control yoke. Aileron and flap continuity was not established on-scene due to the disposition of the wreckage.

No preaccident anomalies were noted with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.


A postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted under the authority of the Alaska State Medical Examiner, Anchorage, Alaska, on December 2, 2013. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed toxicological testing for the pilot on December 17, 2013, which was negative for carbon monoxide and ethanol. The toxicological tests revealed 44.8 ug/ml of salicylate in the pilot's urine. Salicylate is an over-the-counter analgesic with an acceptable profile used in the treatment of mild pain.


After the witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's saw the airplane fly overhead, they attempted to contact the pilot by radio. When the pilot did not respond, they accessed the company's flight tracking software and discovered that the airplane's last reported position was in the area of the airplane's observed flightpath. They proceeded to search the area where they believed the airplane was located and found the airplane after about 1 hour of searching. Additional search and rescue personnel were then directed to the accident site to aid in the rescue operation.


The fuselage sustained extensive impact damage and the forward section of fuselage (forward of the aft wing carry-through spar) was severely fragmented. The forward fuselage section was rotated about 90 degrees on the longitudinal axis and was laying on the right side. The top cabin roof section had separated at the aft wing carry-through spar and shifted forward and down leaving an exposed area of the floor and cabin. The floor of the airframe was buckled upward. The survivable cabin space in the area directly below and forward of the wing was severely compromised. The aft section of the fuselage was more intact. There were multiple areas of tearing of the skin around the window frames. The cargo door frame was buckled forward and torn just above the upper door's attachment bracket. The lower section of doorframe was mostly undamaged, and the door moved freely. The rear of the cargo door frame had another forward buckle near both corners of the aft window. The door was opened, likely by the first responders.

One of the four fatalities was an infant who was being carried as a "lap child" by his mother in a forward-facing backpack carrier.


On March 18, 2014, the Honeywell Bendix/King KGP-560 GA-EGPWS processor was examined at the Honeywell facility located in Redmond, Washington. The Honeywell GA-EGPWS is a TAWS, which provided terrain alerting and display functions with additional features meeting the requirements of Technical Standard Order C151b Class B TAWS. The GA-EGPWS uses aircraft inputs including geographic position, attitude, altitude, airspeed, and glideslope deviation. These are used with internal terrain, obstacles, and airport runway databases to predict a potential conflict between the aircraft's flightpath and terrain or an obstacle. A terrain or obstacle conflict results in the GA-EGPWS providing a visual and audio caution or warning alert.

The GA-EGPWS "Look-Ahead" alerting and warning and runway field clearance floor (RFCF) functions are gradually "de-sensitized" as an aircraft nears a known runway. Aircraft operating near known runways may experience very short or no advance warnings with respect to terrain or obstacles in this area. The altitude and distance between the accident airplane and the runway at the time of impact would have remained above the floor of protection for the "Look Ahead" and RFCF function, and no alerts would have been triggered.

The KGP 560/860 database is contained in a removable card installed in the top of each unit. It is up to KGP 560/860 customers to determine if a specific database is applicable to their operation. Honeywell estimates that KGP 560/860 customers will update their database about once per year, although there is no regulatory requirement to update the database. The database in the airplane was dated December 2006. Information regarding new releases and the content details of the database may be obtained via the internet at the following websites: and

GA-EGPWS Inhibit Mode

The KGP 560/860 GA-EGPWS requires the installation of a terrain inhibit switch as part of the system installation. When engaged by the pilot, this switch will inhibit all visual and aural alerts and warnings associated with the GA-EGPWS. Also, an external annunciator lamp is illuminated, and a message will be displayed indicating "Warnings Inhibited." The terrain display, if installed, remains operational. The purpose of the terrain inhibit switch is to allow aircraft to operate without nuisance or unwanted warnings at airports that are not in the KGP 560/860 database. Examples might be private airports or those with runways shorter than 2,000 ft. Additionally, there may be some "VFR only" airports where unique terrain features are near the runway, and the terrain inhibit switch may be used when operating in good VFR conditions. According to the operating manual, the terrain inhibit switch should NOT be engaged for normal operations.

Examination of the airplane's cockpit instruments revealed that the terrain inhibit switch was in the "inhibit" mode at the time of the accident. Data recovered from the GA-EGPWS showed the following operational times:

Total time of operation for GA-EGPWS: 12,206:31 hours.

Total GA-EGPWS flight time: 10,485:11 hours.

Total time GA-EGPWS operated in "inhibit" mode: 9,277:34 hours.


Hageland Aviation Services is a 14 CFR Part 135 air carrier that holds on-demand and commuter operations specifications and is authorized to conduct business exclusively under the business names "Hageland Aviation Services, Inc." or "Era Alaska." The company headquarters are located at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Anchorage, Alaska. The president, director of operations, and chief pilot in place at the time of the accident all resided in Anchorage. The director of maintenance resided in Palmer, Alaska.

