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.

Plane damaged in arson attack

A plane has been set alight in an arson attack that caused about $150,000 damage.

A passing driver saw a light aircraft ablaze in a paddock next to the Lyell Highway at Bronte Park about 3.30am today.

The plane was being stored at a property near the Marlborough Highway intersection, after dropping fertilizer nearby during the day.

Investigations have revealed that the fire appears to have been deliberately lit, and the incident is now being pursued by Bridgewater CIB.

Police wish to speak to anyone with any information about the fire.

Information can be passed on anonymously through Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


- Source:  http://www.examiner.com.au

Bonanza Airlines plane crash marks 50 years


LAS VEGAS -- Just 18 inches higher and 29 people could have lived. It's was 50 years ago a Bonanza Airlines flight into McCarran from Phoenix clipped the very top of a mountain, crashed and killed everyone on board.

The plane crashed on Nov. 15, 1964 in southwest Las Vegas, just south of Southern Highlands.

A half-century later, pieces of twisted metal, human bones and a plaque mark the site. The plane went down in snowstorm with poor visibility.

Dennis Devitte was only 6 years old when he watched rescue crews remove bodies from the wreck.

"I didn't know at the time what they were. I asked my dad what it was and he told me it was just parts of the plane," Devitte said.

Since then, the crash has stuck in his mind.

"McCarran airport back then was much smaller and they had just the north-south runway," Devitte said. "They were descending, coming in, probably just cleared that mountain top. The people were probably just having a good time, coming to Vegas, doing a little gambling, probably going to stay at the El Rancho."

Investigators said the plane missing clearing the mountain by a mere 18 inches.

"Had they been at least 10 feet higher, they everybody would have survived," Daniel Bubb, an aviation historian.

UNLV administrator, pilot and aviation author Daniel Bubb wrote the book "Landing in Las Vegas: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Tourist City."

He says, to this day, flights still take similar paths into McCarran but at a much higher altitude.

"Yes, I've flown over that mountain," Bubb said. "You don't think about crashes, but it does kind of stick in the corner of your mind."

He says Bonanza Airlines initially blamed the crash on pilot error. Then Jeppesen, the company that made the altitude charts, settled out of court with the families of the passengers and crew.

The whole event was swept under the rug.

"If you start publishing plane crashes on the front pages of the newspapers, people get scared," Bubb said. "I don't know that there was a cover-up but it wouldn't surprise me if some people did not want that incident to hit the front page."

After scouring the archives we found front page articles about the crash.

But go to places like the aviation museum at McCarran International Airport and you won't find much except for maybe an old photo of the plane before the crash.

For the Las Vegas valley, Bonanza flight 114 is often overshadowed by other crashes in Las Vegas like the one Carole Lombard died in 20 years earlier.

During its years of operation, Bonanza Airlines only had that one fatal crash.

Story and Photo Gallery:  http://www.8newsnow.com

http://www.ntsb.gov



NTSB Identification: Unknown
14 CFR Part 121 Scheduled operation of BONANZA AIR LINES INC
Aircraft: FAIRCHILD F-27, registration: N745L
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 FILE    DATE          LOCATION          AIRCRAFT DATA       INJURIES       FLIGHT                        PILOT DATA
                                                               F  S M/N     PURPOSE
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1-0066  64/11/15   LAS VEGAS NEV       FAIRCHILD F-27      CR-  3  0  0  SCHED DOM PASSG SRV       ATP,FLIGHT INSTR., AGE
        TIME - 2025                    N745L               PX- 26  0  0                            41, 11171 TOTAL HOURS,
                                       DAMAGE-DESTROYED    OT-  0  0  0                            4055 IN TYPE, INSTRUMENT
                                                                                                   RATED.
        OPERATOR - BONANZA AIR LINES,INC.
        TYPE OF ACCIDENT                                         PHASE OF OPERATION
           COLLISION WITH GROUND/WATER: CONTROLLED                  LANDING: INITIAL APPROACH
        PROBABLE CAUSE(S)
           PILOT IN COMMAND - IMPROPER IFR OPERATION
         FIRE AFTER IMPACT
        REMARKS- ACCIDENT OCCURRED DURING VOR/DME-3 APPROACH TO MCCARRAN FIELD

Incident occurred November 13, 2014 at Tri-Cities Airport (KPSC), Pasco, Washington

Horizon plane makes emergency landing in Pasco, no one hurt 

PASCO — No injuries were reported after a 76-seat Horizon Air airplane made an emergency landing at Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco around 4:05 p.m. Thursday.

