Tuesday, March 3, 2015

US company sues Air Kiribati (with audio)

Originally aired on Dateline Pacific, Tuesday 3 March 2015

TRANSCRIPT

A United States company in North Carolina has filed a lawsuit against Air Kiribati for fraud and misrepresentation.

The news comes days after Air Kiribati itself claimed it was taking the company CAAMS Llc to court for failing to deliver a second Twin Otter aircraft that  Air Kiribati said had been paid for in full.

But CAAMS Managing Director, Everette Mash, told Koroi Hawkins not only have they not paid in full for the second twin otter....

EVERETTE MASH: Well the situation is we actually delivered one Twin Otter already to Air Kiribati. And they were giving us, or trading in a CASA 212-200 as a partial trade in for the first Twin Otter. When we delivered the first Twin Otter we had a team of engineers over there to do the acceptance and while they were inspecting the CASA 212 to ferry it back to the US they noticed there was extensive corrosion in the airplane and the FAA engineers told them to take the tail off the airplane which they did and there was all kinds of corrosion in the Horizontal stabilizer area. The airplane should not have been flying. So Air Kiribati signed an amendment to the contract to repair or pay for the costs to fix the CASA and they never did. So we are in the process we have another Twin Otter that we were getting ready to deliver to Air Kiribati but we haven't delivered it yet because they haven't delivered the CASA to us yet.

KOROI HAWKINS: And so the, just so I have got this right. With all this in play, have they paid you for the second Twin Otter?

EM: No they have not paid all the money for the second Twin Otter and plus they, like I said we took the CASA 212 in on trade for 1.5 million and they never delivered the CASA. We had the CASA OEM the manufacturer give us a quotation to bring the airplane back from Kiribati to the US and they told us that the CASA cannot be flown back to the US without an extensive amount of work. So they recommended that they ship it back to the US and then we'd start the work here. We have already estimated over 900,000 US dollars just in parts that need to be put into the CASA to make it airworthy. Plus the 300 and something thousand that the manufacturer wants to charge us to bring the CASA back, so this is a very complex lawsuit.

KH: If you would like to make a final statement in regards to where this is all at, at the moment and what you are working towards in terms of resolving or getting some closure on this for your end?

EM: Yeah what needs to happen is that Air Kiribati needs to send one of their representatives over here and we sit down and discuss the matter. I mean they have clearly, in the lawsuit they clearly acknowledge there is a problem with delivering the CASA to CAAMS but they don't want to resolve it. They just want, go ahead and deliver the second Twin Otter then we will discuss how we are going to solve the issue with the CASA and the CASA should have been delivered to us a year ago. They have had plenty of time to have the manufacturer go over there and fix the airplane and they have done nothing but let it sit out there on the runway or on the taxiway.

Listen to the story: http://www.radionz.co.nz

Monday, March 2, 2015

American Airlines Mechanic Killed in Accident at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (KDFW), Texas



A mechanic who had worked for American Airlines for 30 years died Monday after falling from a jet bridge at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.


NBC 5 has learned the mechanic was closing and locking the door on a Boeing 767 at about 10:30 a.m. when he somehow slipped and fell about 14 feet from the jet bridge to the ground below.

The plane, sources said, had just been moved from a maintenance hangar to Gate D30.

Emergency responders with the airport treated and transported the man to a hospital, airport officials said.

Transport Workers Union Local 591 identified the man as aircraft maintenance technician Dave Ostang  and asked for thoughts and prayers for his family.

American Airlines has confirmed the employee's death, but did not confirm his name or specifics about the incident in a statement released to the media Monday.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to our co-worker's family and friends, and our hearts go out to our entire team of DFW airport and maintenance colleagues. Our focus is on taking care of his family and friends during this difficult time,” the airline said in a statement.

A jet bridge is the elevated gangway used by passengers to walk from the terminal to an airplane.

NBC 5's Ray Villeda and Katy Blakey contributed to this report. We will update this story with more information as soon as it's available.  As this story is developing, elements may change.

Story, comments and video:  http://www.nbcdfw.com

National Transportation Safety Board considering fresh look at Buddy Holly crash: Beechcraft 35 Bonanza, Dwyer Flying Service, N3794N, fatal accident occurred February 03, 1959 near Mason City, Iowa

CLEAR LAKE | The National Transportation Safety Board has agreed to consider reopening the investigation into the crash which killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson on Feb. 3, 1959.

On Sept. 23, 1959, the Civil Aeronautics Board ruled the probable cause of the crash was pilot error. Weather, specifically snow, was listed as a secondary cause of the crash.

The NTSB was established in 1967, taking over the investigation of airline crashes.

A New England man and experienced pilot, L.J. Coon, recently petitioned the NTSB asking it to take another look at the findings.

Coon contends there are issues involving weight and balance calculations, the rate of the aircraft's climb and descent, fuel gauge readings and whether a passenger-side rudder pedal was removed or not which the NTSB should investigate.

He received a letter from the NTSB's Office of the Managing Director dated Feb. 19, 2015, stating specialists are looking into information Coon provided. An initial response will take approximately two months. Then it can take from six months to a year to determine if the petition will be granted.

"You have gotten our attention. Let us do our due diligence in order to give you a proper answer," the letter stated.

In an email to the Globe Gazette, Coon said he believes the NTSB will review the pilot's actions in the aircraft during the flight and realize "the heroic effort that took place in those 4.9 miles."  

The plane was airborne for less than four minutes, traveling less than 5 miles north of the Mason City Municipal Airport before crashing into a Clear Lake farm field.

The author of a book about Buddy Holly contends the Aeronautics Board got it right 56 years ago. Gary W. Moore, Bourbonnais, Illinois, said an inexperienced pilot, high performance aircraft and bad weather combined to cause the crash.

"I think that what they are going to find it is its pretty simple. The pilot was unqualified to fly in those conditions and he lost control of the airplane," Moore said.

He discounted conspiracy theories alleging a gunshot from a handgun owned by Holly brought down the plane.

Barb Dwyer, wife of Jerry Dwyer, who was the fixed base operator at the airport and owner of the plane, declined to comment on Coon's attempts to reopen the crash investigation.

Story and comments:  http://globegazette.com

Recycling Plant Out Of Action Since Plane Crash: Gates Learjet 35A, N17UF, Diplomat Aviation Ltd., fatal accident occurred November 09, 2014 in Freeport, Bahamas

A recycling plant in Freeport, Grand Bahama has been out of operation since November 9 when a Learjet carrying Dr. Myles Munroe and eight others to a leadership conference crashed into its facility, destroying its generator and causing damages worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Located adjacent to the Grand Bahama Shipyard, City Services Limited used to employ between 15 to 25 people but has laid off eight people since the accident, the company’s Executive Vice President Pete Hughes told this newspaper yesterday.

