Friday, November 7, 2014

Cirrus SR22, Orthopedic Aviation Services LLC, N811CD: Accident occurred November 06, 2014 in Grover Hill, Ohio

http://registry.faa.gov/N811CD

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA040 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 06, 2014 in Grover Hill, OH
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N811CD
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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

"The following is an INTERIM FACTUAL SUMMARY of this accident investigation. 

A final report that includes all pertinent facts, conditions, and circumstances of the accident will be issued upon completion, along with the Safety Board's analysis and probable cause of the accident:"

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 6, 2014, about 1800 eastern standard time, a Cirrus Design Corporation SR22 airplane, N811CD, impacted a farm field near Grover Hill, Ohio, and a post impact fire occurred. The pilot, a pilot-rated passenger, and another passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was destroyed by the impact and subsequent fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by Orthopedic Aviation Services LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions prevailed in the area of the accident. The flight operated on an activated IFR flight plan. The flight originated about 1545 from the Washington Municipal Airport (AWG), near Washington, Iowa, and was destined for the Findlay Airport (FDY), near Findlay, Ohio.

A fueling receipt from AWG showed that N811CD was serviced with 26.67 gallons of 100 low lead aviation gasoline at 1519. The AWG airport manager indicated that he was at the airport at 1530 and he talked to three people who flew in N811CD. There were two men and a woman of the same age. He reported that they said they were flying east and would be back on Sunday as part of their return flight. Witnesses reported to the airport manager that they thought the woman was seated in the front right seat. The manager indicated that from 300 feet away, the airplane looked very clean. He was outside when they took off and the engine start-up sounded normal as did the engine run-up. The manager said that the takeoff appeared to be under full power and they climbed at a normal rate of climb.

According to records from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the accident airplane communicated with the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) located near Ft. Wayne, Indiana. About 1729, the pilot requested a climb to 10 or 11 thousand feet above mean seal level (MSL) because he was "picking up a little ice". The air traffic controller cleared the flight to 10,000 feet MSL, and asked for more details. The pilot reported that the windshield was picking up a little ice, and the outside air temperature was minus six degrees. About 1746, the pilot reported that the cloud tops were ragged between 9,500 and 10,300 feet MSL. About 1749, the pilot requested a lower altitude and the controller cleared the flight to 5,000 feet MSL. About 1751, the controller handed the flight off to Toledo TRACON.

About 1752, the pilot checked on with Toledo TRACON and indicated that he was on descent to 5,000 feet. The controller asked if the pilot had the current FDY weather. About 1754, the pilot reported that he had the current FDY weather and requested the RNAV [Area Navigation] Runway 25 approach to FDY. The controller advised the pilot to expect that RNAV approach. The last radio transmission from the airplane restated that the RNAV Runway 25 approach was requested and that transmission was received about 1754. The last transponder reply was about 1757, which indicated the airplane was at 3,600 feet MSL. That transponder reply showed the airplane was located to the south and east of the intersection of Route 60 and Town Road 137, near Grover Hill, Ohio.

A witness was driving in her car eastbound on Route 60 and was approaching Town Road 117. This intersection was about three miles west of the accident site. She indicated that she was driving about 45 to 50 mph. It was dark at the time and "spit" rain was coming down. She said that she could see through the car's windshield. She stated that above woods just south of Route 60, she saw a light coming down slowly. She described it as looking similar to a comet. The descent angle she physically gestured while being interviewed was about 35 to 45 degrees downward in the direction of the accident site. She said she saw the descending light for about two seconds. She subsequently saw an explosion, which was orange in color.

Another witness was in a house about a third of a mile northwest of the accident site. She indicated that a heavy wind or tornado sound is what got her attention. She also heard a sound she vocally described as "NEEEEER." She saw a reflection of light in a mirror. An explosion occurred when the NEEEEER sound stopped. She said that the conditions at that time were windy, dark, and rainy.


PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The 59-year-old pilot held a FAA private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings. He had been issued a FAA third-class medical certificate on October 15, 2014, with a limitation that he must have available glasses for near vision. The pilot reported on the application for that medical certificate that he had accumulated 987 hours of total flight time and 150 hours of flight time in the six months before that application.

The last entry in the pilot's logbook was dated November 5, 2014. The pilot recorded that he had accumulated 1,000.3 hours of total flight time, 151.5 hours of flight time during night conditions, 127.8 hours of flight time in SR22 airplanes, and 19.3 hours of flight time in actual instrument conditions. A certified flight instructor's endorsement in the pilot's logbook showed that the pilot received a flight review on August 16, 2014.

The 65-year-old pilot rated passenger held a FAA commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a FAA flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine and instrument airplane ratings. He had been issued a FAA second-class medical certificate on April 21, 2014. This medical certificate was issued to the pilot rated passenger as a Time-limited Special Issuance Second Class Medical Certificate with the following limitation(s): "Not Valid for Any Class After 04/30/2015" and "Must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision." He reported on the application for that special issuance medical certificate that he had accumulated 5,016 hours of total flight time and 160 hours of flight time in the six months prior to that application.


AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

N811CD, a 2001 model Cirrus Design Corporation SR22, serial number 0120, was a four-place single engine low-wing airplane powered by a six-cylinder, 310-horsepower, Continental Motors model IO-550-N7B engine, with serial number 686224, that drove a three-bladed Hartzell constant speed propeller. According to airplane logbook entries, an annual inspection was completed on October 8, 2014. The airplane accumulated 1806.2 hours of total flight time at the time of that inspection.

The aircraft was fitted with a Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) designed to recover the aircraft and its occupants to the ground in the event of an in-flight emergency. The CAPS contains a parachute (within a deployment bag) located within a fiberglass CAPS enclosure compartment, a solid-propellant rocket contained within a launch tube to deploy the parachute, a pick-up collar assembly and attached Teflon-coated steel cable lanyard and incremental bridle, a rocket activation system that consisted of an activation T-handle, an activation cable, and a rocket igniter, and a harness assembly which attached the parachute to the fuselage.

The accident airplane was not certified for flight in icing conditions.


METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) senior meteorologist collected factual weather data in reference to the accident flight and produced a group chairman's factual weather report. The report showed that the accident pilot was provided weather information from Lockheed-Martin Flight Service through the ForeFlight.com website. He also filed an IFR flight plan for a direct flight from AWG to FDY. The pilot also requested a standard text weather briefing format. Standard weather information for the accident flight, to include the airmen's meteorological information (AIRMETs), area forecast (FA), meteorological terminal air reports (METARs), terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAFs), and pilot reports (PIREPs), was contained in the text weather briefing package. Meteorological Impact Statements (MIS) were not contained in the weather briefing information package. There is no record of any additional weather briefing information the accident pilot received.

A review of the 1900 surface analysis chart showed that it depicted a surface trough stretching from central New York westward across northern Pennsylvania, northern Ohio, and central Indiana. Constant pressure charts depicted a low-level trough over or just to the northwest of the accident site around the accident time with temperatures below freezing.

At 1753, the recorded weather about 38 miles and 93 degrees from the accident site at FDY was: Wind 260 degrees at 10 knots; visibility 3 statute miles; present weather mist; sky condition overcast clouds at 600 feet; temperature 7 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter 29.81 inches of mercury.

At 1753, the recorded weather about 18 miles and 10 degrees from the accident site at the Defiance Memorial Airport, near Defiance, Ohio, (DFI) was: Wind 280 degrees at 8 knots: visibility 6 statute miles; present weather light rain, mist; sky condition overcast ceiling at 1,000 feet; temperature 8 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter 29.81 inches of mercury.