At the time of the accident, Hageland operated 56 airplanes and employed about 130 pilots. The company had 12 bases located throughout Alaska at Anchorage, Palmer, Aniak, Barrow, Bethel, Deadhorse, Fairbanks, Galena, Kotzebue, Nome, St. Mary's, and Unalakleet.

According to the company's GOM, the flight coordinator had operational control for the accident flight, and the flight coordinator and pilot-in-command (PIC) were jointly responsible for preflight planning, flight delay, and release of the flight, which included the risk assessment process. Authority for operational control is specified in federal regulations, the company's operations specifications, and the procedures outlined in the GOM. In all, about 80 flight coordinators and 96 company pilots were allowed to release flights and exercise operational control on behalf of the company.

A review of the company's FAA-approved operations training manual revealed that flight coordinator training was required for personnel authorized to exercise operational control. Initial flight coordinator training consisted of 8 hours of classroom time, and recurrent training consisted of between 3 and 4 hours, depending on the student's experience. Both of the flight coordinators working at the time of the accident had completed the initial flight coordinator training.

In addition, the company used a basic risk assessment form containing a four-tiered numbered system to determine the level of operational control needed for a specific flight, with 1 being the lowest risk and 4 being the highest risk. A risk level of 1 required no risk mitigation, a level 2 required a discussion between the PIC and flight coordinator about the risks involved, a level 3 required a phone call to management for evaluation and approval, and a level 4 required canceling the flight. At the time of the accident, no signoff was required for flight coordinators or PICs on the risk assessment form, and the form was not integrated into the company manuals. According to the company, the risk assessment was part of its operational control and flight release system and was presented to and accepted by the FAA but was not incorporated into the GOM, training program, or other company manuals.

An FAA principal operations inspector in the Anchorage FSDO was assigned to oversee the company. He had been employed with the FAA for about 7 years at the time of the accident and had been temporarily assigned to the Hageland certificate from October 2012 to April 2013 and permanently assigned to the certificate in September 2013, about 3 months before the accident.

A query of the FAA Program Tracking and Reporting System found that from July 16, 2013, to October 22, 2013, FAA aviation safety inspectors conducted five operational control inspections of Hageland. The inspections noted deficiencies in the company's training, risk management, and operational control procedures.


In the months following the accident, both the FAA and the operator initiated numerous safety improvements, including but not limited to, increased FAA surveillance, changes to company training programs, changes to company management, addition of established routes and increased limits for special VFR operations, and the establishment of a company operations control center to handle release and dispatch of flights.


NTSB Identification: ANC14MA008
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, November 29, 2013 in Saint Marys, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 208B, registration: N12373
Injuries: 4 Fatal, 6 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 29, 2013, at 1824 Alaska standard time, a Cessna 208B Caravan airplane, N12373, sustained substantial damage after impacting terrain about 1 mile southeast of the St. Mary's Airport, St. Mary's, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as flight 1453, by Hageland Aviation Services, Inc., dba Era Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska as a visual flight rules (VFR) scheduled commuter flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. Of the 10 people on board, the commercial pilot and three passengers sustained fatal injuries, and six passengers sustained serious injuries. Night, instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at the St. Mary's airport at the time of the accident and company flight following procedures were in effect. Flight 1453 departed from the Bethel Airport, Bethel, Alaska, at 1741 destined for Mountain Village, Alaska, and continuing to St. Mary's. Prior to reaching Mountain Village, the flight diverted to St. Mary's due to deteriorating weather.

Witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's reported seeing the airplane fly over the airport at low altitude, traveling in a southeasterly direction. They continued to watch the airplane travel away from the airport, until its rotating beacon disappeared. Being concerned about the direction and altitude the airplane was flying, the witnesses attempted to contact the pilot on the radio, with no response. They then heard another aircraft on the radio report that there was an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) going off in the vicinity of St. Mary's. After checking for the airplane's last reported position on the company's flight following software, a search was initiated. 

Approximately one hour after the search was initiated, the airplane was located and rescue personnel confirmed that the pilot and two passengers died at the scene. One passenger died after being transported to the local clinic. The six surviving passengers were evacuated to Anchorage for treatment. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), along with an inspector from the Anchorage Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) traveled to the accident scene, but continuous poor weather conditions prevented them from reaching the site until December 1. 

The main wreckage was in an open area of snow-covered tundra, at an elevation of approximately 425 feet mean sea level (msl). The top of the ridge where the airplane impacted is at an approximate elevation of 530 feet msl. From the initial point of impact, the airplane traveled approximately 200 feet before coming to rest in an upright position. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, empennage, and wings. An on-scene documentation of the wreckage was completed, and a detailed wreckage examination is pending, following recovery of the airplane.

The accident airplane was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped with, a cockpit voice recorder (CVR), or a flight data recorder (FDR).

The nearest official reporting station is the St. Mary's Airport (PASM). About 8 minutes before the accident, at 1816, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting: Wind, 230 degrees (True) at 7 knots; visibility, 3 statute miles; sky condition, overcast at 300 feet above ground level (agl); temperature, 18 degrees F; dew point, -32 degrees F; altimeter, 30.01 inches Hg. 

