Friday, October 24, 2014

Australian pilots detained by Indonesia expected to be freed on Saturday: Two Australians at the center of an airspace drama in Indonesia have paid a fine and are awaiting final clearance to leave

Indonesian air force officers check the small Australian plane and its pilots Graeme Jackline and Richard MacLean. 
Photograph: Sijori Images/AAP 

 Indonesian air force members with Australians Richard MacLean and Graeme Jackline after they were forced to land their small 1966 Beechcraft twin-engine plane in Manado, Sulawesi.
 Photograph: Ronny Adolof Buol/AAP

Two Indonesian air force jets intercepted the small plane piloted by Graeme Jackline and Richard MacLean on Wednesday morning, forcing it to land in Manado, Sulawesi, for airspace violations.

One of the air force pilots has revealed he had his weapon “locked on” the plane when it refused to land for several hours.

On landing at Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado, armed air force officers swarmed the aircraft and frisked the two Australians.

Indonesian authorities say they didn’t have the correct documents and they have agreed to pay a Rp60 million ($5670) fine.

The Sam Ratulangi airport commander, Hesly Paath, said all the necessary paperwork would have been completed on Friday.

“We’re now only waiting for flight approval,” he told reporters on Friday. “Tomorrow they will be able to fly again, I think.”

An airport spokesman, Syaifullah Siregar, said that the men had paid their fine.

“It’s lucky that they brought cash, too, so they could pay it immediately,” he said. “Both men are well.”

Although their first moments in Indonesia were tense, the men have since been photographed looking happy, posing for photos with air force personnel in the dorm they have been staying in.

The Australians were on a delivery job, taking a small 1966 Beechcraft twin-engine plane from Darwin to Cebu in the Philippines.


Winston Walker, Thunder Mustang, Air Walker LLC, N244SW: Accident occurred October 24, 2014 in Globe, Arizona

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Factual Report:

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Docket And Docket Items:

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA020
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 24, 2014 in Globe, AZ
Aircraft: WINSTON W WALKER THUNDER MUSTANG, registration: N244SW
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 October 24, 2014, about 0800 mountain standard time, an experimental amateur-built Winston W. Walker Thunder Mustang airplane, N244SW, was substantially damaged after colliding with terrain while attempting to make a forced landing following a loss of engine power about five nautical miles (nm) north of Globe, Arizona. The commercial pilot/owner, who was the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries. The airplane was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight departed La Cholla Airpark (57AZ), Tucson, Arizona, about 0700.

In a statement provided to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot reported that the purpose of the flight was to practice instrument approaches. The pilot stated that after making the GPS 27 approach to San Carlos Apache Airport (P13), Globe, Arizona, he made a low approach, which was followed by executing the published miss approach procedure, and then leveling off at 6,500 ft mean sea level (msl). The pilot reported that shortly thereafter he felt a power reduction, as if the throttle was pulled all the way back; he then read the rpm gage indication of 0. The pilot opined that not being able to maintain altitude sufficient to make it to the nearest airport, which was about 13 nm to the southeast, he elected to land in what he termed "the least unfriendly ground." The pilot reported that on short final he was forced to fly under some wires, during which the landing gear touched the road and impacted a guard rail as the right wingtip collided with a telephone pole. The pilot stated that the airplane landed in brush-covered terrain, and seemed to stop immediately, coming to rest upright. The pilot added that the engine stopped [in flight] with no advance indications, aural warnings, or panel warning signs.

Information provided to the NTSB IIC by a Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspector, revealed that the airplane came to rest upright on an easterly heading in a dry river bed, covered by scrub brush. There was no postcrash fire. The airplane was recovered to a secured storage facility for further examination.


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He reported that he had accumulated a total of 5,089 hours of flight time, including 353 hours in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent flight review was completed on October 7, 2014, and his most recent FAA third-class airman medical certificate was issued on August 4, 2014.


The airplane, serial number GITM025, was a kit-built, scale model version of the WWII North American P-51 fighter. Construction of the airplane was completed in 2008.

The fuselage was constructed primarily of composite-type material. Conventional flight controls were actuated by pushrods directly linked to the cockpit controls for the elevator and ailerons, and by cables for the rudder.

The airplane was equipped with a custom-designed 12 cylinder Falconer V-12 engine (serial number RFI 12018). The engine, which produced 640 horsepower, had accumulated a total time of 352.6 hours, with 190.4 since its most recent overhaul, and 14.6 hours since its most recent conditional inspection.

Most engine accessories were mounted on or near the aft face of the engine, and were driven by three one-inch wide serpentine belts. Additionally, the engine was equipped with two MoTec brand M-48 engine control units (ECU), and an Electronic Data Monitor (EDM) MVP-50. A detailed description of each unit is presented in the Test and Research section of this report.

During a postaccident examination of the engine's maintenance records, it was revealed that on December 16, 2009, at an engine total time in service of 149.3 hours, the logbook entry stated, "11/22, flight showed rough engine, #11 cylinder went cold. All fuel and electrical tested good. #11 exhaust valve pushrod was worn and came loose. Replace pushrod with factory new "long" pushrod. Checked oil filter and chip detector. Showed no metal. Runup check good. Return to service." The entry was signed off by the pilot/owner. The next engine logbook entry occurred on January 9, 2010, at a total time in service of 153.4 hours, which noted the replacement of a seal on the hydraulic pump, and a test run with no leaks noted.

In a statement submitted to the NTSB IIC on January 3, 2016, the pilot/owner/builder of the accident airplane reported that on January 14, 2010, during a local flight the #12 cylinder went cold. It was discovered that a roller lifter on the cylinder had rotated in its bore and made a deep groove in the camshaft, which had resulted in the rocker arm and push rod to separate on the cylinder. The pilot stated that at this time he grounded the airplane for repairs, and with the assistance of an airframe and powerplant mechanic, removed the engine and accessories, and transported the engine to a local marine shop to be repaired. The pilot further stated that on July 30, 2010, he retrieved the repaired engine up from the marine shop and transported it back to his personal hangar for installation. The pilot opined that over the next couple of months he reinstalled the accessories on the back of the engine, including the pulley that had failed on the date of the accident flight, October 24, 2014 . The pilot reported that he carefully followed the engine manufacturer's repair manual in all aspects, including a proper torquing of the three bolts holding the pulley on, as well as the application of Loctite per the maintenance repair manual. The pilot stated, "I have the proper experience and tools, including torque wrenches to perform the work, and the torque wrenches were accurately calibrated." The pilot added that all of the appropriate work was completed on October 19, 2010, after which he returned the airplane to service.