The passengers were expected to continue their journey Thursday evening, airport director Ron Foraker said.

The flight had left Boise earlier that day, Foraker said. He did not know the flight’s final destination or what caused the emergency landing.

“Apparently it was a pressurization problem, but that’s unsubstantiated — it’s just what I heard,” Foraker said.

Foraker expected a plane from Seattle to arrive in the Tri-Cities later Thursday to ferry the passengers to their final destination.

- Source:  http://www.tri-cityherald.com

Pilot flew passenger jet while over the limit

 
Pilot Ian Jennings arriving at Norwich Magistrates' Court



A pilot has admitted flying a passenger jet from Spain while three times over the alcohol limit.

Ian Jennings, 47, from Gale Moor Avenue, Gosport, was arrested at Norwich Airport last month after landing a commercial chartered plane with about 10 people on board.

Today at Norwich Magistrates’ Court he admitted flying while the alcohol in his breath was over the prescribed limit.

The offense carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Prosecutor Lesla Small said: ‘The police had received information from a member of the public and attended Norwich Airport.

‘The passengers were allowed to get off the aircraft and he was breathalyzed.

‘This offense is aggravated by the fact he had flown from Spain with passengers on board.’

Officers detected 31 micrograms of alcohol per 100 militres of breath - the limit for pilots is 9 micrograms while the limit for drivers is 35.

Marcus Crosskell, mitigating for Jennings, said: ‘He is a gentleman of unblemished character with a 20-year-plus career as a pilot.’

Magistrates said the case was so serious it would have to be sentenced by a crown court judge at a later date.

Jennings was released on bail on the condition he does not fly any aircraft.

His license has been suspended by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The plane is believed to have been a Canadair CL601-3A Challenger.


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

A regulator cannot be an investigator: Federal Aviation Administration a good model

Let NHTSA regulate and NTSB investigate

Opinion


There is a crisis in our highway transportation industry that will be adequately addressed only when Congress agrees with what has been known in the aviation industry for half a century: A regulator cannot be an investigator.

We have seen this with Honda-Takata's exploding air bags, General Motors' ignition switches and Toyota's acceleration problems. Now there is mounting evidence that problems with the safety culture at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continue to this day.

FAA a good model


When the Transportation Department was established in 1966, it was composed of several regulatory agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration. But a separate agency was established outside the FAA and independent of the Transportation Department to investigate aviation accidents -- the National Transportation Safety Board.

Our leaders realized at the time that you cannot conduct effective investigations of yourself.

After an airliner crash, for example, the NTSB investigates the company and the crew and the manufacturers, but it also investigates the regulator (the FAA) that might have played a role in the crash through inadequate rules or inadequate enforcement of its rules.

NHTSA failings

In the automobile industry, we have seen a record 50 million vehicles recalled this year due to design flaws. Is this a sign that NHTSA is doing its job?

On the contrary, these recalls were the result of investigations outside of the agency that brought to light problems the regulator didn't find because it didn't look.

NHTSA has become a paper tiger that defines the concept of the revolving door. It is staffed by former auto industry personnel, while the auto industry is replete with former NHTSA officials.

As we learned in our years at the NTSB, the most effective way for an organization to avoid accidents is to establish a strong corporate safety structure.

This is no less true for government agencies. NHTSA does not have that safety culture, and past attempts to instill it have failed.