At 1836, the METAR was reporting, in part: Wind, 240 degrees (True) at 6 knots; visibility, 2.5 statute miles; sky condition, overcast at 300 feet agl; temperature, 18 degrees F; dew point, -32 degrees F; altimeter, 30.01 inches Hg.

Melanie Coffee and her son Wyatt


A Marshall woman who survived a plane crash near St. Mary's last year in which she lost her infant son was killed in an all-terrain vehicle crash Wednesday afternoon, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers were notified just before 2:45 p.m. Wednesday of the crash in the Western Alaska village that claimed 26-year-old Melanie Coffee’s life, according to a Thursday AST dispatch.

“St. Mary's troopers responded and investigated the incident,” troopers wrote. “Investigation found that (Coffee) was deceased from a single motor vehicle collision.”

In an email to Channel 2, AST spokeswoman Megan Peters says troopers believe Coffee’s ATV was moving at high speed at the time of the crash, which took place on Old Airport Road in Marshall.

“The ATV ultimately went airborne and then hit a tree,” Peters wrote. “She was found deceased the next day by people in the village.”

Troopers say no foul play is suspected in the crash.

“The wreck was not witnessed,” Peters wrote. “She had reportedly been drinking and was intoxicated.”

According to Peters, Coffee was one of six survivors after an Era Alaska Cessna 208 flying from Bethel crashed on the night of Nov. 29, 2013. In addition to five-month-old Wyatt Coffee, the dead included 68-year-old pilot Terry Hanson and passengers Rose Polty, 57, and Richard Polty, 65.

Numerous search teams mobilized from both St. Mary's and Mountain Village to find the downed plane, which witnesses couldn't raise by radio when it flew past the St. Mary's airport after diverting from Mountain Village due to poor weather.

"She was the first survivor we contacted," Peters said. "She was incoherent when she was found."

This week's news is likely to prompt a new round of grieving in Coffee's community, according to Peters.

"It is sad, and obviously the community of Marshall has another death to deal with," Peters said. "In small communities, they deal with losses as a whole."

Peters says a toxicology screening will be performed on Coffee’s body to verify that alcohol was a factor in the ATV crash. Her next of kin have been notified.

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$20,000: Singapore Airlines pilot fined over Canterbury crash

Pilot ordered to pay compensation  

A pilot who ran a stop sign during a Lord of the Rings sightseeing road-trip and caused a car crash that seriously injured colleagues has today been ordered by a judge to pay $10,000 compensation to both victims.

Singapore Airlines pilot Benjamin Yonghao Wu, 32, earlier admitted two charges of reckless driving causing injury.

At his sentencing in Christchurch District Court today he was also banned from driving for 18 months.

He was with four other airline colleagues in a rental car when he ran a stop sign and hit a four wheel-drive towing a horse float at an intersection near Rolleston, south of Christchurch, last Wednesday morning.

Singapore Airlines chief steward Chew Weng Wai was a backseat passenger and not wearing a seatbelt when Wu failed to notice a stop sign.

He managed to slow down to about 40-50km/h.

But he later told police he didn't want to make an abrupt stop, because it would've been "uncomfortable" for his passengers.

The horse float, which had been travelling at 80km/h, braked heavily but was unable to avoid the collision.

Mr Chew's side took the brunt of the impact and he had to be cut free of the wreck.

He suffered bleeding and swelling to the brain as well as significant internal bleeding.

Steward Vanessa Leonara Savio Coelho, seated in the middle of the back seat, also wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

She had to be cut free by rescuers and underwent surgery the following day for injuries that included a fractured arm and shattered pelvis as well as spleen and bladder injuries.

Two other passengers were unhurt.

Wu, of Singapore, pleaded guilty to two reckless driving causing injury charges last Friday.

Today at Christchurch District Court, defence counsel Kerry Cook described the incident as a "tragic unintended accident with tragic consequences".

In what Mr Cook said was "a cruel twist", Wu wasn't meant to drive that day but was the only one up when the rental car arrived.

He was driving on an unfamiliar road, taking directions with others from the GPS system, and had not been speeding, Mr Cook said.

Wu saw the stop sign "very late" and "made a split second decision that was to have unfortunate long-term ramifications".

The injuries to those not wearing seatbelts were "horrendous", Mr Cook accepted.

Judge Stephen O'Driscoll noted that it was "perhaps ironic" that there was not injury to those wearing seatbelts.

He said that it would have been "prudent" for Wu as the driver to ensure his passengers were all wearing seatbelts.

But as Mr Cook outlined, there is no legal responsibility on the driver of a car to ensure passengers aged 15 and over to wear seatbelts.

Mr Wu, largely uninjured, tried to help his workmates at the scene and immediately acknowledge his wrongdoing.

He is genuinely remorseful, Mr Cook said, and has apologized face-to-face to Ms Coelho and Mr Chew's wife who "don't hold any grudges against him".

"He is significantly upset and distraught at the harm. He has a significant burden to carry," Mr Cook said.

Before today, Wu had already paid into the court trust account $15,000 for emotional harm reparation, with Mr Cook saying that although he knew it wouldn't fix all the harm he had caused, he hoped it would help in some small way.