At 0751, the automated weather observation facility at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA), Phoenix, Arizona, which is located about 42 nm west-southwest of the accident site, reported wind calm, visibility 45 miles, sky clear, temperature 19° C, dew point 10° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.08 inches of mercury.


A postaccident examination of the airplane's engine was performed on October 7, 2015, at the facilities of Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona. The examination was attended by representatives from the NTSB, FAA, and the engine manufacturer, Ryan Falconer Industries.

As a result of the examination, it was revealed that one of the 3 bolts that secures the main crank drive pulley to the associated damper was observed to have separated from the pulley; the bolt was not recovered during the examination. Additionally, the 2 bolts that remained in the main crank drive pulley were loose. Subsequent to the removal of the bolts from the pulley, a visual inspection revealed a lack of "Loctite," a substance, which according to the repair manual, is to be applied to each bolt prior to reassembly of the pulley. The representative for the engine manufacturer stated during the examination that the overhaul manual for the engine specifically denotes that the proper installation of the pulley would have included the application of "Loctite" and the torqueing of each bolt to 35 foot pounds of pressure.

According to the engine manufacturer's representative, the examination also revealed that signatures on the main crank pulley's reluctor teeth (7) were indicative of having made contact with the idler pulley, which then would have resulted in the idler arm having separated from the pulley. The representative added that this would have resulted in 2 accessory belts becoming unsecure, which would have further resulted in both crank sensor plugs becoming dislodged. The dislodged crank sensor plugs would have then interrupted the ignition source and resulted in the complete engine stoppage; both sensor plugs were observed dislodged during the examination.

The detailed examination of the engine also revealed that when all 12 cylinders were examined, there was no indication that any of the pistons had collided with their associated valves. Additionally, all push rods were intact with no anomalies noted.

All 12 spark plugs, exclusive of the #5 plug, were removed and visually examined. The majority were observed to be wet and corroded to a moderate extent. The engine representative opined that this condition was consistent with the engine having been contaminated by first responders spraying the airplane down with a liquid material, as well as the fact that the airplane had been stored outside in a salvage yard for almost a year after the accident had occurred.

All 12 fuel injectors were removed and visually inspected. Each was observed to be clear of any foreign material, with no anomalies noted.

The 3 accessory drive belts were accounted for during the examination. Each was observed not to have been compromised in any manner that would have precluded normal operation.


Main Crank Drive Pulley and Securing Bolts

Subsequent to the examination of the engine, the main crank drive pulley, with 2 of the 3 recovered securing bolts, was sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C., for examination by a Senior NTSB metallurgist. As a result of the examination the metallurgist reported the following:

Visual examinations found that the pulley was intact, but the attaching holes were damaged. As referenced in the Materials Laboratory Factual Report, Report No. 16-041, which is appended to this report, for identification purposes, the holes were arbitrarily labeled "A", "B" and "C".

Hole "A" was least damaged with slight ovalization and light thread marks on the hole bore. The bolt head contact area had a contact pattern with minor material displacement. Holes "B" and "C" showed significant damage, including significant material removal from the bolt head contact surfaces, and large ovalization of the hole diameters. Both faces of the holes are displayed in figures 3, 4 and 5 of the appended report.

The pulley's inner diameter wall adjacent to holes "B" and "C" also showed marks consistent with bolt head contact, as shown in figure 6 of the appended report. The position of the marks was as if the bolts were only partially threaded into the crankshaft flange.

The two received bolts were intact. The bolt threads were not damaged but had aluminum material trapped in several of the thread roots. The sides of the bolt heads were locally polished, which was consistent with the previously noted contact marks on the inner wall of the pulley. The washer faces under the bolt heads were also heavily polished, indicative of relative motion with the mating pulley surfaces.

The torquing specifications indicate that the bolts were to be torqued with "Loctite 242" thread locking compound. "Loctite 242" is a blue compound when wet and when dried. No material similar to this was visually apparent in the bolt threads. Further, Fourier Transform Infra-Red Spectrography spectra of material in the thread was not similar to the spectra of locally procured "Loctite 242".

In addition to the attachment hole damage, the pilot shaft on the engine side of the pulley was worn unevenly and deformed. The pilot shaft was also partially displaced from the pulley, as if the pulley was tilted relative to the shaft. Deformation of the pilot shaft was also consistent with the tilting.

Onboard Electronic Devices

During the postaccident investigation of the airplane, three onboard electronic devices were recovered: 1 Electronics International MVP-50 electronic engine data monitor (EDM), and 2 MoTec M48 Engine Control Units, "A" and "B". Each of the three components was shipped to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, D.C., for examination and download of any non-volatile memory (NVM) data. An NTSB Vehicle Recorder Specialist who examined the units reported the following:

Electronic Data Monitor (EDM) MVP-50

The EDM records parameters related to engine operations, including Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT), Cylinder Head Temperature (CHT), Oil Pressure and Temperature, Manifold Pressure, Outside Air Temperature, Engines Revolution Per Minute, Fuel Flow, Fuel Levels, and Battery Voltage and Amperage. The unit was received with minimal damage observed. The internal CF card that contains the NVM was located, removed, and read out. The EDM recorded the entire flight from 6:55:00 to 7:44:45 on October 24, 2014. The EDM recorded a sharp drop in oil pressure at 7:43:06, from 68 to 0 psi over 3 seconds.

MoTec M48 ECUs

The ECU's primary function is to control engine fuel injection and ignition timing for up to eight engine cylinders. In addition to its primary function, the ECU contains a data logging feature that captures engine parameters and internal ECU faults. The accident airplane was equipped with two MoTec M48 ECUs, each installed in such a way that one ECU controlled the left bank of cylinders, and the other controlled the right bank of cylinders. The left and right sides are designated respectively as "A" and "B", and are installed to operate independently of each other, in that data logged by the respective ECU pertains only to that unit and the portion of the engine it controls. Exclusive to ECU "A" is the oil pressure signal. Recorded data for ECU "A" ended at 7:43:00, with recorded data for ECU "B" ending 3 seconds following the end of ECU "A". (Refer to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Specialist's Factual Report, which is appended to the docket for this accident.)

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA020
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 24, 2014 in Globe, AZ
Aircraft: WINSTON W WALKER THUNDER MUSTANG, registration: N244SW
Injuries: 1 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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 24, 2014, about 0800 mountain standard time, a Winston Walker, Thunder Mustang experimental airplane, N244SW, was destroyed following impact with terrain while attempting to make a forced landing about five nautical miles northwest of Globe, Arizona. The certified commercial pilot/owner, who was the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries. The personal flight was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) Part 91, and not flight plan was filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which had departed Tucson, Arizona, at an undetermined time.

