Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Midair Collision Hazards Cited as Significant Safety Issue in Latin America • Planes Heading Potentially Dangerously Close to Each Other, Prompting Warnings, a Top Aviation Danger in Region

The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor

Nov. 12, 2014 10:40 p.m. ET


Midair collision hazards have emerged as a significant safety issue across Central and South America, decades after technology aboard airliners was supposed to practically eliminate such threats.

Leaders of a Latin American industry-government safety panel on Tuesday disclosed that planes heading potentially dangerously close to each other, prompting airborne collision warnings, recently were included as one of the region’s top aviation dangers. The change was discussed at an international conference in Abu Dhabi sponsored by the Flight Safety Foundation, a global, nonprofit advocacy organization.

Gerardo Hueto, a senior Boeing Co. safety engineer and co-chair of the regional safety panel, told the gathering that the rate of midair-collision warnings has increased slightly over the past few years in airspace stretching from the Caribbean to Latin America. “There haven’t been any accidents,” he said, but the trend is worrisome and such hazards were added to the regional panel’s priority action items.

Tuesday’s presentation underscored that airlines operating over Latin America are touching off more airborne collision warnings than expected. By some counts, the past three years have averaged one warning for roughly every 1,500 airliner flights in the region.

Loretta Martin, the panel’s other co-chair and the top official in Latin America for the United Nations’ air-safety arm, said after the session that “we don’t like to see an upward trend” and experts will analyze the reasons.

The regional panel is supported by the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization, along with airplane manufacturers, equipment makers, pilot groups and others.

The comments were surprising because in the past few years, neither the ICAO nor other prominent safety groups have singled out midair collision dangers as a top concern in any regions except Africa and Afghanistan. Many African countries lack adequate ground-based radars to track airlines flying over their territory, while Afghanistan’s government has struggled with financial and staffing problems related to operating its air-traffic control network.

The leading causes of fatal airliner accidents world-wide are losing control of aircraft and flying perfectly functioning planes into mountains or other terrain, typically at night or in bad weather. Global accident rates for Western-built jets currently hover around a record low of one crash per roughly five million flights.

Ms. Martin and Mr. Hueto didn’t provide details about the location or timing of incidents, and they didn’t mention specifics of any close calls.

The collision-avoidance systems alert pilots about nearby aircraft and, in extreme cases, issue automated commands to immediately climb or descend to avoid hitting other planes. As long as both aircraft involved are equipped with the latest systems and pilots follow required procedures, collision-warning equipment is considered virtually foolproof in preventing airborne collisions. Pilots are trained to initiate avoidance maneuvers without first checking with controllers on the ground.

Midair collision threats in Latin America sparked a public outcry in 2006, when a U.S. business jet collided with a Brazilian airliner over the Amazon. All 154 people aboard the Boeing 737, operated by Gol Transportes AĆ©reos, died in the crash, while the business jet landed safely despite being damaged. Investigators determined the smaller plane’s crew inadvertently turned off their midair collision-warning system.


- Source:  http://online.wsj.com

After man killed in plane crash, sheriff's department honors 4 who aided grieving family

KENT COUNTY, MI – Two volunteer victim advocates and two Kent County residents will be recognized Thursday for their work in aiding an out-of-state woman after her husband died in an ultralight plane crash in August.

Ron and Mavee Blain and victim advocates Jay Groendyke and Charles Roetman will receive letters of appreciation and public service awards at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

The four went far beyond the call of duty after the aircraft being tested at Lowell City Airport by Bryan Bowker, 67, of Edgewood, New Mexico, crashed, according to the department.

Following the crash, Groendyke and Roetman arrived at the scene to comfort and aid his wife, Delia Bowker, who had witnessed the accident.

Shortly after, Ron and Mavee Blain stopped by to simply offer any assistance they could.

After realizing Delia Bowker was from the Philippines and could only speak broken English, Mavee Blain, who is also from the Philippines, offered to translate for the advocates.

Over the next several days, Groendyke and Roetman spent over 30 hours comforting both Delia Bowker and the aircraft’s owner, informing family and friends of Bryan Bowker’s death and making funeral arrangements.

The Blain family hosted and comforted Delia Bowker and her friends at their home for three days and two nights.


- Source:  http://www.mlive.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. 

Why someone can fly a drone over your house in New Jersey and why there's nothing you can do about it

That air above your house — who owns it? Is it you, or can your neighbor fly a drone over your home?

Are drones an invasion of privacy — and can you defend yourself against one?

These questions are popping up in New Jersey and elsewhere across the country in this, the era of the unmanned aerial vehicle. 

In the state Legislature, elected officials are advancing a law which would limit how law enforcement uses drones to catch criminals – and would also ban putting guns or other weapons on the unmanned aircraft in New Jersey.

Recently, in Cape May, a man allegedly shot down a drone flying over his house – and was charged criminally. The Federal Aviation Administration told NJ Advance Media that is perfectly legal to fly private drones over private houses, and the agency is working on a full set of regulations expected next year.

"The FAA does not prohibit flying model aircraft over a private residence unless it is operated in an unsafe manner," they said in a statement last week. "Local and state privacy and nuisance laws may be applicable in these cases." 

These are just the first forays into the wild blue yonder in the age of drones, large and small. As the technologies get better and cheaper, the laws in New Jersey and across the rest of the U.S. will struggle to catch up with the changing nature of privacy and security, say legal experts.

“Traditionally, you don’t have privacy for things that are open to public view,” said David Opderbeck, the director of the Gibbons Institute of Law, Science and Technology at the Seton Hall School of Law. “It may be the case now that you can’t expect those places to be private any more.”

“The genie is out of the bottle,” said Bernard Bell, a professor of law at Rutgers Law School.

The case of a Cape May man who allegedly downed a drone over his house became the talk of the nation for a few days in September. Russell Percenti, a 32-year-old from Lower Township, was arrested and charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and criminal mischief for the incident on Sept. 26, authorities said. Percenti is accused of using a shotgun to blast a multicopter flying around his home on Seashore Drive, they added.

“The charge speaks for itself,” said Robert Taylor, the Cape May County Prosecutor. “The evidence just seemed to indicate the user was photographing a friend’s house.”

The operator of the drone was not charged, Taylor said.

“We don’t have a basis to charge by FAA regulations or anything,” the prosecutor added.

The state Attorney General’s Office agreed, saying it has no regulations in place to charge in such situations.

“There are not any AG directives or guidelines on drones — or shooting down drones,” said Peter Aseltine, the office spokesman.

Percenti, who made bail shortly after the incident, could not be reached for comment.
 
As it stands, a drone can be flown almost anywhere in the country. The FAA issued a series of regulations in July which outlined impermissible uses of unmanned model aircraft, focusing on “the safety of the national airspace system,” particularly near airports and over large crowds of people like at national sporting events.

But a list of “dos” and “don’ts” also issued over the summer doesn’t say anything beyond keeping away from airports and manned aircraft. The federal agency is expected to issue full drone regulations by the end of 2015. Until then, local governments hold sway with possible nuisance laws, they added.

