Friday, November 14, 2014

UPDATE: Honda says blown tire won't affect HondaJet tests

Incident occurred November 14, 2014 at Piedmont Triad International Airport (KGSO), Greensboro, North Carolina 


GREENSBORO — A Honda Aircraft spokeswoman said today that the HondaJet program won't be affected by a blown tire during a landing this morning.

A HondaJet blew a tire as it landed about 11:30 a.m. at  Piedmont Triad International Airport, causing the airport to scramble firefighters to the scene.

Honda spokeswoman Aleasha Vuncannon said at 3 p.m. in an email that the aircraft "was returning to the airport from a routine test flight mission."

Two crew members were aboard and there were no injuries or damage to the aircraft, Vuncannon wrote.

She wrote that the tire was replaced and the plane is back in service.

Honda and the Federal Aviation Administration are making intensive final tests of the plane before the company begins delivering the jets in 2015.

Honda Aircraft Co. is building the light jet at its PTI headquarters.

"This does not have any impact on the certification program or aircraft production," Vuncannon wrote.

Posted at 11:54 a.m.

GREENSBORO — A HondaJet blew a tire as it landed at the Piedmont Triad International Airport this morning, causing the airport to scramble firefighters to the scene.

The incident happened about 11:30 a.m.

No injuries were reported.

The pilot landed on runway five, PTI operations director Julie Beadle said.

“Upon landing, it appears that one of his gear tires blew,” Beadle said.

Information about further damage to the aircraft was unavailable.

Firefighters are on the scene.


- Source:   http://www.news-record.com


A HondaJet blew a tire upon landing Friday at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

The incident happened at about 11:30 a.m., said Julie Beadle, director of operations for the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority.

She said no one was injured.


Firefighters responded to the scene.

"It was a fairly minor incident," Beadle said.

Honda officials said in a statement that the aircraft was returning to the airport from a routine test flight mission.

"There were no injuries and no damage to the airplane," according to the statement. "The tire was replaced on the aircraft, and the aircraft has now returned to service."

Honda Aircraft Co.'s $4.5 million HondaJet, touted as a lightweight, fuel-efficient business jet, has garnered 100 orders. Honda expects to achieve aircraft type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration in the first quarter of 2015 and begin deliveries of the plane soon afterward.

Honda Aircraft recently announced that it had begun construction on a $19 million, 74,000-square-foot expansion of its world headquarters at PTI.


Story and comments:  http://www.bizjournals.com

Committee interviews five for Lafayette Regional Airport (KLFT) director job

A search committee will winnow the number of candidates vying to be Lafayette Regional Airport director from five to four next week as the Lafayette Airport Commission moves toward choosing a director in January.

Committee members on Nov. 20 will eliminate one of the remaining candidates based on interviews Thursday that each lasted less than an hour. The interviews, conducted in a conference room at Stone Energy’s headquarters in Lafayette, were done using video teleconferencing. The five candidates were interviewed from their offices in Louisiana, Texas and Georgia.

The five finalists were among more than 30 from across the country who applied for the job, a vacancy created by the June resignation of longtime airport Director Greg Roberts. The number was whittled to eight in mid-October, then five in late October.

“I think we did good with our five selections,” Commissioner Paul Guilbeau said. “It’s making it harder and harder for us” to eliminate candidates from consideration, he said.

Guilbeau, Tim Skinner and Valerie Gotch Garrett are commissioners who serve on the search committee along with Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux and Stone Energy Chief Executive Officer David Welch.

The five candidates still in the hunt are Jason Devillier, of Lafayette, director at the Iberia Parish Airport in New Iberia; Ralph Hennessy, of Baton Rouge, assistant director of aviation at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport; Robert Kennedy, of East Point, Georgia, vice president of consulting services for Aviation Strategies International in Georgia; Steven Picou, of Amarillo, Texas, deputy director of aviation at the Amarillo International Airport in Texas; and David Blackshear, of Lafayette, vice president of Applied Airport Technology in Maryland.

In the round of eliminations in mid-October, Devillier and Kennedy received the highest scores among those remaining.

Commissioners on Thursday debated whether, after the list is narrowed next week, one or two commissioners should travel to the offices of the candidates for the next round of interviews. That decision also could be made Nov. 20.

The director search is going on at the same time Lafayette Parish voters are pondering a Dec. 6 vote that would temporarily add a 1-cent sales tax to pay for airport improvements.

The tax, which would not be charged on food and prescription drugs, would be collected for eight months in 2015. The proceeds, an estimated $35 million, would help pay for construction of a bigger terminal at the airport and more parking.

Larry Sides, whose firm Sides & Associates is helping with the director search and tax passage, said the commission decided not to rush to have the next director in place by the time of the vote on Dec. 6.

All the remaining candidates have exhibited key traits commissioners said they value: friendliness and social grace.

“(The director) needs to be the face of the airport and the people of Lafayette,” Guilbeau said.

In an interview, Guilbeau chose not to mention the name of former Director Roberts, whose nature was prickly and confrontational. His resignation followed an incident in which he pointed a fake handgun at an engineer with whom he disagreed. Roberts’ relations with others hit other bumps during the 21 years he was director.

District Attorney Mike Harson declined to charge Roberts after the engineer at whom the fake weapon was pointed asked for the case to be dropped.

- Source: http://theadvocate.com

Cessna 150M, C-GJAO: Accident occurred November 11, 2014 in Whitney, Ontario

NTSB Identification: CEN15WA052 
 Accident occurred Tuesday, November 11, 2014 in Whitney, ON
Aircraft: CESSNA 150, registration:
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On November 11, 2014, at 2130 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150M airplane, Canadian registered C-GJAO , owned and operated by Flyblocktime Inc., was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Whitney, Ontario, Canada. The pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The meteorological conditions at the time of the accident are unknown. The flight originated from Ottawa, Ontario and was en route to Toronto, Ontario.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Government. Further information may be obtained from:

Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Place du Centre
200 Promenade du Portage, 4th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1K8

Phone: 1 (800) 387-3557
Fax: 1 (819) 997-2239
Webpage: http://www.tsb.gc.ca

This report is for informational purposes only and contains only information released by or obtained from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.


 
Ontario Provincial Police have identified the two victims of the fatal plane crash in Algonquin Provincial Park on November 11 as Ravindran Arulanandar, left, and Logesh Lakshmikanthan, right.



 


TORONTO - The two victims of a deadly plane crash in Algonquin Park earlier this week have now been identified as North York residents. 

 Ontario Provincial Police say the two men were flying in a Cessna 150 somewhere over Haliburton when the pilot contacted the Toronto area control center and reported an airborne emergency around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“Shortly after, communication was lost,” Sgt. Kristine Rae said in a statement released Friday.

It’s believed the pilot flew off course into bad weather, became disoriented in the clouds in an aircraft that was not equipped for flying in poor visibility, eventually ran out of fuel and crashed into the densely forested provincial park about 20 km south of Whitney.

Search crews located the downed aircraft around 4:40 a.m. Wednesday and confirmed the two men on board were killed in the crash.

The pilot has now been identified as Logesh Lakshmikanthan, 25, and his passenger as, Ravindran Arulanandar, 31.

On Wednesday, provincial police said the pilot was from India and the passenger was also from outside Canada.

However, the OPP now says both men lived in North York.

Rae said post-mortem examinations determined the two men died of injuries suffered in the crash.

“With assistance of the Transportation Safety Board, the cause of the crash has been determined to be as a result of running out of fuel,” she said.

Lakshmikanthan fuelled up the single-engine plane, which he rented from a Toronto-based company called Fly Block Time, at Buttonville Airport Monday night.

It’s believed he and his friend Arulanandar took off Tuesday morning and made stops in Peterborough, St. Hubert, Quebec, and Ottawa, before heading for home.

But they never made it back to the Markham airport.

According to a LinkedIn profile, Lakshmikanthan attended Island Air Flight School and Charters, which operates out of Billy Bishop Airport, between 2011 and 2014.

The school refused to comment, but sources have said the pilot had 200 hours of flying time.

Another online profile on PaisaLive.com suggests Lakshmikanthan is originally from Chennai, India.

An online resume suggests Arulanander worked as a security officer at a golf and country club, sold shoes, served fast food and was schooled in security, computers and business.

Arulanander received a diploma in airline ticketing from the International Airlines Ticketing Academy in Sri Lanka in 2000.


-Source: http://www.torontosun.com




Federal Aviation Administration investigates report of unmanned aircraft near Greenville Spartanburg International Airport (KGSP), Greer, South Carolina

The FAA generally limits the recreational use of airspace by model aircraft to below 400 feet, and they must stay away from airports and air traffic and within the sight of the operator.
 

Authorities are investigating a report that an unmanned aircraft flew near a plane as it tried to land at the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday.

The pilot of the Envoy airplane told air traffic controllers that his Embraer 145 aircraft was at an altitude of about 2,000 feet when he saw an unmanned aircraft flying below his plane as it approached a runway about 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19, the FAA said.