Give NTSB authority


The only solution is to remove the investigation function from NHTSA and place it in the agency that has proved its effectiveness and independence for decades, the NTSB.

NHTSA would retain its regulatory function, but it would not investigate itself. This process has proved its value with the airline industry, which is experiencing an unprecedented era of safety.

The safety board has already enhanced highway safety through special studies that helped ban lap-only seat belts in automobiles and led to depowered air bags, to removing child safety seats from the front seat and to effectively raising the drinking age to 21.

This is the ideal solution to the institutional failures we are witnessing at NHTSA.

Safety board findings will not only present the same competence we have seen in aviation investigations (and others it has conducted in marine and rail accidents) but also will give the American people confidence that the results are not tainted by industry influence.

You cannot have the culture of a regulator and the culture of an investigator; they are two different things. Leave the regulating to NHTSA, but move the investigative function to where it belongs -- the NTSB.

Jim Hall, president of Hall & Associates, was chairman of the NTSB, where Peter Goelz was managing director.

- Source:  http://www.guampdn.com

Chorus Aviation says damaged plane will return to service if it can be repaired: Jazz de Havilland Dash 8-400, C-GGBF, Flight QK-8481

MONTREAL - A Bombardier Q400 plane that sustained heavy damage during an Air Canada Express emergency landing in Edmonton last week will go back into service if it can be repaired, Chorus Aviation said Thursday.

The plane's landing gear collapsed shortly after landing at Edmonton International Airport, causing a propeller blade to pierce a window and the surrounding fuselage. Four people were injured but all 71 passengers and four crew survived.

Halifax-based Chorus, which operated the flight as an Air Canada regional partner, said it hasn't determined whether the aircraft can be fixed or if it must scrapped.

"The extent of the damage is still being established," CEO Joseph Randell said Thursday during a conference call about the company's third-quarter results.

He said an insurance adjuster has been assigned to the case.

The Q400 turboprop took off from the Calgary airport on Nov. 7 on its way to Grande Prairie, Alta. but was diverted to Edmonton after the pilot announced that the plane had blown a tire, but he could still land the aircraft.

The flight was diverted to Edmonton because officials felt conditions were safer there.

"I deeply regret the stress our passengers experienced," Randell told analysts.

He said Chorus is grateful there were no serious injuries and that passengers treated in hospital were released the next day.

He said it could take some time before the Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation. Chorus is also conducting its own investigation.

The incident has had a minimal impact on Air Canada's flight schedule since Chorus said it has been able to increase the utilization of the remaining fleet.

Meanwhile, Chorus said it is hopeful of negotiating a new agreement with Air Canada that governs its relationship before the existing contract expires in 2020.

Randell wouldn't say if a deal could be concluded next year, but he said Chorus is "working hard" on a deal that would benefit both sides, and is negotiating with its own pilots.

Analysts say a recently approved 10-year agreement between Air Canada and its own pilots will give the airline more flexibility by allowing its regional partners to fly larger aircraft.

"The new labor deal could be a key milestone towards contract changes between Air Canada and Chorus," wrote Cameron Doerksen of National Bank Financial.

He said a new agreement would lower costs charged to Air Canada — likely in exchange for allowing Chorus to replacing 50-seat planes with larger planes that can help Chorus reduce its cost structure.

Randell said there is an "alignment" in the motivation for both sides.

"I think there's an interest on Air Canada's part in not waiting until 2018 or 2020 to do this," he said.

"The regional industry is changed in Canada and it continues to change."

Air Canada and its regional partners such as Chorus and Sky Regional operate the country's largest regional fleet. But WestJet Airlines is expanding its Encore regional service to Eastern Canada and eventually to the United States.

Chorus Aviation's third-quarter results beat analyst expectations as net profit excluding a currency swing increased to $29 million in the third quarter from $27.7 million a year earlier.

The Halifax-based company said it earned 24 cents per share in adjusted profits for the period ended Sept. 30, compared to 23 cents per share last year.