It was reported by first responders that the pilot stated that he had experienced an oil pressure issue, which necessitated an off-airport emergency descent and forced landing.

According to the aircraft recovery team, the airplane initially impacted a telephone pole on an easterly heading with its right wing, cartwheeled, and then came to rest in a dry lake bed. The estimated distance of the debris path from the first point of impact to where the airplane came to rest was about 300 feet. There was no post impact fire.

The airplane was recovered for further examination.

Federal Aviation Administration  Flight Standards District Office: FAA Scottsdale FSDO-07

Three men who pulled the pilot out of the plane and called for help. 

PHOENIX (CBS5) - The pilot of a replica vintage World War II plane was hospitalized after his plane crashed northwest of Globe on Friday morning.

The pilot, identified as Skip Walker from Tucson, was the only person on board, Gila County Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd said. Walker suffered facial injuries and was flown to the University of Arizona Medical Center, Gila County sheriff's Lt. Keith Thompson said.

The Thunder Mustang, a replica of the P-51 Mustang, was destroyed after the pilot was forced to set it down after it lost oil pressure, Thompson said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.

The plane went down in an area near U.S. Highway 60 and the Globe-Young Highway, a Globe Fire Department spokesman said.

The plane was headed to the Copperstate Fly-In in Casa Grande.



GLOBE, Ariz. -- Authorities are investigating a plane crash that happened Friday morning near Globe. 

 The Thunder Mustang lost oil pressure and the pilot had to crash-land north of Highway 188, according to Lt. Keith Thompson with the Gila County Sheriff's Office.

The single-engine aircraft was a total loss.

The pilot was the only person on board. Thompson said he sustained injuries to his face and was flown to University Medical Center in Tucson.

The plane was en route to the Copperstate Fly-in & Aviation Expo in Casa Grande.

Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.

Slingsby T67M-260 Firefly, N456FR, registered to L'Avion, Inc. operated by National Test Pilot School: Fatal accident occurred October 24, 2014 in Ridgecrest, Kern County, California

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California 
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 
Flight Research Inc.; Mojave,  California 
National Test Pilot School; Mojave,  California 

Aviation Accident Factual Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Registered to L'Avion, Inc., Mojave, California 
Operated by the National Test Pilot School (NTPS)

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA021 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 24, 2014 in Ridgecrest, CA
Aircraft: SLINGSBY T67M 260, registration: N456FR
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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


On October 24, 2014, about 0900 Pacific daylight time, a Slingsby T67M-260, N456FR, impacted terrain near Ridgecrest, California. The flight instructor and student were fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to L'Avion, Inc., Mojave, California, and was being operated by the National Test Pilot School (NTPS) as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed near the accident site about the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from Mojave Airport, Mojave, California, about 0832.

NTPS representatives provided information to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) that indicated that the flight was part of the Flight Test Engineer Training Program, which includes the Basic Flight Awareness Program (BFAP). The purpose of the flight was to perform a series of stalls and spins. After air traffic controllers lost radar and radio contact with the airplane, a search was initiated, and the wreckage was subsequently located by a pilot in a company aircraft. Review of radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane was at an altitude of about 11,800 ft mean sea level (msl) before it began a spin sequence and crashed.

Another flight instructor reported that he had flown with the student 3 days before the accident in a different airplane of the same make and model. The instructor stated that the flight was BFAP Flight 9 (F9) and that the student was flying the airplane during a phase-c stall, which included a 3-second application of full left rudder and full aft control stick inputs. During the maneuver, the airplane did not recover as expected, and the instructor ordered the student to initiate recovery from a spin per the flight manual procedures. Following two more rotations and proper recovery technique by the student, the airplane continued in a left spin. The flight instructor took control of the airplane and applied spin recovery control inputs. The airplane continued to spin an additional two rotations before the instructor applied full opposite rudder and full aft stick, reinitiating the flight manual recovery procedure with the use of more forward stick inputs at a faster rate.

The instructor further reported that, following two additional revolutions, the airplane did not recover, and that he immediately applied full aft stick, full opposite aileron, and "slammed" the control stick full forward in an effort to recover from the spin. The instructor stated that the airplane went into an almost 90°-nose-down attitude and that he recovered about 200 ft above the minimum bailout altitude. The instructor terminated the flight and returned to the departure airport. During the return flight, the instructor noted no evidence of any flight control binding or interference.

The President of NTPS reported that, due to the instructor's difficulty recovering from the spin, the school grounded both of its T67M-260 airplanes to verify their flight control rigging. He reported that the T67M-260 that the student had flown 3 days before the accident was found to be at the maximum rigging limits. Maintenance personnel corrected the rigging, and the airplane was returned to service. He reported that the rigging on the accident airplane was found to be well within limits and that it was subsequently returned to service. He further reported that the accident airplane had been spun hundreds of times by various flight instructors and students with no issues before the accident flight. The NTPS Chief of Operations further reported that, when the accident airplane was returned to service, he had scheduled the student with the accident flight instructor, who had vast experience with spins in propeller-driven aircraft.


The flight instructor, age 68, held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multiengine land rating with commercial pilot privileges for airplane single-engine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument helicopter. The flight instructor was issued a second-class airman medical certificate on January 16, 2014, with no limitations. At the time of his most recent medical application, the flight instructor reported that he had accumulated a total flight time of 7,845 hours.

Review of the pilot's logbook with entries dated from December 5, 2012, to October 8, 2014, revealed that his most recent flight review was completed on September 10, 2013, in a Piper PA-34. Between January 1, 2014, and October 8, 2014, the flight instructor had logged a total of 160.3 flight hours, which included 49.9 hours in airplanes, 5.3 hours of which were in the accident make/model airplane, and 94.6 hours in helicopters. Within the 90 days before the accident, the flight instructor had logged 2.3 hours in the accident airplane on October 7 and 8, 2014. Per an entry dated April 15, 2014, the flight instructor flew the accident airplane for 1 hour, with "spins" noted in the comment section. It could not be determined how much total flight time the flight instructor had in the accident make/model airplane. NTPS representatives reported that the flight instructor had previous military flight experience in both fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft. As part of his military flight experience, he was a primary flight instructor in T-34C airplanes. In addition, the flight instructor had been employed with NTPS since January 2006.