The FAA generally limits the recreational use of airspace by model aircraft to below 400 feet, and they must stay away from airports and air traffic and within the sight of the operator.

The government is receiving near-daily reports of drones flying near airplanes and helicopters or close to airports without permission, The Associated Press reported this week. Reports of this kind were unusual two years ago, the AP reported.

The FAA has said it may take action against model aircraft operators who fly their aircraft in a manner that endangers safety of the national airspace system.


- Source: http://www.greenvilleonline.com

Can you fly a drone? Amazon is hiring drone pilots

Calling all drone pilots.

Amazon is looking for engineers to help test and develop Prime Air, its drone delivery service. 

 According to the job posting, candidates should have at least five years of experience flying drones. It helps if you can fly actual airplanes. The company lists a pilot's certificate among the "preferred qualifications" for the job. 

Amazon first announced that it was working on delivering packages via drones last year. 

The type of drones proposed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos are currently not allowed for private use under federal law. 

But federal aviation rules are slated to change in 2015 and the company has suggested that it could start testing its "octocopters" -- as its drones are called -- to deliver small packages. 

Amazon is also looking for candidates who are knowledgeable about laws governing the use of unmanned aircraft. 

"We're looking for aerospace, systems, or other engineers with extensive UAS flight experience, and preferably experience in working with authorities on UAS certification," the job description states. 

Story, comments and video:  http://money.cnn.com

Flight Operations Engineer - Prime Air 

(ID 289867)
Amazon Corporate LLC

at Retail Systems Tech
US, WA, Seattle
Job Description

We’re working on the future. If you are seeking an iterative fast-paced environment where you can drive innovation, apply state-of-the-art technologies to solve extreme-scale real world challenges, and provide visible benefit to end-users, this is your opportunity.

Come work on the Amazon Prime Air Team!


Amazon Prime Air is looking for flight operations and certification personnel for flight testing our UAS technologies. You can expect to collaborate on test plans, plan the test evolution, and execute the flights while working closely with our flight engineering and flight test teams in Seattle. You will also be working closely with local certifying authorities to plan and execute the testing that works our way towards our full operational deployment. We're looking for aerospace, systems, or other engineers with extensive UAS flight experience, and preferably experience in working with authorities on UAS certification. Aviation safety experience is a definite plus, as is a current fixed-wing or rotorcraft pilot certificate. Success will require attention to detail, a safety-oriented attitude, flexibility, and creative problem solving to obtain the data we need as we iterate our vehicle and sensor technologies.


Qualifications

· 5+ (lead) 3+ (backup) years flight test experience
· Bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering or related field required (will take other types of engineers if they have the flight test experience)
· Experience with flight test planning, coordination, and execution
· Excellent communications skills


Preferred Qualifications

· Experience in aircraft certification and working with regulatory agencies
· Demonstrated ability to brief upper management
· Aviation Safety experience as a Safety Officer, mishap investigator, etc.

- Current fixed-wing or rotorcraft pilot's certificate.

Second time a plane propeller on a Q400 lodged in window

EDMONTON - When a commercial aircraft made an emergency landing at the Edmonton International Airport last week, it was the second time passengers of a Q400 narrowly escaped serious injury from a broken propeller that crashed into a cabin window.

In 2007, one of the propellers from a Scandinavian Airlines flight tore through the plane’s cabin. The incident occurred after the pilot of the Q400 noticed a malfunction in the plane’s landing gear. The gear failed upon landing, causing the right-hand wing to scrape the ground.

“We were very, very close to a serious catastrophe,” Peter Reinau, head of the Aalborg Airport’s emergency response team, said at the time in a report in the Copenhagen Post.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating what happened in the case of Air Canada Express flight 8481 that landed at EIA last Thursday. Initial reports stated that a tire burst on the Q400 twin-engined, turboprop aircraft during its takeoff from Calgary. The plane was diverted to Edmonton and passengers have reported that another tire blew out upon landing at EIA.

A photograph posted online by the TSB shows part of the right-side propeller lodged in a plane window. The account of a female passenger who was injured by debris caused by the propeller circulated widely online. She was seated in Row 7 on the plane’s right side.

The 2007 incident in Denmark was one of three involving a Q400 operated by Scandinavian Airlines that occurred within a matter of weeks. According to media reports at the time, Swedish authorities had critiqued the airline’s maintenance practices.

The airline, meanwhile, grounded its fleet of Q400 planes in fall 2007. The aircraft is manufactured by Bombardier.

“This was more a matter of perception than anything else,” said Hans Ollongren, the airline’s head of public affairs, on Thursday. “I don’t think we actually questioned the technical or operational viability of the aircraft. But if you’ve had three consecutive incidents with the same type of aircraft there is a risk this will influence customer perception of your brand.”

Ollongren, who worked at the airline in 2007, said the Aalborg Airport incident could have been worse if the captain had not decided to move passengers sitting under the wing to the front and back of the plane before landing.

“Because he suspected this might happen and it did. If he did not move the people from those seats, they could have been killed,” Ollongren said.

The company entered negotiations with Bombardier and purchased its CRJ900 regional jet to replace its Q400 fleet.

“It’s very difficult to determine whether the reason for (the Edmonton) accident is the same as for ours. What seems to have happened in Edmonton was the tire (blew out) and if you try to land this aircraft with a broken tire, it might impact the stability of the landing gear ... You cannot, at this stage, draw any conclusion there’s a similarity between the two accidents.”

Bombardier spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera said, “it was not the exact same scenario.”

“I can only speak to our understanding with the information that is publicly known, and that is that a tire burst. The aircraft was diverted to land in Edmonton and upon landing an event occurred. But the key difference here is that a tire burst,” she said.
 
Eighty-one Q400 aircraft are registered in Canada. The Q400 and Q400 NextGen have performed more than five million takeoffs and landings across the world and logged almost five million flight hours, according to Bombardier.

“There are no other turboprops that operate in North America. It tells you how robust and reliable these aircraft are,” said de la Barrera, manager of public affairs and external communications at Bombardier. “They are designed to be robust and reliable in that regard, in consideration of the high cycle demands of regional airline operators because they do so many takeoffs and landings per day.”

Previous investigations by Canadian and European aviation safety authorities “endorsed the integrity and the design of the aircraft landing gear system,” she said.

- Source:  http://www.edmontonjournal.com

How to Survive a Plane Crashing into Water

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA068
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 11, 2013 in Kalaupapa, HI
Aircraft: CESSNA 208B, registration: N687MA
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 3 Serious, 5 Minor.

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.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On December 11, 2013, about 1522 Hawaiian standard time, a Cessna 208B, N687MA, was destroyed following a loss of engine power and ditching into the Pacific Ocean near Kalaupapa, Hawaii. One passenger was fatally injured, the airline transport pilot and two passengers were seriously injured, and five passengers received minor injuries. The airplane was registered to Leis Air LLC, and operated by Makani Kai Air under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight, and a company flight plan had been filed. The flight departed from the Kalaupapa Airport on the island of Molokai, about 2 minutes prior to the accident, with an intended destination of the Honolulu International Airport on the island of Oahu. 

In a written statement, the pilot reported that shortly after takeoff from runway 05, at an altitude of about 400 feet above ground level (agl), he began a left turn for a downwind departure. Shortly after passing 500 feet agl, the pilot motioned toward the power lever to reduce power for the climb when he heard a loud bang followed by an immediate loss of engine power. The pilot continued the turn toward land, verified the fuel valves were on, and observed all engine gauges displaying "zero." The pilot realized the airplane was not going to make it to land, and rolled the wings level while broadcasting a mayday distress call. Shortly after, the airplane landed within open ocean water in a flat or slightly nose up attitude. 

All the passengers and the pilot exited the airplane through the rear right door, and the airplane remained on the water surface for approximately 25 minutes before it sank. One passenger swam to shore, and United States Coast Guard and Maui Fire and Rescue helicopters recovered the pilot and 7 passengers from the water about 80 minutes after the ditching. 

Review of video taken by one of the passengers (which started with the airplane descending toward the water, showed the impact, and continued for about 15 minutes) indicated that the airplane impacted the water in a wings level, slightly nose-high attitude. The video showed that the airplane remained intact after contacting the water, and remained afloat throughout the video.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot, age 60, held an airline transport pilot certificate with a multiengine land rating and type ratings in the Boeing 737 and 777. He had commercial privileges in single-engine land airplanes and gliders, and he held a flight instructor certificate with multiengine airplane, single-engine airplane, and glider ratings. His most recent first class medical certificate was issued on December 9, 2013, with the limitation "must wear corrective lenses."