It was fortunate there were no fatalities, said Judge O'Driscoll.

There had initially been "real concerns" as to whether Mr Chew would live, he said.

The judge had now seen a medical report which indicated he has suffered serious injuries that included a mild head injury.

He had 6-12 months of rehabilitation ahead of him, the court heard.

A victim impact statement from Mr Chew's wife said he had undergone surgery and would require further surgery, with his recovery in the future still being "unknown".

"It is obvious that he will face a very long recovery," Judge O'Driscoll said.

Ms Coelho would "bear scars for a long time" and was unsure over the future of her job, the judge said.

- Source:

Benjamin Yonghao Wu
 (3 News)

A Singapore Airlines pilot has been ordered to pay $20,000 in emotional harm payments to two of his colleagues injured in a serious road crash in Canterbury last week. 

Benjamin Yonghao Wu, 32, was also disqualified from driving for 18 months after admitting two charges of reckless driving causing injury.

The foreign driver had rented a vehicle and was partway through a Lord of the Rings road trip with four colleagues last week when he ran a stop sign on the outskirts of Christchurch, at the intersection of Weedons Ross Rd and Maddisons Rd.

The Toyota ran directly into the path of a 4WD towing a horse float, which had been obscured from view by a shelterbelt and had no option but to plough into the side of the car at around 80km/h.

Two of the Singapore Airlines staff received serious injuries and had to be cut from the vehicle before being rushed into emergency surgery.

Chief steward Chew Weng Wai suffered significant brain injuries and internal bleeding, while steward Vanessa Leonara Savio Coehlo fractured her arm and shattered her pelvis, also injuring her spleen and bladder.

The two other passengers were unhurt and have since returned home.

Appearing before the Christchurch District Court for sentencing today, Wu stood with his head bowed and nodded periodically as Judge Stephen O'Driscoll imposed the penalty.

Wu's lawyer, Kerry Cook, told of the court of his client's "incredible remorse", saying he had apologized to the victims and their families for the "tragic unintended consequences".

The pilot was unfamiliar with the roads and saw the stop sign too late, he said. In a split second, he decided not to brake heavily to avoid discomfort for his passengers, and entered the intersection.

"This is an unintentional error at the lower end with unforeseen and significant consequences," Mr Cook said. "He is significantly upset and distraught at the harm [he has caused]."

Mr Cook said Wu had already paid $15,000 into the court's trust account for reparations, having taken out a loan to help the victims as much as he could. He had also admitted his wrongdoing at an early stage, admitting his guilt to emergency services as he helped others at the scene.

Judge O'Driscoll said both victims had months of rehabilitation ahead and would bear scars "for a long time".

"You were not concentrating on the road signs and it was a lapse of concentration on your part that has consequences for those in your car," he said.

"Whatever the reason [for the lapse], you did not keep the high degree of vigilance that is necessary for all motorists on our roads.

"You failed to obey a simple road rule and that is to stop at a compulsory stop."

Mr Cook confirmed Wu would be pay the remaining $5000 reparation as soon possible, on top of the $15000 already paid into the court trust.

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FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to Discuss Future of U.S. Aviation October 17 at UC Riverside, California

RIVERSIDE, Calif. –   The seminar series also includes a 41st Congressional District Forum and a lecture by Jurupa Valley’s city manager.

All events are free and open to the public.

Huerta, a UC Riverside alumnus, will discuss “The Future of Aviation in the United States” on Friday, Oct. 17, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Genomics Auditorium. Parking in Lot 6 is free. A reception will precede the seminar at 4:30 p.m. Reservations are requested as seating is limited and may be made here.

In addition to discussing the challenges facing aviation in the U.S., Huerta will talk to students about experiences that helped shaped his career and the need for students to learn to build coalitions and collaborate across the political spectrum to solve the challenges facing government.

As FAA administrator, Huerta is responsible for the safety and efficiency of the largest aerospace system in the world, overseeing a budget of nearly $16 billion and more than 45,000 employees. He was nominated by President Barack Obama in March 2012 to lead the FAA and was sworn in Jan. 7, 2013. Previously, Huerta served as the FAA’s deputy administrator from 2010 to 2011.

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Judge to consider city’s lawsuit against Charlotte Douglas International Airport (KCLT) Commission

A judge will consider arguments from the city of Charlotte and the state Friday about who should run Charlotte Douglas International Airport, in what could be the most decisive hearing to date. But a final decision is likely still months or more away.

The dispute over who should be in charge of the nation’s eighth-busiest airport has stretched on for more than a year. The legislature created the Charlotte Airport Commission in July 2013 to take control of Charlotte Douglas, which had been overseen by City Council. The city sued to block the group, and a judge issued a temporary injunction blocking the commission from taking control.

The commission has been under that injunction ever since, while City Council remains in control of Charlotte Douglas. Friday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin is scheduled to consider a motion by the state to dismiss the city’s lawsuit. He’ll also consider a motion by the city to declare the commission unconstitutional, because, according to the city, it usurps the Federal Aviation Administration’s power to issue airport operating certificates.