The student did not hold any flight or medical certificates. However, the student was a student of the Flight Test Engineer training program, which allowed nonpilot-rated students to conduct the specified maneuvers if they felt comfortable doing so. It could not be determined how much actual flight experience the student accumulated while enrolled in the program.


The two-seat, low-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number (S/N) 2257, was manufactured in 1996. It was powered by a 260-horsepower Lycoming AEIO-540-D4A5 engine, serial number L-25838-48A, and was equipped with a three-bladed Hoffman adjustable-pitch propeller. Review of airframe and engine logbook records revealed that the most recent annual inspection was completed on August 6, 2014, at an airframe total time of 5,104.8 hours.

Using the reported weights of both occupants and full fuel, the airplane was found to be within weight-and-balance and center-of-gravity limits.


At 0855, recorded weather from a station located about 27 miles southwest of the accident site reported calm wind, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 15° C, dew point -4° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.09 inches of mercury.


Representatives of the FAA and NTSB conducted an on-scene examination of the accident site on October 24 and 25, 2014.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted open desert terrain about 12 miles south of Ridgecrest. The airplane came to rest upright oriented on a magnetic heading of about 027° at a GPS elevation of 2,345 ft msl. Wreckage debris, which included plexiglass, rudder, and portions of the engine cowling, remained within about 10 ft of the main wreckage. Vegetation, about 12 to 18 inches high and located immediately to the left and right of the aft area of the fuselage, appeared to be undamaged.

The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. The left aileron remained attached to its respective mounts. The outboard portion of the left flap was separated and located about 1 ft aft of the left wing. The inboard portion of the flap remained attached via the inboard attachment point. The right wing remained attached to the fuselage. The right aileron remained attached to its respective mounts. The outboard portion of the right flap was separated at the outboard attachment mount and remained attached to the inboard portion of the flap. The inboard portion of the flap remained attached via the inboard attachment point.

The empennage remained intact. The left and right horizontal stabilizers remained attached. The left and right elevators remained attached via their respective mounts. The trim tab remained attached via its respective mount. The rudder was separated from the vertical stabilizer at the upper hinge attachment point, and the separated portion of the rudder was located about 1 ft aft of the main wreckage. The bottom portion of the rudder, which included the rudder bellcrank, remained attached to the vertical stabilizer.

Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to all primary control surfaces. No breaks or separations were observed within the entire flight control system.

The fuselage appeared to be intact with displaced portions of the composite structure aft of the cockpit area, consistent with impact-related forces. An additional separation of the fuselage (crack) was observed immediately aft of the seats. Dirt/sand was observed on the right side of the cowling, and it was built up higher than on the wing's left side.

Documentation of the cockpit area revealed that both the left and right seat five-point restraints remained attached to the fuselage attachment points; however, all harnesses were separated from the clasp assembly. The left seat shoulder restraint metal clasp was found partially embedded in the outside portion of the fuselage.

The cabin area remained intact, and the canopy was separated. The aft canopy slide mechanism was located in an "aft" position, consistent with the canopy being in an "open" position. The canopy slide lock was found in the "unlocked" position.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination; both wings, horizontal stabilizers, and elevators were removed to facilitate transport of the wreckage. Examination of the recovered wreckage was conducted at the facilities of Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona, on December 11, 2014, by the NTSB IIC and a representative from Lycoming Engines.

No evidence of binding or restricted travel was observed. The left seat control stick was fractured at the base. The fracture surfaces exhibited signatures consistent with overload separation.

Examination of the recovered engine revealed that all engine accessories remained attached to the engine except for the right magneto, oil filter, vacuum pump, and fuel control servo. The rocker box covers, left magneto, and top spark plugs were removed. The crankshaft was rotated using a hand tool attached to one of the accessory case drive pads. Rotational continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train, and thumb compression was obtained on all six cylinders. Both the left and right magnetos were intact and produced spark on all posts when the magneto drive shafts were rotated using a hand drill.

For further information regarding the airframe and engine examination, see the NTSB Accident Site, Airframe, and Engine Examination Summary Report within the public docket for this accident.


Flight Instructor

According to the Kern County Coroner's autopsy report, the flight instructor's cause of death was "multiple blunt force trauma," and the manner of death was "accident." Examination of the body identified left ventricular hypertrophy, which is most often associated with hypertension, age, or regular, vigorous exercise. When identifiable by electrocardiogram, LVH may be associated with an increased risk for acute cardiovascular events, such as sudden cardiac death, stroke, and heart attacks. Mild focal areas of coronary artery disease were noted (not further described in the autopsy report), no significant atherosclerosis was noted, and the remainder of the heart evaluation was unremarkable. No other significant natural disease was identified.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Laboratory conducted toxicology testing of specimens from the flight instructor. The testing identified 0.013 gm/dl of ethanol in the kidney, but no ethanol was identified in the muscle tissue. After absorption, ethanol is quickly distributed throughout the body's tissues and fluids fairly uniformly. The distribution pattern parallels the water content and blood supply of each organ. Ethanol may also be produced by postmortem microbial activity in the body.


According to the Kern County Coroner's autopsy report, the student's cause of death was "multiple blunt force trauma," and the manner of death was "accident."

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Laboratory conducted toxicology tests on specimens from the student. The results were negative for carbon monoxide and volatiles and positive for salicylate in the urine.


Flight Test Procedures

Review of the BFAP F9 flight card for the accident flight revealed that 10 maneuvers were to be conducted. The first four maneuvers involved unusual attitudes and a stall series that included straight ahead, left, and right turn 1-g stalls with delayed subsequent recoveries from 1 to 3 seconds.

Maneuvers 5 through 8, which included spins, stated the following:

Maneuver 5: Right spin, three turns, flight manual recovery
Maneuver 6: Left spin, three turns, flight manual recovery
Maneuver 7: Right spin, six turns, two turns ailerons neutral, additional two turns left aileron, additional two turns right aileron, flight manual recovery
Maneuver 8: Left spin, six turns, two turns ailerons neutral, additional two turns right aileron, additional two turns left aileron, Flight manual recovery
Maneuvers 9 and 10 included a loop and roll before returning to the airport.

The flight card stated that the stall series and three-turn spin series were to be executed at an altitude of 9,000 ft msl and that the six-turn spin series was to be executed at 10,000 ft msl. In addition, the card noted that all recoveries should be initiated by 7,500 ft msl and that the bailout altitude was 6,000 ft msl.