According to the operator, the pilot satisfactorily completed his most recent Part 135 proficiency/competency check on May 9, 2013. The pilot reported that he had accumulated a total flight time of about 16,000 hours of which 250 hours were in Cessna 208Bs. In the past 90 days, 30 days, and 24 hours, the pilot had flown 150, 50, and 10 hours, respectively, all in Cessna 208Bs.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The airplane, a Cessna 208B, was manufactured in 2002 and equipped with a Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-114A 675-horsepower turbo-prop engine, serial number PCE-PC1021, which had accumulated 4,899.6 hours and 9,303 cycles since new at the time of the accident. 

Review of the engine and airframe logbooks revealed that in July 2012 the engine had reached Pratt & Whitney Canada's (P&WC) recommended time between overhaul (TBO) of 3,600 hours, however, the operator obtained a factory authorized 200-hour TBO extension, which was subsequently approved by the FAA. 

On July 23, 2012, at a total time since new of 3,752.3 hours total time, the engine was placed onto the Maintenance on Reliable Engines (MORE) STC, which extended the TBO from 3,600 hours to 8,000 hours, which was subsequently approved by the FAA. The MORE STC literature states that the MORE Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) is not a stand-alone document but is only a supplement to the PW&C engine maintenance program requiring that all the inspection and maintenance specified in the PW&C manual must be performed in addition to inspections and maintenance specified by the MORE program, such as a more frequent borescope inspection of the hot section, periodic inspection of the compressor and exhaust duct areas, and periodic Power Plant Adjustment/Tests. 

In conflict with the P&WC guidance, which requires engine condition trend monitoring (ECTM), a method of continuously monitoring engine health, the MORE STC does not recommend ECTM. The operator elected to follow the MORE program guidance and did not conduct ECTM. 

According to the airframe and engine records, when the engine was placed onto the MORE STC, an engine hot section inspection (HSI) was performed. Guidance for managing and performing an HSI is contained in the P&WC applicable engine maintenance manual and service bulletin (SB), No. 1703 titled "Operating Time Between Overhauls and Hot Section Inspection Frequency Recommendations". Revision 6 of the P&WC SB 1703 was applicable at the time. The maintenance manual and SB required a compressor turbine (CT) blade metallurgical evaluation, which consisted of selecting two random pre-SB1669 CT blades, sectioning them and evaluating the samples in a materials laboratory. The tests destroy the two samples. No documentation was located to show that this inspection was complied with. 

According to the operator, the combined guidance documentation between the MORE literature, P&WC Maintenance Manual and the P&WC SB was confusing. They further stated that they interpreted the P&WC guidance recommending the destructive blade testing if a TBO extension was being requested from P&WC, however, since the TBO extension was granted via the MORE STC, which did not contain blade sectioning instructions, they deemed that this task was not necessary because they believed the increased inspection intervals required in MORE STC guidance, would effectively manage the CT blades.

Two other HSI tasks, a combustion liner cooling ring gap check and a trim thermocouple verification, which are recommended by the P&WC maintenance manual, but not required under the MORE STC, were not accomplished. The MORE STC documentation also does not reference the P&WC publication service information letter (SIL) PT6A-116R3 "Borescope Inspection in Conjunction with Fuel Nozzle Check" which better illustrates the borescope examination of the trailing edges of the CT blades.

At the time of the accident, the engine had been operating under the MORE STC for about 1,137.3 hours. The most recent inspection performed on the engine prior to the accident was conducted 3.9 hours prior, and consisted of the MORE STC 100, 200, and 400-hour inspections. The MORE STC program 400-hour inspection included a hot-section inspection, which only required inspection of the compressor blades via a borescope. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1454, the reported weather conditions at the Molokai Airport, Kaunakakai, Hawaii, located about 8 nautical miles southwest of the accident site, were wind from 040 degrees at 15 knots gusting to 26 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 27 degrees C, dew point 19 degrees C, and altimeter setting 29.95 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane was recovered from the ocean on December 18, 2013, 7 days after the accident, and transported to Honolulu, Hawaii, on a barge. It was examined under the supervision of the NTSB investigator-in-charge in Honolulu on December 19, 2013. The airframe was fragmented into numerous pieces, which were crushed and battered in a manner consistent with being repeatedly rolled over on a hard, uneven surface by wave action. The engine had separated from the airframe, and the propeller remained attached to the engine. The three propeller blades remained intact, were bent, and appeared to be in the feather position. The engine was subsequently shipped to P&WC for further examination. 

SURVIVAL FACTORS

The airplane was configured with two flight crew seats and nine passenger seats. The pilot occupied the left flight crew seat, and the right flight crew seat was not occupied. There were four passenger seats on the left side of the airplane, which were numbered from front to back as seats 1, 3, 5, and 7, and five passenger seats on the right side of the airplane, which were numbered from front to back as seats 2, 4, 6, 8, and 9. All the passenger seats except seat 9, which was located aft of the passenger door at the rear of the cabin, were occupied. For purposes of this report, the passengers will be identified by their seat numbers; for example, passenger 1 was the person seated in seat 1 during the accident flight.

The pilot reported that he hit his head on the instrument panel during the water impact, and was "bleeding badly" as a result. He unstrapped his harness, yelled at the passengers to get out, and started to grab seat cushions to use as floatation devices. He looked for life vests, saw one, and gave it to a passenger who said his wife did not have one. He did not take time to look for his own life vest as the airplane was filling with water. After checking to see that the cabin was empty, he exited through the door at the rear of the cabin. He told the passengers to swim away from the airplane because he was concerned that it would sink rapidly and drag them down. The current and waves, which he estimated to be 6 to 8 feet high, gradually separated the group. The pilot's reported weight was 240 pounds.

Passengers 1 and 2, a married couple, both sustained serious injuries. Their daughter reported that her father (passenger 1) sustained broken ribs and a gash on his head, and her mother (passenger 2) sustained broken ribs and a broken sternum. She further reported that her father said they received a passenger briefing for the morning flight from Honolulu to Kalaupapa, however, did not receive a briefing for the accident flight. Passenger 1's reported weight was 200 pounds and passenger 2's reported weight was 175 pounds. 

Review of the video, recorded by passenger 8, indicated that the fatally injured passenger, passenger 3, exited the airplane under her own power while wearing an inflated life vest. Passenger 3's life vest was examined, and determined to be an infant life vest. One of the two CO2 cartridges installed in the vest was punctured and empty, and the other cartridge was full, consistent with a partially inflated life vest. Passenger 3's reported weight was 220 pounds. 

Passenger 4, who was traveling with passenger 3, reported that the pilot did not give a safety briefing before takeoff. He said that after the airplane impacted the water, he saw other passengers with life vests, and asked where they were located. Someone told him they were in the seat pockets, and he found one, put it on, and went to the back of the airplane. Passenger 4 further stated that he was at the rear door passing seat cushions out to passengers who were already in the water when passenger 3 came to the door; she was wearing a life vest, and she inflated the vest. They got into the water, and he inflated his life vest. Passenger 4 stayed with passenger 3 as they drifted away from the airplane. He noted that passenger 3 was "not really saying anything but was breathing very hard and fast." Later, he noticed that passenger 3's eyes were closed, and she was no longer breathing hard. 

Passenger 4 added that the pouch that the life vest was stored in was difficult to open and that the vest was "very tight" on his neck and difficult to remove when he got on shore. He said that "even with the life vest on I was surprised [at] how much effort was needed to keep my head above the waves and to avoid swallowing water." He did not use the life vest's waist strap. Passenger 4's life vest was examined, and determined to be an adult life vest. Passenger 4's reported weight was 175 pounds. 

Passengers 5 and 6, a married couple, reported that the pilot assigned them seats, but did not provide a safety briefing prior to the flight. The pilot asked them how many of them had flown over that morning, and then said, "you know the procedures." After the water impact, passenger 6 opened the door at the rear of the cabin, and immediately jumped into the water without a life vest. Passenger 5 jumped out behind him, and she also did not have a life vest. Someone was throwing life vests out of the airplane, and passenger 6 grabbed two of them. He inflated a life vest without putting it on, and held onto it. He assisted his wife (passenger 5) in putting on and inflating a life vest; she did not use the life vest's waist strap. She reported that the life vest "pushed up around her head and was choking her." The life vests worn by passengers 5 and 6 were examined, and determined to be adult life vests. Passenger 5's reported weight was 210 pounds and passenger 6's reported weight was 200 pounds. 

Passenger 7 reported that everyone exited the airplane without difficulty. He recalled helping an older couple put on their life vests before they exited the airplane. He said that they were having difficulty opening the pouches that the vests were stored in so he opened the pouches for them, helped them put the vests on, and inflated one CO2 cartridge on each vest. After exiting the airplane, he swam to shore. He later found that he had inadvertently put on an infant life vest, which he said seemed "small or tight" although it "worked fine." Passenger 7's reported weight was 160 pounds. 

Passenger 8 reported that it took a few minutes for everyone to exit the airplane and that he did not notice anyone having a problem. His video showed that he obtained a life vest from the seat pocket in front of his seat. Passenger 8's reported weight was 160 pounds. 