Ervin doesn’t have to rule immediately, and could take both sides’ arguments under advisement and issue a ruling at a later date. But whichever way he rules, the losing side is likely to appeal, dragging the case out for many more months.

At a previous hearing almost a year ago, Ervin said he was reluctant to rule on whether the city or the commission should run the airport. Instead, the judge said the FAA needs to make that decision – and as a state judge, his ruling wouldn’t have an effect on the federal agency.

“Normally, when I issue a ruling, I’m binding somebody,” Ervin said last year. “You’re asking me to issue a legal opinion to someone who’s not even in the courtroom. … It’s just a piece of paper someone can send or fax to the FAA and say, ‘Here’s what this judge thinks.’”

At the same time, the FAA hasn’t shown any signs of moving quickly to resolve the dispute. Last month, the federal agency said it hasn’t begun looking into the question. In a sign of how convoluted the whole dispute has become, the FAA said it won’t examine the commission’s reques until the city – which is trying to keep control of the airport – asks it to do so. The FAA also said it was awaiting the resolution of the legal dispute around the commission.

In a contentious meeting last month, the 13-member commission couldn’t reach a decision on what to tell its lawyers to do in the lawsuit. As a consequence, the commission didn’t file a brief on its behalf and isn’t expected to fight vigorously for itself at this hearing. The N.C. Attorney General’s office is arguing on the commission’s behalf.

Though the commission has met a half-dozen times, the group has been mostly restricted to discussing the airport and familiarizing itself with Charlotte Douglas. The commission has also faced persistent questions about whether its members are really committed to seeing the group take control of Charlotte Douglas.

Legal bills have continued to climb. The city’s tab from outside counsel hired to help with the lawsuit have topped $552,600, and the commission’s bills are approximately $500,000, according to a person with knowledge of the fees.

- Source:

AirNet receiver seeking to sell Snow Aviation’s still-moribund C-130

As 2011 ended, Snow Aviation International Inc. made a court-ordered deadline to move its experimental Lockheed C-130 Hercules from a hangar at Rickenbacker International Airport with just hours to spare.

The Herk was towed to neighboring cargo flyer AirNet Systems Inc. in what was described as a temporary arrangement until a new propeller would make it flyable.

Founder and CEO Harry Snow Jr. told me then that he would work with his main investor and creditor in Cleveland, Moxahela Aviation LLC, to rejuvenate the business that never made a sale after promising some 500 jobs in 2001.

“Talk to me in the second week of January (2012),” he said.

Three years later, the plane is still sitting there on AirNet’s ramp at Rickenbacker, uncovered and exposed the elements.

“It has not moved one inch since 4 p.m., Dec. 31, 2011,” said Rich Kruse, who was the court-appointed receiver when Snow Aviation was evicted from Rickenbacker.

Now AirNet itself is in receivership, and its Georgia-based receiver filed a foreclosure lawsuit Tuesday on Snow’s C-130, seeking $997,000 in unpaid storage fees that continue to rack up at the rate of $1,000 a day.

Moxahela, a Cleveland investment firm, had paid $14,000 to AirNet under a lease agreement saying it would store the plane no more than two weeks. Moxahela owner Joseph Gorman died in 2013. I could not find a current telephone listing for Snow, of Gahanna, but sent an email seeking comment.

AirNet, a cargo operator that struggled since its main customer source dried up, has been operated by a court-appointed receiver since February. AirNet’s receiver is asking Franklin County Common Pleas Court to grant it possession of aircraft so it can sell it if necessary to apply proceeds to the unpaid lease.

“Because it’s an experimental aircraft, the buyer pool is much smaller,” said Columbus attorney Jerry Peer Jr., who filed the action on behalf of the receiver. He had represented Kruse in Snow’s eviction case.

It’s more likely the plane will be dismantled and sold for parts and scrap, he said.

Snow’s entire mission had been to extend the life of C-130s by retrofitting them, so the military could avoid scrapping old planes and buying new.

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Cargo Planes for Afghan Air Force to Be Scrapped: Fleet of Unusable Transport Planes Costing $486 Million Sold to Recycler for $32,000

The Wall Street Journal
By Nathan Hodge

Oct. 9, 2014 9:05 a.m. ET

KABUL—The U.S. military is disposing of an embarrassing eyesore—a fleet of cargo planes that were sitting idle at Kabul International Airport—as American troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

In December 2012, the U.S. Air Force scrapped plans to buy a fleet of 20 transport planes for the Afghan military after acknowledging that the 16 refurbished planes delivered to the Afghan military weren’t in flying condition. The issue was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

According the Pentagon’s Afghan watchdog, those 16 planes are now being cut up for scrap.

The planes, which originally cost $486 million, were now being sold to a recycler for six cents a pound, or $32,000, said Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko in letters to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Air Force Secretary Deborah James dated Oct. 3.