Local governments have grappled with the question, as the feds work out their laws. Last month a New Jersey State Assembly subcommittee advanced a bill limiting the use of drones by law enforcement and fire departments.

The bill also proposes to specifically prohibit any weapons to be attached to drones in the future. The state Legislature passed a similar bill late last year which would have limited the use of drones in the Garden State – but it was pocket vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie in January.

As it stands, anything visible from the air is not subject to privacy, said Bell, of Rutgers. A series of Supreme Court decisions gradually whittled down traditionally-held case law that private property extended below ground and straight up into the air.

The shrinking of the vertical property line started with the 1946 Supreme Court decision U.S. v. Causby – which ruled that a chicken farmer’s airspace was a “public highway" that planes could continue to fly through. In three decisions in the 1980s, the nation's highest court found that aerial views made by law enforcement and public agencies did not require warrants – and the property owners did not have any expectation of privacy, even within their fences.

“There is no Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy for matters that can be viewed from airspace the public may legitimately use,” Bell said.

The NJ Supreme Court has occasionally referenced a "more robust" expectation of privacy under the state constitution, Bell added – but the state’s highest court has so far remained silent on the topic.

In the meantime, the American Civil Liberties Union says it is monitoring the drone regulations in each state.

"It's important that legislatures deal with this now, before we have a mess on our hands," said Ari Rosmarin, the public policy director of the ACLU in New Jersey. "Drones in our airspace are not far away. They're here now. We're only going to get more and more of them."

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

Man is arrested at Trenton-Mercer Airport (KTTN) after loaded gun is found in carry-on

EWING – A Bucks County man was arrested Wednesday at a Trenton-Mercer Airport security checkpoint after a loaded gun was found in his carry-on bag, Transportation Security Administration officials said.

A TSA officer staffing the X-ray machine saw a 9-mm handgun tucked inside the man's bag and alerted the Mercer County Sheriff's Office, which made the arrest. The gun was loaded with eight rounds. He told the TSA officer that he forgot that he had the gun with him.

The Warrington, Pa., resident, whose name was not released, was ticketed to fly to Charlotte. Frontier Airlines is the only commercial carrier that flies out of Trenton-Mercer Airport. The gun was the first caught at the airport's checkpoint this year, authorities said.

This year, TSA agents have already confiscated 1,855 firearms from passengers nationwide, 42 more than in all of 2013. The TSA said 1,471 of those firearms were loaded.

Weapons, including firearms, firearm parts and ammunition, are not permitted in carry-on bags, but can be transported in checked bags if they are unloaded, properly packed and declared to the airline. Passengers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from the TSA up to $11,000.


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

Mooney M20K, N231JF, KI Aircraft LLC : Fatal accident occurred November 12, 2014 in Clines Corners, 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: CEN15FA044
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 12, 2014 in Clines Corners, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/22/2016
Aircraft: MOONEY AIRCRAFT CORP. M20K, registration: N231JF
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

Before departing on the westbound cross-country flight, the noninstrument-rated pilot checked the weather and voiced concern to another pilot about the conditions along the route. The area forecast called for instrument flight rule (IFR) and marginal visual flight rule conditions. An Airmen Meteorological Information (AIRMET) was active for IFR conditions. mountain obscuration due to clouds. and precipitation and mist along the route of flight. Another AIRMET for moderate ice below 16,000 ft was active for an area just north of the route of flight. 

Despite these conditions, the pilot decided to depart; he obtained flight following from air traffic control. While in contact with the Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZAB), the pilot stated that he was picking up ice; he asked about the cloud tops and then stated that he was going to have to turn around and return to his departure airport, which was to the east. The controller offered the pilot several closer airports. The pilot continued westbound toward higher terrain and, when asked, stated that he was familiar with the terrain. However, the weather continued to deteriorate, and the pilot asked the controller for the closest airports; the pilot ultimately decided to fly to an airport that was located 28 miles west of his location at that time. The pilot reported that he was below the clouds and asked where the cloud tops were, but the controller had no cloud top reports. The pilot’s last communication was that he would just keep going and “hopefully it’ll break up here for me open up.” Although the pilot did not declare an emergency, the controller had numerous indications that the pilot was having difficulty and needed to land. Such indicators were the pilot’s statement that he was picking up ice; his indecisiveness about where to go; and his questions about the cloud tops, which likely indicated he was flying in the clouds and wanted to get above them because the clouds were too low to fly below. The controller should have queried the pilot to better determine the nature of the issues affecting the flight and to determine if the pilot was capable of instrument flight. The airplane impacted terrain in a 60-degree nose-down attitude in an area of open rolling hills. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane. The angle of impact indicated that the pilot was not in control of the airplane when it impacted the terrain. The pilot most likely lost control of the airplane as he flew into the deteriorating weather, which included blowing snow and gusting wind. While the airplane may have been accumulating ice at the time of the accident, the investigation was unable to determine how much ice it had accumulated and what effect it had on the airplane’s performance. The controller stated that he did not have the current weather conditions at two of the airports that he offered because the airports’ automated weather observing system (AWOS) information was not available to him because neither was “adapted” into (included in) the ZAB en route automation modernization system. In addition, the controller did not direct the pilot to the AWOS frequencies for those airports, nor did he ask his supervisor to assist in obtaining airport weather. He also did not ask the supervisor to solicit airport-specific weather, which was available from the center weather service unit (CWSU), because he was not aware of the services that the CWSU could provide.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The noninstrument-rated pilot's decision to initiate the flight into known deteriorating weather conditions and his continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which ultimately resulted in a loss of airplane control. Contributing to the accident was the air traffic controller's failure to provide additional assistance to the pilot when it was apparent the pilot was having difficulties.

History of Flight
On November 12, 2014, at 1735 (all times are mountain standard time), a Mooney M20K airplane, N231JF, collided with the terrain in Clines Corners, New Mexico. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post impact fire. The airplane was registered to KI Aircraft LLC and was being operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Localized instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (AMA), Amarillo, Texas, at 1616. The intended destination for the flight was the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Phoenix, Arizona.

According to personnel at the fixed base operator (FBO) in AMA, the pilot landed the airplane and taxied to the FBO about 1525. The pilot instructed the line personnel to "top off" the airplane with fuel. FBO personnel reported there was a "light blowing sleet" at the time, but that the airplane was free of any ice. The pilot left the FBO to eat and when he returned, he asked the customer service representative (CSR) if she knew of any airplanes at their facility that had just arrived from or were departing for Phoenix. The CSR replied that there were none. The pilot then struck up a conversation with two business jet pilots who were in the lobby. The FBO manager stated he spoke with the pilot and because the weather was deteriorating, he offered to put the pilot's airplane in a heated hangar for the night. The pilot stated he was not staying the night and that he would be departing shortly. FBO personnel stated that after departing the FBO, the pilot performed an engine run-up and contacted air traffic control for his taxi clearance.