An autopsy of the fatally injured passenger was conducted by Pan Pacific Pathologists, LLC, of Wailuku, Hawaii, under the authority of the Maui Police Department. The findings listed in the autopsy report included "acute cardiac arrhythmia" and "no significant traumatic injuries." The report noted that she was observed by another passenger "to be fearful and hyperventilating shortly before losing consciousness." According to the autopsy report, her cause of death was "acute cardiac arrhythmia due to hyperventilation." 

Review of 14 CFR 135.117, briefing of passengers before flight, revealed that section A states in part "…Before each takeoff each pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers shall ensure that all passengers have been orally briefed on…Location and means for opening the passenger entry door and emergency exits…Location of survival equipment…If the flight involves extended overwater operation, ditching procedures and the use of required flotation equipment." 

Item 9 states that "before each takeoff the pilot in command shall ensure that each person who may need the assistance of another person to move expeditiously to an exit if an emergency occurs and that person's attendant, if any, has received a briefing as to the procedures to be followed if an evacuation occurs. This paragraph does not apply to a person who has been given a briefing before a previous leg of a flight in the same aircraft." 

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Further examination of the engine was conducted under the supervision of the NTSB Powerplants Group Chairman at the facilities of Pratt and Whitney Canada, St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada, on January 21-23, 2014. Externally the engine appeared intact; however, all the external surfaces exhibited damage consistent with ocean current activity rolling the engine on the ocean floor. There was corrosion on all metal engine components consistent with immersion in salt water. The power turbine blades were all present, but fractured, with 1/3rd to 4/5ths of their spans remaining. Signatures consistent with overload separation were observed on all the power turbine blade fracture surfaces.

The compressor turbine vane ring was intact, and the leading edges were undamaged; however, the trailing edges of all the vanes were fractured due to impact with associated material loss and subsequent thermal distress. The compressor turbine shroud segments were intact, and coated with a metal spray deposit consistent with melted material from the compressor turbine blades. There were two impact marks in the shape of a turbine blade chord on two shroud segments. The compressor turbine blades were all present, but fractured, leaving between 1/3rd and 2/3rds of each blade span remaining. All of the surfaces of the blades and the disk were coated with a fine white deposit, which made observation of the fracture surfaces difficult. 

The compressor turbine wheel was sent to the Pratt and Whitney Canada materials laboratory for blade removal, cleaning, sectioning, and analysis. Metallographic examination of the four shortest blades and eight other randomly selected blades was performed. No evidence of fatigue cracking was observed. Evidence of melting at the tip of the blades was present; however, due to the extent of this thermal damage, no evidence of creep could be observed. An inclusion was noted in one of the examined blades; it was located away from the main fracture surface with no adjacent cracks. No other examined blades exhibited inclusions.

Approximately 50 percent of the reduction gear box (RGB) housing was corroded to the point of being dissolved. The corrosion was consistent with long-term immersion of magnesium material in a salt water environment. Internal components such as the propeller shaft, bearings, and gears remained intact. The aft RGB housing was almost completely dissolved, leaving a white powder residue. Removal of this residue exposed the 1st stage sungear, carrier, and planet gears, which exhibited no evidence of pre-impact damage. The 2nd stage sungear, planet gears, and carrier appeared intact and the investigation team elected not to further disassemble the RGB. The propeller governor and the overspeed governor were present; however they were coated with a moist watery deposit.

The internal gears of the accessory gear box (AGB) were coated with a white powdery deposit, consistent with magnesium oxide, however they were all intact and the AGB was not further disassembled.

The fuel heater, fuel pump, fuel control unit (FCU), flow divider valve (FDV), and fuel nozzles were sent to the P&WC accessories laboratory for detailed examination. The fuel heater was dented and scratched at many locations, and the fuel outlet fitting was fractured. Testing of the thermal element revealed that it was nonfunctional, which would result in fuel being heated at all times. The fuel pump was externally undamaged, however the input drive spline could not be turned. There was no evidence of cavitation on the gears, gear pockets, or bearings. The bearing seal surfaces, gear sides, and gear-shaft journals had a polished appearance. There were no leak paths observed on the carbon-seal surfaces.

There was metallic, consistent with magnesium oxide, residue and environmental debris attached to the exterior of the propeller governor (CSU), in the driveshaft cavity and in the gasket strainer. The driveshaft could not be turned by hand. Movement of the rest arm, speed control lever, and beta-valve clevis were restricted. Surface corrosion was observed on the external steel fittings. The speed control lever linkage bolt was bent. The ball-head flyweights showed surface corrosion, but fell freely and evenly. There was organic debris in the ball-head cavity and in the gear-pockets. It was not possible to remove the drive gear. The drive-gear and pilot valve required force to remove them, and surface corrosion was present on the pilot-valve. The reset-post was difficult to remove. There was no debris visible in the air bleed orifice. 

For further details of the engine examination, see the Powerplants Group Chairman's Report in the public docket for this investigation.


NTSB Identification: WPR14FA068 
 Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 11, 2013 in Kalaupapa, HI
Aircraft: CESSNA 208B, registration: N687MA
Injuries: 1 Fatal,3 Serious,5 Minor.

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 December 11, 2013, at 1522 Hawaiian standard time, a Cessna 208B, N687MA, sustained substantial damage following a loss of engine power and ditching into the Pacific Ocean near Kalaupapa, Hawaii. The airline transport pilot and two passengers were seriously injured, one passenger was fatally injured, and five passengers received minor injuries. Makani Kai Air was operating the flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight, which had originated about 2 minutes before the accident. A company flight plan had been filed. The flight departed from the Kalaupapa airport on the island of Molokai, and was en route to Honolulu International airport, on the island of Oahu.

The pilot stated that shortly after takeoff, a loud bang was heard and there was a total loss of power. After a short glide, he performed an open ocean ditching. The airplane floated for approximately 25 minutes and then sank. All the passengers put on their life preservers and exited the airplane. US Coast Guard and Maui Fire and Rescue personnel recovered the passengers approximately 80 minutes later.





Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program: Devices on Planes that Mimic Cellphone Towers Used to Target Criminals, but Also Sift Through Thousands of Other Phones



The Wall Street Journal
By Devlin Barrett


Updated Nov. 13, 2014 8:22 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.

The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.

Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.

The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.

People with knowledge of the program wouldn’t discuss the frequency or duration of such flights, but said they take place on a regular basis.

A Justice Department official would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a program. The official said discussion of such matters would allow criminal suspects or foreign powers to determine U.S. surveillance capabilities. Justice Department agencies comply with federal law, including by seeking court approval, the official said.

The program is the latest example of the extent to which the U.S. is training its surveillance lens inside the U.S. It is similar in approach to the National Security Agency’s program to collect millions of Americans phone records, in that it scoops up large volumes of data in order to find a single person or a handful of people. The U.S. government justified the phone-records collection by arguing it is a minimally invasive way of searching for terrorists.

Christopher Soghoian, chief technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, called it “a dragnet surveillance program. It’s inexcusable and it’s likely—to the extent judges are authorizing it—[that] they have no idea of the scale of it.”

Cellphones are programmed to connect automatically to the strongest cell tower signal. The device being used by the U.S. Marshals Service identifies itself as having the closest, strongest signal, even though it doesn’t, and forces all the phones that can detect its signal to send in their unique registration information.

Even having encryption on a phone, such as the kind included on Apple Inc. ’s iPhone 6, doesn’t prevent this process.

The technology is aimed at locating cellphones linked to individuals under investigation by the government, including fugitives and drug dealers, but it collects information on cellphones belonging to people who aren’t criminal suspects, these people said. They said the device determines which phones belong to suspects and “lets go” of the non-suspect phones.

The device can briefly interrupt calls on certain phones. Authorities have tried to minimize the potential for harm, including modifying the software to ensure the fake tower doesn’t interrupt anyone calling 911 for emergency help, one person familiar with the matter said.

The program cuts out phone companies as an intermediary in searching for suspects. Rather than asking a company for cell-tower information to help locate a suspect, which law enforcement has criticized as slow and inaccurate, the government can now get that information itself. People familiar with the program say they do get court orders to search for phones, but it isn’t clear if those orders describe the methods used because the orders are sealed.

Also unknown are the steps taken to ensure data collected on innocent people isn’t kept for future examination by investigators. A federal appeals court ruled earlier this year that over-collection of data by investigators, and stockpiling of such data, was a violation of the Constitution.

The program is more sophisticated than anything previously understood about government use of such technology. Until now, the hunting of digital trails created by cellphones had been thought limited to devices carried in cars that scan the immediate area for signals. Civil-liberties groups are suing for information about use of such lower-grade devices, some of them called Stingrays, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

By taking the program airborne, the government can sift through a greater volume of information and with greater precision, these people said. If a suspect’s cellphone is identified, the technology can pinpoint its location within about 10 feet, down to a specific room in a building. Newer versions of the technology can be programmed to do more than suck in data: They can also jam signals and retrieve data from a target phone such as texts or photos. It isn’t clear if this domestic program has ever used those features.

