Friday, February 27, 2015

Air traffic controllers honored for guiding plane to safety: Beechcraft 58 Baron, N9206Q, incident occurred February 13, 2014 at J. Douglas Bake Memorial Airport (KOCQ), Oconto, Wisconsin

Three air traffic controllers from Austin Straubel Airport will be honored soon for their help in guiding a plane to safety last February.

ASHWAUBENON – You may remember a small plane’s rough landing from February of last year.

The pilot was forced to land at an Oconto County airport after running into trouble. Thankfully, all on board survived.

Now the men who helped guide that plane to safety are being honored.

They’ll head to Las Vegas next week for recognition from the National Association of Air Traffic Controllers. But first, they told their story to FOX 11’s Kelly Schlicht.

The late shift on Thursday, February 13, 2014 began like any other for air traffic controllers at Austin Straubel Airport.

“It was around four or five o’clock. The plane was coming from Rochester, Minn., and it was scheduled to land in Menominee,” said Justin Krenke, an air traffic controller.

Krenke was on a radio transmission with the pilot of this plane, John Laws, when the aircraft ran into trouble.

“Some instruments basically failed. He knew they wouldn’t be able to make it into Menominee so he said I need to get out of this icing. It just kept accumulating ice and couldn’t get rid of the ice on the airplane.

Krenke tried to guide the pilot to a safety.

“If you need to descended below 2500 and declare an emergency we can try to get you on an approach to Oconto,” said Krenke on the air traffic control recording.

“Compassion Flight 06Q, we are declaring an emergency,” said the pilot.

Fellow air traffic controller Adam Helm stepped in to help.

“As soon as we knew that the airplane was going to land in Oconto, we got on the phone and asked them to get crash, fire rescue, fire trucks out there,” said Helm.

Meanwhile, their coworker Mike Osterander took over all other direction in the tower.

“When this happened, I just tried to take as much of the other things to do off of him so he could concentrate on it,” said Osterander.

But as the pilot neared Oconto, he couldn’t land.

“I see it on my right side, I didn’t land. It looks like they’re plowing,” said the pilot.

“I lost radar contact and lost communication with him, and Adam was on the phone with some Oconto fire and rescue and also the county saying get the plows off the runway this is an emergency. He came around and circled and crashed, but everyone survived. So, it was a good outcome,” said Krenke.

Now the three men will be honored by their industry for keeping their cool.

“You feel like you’re a part of the plane and the person flying it, even though I’m sitting in a room looking at a screen. It was pretty scary. I don’t want to have to do it again,” said Krenke.

But the three insist they were just doing their jobs, helping keep the skies and all who fly them safe.

Story and photo:

AEG report warns rival Inglewood NFL stadium presents terrorist threat

In a bold move to undercut an NFL stadium at Hollywood Park, the sports and entertainment firm AEG commissioned a study by former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge that found the Inglewood project would be a tempting target for terrorists and should not be built.

AEG has been pursuing its own NFL stadium next to Staples Center for several years and is in direct competition with Inglewood, whose plan was approved Tuesday by that city's government.

In a 14-page report, Ridge suggests that because the Inglewood stadium proposed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke would lie within three to four miles of Los Angeles International Airport and beneath the flight path of airliners, terrorists might try to shoot down a plane or crash one into the stadium, scenarios Ridge described as "a terrorist event 'twofer.' "

Ridge said the Inglewood stadium, part of a planned retail, office and residential development at the now-defunct Hollywood Park, would have "a significant risk profile with the potential to produce consequences that will not only the impact the airport and region, but global interests."

In contrast to Ridge's warnings, city officials as well as aviation experts have said a stadium at the Hollywood Park site is not a safety concern. The Federal Aviation Administration, in environmental impact reports, has twice given its blessing to proposed stadiums in Inglewood.

The NFL has several stadiums — including Santa Clara and East Rutherford, N.J. — in close proximity to major airports. No stadium in the U.S. has been the subject of a terrorist attack.

The league, which is aware of the report, did not offer an opinion on the Inglewood site.

"We feel that the best approach is to look at these things with an independent eye," said Eric Grubman, NFL senior vice president and the league's point man on the L.A. market. "You should assume the NFL has its own experts hired and at work to assess any potential NFL site, in any city, regarding these matters. And it is that advice that we will rely on."