One of the corporate jet pilots recalled the accident pilot asking if anyone was going to Phoenix. The accident pilot then asked him if he knew the altitudes of the cloud ceiling and cloud tops. The accident pilot explained that he was trying to get to Phoenix and he was wondering if the cloud layer was thin enough for him to get through it. The business pilot stated that he flew in from the east and that when they were on top of the clouds, the cloud layer below them extended as far as they could see. He also informed the pilot that they encountered rime and clear ice during their descent into AMA. The accident pilot then questioned himself out loud as to whether or not he would be able to stay below the weather. They discussed the mountains located east of Albuquerque. The accident pilot opened his "tablet" and looked at a satellite image pointing out where he thought the cloud layer ended east of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. The business pilot told the accident pilot that a weather briefer would be able to give him information regarding the ceilings heights along his planned route. The accident pilot thanked him and departed the FBO.

The pilot received visual flight rules (VFR) flight following from air traffic control during the flight. While in contact with the Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZAB), the pilot reported that the airplane was "starting to collect some ice" and requested information regarding the tops of the cloud layer. The pilot stated that he was going to have to turn around to return to AMA. The controller offered the pilot several other airports in the area, but the accident flight continued westbound. The controller questioned the pilot regarding the weather conditions and asked if he was aware of the terrain along the route. The pilot reported that he was familiar with the terrain and that he was below the clouds. The pilot then stated that he was going to fly to the Moriarty Airport (OEO), which was about 28 miles west of his current position.

Radar contact and communication with the airplane were lost about 1735. The wreckage was located in a field just west of Route 285, 7 ½ miles north of I-40 in Clines Corners, New Mexico.

Personnel Information
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land rating issued on March 21, 2004. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate with no restrictions on March 20, 2014. The pilot was not instrument rated.

Two of the pilot's logbooks were made available for review during the investigation. One logbook contained entries from January 5, 2004 through February 17, 2005. The second logbook contained entries from March 19, 2014 through June 5, 2014. There were 28 additional undated entries, most of which did not have any flight time associated with them. A total of the recorded flight times indicate the pilot had a total flight time of 285.4 hours. Of this time, 27.6 hours were flown in the accident airplane.

FAA records show that on August 17, 2014, they conducted an investigation of a Pilot Deviation involving the accident pilot. According to the deviation report, the pilot unintentionally entered Class A airspace without a clearance or an instrument rating while attempting to climb out of weather.

Aircraft Information
The accident airplane was a Mooney M20K, serial number 25-0075. The Mooney M20K is a single-engine, four-place design, with retractable tricycle landing gear. The airplane was powered by a 210-horsepower, Continental Motors TSIO-360-C six-cylinder, reciprocating engine, serial number 309079. The airplane was equipped with a two-blade McCauley model 2A34C316-B propeller assembly.

Records show the pilot purchased the airplane on May 10, 2014. The last aircraft logbook contained entries from July 30, 2009, through May 14, 2014. The last airframe annual inspection was completed on May 9, 2014, at a Hobbs time of 390.7 hours and a tachometer time of 8.2 hours. The last entry in the aircraft logbooks was dated May 14, 2014, which was for the transponder, encoding altimeter, and static system check. The last aircraft total time that was listed in the logbook was 3,445.5 hours on December 17, 2012, at a Hobbs time of 380.9 hours.

The last engine logbook contained entries from July 30, 2009, through May 14, 2014. The last engine annual inspection was competed on May 9, 2014, at an engine total time of 3,455.3 hours and a time since major overhaul of 1,727.3 hours.

The total time on the aircraft and engine at the time of the accident could not be determined from the logbook information collected during the investigation.

The pilot requested the airplane be filled with fuel with fuel before his last departure. Fueling records indicate the airplane was fueled with 20.9 gallons of 100LL.

Meteorological Information
The Clines Corners, New Mexico (CQC), Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), is located about 7 miles south-southeast of the accident site. At 1732, the CQC ASOS recorded weather conditions as: wind from 120 degrees at 15 knots; visibility 4 miles with light snow and mist; broken clouds at 800 feet above ground level (agl); temperature minus 12 degrees Celsius (C); dew point minus 14 degrees C; altimeter 30.13 inches of mercury.

The Moriarty Airport (0E0) in Moriarty, New Mexico, is located 16 miles west-southwest of the accident site. At 1735, the 0E0 ASOS recorded weather conditions as: wind 130 at 8 knots; visibility 10 miles or greater; overcast clouds at 2,000 ft agl; temperature minus 8 degrees C; dew point minus 13 degrees C; altimeter 30.22 inches of mercury.

The Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF) ASOS was located about 41 miles northwest of the accident site. At 1733, the SAF ASOS recorded weather conditions as: wind from 140 degrees at 23 knots gusting to 30 knots; visibility 10 miles or greater; broken clouds at 1,500 ft agl; temperature minus 7 degrees Celsius; dew point minus 14 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.12 inches of mercury.

The Albuquerque International Sunport Airport (ABQ) ASOS was located about 51 miles west of the accident site. At 1752, the ABQ ASOS recorded weather conditions as: wind from 080 degrees at 25 knots; visibility 10 miles or greater; few clouds at 4,000 ft agl, few clouds at 8,000 ft agl; temperature 0 degrees Celsius; dew point minus 11 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.07 inches of mercury.

Atmospheric data was retrieved from 1700 Rawinsonde launches from ABQ and AMA, where each launch likely retrieved low-level meteorological data beginning between 1600 and 1630. The ABQ sounding showed two temperature inversions with one located just above the surface and the other surrounding an altitude of 9,000 ft above mean sea level (msl). The freezing level was about 8,400 ft msl. Above the freezing level, the temperature increased to 3 degrees C at about 9,500 ft msl and remained above freezing up to 11,000 ft msl. Wind near the surface was from the east at 20 knots. The wind then changed to the south at 10 knots at about 7,000 ft msl, and to a westerly wind of 25 knots at about 10,000 ft msl. Assessments of icing made by the Universal Rawinsonde Observation program (RAOB) for this sounding did not identify any icing potential.

The AMA sounding showed multiple temperature inversions, with several in the layer between 6,000 and 8,000 ft msl. Another inversion was located between 12,200 and 13,700 ft msl. The entire atmosphere was below freezing. Wind near the surface was from the northeast at 10 knots. The wind changed above the surface, becoming a west wind at 45 knots at an altitude of 9,000 msl. Assessments of icing made by the RAOB for this sounding identified the potential for moderate rime and clear icing along with the potential for significant turbulence between 7,000 and 9,000 ft msl.

The 1528 area forecast issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque, called for instrument flight rule (IFR) and marginal visual flight rule (MVFR) conditions at the central and eastern terminal sites. The 1652 area forecast called for areas of MVFR to IFR ceilings and visibility in light snow, mist, and freezing fog near the northeast New Mexico border as well as between the central mountain chain and the Pecos Valley. After 1900, the wind was forecast to gust between 30 and 35 knots at Santa Fe and ABQ.