At 1853, the recorded weather at DFI was: Wind 320 degrees at 15 knots with gusts to 20 knots; visibility 9 statute miles; present weather light rain; sky condition overcast ceiling at 1,100 feet; temperature 8 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter setting 29.87 inches of mercury.

The 1900 Wilmington, Ohio, (KILN) upper air sounding was plotted. The plotted sounding depicted the lifted condensation level at 1,502 feet, a convective condensation level of 2,554 feet, and a level of free convection at 1,675 feet. The freezing level was located at 3,829 feet. The precipitable water value was 0.54 inches.

The sounding indicated a relatively moist vertical environment from the surface through 12,000 feet MSL with several layers of conditional instability. This environment would have been conducive of cloud formation from the surface to 12,000 feet and icing (clear, rime, and mixed) between 4,000 and 12,000 feet MSL. Additionally, the sounding was close to saturation between 0 degrees C and -11 degrees C (between 4,000 and 12,000 feet MSL) which, according to articles in professional meteorology journals, is considered a temperature range supportive of the growth of supercooled liquid water droplets (SLD).

Visible and infrared data from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite number 13 (GOES-13) was obtained and plotted. GOES-13 imagery at a wavelength of 0.65 microns (µm) and 10.7 µm depicted brightness temperatures for the scene and imagery surrounding the time of the accident, from 1400 through 2000 at approximately 15-minute intervals, were reviewed. The review revealed a general northwest to southeast movement of the clouds over the accident site about the accident time. Based on the brightness temperatures above the accident site and the vertical temperature profile provided by the 1900 KILN sounding, the approximate cloud-top heights over the accident site were 13,000 feet at 1800.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, (KIWX) Weather Surveillance Radar-1988, Doppler (WSR-88D), was located about 57 miles west-northwest of the accident site. Archive radar data was plotted with the airplane's radar track. Plotted base reflectivity values are located over and along the route of flight with the precipitation targets moving from north to south between 1755 and 1757. These reflectivity values correspond to very light precipitation targets. There were no lightning strikes near the accident site at the accident time.

KIWX WSR-88D dual-polarization (dual-pol) archived radar data was obtained and plotted. About 1750, radar data showed the accident flight began a descent from 10,000 feet and dual-pol depicted conditions near the aircraft location at the precipitation targets indicated small hydrometeor sizes, and/or a small amount of hydrometeors in the beam, hydrometeors that were much more horizontally shaped as they fell than spherical, and all the hydrometeors in the scan had very similar characteristics. These shape characteristics are similar to the freezing drizzle and supercooled liquid water characteristics described in articles in professional meteorology journals.

PIREPs, two hours before and after the accident and within 300 miles of the accident site, were reviewed. A portion of the PIREPS reported light or moderate icing conditions to include one report of severe clear icing at 4,000 feet MSL at 1900 about 180 degrees and 175 miles south of the accident site.

There was no issued significant meteorological information valid for the area of the accident site at the accident time.

There was no issued Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) advisory valid for the area of the accident site at the accident time.

There was a MIS issued at 1344 by the CWSU near Cleveland, Ohio, valid for the accident site at the accident time. The MIS discussed patchy light to moderate icing conditions with bases at 4,500 feet in the northern half of Cleveland's airspace, with the icing base at 7,500 feet across the southern half of Cleveland's airspace. The top of the icing was forecast to be at 16,000 feet with patchy instrument conditions in the precipitation.

AIRMET Zulu was issued at 1545 and was valid at the accident time. It was the only AIRMET valid for the accident site, at the accident time, and the accident flight level. AIRMET Zulu forecasted moderate icing conditions between the freezing level and flight level (FL)180 with the forecasted freezing level between 2,000 and 7,000 feet within the AIRMET airspace.

A corrected FA issued at 1540, valid at the accident time, forecasted an overcast ceiling from 1,500 to 2,500 feet MSL with tops to FL240, visibility between 3 and 5 miles, scattered light rain showers, and mist.

The Ft Wayne, Indiana, TAF, valid at the time of the accident, was issued at 1235 and was valid for a 24-hour period beginning at 1300. The TAF forecast for the time period surrounding the accident was for wind from 300 degrees at 16 knots with gusts to 26 knots, 6 miles visibility, light rain shower, and an overcast ceiling at 2,000 feet.

The current icing potential (CIP) supplements other icing advisories. The CIP icing probabilities, icing severity, and SLD potential, valid at 1700 and 1800 EST at 10,000, 9,000, 8,000, 7,000, and 6,000 feet MSL were reviewed. The CIP icing probabilities depicted 50 to above 85 percent probability of icing at every flight level between 10,000 and 6,000 feet around the accident site around the time of the accident. The highest probabilities for icing were located between 8,000 and 6,000 feet with the tongue of greater than 85 percent probability of icing stretching westward from the accident time into northern Indiana. In addition to the CIP indicating greater than 85 percent probability of icing, the CIP indicated that the icing severity around the accident site was between light and moderate. Below 8,000 feet, the icing severity around the accident site was depicted as mostly moderate icing at both 1700 and 1800. SLD potential was also calculated by CIP. Around the accident site at the accident time, where the SLD potential was calculated as "unknown", the SLD potential was between 40 and 70 percent with the highest probability of SLD between 9,000 and 6,000 feet.


WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The main sections of the airplane fuselage and empennage were found impacted and buried in soft terrain about 199 degrees and 907 feet from the intersection of Route 60 and Town Road 137. The airplane's resting heading was about 77 degrees. The airplane's airframe was found fragmented with its heavier components north of the main wreckage and its lighter components east of the main wreckage. The observed debris field of components extended about 124 feet north and about 187 feet east of the main wreckage.

Flight control cable and engine cable continuity was not established due to fragmentation and thermal damage. Airframe components in the debris field exhibited localized discoloration and charring consistent with a post-impact ground fire. Both navigation light covers were found and green glass fragments were found under the navigation light cover on the south side of the main wreckage. The engine cowling was fragmented and it exhibited a crush line consistent with a right wing low impact. Both left and right ailerons and flaps were found resting on the ground in the debris field to the north of the main wreckage. The empennage, to include the lower section of the rudder, was found discolored and deformed consistent with thermal damage. The empennage was found under charred sections of the fuselage at the southwest side of the main wreckage. The upper section of the rudder was found resting on the ground in the debris to the north of the main wreckage. Separation surfaces on the upper and lower sections exhibited consistent sized and shaped tears and separations. The upper rudder section did not exhibit the same dark discoloration as the lower section did. The rudder sections were shipped to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for examination.

The rocket motor and parachute were found within subsurface empennage and fuselage fragments in the main wreckage area. The rocket motor was found with its propellant expended and it exhibited discoloration consistent with thermal damage. The parachute was found in a packed state and it exhibited deformation and discoloration consistent with thermal damage.

Disassembly of the attitude indicator revealed rotational scoring on its rotor and cage.