Video Examination

A GoPro Hero 3 camera, enclosed in a watertight case, was located in the wreckage and subsequently sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory for review. Examination of the camera revealed that the memory card contained various recordings and had captured video showing the airplane located on the ramp at the departure airport through the time the accident occurred. The camera appeared to have been mounted on the right side of the airplane's canopy and provided a view of the right wing, including the right flap and aileron. Additionally, reflections on the canopy were observed throughout various portions of the recording. The reflections included those of the passenger, who was seated in the right seat and was wearing a green flight suit, and the flight instructor, who was seated in the left seat and was wearing a blue flight suit. Throughout the recordings, some muffled vocal comments, cockpit noises, and muffled engine noises were heard.

The video showed that, about 11 minutes after takeoff, the flight instructor and student conducted a stall, consistent with maneuver 2 on the flight card, and that maneuvers 1 and 3 were not flown. Upon completion of maneuver 2, the airplane entered maneuver 4, and a left 2-revolution spin was performed. About 4 minutes later, the airplane performed maneuver 5, which incorporated a 4-revolution right spin with a normal recovery. About 5 minutes later, the airplane performed a left 4.5-revolution spin, consistent with maneuver 6.

The airplane then entered a right spin, consistent with maneuver 7. As the airplane completed about 21 revolutions, the student reported an altitude of "6,000 ft" followed by another announcement of an altitude of "5,500 [ft]" 1 revolution later. It could not be determined whether the word "bailout" was said after "5,500" was announced. The canopy was opened between revolutions 24 and 25. Reflections within the canopy showed the instructors right arm grabbing the canopy between revolutions 27 and 28, while the student was observed standing while grabbing the upper canopy rail between revolutions 29 and 30. The student subsequently jumped from the right wing between revolutions 33 and 34; little-to-no movement of the flight instructor was observed. At the time of ground impact, the airplane had completed about 34 revolutions.

For further information regarding the captured video, see the Onboard Image Recorder Factual Report in the public docket for this accident.

Spin Procedures

Review of the Pilot's Operating Handbook for the accident make/model airplane, Section 4, "Normal Procedures, Spin Recovery," stated that the following steps were to be taken to recover from a spin:

1. Throttle- IDLE
2. Flaps – Raise (If lowered)
3. Hold control stick back with ailerons neutral
4. Check direction of rotation of spin by external visual reference and the turn indicator needle
5. Apply and maintain full rudder to oppose the direction of spin
6. Pause – One Second
7. Move control stick, with the ailerons neutral, progressively forward until the spin stops
8. Immediately [when] the spin stops, centralize the rudder and fly the aircraft in a straight line, out of the dive with a 3-g pullout.

Warning – A high rotation rate spin may occur if the correct recovery procedure is not followed; particularly if the control column is moved forward, partially, or fully before the application of full anti-spin rudder. Such out of sequence control actions will delay recovery and increase the height loss. If the aircraft has not recovered within 2 (two) complete rotations after application of full anti-spin rudder and fully forward control column, the following procedure may be used to expedite recovery.

1. Check that full ant-spin rudder is applied.
2. Move the control column FULLY AFT – then slowly forward until the spin stops.
3. Centralize the controls and recover to level flight (observing the 'g' limits).

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA021
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 24, 2014 in Ridgecrest, CA
Aircraft: SLINGSBY T67M 260, registration: N456FR
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 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 October 24, 2014, about 0900 Pacific daylight time, a Slingsby T67M-260, N456FR, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Ridgecrest, California. The airplane was registered to L'Avion Inc., Mojave, California, and operated by the National Test Pilot School under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight instructor and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the instructional flight. The local flight originated from Mojave Airport (MHV), Mojave, about 0832.

Information provided by representatives from the National Test Pilot School revealed that the flight was part of the Flight Test Engineer training program and that the flight had the primary focus of spin training. Following a loss of radar and radio contact with Air Traffic Control, the wreckage was located by company aircraft.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted open desert terrain about 12 miles south of Ridgecrest. Wreckage debris remained within about 10 feet of the main wreckage. Vegetation, about 12 to 18 inches in height, located immediately to the left and right of the aft area of the fuselage appeared to be undamaged. All major structural components were located at the accident site. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

 The Director of Business Operations at the National Test Pilot School at the Mojave Air and Space Port, was one of two men who died Friday morning in the fatal crash of a T-67 Firefly aerobatic plane during a training flight northwest of Randsburg.

Michael Hill, 68, of San Diego and Ilam Zigante, 27, of Lancaster died in the crash of the two-seat, single engine plane, according to the Kern County Sheriff's office coroner's division.

Hill was a director and instructor at the school, where flyers are trained as test pilots for propeller-powered airplanes, jets and helicopters, according the non-profit company's website.

The other person in the plane — Zigante  — was a student according to Kern County Fire Department spokesman Martin Hernandez said.

The National Test Pilot School referred callers to a press release about the crash which identified the plane and the circumstances of the crash but did not name Hill or Zigante.

The single-engine, two-seat aircraft crashed about three miles northwest of Randsburg, about 20 miles from Ridgecrest, at 10:13 a.m. Friday. More specifically, the plane went down about one mile north of Redrock Randsburg Road, near Garlock Road.

The cause of the crash had also not been determined. The plane did not catch fire.

Rescue crews were called in after air traffic control lost contact with the private plane, Hernandez said. Kern County sheriff's Lt. Tom Little said he did not know where the plane was coming from and where it was going.

Initially, the area's mountainous terrain made it difficult for Kern County deputies to reach the scene by vehicle and for the rescue air unit to land.

The scene of the accident was cleared at around 1 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crash.

The NTSB had no more information about the crash. Multiple calls to the Federal Aviation Administration were not returned Friday.

- Source:

Why Low Oil Prices Don't Translate into Lower Air Fares

(CBS News)-  Southwest Airlines yesterday became the latest airline to report record profits, joining American Airlines and United Continental  thanks in part to record low oil prices.

Unfortunately, that's not going to translate into lower air fares anytime soon. In fact, the website FairCompare notes that carriers raised fares five times this year and attempted to do so 20 times. Experts are divided as to the reasons for this phenomenon.

According to aviation consultant Mike Boyd, the 25 percent drop in crude prices since June is no bargain for the airlines.

"The reality is that even at $85 a barrel, that is still high -- remember that no airplane flying today was designed with any thought of $50 oil, let alone $85," he wrote in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. "At current prices, there still isn't a lot of financial room for carriers."

Indeed, Airlines for America, a trade group, points out that when adjusted for inflation, the average domestic round-trip fare fell 15 percent between 2000 and 2013. The average price airlines paid for jet fuel during that same time period skyrocketed by 272 percent.