Similar devices are used by U.S. military and intelligence officials operating in other countries, including in war zones, where they are sometimes used to locate terrorist suspects, according to people familiar with the work. In the U.S., these people said, the technology has been effective in catching suspected drug dealers and killers. They wouldn’t say which suspects were caught through this method.

The scanning is done by the Technical Operations Group of the U.S. Marshals Service, which tracks fugitives, among other things. Sometimes it deploys the technology on targets requested by other parts of the Justice Department.

Within the Marshals Service, some have questioned the legality of such operations and the internal safeguards, these people said. They say scooping up of large volumes of information, even for a short period, may not be properly understood by judges who approve requests for the government to locate a suspect’s phone.

Some within the agency also question whether people scanning cellphone signals are doing enough to minimize intrusions into the phones of other citizens, and if there are effective procedures in place to safeguard the handling of that data.

It is unclear how closely the Justice Department oversees the program. “What is done on U.S. soil is completely legal,” said one person familiar with the program. “Whether it should be done is a separate question.”

Referring to the more limited range of Stingray devices, Mr. Soghoian of the ACLU said: “Maybe it’s worth violating privacy of hundreds of people to catch a suspect, but is it worth thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of peoples’ privacy?”

The existence of the cellphone program could escalate tensions between Washington and technology companies, including the telecom firms whose devices are being redirected by the program.

If a suspect is believed to have a cellphone from Verizon Communications Inc., for example, the device would emit a signal fooling Verizon phones and those roaming on Verizon’s network into thinking the plane is the nearest available Verizon cell tower. Phones that are turned on, even if not in use, would “ping’’ the flying device and send their registration information. In a densely populated area, the dirtbox could pick up data of tens of thousands of cellphones.

The approach is similar to what computer hackers refer to as a “man in the middle’’ attack, in which a person’s electronic device is tricked into thinking it is relaying data to a legitimate or intended part of the communications system.

A Verizon spokesman said the company was unaware of the program. “The security of Verizon’s network and our customers’ privacy are top priorities,’’ the spokesman said. “However, to be clear, the equipment referenced in the article is not Verizon’s and is not part of our network.”

An AT&T Inc. spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Sprint Corp.

For cost reasons, the flights usually target a number of suspects at a time, rather than just a single fugitive. But they can be used for a single suspect if the need is great enough to merit the resources, these people said.

The dirtbox and Stingray are both types of what tech experts call “IMSI catchers,’’ named for the identification system used by networks to identify individual cellphones.

The name “dirtbox’’ came from the acronym of the company making the device, DRT, for Digital Receiver Technology Inc., people said. DRT is now a subsidiary of Boeing. A Boeing spokeswoman declined to comment.

“DRT has developed a device that emulates a cellular base station to attract cellphones for a registration process even when they are not in use,’’ according to a 2010 regulatory filing Boeing made with the U.S. Commerce Department, which touted the device’s success in finding contraband cellphones smuggled in to prison inmates.

Corrections & Amplifications

An earlier version of this article incorrectly named Digital Receiver Technology Inc. as Digital Recovery Technology Inc. It also incorrectly listed what is known as IMSI catcher technology as ISMI catcher.


- Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Lowell, Michigan: Couple honored for helping respond to plane crash



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Kent County Sheriff's Department on Thursday honored people who helped respond to a summertime tragedy and, along the way, formed an unexpected connection.

In August, New Mexico residents Bryan and Delia Bowker drove across the country to buy an ultralight aircraft in Lowell.

Bryan was test-flying the plane, when it crashed and he was killed.

After the accident, victim advocates and a Lowell couple went above and beyond to help Bowker's widow.

"For myself, I don't need recognition," said Kent County Sheriff's Department victim advocate Jay Groendyke. "I'm doing this because it's the right thing to do."

"We were summoned to the scene of the ultralight crash," said fellow victim advocate Charles Roetman. "We were directed by Lowell Rescue to the widow, who had apparently witnessed her husband's crash. The problem we were going to have was communication, because she was Filipino."

At the same time the victim advocates were trying to console Delia, Ron and Mavee Blain were passing the scene and stopped to see if they could help.

"He said, 'She looks like she could be Filipino or something, so talk to her and maybe you can comfort her,'" Mavee says of her and her husband's arrival on the scene. "So, I just put my arm around her shoulder and I said, 'Are you from the Philippines?' She said yes. I said, 'Me, too. Where are you from in the Philippines?'

"And she said, 'I'm from Cebu.' I said, 'Me, too. I am also from Cebu.' So, we have the same dialect. From that time on, I started speaking to her in our dialect. She begged me to stay with her the whole time. So I did."

Roetman said that "took a tremendous amount of stress away from Jay and I, because while we know what we're doing and are trained well by the department, the communication gap was going to be a serious problem here."

Delia was scared and far from home, Mavee said.

"She said, 'I'm from New Mexico, I don't know anybody here.' I said, 'Well, I can stay with you for however long it takes.'"

The Blains invited Delia to stay with them, which she did for the three days until arrangements could be made to bring her husband's body home.

"We were more than happy to help her, especially [since] no one else could help her," Mavee Blain said. "I know it was a miracle, and I know God wanted us to be there."


- Source:   http://lowell.wzzm13.com


NTSB Identification: CEN14LA45414
CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Lowell, MI
Aircraft: RANS S17, registration: None
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 24, 2014, about 1130 eastern daylight time, an unregistered Rans S17 airplane, impacted trees and terrain during a takeoff at the Lowell City Airport (24C), near Lowell, Michigan. The private pilot, the sole occupant on board, was fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The unregistered airplane was operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight was originating from 24C at the time of the accident.

At 1053, the recorded weather at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, near Grand Rapids, Michigan, was: Wind 080 degrees at 10 knots, visibility 5 statute miles, present weather mist: sky condition overcast clouds at 1,100 feet; temperature 22 degrees C; dew point 20 degrees C; altimeter 30.10 inches of mercury.

Airport operations still going strong: Harold Davidson Field (KVMR), Vermillion, South Dakota

Aviation is a popular American pastime for many individuals as well as a speedy method of transportation. As rural communities such as Vermillion continue to grow, it has become apparent that having an airport is a necessity.

“This airport is the front door to the community,” said Denny Martens, caretaker of the airstrip located south of town. Martens has been working in aviation for 57 years, and his words are wise.

“My wife and I used to have a flying service here. Then I went to fly for USD,” Martens said. “Then I retired in 2002.”

Harold Davidson Field, commonly referred to around town as “the airport” is a quiet space one mile south of Vermillion. Many Vermillion residents may remember attending fireworks displays there on the 4th of July or watching small planes land from the bluff.

“There is a lot of business traffic here, people who fly into Vermillion for business,” Martens said. “It’s really important.”

Harold Davidson Field is what is known as a general aviation field, and is classified as so. There are over 20 aircraft based at the field, many of which are single engine planes. The remaining aircraft are multi-engine. The newly resurfaced runway is 4105 feet long and is owned by the city.

“People have built their own hangars which is a very common thing,” Martens said.

Martens and his wife host a fly-in pot luck for area pilots and aviation folks in their personal hangar each third Wed. of the month from April through Nov. It’s a time for the aircraft enthusiasts to get together and exchange ideas, thoughts and tips with each other.

Each Aug. the Harold Davidson Field hosts a fly-in pancake breakfast. The community is invited to come watch planes from a 100 mile radius, and sometimes more, land at the airport.

Usually 20 to 30 aircraft fly in and the proceeds go towards the Vermillion Senior Citizens Center.

2013 statistics show that 84 percent of the traffic at the air field was for general aviation purposes. 15 percent was transient general aviation, and less than one percent was used for aircraft taxi operations.

Data also reflects that from 2004 through 2009 there was an increase in local flight traffic at the airport.

For visitors to the area, both Martens and the City try to be as accommodating as possible.

“The City provides a courtesy car,” Martens said. “That is something the City does for visitors.”

The courtesy car is available for pilots and their passengers who are using the airport to visit Vermillion.

While Martens is quick to point out that personal aviation has become an expensive hobby in he also notes that the airport is still a busy place.

“We do try to generate interest in activity by keeping our fuel prices low and by not having certain fees,” Martens said.

The University of South Dakota has always been a large supporter of the airport.

“USD uses it very frequently,” Martens said. “They are the biggest user.”

The most recent hangar addition to the airport is, in fact, USD’s.

“They have an aircraft here and built a new building a year ago,” Martens said. “If you have an aircraft it’s critical that you have somewhere to put it.”

Martens acts as the gatekeeper to the amenities. He maintenances the airport facilities and helps pilots and passengers with questions they may have or services they may require such as fuel or directions.

There are some improvement plans in the future. New asphalt for the parking area is slated to go in during 2016. As with running any large facility, funding is one of the issues the airport faces.

“90 percent of our funding comes from the federal government,” Martens said, explaining how fuel taxes go towards the FAA. “Only the remaining 10 percent is generated locally from city and state taxes.”