The matter adds another dimension to the tragedy, which saw the loss of nine lives and now involves two separate legal disputes. This comes after the revelation that the pilots’ actions were the primary cause of the accident.

It has been “extremely difficult” raising the funds needed to repair or replace the equipment that has been destroyed, Mr. Hughes said, adding that the remains of the jet are still “balled up” in the company’s facility, waiting to be removed.

Diplomat Aviation, the company under which the Learjet was registered, is currently involved in a legal battle over an insurance pay out.

The recycling company - whose damaged equipment was not insured - has therefore been unable to obtain the money needed to restart its business, The Tribune was told.

“We have lost our generator power plant and our grinder,” Mr. Hughes said. “We hope to get back up in operation in a few weeks. With no insurance, we’ve had to put all the money up out of our own pockets. It’s been extremely difficult raising funds to repair and replace money and in these economic times it’s difficult to do that.”

The official report into the crash by the Civil Aviation Department said the management of the company placed the value of damage at over $1m.

Mr. Hughes, however, said the final figure is from $750,000 to $800,000.

He said the damage inflicted on the company’s equipment resulted from the jet’s crash and the actions of officers from the nearby fire department who responded to the incident.

“Our electrical components and high voltage equipment sustained damage,” he said, “and to be fair and honest, a lot of the damage came from the airport fire department. When they arrived on the scene, the officer told them to spray foam everything before going in, so a combination of the jet and the foaming caused the damage.”

Mr. Hughes said the company has spoken to an attorney representing Diplomat Aviation who noted that attempts are being made to sort out its insurance issues.

As for the remains of the jet, he expressed an eagerness to have the debris removed but is weary over what could be the cost of doing so.

“We still have the jet in the yard and we’ve been explicitly told that we can’t destroy it because it could be relevant to insurance issues,” he said. “Eventually we have to turn it over to the family. I’ve spent enough money on this effort but we need to remove the plane from our facilities. It’s still balled up there in the same exact spot.”

A lack of communication between the company and families of the crash victims has been one disappointing aspect of the matter, Mr Hughes said. In summing up the incident he said: “It’s a tragedy for everyone involved but we have to continue.”

Last week The Tribune revealed that the estate of the only American on board the plane, Diego Desantiago, filed a lawsuit against Diplomat Aviation.

It was also revealed by this newspaper in December that lawyers representing Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd, the company under which the Learjet was registered, were embroiled in a court battle with a US-based insurance company over the pay out from a $10m liability policy.

The plaintiff, XL Specialty Insurance Company, has insisted that it is under no obligation to honor the policy because it expired on November 5, 2014, four days before the crash, and was not renewed.

Story and photo:  http://www.tribune242.com

http://www.aaipu-bcaa.com/N17UF

NTSB Identification: ERA15RA047
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Sunday, November 09, 2014 in Freeport, Bahamas
Aircraft: GATES LEARJET CORP. 35A, registration: N17UF
Injuries: 9 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On November 9, 2014, about 1652 eastern standard time, a Gates Learjet Corp 35A, N17UF, registered to Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd., was destroyed when it impacted a crane and terrain during approach to Grand Bahama International Airport (MYGF), Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas. The airline transport pilot, copilot, and seven passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated from Lynden Pindling International Airport (MYNN), Nassau, Bahamas, about 1600 and was operating under Bahamian flight regulations at the time of the accident.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Air Accident Investigation & Prevention Unit
Bahamas Department of Civil Aviation 
P.O. Box AP-59244 
Nassau, N.P., The Bahamas 
1 (242) 376-1617 
1 (242) 377-6060 FAX 
Email: aaipu.bcaa@gmail.com
website: www.aaipu-bcaa.com

This report is for informational purposes, and only contains information released by the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.



Cessna 172R Skyhawk, T & G Flying Club, Inc., N4207P: Fatal accident occurred August 25, 2014 in Willoughby Hills, Ohio

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA453
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 25, 2014 in Willoughby Hills, OH
Aircraft: CESSNA 172R, registration: N4207P
Injuries: 4 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.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 25, 2014, at 2158 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172R airplane, N4207P, collided with terrain in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, following a loss of control shortly after takeoff from the Cuyahoga County Airport (CGF). The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact and a post impact fire. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by T&G Flying Club, Inc. The pilot rented the airplane and was flying it on a personal flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which was not operating on a flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. 

At 2022, the pilot reserved the airplane from T&G Flying Club using an online reservation system. He reserved the airplane for 4 hours, beginning at 2030. The employees of the flying club had left for the evening by time the pilot and passengers arrived at their facility.

Two witnesses, stated that shortly after 2100, they saw 4 males walk across the ramp toward the tie-down area near hangar 7. One of the males had a carry-on type suitcase. It was later determined that the "suitcase" was most likely the roller-type flight bag that the pilot used. The pilot and passengers then boarded the accident airplane. One of the witnesses stated the airplane stayed on the ramp for about 30 minutes with the engine running. They did not see the airplane after this time. A security camera mounted on one of the buildings near the ramp captured four individuals walking on the ramp at 2107.

At 2146, the pilot called ground control for a takeoff taxi clearance stating he was on the ramp south of the T&G Flight Club. The controller issued the pilot a clearance to taxi to runway 6 via the Alpha 7 taxiway to the Alpha taxiway. The controller issued the wind condition as 140 degrees at 8 knots along with the altimeter setting. The pilot stated his radio was a little "fuzzy" and he asked the controller to repeat the clearance. The controller repeated the taxi clearance, which the pilot subsequently repeated correctly. About four minutes later, the controller informed the pilot that he is taxiing to the wrong runway. After asking the controller to repeat what he said, the pilot stated "Thank you I'm sorry." The controller then issued taxi instructions to the approach end of runway 6.

At 2156, the pilot radioed that he was ready to takeoff on runway 6. The controller asked the pilot what his direction of flight was going to be. The pilot responded that they were going to fly east to sightsee and that they would be back in a little while. The controller issued the takeoff clearance with a right turn after takeoff. At 2158, the pilot radioed that they were not "…climbing fast…" and they wanted to immediately make a left turn to turn around. The controller approved the left turn. The controller stated it appeared the airplane began a left turn when it descended to the ground. The controller reported that during the takeoff, the airplane became airborne about 100 feet past taxiway Alpha 6, which was approximately 2,000 down the runway.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating which was issued on August 8, 2013. The pilot also held a third-class medical certificate issued on November 10, 2011. The medical certificate did not contain any limitations. 