"While fuel prices have abated from their historic highs, airlines have high fixed costs including aircraft, rents, landing fees and labor," says Victoria Day, a spokeswoman for the association. "Like any industry comprising publicly traded companies, we must earn our cost of capital over the entire business cycle, so we can continue to invest in our products, serve new and existing markets, pay our employees and provide a reasonable return to investors."

But critics of the industry note there has also been a round of airline mergers that have lessened competition, such as the American Airlines/US Airways deal that closed last year. United and Continental joined forces in 2010, and Delta and Northwest Airlines started their merger process in 2008.

"Base airfares and ancillary fees will continue to rise as carriers are restraining capacity. Importantly, with far fewer competitors due to recent mergers it is much easier to tacitly coordinate on prices, policies and practices," said Kevin Mitchell of the Business Travel Coalition, in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. "After incessantly complaining about the demand-dampening effects of aviation taxes, when the excise tax lapsed in 2011, instead of reducing airfares and inducing demand -- presumably a teaching moment for Congress -- airlines kept prices firm and pocketed a $30 million dollar windfall per day. So, as sure as the sun rises in the East, airfares will not fall with oil prices."

Indeed, airline aren't adding any significant capacity. In fact, Boyd estimates that there will be a 1 percent drop in flights scheduled and a 1 percent increase in seats only because the average aircraft size has increased.

"Airlines can sell all their product -- so, like any business, the will charge what the market will pay," he said. "They are not charities that are required to produce more than they can sell at a profit."

Oh, and by the way -- there is no real "holiday jump" in air traffic. Actually the Monday-Monday period surrounding Thanksgiving will have about 12 percent fewer flights scheduled than during a "normal" Monday-Monday period. Wednesday and Sunday, load factors may go up from the normal 80 - 85 percent, but countering that is that there is much reduced business travel during the period.

- Source:

Man climbed fence to reach plane in Timaru

An Air New Zealand flight at Timaru’s Richard Pearse Airport. Groundstaff stopped a man who climbed the fence and approached a flight in September. 

Airport staff stopped a man approaching a passenger flight as its engines started at Timaru's airport in September, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has revealed.

The man had climbed a 1.2 metre fence to pass an item to one of the passengers, and the pilot of the Air New Zealand flight on September 13 was only alerted to the man's presence while starting the Beech aircraft engines.

Timaru District Council group services manager Ashley Harper said the council's airport operations contractor stopped the man and escorted him back into the terminal. Harper said the man had ignored warning signs and was "very foolish to have done so".

The contractor noted the incident and no further action was required.

The incident is one of three involving Timaru's Richard Pearse Airport listed in a document released by the CAA under the Official Information Act, which detailed 246 aircraft incidents around the country in the last two years.

A Cessna 172's propeller struck the ground on August 25 when its nose wheel rolled into a dip.

The CAA was also alerted on August 15 when an Air Tractor 504 crop-dressing plane rolled backwards off a set of scales after being re-weighed. Its rudder boost tab had to be replaced as a result.

Other unusual incidents reported to the CAA included:

- With engines running on a plane scheduled to leave Great Barrier Island in May, a passenger "decided they did not want to fly and opened the right hand door"

- A close shave between a baggage cart and a Beech plane in Auckland on October 4 was blamed on the cart driver not paying attention

- A couple tried boarding a flight in New Plymouth with a total of eight pieces of hand luggage between them in March 2013

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Alaska Aviation Legends: Royce Morgan, pilot and physician

Royce Morgan and his son Phillip after a successful moose hunt in the Beluga area. Note the Pilatus Porter aircraft and the tundra tires used for the beach landing.
 Courtesy the Morgan collection 

Royce Morgan, a doctor who loved flight, carved his place in Alaska aviation history by creating an airline during the pipeline building era. 

 Morgan had aviation in his family history and remembered hearing stories that he carried into his adulthood.

“My uncle Harvey was my inspiration for flying,” said Morgan. “I enjoyed hearing his name frequently mentioned around our household as he was part of the first flight around the world and was co-pilot in the 'Seattle' -- one of the Douglas World Cruisers built for the 1924 flight.”

Five Douglas World Cruisers -- dubbed the Boston, Boston II, New Orleans, Chicago and Seattle -- were built to circumnavigate the globe. The Seattle crashed into an Alaska mountain in 1924, though the crew survived. One of the Douglas World Cruisers is now on display in the Smithsonian Institute, and the engine from the Seattle was recovered by the Alaska Aviation Museum and is on display at Lake Hood in Anchorage.

Morgan arrived in Alaska in 1955 when the U.S. Army brought him to Fort Richardson in Anchorage. After receiving his honorable discharge, Royce stayed in Anchorage and opened a family practice.

By the early 1960s his medical practice was beginning to flourish and after learning about the impending pipeline construction project, Morgan decided he wanted to own and operate an airline. And so he did, his way, using aircraft suitable for the industry’s needs and naming his company Polar Airways.

It was through Lela D. Morgan, Royce’s mother and a teacher from Shawnee, Okla., that friends and family remained in contact with Royce’s adventure in Alaska.  During the growth of Polar Airways, Lela Morgan served as the airline’s secretary-treasurer, receptionist for the medical clinic and bookkeeper for the apartment complex they owned.    

Lela was well-known for her handwritten letters she sent back home to former colleagues and friends. It was through these letters she described the cold extremes of Alaska, expanding the airline and her son’s successful medical practice. Friends say it was not uncommon for acquaintances in the Lower 48 to receive newspaper articles describing Royce’s successes.

“In Alaska, I began taking flying with Barton Air Service at Merrill Field flying an Aeronca, Cessna 140 and occasionally a Cessna 172,” Royce Morgan said. “Later, I flew my first Cessna 180 dual with Lucky Wishbone restaurant owner George Brown.” He bought his first airplane, a Piper PA-18, in 1960. Within a couple of years, he sold the PA-18 to upgrade to a Cessna 180, then added a new Piper Aztec a few years after that.

Morgan successfully expanded Polar Airways in Alaska and northwest Canada. One of the air routes that helped the airline along the way was the exclusive right for the first scheduled airline from Fairbanks to Valdez during the construction of the $8 billion Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

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Flight Design CTLS: Sheriff wants more eyes in the sky

Tulare County Sheriff's Flight Design CTLS aircraft, with the call sign, “Sheriff One,” which the county purchased in 2001. The department plans to order a second plane, an updated model which will include air conditioning, which the current plane doesn’t have. That forces the pilot and passenger to wear cooling vests on hot days.
 (Photo: Submitted )

Since the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department purchased a new plane in 2011, the tiny aircraft has gotten a lot of use, from searching for suspects on the ground, spotting marijuana groves and finding an Alzheimer’s patient who wandered away from home.