As for the future, Martens hopes the airport can keep supporting the Vermillion business community and the University.

“I enjoy being here,” Martens said. “It’s a busy place.”


- Source:  http://www.plaintalk.net

Flight is ecology class




A mystery plane has been carrying out surveillance work over the skies of Bletchley and southern Milton Keynes over the last week.

But boffins from the Open University who commissioned the project say not to worry, as it is actually part of a scheme to monitor how energy-
efficient local homes are.

One reader, who asked not to be named, said: “On Sunday evening we went for a stroll.

“Above us a small propeller aircraft kept flying low, backwards and forwards, over Old Farm, Browns Wood and Wavendon Gate. It went on for an hour and a half.

“We asked the police who made some inquiries. They told us that it was an ‘organized survey’ but they couldn’t tell us who was doing it, what for or why.”

The work was commissioned by Gerd Koprutm, professor of computing at the OU, for the MK:Smart project being run in collaboration with Milton Keynes Council.

This includes work developing a tool to assess the green energy potential of homes and commercial properties.

The plane is believed to have flown 3,843ft (three-quarters of a mile) above the ground, traveling at an 
average of 143mph.

An OU spokesman said: “Part of this project is to test if it’s feasible to use aerial imaging to determine building energy efficiency parameters.

“There are flights over MK at night to collect thermal data, these are thermal images resolution 50cm, not photographs.”


- Source:  http://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Agency: Airline pilot sights drone near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (KPHX)

PHOENIX (AP/CBS5) - Authorities say an airline pilot reported spotting a drone about a dozen miles from Phoenix's main airport.

Federal Aviation Administration regional spokesman Ian Gregor says the pilot reported seeing the unmanned aircraft while inbound to Sky Harbor International Airport late Thursday morning.

Details about the drone itself, its altitude and its proximity to the airliner aren't immediately known. However, Gregor says the pilot didn't mention taking evasive action.

Gregor says Phoenix police responded to the report but that he doesn't know if police are conducting an investigation.

According to Phoenix Police Sgt. Trent Crump, a pilot for the Phoenix Police Department heard a conversation between the pilot of the inbound plane and Sky Harbor approach.

"The information indicated that the inbound aircraft had spotted a small remote control helicopter in or near the approach area," he wrote in an email to news outlets. "The best location description was near the Loop 101 and McDowell Road. There is a well-known RC field in that area. We dispatched officers to this location and nothing was found."

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a growing number of small drone aircraft are turning up in the skies near U.S. airports and airliners and posing a risk of collision.

Stay with CBS5AZ.com for the latest on this story and watch for Greg Argos' report on CBS 5 at 5 p.m.

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

Another Airplane Crash at Edgar County Airport (KPRG)?

November 13, 2014 

PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –

We have received information from multiple credible sources that state there was an airplane crash at the Edgar County Airport sometime during the late June to early July time-frame of this year, or Aug-Oct depending on who you talk to – and that there is an attempt at keeping it from becoming known to the public and from becoming known to the board members.

The incident allegedly involved tail number N736AA, a 1977 CESSNA R172K airplane based at the Edgar County Airport (see FAA Certificate below).

Reports indicated several scenarios: 1) that it stalled on landing and “pancaked” onto the runway, 2) that a deer ran out in front of it causing it to leave the runway, 3) that it ran off the runway striking a runway light, or 4) nothing to see here – we don’t know what you are talking about.

So the question remains, and we believe there was some type of accident that caused substantial damage to the aircraft and to county property.

Tail number N736AA was reportedly formerly owned by Glen Hutchinson, and was allegedly flown on July 4, 2014. We understand it may have been recently purchased by a new owner after updated aeronautics equipment was installed.

Reports vary widely as to the damage done in this crash, and it is either minor damage or the airplane is completely destroyed.

This aircraft received its most recent airworthiness certificate from the FAA on August 18, 2014 (see picture below). Now the question arises as to why the misreporting of the time-frame the alleged crash occurred. Is it because if the June-July time-frame was stated, that it would have happened prior to Jerry Griffin becoming the airport manager, when if it happened in late August or later, that Griffin would have been the manager and should have reported the incident to the board? 

This incident has been reported by a private individual to the FAA and the NTSB as an alleged, unreported aircraft accident, in which extensive damage occurred to the aircraft. We understand that any minor incidences that only result in minor damage are not mandated to be reported to the FAA or the NTSB, however, the problem with this particular incident is the complete attempt at keeping this incident quiet and the reports we are hearing that the aircraft was totaled.

Read more and comments:  http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com

Van’s RV-3, N625ZH: Fatal accident occurred November 24, 2014 at Las Cruces International Airport, (KLRU), New Mexico

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 

National Transportation Safety Board  - Docket And Docket Items: http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

National Transportation Safety Board -  Aviation Accident Data Summary:   http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA059 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 24, 2014 in Las Cruces, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/11/2015
Aircraft: ROSS H/HERRIOTT M VANS AIRCRAFT RV 3, registration: N625ZH
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Several witnesses reported that they observed the airplane make a steep climb shortly after takeoff and that the airplane then made two 90-degree left bank turns to enter the downwind leg of the traffic pattern. During the turns, the airplane’s wings were rocking back and forth, the airplane was in a nose-high attitude and not climbing, and the flight control surfaces were moving. The airplane then began another left turn, the left wing dropped, and the airplane spun toward the ground. One witness reported that the engine sounded normal throughout the flight. A friend of the pilot stated that the pilot had purchased the airplane 2 days before the accident and had no previous flight experience in the airplane make and model. He estimated that the pilot had only flown the airplane about 4.0 hours before the accident. Based on witness accounts, there were no preaccident anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Therefore, it is likely that the pilot lost control of the airplane while maneuvering in the traffic pattern, which resulted in a stall/spin. It is also likely that the pilot’s lack of experience in the airplane type contributed to his failure to maintain airplane control during the turns. Although postaccident toxicology tests detected a low level of marijuana in the pilot’s blood, liver, and lung, it is unlikely that it impaired his performance on the day of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control, which resulted in a stall/spin. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to obtain adequate familiarization in the accident airplane type before the accident.

On November 24, 2014, about 1245 mountain standard time, N625ZH, an experimental-homebuilt Ross Vans Aircraft RV-3, sustained substantial damage shortly after takeoff from Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), Las Cruces, New Mexico. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that was destined for Dona Ana County Airport (5T6), Santa Teresa, New Mexico. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors performed an on-scene examination of the airplane and interviewed numerous witnesses. The witnesses provided similar accounts as to what they observed. One witness stated that he watched the pilot from the time he entered the airplane up until the accident. He said the pilot performed an engine run-up before takeoff and everything was normal. The pilot then taxied onto the runway, stopped, added full power and lifted off in about 800 feet. The witness said the pilot immediately started a steep angle of climb and the airplane's wings began "shuttering." The airplane made a 90-degree left turn onto crosswind. When the pilot rolled level, the wings were "wobbling" and the airplane was in a nose high attitude and not climbing. The pilot then made another 90 degree turn onto downwind, and the wings were again still "wobbling." The witness said he thought that the pilot was making another left turn and was going to fly over the terminal when the airplane stalled. The pilot was able to recover, and got the wings level. The witness said the pilot entered another left turn and that is when the airplane's left wing "dropped into a spin and impacted the ground." He said that when the airplane was in the 90 degree bank turns, he could see that the controls were being moved. The airplane was traveling about 65 knots from takeoff through the last turn and the engine sounded normal from takeoff to impact. 

Another witness said that when the airplane began to spin, it made 1 to 1.5 rotations before it impacted a road in front of the airport's terminal building. There was no post-impact fire. 

A friend of the pilot stated that the pilot had purchased the airplane two days before the accident and had no previous flight experience in an RV-3. The friend estimated that from the time the pilot purchased the airplane up until the time of the accident, he had flown the airplane about 4.0 hours.

Weather reported at the airport at 1335 was reported as wind from 290 degrees at 7 knots variable between 240 degrees and 300 degree, 10 miles visibility, and clear skies.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land and instrument airplane. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Second Class medical certificate was issued on August 28, 2014. At that time, the pilot reported a total of 1,000 flight hours.

Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The specimens tested positive for the following:

Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) detected in Lung

Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) detected in Liver

Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) NOT detected in Blood

0.1325 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in Liver

0.0144 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in Lung

0.003 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in Blood 

An autopsy was conducted on the pilot by the University of New Mexico Health Science Center, Office of the Medical Investigator on November 25, 2014. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma.