The propeller and propeller flange separated from its engine crankshaft and was found buried about four feet below the field. The propeller blades exhibited S-shaped bending and leading edge gouges. The engine was found deformed and buried about eight feet below the field. The no. five and no. six cylinders separated from their crankcase. Disassembly of the fuel pump showed its shear shaft separated in overload and it shaft was bent. The pump's vanes were intact and the pump rotated by hand freely about a quarter turn. The pump's mixture arm also rotated when moved by hand. Both magnetos sustained impact damage. One magneto produced spark when its impulse coupling was rotated by hand. Removed sparkplugs exhibited normal combustion discoloring and a "worn out, normal condition" when compared to a Champion Check-A-Plug chart. Accessible cylinders were inspected using a lighted borescope and no preimpact anomalies were detected during the borescope inspection. Disassembly of the oil pump revealed no debris or preimpact anomalies. Disassembly of the fuel manifold revealed that its seal surface facing its screen and valve exhibited deterioration and its seal surface facing its spring did not exhibit deterioration.


MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot and pilot-rated passenger by the Paulding County Coroner's Office. Both their causes of death were listed as blunt force trauma. Toxicological samples were not able to be taken on neither the pilot nor the pilot-rated passenger.


FIRE

The main wreckage exhibited charring, deformation, and discoloration consistent with a ground fire. Separated airframe components in the debris field exhibited localized discoloration and charring consistent with a post-impact ground fire. A witness reported the sound of an explosion consistent with a ground impact explosion.


TESTS AND RESEARCH

An NTSB senior air traffic specialist obtained radar data from the FAA. He produced a table of the data and graphical images of the airplane's radar returns. The data was given to the weather group chairman and vehicle performance group chairman for use in their reports. The radar data and graphics are appended to the docket material associated with this case.

An NTSB senior aerospace engineer, who was the vehicle performance group chairman, used the radar data to produce a three dimensional graphic. The graphic does not depict the airplane's airspeed or descent rates. However, the graphic visually shows the slope of the accident airplane's descent near the accident site. The vehicle performance graphic is appended to the docket material associated with this case.

An NTSB chemist indicated that the submitted rudder from this accident was sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory to determine if rocket fuel residue from the parachute system was present on the exterior surface of the rudder skin. The entire surface was swabbed and the individual swabs were analyzed using a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer with a diamond attenuated total reflectance accessory in accordance to ASTM E1252-98 (American Society for Testing Materials E1252-98: Standard Practice for General Techniques for Obtaining Infrared Spectra for Qualitative Analysis). The spectra from all the samples were compared to a known spectra for the rocket fuel components. No spectral signatures matching the rocket fuel components were found in any of the swab samples.


ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

Both the pilot and pilot-rated passenger were heard communicating on the air traffic control frequency during the flight. Additionally, the investigation could not determine which pilot-rated occupant was flying the airplane or where each pilot-rated occupant was seated due to the fragmentation of the airplane.

According to NTSB accident report CEN13FA096 , on December 10, 2012, about 2016 central standard time, a Messerschmitt Bolkow-Blohm model BK 117-A3 helicopter, N911BK, impacted the ground near Compton, Illinois. The pilot, flight nurse, and flight paramedic were fatally injured, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage from impact forces. The emergency medical services (EMS) equipped helicopter was registered to Rockford Memorial Hospital, and operated by Air Methods Corporation under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an on-demand air-taxi flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a company visual flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Rockford Memorial Hospital Heliport (LL83), Rockford, Illinois, about 1958 and was en route to the Mendota Community Hospital Heliport (14IL), Mendota, Illinois, where it was to pick up a patient for transport back to the Rockford Memorial Hospital.

Within the report, weather data and reports from first responders indicated that the flight likely encountered areas of snow, freezing drizzle, and supercooled liquid water.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause in reference CEN13FA096 as follows: The inadvertent encounter with inclement weather, including snow, freezing rain, and reduced visibility conditions, which led to the pilot's spatial disorientation and loss of aircraft control.

According to preliminary information supplied to the NTSB, on October 18, 2013, about 1017 central daylight time, N610ED, a Cessna 500, Citation, multi-engine turbofan airplane, was destroyed during impact with terrain near Derby, Kansas. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Dufresne, Inc.; Murrieta, California. Day visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight. The airplane departed Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (ICT), Wichita, Kansas, about 1007 and was destined for New Braunfels Regional Airport (BAZ), New Braunfels, Texas.

Preliminary data from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control showed normal operations during climb before the pilot contacted the FAA Kansas City Air Route Traffic Control Center at 1014 and reported leveling at 15,000 feet. The controller cleared the pilot to proceed direct to Millsap, Texas and climb to 23,000 feet. Over the next minute, the aircraft made an abrupt right turn followed by an abrupt left turn. Radar data showed the airplane descended to 14,600 feet before resuming climb and reaching 15,200 feet at 1016:20. The aircraft then made an abrupt descending left turn and radar and radio contact was lost.

Several witnesses reported seeing the airplane below the clouds in a nose down vertical dive. One witness reported that after impact he saw a fireball about 500 feet high followed by a column of smoke. Evidence at the accident scene showed evidence of a postimpact fire with most of the wreckage located in or near a single impact crater. The outboard portion of the left wing and the left aileron was located about 3,000 feet west of the main wreckage.

At 1038, the closest official surface weather observation site at McConnell Air Force Base (IAB), Wichita, Kansas, reported a northeast wind at 12 knots, light rain, and a broken ceiling at 1,700 feet above ground level. Satellite imagery indicated abundant cloud cover with the cloud cover top near 21,000 feet mean sea level (msl). Pilot reports in the area indicated light to moderate icing conditions above 6,000 feet msl at the accident time. This accident investigation's report number is CEN14FA009

According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Aviation Occurrence Investigation AO-2007-018, on February 5, 2007, a Cirrus SR22 aircraft, registered VH-HYY, with a pilot and one passenger on board, was being operated on a private flight from Canberra, ACT to Bankstown, NSW. As the aircraft approached the Cecil Park area, NSW, the pilot reported to air traffic control that the engine had lost power and he was attempting a forced landing. Soon after, the aircraft impacted terrain close to the M7 motorway and both occupants sustained serious injuries.

The ATSB report, in part, indicated that before impact, the pilot activated the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), but the system malfunctioned and the parachute did not deploy correctly. According to the report, subsequent testing by the aircraft and CAPS manufacturers found that the pick-up collar could move prematurely from the top of the rocket launch tube during activation. Such movement was considered to have the potential to adversely affect the rocket's trajectory. However, the trajectory of the rocket that was evident in this accident, was not able to be replicated.

Subsequent to this ATSB report, the FAA issued airworthiness directive (AD) 2007-14-03 for Cirrus Design Corporation Models SR20 and SR22 Airplanes. The AD, in part, stated:

SUMMARY: We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain
Cirrus Design Corporation (CDC) Models SR20 and SR22 airplanes. This AD
requires you to replace the pick-up collar support and nylon screws, of the
Cirrus Airplane Parachute System (CAPS), with a new design pick-up collar
support and custom tension screws. This AD results from a CDC report of an
in-flight CAPS activation where the parachute failed to successfully deploy.
We are issuing this AD to correct pick-up collar support fasteners of the CAPS,
which could result in the premature separation of the collar. This condition,
if not corrected, could result in the parachute failing to successfully deploy
(CAPS failure).

Logbook entries revealed that AD 2007-14-03 had been complied with on N811CD before the accident.