The pilot's logbook records were not located during this investigation. The pilot completed a membership application for the T&G Flying Club on October 1, 2013. On that form, the pilot reported having 104.3 hours of flight time in Cessna fixed gear airplane models 150-177. A reconstruction of flight times that the pilot flew at both T&G Flying Club and at the Jack Barstow Airport, Midland, Michigan, indicate the pilot had flown 12 hours since his private pilot flight test, resulting in a total flight time of about 116.3 hours. Most if not all of the pilot's flight time was in Cessna 172 airplanes. 

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was a Cessna 172R, serial number 17280798. It was a four-place, high-wing, single-engine airplane with fixed landing gear. The owner of T&G Flying Club purchased the airplane on November 29, 2005. 

Maintenance records indicate the last annual inspection on the airframe was completed on August 1, 2014, at a total aircraft time of 5,957.6 hours. The last logbook entry was dated August 19, 2014, which noted the vacuum pump was replaced at a total aircraft time of 5,969 hours. According to the operator's rental records, the airplane had been flown 18.8 hours since the annual inspection which would have resulted in an aircraft total time of 5,976.4 hours at the beginning of the accident flight. 

The airplane was equipped with a 180-horsepower, Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine, serial number L-25996-51A. The last annual inspection of the engine was completed on August 1, 2014. The engine total time at the last annual inspection was listed as 3,679.4 hours and the time since the factory overhaul was listed as 2,061.7 hours. 

The airplane was equipped with a McCauley propeller model 1C235/LFA7570, serial number TG025. The last propeller annual inspection was completed on August 1, 2014. 

The airplane's total useable fuel capacity was 53 gallons. The airplane was last fueled on August 21, 2015, with 25.1 gallons of 100LL which filled the tanks. The airplane was flown 1.9 hours between the last fueling and the accident flight. An average fuel burn for the airplane was approximately 9 gallons per hour which would have resulted in approximately 36 gallons of fuel on board at the accident takeoff. First responders reported that fuel was leaking from the airplane at the accident site and they were able to capture approximately 18 gallons of fuel from the fuel tanks. 

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The weather conditions reported at CGF at 2200 were wind from 140 at 10 knots; visibility 10 miles; clouds 3,500 ft. scattered; ceiling 20,000 ft. broken; temperature 24 degrees Celsius; dew point 20 degree Celsius, and altimeter 30.09 inches of mercury.

Records indicate that there were three computerized weather briefing requests from N4207P on the day of the accident. All three were for flights from CGF to 89D (Kelleys Island Land Field Airport, Kelleys Island, Ohio). The first two briefings were logged at 1609:04 and 1609:19. Those briefings had a proposed departure time of 2030. The third briefing was at 2024:06 with a proposed departure time of 2100. 

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane impacted the ground, a chain link fence, a guy wire, and a telephone pole before coming to rest about 1,000 feet from the departure end of runway 6 on a bearing of 20 degrees. This location is just north of the intersection of Bishop Road and Curtiss Wright Parkway. 

The wreckage path was along a 210 degree heading. The left wing tip, including the position light, was embedded in the ground at the first impact mark east of the chain link fence. The airplane then traveled through the fence, with the left wing contacting one of the fence posts. The main impact ground scar was on the west side of the fence. Adjacent to the main impact mark were two slash marks in the soft ground. Both marks were about 12 inches long. One of the slash marks was about 7 inches deep and the other was about 4 inches deep. The airplane came to rest on a heading of about 160 degrees with the left wing against the telephone pole. A postimpact fire ensued.

The left wing tip was the first part of the airplane to impact the terrain. The wing tip light assembly was embedded in the ground. A concave impact mark along with paint and rust transfers on the left wing aileron indicate that it contacted a metal fence post. The inboard six feet of the aileron was accordioned and crushed toward the outboard section of the aileron which remained attached to the wing. A three foot section long outboard section of the flap remained attached to the wing. The inboard section of the wing and flap were burned. The wing was separated from the fuselage. The wing strut remained attached to the wing. The leading edge of the wing was crushed aft.

The outboard section of the right wing was bent upward about 30 degrees starting near the strut attach point. The right wing was separated from the fuselage. The strut remained attached to the wing. The flap and aileron remained attached to the wing. The inboard section of the wing sustained fire damage. The outboard section of the wing was crushed aft. 

The flap actuator showed the flaps were in the retracted position.

The empennage remained intact with the rudder and elevator attached to their respective stabilizers. The outboard section of the right horizontal stabilizer and elevator were crushed. The elevator trim was measured and the measurement equated to a 9 to 10 degree nose-up trim setting. 

The cabin area and instrument panel were destroyed by the post impact fire. The fuel selector was on the "Both" position and the fuel shutoff valve was in the open position. 

Flight control continuity was established from all of the flight controls to their respective cockpit controls. 

Engine

The engine was located with the main wreckage. The engine mounts were separated from the firewall due to thermal damage. The propeller remained attached to the engine. The exhaust system sustained impact damage. The rear accessory case and the accessories sustained thermal damage. 

The accessories and cylinder valve covers were removed. Thumb compression and engine continuity from the propeller to the accessory section was established when the propeller was rotated by hand. The cylinders and pistons were examined using a lighted borescope and no anomalies were noted. 

The left magneto could not be turned by hand. The magneto cap was removed and the internal components of the magneto were melted. The right magneto turned by hand, but no spark was visible on the ignition leads. The ignition cap was removed and the inside of the magneto was found melted. 

The engine was equipped with two vacuum pumps. The pump with the longer shaft was mounted lower on the accessory case. The pump frangible shaft couplings were melted on both pumps and therefore they could not be turned by hand. Both pumps were opened. The vanes and rotor inside both pumps were intact. 

All fuel lines from the flow divider to fuel nozzles were intact. The fuel nozzles were removed. Nozzle No. 1 was not obstructed, nozzle No 2. was inadvertently dropped in oil during removal, nozzle No 3. was separated in two pieces neither of which were obstructed, and nozzle No. 4 was 80% obstructed with the insert not obstructed. The fuel flow divider was opened and examined. The rubber diaphragm was intact. 

The engine driven diaphragm fuel pump housing was burned; however, the pump plunger was intact. 