Including an unrealized $17.75 million currency loss in the quarter, Chorus says its net income was $11.3 million. That was down from $36 million in the prior year when it recorded a $8.3 million currency gain.

Operating revenues were largely unchanged at $432.6 million as higher rates and currency fluctuations were offset by fewer hours of flying.

Chorus was expected to earn $23.6 million or 19 cents per share in adjusted profits on $424 million of revenues, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

During the quarter, Chorus incurred $3.3 million in costs to reduce its workforce, raising the total to $20.5 million since the employee separate program began in the first quarter of 2013.

Chorus Aviation's Jazz subsidiary operates about 766 departures daily to 54 destinations in Canada and 18 in the U.S. with a fleet of 122 Bombardier turbo and jets.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Chorus' shares gained three cents at $4.66 in Thursday morning trading.

- Source:  http://www.brandonsun.com

Quad City Challenger II, N17FD: Incident occurred November 13, 2014 in Cocoa Beach, Florida

Event Type: Incident

Highest Injury:  None

Damage:   Minor

AIRCRAFT FORCE LANDED ON THE OCEAN, 1/4 MILE FROM THE COAST, COCOA BEACH, FL
  
Flight Phase:  UNKNOWN (UNK)

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Orlando FSDO-15


CHARLES    GUITER:  http://registry.faa.gov/N17FD 



The pilot of a small plane with floats made an emergency landing in the ocean this afternoon after experiencing engine problems, authorities reported.

The incident happened about 12:30 p.m. after Brevard County sheriff's deputies were alerted to reports of a plane possibly crash landing in the ocean, about a mile offshore and two miles south of the Cocoa Beach Pier.

The pilot was not injured and was in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard.

"It's a seaplane and the pilot had some engine problems. He deliberately set it down," Cpl. Dave Jacobs, spokesman for the Brevard County sheriff's office. The plane has a 30-foot wingspan and is a light, single-engine aircraft, officials reported.

The Coast Guard was responding to the site of the emergency landing.


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

Frontier Airlines announces $22 fares to celebrate 2 years at Trenton-Mercer Airport (KTTN)

EWING — To celebrate two years operating out of Trenton-Mercer Airport, Frontier Airlines is offering $22 one-way fares during a one-day sale Thursday.

The $22 fares are valid only from Trenton-Mercer. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Thursday for domestic, nonstop travel on select dates between Dec. 3 and Dec. 18, 2014.

“We’re thrilled at the embrace our friendly, low-fare service has received in Trenton and are celebrating with a one-day sale,” said Todd Lehmacher, Frontier's director of corporate communications.

The special fare will be offered to destinations including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham, St. Augustine, St. Louis, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

“We want to congratulate our partners at the Trenton-Mercer Airport on their 85th anniversary and thank them for the collaboration that has allowed Frontier to bring fares to the region that on average are 50 percent lower than fares at the Newark Liberty International Airport a mere 44 miles away,” Lehmacher said.

For more information on prices, availability or to purchase tickets, visit FlyFrontier.com


- Source:   http://www.nj.com

Ambani plane pilots goof, create panic in Mumbai

NEW DELHI: This is the mother of all false alarms.

The private Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) Mukesh Ambani gifted to wife Nita on her birthday seven years ago created a major scare at Mumbai airport on Monday night. The aircraft repeatedly emitted "May Day" signal to Mumbai air traffic control (ATC) tower. The pilots of the "Delhi-Lahore-Muscat" flight were screaming: "Karachi, Muscat we are going to ditch". Their engine was on fire and the plane was going to crash!

There was obvious panic in the ATC tower after the first "international air distress" signal came just after 8.30pm, with controllers frantically contacting their Karachi, Muscat and Delhi counterparts to find out what exactly was happening.

The aircraft call sign and registration number that accompanied the mayday signal on the emergency 121.5 hertz revealed the aircraft was Ambani's personal business jet and the panic mounted when the second May Day came six minutes later. This signal indicates that the aircraft is in an emergency situation beyond control of pilots and that whoever is nearby should rush for help.