NTSB Identification: CEN15LA059 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 24, 2014 in Las Cruces, NM
Aircraft: ROSS H/HERRIOTT M VANS AIRCRAFT RV 3, registration: N625ZH
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 November 24, 2014, about 1245 mountain standard time, N625ZH, an experimental-homebuilt Ross Vans Aircraft RV-3, sustained substantial damage shortly after takeoff from Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), Las Cruces, New Mexico. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that was destined for Dona Ana County Airport (5T6), Santa Teresa, New Mexico. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors performed an on-scene examination of the airplane and interviewed numerous witnesses. The witnesses provided similar accounts as to what they observed. One witness stated that he watched the pilot from the time he entered the airplane up until the accident. He said the pilot performed an engine run-up before takeoff and everything was normal. The pilot then taxied onto the runway, stopped, added full power and lifted off in about 800 feet. The witness said the pilot immediately started a steep angle of climb and the airplane's wings began "shuttering." The airplane made a 90-degree left turn onto crosswind. When the pilot rolled level, the wings were "wobbling" and the airplane was in a nose high attitude and not climbing. The pilot then made another 90 degree turn onto downwind, and the wings were again still "wobbling." The witness said he thought that the pilot was making another left turn and was going to fly over the terminal when the airplane stalled. The pilot was able to recover, and got the wings level. The witness said the pilot entered another left turn and that is when the airplane's left wing "dropped into a spin and impacted the ground." He said that when the airplane was in the 90 degree bank turns, he could see that the controls were being moved. The airplane was traveling about 65 knots from takeoff through the last turn and the engine sounded normal from takeoff to impact. 

Another witness said that when the airplane began to spin, it made 1 to 1.5 rotations before it impacted a road in front of the airport's terminal building. There was no post-impact fire. 

A friend of the pilot stated that the pilot had purchased the airplane two days before the accident and had no previous flight experience in an RV-3. The friend estimated that from the time the pilot purchased the airplane up until the time of the accident, he had flown the airplane about 4.0 hours.

Weather reported at the airport at 1335 was reported as wind from 290 degrees at 7 knots variable between 240 degrees and 300 degree, 10 miles visibility, and clear skies.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land and instrument airplane. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Second Class medical certificate was issued on August 28, 2014. At that time, the pilot reported a total of 1,000 flight hours.

Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The specimens tested positive for the following:

Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) detected in Lung

Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) detected in Liver

Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) NOT detected in Blood

0.1325 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in Liver

0.0144 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in Lung

0.003 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in Blood 

An autopsy was conducted on the pilot by the University of New Mexico Health Science Center, Office of the Medical Investigator on November 25, 2014. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma.

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA059 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 24, 2014 in Las Cruces, NM
Aircraft: ROSS H/HERRIOTT M VANS AIRCRAFT RV 3, registration: N625ZH
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 24, 2014, about 0950 mountain standard time, N625ZH, an experimental-homebuilt Ross Vans Aircraft RV-3, sustained substantial damage shortly after takeoff from Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), Las Cruces, New Mexico. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that was destined for Dona Ana County Airport, Santa Teresa, New Mexico. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed an on-scene examination of the airplane wreckage and interviewed several witnesses. According to the inspector, shortly after the airplane departed Runway 26, it was observed in a nose high attitude about 400 to 500-feet above the ground. The airplane then entered a steep 60 to 90-degree left bank. Witnesses observed the airplane's wings "wobble" back and forth, before the airplane entered a steeper turn to the left. Then the airplane's left wing dropped and the airplane began to spin. The airplane made 1 to 1.5 turns before it impacted a road in front of the airport's terminal building. The witnesses said the airplane's engine was operating until the airplane hit the ground. There was no post-impact fire.

A friend of the pilot told the FAA inspector that the pilot had purchased the airplane two days before the accident and had no previous flight experience in an RV-3. He estimated that from the time the pilot purchased the airplane up until the time of the accident, he had flown the airplane about 4.0 hours.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land and instrument airplane. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Second Class medical certificated was issued on August 28, 2014. At that time, the pilot reported a total of 1,000 flight hours.


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.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Albuquerque FSDO-01

http://registry.faa.gov/N625ZH


In Memory of Lawrence Tyler Francis 
March 6, 1985 - November 24, 2014
Obituary

Lawrence Tyler Francis, 29, passed away unexpectedly on November 24, 2014, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Tyler was born March 6, 1985, to L.F. "Rick" and Ginger Francis in El Paso, Texas. He and the love of his life Sara Elizabeth-Jean Francis recently celebrated their first anniversary.

Tyler was President/CEO of Francis Aviation at Dona Ana International Jetport and recently expanded operations to the Las Cruces Municipal Airport. He served on the Board for Dona Ana International Jetport, War Eagles Air Museum, Amigo Airsho and Boy Scouts of America Yucca Council. He was recently awarded membership in the Sons of the American Revolution and Society of Mayflower Descendants.

Tyler, a fifth generation El Pasoan, was an Eagle Scout (Troop 4), a finalist in the Texas State Debate Championship (2001) and was Texas State champion in the DECA Entrepreneurship category (2002). At the age of 15, he began buying, renovating and selling homes. He was pledge class president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at University of Arizona. Tyler is a UTEP graduate and received his MBA at Texas Tech University.

Tyler's love of aviation began at the age of 10, building radio-controlled airplanes with his mentor and friend, Tom Holmsley. He purchased his first airplane while in grad school at Texas Tech. Upon graduating, he moved to Santa Teresa, where he worked for and later purchased Blue Feather Aero which he renamed Francis Aviation. He was a skilled pilot who also enjoyed skydiving. Tyler was very adventurous and enjoyed hiking, camping, and skiing. One of his notable adventures included climbing past Advanced Base Camp on Mount Everest.

Tyler's enthusiasm for life was infectious and he positively impacted those around him. His charismatic, energetic, positive and caring personality will be forever remembered. Tyler's life has changed us all, the devastation of his passing, but also the joy of having known him.

Tyler is survived by his wife, Sara; parents, Ginger and Rick Francis; In-laws Nancy and John Paben; Grandparents, Doris and Rollo Gurss, Marilyn and Larry Francis; Sister, Lauren (John) Steinmann, and many aunts and uncles and cousins.

Family and friends are invited to celebrate Tyler's life at St Clement Church (810 N. Campbell, El Paso, 79902) at 1PM on Saturday, November 29th. A private family graveside ceremony will happen at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Boy Scouts of America Yucca Council or the War Eagles Museum.

Services entrusted to Martin Funeral Home West, 128 N. Resler Dr., El Paso, Texas 79912. www.MartinFuneralHomeWest.com.

Read more here:  http://obits.dignitymemorial.com



 
Tyler Francis was killed in the crash




LAS CRUCES, NM – Tyler Francis, president of Francis Aviation, was killed in a plane crash at Las Cruces International Airport Monday, according to New Mexico State Police. 

 Francis, 29, was the sole occupant of the single-engine plane that crashed at around noon about 150 feet from the terminal on the tarmac.

New Mexico State Police confirm to ABC-7 that the pilot of a single-engine plane was killed in a plane crash Monday at Las Cruces International Airport.

The airport has been closed since the crashed.

New Mexico State Police Lt. James Frietze said he spoke to Francis Monday morning and that he was told the plane was a recent purchase.

“Witnesses said the airplane sounded odd and started sputtering. The engine seemed to kick on and then shut off,” Frietze told ABC-7. “One of the witnesses did tell me though that (the plane) was at approximately at a 90 degree angle to the ground upon impact.”

Frietze said Francis had massive head injuries.

Earlier this year, four people were killed in an air ambulance crash west of Las Cruces on Aug. 27. They died from a combination of burns, smoke inhalation and blunt force trauma, according to autopsy reports.

Tyler Francis, president of Francis Aviation, was killed in a plane crash at Las Cruces International Airport Monday, according to an employee of Francis’ father, Rick Francis.

Tyler Francis, 29, was the sole occupant of the single-engine plane that crashed at around noon about 150 feet from the terminal on the tarmac.

The airport has been closed since the crashed.

Francis is the son of Rick Francis, WestStar Bank’s executive chairman, and grandson of former El Paso Mayor Larry Francis.

Earlier this year, four people were killed in an air ambulance crash west of Las Cruces on Aug. 27. They died from a combination of burns, smoke inhalation and blunt force trauma, according to autopsy reports.

Below is an April 2013 El Paso Inc. article on Tyler Francis and Francis Aviation

Tyler Francis and his company, Francis Aviation, have taken over at Santa Teresa Airport where they’ll be supplying aviation and jet fuel to customers.

But in the not too distant future, he expects to be pumping rocket fuel to a very different kind of customer as the first fixed-base operator at Spaceport America north of Las Cruces, N.M.

Francis, 28, the son of Rick Francis, WestStar Bank’s executive chairman, and grandson of former El Paso Mayor Larry Francis, isn’t exactly taking the path they expected he would after completing his MBA at Texas Tech University.

But his dreams lie in the wild blue yonder, not behind a desk.

“Between undergrad and grad school, I was working for Hunt Companies in a cubicle for 70 to 80 hours a week and decided I didn’t want to do that,” Francis said. “Aviation was my passion.”

After graduating from UTEP, he realized he liked life in the sky when he bought an airplane with money he had earned flipping houses, something he started in high school, and began flying back and forth to Texas Tech in Lubbock.