The throttle arm on the fuel servo was connected and moved the throttle plate. The mixture control arm was separated from impact. The finger screen was clean.

The ignition leads sustained thermal damage, but they remained attached to all of the spark plugs. The spark plugs were slightly worn and showed normal operating signatures. The No. 1 bottom plug was wet with oil.

Propeller

The propeller spinner was fractured and separated from the propeller. Both propeller blades were straight. One propeller blade contained a ¾ to 1-inch deep gouge near the tip of the blade. Chordwise scratches and leading edge polishing were visible on this blade. The other blade contained light chordwise scratches. 

There were no anomalies identified with the airframe, engine, or propeller which would have precluded normal operation of the airplane. 

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office on August 28, 2014. The death of the pilot was attributed to blunt trauma and thermal injuries sustained in the accident. 

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed forensic toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot with negative results for drugs and alcohol. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

Weight and Balance

Two sets of weight and balance calculations, using different variables, were performed for the airplane. The airplane's weight and balance paperwork showed the maximum gross weight for the airplane was 2,457 pounds, the maximum useful load was 787.4 pounds, and the maximum aft center of gravity (CG) was 116 inches aft of datum. 

The occupant weights provided by the medical examiner were: pilot - 130 pounds; right front passenger - 200 pounds; left rear passenger - 172 pounds; and right rear passenger - 166 pounds.

The first calculation used the occupant weights that were provided by the medical examiner's office, 10 pound of baggage, and 35 gallons of fuel. These calculations showed the airplane had a takeoff weight of 2,550.6 pounds with a CG of 112.957 inches.

The second calculation increased the occupant's body weights by 10% to account for the weight lost by the thermal injuries and increased the baggage to 15 pounds. These calculations resulted in the airplane at a gross weight of 2,622.6 pounds, which is 165.6 pounds over gross weight and with a CG of 117.127 inches. 

Witnesses who were with the pilot and passengers before the flight stated the pilot asked two of the passengers how much they weighed. One witness recalled that the passenger who would become the right front seat passenger stated he weighed 200 pounds. The witness stated the pilot performed some calculations in his head and indicated that he believed they would be below the weight limit for the airplane. 

Personal Electronic Device

Three iPhones were located in the wreckage. One of the iPhones was able to be accessed and it was sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division for examination. The iPhone was owned by one of the passengers. At 20:33:01, a text message first referenced the flight. Text messages continued with the same recipient until 21:37. The messages discussed a destination of Kelley's Island; a half hour flight each way for a total flight time of one hour; and the possibility of further communication about the flight using Snapchat.

At 21:49, a 10-second video was taken from the back right passenger seat while the aircraft was taxiing. The video panned from the right exterior of the airplane to the forward interior. Persons were in both the left and right front seats. The person in the right front seat was not touching the flight controls. The person in the left front seat had both hands on the yoke. The flap handle was visible in the full up position.

http://registry.faa.gov/N4207P

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA453
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 25, 2014 in Willoughby Hills, OH
Aircraft: CESSNA 172R, registration: N4207P
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 25, 2014, at 2158 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172R airplane, N4207P, collided with the terrain in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, following a loss of control shortly after takeoff from the Cuyahoga County Airport (CGF). The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged by impact and a post impact fire. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by T & G Flying Club, Inc. The pilot rented the airplane and was flying it on a personal flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which was not operating on a flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. 

The pilot reserved the airplane from T&G Flying Club, at 2022 using an online reservation system. He reserved the airplane for 4 hours, beginning at 2030. The employees of the flying club had left for the evening by time the pilot and passengers arrived.

Two witnesses, stated that shortly after 2100, they saw 4 males walk across the ramp toward the tie-down area near hangar 7. One of the males had a carry-on type suitcase. The pilot and passengers then boarded a Cessna 172. One of the witnesses stated the airplane stayed on the ramp for about 30 minutes with the engine running. They did not see the airplane after this time.

At 2146, the pilot called ground control for a takeoff taxi clearance stating he was on the ramp south of the T&G Flight Club. The controller issued the pilot a clearance to taxi to runway 6 via the Alpha 7 taxiway to the Alpha taxiway. The controller also issued the wind condition as 140 degrees at 8 knots along with the altimeter setting. The pilot stated his radio was a little "fuzzy" and he asked the controller to repeat the clearance. The controller repeated the taxi clearance, which the pilot subsequently repeated. About 4 minutes later, the controller informed the pilot that he is taxiing to the wrong runway. After asking the controller to repeat what he said, the pilot stated "Thank you I'm sorry." The controller then issued taxi instructions back to the approach end of runway 6.

At 2156, the pilot radioed that he was ready to takeoff on runway 6. The controller asked the pilot what his direction of flight was going to be. The pilot responded that they were going to fly east to sightsee and that they would be back in a little while. The controller issued the takeoff clearance with a right turn after takeoff. At 2158, the pilot radioed that they were not climbing fast and they wanted to immediately make a left turn to turn around. The controller approved the left turn. The controller stated it appeared the airplane began a left turn when it descended to the ground. The controller reported that during the takeoff, the airplane became airborne about 100 feet past taxiway Alpha 6, which was approximately 2,000 feet down the runway.

The airplane impacted the ground, a chain link fence, a guy wire, and a telephone pole prior to coming to rest about 1,000 feet on a bearing of 20 degrees from the departure end of runway 6. This location is just north of the intersection of Bishop Road and Curtiss Wright Parkway. 

The wreckage path was along a 210 degree heading. The left wing tip, including the position light, was embedded in the ground at the first impact mark. This mark was east of the chain link fence. The airplane then traveled through the fence, with the left wing contacting one of the fence posts. The main impact crater was in the west side of the fence. Adjacent to the crater were two slash marks in the soft ground. Both marks were about 12 inches long. One of the slash marks was about 7 inches deep and the other was about 4 inches deep. The airplane came to rest on a heading of about 160 degrees with the left wing against the telephone pole. A postimpact fire ensued.

Friends of Abraham Pishevar said the 18-year-old sent this Snapchat with the caption "rush" minutes before he and three others died in a plane crash near Willoughby Hills Aug. 25.




CLEVELAND, Ohio — The family of one of four Case Western Reserve University students killed in a 2014 plane crash is suing the estate of the student pilot, the flight club that owned the plane and a fraternity.


The parents of Abraham Pishevar, 18, claim the nighttime flight he and three other students took Aug. 25 was part of fraternity recruitment, and that the flight club did not properly inspect the plane before letting 19-year-old William Felten fly it.  