Airmen Meteorological Information (AIRMET) advisories for altitudes below FL 180 were issued for New Mexico and active at the time of the accident. AIRMET SIERRAs which called for IFR conditions and mountain obscuration due to clouds, precipitation and mist encompassed the area along the route of flight and the accident site. AIRMET ZULU which encompassed an area just north of the route of flight and the accident site called for moderate ice below 16,000 ft msl.

A witness who heard the impact stated the weather conditions at the time were blowing snow flurries, windy, and very cold temperatures. A captain from the Santa Fe County Fire Department stated that it began to snow heavily, the wind was gusting, and the visibility decreased as he was responding to the accident scene.

Communications
The pilot established contact with the ZAB sector 87 radar controller at 1637 stating he was at 6,400 ft. The controller asked the pilot if he was aware of the high terrain along his route of flight. The pilot responded that he was looking for a "…spot to us go up uh do you know what the tops are at here." The controller informed the pilot that he did not have any top reports and he cleared the pilot to contact ZAB on another frequency.

The pilot checked in with the sector 16 (R16) controller at 1703 stating he was at 7,200 ft. At 1716, the pilot asked the controller if he knew where the cloud tops were as he was starting to pick up some ice. The controller responded that he did not know where the cloud top reports. The pilot then informed the controller that he needed to turn around and descend. The controller reiterated that the pilot was going to descend and return to Amarillo. The pilot responded that was correct. The controller stated to the pilot that he wasn't picking up any precipitation on his radar so he didn't know where the cloud layers were, but he offered several nearby airports at which the pilot could land.

At 1720, the controller asked the pilot if he was going to continue on course and if he was aware of the terrain along the course. The pilot replied that he was going to continue and that he was aware of the terrain.

At 1722, the pilot stated "… it's getting worse up higher I'm gonna have to turn around and reroute." The pilot then asked where the closest airport was located. The pilot did not declare an emergency. The controller provided the pilot with the distances and directions to several airports. The pilot replied that he was going to reverse course to Santa Rosa (SXU) and he asked the controller what the weather was like there. The controller replied, "….unfortunately Santa Rosa's not an adapted weather station." At 1725, the controller informed the pilot that 0E0 was 28 miles away if he didn't want to continue toward Albuquerque. The pilot responded that he was going to Moriarty. The controller then stated to the pilot "…unfortunately Moriarty is not an adapted weather station either so I don't have a weather report there." The controller asked the pilot if he was below the clouds. The pilot replied he was and asked the controller where the cloud tops were. The controller responded that he didn't have any cloud top reports. The controller queried an air carrier about the cloud layers. The air carrier pilot responded the clouds were below him at maybe 8,000 or 10,000 ft. The accident pilot then responded that he was going to just keep going and that "…hopefully it'll break up here for me open up." This was the last communication from the pilot. The controller reported that radar contact was lost at 1735.

Wreckage and Impact Information
The airplane came to rest in an open field 60 ft west of state Route 285 at a location about 7 ½ miles north of the town of Clines Corners, New Mexico. The airplane came to rest on a magnetic heading of 020 degrees. Impact damage on the airplane indicated that the airplane impacted the terrain in about a 60 degree nose down attitude. The wreckage was contained in one location and a post impact fire ensued. The terrain northwest of the wreckage was scorched from the fire.

The cockpit was destroyed by postimpact fire. The throttle quadrant was visible and the engine controls were in the forward position. The fuselage skin on the right side of the fuselage was burned and crushed. The fuselage skin on the left side of the fuselage was destroyed by fire.

The left wing was destroyed by fire and impact. This skin was crushed rearward. The remaining wing structure was bent upward and twisted rearward beginning just outboard of the flap. The thermal and impact damaged left flap remained partially attached to the wing. The left aileron was destroyed by thermal damage. The aileron push-pull tube was visible and intact along the length of the wing up to the cockpit area.

The right wing was scorched with the inboard section of the wing having been destroyed by the fire. The outboard ¾ of the leading edge and bottom of the wing was crushed rearward. Both the flap and aileron remained attached to the wing. The aileron push-pull tube at the inboard hinge was bent. The push-pull tube was intact throughout the wing up to the cockpit area.

The empennage was intact with the elevator and rudder remained attached to their respective stabilizers. The left side of the empennage sustained thermal damage with the right side being lightly covered with soot. The outboard half of the right stabilizer and elevator were bent upward. The outboard half of the left elevator and stabilizer were bent downward. The leading edge of the vertical stabilizer was crushed rearward and to the right. Both elevator balance weights were separated and located near the wreckage. The elevator and rudder control systems were traced from the flight control surfaces to the cockpit area. All separations within the flight control system were consistent with impact damage.

The trim jackscrew and the flap jackscrew were measured. The longitudinal trim assembly jackscrew indicates the trim was at the takeoff setting. The flap actuator tube measurement equated to the flaps being extended about 10 degrees which is the takeoff flap setting. The landing gear was in the retracted position.

The horizontal situation indicator, directional gyro, altimeter, and artificial horizon were found in wreckage. All sustained impact and thermal damage. The artificial horizon was opened. The gyro housing was fractured and gyro was outside the housing. No visible scoring marks were identified inside of the housing.

The engine sustained impact and thermal damage. The top of the crankcase sustained impact damage and it was fractured leaving a large hole between the number 5 and 6 cylinders. The crankshaft was visible through the hole. The crankshaft was bent at the front main bearing saddle. Impact forces bent the crankshaft, propeller flange, and propeller to the right. The oil sump was fractured open with pieces missing, leaving the lower interior of the engine visible. All of the lifters were intact. The camshaft was visibly bent at the rear of the engine.

The fuel injectors were attached to each cylinder and the air manifold-tube assemblies sustained impact damage. The upper deck pressure system sustained impact damage and several components were missing. The top of the fuel manifold was missing. The diaphragm was burned away. Several of the distribution lines were broken and missing.

All of the accessories had separated from the engine. Both magnetos were located in the main wreckage. It could not be determined which magneto was the left and which one was the right. The magnetos were opened and both sustained thermal damage making them inoperable. The ignition harness sustained impact and thermal damage.

The cylinders remained attached to the crankcase. Cylinders 5 and 6 were pushed rearward from impact forces. All of the rocker box covers were intact. All of the pushrods were intact with the exception of the number 6 exhaust pushrod and rod housing which sustained impact damage. The pushrods for the number 5 cylinder sustained impact damage, but they were in place.

All of the sparkplugs were removed and the inside of the cylinders, valves, and piston heads were examined using a lighted boroscope. All of the intake and exhaust valves, and pistons were in place and exhibited normal combustion deposits. The spark plugs were found in the worn condition as compared to the Champion Check-A-Plug chart. The plugs exhibited normal to dark coloration.