Despite the single-engine plane being in the air up to eight hours a day, five days a week, Sheriff Mike Boudreaux wants his department to have a presence in the air every day and covering more of the county.

To that end, his department is preparing to order a second Flight Design CTLS-model airplane for about $256,000, and the department could be flying it in four to six months.

But before that happens, the Sheriff’s Department will hire a civilian to be the primary pilot of the department’s current plane — referred to by its call sign, “Sheriff One” — and Boudreaux said he wants to hire a second pilot once the new plane arrives.

“I’m looking at ‘civilianizing’ the Air Unit and getting it off the ground,” Boudreaux said this week following the Tulare County Supervisors’ vote on Tuesday to authorize hiring of the first civilian pilot at a salary of $61,196 a year.

The department is freezing a vacant deputy’s position to pay the pilot’s salary, Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Watson told the supervisors on Tuesday.

Currently, Sheriff One is flown primarily by retired Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Williams, who now works as a reservist for the department.

“But as a reservist, I can only use him so many hours a year,” said Boudreaux. Two civilian pilots fill in when Williams isn’t available to fly.

The Sheriff’s Department also operates an “aero squadron,” a group of civilian pilots who can be called out to fly their own planes when extra aircraft are needed for emergencies.

In the past, the Sheriff’s Department had a lieutenant and a sergeant who were pilots and flew Sheriff One, as needed, but their salaries are higher than what the county is budgeting for a civilian pilot, and those deputies may be of better use working patrol or investigations than flying, the Sheriff said.

Plus the civilian pilot will fly with a deputy in the passenger seat, an observer who can testify to what he or she sees, write reports and coordinate with deputies on the ground while the pilot focuses on flying, Boudreaux said.

He added that he plans to have a small group of deputies who divide some of their work serving as observers.

With two planes, the department can have one plane in the air while the other is on the ground for normal maintenance, Boudreaux said. In addition, one could focus on patrolling one end of the county while the other focuses on the other end.

Having “eyes in the sky” to watch over a crime scene or search area can improve safety for deputies, and it has been particularly helpful in spotting agricultural crimes, Boudreaux said.

“Having that second airplane gives us that force optimizer,” he added.

Story and Comments:

Lives Lived: Maryanne Fletcher Hardman, 50

 Maryanne Fletcher Hardman
Pilot, wife, entrepreneur, sister, daughter. Born on Aug. 22, 1963, in Fredericton, N.B.; died on May 4, 2014, in Halifax, in an ultralight plane crash, aged 50. 

By Pam Fletcher 
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Oct. 24 2014, 12:01 AM EDT

When we were 9, my twin sister Kathy and I eagerly welcomed into our home our newborn sister, Maryanne – our very own baby doll. The youngest of four daughters, she was also the third attempt at a son, and our father quickly nicknamed her Sam.

Mare, as she was also known, grew up with a strong sense of self, an entrepreneurial spirit, and the drive and confidence to achieve whatever she set her mind to. At 18, she headed to the University of Toronto to study commerce. She financed her education by buying two handcarts and selling hot dogs on campus and at bars along Yonge Street. Not surprisingly, she had little appetite for hot dogs later on.

The university had no female water polo team, so Mare joined the men’s team, which won many Junior Olympic championships. Swimming was a lifelong activity and she was a member of the masters swim team in Halifax in later years.

After university, Maryanne returned to Fredericton and launched her next enterprise, the Print Gallery, selling prints, gift ware and framing services. Often late with her rent, she had frequent contact with Bill Hardman, manager of the mall where her store was located. They had a meeting of the minds and she married the love of her life on May 4, 1991. After selling her business, she joined Bill in Halifax, where he had become president of his family’s development firm, the Hardman Group. There, Mare launched a new career as a portfolio manager with Wood Gundy.

Several years into their marriage, Maryanne and Bill drew support from each other when they lost their only child, a daughter who was born prematurely at six months.

Mare believed in moving forward, and every Christmas season she held a party for friends and relatives. By the end of the night, everyone would be singing – not Christmas carols, but Elvis tunes. she loved Elvis and three years ago took our father, George, to Memphis to visit Graceland. She lost all control in the gift shop, bringing home items such as Elvis pyjamas and a CD of her singing his songs, karaoke-style.

Mare’s adventurous spirit led her on many journeys with Bill, including several trips to Central America. Her generosity was evident in the three suitcases filled with baseball equipment she took to children on a visit to Nicaragua.

In her early 40s, her true passion emerged when she earned her pilot’s license. She flew her amphibious ultralight plane from the Stanley Airport to many Atlantic Canada destinations. It was always a buzz for her Fredericton family to watch her gracefully land on the St. John River, in front of her sister’s home.

In the months before her death, Mare was working to improve the runway and historical landmarks at Harbour Grace, Nfld., where Amelia Earhart began her famous trip. And she had the visionary idea to transform the underused Shearwater Airport, a former military landing strip in Halifax, into a strip useable by both private and commercial aircraft. Friends are now continuing her efforts.

On May 4, her 23rd wedding anniversary, Maryanne was killed while attempting to land her plane at Stanley Airport. Although she is surely flying with the angels, her husband, family, friends and colleagues are broken-hearted by her tragic death. It came much too soon. She was not finished here.

Pam Fletcher is Maryanne’s sister.

Story and Comments:

Aero Adventure Aero Adventure, C-ITSX:  Accident occurred May 04, 2014 at Stanley Airport (CCW4), East Hants, Nova Scotia


Incident occurred October 24, 2014 at Ottawa International Airport, Ontario, Canada

A small research plane skidded off the runway while attempting to land near the National Research Council runway at the Ottawa International Airport Friday morning.

NRC spokesman Charles Drouin said the pilot and sole occupant of the craft is safe, and that the C-wing aircraft was being used in a test flight.

The NRC plane had been flying over Ottawa and was scheduled to land on Runway No. 25 when "something happened" during landing, said Drouin, though details are not immediately clear.

Drouin said the pilot is safely out of the plane and with firefighters who attended the scene, and injuries are not considered serious.

"It skidded off the runway quite a long way, so there is significant damage to the plane," said Drouin.

More details are expected soon...