The wrongful death lawsuit, filed Oct. 22 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, seeks at least $75,000 damages.


Pishevar, Felten, Lucas Marcelli, 20, and John Hill, 18, died when their rented Cesna airplane crashed minutes after taking off from the Cuyahoga County Airport in Willoughby Hills.


It was the first day of classes at Case Western Reserve. Marcelli and Pishevar were on the wrestling team.


Felten and Marcelli, both sophomores, were members of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity's Lambda chapter at the campus. Pishevar and Hill were both freshmen.


The lawsuit claims Felten was acting as an agent of the fraternity's national headquarters in Indianapolis when he reserved the plane through T&G Flying Club two hours in advance as part of "rush," the period when fraternities and sororities recruit new members.


Images and text messages that Pishevar sent to his friends from the airport reference "rushing." 


The fraternity has denied that the flight was connected to rush.  


The suit also accuses T&G Flight Club and its owner, Laurence Rohl, of not properly inspecting the plane before clearing it for takeoff, failing to properly maintain its planes and entrusting Felten with the plane. 


A representative from the flight school could not immediately be reached for comment.


The flight club trained Felten to get his pilot license a year earlier, and should have known he was "unskilled and incapable" of flying the plane safely, the suit alleges.


Pishevar's family is asking for damages that cover pain and suffering, burial and funeral costs and Pishevar's lost earning potential.


A hearing has not been set.



The family filed a petition for discovery in September 2014, seeking a litany of documentation from the fraternity, the flight club and the university. They withdrew the petition in December.


The family of a man killed in a Willoughby Hills plane crash has voluntarily dismissed paperwork for a potential lawsuit against the plane’s owner, the pilot’s flying club and a fraternity.

However, the dismissal does not rule out a lawsuit being filed at a later date.

Abraham Pishevar II, 18, of Rockville, Maryland, was one of four young men killed in an Aug. 25 crash minutes after a Cessna Model 172R took off from Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights.

On Sept. 9, Pishevar’s estate filed a petition for discovery in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to gather all pertinent information for a potential civil lawsuit.

The other victims included pilot Michael Felton, 20, of Saginaw, Michigan; Lucas Vincent Marcelli, 20, of Massillon; and John Hill, 18, of St. Simons, Georgia. All four were students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Named in the petition are T&G Flying Club, where Felton rented the aircraft; Zeta Beta Tau, Lambda Chapter at CWRU and the national Zeta Beta Tau Foundation; and Willoughby resident Laurence Rohl, the registered owner of the plane.

The estate’s attorney, Jordan Lebovitz, said he dismissed the petition Feb. 25 after receiving documentation from T&G Flying Club.

“We have been working with T&G to find out if there are any more culpable individuals,” Lebovitz said. “The next step is to evaluate the information. We are working to determine the cause of the crash, and are waiting for the final report from the National Transportation Safety Board.”

The attorney added that he wanted to show Judge Hollie L. Gallagher that the estate and T&G are working together. However, the dismissal is “not a final resolution to the dispute,” he said.

The petition has been dismissed without prejudice, meaning it can be refiled in the future.

Each side was ordered to pay their own final court costs.

Elizabeth Deemer, Pittsburgh-based attorney for T&G and the other defendants, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The petition sought documents describing the operation, maintenance, and storage of the Cessna from Rohl. 

It also raised questions as to whether the flight was somehow involved in fraternity rush or recruitment activities.

Felton’s private pilot license was issued Aug. 8, 2013, in Michigan.

Editor's note: This story was edited at 9:48 a.m. March 2, 2015, to correct that Michael Felton received his pilot's license in Michigan and rented the aircraft from T&G Flying Club.

Story and photo:  http://www.news-herald.com










More than a dozen plane crashes in North Wales since 2010

Civil Aviation Authority says despite the figures, revealed by a Freedom of Information request, air travel remains one of the safest forms of transport


More than a dozen planes have crash-landed in North Wales over the past five years.

According to figures revealed following a Freedom of Information request to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), eight people have been killed in accidents since 2010, and even more injured.

The majority of incidents have occurred around Caernarfon, two of which resulted in fatalities.

There were three recorded crashes at Hawarden airport, one which was fatal, with persons involved in the other two escaping uninjured.

The biggest loss of life happened in October 2010 after a flight from Londonderry to Caernarfon crashed on a hill near the Northern Ireland coastline.

According to CAA logs, hill walkers heard the aircraft, then a bang. All three people on board were killed.

In January 2012, two pilots died after their plane struck cloud-covered trees on Long Mountain near Welshpool.

The CAA say the commander was carrying out a flight to “re-familiarize” himself with the aircraft and had been flying around the local area before preparing to land. The plane crashed into trees on the upper slope of the mountain before impacting the grass and catching fire.

A flight instructor from Flintshire Flying School, based at Hawarden airport, and his student were killed “instantaneously” after the aircraft they were in crashed in Bruera, Cheshire, in August 2012.

Experienced pilot John Green, 50, and dad-of-one Karl Hendrickson, 43, from Caergwrle, were on a lesson in the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk when it crash-landed in a field less than an hour after take off.

Following a two-day inquest held in Warrington last year, assistant coroner for Cheshire Alan Moore said what happened in the final minutes of the flying lesson may never be known.

In May 2013, one person died and two others were left “seriously injured” after a fixed wing plane struck a tree on approach to Caernarfon airport.

The CAA said the pilot reported a loss of power and was unable to reach the airfield.

Six months later, in November 2013, a “besotted” couple were killed after the light twin engine Cessna aircraft they were in nosedived to the ground as it attempted to land at Hawarden Airport.

Gary Vickers, 58, and his partner Kaye Clarke, 42, had been on their way back from Paris when tragedy struck.

An air accident investigation into the crash last year revealed the plane had run out of fuel, and an inquest held in Ruthin last month was told the plane had 30 litres of fuel in the reserve tank and just two litres in the main tank.

The most recent fatal incident was in May 2014 when a student pilot lost control of the microlight on takeoff and crashed onto the taxi way.

According to the CAA, Ashley Hazelwood, 61, of Kinmel Bay, was flying circuits at Caernarfon airfield when the incident happened.

Mr Hazelwood was the only person on board and the aircraft was destroyed by the impact.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said: “Aviation remains to be one of the safest forms of transport.

“Every serious incident and accident is independently investigated by the government’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and any lessons learnt are put in place.”