The engine driven fuel pump was intact, but was pushed rearward. The pump was removed and the drive coupling was found intact and in place. The fuel pump housing was broken and the pump vanes were intact.

The vacuum pump was separated from the engine. The pump was disassembled. The carbon blades and the rotor sustained impact and thermal damage.

The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft propeller flange. The crankshaft was bent to the right starting at the front main bearing saddle due to impact. The propeller hub was broken and one of the propeller blades was loose in the hub. This propeller blade was marked "A" for identification purposes. This blade exhibited chordwise scratching on the front of the blade and gouges toward the blade tip. The blade was bent forward beginning about 12 inches from the blade shank. Blade "B" was secure in the propeller hub. This blade was found sticking upward at the accident site. The blade exhibited slight forward bending about 18 inches from the blade shank.

Medical and Pathological Information
An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Office of the Medical Investigator, UNM Health Services Center, on November 13, 2014. The pilot's death was attributed to blunt trauma sustained as a result of the accident.

The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) toxicology report noted the following:
50 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Kidney
48 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Muscle
39 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Liver
28 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Spleen

According to CAMI, the ethanol levels detected were most likely a result of putrefaction.

Additional Information
During the flight, the pilot informed the controller of his intent to divert to SXU and then 0E0, both of which were equipped with automated weather observing systems (AWOS); however, weather information for these airports was not readily available to the controller for either airport because neither AWOS had been adapted into the ZAB en route automation modernization system (ERAM). The ERAM is an air traffic management system designed to increase air traffic flow and improve automated navigation and conflict detection service. In March 2015, ERAM replaced the en route host computer and backup systems at 20 ARTCCs.

An adapted weather site is an official weather facility or official automated weather reporting station that sends weather reports to the Weather Message Switching Center Replacement System (WMSCR). The weather data is then linked or adapted to be accessible from the ATC positions within the ARTCC ERAM's system. An official weather station uses weather reporting systems from the National Weather Service (NWS), the FAA, or contractors which provide weather data. That data is then delivered to the WMSCR and made available to users. There is a fee associated with the data-link that is normally paid by the weather station owner/operator (i.e. airport, city, state). If the service fee is unpaid, the weather station is dropped from the weather network. ZAB is unable to adapt a weather station into ERAM that is not in the WMSCR.

As the FAA updated the current radar system to the ERAM system, ARTCCs are updating similar characteristics and capabilities. One of these capabilities is adapting weather reporting airports within the ZAB airspace. This ongoing process includes adding and removing airports from the weather adapted list as determined by the availability of information from the WMSCR. Once a reporting station is adapted, the ARTCC controller can execute a current weather request by typing the station identifier on a keyboard. Neither SUX nor 0E0 were adapted at the time of the accident. 0E0 was subsequently adapted on January 9, 2015.

An ERAM initiated weather request is one of several methods an ARTCC controller has available to acquire current weather information from an airport. Weather information is available from most weather reporting stations via a telephone number or radio broadcast frequency. The telephone numbers and frequencies are available to the controller via the digital airport facilities directory accessible from the controller's station. The controllers at ZAB did not have access to outside telephone lines, but the supervisors did. Another source of current weather information at ZAB was the NWS center weather service unit (CWSU). Meteorologists at the CWSU have access to numerous weather products including the specific weather information that had been requested by the accident pilot.

The ZAB R16 controller did not provide airport weather for the suggested divert airports, nor did the controller provide weather information from the CQC ASOS even though the CQC ASOS data was adapted into the ZAB ERAM.

The ATC North Specialty Front Line Manager stated he was aware of the situation with the accident airplane and considered the issue to be a VFR pilot trying to maintain VFR conditions. He asked the controller who was working the airplane if he needed assistance and the controller stated that he did not. The supervisor called the ABQ tower and asked for a visibility report to the east, which was the direction from which the accident airplane was approaching. ABQ tower reported that the visibility to the east was not a problem. The supervisor passed this information to the controller. The supervisor stated that the weather for Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Tucumcari, New Mexico, had been acquired via ERAM utilizing the request weather functions and he was "pretty sure" that the controller passed this weather information to the pilot. The supervisor did not consider the ZAB CWSU as a resource for specific airport weather data, nor did he recall ever seeing the ZAB CWSU provide tactical support such as specific weather information in the past.

The R16 controller who was working the accident airplane stated that when the pilot established contact on the frequency and he wanted to turn around and go back to AMA, and that he requested information regarding the cloud tops. The controller stated he thought the request was "weird" and that it was a "red flag" to him. He did not recall hearing the pilot report that he was picking up ice. The controller stated there were no significant meteorological information (SIGMETs) in effect and that there was no radar displayed precipitation. He informed his supervisor of the pilot's request and his supervisor asked if he needed the assistance of a radar assistant. He did not consider the assistance necessary. The controller provided distance and heading information for several airports in the area. He stated the pilot implied that he wanted to get above the clouds. He did not consider the pilot to be in distress, but rather trying to remain in VMC, which he did not consider to be an emergency. This controller did not provide weather for the suggested divert airports because the airports were not "weather adapted". He did not consider directing the pilot to the AWOS/ASOS frequencies, asking the supervisor for airport weather, or asking the supervisor to solicit airport specific weather from the CWSU because the only weather data he ever received from the CWSU was a macro view. He could not recall ever seeing a supervisor reach out to the CWSU to provide tactical weather support.

FAA Order 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, paragraph 10-2-7. VFR Aircraft in Weather Difficulty, states in part:

If VFR aircraft requests assistance when it encounters or is about to encounter i ns t r u m e nt f l i ght r ul e s ( IFR) weather conditions, determine the facility best able to provide service. If a frequency change is necessary, advise the pilot of the reason for the change, and request the aircraft contact the appropriate control facility. Inform that facility of the situation. If the aircraft is unable to communicate with the control facility, relay information and clearances.

FAA Order 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, paragraph 10-2-8, Radar Assistance to VFR Aircraft in Weather Difficulty, states in part:

If a VFR aircraft requests radar assistance when it encounters or is about to encounter IFR weather conditions, ask the pilot if he/she is qualified for and capable of conducting IFR flight.

If the pilot states he/she is qualified for and capable of IFR flight, request him/her to file an IFR flight plan and then issue clearance to destination airport, as appropriate.

If the pilot states he/she is not qualified for or not capable of conducting IFR flight, or if he/she refuses to file an IFR flight plan, take whichever of the following actions is appropriate:

1. Inform the pilot of airports where VFR conditions are reported, provide other available pertinent weather information, and ask if he/she will elect to conduct VFR flight to such an airport.

2. If the action in subpara 1 above is not feasible or the pilot declines to conduct VFR flight to another airport, provide radar assistance if the pilot:


(a) Declares an emergency.
(b) Refuses to declare an emergency and you have determined the exact nature
of the radar services the pilot desires.

3. If the aircraft has already encountered IFR conditions, inform the pilot of
the appropriate terrain/obstacle clearance minimum altitude. If the aircraft is below appropriate terrain/obstacle clearance minimum altitude and sufficiently accurate position information has been received or radar identification is established, furnish a heading or radial on which to climb to reach appropriate terrain/obstacle clearance minimum altitude.