According to NTSB incident report CEN13IA285, on May 16, 2013, about 1120 central daylight time, a Cirrus Design Corp (CDC) SR22, N715CD, airplane ballistic parachute was activated by the pilot during flight near Dallas, Texas, following a loss of control in cruise flight. The parachute pack remained in its compartment, its rocket was deployed, and the rocket propellant was expended. The airplane received no damage. The private pilot was uninjured. The airplane was registered to Jeramiah 2911 Inc and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Marginal visual flight rules conditions prevailed and the flight was operating on instrument flight rules (IFR) plan for the flight that originated from Addison Airport (ADS), Dallas, Texas, about 1055 and was destined for Independence Municipal Airport (IDP), Independence, Kansas. The flight returned to ADS and landed without further incident.

The report, in part, stated that the postincident examination of the parachute system did not reveal any system component failure. Postincident testing showed that off-axis deployment of the parachute could exceed the forces required for a successful deployment of the parachute. If the airplane has a large pitch or bank angle or angular rates (or a combination of these) as the parachute rocket leaves the airplane, the airplane will rotate and cause the rocket tether to pull at an angle other than that intended, and the parachute will fail to deploy. Radar data showed that the airplane was in a very dynamic flight pattern with extreme pitch and bank angles when the parachute system was activated. Thus, the parachute likely failed to deploy when activated due to the dynamic maneuvering of the airplane at the time of the activation, which exceeded the parachute system's certification requirements.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause in reference to CEN13IA285 as follows: The failure of the airplane's parachute to deploy when activated during a loss of control in cruise flight due to the dynamic maneuvering of the airplane at the time of the activation, which exceeded the parachute system's certification requirements.

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA040
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 06, 2014 in Grover Hill, OH
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N811CD
Injuries: 3 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 November 6, 2014, about 1800 eastern standard time, a Cirrus Design Corporation SR22 airplane, N811CD, impacted a farm field near Grover Hill, Ohio, and a post impact fire occurred. The pilot, a pilot-rated passenger, and another passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was destroyed by the impact and subsequent fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by Orthopedic Aviation Services LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions prevailed in the area of the accident. The flight operated on an activated IFR flight plan. The flight originated about 1545 from the Washington Municipal Airport (AWG), near Washington, Iowa, and was destined for the Findlay Airport (FDY), near Findlay, Ohio.

Preliminary flight service station information showed that the pilot requested a weather briefing and filed an IFR flight plan for a direct flight from AWG to FDY.

A fueling receipt from AWG showed that N811CD was serviced with 26.67 gallons of 100 low lead aviation gasoline at 1519. The AWG airport manager indicated that he was at the airport at 1530 and he talked to three people who flew in N811CD. There were two men about 60 and a woman of the same age. He reported that they said they were flying east and would be back on Sunday as part of their return flight. Witnesses reported to the airport manager that they thought the woman was seated in the front right seat. The manager indicated that from 300 feet away, the airplane looked very clean. He was outside when they took off and the engine start-up sounded normal as did the engine run-up. The manager said that the takeoff was under full power and they climbed at a normal rate of climb.

According to preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the accident airplane communicated with the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) near Ft. Wayne, Indiana. About 1729, the pilot requested a climb to 10 or 11 thousand feet above mean seal level (MSL) because he was "picking up a little ice". The air traffic controller cleared him 10,000 feet MSL, and asked for more details. The pilot reported that windshield was picking up a little ice, and temperature was minus six degrees. About 1746, the pilot reported that the cloud tops were ragged between 9,500 and 10,300 feet MSL. About 1749, the pilot requested a lower altitude and the controller cleared him to 5,000 feet MSL. About 1751 pm the controller handed him off to Toledo TRACON.

About 1751, the pilot checks on with Toledo TRACON and indicated that he was on descent. The controller asked the pilot if he had current FDY weather. About 1725, the pilot reported that he has the current FDY weather and requested the RNAV [Area Navigation] Runway 25 approach to FDY. The controller advised the pilot to expect that RNAV approach. The last radio transmission from the airplane was received about 1754. The last transponder reply was at 1757, which indicated the airplane was at 5,100 feet MSL. That transponder reply showed the airplane was located to the south and east of the intersection of Route 60 and Town Road 137.

A witness was driving in her car eastbound on Route 60 and was approaching Town Road 117. This intersection was about three miles west of the accident site. She indicated that she was driving about 45 to 50 mph. It was dark at the time and "spit" rain was coming down. She said that she could see through the car's windshield. She stated that above woods just south of Route 60, she saw a light coming down slowly. She described it as a comet. The descent angle she physically gestured was about 35 to 45 degrees downward in the direction of the accident site. She said she saw the descending light for about two seconds. She subsequently saw an explosion, which was orange in color.

Another witness was in a house about a third of a mile northwest of the accident site. She indicated that a heavy wind or tornado sound is what got her attention. She also heard a sound she vocally described as "NEEEEER." She saw a reflection of light in a mirror. An explosion occurred when the NEEEEER sound stopped. She said that the conditions at that time were windy, dark, and rainy.

The 59-year-old pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings. He had been issued a FAA third-class medical certificate on October 15, 2014, with a limitation that he must have available glasses for near vision. The pilot reported on the application for that medical certificate that he had accumulated 987 hours of total flight time and 150 hours of flight time in the six months prior to that application.

The last entry in the pilot's logbook was dated November 5, 2014. The pilot recorded that he had accumulated 1,000.3 hours of total flight time, 151.5 hours of flight time during night conditions, 127.8 hours of flight time in SR22 airplanes, and 19.3 hours of flight time in actual instrument conditions. A certified flight instructor's endorsement in the pilot's logbook showed that the pilot received a flight review on August 16, 2014.

N811CD, a 2001 model Cirrus Design Corporation SR22, serial number 0120, was a four-place single engine low-wing airplane powered by a six-cylinder, 310-horsepower, Teledyne Continental Motors model IO-550-N7B engine, with serial number 686224, that drove a three-bladed Hartzell constant speed propeller.

At 1753, the recorded weather about 38 miles and 93 degrees from the accident site at FDY was: Wind 260 degrees at 10 knots; visibility 3 statute miles; present weather mist; sky condition overcast clouds at 600 feet; temperature 7 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter 29.81 inches of mercury.

The main sections of the airplane fuselage and empennage were found impacted and buried in soft terrain about 199 degrees and 907 feet from the intersection of Route 60 and Town Road 137. The airplane's resting heading was about 77 degrees. The airplane's airframe was found fragmented with its heavier components north of the main wreckage and its lighter components east of the main wreckage. The observed debris field of components extended about 124 feet north and about 187 feet east of the main wreckage. The propeller and propeller flange separated from its engine crankshaft and was found buried about four feet below the field. The propeller blades exhibited S-shaped bending and leading edge gouges. The engine was found deformed and buried about eight feet below the field. The no. five and no. six cylinders separated from their crankcase. Disassembly of the fuel pump showed its shear shaft separated in overload and it shaft was bent. The pump's vanes were intact and the pump rotated by hand freely about a quarter turn. The pump's mixture arm also rotated when moved by hand. Both magnetos sustained impact damage. One magneto produced spark when its impulse coupling was rotated by hand. Removed sparkplugs exhibited normal combustion discoloring and a "worn out, normal condition" when compared to a Champion Check-A-Plug chart. Accessible cylinders were inspected using a lighted borescope and no preimpact anomalies were detected during the borescope inspection. Disassembly of the oil pump revealed no debris or preimpact anomalies. Disassembly of the fuel manifold revealed that its seal surface facing its screen and valve exhibited deterioration and its seal surface facing its spring did not exhibit deterioration. Disassembly of the attitude indicator revealed rotational scoring on its rotor and cage. The rocket motor and parachute were found within subsurface empennage and fuselage fragments in the main wreckage area. The rocket motor was found with its propellant expended and it exhibited discoloration consistent with thermal damage. The parachute was found in a packed state and it exhibited deformation and discoloration consistent with thermal damage. Flight control cable and engine cable continuity was not established due to fragmentation and thermal damage. Airframe components in the debris field exhibited localized discoloration and charring consistent with a post-impact ground fire. Both navigation light covers were found and green glass fragments were found under the navigation light cover on the south side of the main wreckage. The engine cowling was fragmented and it exhibited a crush line consistent with a right wing low impact. Both left and right ailerons and flaps were found resting on the ground in the debris field to the north of the main wreckage. The empennage to include the lower section of the rudder was found discolored and deformed consistent with thermal damage. The empennage was found under charred sections of the fuselage at the southwest side of the main wreckage. The upper section of the rudder was found resting on the ground in the debris to the north of the main wreckage. Separation surfaces on the upper and lower sections exhibited consistent sized and shaped tears and separations. The upper rudder section did not exhibit the same dark discoloration as the lower section did.