Story and photos:  http://www.dailypost.co.uk

Kay County judge splits lawsuit settlement over Oklahoma State University plane crash: Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee B, N7746W

The divorced parents of Oklahoma State University coach Miranda Serna agreed to accept a $250,000 settlement to drop their lawsuit over her 2011 death. A judge had to decide how much each parent received. 


PONCA CITY — How do you measure a mother’s grief? Or a father’s?

A Kay County judge here was forced to decide that after the parents of Oklahoma State University coach Miranda Serna accepted a $250,000 settlement to drop their lawsuit over her death in an airplane crash.

The judge, Philip A. Ross, had to step in because the long-divorced parents could not agree on how to split the money.

The judge in December awarded 70 percent to the mother, Nettie Herrera, of Guadalupita, N.M., “simply because of the overwhelming evidence” she had enjoyed a constant companionship with her daughter.

The judge awarded 30 percent to the father, John Serna, of Ledoux, N.M. The father did not appeal.

The judicial decision is a sad and final footnote to the 2011 airplane crash that deeply impacted Oklahoma State University and its supporters.

Head women’s basketball coach, Kurt Budke, 50, and his assistant, Serna, 36, were killed Nov. 17, 2011, in Arkansas during a recruiting trip.

The plane’s pilot, Olin Branstetter, 82, of Ponca City, and his wife, Paula Branstetter, 79, also were killed.

Lawsuits filed in 2012

Budke’s widow and Serna’s parents in 2012 filed wrongful death lawsuits in Ponca City against the estates of the pilot and his wife. They dismissed the lawsuits last September after reaching confidential settlements paid by the pilot’s insurance company, attorneys said.

The settlement over Serna’s death later became public because the judge had to decide how to split the proceeds.

“How can we measure emotional loss like that using a dollar figure or a percentage?” the father’s attorney, Bradley Mallett, wrote the judge. “It is impossible, but that task is exactly what has been laid at the feet of this court.”

Miranda Serna’s parents divorced when she was a young child, and she lived with her mother. She credited her father with teaching her basketball, but he never attended any of her high school games. He explained at a hearing last year that he was busy working to provide financial support to his children.

In his ruling, the judge pointed to evidence the mother and daughter stayed closely in contact when apart and on many occasions spent time together. “The correspondence admitted into evidence showed a constant and abiding love between them,” the judge noted.

Herrera, a retired teacher, testified last year her daughter talked to her from OSU every day by phone, sometimes more than once.

“I can only do one day at a time,” Herrera testified. “Being a Catholic, going to daily Mass, has helped me to cope. ... I miss everything.”

In his ruling, the judge pointed out the father was not in contact with his daughter as much as the mother. The judge noted, though, that he “believes that Mr. Serna certainly grieves deeply for the loss of his daughter and friend.”

Story and photo:  http://newsok.com/article/5397674

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA072
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 17, 2011 in Perryville, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/27/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180, registration: N7746W
Injuries: 4 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.

About 2 hours after departure, radar data tracked the airplane at 7,000 feet before the airplane then initiated a right, descending turn before disappearing from radar. Witnesses reported seeing the airplane flying low, descending, making several turns, before impacting terrain. Impact signatures were consistent with a steep, nose-low attitude. An examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any preimpact anomalies. The reason for the pilot's loss of control could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's loss of control in flight.

http://www.ntsb.gov

Captain Doron: RV7 - Just get to 40 hours





 Published on March 3, 2015




Published on March 2, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Piper PA-28-140, N1513J: Accident occurred March 01, 2015 at Wheeler Downtown Airport (KMKC), Kansas City, Missouri

NTSB Identification: CEN15CA158
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 01, 2015 in Kansas City, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/21/2015
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28-140, registration: N1513J
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Shortly after takeoff, following a touch and go landing, the engine sputtered and lost power. The left wing and empennage were substantially damaged during the forced landing. An examination of the airplane, engine, and related systems revealed no anomalies. The left fuel tank was empty and the right fuel tank contained 10 gallons of fuel. The pilot wrote that the loss of engine power was the result of fuel starvation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.




At least one person suffered minor injuries after an aircraft apparently crashed Sunday night at Wheeler Downtown Airport.

One of the aircraft’s two occupants suffered a broken arm, said Joe McBride, a Kansas City Aviation Department spokesman.

The Piper single-engine aircraft lost power and went down on the north side of the airport on or near a gravel maintenance road, McBride said. It was unclear whether the airplane crashed or sustained a “hard landing,” McBride said.

Kansas City Fire Department personnel responded to the accident, which occurred just before 7 p.m.

Story and photo: http://www.kansascity.com

Cessna Citation Mustang, N7876C, JetBlue

Sarina Gumbert, an air traffic controller, will be honored this week in Las Vegas for helping a small plane avoid crashing into a JetBlue plane in midair back in October 2014.


ORLANDO --   An air traffic controller in Central Florida is being awarded for saving countless lives after she helped divert a small plane that was on a collision course with a JetBlue flight.

The near-crash happened just before noon on Oct. 24, 2014, when something unusual caught Sarina Gumbert's eye.

"Instinct takes over," said Gumbert, who is an air traffic controller at the Central Florida Terminal Approach Control, known as Central Florida TRACON. "Your training takes over, and you just start separating airplanes as best you can."

Gumbert said she quickly realized a Cessna Citation Mustang, which had just taken off from Orlando International Airport, was flying straight toward a JetBlue flight, and so she quickly told the small plane to make an immediate left turn.

Now she's being credited with saving dozens of lives.

"It's a little bit surreal when you look back and think about how close it got and what could have happened if I hadn't had caught it," she said. "I love my job. I love controlling airplanes."

Gumbert will receive the Archie League Medal of Safety Award from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association at its annual conference, which is being held Wednesday, March 4, in Las Vegas. The event honors top air traffic controllers from around the United States who ensured safety and saved lives during an emergency situation in 2014.

Gumbert, however, said she doesn't consider herself a hero.

"It's hard to say that it was heroic or feel that way because it's my job," she said. "That's what we're supposed to do. I did exactly what I was supposed to do that day, and it worked out really well."

Regardless, she's excited about being recognized as one of the top air traffic controllers in the country.

"There is 14,000 air traffic controllers in this country, and when one of us does something wrong, the whole country knows about it pretty quickly," Gumbert said. "But every single day, somebody in our career field does something extraordinary, and ... most of the time, the entire nation doesn't ever hear about it."

Gumbert describes herself as "calm and cool" — two traits almost required for air traffic controllers.