En route air traffic controllers provide approach control information to those airports within their airspace that do not fall under a terminal approach control. There were many such airports in ZAB airspace. FAA Order 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, paragraph 4-7-10, Approach Information, states in part:

Both en route and terminal approach control sectors must provide current approach information to aircraft destined to airports for which they provide approach control services. This information must be provided on initial contact or as soon as possible thereafter. Approach information contained in the automatic terminal information service (ATIS) broadcast may be omitted if the pilot states the appropriate ATIS code. For pilots destined to an airport without ATIS, items 3-5 below may be omitted after the pilot advises receipt of the automated weather; otherwise, issue approach information by including the following:

1. Approach clearance or type approach to be expected if two or more approaches are published and the clearance limit does not indicate which will be used.
2. Runway if different from that to which the instrument approach is made.
3. Surface wind.
4. Ceiling and visibility if the reported ceiling at the airport of intended landing is below 1,000 feet or below the highest circling minimum, whichever is greater, or the visibility is less than 3 miles.
5. Altimeter setting for the airport of intended landing.

Upon pilot request, controllers must inform pilots of the frequency where automated weather data may be obtained and, if appropriate, that airport weather is not available.

On June 25, 2015, the FAA issued a memorandum to each ATRCC directing that "within 30 days of the date of this memo, each ARTCC is required to review the list of available weather stations for their airspace and direct the Facility Automation Support Team (FAST) to adapt any additional sites pertaining to them. FAST must adapt the additional weather stations on the next available chart date and by no later than August 20 [2015]. Each facility must review and update their list of weather stations quarterly."

http://registry.faa.gov/N231JF

Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office: FAA Albuquerque FSDO-01

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA044
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 12, 2014 in Clines Corners, NM
Aircraft: MOONEY AIRCRAFT CORP. M20K, registration: N231JF
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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 12, 2014, at 1735 (all times are mountain standard time), a Mooney M20K airplane, N231JF, collided with the terrain in Clines Corners, New Mexico. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post impact fire. The airplane was registered to KI Aircraft LLC and was being operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (AMA), Amarillo, Texas, at 1616. The intended destination for the flight was the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Phoenix, Arizona.

According to the fixed base operator (FBO) in AMA, the pilot landed his airplane and taxied to the FBO around 1525. The pilot instructed the line personnel to "top off" the airplane, which was subsequently filled with 20.9 gallons of 100 low lead fuel. The FBO personnel reported there was a "light blowing sleet" at the time, but that the airplane was free of any ice. The pilot left to eat and when he returned, he asked the customer service representative (CSR) if she knew of any airplanes at their facility that had just come in from or were leaving for Phoenix. The CSR replied that there were none. The pilot then struck up a conversation with two business jet pilots who were in the lobby. The FBO manager stated he spoke with the pilot and because the weather was deteriorating, he offered to put the pilot's airplane in a heated hangar for the night. The pilot stated he was not staying the night and that he would be departing shortly. Soon thereafter, the pilot left the FBO, started his airplane, and departed.

One of the corporate jet pilots recalled the accident pilot walking in the FBO and asking if anyone was going to Phoenix. The accident pilot then asked him if he knew the altitudes of the ceiling and cloud tops. The accident pilot explained that he was trying to get to Phoenix and he was wondering if the cloud layer was thin enough for him to get through it. The business pilot stated that he had arrived on a flight from the east and that when they were on top of the clouds, the cloud layer extended as far as they could see. He also informed the pilot that they encountered rime and clear ice on their descent into AMA from the east. The accident pilot then questioned himself out loud as to whether or not he would be able to stay below the weather. They discussed the mountains east of Albuquerque. The accident pilot then opened his "tablet" and looked at a satellite image pointing out where he thought the cloud layer ended east of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. The business pilot told the accident pilot that a weather briefer would be able to give him information regarding the ceilings heights along his route. The accident pilot thanked him and departed the FBO.

FBO personnel stated that after departing the FBO, the pilot performed an engine run-up and contacted air traffic control for his taxi clearance. After takeoff, the pilot was receiving visual flight rules (VFR) flight following from air traffic control. While in contact with the Albuquerque air route traffic control center (ZAB) the pilot made an inquiry about icing in the area and requested information regarding the tops of the cloud layer. The pilot mentioned that he might have to turn around and return to AMA. The controller offered the pilot several other airports in the area, but the pilot continued westbound. The controller questioned the pilot regarding the weather conditions and asked if he was familiar with the terrain. The pilot reported that he was familiar with the terrain and that he was below the clouds. The pilot then stated that he was going to fly to the Moriarty Airport (OEO), Moriarty, New Mexico, which was about 28 miles west of his position.

Radar contact and communication with the airplane was lost about 1735. The wreckage was located in a field 7 ½ miles north of Clines Corners, New Mexico.

The Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF) Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) was located about 41 miles northwest of the accident site. At 1733, the SAF ASOS recorded weather conditions as: wind from 140 degrees at 23 knots gusting to 30 knots; visibility 10 miles; broken clouds at 1,500 feet above ground level (agl); temperature minus 7 degrees Celsius; dew point minus 14 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.12 inches of mercury.

The Albuquerque International Sunport Airport (ABQ) ASOS was located about 51 miles west of the accident site. At 1752, the ABQ ASOS recorded weather conditions as: wind from 080 degrees at 25 knots; visibility 10 miles; few clouds at 4,000 feet agl, few clouds at 8,000 feet agl; temperature 0 degrees Celsius; dew point minus 11 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.07 inches of mercury.

A captain from the Santa Fe County Fire Department stated that it began to snow heavily, the wind was gusting, and the visibility decreased as he was responding to the accident scene shortly after the accident occurred.

 
  

 




CLINES CORNERS, N.M. (KRQE) – State police say one man was killed in a fiery plane crash just off a highway. Santa Fe County deputies and state police cars are blocking off the scene here until FAA investigators arrive which will likely be on Thursday morning.

The wreckage is just feet away from Highway 285 about 8 miles north of I-40 and Clines Corners. It’s just on the border of Torrance and Santa Fe counties. Torrance County says it got the first call just before 6:00 p.m. about a brushfire. Twenty minutes later someone called 911 about a plane down.

Santa Fe County says only the pilot was on board. They believe it’s a man but haven’t been able to identify him yet. They’re still looking into what caused the crash.

“Weather’s really bad it’s windy and cold out here. But I don’t know the details of the flight or what the pilot may have communicated to the air traffic controllers,” said Lt. Michael Post with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department.

Post says the FAA will take over the investigation and figure that out once they get here. For now, Santa Fe County and state police have taped off the scene. The sheriff’s office is still working to confirm where the plane came from and where it was going.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office has confirmed one person died in a single-engine plane crash on Highway 285 North, near mile marker 257, just north of Clines Corners.