“It has come to my attention that the sixteen G222s at Kabul were recently towed to the far side of the airport and scrapped by the [U.S.] Defense Logistics Agency,” Mr. Sopko wrote the Air Force secretary. “I was also informed that an Afghan construction company paid approximately 6 cents a pound for the scrapped planes, which came to a total of $32,000.”

Mr. Sopko added: “I am concerned that the officials responsible for planning and executing the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars.”

At issue is a fleet of Italian-built C-27A cargo planes that were procured for the Afghan Air Force, which has a shortage of air-lifters to haul troops and equipment. The Afghans began receiving the twin-engine aircraft, also known as the G222, in 2009, but the planes were grounded for several months in 2012 because of a lack of adequate maintenance and spare parts.

The U.S. Air Force said it had spent a total of $596 million on the G222 program, including the cost of maintaining them in Afghanistan. Since the cancellation of the program, the 16 planes delivered to the Afghans had been parked on a tarmac near the main terminal at the country’s primary international airport, a visible reminder of a botched procurement.

“The G222 fleet was unable to fulfill mission needs, a decision was made to discontinue the program in December 2012, and the contract was allowed to expire in March 2013,” said Marine Corps Maj. Brad Avots, a Defense Department spokesman. “The Department of Defense recently completed disposal of aircraft located in Kabul, Afghanistan to minimize impact on drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.”

The U.S. and its allies are withdrawing combat troops by the end of this year, although the Obama administration plans to keep a residual force of just under 10,000 American troops to conduct training and counterterrorism missions. One of the primary training missions for the U.S. and its allies after 2014 will be building up the Afghan Air Force.

Left uncertain is what the U.S. military plans to do with the remaining C-27A airframes. Maj. Avots said the Pentagon was considering ways to dispose of the other four aircraft, including looking for other outside customers.

“Working in a wartime environment such as Afghanistan brings with it many challenges, and we continually seek to improve our processes,” he said. “We also are focused on building the capability and capacity of our Afghan partners to improve accountability and help instill sound financial management practices in daily operations while reducing the risk of fraud, waste and abuse.”

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PEOPLExpress: We're getting a third aircraft but still need more before we fly again

It's going to take a little longer for PeoplExpress to return to the skies.

The startup airline, which served Pittsburgh International Airport, reported progress on resuming service but said it couldn't say exactly when and it wouldn't be Oct. 16 as it said after announcing a temporary shutdown. The airline's two Boeing 737s have been out of service, one for engine trouble and the other after a truck struck it on the ground.

"A number of steps need to be achieved before we can resume service, among them some regulatory approvals," said CEO Jeff Erickson in a prepared statement released Thursday afternoon.

PeoplExpress said it had what it called a tentative agreement to get another aircraft, which would be used as a spare. It also asked the U.S. Department of Transportation for permission to be able to add aircraft from other companies, which is causing delays.

"Since we cannot open reservations until we receive government approvals we therefore cannot commit to our previously announced date to resume service," Erickson said.

Passengers with reservations on canceled flights will have their money returned. It wasn't clear how many of the passengers were from Pittsburgh International Airport, where the service began June 30.

"While our resumption is later than we had anticipated and hoped for, with this approach we will be able to restore a full schedule with exceptional operational integrity, supported by an adequate number of aircraft and crew members," Erickson said.

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Plane Cabin Cleaners Strike Over Ebola at La Guardia Airport (KLGA) • Prompted by the Recent Ebola Scares, About 200 Workers Say They Are Concerned About Unsafe Working Conditions

The Wall Street Journal
By Joe Jackson, Melanie Trottman And  Andrew Tangel

Updated Oct. 9, 2014 12:29 p.m. ET

Prompted by recent Ebola scares, about 200 cabin cleaners at New York’s La Guardia Airport have walked off the job over what they say are safety concerns.

The protesting workers are employed by Air Serv, which contracts with Delta to clean airplane cabins and bathrooms, and organizers predict the strike will last 24 hours.

Air Serv didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. A Delta spokeswoman expressed support for its contractors, saying in a statement: “We are confident our contractors are focused on providing a safe, lawful and appropriate work environment for their employees.”

Marching outside of Terminal D, the workers walked out Wednesday night around 10 p.m., organizers said. The demonstration is being organized by 32BJ Service Employees International Union, which the workers voted to join earlier this year.

Organizers said the protest is part of a long-running fight for better working conditions that had been brought to the forefront by the Ebola scare. The workers, who clean garbage and human waste from the planes, say they are not given adequate protection.

The protest comes a day after federal officials announced that the U.S. plans to start checking the temperatures of passengers arriving at five airports including New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport and Newark Liberty International in Newark, N.J.

The workers, who don’t deal with international flights, acknowledged that their concerns predate the Ebola scare. Rob Hill, vice president of 32BJ, said, “The issues happened way before Ebola, but it’s now come to a head.”

While JFK receives direct flights from countries in western Africa, there are none to La Guardia, according to Mark Duell, vice president for operations at FlightAware, a flight tracking service.

La Guardia is largely a domestic airport, save for flights to and from Canada, Mr. Duell said. There are no nonstop airline flights between Africa or Europe and the airport, he said.