"Air traffic is one of those jobs where if you sound confident in what you're doing, the pilot is going to trust you," Gumbert said. "This award that I'm getting is one of those opportunities to actually bring positive press to what we do every day."

Story, two videos and photo:  http://www.mynews13.com

Accident occurred March 01, 2015 at Enterprise Park in Calverton, New York

Authorities are investigating the crash of a powered paraglider that left a 49-year-old Shirley man in critical condition Sunday at Enterprise Park in Calverton.

Marcelo Ibarra, who possibly suffered two broken legs, was airlifted by the Suffolk County police Medivac helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, Riverhead police said in a statement. Police said the powered paraglider crashed about 8:20 a.m. soon after takeoff at the town-owned corporate park, which has an active airstrip and is a former manufacturing and test site for Grumman Corp. military aircraft.

No criminal charges were filed, but the probe of circumstances surrounding the crash is continuing, police said. Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter declined to comment, citing the ongoing probe.

Federal Aviation Administrator investigators were called to the scene by police. But the aircraft was not required to be registered and therefore the accident did not come under the agency's jurisdiction, the agency said.

"The FAA responded to the scene and confirmed the vehicle was not a registered aircraft," FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. Agency investigators would still obtain a statement from the operator of the paraglider, but would have no further role in the probe, she noted.

A man at the scene said he witnessed the accident. But the man, who described himself as a friend of Ibarra's and a fellow paraglider, declined to identify himself while being interviewed by authorities. Riverhead police also declined to identify the witness.

The man said the craft became unstable and Ibarra put his feet out to absorb the impact of the impending crash.

After the accident, "He was conscious, I went to him, took off his helmet, asked him a couple of questions," the man said. "He was lucid, he was awake, he was talking. His leg was hurting him and he basically just worried about his wife."

The man said he then called 911.

The witness, a fellow paraglider, said this is not the season for paragliding.

"This is actually a summer sport; most pilots I know are in hibernation right now. It's too cold for them," he said. "Only the hard-core paragliders are out flying right now."

Powered paragliding is a form of ultralight aviation involving a pilot wearing a motor on his back which provides the thrust to take off using an adapted paraglider or paramotor wing. It can be launched in still air, on level ground or by the pilot alone.

EPCAL, a publicly owned, private-use facility 3 miles west of Calverton's central business district, was given to Riverhead in 1998 by the Navy. Formerly known as the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant, Calverton, the site was used by the Navy to assemble, test refit and retrofit jets built by Grumman.

Town officials have been trying to develop EPCAL into an industrial park.

The site covers 2,921 acres and contains two asphalt and concrete runways used by the Sky Dive Long Island group, which since 2000 has leased the facility from the town for its skydiving activities.

Story, video and comments:  http://www.newsday.com

Move pending for last house in lawsuit: Lenawee County Airport (KADG), Adrian, Michigan

A decision to move or demolish the last of five Lake Madison homes purchased by the Lenawee County Airport is on hold until spring.

The five houses were purchased with federal and state grant funding after extensive litigation over the airport’s impact on their safety and value. The case went to court after a runway extension project 10 years ago.

Two of the houses have been torn down, and two others were lifted and trucked from Lake Madison to Planeview Subdivision at the opposite end of the airport.

It will probably be spring before a decision is made on what to do with the last house, which is still occupied by the former owners, said airport manager Joe Malak.

“I leaned real hard toward wanting to have the houses moved,” Malak said. Relocating the houses nearby preserves the local tax base, he said, as well as avoiding the destruction of relatively new structures.

The first house purchased by the county, located on Cadmus Road, was torn down before a moving option was proposed, he said.

Plans were made last year to move three houses at the Lake Madison development. Arrangements could not be made in time to avoid the demolition of one house, he said. Windows and some other parts of the house were salvaged before it was torn down and the debris hauled away, he said.

The first move was done last summer, Malak said.

Equipment from Cliff McCormick House Moving and Excavation in Jackson returned in December to take a second house to a vacant lot in the Planeview Subdivision off Sand Creek Highway, just west of the airport.

Sections of fence were taken down at each end of the airport so the houses, loaded on trailers, could travel across the airport to their new locations. The trailers were allowed to travel on the airport taxiway, but not the runway, he said.

There is interest by the moving company in returning to pick up the airport’s remaining house, he said.

State and federal officials required the buildings be removed after they were purchased. The property is within a runway protection zone that was enlarged after the airport’s runway was lengthened from 4,000 feet to 5,000 feet.

There is pending litigation by eight other Lake Madison homeowners seeking to sell their property to the airport. 

- Source:  http://www.lenconnect.com

Incident occurred February 28, 2015 at Naples Municipal Airport (KAPF), Florida



Two F-18s made an unexpected landing at the Naples Municipal Airport on Saturday. 

According to airport authority officials, the Navy fighter jets left from Key West.  The lead aircraft saw a warning light turn on.  The F-18s landed at the nearest airfield -- which was the Naples Municipal Airport. 

The pilots are spending the night in Naples as they wait for Naval maintenance crews to arrive. 

Naples Airport Authority officials say this is a rare occurrence. 

Story and photos:  http://www.nbc-2.com


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Concerns about air traffic safety are heightened in developing College Park, Maryland

Kurt Schneckenburger, who flies his plane out of the College Park Airport about once a week, says the construction of tall buildings near the end of the runway would create safety issues. “If you keep adding buildings out there, you’ll build a wall.” 
(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post




Construction of tall buildings is encroaching on the airspace of historic College Park Airport, forcing pilots to adjust landing and takeoff strategies and raising concerns among some in this Maryland community that continued development could threaten the viability of a small airpark that was used by the Wright brothers and is home to many aviation firsts.

Pilots already navigate around a 16-story student apartment complex just less than a mile away on a straight shot from the runway. But plans to add more and taller buildings have those who regularly use the airport worried about maintaining its historic feel as well as safety.

“If you keep adding buildings out there, you’ll build a wall,” said Kurt Schneckenburger, who first flew from College Park in 1986, when Metrorail did not run near the edge of the runway and car dealerships and one-story shops made up most of the city’s commercial district.

The December tragedy in which a private jet crashed into a four-bedroom home near the Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, killing six people, also has pushed the debate over density and building heights to the forefront.

“You see all this construction happening . . . and that’s fine. We just don’t want tall buildings at the end of the runway,” said ­Schneckenburger, 57, who flies his 1972 Piper PA-28 Cherokee about once a week. “This is a safety issue.”

That’s why a recent proposal for a 13-story luxury hotel less than a mile from the airport had Schneckenburger and others concerned.