The Paulding County Coroner was asked to perform an autopsy on the pilots and take toxicological samples for testing at the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute.

The main wreckage exhibited charring, deformation, and discoloration consistent with a ground fire. Separated airframe components in the debris field exhibited localized discoloration and charring consistent with a post-impact ground fire. A witness reported the sound of an explosion consistent with a ground impact explosion.

Any witnesses should email witness@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

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



OBITUARY: Michael L McCarty, MD 

Michael L. McCarty, 59, of Grand Island, NE died Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, as the result of a fatal plane crash in Paulding County, Ohio.

Memorial services will be held Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 11:00 AM at St Mary’s Cathedral, Grand Island, NE with Reverend Richard Piontkowski officiating. Reception and dinner to follow at St. Mary’s Parish Center. There will be no visitation. Inurnment will be at a later date. Apfel Funeral Home is assisting the family. Dr. McCarty was born to John McCarty and Frieda Faye Neth on January 18, 1955 in Hastings, NE. Starting at age 7 Dr. McCarty started working to help contribute to his family which lead to the work ethic and success in life. 


Read more: http://www.apfelfuneralhome.com
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- The investigation continues after Thursday's small plane crash in Ohio killed three Grand Island residents.  

The plane took off from the Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island.

Friends and family are remembering those lives that were lost.

Dr Michael McCarty as a very giving man, recalls his sister, "He was somebody that can't be replaced and he's had a huge impact on some many people's lives, my children, his children, other peoples children and just people in general," says Kim Gangwish.

Dr. McCarty was the pilot of the small single-engine plane that crashed last Thursday in Paulding county, Ohio. Wayne Weiss was the co-pilot that day. His wife Rosalee Weiss was also on board. All three were killed.

Airport officials aren't sure what happened and say it will take several months until they are able to determine what exactly caused the crash. But family members say both Dr. McCarty and Wayne had a lot of experience.

"He had the confidence to fly that day because he was with the most experienced pilot he knew between the two of them if there was a way that they could have saved that plane they would have," says Kim Gangwish, Dr. Michael McCarty's sister

Coworkers are struggling with the sudden loss.

"For me personally, I lost a friend. We're all in a state of shock and miss him greatly," says Tim Klemme the Central Nebraska Orthopedics Clinic administrator.

"Everybody in the office is just trying to adjust to not having him here with us," says Candi Price, Dr McCarty's nurse.

Dr. McCarty left an impact on many. Kim says that Grand Island lost some great people that day.

"We all learned from him, we all grew from him, we all have strength from him today, and he changed all of our lives in so many ways and we'll miss him a lot."

Officials say the cause of the crash could take months to determine. 


http://www.nbcneb.com


GROVER HILL, Ohio (WANE) The names of three victims in a Paulding County plane crash that happened Thursday night have been released by the county’s coroner.

According to a press release from the Paulding County Sheriff’s Department, the pilot of the aircraft is identified as Dr. Michael McCarty, 59, of Grand Island, Nebraska. The passengers on the plane are identified as Wayne Weiss, 65, and Rosalee Weiss, 62, both of Grand Island, Nebraska.

“The news is unfathomable at this time and we are deeply saddened and struck with this terrible loss,” Bryan Bydalek, a son-in-law of the Weiss couple, said in a statement issued to KGIN in Lincoln, Nebraska.  “Words cannot express the hurt we feel, but we do find some solace in knowing they passed together and that as a lifelong pilot, Wayne was doing something that he loved.  We would also like to send our condolences to the McCarty family as they deal with their loss as well.  We would also like to thank all our family and friends who have expressed their thoughts and prayers and support and we will continue to need support in the hard days to come.”

According to FAA records, they were on a section of the trip that would stop in Findlay, Ohio.

The three were traveling to New Jersey, family members told Paulding County Sheriff, Jason Landers. The plane crashed around 6 p.m. at the intersection on County Road 137 and County Road 60 in Latty Township.

McCarty was visiting a daughter and the Weisses were vacationing. Landers was told that both Michael and Wayne were longtime friends and experienced pilots. When the three failed to arrive in New Jersey at the scheduled time, the families began to search for them.

The aircraft was registered to Orthopedists Aviation Services. Investigators are continuing to clean up the scene on Saturday. They are hoping to wrap things up at the crash site so they can start the process of determining what actually happened.

- Source:  http://wane.com



Three people are dead after a plane that departed from Grand Island crashed in a western Ohio field. 

Family members say the pilot was Dr. Michael McCarty, 59, and on board were his friend and old flight instructor Wayne Weiss, 65, and Weiss' wife Rosalee, 62, all of Grand Island.
 

The three took off from the Central Nebraska Regional Airport around noon Thursday.  They refueled in Iowa, and planned to spend the night in Ohio before continuing on to visit family in New Jersey.  But around 6 pm, the Paulding County, Ohio sheriff says the four-seat single-engine plane went down there, with witnesses reporting it was on fire before impact.
 

McCarty was a well known orthopedic surgeon. His family tells NTV he was an experienced pilot and say the plane had just passed an annual inspection.

The Weiss family says Wayne was an experienced flight instructor, and had been flying since his military days. He had taught McCarty to fly some time ago.

"The news is unfathomable at this time and we are deeply saddened and struck with this terrible loss," the Weiss family said in a statement to NTV.  "Words cannot express the hurt we feel, but we do find some solace in knowing they passed together and that as a lifelong pilot, Wayne was doing something that he loved.  We would also like to send our condolences to the McCarty family as they deal with their loss as well.  We would also like to thank all our family and friends who have expressed their thoughts and prayers and support and we will continue to need support in the hard days to come."

The Paulding County sheriff said FAA and NTSB investigators were still on the scene as of Saturday morning.

According to WPTA-TV of Fort Wayne, Ind., witnesses told police they heard an explosion and saw the plane on fire before it crashed, . The flight began at Central Nebraska Regional Airport and left at 12:19 p.m. on Thursday. It flew for about two hours to Washington, Iowa, then took off about 40 minutes later for Findlay, Ohio. After making a short stop in Fort Wayne, Ind., it dropped off the radar in Paulding County, Ohio, at an altitude of about five thousand feet.

The aircraft is registered to Orthopedic Aviation Services out of Delaware.


- Source:  http://www.nebraska.tv

PAULDING COUNTY, Ohio (WANE) – A Thursday night plane crash that left three dead has brought federal investigators to an area in rural Paulding County.