Karachi and Muscat told Mumbai that they were neither in contact with any such flight number, nor had any aircraft reported an engine fire or loss of controls leading to May Day calls. After drawing a blank there, the ATC used the signal's "direction finder" and asked the ground staff of Mumbai airport to check the aircraft parked in the direction of private jet hangars as the signal was coming from ground.

"The ground staff found that the signal was coming from Ambani's ACJ, a super luxury Airbus A-319, safely parked in a hangar and not going anywhere. Two pilots were in the cockpit," said an official.

Seething with anger at the unprecedented scare that lasted for almost two hours, the ATC conducted a probe into the pilots' behavior and what they found has left them even angrier. "The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) was to conduct an evacuation exercise of theambani ACJ on Tuesday to see if the crew can safely lead its occupants out in the required time in case of an emergency. Reliance Commercial Developers Pvt Ltd (RCDL), which operates this plane, was practising for the upcoming safety drill. The pilots have told us that they switched on the emergency May Day switch inadvertently and broadcast their practise message to us, which they are not supposed to do during drills," said an official.

The good news was that the aircraft broadcast was working. The bad news was that it should not have been used to spread panic like this 'inadvertently' by the pilots.

Based on the pilots' testimony, the ATC has now submitted its report to the DGCA. "What the pilots did in preparation of an upcoming drill was wrong. We have submitted our report to the regulator. Now it is up to them to take further action," said the official.

A senior DGCA official said that RCDL had "failed the drill". Mukesh had gifted the about Rs 250-crore aircraft to Nita on her birthday in November 2007.


- Source:  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Problems Plagued Virgin Galactic Rocket Ship Long Before Crash • Richard Branson’s Projections on Launch Ran Counter to Technical Capabilities

The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor

Nov. 12, 2014 7:22 p.m. ET


Long before the recent fatal crash of Virgin Galactic LLC’s rocket ship, the craft’s progress had been plagued by technical problems that few outsiders knew about, according to engineers and a former government official involved with the project.

Engineers and subcontractors working on SpaceShipTwo spent years wrestling with difficulties, ranging from inadequate rocket-motor thrust to problems in the flight-control system to structural deficiencies affecting the wings of the rocket’s carrier plane. Fixes were devised, flight tests were delayed and the result, these people said, was that some important elements of the project remained in flux for several years. Without a firm design, there was no way to reliably predict when the first passengers would make it to space for more than $200,000 a ticket.

It isn’t unusual for complex vehicles such as spacecraft and airliners to face repeated pitfalls and delays during development.

Yet throughout the process, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson repeatedly announced timetables that were more aggressive than technical advances warranted, the people said.

“It is normal for new air vehicles to undergo modifications during their design” and testing, Virgin Galactic said in a written statement this week. That process is “the very thing that improves their safety before paying customers fly on them,” it said.

Federal investigators probing the Oct. 31 crash, which killed one of the two pilots, believe a cockpit error started the catastrophic chain of events. The investigation is continuing.

The National Transportation Safety Board also is delving into internal company dynamics. “Was there pressure to do testing?” acting Chairman Christopher Hart said to reporters days after the accident. “Was there a problem with the training?”

Over the years, Mr. Branson used sweeping terms to describe his space-tourism company’s goals. The Associated Press in 2009 quoted him saying, “We’re literally hoping to send thousands of people into space over the next couple of years.”

Michael Moses, head of operations for Virgin Galactic, referred to tension between Mr. Branson’s upbeat projections and the persistent hurdles that challenged the company’s hundreds of technical experts. “There’s a difference between the marketing and the engineering” sides of the company, Mr. Moses said 10 days after the accident.

Mr. Branson—who repeatedly said he would take the first thrill ride himself, accompanied by family members—represented the ultimate “impatient customer, saying I want to fly by Christmas” or some other date, Mr. Moses said.