Online records show the plane to be a Mooney M20K.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed it lost radio contact with the particular aircraft about 5:35 p.m. MT. It had been en route to Phoenix from Amarillo.

Frigid temperature expected at site of plane crash near Clines Corners

State police are investigating the crash of a small single-engine plane that went down in a field near mile marker 257 off N.M. 285 just north of Clines Corners.

Light snow is falling in the area the temperature is expected to drop to around 7 degrees overnight, according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

Torrance County Sheriff Heath White, who responded to the scene of the crash around 7 p.m. said there were some injuries involved but he would not give details.

White said the location of the crash was in Santa Fe County.

CLINES CORNERS, N.M. —A single-engine plane has crashed at the border of Torrance and San Miguel counties, according to the Torrance County Sheriff's Department.

A rancher in the area reported seeing airplane parts strewn nearby.

Crews were en route at about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

A fire was also reported in a field near the crash. Officials said this was adjacent to Highway 285 at mile marker 257.

 






Lawyers Get Nothing for Fee Fight in No-Fly Case

Courthouse News Service
By WILLIAM DOTINGA


Wednesday, November 12, 2014


SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge denied an $85,000 demand by a Malaysian woman's pro bono lawyers for work done in a battle over how much the government should pay following her successful fight to get her name off the Transportation Security Administration's no-fly list.

Rahinah Ibrahim successfully fought the U.S. government over her inclusion on the no-fly list in 2005, when TSA agents barred the Malaysian woman from boarding a flight to attend a conference in Hawaii. Though officials eventually let Ibrahim return to Malaysia, they revoked her student visa shortly thereafter - keeping her from returning to Stanford to finish her doctoral thesis.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge William Alsup found that Ibrahim had been illegally placed on the no-fly list and a plethora of other watch lists and terror databases. The Justice Department admitted that an FBI agent's goof led to blacklisting Ibrahim, and the judge ordered her removed from all databases and lists.

Ibrahim's lawyers from the firm McManis Faulkner claimed victory - despite losing key constitutional claims - and asked for more than $3.9 million in attorneys' fees and costs. Alsup called the demand "grossly broad even to the point of seeking double recovery," and ordered both parties to submit detailed timecards for the eight-year case to determine how much taxpayers should cough up.

After months of wrangling, Alsup appointed special master Gina Moon of the San Francisco firm Clarence Dyer & Cohen to sort it out. Moon issued a 117-page report recommending $419,987.36 for McManis Faulkner, which Alsup accepted in full last month.

Undeterred, Ibrahim's lawyers demanded another $85,467.50 for the work they did objecting to Moon's report - a move Alsup rejected outright.

"This new demand is overstated and comes after a history of plaintiff's counsel stubbornly refusing to cooperate in this significantly protracted satellite fee litigation," Alsup wrote in a terse, three-page order. "This grossly overstated sum is not justified, especially considering the outcome of counsel's objections. All of counsel for plaintiff's objections were overruled. Indeed, they filed two, ten-page briefs when only one was permitted. Accordingly, one of their briefs was stricken. Counsel's remaining objections, after careful consideration, were overruled. Nevertheless, counsel now forge ahead to demand an additional large sum. The undersigned judge will not encourage such behavior by allowing it to be trimmed back to a lesser number. To do so would invite grossly overbroad requests on the strategy that counsel will at least get some lesser amount. Since the amount sought is patently excessive for the work done, the baby will go out with the bath water."

Alsup also stayed his previous order that the government pay by Oct. 30, given that both sides have appealed various facets of the case - including the attorney fee award - to the 9th Circuit.

"Although the court has issued an entitlement order and fixed the award, our court of appeals may yet disagree. To take one example, they could find that the government's position was substantially justified, meaning that no fees would be recoverable under the Equal Access to Justice Act. There is also no evidence a stay would substantially injure plaintiff's counsel and it is indeed far better, in an exercise of this court's discretion, to stay payment until there is finality on the award, which would come out of the Treasury."


The 9th Circuit won't hear the case until late 2015 at the earliest. 


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

Redlands, California: Air show talk is deja vu

Opinion 

Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. there will be a meeting in the airport lobby to discus Hangar 24 sponsoring a Redlands airshow.

After watching the City Council in action before the last airshow I’ve come up with a few questions.

First, last time Hangar 24 gave as a reason that they should be allowed to sponsor the airshow was that the city would be given a share of the profit made on beer sales made by Hangar 24 Charities.

The question is:   Does the city know how much money was generated by Hangar 24 Charities sales and what amount went to the city?

Second: Last time the airport was shut down for two days while the show went on making it impossible for the tenants to use the airport, the tenants pay rent but Hangar 24 paid nothing to use the facilities.

Hangar 24 Charities also paid nothing to use the airport.

Question, why doesn’t Hangar 24 have to pay to use the facilities but the tenants get no relief for the two days they are shut out?

Third: Is the City Council once again going to waive a large share of the cost to furnish police, fire and trash pickup services allowing Ben Cook to make a larger profit at tax payers expense?

The city is not putting on the show, Hangar 24 is, so why is the city subsidizing Hangar 24?

— Glenn Dunham, Redlands


- Source:  http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/opinion

Craig Medred: Are lessons unlearned after National Transportation Safety Board report of Helo 1 crash?

 

Something needs to be made bluntly clear in the wake of this week's conclusion by the National Transportation Safety Board about the causes of the crash of Alaska State Troopers Helo 1 near Talkeetna in March 2013 because some people just don't seem to understand what the board said.

The NTSB did not say trooper management contributed to the crash that killed helicopter pilot Mel Nading, trooper Tage Toll and snowmachiner Carl Ober. The safety board did not say trooper management played a "role" as has been reported elsewhere. The facts are the safety board went way beyond that.

The safety board said trooper management tipped the first domino in a string of dominoes that didn't stop falling until a state helicopter hit the ground and three people died.

What the board said, specifically, was that the actions of trooper managers were "causal." The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines causal this way: "making something happen."

Here, in case anyone is still unclear, is the full text of the probable cause statement on the crash:

"The probable cause of this accident was the pilot's decision to continue flight under visual flight rules into deteriorating weather conditions, which resulted in the pilot's spatial disorientation and loss of control. Also causal was the Alaska Department of Public Safety's punitive culture and inadequate safety management which prevented the organization from identifying and correcting latent deficiencies in risk management and pilot training. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's exceptionally high motivation to complete search and rescue missions, which increased his risk tolerance and adversely affected his decision making." (Emphasis added)

If you want, you can watch the hearing yourself at an online archive.

If you watch, you will see the NTSB staff recommended the board cite troopers' "punitive safety culture" as one of the causes of the crash, but the board amended that recommendation. Board members didn't want a safety culture thought of in any way as "punitive." The board made it clear it wanted a safety culture thought of as a good thing -- not in any possible way a bad thing.

As board chairman Christopher Hart pointed out, every aviation organization has a safety culture. The real question is whether it is a good one or a bad one.