 The crash happened near County Road 60 and County Road 137 around 6 p.m. on Thursday, and on Friday evening crews had arrived with heavy construction equipment to help them clear the scene of debris and remove the remains of those who perished in the crash.

The site is about two miles north of Grover Hill and several miles east of Wayne Trace High School.

Witnesses told police the small plane was on fire before it crashed into the field, which lies about two miles north of Grover Hill and several miles east of Wayne Trace High School. Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers said a passing motorist and a hunter who was nearby would be interviewed Friday about what they saw and heard around the time of the crash.

“They heard an explosion and they actually saw the aircraft on fire in the air prior to the collision on the ground. One of them quite a distance away felt the concussion from the impact. It was a devastating incident that happened,” Landers said.

Debris is scattered in an area about 100 yards by 100 yards, according to Landers. The plane crashed in a field directly across the road from a house.

“The largest amount of material, if you will, is in the ground. We believe the way the aircraft descended into the ground and the speed at the time of the collision caused it to go into the ground, so we have to take our steps to go backwards and properly bring that back out,” Landers said.

According to flight tracking information, it appears the plane was traveling from a Washington, Iowa airport to Findlay, Ohio. Air traffic controllers in Toledo lost radar contact with the plane before it crashed due to still unknown circumstances.

According to information from the Federal Aviation Administration’s accident and incident notifications, there were three people on the plane when it crashed: the pilot and two passengers. All three died. The plane was registered to Orthopedic Aviation Services LLC out of Middletown, Delaware.

It’s unclear if the pilot made radio contact or a distress call before the crash. Landers said they hope media reports about the crash will help them identity details they have not been able to put together at the crash site. This is the first plane crash Landers has encountered as sheriff.

“I’m weighing heavily on people who know what they’re doing through federal agencies and the sheriff’s association. They have people who are trained to know how to investigate this. I’m not afraid to reach out for help,” he said.

The FAA arrived around 11 p.m. from Columbus. A representative from the National Transportation Safety Board out of Chicago was traveling to the scene Friday morning. The Paulding County Sheriff’s Department and firefighters secured the site and assisted with the investigation.

The Grover Hill Fire Department, Paulding County Coroner’s Office, and an Aviation Crash Investigation team with the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association are all involved with the investigation.


Story, comments, video and photo:  http://wane.com

Wayne and Rosalee Weiss, Dr. Michael McCarty










Family of pilot killed in crash files lawsuit: Cessna 421 Golden Eagle, N51RX, Elite Medical Air Transport LLC, accident occurred August 27, 2014 in Las Cruces, New Mexico

LAS CRUCES >> The family of the pilot killed in a plane crash west of Las Cruces on Aug. 27 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in state District Court.

The suit, filed by a Texas law firm on behalf of Damiana Martinez, also alleges negligence, gross negligence and other claims against Southwest Aviation, two other businesses that have ties to the Las Cruces International Airport, and the city.

Martinez's husband, Juan "Freddy" Martinez, of Santa Teresa, was one of four people killed in the air ambulance crash that night.

In its preliminary investigation report, the National Transportation Safety Board stated a technician filled the twin-engine, propeller-driven plane with jet fuel instead of the required aviation-grade gasoline about half an hour before the evening crash.

The plane, a Cessna 421C crashed about 7 p.m., shortly after takeoff. Witnesses saw black smoke trailing the plane and investigators smelled jet fuel in the wreckage.

"This was a tragedy that could have been prevented," said G. Sean Jez, one of the attorneys representing the Martinez family, in a prepared statement.

The lawsuit alleges Southwest Aviation, which operates the city-owned airport and fuel farm, failed to "create, implement and monitor" safety procedures to prevent fueling errors.

The lawsuit makes similar claims against New York-based Ascent Aviation Group and Houston-based Phillips 66, companies that reportedly co-owned the truck allegedly used to fill the plane with the improper fuel.
Advertisement

The city failed to implement proper safeguards, according to the lawsuit.

Attorneys for the defendants could not be reached. City officials typically do not comment on pending cases.

A copy of the fuel farm lease between the city and Southwest Aviation, obtained this week by the Sun-News though a recent public records request, requires Southwest Aviation to carry insurance. It also states the city, any elected officials and employees will be held harmless for any liabilities or claims against the facility.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages.

Freddy Martinez, 29, and the crew from Elite Medical Transport of El Paso — 35-year-old flight nurse Monica Chavez of Las Cruces and 27-year-old paramedic Tauren Summers of El Paso — were transporting Frederick Green, 59, to Phoenix for cancer treatment when the plane went down.

They all died in the crash.

Green's family has filed a suit in a Texas court alleging negligence against Southwest Aviation and two Texas companies that had a role in maintaining the plane.


- Source:  http://www.lcsun-news.com

http://registry.faa.gov/N51RX

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA462
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 27, 2014 in Las Cruces, NM
Aircraft: CESSNA 421C, registration: N51RX
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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

On August 27, 2014, about 1900 mountain daylight time, a Cessna Airplane Company 421C, multi-engine airplane, N51RX, was destroyed after impacting terrain during initial climb near Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), Las Cruces, New Mexico. The pilot, two medical crewmembers and one patient were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Elite Medical Air Transport, LLC; El Paso, Texas, and was operated by Amigos Aviation, Inc.; Harlingen, Texas. Day visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 air ambulance flight. At the time of the accident the airplane was departing LRU for a flight to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Phoenix, Arizona.

The airplane arrived LRU about 1834 to pickup a patient for a flight to PHX. The pilot was still seated in the cockpit when he gave the line service technician a verbal order for a total of forty gallons of fuel. The line service technician drove the fuel truck to the front of the airplane and refueled the airplane putting 20 gallons in each wing. The pilot then assisted the line service technician with replacing both fuel caps. They both walked into the office and the pilot signed the machine printed fuel ticket.

After departing LRU to the west a medical crewmember onboard the airplane called their medical dispatcher on a satellite telephone and reported they were returning to LRU because of a problem with smoke coming from the right engine. A witness driving westbound on the interstate highway reported the airplane was westbound and about 200 feet above ground level (agl) when he saw smoke begin to appear from the right engine. The airplane then began descending and started a left turn to the east. Another witness, driving eastbound on the interstate highway, reported the airplane was trailing smoke when it passed over him about 100 feet agl. He saw the descending airplane continue its left turn to the east and then lost sight of it. Several witnesses reported seeing the impact or hearing the sound of impact and they then immediately saw smoke or flames.

Evidence at the scene showed the airplane was generally eastbound and upright when it impacted terrain resulting in the separation of the left propeller and the separation of the right aileron. The airplane came to rest inverted about 100 feet from the initial impact point, and there was an immediate postimpact fire which consumed much of the airplane. Investigators who arrived at the scene on the day following the accident reported detecting the smell of jet fuel.

A postaccident review of refueling records and interviews with line service technicians showed that the airplane had been misfuelled with 40 gallons of Jet A fuel instead of the required 100LL aviation gasoline.

At 1855 the automated weather observing system at LRU, located about 3 miles northeast from the accident location, reported wind from 040 degrees at 5 knots, visibility of 10 miles, broken clouds at 6,500 feet, temperature 23 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 16 degrees C, with an altimeter setting of 30.16 inches of Mercury.


 

Federal Aviation Administration cracks down on drone at high school football games (with video)

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) --  Green Hope High School's drone won't fly over Friday night's football game against Panther Creek.