Vietnam’s VietJet pilots suspended after landing on wrong runway

Two pilots for the low-cost Vietnamese airline VietJet Air have been suspended after they landed on the wrong end of the runway at an airport in the coastal province of Khanh Hoa a week ago, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said Thursday.

The pilots, both Filipino nationals, managed to land VietJet Air flight VJ8856, which departed from Ho Chi Minh City, at Cam Ranh International Airport on October 16 safely, but the airplane was parked on a different end of the runway than what had been ordered by the air traffic controllers, CAAV chief Lai Xuan Thanh told reporters.

The aircrew landed at runway end 20, instead of 02, as directed by air traffic controllers.

“Although this posed no direct threat to aviation safety, it is a dangerous mistake,” Thanh said, adding the pilots thus must be suspended and that CAAV is investigating the case.

Initial investigation results show that the pilots confirmed to the air traffic controllers that they were to land at runway end 02.

But it remains unclear why they did not actually do so, Thanh admitted.

A VietJet Air spokesperson confirmed the wrong-runway landing to the media on Thursday, adding this is “a personal mistake.”

The airline also suspended the aircrew of flight VJ8856 to “ensure safety for its operations,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

- Source:

Moscow Court Arrests Air Traffic Controller in Fatal Plane Crash

MOSCOW, October 24 (RIA Novosti) – The Basmanny Court in Moscow has placed an air traffic controller under arrest until December 21 on the suspicion of his involvement into the fatal crash of the French oil giant CEO’s plane earlier this week.

Judge Valentina Levashova agreed with prosecutors that the accused dispatcher, Alexander Kruglov, could disappear, destroy evidence, threaten witnesses, and cohort with coworkers, which would hamper investigations.

Total CEO Christophe de Margerie died in the crash of a Falcon 50 business jet late Monday night at Vnukovo-3 Airport. The incident happened when the aircraft, which was to fly to Paris, hit a snow removal vehicle when taking off. De Margerie was the only passenger on board along with three crew members, also French citizens. The crew also died in the crash. 

- Source:

Dassault Falcon 50EX, F-GLSA, Unijet 

Russia Detains Airport Staff Over Crash That Killed Total CEO: Managers and Controllers on Duty at Time of Accident Held 

 MOSCOW—Russian investigators said on Thursday they had detained managers and controllers on duty at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport during Monday’s corporate-jet crash that killed Total SA chief Christophe de Margerie .

Two top executives at the airport resigned and three others were suspended as a result of the crash, the airport said in a separate statement.

The detentions and resignations suggest the probe of the crash is widening beyond the allegedly intoxicated driver of the snow-removal truck that the Falcon-50 jet carrying Mr. de Margerie hit as it was taking off late Monday, causing the crash that killed all four people aboard the jet.

International aviation investigators probing the cause of the crash said late Thursday that initial data show both controllers and the plane’s crew were aware of the vehicle on the runway as much as 18 seconds before the crash but didn’t abort the takeoff. These investigators said it was too early to draw any conclusions from the data, however.

They said the runway was clear when the controllers cleared the plane for takeoff. About 10 seconds later, a monitoring system alerted the tower that a vehicle was headed for the runway about 1000 meters from where the plane started, although the vehicle didn’t ask permission to cross. Controllers didn’t inform the plane’s crew, however. Investigators said that according to the cockpit voice recorder, the pilots saw the vehicle about four seconds later, but dismissed it as “a car crossing the road” and continued their takeoff.

Only 14 seconds later, just after becoming airborne, did the crew realize that the truck was a snow-removal vehicle on the runway. Moments later, flying at a speed of about 248 kilometers/hour, the plane hit the truck, banked sharply to the right, crashing on its roof and bursting into flames on the grass near the runway.

Industry officials have said the crash highlights the sometimes-poor quality of Russian airport services, while prosecutors say the accident appears to have resulted from negligence by airport personnel. Such “runway incursions,” as they are known in the industry, have been an intense focus for safety regulators in the developed world in recent years but remain a problem in less-advanced countries, industry analysts say. Vnukovo is one of Russia’s premier airports, however, used for official delegations including local and foreign leaders.

The driver of the snow-removal truck, Vladimir Martynenko, who was detained early Tuesday, appeared in Moscow’s Basmanny Court early Thursday for a remand hearing. He admitted his truck was involved in the crash and said he was cooperating with investigators, Russian news agencies reported. “It’s very difficult for me now,” he told the court. The court ordered for him to be held until Dec. 21.

Investigators said Tuesday that Mr. Martynenko was intoxicated at the time of the crash.

Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said Thursday that Mr. Martynenko’s test results showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.06%. That qualifies as intoxication under Russian law but is below the minimum level under U.S. drunken-driving laws, for example.

Mr. Martynenko has denied he consumed any alcohol on the day of the crash and his lawyer said he passed the mandatory medical exam before starting his shift Monday.

“I lost my bearings and didn’t even notice that I had gone out onto the runway,” Mr. Martynenko told investigators in his initial interrogation, video excerpts of which were broadcast on Russian state television.

Mr. Martynenko’s lawyer, Alexander Karabanov, said his client had become separated from the rest of his column of plows in the darkness and was trying to contact his foreman by radio. A Vnukovo spokeswoman said the foreman responsible for the column was also detained Tuesday, but that couldn’t immediately be confirmed with investigators.

In another part of his interrogation, video of which was posted online by his lawyer, Mr. Martynenko said his column had been clearing a taxiway near the runway when he became separated from the group and inadvertently entered the runway.

In a statement, the Investigative Committee said it suspected the four people detained “did not ensure that flight safety and ground-support regulations were observed, leading to the tragedy.”

Among those detained were the trainee-controller on duty at the time of the crash, Svetlana Krivsun, and her supervisor, Alexander Kruglov, as well as the chief engineer responsible for snow-removal and the flight chief on duty at the time, investigators said in a statement.

Lawyers for those detained couldn’t immediately be reached.

The Vnukovo spokeswoman said three of the four detained Thursday aren’t airport employees but work for the state agency that handles air-traffic control and ground services. The fourth, Vladimir Ledenev, was the chief engineer for airport services and a Vnukovo employee.

At Vnukovo, the chief executive of the airport’s international branch, Andrei Dyakov, resigned, as did his deputy, Sergei Solntsev. In a statement, the airport said they stepped down “in connection with the tragedy.” The two men couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The airport also said it had suspended three officials on duty at the time of the crash.

- Source:

Russia’s Investigative Committee said Vladimir Martynenko was intoxicated when the snow plow he was driving collided with the private jet carrying Total CEO Christophe de Margerie. Reuters