The strike didn't appear to cause any delays at La Guardia or the two other major New York City airports as of late Thursday morning, Mr. Duell said.

“Everything looks normal,” he said.

Meanwhile, the SEIU, which represents thousands of airport workers across the country and would like to represent more, was conducting its own infectious disease awareness training Thursday for airport cleaners, terminal cleaners and wheelchair attendants at the Clarion Hotel across from La Guardia.

The training covered current guidance from the CDC, the World Health Organization and the International Air Transport Association, the union said.

The union said it is concerned that many airport workers are vulnerable to the threat of Ebola because they’re hired by multiple contractors and are part of a patchwork system that the union says has no centralized way to train them.

The union said contractors are mainly responsible for training the workers but said airlines should also be accountable. The training isn’t happening as it should be, the union said, citing what it said it has heard from workers at the three major airports in the New York area.

“There’s clearly a need from our review for this training and it needs to happen now,” Mark Catlin, the union’s occupational health and safety director, said during an SEIU conference call for reporters Wednesday.

“What we’re hearing is that workers are not aware of this additional gear” that the Centers for Disease Control is recommending for them, Mr. Catlin said. “We’re not going to do the comprehensive training that these airport workers need” but “we want to show them the CDC guidance and what this new protective gear looks like” and how to use it to avoid contamination to themselves or others, he said.

One of the workers planning to attend Thursday’s training is Alberto Grant Jr., a contracted building cleaner who said he works in John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 8.

“We do need the training because on the job the only thing they told us yesterday was that we wash our hands, use gloves and masks,” Mr. Grant said during the SEIU conference call. He said he comes into contact with bodily waste while cleaning bathrooms and runs into blood pathogens while he’s on the job. The equipment his contractor is providing has remained the same and seems inadequate now, he said, including “cheap gloves.”

When asked about how the CDC’s new guidance was being shared with airport workers, Mr. Grant said, “word-of-mouth.” He said he talked to some cabin cleaners who hadn’t been trained by their contractor and didn’t really know about the guidance. “The co-workers I work with, they don’t really watch the news” or read the newspapers, he said.

In a basement conference room at the hotel Thursday, medical volunteers demonstrated how to remove latex gloves to avoid contamination and other useful safety techniques.

Mark Collazo, 45, a respiratory therapist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan brought in by the union, said he was there to give insight on avoiding contamination to Spanish speakers.

“They told me ‘Wow this is very insightful,’” he said.

Striking worker Michael Carey, 47, of Hackensack, N.J., who does interior security checks on Delta planes, said the session was useful. He said he doesn’t get gloves to conduct checks unless he specifically asks for them.

“Being here today has heightened my awareness,” he said. “Tomorrow I’m going to advocate wearing gloves.”

Joel Castillo, 23 years old, of Far Rockaway, who usually works an afternoon shift, said he would not work Thursday. “We’re protesting because we don’t have adequate protection,” he said.

He said sometimes airplane equipment can malfunction, exposing staffers to human waste, and said workers were requesting body suits and durable gloves. He says the current gloves provided are “like paper; they rip easily.”

“If it wasn’t for Ebola, we’d still be striking. But we have heightened concerns because of it,” Mr. Castillo said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates New York City-area airports, said Thursday that although the workers weren't its employees, the airlines and other companies that employ them are required to meet all applicable federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations in addition to terms of their leases with the agency.

The Global Gateway Alliance, an advocacy group for the city’s airports, didn't directly weigh in on the cabin cleaners’ strike.

But Joseph Sitt, the group’s chairman and founder, said, “in addition to health screenings for passengers, we need to take steps to protect the health and safety of workers and those who rely on the airport as well.”


Air Racing


  • Three years after a deadly crash, experts say air racing is safer and poised for growth
  • Air racing has been around since the early 20th century, but few people have seen one
  • Top U.S. air races include the Reno National Championship Air Races
  • Red Bull's air races include events around the world -- two in the U.S.

(CNN) -- Look out NASCAR, one of the world's fastest motor sports wants to steal your fans.

We're talking about air racing, where powerful, small planes compete on a looped path in the air, reaching speeds between 200-500 mph.

This thrilling sport is just as fast as NASCAR, IndyCars and Formula One. But with the added vertical dimension, the action seriously amps up.

In Hollywood terms, it's Top Gun-meets-Days of Thunder-meets-Star Wars. It's not quite the "podracers" that raced in "The Phantom Menace," but it's pretty intense.

Picture these planes streaking across the landscape at only 80 feet above the ground. That's about the same height as a seven-story building.

Dangerous? Perhaps. Some people might go one step further and call it nuts.

This ain't new. It's been going on since France hosted the first air race in 1909. In the United States, races started a year later and gained momentum in the 1920s, drawing pilots, thrill seekers and aviation enthusiasts.

Three years ago, a deadly plane crash at the Reno National Championship Air Races raised new safety questions about the sport. Now, insiders say these events are safer and poised for growth.

This weekend, some of the world's best air racers are competing in an international air race series sponsored by Red Bull at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a few miles north of the Strip.