He said, however, that the company gave serious attention to traumatic events such as the recent crash. “Nobody would say you don’t have to fix anything,” in the wake of such a catastrophe, Mr. Moses said. Virgin Galactic is re-evaluating past engineering trade-offs “to make sure we’re still comfortable with them,” he added. Mr. Moses said management didn’t cut corners on safety or conducting flight tests.

Other people familiar with the details contend that Virgin Galactic and its main contractor didn’t adequately address some problems that arose. A former senior troubleshooter on the project worried that fuel seepage into the carbon-fiber core material of the center wing section of the carrier plane from which SpaceShipTwo is launched threatened to compromise its strength.

Mr. Moses said engineers added extra material to the plane’s wings to ensure that they would flex safely. They also changed the design of some of the rocket ship’s tail surfaces in the wake of an aerodynamic stall and unusually steep descent during a test flight, another Virgin Galactic executive said.

According to a senior engineer familiar with the project, high-ranking managers at Virgin Galactic failed to adequately heed warnings about chronic propulsion shortcomings that resulted in extensive delays and eventually forced Virgin Galactic to revamp its rocket motor and switch to a new fuel.

The engineer and a former government official recalled that engineers felt schedule decisions were announced with scant input from them. “Management’s attitude was simply we know best,” the official said.

Virgin Galactic said the company and its contractors “have internal milestones, such as schedule estimates and goals, but the companies are driven by safety and the completion of the flight test program before moving into commercial service.” Virgin Galactic’s schedules have always been consistent with internal schedules of its contractors and changes have “never impacted flight safety,” the company said in a written statement.

In more than seven years of development, SpaceShipTwo’s motor had been fired in flight only three times before last month’s crash—and never for longer than 20 seconds. Planned commercial flights to the edge of space 62 miles up are expected to require roughly a 60-second engine burn.

Seeds for technical turmoil were planted nearly a decade ago when the company that developed the original rocket motor had a falling-out with renowned aerospace designer Burt Rutan, who conceived the idea of launching a rocket ship from an airplane at 50,000 feet and was the driving force behind SpaceShipTwo. The dispute had to do with who deserved credit for developing the original rocket motor. The upshot was that Mr. Rutan’s company, Scaled Composites LLC, took over the job of building the motor, but troubles persisted.

It wasn’t until 2009, following a ground test that killed three of its employees, that Scaled Composites acknowledged needing help, according to the engineer familiar with the project. With Virgin Galactic’s approval, Scaled Composites recruited specialty engine maker Sierra Nevada Corp. to take over all engine work. Scaled Composites is now a unit of Northrop Grumman Corp. , which declined to comment. Shortly after the fatal explosion, Mr. Rutan said the company believed that the manner it which it conducted the test “was completely safe.”

When Sierra signed on in 2009, the company said it would take between four and six years to properly finish the job, the engineer said. Virgin Galactic still had “essentially a hole in the middle of the craft where the engine should have been” in the fall of 2010, the person recalled.

Nonetheless, Mr. Branson around the same time was quoted in newspapers saying that his own trip would happen in 18 to 24 months. That would have put him on board at the latest by the fall of 2012.

In 2012 and 2013, despite continuing performance problems with the engine, which burned a rubber compound combined with an oxidizer, the engineer recalled, Virgin Galactic kept saying Mr. Branson’s flight was less than a year away.

By the spring of this year, with Mr. Branson’s flight as the first passenger supposedly happening by year-end, the company changed course. Nagging vibrations were “very distressing to pilots because they simply couldn’t read their instruments,” the former government official said.

Also, the motor didn’t have enough power to blast the proposed 60-foot spaceship, six passengers and a crew of two to the required altitude. Sierra blamed Virgin Galactic for making SpaceShipTwo overweight and urged a temporary compromise to take up fewer passengers, according to the engineer familiar with the project.

Virgin Galactic responded it couldn’t make money under such circumstances, the person said. The partners responded by parting ways on engine development, and Virgin Galactic engineers switched to a new plastic-based fuel intended to boost the rocket’s power.