The safety culture of troopers as it has existed in the past can be summed up by one fact -- 18 accidents in the last 12 years. That's an average of one and a half per year. Would you fly with an airline with that sort of safety record?

Privately, some in the Alaska aviation describe the trooper safety culture as "cowboy."

Ever since the crash, the press has danced around this issue. I confess to being among the dancers. The list of people who said the crash of Helo 1 was "inevitable," given the risks pilot Mel Nading had been encouraged to take, is long. No one, of course, wanted to say this on the record, and I lacked the guts to run with those opinions in a column at the time.

Since then, some things have happened, in addition to the NTSB's finding of probable cause, that require someone say something. One of those things is a letter from the NTSB general counsel to the state revealing troopers tried to tamper with the NTSB investigation into the Helo 1 crash.

The letter was included in a final packet of information released by the NTSB as the investigation was coming to a close.

"It is our understanding that following the accident the pilot's office, vehicle and locker were searched by unknown persons within AST," wrote general counsel David Tochen. "NTSB investigators have asked who participated in those searches, who directed the searches, when the searches took place, what the searchers were looking for, and whether anything was found that has not been provided to our investigators."

The letter has the troubling date of May 24, 2013 -- more than a month after the crash investigation began and long after troopers were supposed to start working with the NTSB.

The other document is a letter to the NTSB from trooper commander Col. James Cockrell that begins with an email that says this:

"It's unfortunate that in your agencies (sic) investigative process, you are obligated to release personal information about the involved pilots, as in our case. It certainly places the family in a difficult position trying to defend the actions of a now deceased victim, whether it was or was not related to the actual accident."

Attached to that note is a letter which ends with this: "During the NTSB investigation, many things were said about our involved pilot and unfortunately he cannot defend himself. It should be noted that he was a very dedicated DPS employee who was responsible for saving more lives than anyone in the history of the DPS."

Mel Nading was indeed a dedicated -- no, make that heroic – Department of Public Safety employee, someone who lived to save lives. He was exactly the sort of person who when involved in search and rescue needs to be protected against his own life-saving instincts because the consequences of an accident in the SAR business are so high, and because we all make mistakes.

We all make mistakes.

If mistakes in news reporting cost people their lives, there wouldn't be a journalist standing today -- most assuredly myself included. Sadly, unlike journalists who can walk away from mistakes unharmed, Mel Nading was in a business where mistakes can kill you. It is exactly why the people in charge needed to take steps to minimize the risks he took, and exactly why in the wake of a fatal accident the NTSB goes about its business in the cold, analytical, public way it does.

It's hard to say which is worse about Cockrell's comments -- his subtle effort to point a finger of blame at Nading instead of accepting the dangerous situation his agency created, his attempt to make this horrible accident into some sort of family issue that can't be discussed for fear of upsetting others, or his reiteration of a trooper belief that many things are best discussed only in a smoke-filled room somewhere.

That some sort of "defense" of Nading is necessary is quite simply a crock. NTSB investigations aren't about blaming anyone. They are about getting to the facts of what happened. They are about finding out what mistakes were made -- if any -- and determining what can be done to prevent them the next time. They are about making U.S. aviation safer, and they have done that. Air travel in America is now the safest form of travel in the world.

Mel Nading made a mistake and paid with his life. It is horribly sad. He was a good guy. So, too, was Toll.

But what of the bosses the NTSB said played a role in causing these deaths? When do they stand up and take responsibility? And, far more importantly, what will they do to make sure this doesn't happen again?

Until I read Cockrell's letter -- which was written almost a year after the Helo 1 crash -- it was possible to believe troopers were beginning to get the idea that 18 aircraft crashes in the last 12 years is unacceptable. Their visibly conservative management of helicopter operations since the replacement of Helo 1 was encouraging.

But now one can only wonder if anything really changed, or if it has only changed temporarily because the issue of trooper aircraft safety is in the public eye. One can only wonder what happens when things go back to the out-of-sight world in which troopers like to operate. One can only wonder if troopers get it.

After the NTSB report, the agency issued a statement calling the crash “a monumental loss,” and saying the department has always fostered aviation safety. The problem with the latter claim is that the record indicates otherwise. Just repeating over and over that you're safety conscious doesn't make you safety conscious.

It's that culture thing as the NTSB tried to point out. The old safety culture of troopers is written in a long list of crashes. The issue the agency faces now is whether it really wants to create a new and safer culture.

- Source:  http://www.adn.com


http://www.ntsb.gov

http://www.ntsb.gov/2014_AKheli


NTSB Identification: ANC13GA036
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Saturday, March 30, 2013 in Talkeetna, AK
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS350, registration: N911AA
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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

On March 30, 2013, at 2320 Alaska daylight time, a Eurocopter AS 350 B3 single-engine helicopter, N911AA, impacted terrain while maneuvering near Talkeetna, Alaska. The airline transport certificated pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was destroyed by impact and post-crash fire. The helicopter was registered to and operated by the State of Alaska, Department of Public Safety (DPS), as a public aircraft operations flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions were reported in the area at the time of the accident, and department flight following procedures were in effect. The flight originated from the passenger rescue location at 2313 and was destined for an off airport location in Talkeetna.

According to Alaska State Troopers personnel and dispatch records, at 1935, a distressed individual requested assistance in an area near Talkeetna, and a search and rescue (SAR) mission with the helicopter was initiated. The pilot departed the DPS facility at Anchorage International Airport, Anchorage, Alaska, at 2117. The pilot flew to Talkeetna and at 2142, picked up an Alaska State Trooper near the Talkeetna Trooper Post facility to aid in the SAR mission. The distressed individual was located, and the helicopter landed at the remote location at 2201. At 2313, the helicopter departed the remote location and was destined for an off airport location in Talkeetna to meet emergency medical ground support.

On March 31, 2013, at 0044, attempts were made by trooper dispatch personnel to contact the pilot and trooper via radio and their cellular telephones, without success. Due to weather conditions in the Talkeetna area, search efforts were delayed. At 0923, the helicopter accident site was located by search and rescue personnel.

The accident site was located approximately 5.6 miles east of Talkeetna in wooded and snow covered terrain. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, tailboom, engine, and skid assembly. Several sections of fragmented fuselage were located near the main wreckage. A post-crash fire consumed a majority of the fuselage. An Appareo Vision 1000 cockpit imaging and flight data monitoring device, and a Garmin 296 global positioning system (GPS) were recovered from the accident site and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, DC, for data extraction. A comprehensive wreckage examination is pending following recovery efforts.

The closest official weather observation station was at the Talkeetna Airport (PATK). At 2114, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) reported, in part: wind calm, visibility 7 miles with decreasing snow, broken clouds at 900 and 1,300 feet, sky overcast at 2,400 feet, temperature 34 degrees F, dew point 34 degrees F, and altimeter 30.22 inHg.


http://www.ntsb.gov

http://www.ntsb.gov/AKheli