In Red Bull's version of air racing, planes rocket around a loop one at a time. The pilot who can complete the course in the least amount of time wins. Red Bull is holding races this year in Europe, Asia, America and the Middle East.

It's "very analogous to dogfighting," says race director Jimmy DiMatteo, referring to the deadly midair combat ballet between two fighter planes. "It's the exact same skill set."

DiMatteo knows what he's talking about. He's a retired captain and former instructor at the Navy's famous fighter pilot school, unofficially known as Top Gun. And it shows -- right down to the way he talks. This former F-14 Tomcat driver loves to talk about "angle of attack," "proficiency level" and "pulling Gs."

It is those G forces that are so important to surviving this sport. When these planes make breathtaking turns, they're being radically pulled and pushed in ways that can challenge the structure of the aircraft and the health of the pilot.

Some pilots report pulling as many as 10Gs during races, equivalent to 10 times the force of gravity.

The pilots are "flying extremely aggressive, in very tight locations," DiMatteo says. For most sports fans, "It's not something you've ever seen before."

The planes fly so low that spectators who sit in the grandstand nosebleed seats will actually be able to look DOWN on the planes as they shoot by.

The course includes inflatable, 82-foot pylons.

Pilots are supposed to fly between these pylons. They're not supposed to hit them.

But sometimes -- traveling at 230 mph -- it happens.

"When you hit them under a humongous amount of Gs, then it can be a little bit exciting," says pilot Kirby Chambliss. "Basically you slice through, like a hot knife through butter. Just, BOOM -- and you're through it."

The pilots are racing against time, but it's hard to keep an eye on the clock while you're twisting and turning through the gates. Chambliss says his Zivko Edge 540 aircraft doesn't have any kind of special "head-up" display in front of the windshield that would let him keep his eyes forward while watching his time.

Widely described as one of the world's greatest stunt pilots and racing aviators, Chambliss won Red Bull's Air Race championship in 2004 and 2006. Flying comes so naturally to this guy that he says he feels like his plane's "wings are nothing but an extension of my arms."

The key to winning, pilots say, is pulling through the turns fast -- but not so fast that you lose speed. It's a delicate balance that DiMatteo says good fighter pilots share with champion air racers.

Nonetheless, that doesn't mean you have to be an ex-fighter jockey to excel. Chambliss has never flown in the military. He graduated to air racing after piloting Boeing 737s for Southwest Airlines. Before that, "I loved motocross as a kid," Chambliss said. "I was always a speed junky."

The Red Bull series launched in 2003, but by the end of the decade rising speeds and scary aerobatics were making race organizers nervous. So, beginning in 2011, they put the series on pause to regroup. This year it's back with new safety restrictions limiting how low pilots can fly and banning certain trick maneuvers.

The rules surrounding air races differ. In the United States, one of the oldest events is the national championship in Reno, where multiple planes race each other around a circuit. The first pilot across the finish line wins.

The 2011 crash at Reno raised serious questions about safety.

During a six-lap race, a modified World War II-era P-51 Mustang flying at about 500 mph went out of control and collided with an airport ramp in the spectator seating area. The pilot and 10 people were killed and 64 others were hurt. Investigators blamed "deteriorated" parts that contributed to fatigue cracks that led to the crash.

The tragedy led to new Federal Aviation Administration rules requiring all air racing organizations to go through a standardized safety accreditation process. "They check the capability, skill set and training of the pilots," says DiMatteo. They also monitor aircraft maintenance and the mechanics who work on the planes. "They really look at the full scope of your operation."

The 2011 Reno crash was believed to be the first in the 50-year history of the event to kill spectators. Last month, during a Reno qualifying race, a former champion was killed when his experimental Backovich GP-5 aircraft crashed, away from spectator seating, bringing the total deaths at Reno events to 20 since the races began in 1964.

Red Bull boasts zero deaths in the 11 years since the series began, and only one pilot injury from a crash into a river during an Australian practice run in 2010.

"Our record shows that we've been doing a good job -- knock on wood," DiMatteo says. "It's actually safer than some of these other sports that are out there."

A newcomer to the sport might assume racing with other planes -- as they do in Reno -- would be more dangerous than racing one at a time. Not necessarily, says John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows, an industry trade organization.

"I wouldn't say one is inherently safer than the other," Cudahy says. "They each have a different set of safety challenges and they've addressed them for the most part pretty successfully. The Reno planes are in some cases older ... but the Red Bull pilots participate in pretty aggressive aerobatics."

Its strongest supporters believe American air racing can one day rival the popularity of NASCAR.

Last year's NASCAR Sprint Series drew nearly 70 million unique TV viewers in the United States, according to NASCAR.

In 2009, the Red Bull Air Race was televised in more than 180 countries, reaching more than 300 million viewers, Red Bull says, although it's unclear how many viewers actually watched.

The potential for growth is there, says Chambliss.

"I think in this country we love racing," he says. "Some people wonder if the sport is easy enough to understand. But it's still a race. And the one thing we do understand is, the fastest ... is going to win."

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