“My father had big plans for me coming back to El Paso and taking over the family’s real estate portfolio,” he said. “But, that didn’t float my boat.”

Instead, he went to work – volunteered, really – for former El Paso Mayor Susie Azar at Blue Feather Aero, the fixed-base operator at the Doña Ana County Airport.

“I told Susie, ‘I’ll work for you for free until you’re ready to sell it to me,’ ” Francis said. “I worked there for a year.”

They closed the deal in December.





LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico officials are investigating a plane crash that happened near the Las Cruces International Airport Monday.

New Mexico State police said it was a single engine plane crash, killing Tyler Francis of Francis Aviation at the Las Cruces airport.

The company took over fueling operations at Las Cruces International Airport in November after a plane received the wrong kind of fuel and crashed.

We spoke to Tyler about this new venture earlier this month. Read about what he told us: http://bit.ly/1tftlm4

Below is a statment from the Francis family:

Nov. 24, 2014 -- EL PASO, TX -- The Francis family would like to thank the many El Pasoans who have contacted us to share their concerns for us and offer their condolences regarding the death of our son, Tyler.

The loss of our beloved Tyler has left us without words. We request that during this devastating time in our lives you respect our privacy, understanding that we ask to be left alone to grieve the death of our son and try to comfort one another as a family.
Thank you,

The Francis Family







November 13, 2014:   Las Cruces International Airport (KLRU) hires new operators two months after deadly crash

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – About two months after a plane received the wrong kind of fuel and crashed, the city-owned airport hires a new third-party operator to man the pumps.

In August, a
Cessna 421 Golden Eagle  airplane transporting a cancer patient from Las Cruces to Arizona crashed about a mile south of Interstate 10 near the Southern New Mexico Fair Grounds.

Fredrick Green, 59, was the cancer patient from Las Cruces who was being transported to Phoenix.  Also on board were Freddy Martinez, Taurean Summers and Monica Chavez, 36. All four were killed.

Investigators with the National Transportation and Safety Board said that the plane received 40 gallons of jet fuel instead of aviation gas prior to take off.

On Monday, Francis Aviation began aircraft fueling operations at Las Cruces International Airport.

Airport manager Lisa Murphy said, “Francis Aviation is known for their excellent customer service and knowledgeable staff. They’ve accomplished a lot at the Dona Ana County Airport in Santa Teresa, being named the fastest volume growth Fixed Base Operator in the U.S. in 2014, and I expect to see increased activity here in Las Cruces. They will be a welcome addition to the airport.”

Francis Aviation is owned by Tyler Francis, the grandson of former El Paso mayor Larry Francis.

He told KFOX14, “Aviation has been a passion of mine.  When I was real young, I had remote control models and would fly them.  Then as soon as I graduated from UTEP and got a decent paying job I spent all my money and most of my free time learning how to fly.”

Francis said he was forced to make an emergency landing in Santa Teresa.  A year later he started Francis Aviation and took over that airport’s operations.

Francis said he’s working with airport officials to make sure mistakes like the one August don’t happen again.

“We send all of our staff to national training about once a year,” he said.  “We also have quarterly training seminars that we host; we bring in different individuals who are industry known professionals.”

For more information about Francis Aviation, check out their webpage at http://www.francisaviation.com/


 - Source:  http://www.kfoxtv.com

 


Private jets: Not just for the super rich --  Santa Teresa airport draws business from El Paso

Tyler Francis says he’s seen a lot of interest in charter service from the Santa Teresa airport. 


Cutter general manager Scott Andre says business is strong, but he’s losing one of two corporate jets based there.



SANTA TERESA, N.M. – At Doña Ana County International Jetport, a short drive from El Paso and a quick hop over the state line, construction will soon be under way on a hangar that some here think is the future of the small desert facility.

An aggressive effort by New Mexico to expand the state’s aviation industry is siphoning the corporate air travel business across the state line from El Paso to nearby Santa Teresa, those in the general aviation business say.

“It has had a huge impact when it comes to private-owned aircraft based here,” said Scott Andre, general manager of Cutter Aviation at El Paso International.

Cutter is one of two fixed-base operators in El Paso, companies that provide services such as fuel and catering for non-commercial flights.

While his business with cargo operators and law enforcement is still strong, Andre said, he has only two corporate customers that keep jets there, and he will soon lose one of them to Doña Ana County International Jetport.

While El Paso International Airport is the region’s aviation giant, Andre said the New Mexico jetport is steadily chipping away at some of its advantages.

Take the hangar soon to be under construction there.

Those familiar with the project say it is being built to house a jet owned by El Paso businessman and philanthropist Paul Foster and his wife, Alejandra, and is just one example of how El Paso is increasingly losing the corporate air travel business to the jetport.

Nearby, construction is complete on a customs facility that airport manager Bill Provance expects to be operational this month. It means that planes flying into the airport will no longer have to stop at the El Paso airport to clear customs.

Last December, “International” was officially added to the airport’s name by Doña Ana County commissioners to better reflect the airport’s ambition to attract corporate travelers, business jets and cargo aircraft.

Business moving from El Paso to Santa Teresa’s airport doesn’t just impact El Paso’s fixed-base operators. It also impacts local tax revenues and all the other industries that thrive around business aviation – maintenance operations, caterers, brokers and the like.

“Businesses moving outside of El Paso is not a good thing for anyone involved,” said El Paso airport director Monica Lombraña.

The airport is impacted through lower fuel flowage fees, she said, and so is the city, which collects taxes on many of the services provided to the industry.

“The airport will do whatever is within our capability lawfully to work with our tenants and to encourage local businesses to remain at (El Paso Airport),” she said. “And the best way we can do that is to offer the lowest lease rates and fees possible to our tenants while still maintaining our infrastructure to the highest standards possible.”

Business tool


These days corporate and business air travel is not just for gazillionaires. It’s possible for smaller firms to use private jets without spending a fortune, said Matthew Betty, an aircraft broker and consultant who worked in El Paso before moving to Fort Worth in 2012.

“Corporate aircraft travel has substantially evolved over the last 15 years,” Betty said. “The industry has just exploded in terms of how you can access and use corporate aircraft.”

Smaller firms have access to private planes through partial ownership schemes that work like timeshares as well as charter flights, he said. And even though private jets may be perceived as a luxury, for many companies, they’re just another business tool.

According to the National Business Aviation Association, business aviation contributes $150 billion to U.S. economic output and employs more than 1.2 million people, although the industry was hit hard by the Great Recession and financial meltdown in 2008 and 2009.

The lack of direct flights from El Paso International has long been a frustration for El Paso business executives. A number of local firms, Betty said, use private planes to move their executives and management teams more quickly to and from operations on the border.

One is El Paso-based River Oaks Properties, which has fractional ownership of a plane through Ohio-based Net Jets, which is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

“Prices have come down a lot over the past decade or so,” said Adam Frank, River Oaks president.

He and other executives often have to fly to San Diego, but there are no direct commercial flights from El Paso to the California city.

“With a layover in Phoenix, it literally takes between 7 to 9 hours to get to San Diego when it is about a 1-hour and 20 minute flight direct,” Frank said.

So a one-day trip turns into a three-day trip, which is an expensive proposition for the company in both time and money.

But even as corporate air travel becomes increasingly accessible, El Paso continues to lose much of the business.

Tax benefits


Francis Aviation, the fixed-base operator at the Doña Ana airport, is planning to launch a charter service for business travelers this month, once it gets the expected approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Owner Tyler Francis purchased a $2 million King Air B200 aircraft a year ago, and has been waiting for FAA’s go ahead.

“We are already seeing a lot of interest. We get a lot of calls,” Francis said. The only other stand-alone charter service based in the El Paso area is ATI Jet Charter.

Fuel sales at Francis Aviation, while significantly less than those of Cutter Aviation in El Paso, Francis said, are 26 percent higher so far this year compared to the same period last year. And business overall, he said, is 31 percent higher than it has averaged over the past 10 years.

“We have had a series of jet owners move over to Santa Teresa, snagging up space for aircraft,” Francis said.

Perhaps the biggest reason El Paso is losing business to the airport in Santa Teresa is the tax benefit New Mexico provides airplane owners, said Betty, the airplane consultant.

In Texas, planes, like houses, are subject to personal property taxes. In New Mexico, plane owners are charged a yearly fee based on the weight of the aircraft.

The bottom line, Betty said, is the New Mexico tax can amount to saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Six months ago, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law more tax breaks for the aviation industry.

Even so, El Paso International still has a lot of advantages, Betty said. It’s not located out in the desert but in the middle of the city, and has significantly more runway, security and support services, including a control tower and an important weather observation system that assists aircraft flying in low visibility.

Airport manager Bill Provance said the next thing on his list is that automated system, certified by the FAA.

And the Dona Aña County commissioners have recently approved funding for the system at the jetport.

Story and Photo Gallery:   http://www.elpasoinc.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.