It was grounded after a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration was sent to the school earlier this week following a tip to the agency.

The FAA said unmanned aircraft "are prohibited above large gatherings of people."

The drone project was thought up by students in the Black Falcons cybersecurity club as a way to raise money to attend a national youth conference. They launched it last month during their school's homecoming game against Middle Creek.

"It's very cool," said sophomore Chris Clark. "It's a shame. It's helping out the school."

The Black Falcons planned to fly the drone again during Green Hope's final home football game.

Instead, Wake County School spokesperson Lisa Luten said the club will not fly it due to concerns from the FAA.

"Wake County Public School System respects the FAA's regulations, and will be reviewing our programs to ensure that future aircraft projects comply with safety guidelines," said Luten.

"It is a bummer," said sophomore Brandon Nowak.


Story and Video:   http://abc11.com

Cheaper Oil Lifts Airlines, Other U.S. Industries: Drop in Crude Prices and Fuel Bills Is Welcomed—Up to a Point

The Wall Street Journal
By Susan Carey, Joseph B. White and Betsy Morris

Nov. 7, 2014 4:07 p.m. ET


Plunging oil prices are welcome news for U.S. airlines, auto makers, and even corn farmers, but the decline if it persists also carries risks for parts of corporate America.

Crude oil prices have dropped about 25% in just over four months, hitting a three-year low of $77.19 a barrel on Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, they nudged up to $78.65.

The plunge is causing pain in a U.S. oil patch that has expanded substantially in recent years, and figures to hurt manufacturers that supply the energy sector. But the oil slump also is shrinking fuel bills for transportation companies and for consumers, who are likely to spend at least some of the savings, giving a boost to the economy.

Perhaps the biggest direct beneficiary is the airline industry. Fuel is its No. 1 expense, costing U.S. carriers a combined $51 billion last year. Airlines for America, the industry’s leading trade group, estimates that every penny per gallon change up or down equates to $190 million in the U.S. industry’s annual fuel expense at current consumption rates.

Spot jet-fuel prices have slid about 16% from early September, which analysts said shaves about $5 billion off 2015 fuel-bill projections for the industry made before oil began its latest slide. In the near term, those savings “will go straight to the bottom line,” said Scott Kirby, president of American Airlines Group Inc., the largest U.S. carrier by traffic.

For similar reasons, express delivery companies FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. stand to benefit, as does the trucking industry—which carries 69% of all U.S. freight tonnage. For them, lower fuel costs are helping offset higher wages stemming from a driver shortage.

The express delivery companies generally pass on fuel savings to customers, but not immediately—which means those savings can show up in their bottom lines. “Certainly if prices stay as low as they are, that would be a benefit for the fourth quarter,” UPS Chief Financial Officer Kurt Kuehn said in an interview last month.

Cheaper oil also benefits farmers, and not only because they spend less on tractor fuel. If lower gasoline prices encourage Americans to pump more into their vehicles, that could stimulate demand for ethanol, a fuel additive whose production is one of the biggest users of U.S. corn.

Low gasoline prices also help U.S. auto makers by emboldening consumers to buy more pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, which generally yield higher profits than small cars. Sales of Detroit-brand large SUVs such as General Motors Co. ’s Chevrolet Suburban are up 16% so far this year, and sales of big pickups like Ford Motor Co. ’s F-150 rose 9.5% in October.

But an oil-price slump can cut both ways for U.S. industry.

In the case of auto makers, the government requires them to boost the average fuel economy of their U.S. car and light trucks every year to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Hitting that target entails selling lots of small cars, electric vehicles, and larger vehicles made with costly lightweight materials and other fuel-saving hardware.

Ford executives warned last month that consumers, lulled by low pump prices, may not opt for vehicles that hold down greenhouse-gas emissions, sometimes with more costly technology. At GM, Chevy dealers have only 59 days’ supply of Suburbans on their lots, but are sitting on more than three months’ worth of unsold Sonic and Spark subcompacts and Volt plug-in hybrids, according to Autodata Corp.

“It’s turning into a stampede away from fuel-efficiency,” says Mike Jackson, head of AutoNation Inc., the No. 1 auto dealership chain in the U.S.

A sustained plunge for oil also would hurt the U.S. chemical industry, which is investing billions of dollars in new plants to make resins and other petrochemical products derived from cheap natural gas. Some petrochemicals—notably polyethylene, used in making plastics and other materials—can be made from derivatives of either oil or natural gas. U.S. makers of polyethylene use natural-gas liquids and have had a big cost advantage over rivals in Europe and Asia that don’t have access to cheap gas and so rely on crude oil. When crude prices fall, that advantage diminishes, reducing profit margins for the U.S. chemical companies.

The blessing also is mixed for makers of pipes, valves, pumps and other equipment used in the oil sector. They benefit from lower transport costs but could also see demand slow from what has been one of the country’s most robust sectors.

Caterpillar Inc., which supplies engines to the oil and gas industry, is watching the situation closely. If oil prices drop to the $70-to-$75 range and stay there, that would “put a chill” on the oil industry, Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman told analysts in late October. If prices settle in the mid-$80s, he said, “we can all live with that.”

For railroads, shipping crude from the U.S. energy boom has become one of the most lucrative and fast-growing segments of their business. Major railroads’ revenue for hauling crude jumped from $25.8 million in 2008 to $2.15 billion in 2013, according to federal data.

If oil producers begin to pull back, it will hurt some railroads more than others. BNSF Railway Co., a unit of Warren Buffett ’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., hauls most of the oil out of the shale fields in North Dakota and Montana, and would likely feel a chill. Less affected would be Union Pacific Corp. , which hauls much less crude because its tracks are concentrated in the Southwest.

Skyrocketing oil prices allowed rail to compete more effectively against trucking, which uses more fuel. Rail analyst Anthony Hatch believes that railroads will continue to have an edge over highway transport as long as the price of oil doesn’t drop below $50 a barrel.

Even for the airline industry, cheaper oil may not be all good, analysts say, if carriers see it as an opportunity to increase capacity and then lower fares to fill empty seats, some analysts say. Hunter Keay of Wolfe Research LLC recently noted that airlines did just that during a previous oil slump in 2010. “Then oil prices went right back up again, as they tend to, and 2011 stunk,” he wrote.

Other analysts dismiss the concern, arguing that airline executives have learned financial discipline after a decade of bankruptcies and mergers. Moreover, most domestic carriers continued to raise fares even as oil prices slid in recent weeks.

Airlines coped with expensive oil in recent years by retiring their thirstiest, old airplanes and substituting new aircraft that burn less fuel. So a sustained drop in fuel prices could damp that demand, boding ill for plane makers. But Boeing Co. Chief Executive Jim McNerney indicated last month in response to a question that oil would have to fall below $70 a barrel for an extended period to trigger aircraft cancellations and deferrals by its customers.

—James R. Hagerty, Laura Stevens and Jesse Newman contributed to this article.


- Source: http://online.wsj.com

Two (2) John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK) air traffic controllers charged in payroll scheme, federal officials say

An air traffic controller from Long Island was charged in federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday in a scheme to steal more than $170,000 from the Federal Aviation Administration by manipulating payroll records.

Kennedy Airport controllers Jeffrey Evagues, 54, of Manorville and Asof Ali, 38, of Queens are charged with modifying computer records at least 300 times from 2011 to 2014 to indicate they worked when they were in fact out sick, on vacation or taking weekly time off, records show.