The Southern Management hotel project became caught up in the debate late last year when it sought approval from the Prince George’s County planning board. The Federal Aviation Administration warned that the hotel would be a potential hazard to air navigation, prompting the developer to drop three floors from its design and raising the project’s $115 million cost by $5 million.

Although the revised project appears to comply with FAA regulations, it has ignited demands for better enforcement of building height limits around the 66-acre airport, nestled between Lake Artemesia and an industrial area adjacent to the College Park Metro station, off Paint Branch Parkway.

“This seems to be the tip of the iceberg with more and more obstructions being proposed without much consideration to the airport,” Kyle Lowe said in an e-mail to the FAA in October. Lowe is a division chief in the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, which oversees the airport.

A University of Maryland dormitory, built last year, encroaches on about seven feet of airspace, and a bioengineering building now under construction encroaches on about four feet, according to the FAA.

The FAA sets height restrictions based on a structure’s proximity to an airport and flight paths. State and local governments also set height guidelines for buildings near airports.

But rulings by the FAA and state agencies — in this case, the Maryland Aviation Administration — serve only as advisories. Local zoning authorities determine whether to allow building permits. Projects built on U-Md. property are not required to go through the local zoning process.

And even in cases where projects exceed local restrictions, developers can get around the limits by requesting variances.

U-Md. officials say they do not take the FAA’s and MAA’s recommendations lightly. In the case of the Prince Frederick Hall dorm built last year, the university added special markings and lighting to mitigate the potential hazard. And it plans to do the same with the bioengineering building, which the university says is actually shorter and farther from the airport than the University View complex, officials said.

“My understanding is that the four feet is not going to pose any problems,” university spokesman Brian Ullman said. “Believe it or not, the issue might be addressed simply by adding some lighting.”

Effects of height limits

Some experts say that height limits hamper developers’ ability to get the most out of their investments. Critics say the restrictions end up costing communities millions in tax revenue — and, ultimately, billions in economic growth. The wait for an FAA review alone can be costly and can disrupt a project’s timeline.

John Cohan, director of marketing for Southern Management, said the company had not anticipated having to deal with airport restrictions when it began pursuing its hotel project as part of a deal with U-Md. When it was notified about the 35-foot airspace intrusion in November, it was already in the last step of local approvals. The company was ready to proceed with construction — in fact, it received a permit last month to begin site preparation work.

“Instead of pushing back and trying to fight for the original plan, we redesigned it,” Cohan said. That process has already set the project’s timeline back a few months, threatening the plans for a 2016 opening, he said. “It’s been a significant cost — in the millions. A significant part of that is in the lost time.”

The 16-story University View apartment complex, built in 2005, is an example of what can happen if height restrictions aren’t enforced, some say. The building, the tallest in College Park, was determined to be an obstruction by aviation standards, but because it was planned before the county passed airport zoning regulations in 2002, the project moved through the approval process without much scrutiny.

Today, the complex juts out from a buffer of woods, visible from the front of the airport’s runway. Some pilots say that when they pass over the complex on final approach, they come so close to the building that they can wave at people on the roof.

“If you speak with the pilots, they say, ‘We have to work around that building, and it is not ideal.’ And the more buildings that go up like that, even if they are not that tall, but if they penetrate the airspace, then it is a problem for them,” said Terry Schum, College Park’s planning director.

Encroachment on airspace at general aviation airports is not a new problem, nor is the rapid growth that has swallowed up the communities surrounding small, semirural airparks across the United States.

These airports are viewed not only as part of an extensive network, but also as important economic and societal contributors to their communities. In some cases, they support medical, emergency and law enforcement flights and provide access to remote communities.

But most were built long before the communities that surround them and now are struggling to balance the needs of both.

In Orlando, for example, officials studying why the city does not have a distinctive skyline are faced with the reality that its downtown is too close to Orlando Executive Airport. Several projects that would have helped define the skyline, including plans for a nearly 500-foot tower, have been scrapped over the years.


The problem in places such as College Park, some pilots and airport officials say, is that airports have been excluded from the planning process and development has taken off without much consideration given to their operations. In some cases, development pressures have played a role in the closure of small airfields around the United States.

“I understand the developers’ concerns that if they can’t get to a certain height, they can’t get a good return on their investment. At the same time, having taller buildings around the airport really does make it more difficult for pilots to get in and out of the airport,” said John Collins, manager of airport policy at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. The group, which has about 370,000 members, hears about airport encroachment issues a couple of times a week, he said.

In College Park, the airport’s historical significance may be the reason it’s been able to survive. Founded in 1909, the facility is home to many aviation firsts: It saw the first female airplane passenger, the first U.S. helicopter flights and it was the terminus for the first airmail routes. The Wright brothers trained the country’s first military pilots there.

“That’s not something to take lightly,” said Andrea Cochrane Tracey, director of the College Park Aviation Museum, which is on airport property and displays aircraft and artifacts from the airfield’s history, which covers more than a century.

The county-owned airpark is building a $4.5 million, 13,000-square-foot terminal that will be connected to the museum.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, the airport lost business — activity fell from about 18,000 flight operations a year and nearly 100 aircraft based there to about 4,122 flight operations a year and 47 aircraft. But airport officials say the potential for growth is good given the proximity to the District and access to Metro, both of which make the airport attractive for business travelers, including members of Congress.

Ensuring the right development around the facility is key to making that happen, officials say. That’s why the height debate, Lowe said, is not about a particular project but ensuring that current and future development take those restrictions seriously.

“We are not trying to get in the way of economic development,” Lowe said. “We are trying to make sure that we are able to balance the needs of the development community with the airport operations. . . . We want to make sure that we have an airport that is viable and that is safe for the pilots and the public.”

The city says that’s also its goal. Long-term plans for the Route 1 corridor recognize the airport’s value and call for future development to respect the height restrictions around the airfield and to ensure it does not threaten its continued existence, officials said.

But finding a balance has turned out to be more challenging as the city focuses on drawing development to its downtown and the College Park Metro station, which is almost directly across from the airfield. The county, which sets zoning policy, has a new plan supporting buildings of up to 12 stories around the College Park Metro. The city has concerns, saying eight stories would be adequate given the Metro station’s proximity to the airport.

“There is plenty of development density that you can get without having 10-story buildings,” Schum said. “You build compactly, you build mid-rise buildings or townhouses, and that is appropriate around the Metro station. We don’t need towers to get the density.”

Story and photos:  http://www.washingtonpost.com