Mr. Moses, Virgin Galactic’s head of operations, said development was complicated by the fact that “we didn’t know exactly what the final weight and thrust would be.”

When Virgin Galactic’s own engineers conducted the fifth ground test of the reformulated, plastic-based fuel, earlier this year, an explosion all but obliterated the test stand, two people familiar with the test said. Virgin Galactic President George Whitesides this month said the test was intended to demonstrate how the motor would perform under extreme conditions: specifically, the company drilled holes on the outside, apparently to simulate an in-flight rupture.

But the two people knowledgeable about the test disputed that the explosion was part of a plan. “No company would purposely destroy its own testing facility the first time it tried a new fuel,” one of the people said.

Virgin Galactic responded in a written statement that “we knew failure was a potential outcome.”

Recently, Mr. Branson has said he might now steer clear of schedule pronouncements. “I have given dates in the past and not met them,” Mr. Branson told ITV News this month. “I don’t want to give the skeptics about our program any extra ammunition.”

—Jon Ostrower contributed to this article.

- Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Pilot strike looms: Caribbean Airlines served with 72-hour notice

Jamaican pilots employed to Caribbean Airlines (CAL) have served the company with a 72-hour notice of industrial action, saying that their patience has worn thin after their union has spent nearly three years trying to secure bargaining rights on their behalf.

The notice was served on CAL and Labor Minister Derrick Kellier on Tuesday by the law firm Ziadie Reid and Company, which represents the Jamaica Airline Pilots Association (JALPA).

At the heart of the dispute is the airline's insistence that all its pilots be represented by the Trinidad and Tobago Airline Pilots Association (TTALPA).

However, the Jamaican pilots are maintaining that they cannot be represented by a union outside of Jamaica.

The pilots' position is based on legal advice they have received. Their case is strengthened by the fact that TTALPA has twice -- in November 2010 and September 2011 -- made it clear in writing that they have "absolutely no objection" to JALPA being voluntarily recognized as the bargaining agent for the pilots employed at CAL's Jamaica base.

The law firm, in its letters serving the notice to CAL and Kellier, pointed out that JALPA first wrote to the airline, in which the Trinidad and Tobago Government owns a majority stake, on December 12, 2011 claiming bargaining rights for the Jamaican pilots.

Two days later, the pilots' union sent copies of the claim and other relevant forms to the Ministry of Labour.

The law firm said that the permanent secretary in the ministry acknowledged receipt of the forms on January 17, 2012 and advised them that the minister was taking steps to review the matters raised and would shortly inform them of his decision.

The pilots were subsequently invited to a meeting at the ministry set for July 19, but it was rescheduled for July 31 due to the inability of CAL representatives to attend.

Since then, the pilots have been trying to get the carrier to accept JALPA as their union.

They pointed out that, in December 2012, the labor ministry informed them that the advice of the attorney general was being sought in relation to their case.

"In the months of January and February 2013, we wrote to the ministry with respect to the attorney general's advice and received no response," the pilots' lawyers said in their letter to Kellier.

"In the month of March, a discussion was held with the Ministry of Labor and they suggested that we seek the intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the lawyers said.

That was done via a letter dated March 14, 2013 sent to the minister outlining the various issues and a timeline of events since JALPA applied for bargaining rights in December 2011.

However, they said they received no response from the foreign minister.

The pilots said they then raised their concerns in a May 12, 2013 letter to the minister of transport and works. However, the matter remains unresolved and they spent the next six months "in a futile attempt to prompt the Ministry of Labor to take action".

The lawyers, in their letter, also said that the labor ministry has refused to refer the matter to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal.

Attempts by the Jamaica Observer to get comments from Kellier and CAL were not successful.

In their letter, the lawyers said that they "have tried every relevant government agency and minister that could possibly influence this matter with no result".

"We have shown remarkable patience throughout this ordeal, but our patience is at an end," they added.

Said one JALPA official yesterday: "To date, we have been unable to get a reason why we can't be represented by our pilots. If we had been given a reason we could either accept it or challenge it."

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