Evagues, according to a criminal complaint, made an entry Feb. 22 to indicate he worked eight hours on Feb. 9, when his cellphone records indicated he was in Mililani, Hawaii, 4,900 miles away. He was paid $578.16 for the time he didn't work, prosecutors said.

The government said it had security camera footage showing Evagues and Ali entering the room with the payroll computer at Kennedy Airport minutes before the time when modifications were made in their records.

Evagues, a 27-year FAA employee who has been at Kennedy Airport since 2002, claimed unearned pay of $87,000, the government charged. Ali, who has been at Kennedy since 2009, took $83,000, according to authorities.

Both men were arrested Thursday and charged with stealing federal employee benefits and payroll. They were released on bail after a court appearance. Their attorneys did not return calls for comment.

"For three years these air traffic controllers engaged in a high-flying scheme to redirect public funds into their own bank accounts," Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. "Today they were grounded."


Story and Comments:   http://www.newsday.com

Judge rules county commission cannot expand airport commission: Martha's Vineyard (KMVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

A Dukes County Superior Court Judge  issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday that prevents the Dukes County Commission from expanding the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission (MVAC) by appointing two new members to increase its size from seven to nine members.

As he did in an earlier ruling on August 7 on four other points in the long running and costly legal dispute, Associate Justice Richard J. Chin sided with the airport commission, which argued that the county vote to expand the airport commission was a violation of the grant assurances, agreed to by the county, and which provided millions of dollars in state and federal grants to the airport under the condition the county “agree not to reorganize the MVAC or in any way interfere with the autonomy and authority of the MVAC.”

“The court concludes that it will not harm the public interest to continue operating the airport with only seven members on the MVAC, as it has been operated for some time,” Judge Chin wrote in his November 5 decision. “Further, the county’s alleged violation of the grant assurances could put the MVAC’s funding at risk and interfere with its ability to operate the airport safely and efficiently to the detriment of the public. The county is enjoined from expanding the size of the MVAC and appointing new commissioners to the MVAC or from otherwise interfering with the autonomy and authority of the MVAC without the express written approval of the Aeronautics Division.”

In an October 7 hearing before Judge Chin, airport commission attorney David Mackey, of the Cambridge law firm Anderson and Kreiger, argued that the county commission’s September 24 vote to expand the airport commission violated state law, and violated the grant assurances, in which the county commission acknowledged the airport commission’s sole authority for “custody, care, and management” of the airport. He also argued that any attempt to reorganize the airport commission without permission from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division, violated the grant assurances.

Judge Chin said state law grants the county commission the authority to establish an airport commission, but does not give it authority to change the makeup of the commission once it is established.

“Particularly considering the history between the parties,” Judge Chin wrote, “the court concludes that the MVAC had shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its contention that by adding two additional seats to the MVAC, the county is trying to reorganize the MVAC and/or interfere with the autonomy and authority of the MVAC.”

The county had argued that any grant assurances must respect the authority of the County Commission to appoint the Airport Commission. In a footnote, Judge Chin wrote that the county “makes a convoluted argument.”

Reaction

In a phone interview with The Times Friday, Mr. Mackey said he was pleased with the decision. “We’re pleased that the court once again has clearly affirmed that the airport commission, not the county, has authority over the airport,” Mr. Mackey said. “We’re also pleased that the court once has blocked the county’s attempt to take control of the airport commission by changing its membership. We look forward to bringing this case, and the issue of the airport commission’s autonomy and authority to a prompt and final resolution. The airport commission intends to pursue its claims as speedily and aggressively as possible.”

Airport manager Sean Flynn said the airport commission has not met since September 26, as it waited for the court to rule.

“From my perspective as the executive officer, now that we’ve received clarification of what the makeup of the airport commission is, we can move forward again with the current membership,” Mr. Flynn said. He said the airport commission is tentatively scheduled to meet next on November 21.

County commission chairman Leonard Jason, Jr. said the decision was confusing, especially on Judge Chin’s ruling that the county commission cannot expand the airport commission without permission from the Aeronautics Division.

“I really don’t understand how he can say that,” Mr. Jason said. “We asked Mass. Aeronautics, they said we could. It’s very confusing.”

Mr. Jason was asked if the county commissioners intend to continue defending the lawsuit. “Obviously we haven’t met, so I can’t answer that.”

Explanation demanded

On September 24, the county commissioners voted 6 to 0, with one abstention, to increase the size of the airport commission to nine members. The commissioners immediately appointed pilot and businessman Myron Garfinkle of West Tisbury, and Robert Rosenbaum, a seasonal resident of Chilmark, former businessman and pilot.

The county commissioners said the move was warranted because a large number of qualified candidates had expressed interest in filling the seat left vacant by the recent departure of Peter Bettencourt.

Former airport commissioner and county commissioner John Alley of West Tisbury was the only dissenting vote. Mr. Alley questioned whether the expansion would violate the grant assurances.

County manager Martina Thornton told commissioners that she had researched the issue of expanding the size of the airport commission. She assured the commissioners she did not foresee any problems and cited a phone conversation with the counsel from MassDOT.

One day after the county commission vote, in a letter dated Sept. 25,

Christopher Willenborg, MassDOT Aeronautics Division administrator, asked the county for an explanation of the vote and said that any such reorganization or interference would require the express written approval of the Aeronautics Division.”

Previous injunctions

In an August 7 ruling, Judge Chin sided with the airport commission, on four other issues in the latest lawsuit, filed in response to actions of the county commission this year.

In that ruling, Judge Chin said the county commission is enjoined from appointing the county manager to the airport commission as an ex-officio, nonvoting member; the county manager is enjoined from serving in such a capacity; and the county treasurer is enjoined from refusing to pay invoices duly approved for payment by the airport commission, from obtaining privileged or confidential communications between the airport commission and its attorneys without notice to, or the consent of, the airport commission, and from releasing those communications between the airport commission and its attorneys to the public.

At issue in the legal dispute are two conflicting state laws, Chapter 34, which governs how the county operates, and Chapter 90, which establishes airport commissions as the sole authority to operate airports. In every instance throughout the 14 year legal dispute, courts have ruled that Chapter 90 prevails in any conflict between the two laws, and that the county agreed to abide by Chapter 90 as a condition of receiving state and federal funding.

Legal costs

The legal squabbling has been costly. According to figures compiled by county treasurer Noreen Mavro Flanders, the airport commission has spent $33,463 in the current fiscal year on legal costs associated with its lawsuit against the county. According to county manager Martina Thornton, the county has spent $11,453, to defend itself, which leaves only about $1,007 in the amount allotted for the lawsuit in the county budget. Ms. Thornton said the county has yet to be billed for attorney Robert Troy’s preparation and appearance at the October 7 hearing, and expects that bill to exceed the amount budgeted.

The County Advisory Board (CAB), made up of one selectman from each Island town, and which is responsible for oversight of the county budget, must approve any additional expenditures for legal costs. At a joint meeting of the county commission and the CAB on October 29, the two boards clashed over legal costs.

“I don’t think the county should be spending any more money on this issue,” said Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter, the West Tisbury representative to the CAB.

“So you think the county should just walk away from the lawsuit,” said county commission chairman Leonard Jason, Jr.

“I don’t believe it’s valuable to spend taxpayer dollars, because I don’t think it makes any difference to the people which side wins or loses,” said Mr. Manter.

CAB acting chairman Art Smadbeck, Edgartown’s representative to the oversight board, declined comment on the latest ruling.

- Source:  http://www.mvtimes.com