Marc Ganis, a consultant who has worked on projects involving more than two-thirds of NFL teams, reviewed the document and said it "does not have any definitive data that would argue against going forward."

It is not known how widely AEG distributed the report. The Times obtained it from a public relations firm representing Ridge, who was not made available for comment Friday.

In the December document, Ridge invoked al-Qaeda, included pictures of two terrorist bomb-makers and mentioned the 2013 shooting of a Transportation Security Administration officer at LAX.

The former Pennsylvania governor, now a security consultant, said in the report that if NFL, state and local leaders proceed with the Inglewood plan, they "must be willing to accept the significant risk and the possible consequences …. This should give both public and private leaders in the area some pause."

This week, the Inglewood City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the stadium project that is part of a 298-acre mixed-used development. While developers, which include Kroenke, pledge to start construction by December on a stadium that could cost a record $1.86 billion, no NFL team has yet filed for relocation.

In addition to the stadium, the proposed sports and entertainment district on the Hollywood Park site in Inglewood would compete with restaurants and hotels at AEG's LA Live.

Asked about the report, AEG said "we have been working diligently and in good faith … to advance NFL discussions while also exploring plans for other development alternatives around the LA Live campus." AEG's deal with L.A. for the downtown stadium dubbed Farmers Field, already extended once, expires April 17.

A spokesman for the Hollywood Park project declined to comment Friday.

The Inglewood stadium's developers have retained a consultant to advise them on complying with FAA regulations. The playing field will sit 100 feet below ground level to meet FAA rules. At its highest point, the covered stadium will be about 175 feet above ground, or 290 feet above sea level.

"It was concluded that no FAA standards would be exceeded so long as no portion of any structure in the designated location exceeds an elevation of 290 feet above … sea level," the Inglewood report said.

That's eight feet shorter than a stadium plan that received a "no hazard" determination from the FAA in 1995, according to Inglewood's environmental review, and within guidelines Los Angeles County's Airport Land Use Commission approved for the Hollywood Park plan in 2009.

That report noted Levi's Stadium, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, sits less than three miles from San Jose International Airport. Unlike the proposed Inglewood site, that stadium is not on the main approach route.

"The FAA conducts thorough technical reviews of all construction near airports to determine if they pose a hazard to aircraft or navigation aides," said Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman based in Los Angeles. "In this case, there is nothing for us to comment on because no one has presented us with a formal plan."

Story, comments and photos:

Record Jury Award Against Airplane Mechanic Faride Khalaf • Cessna 182S Skylane, Sierra Madre Flying Corp., N23750

by Mike Danko 

Dr. Ken Gottlieb’s Cessna 182 took off from Napa Airport with only Dr. Gottlieb aboard. As the Cessna climbed from the runway, it turned in the wrong direction. It collided with high terrain just north of the airport. Dr. Gottlieb was killed on impact. His body was ejected and the aircraft exploded and burned.

The NTSB ruled the crash was caused by pilot error, finding that Gottlieb encountered poor weather, became confused, and failed to follow the correct instrument departure procedure.

The family asked us to investigate. We learned that Gottlieb’s instructor had flown with Gottlieb a few days before the crash. The instructor found Gottlieb (pictured right) to be well-versed in the Napa departure procedure and otherwise meticulous in his flying. The instructor felt it unlikely that Gottlieb would become confused and turn in the wrong direction. As far as the instructor was concerned, whatever caused the crash was “out of Ken’s control.”

Faride Khalaf (pictured below) was the plane's mechanic.  We learned that Khalaf began working on general aviation aircraft only after he was fired from United Airlines. We uncovered evidence that Khalaf had performed maintenance on Gottlieb's aircraft without properly recording the work in the aircraft’s logs. In fact, Khalaf performed undocumented repairs on the pilot’s seat just a few weeks before the crash.

We examined what little remained of the wreckage and found two things that were unusual. First, we saw evidence that, at the moment of impact, the pilot seat was in the full aft position. Second, the pilot’s seat belt was unbuckled.

Based on their forensic work, our experts testified that as Gottlieb climbed away from the runway, his seat suddenly and unexpectedly slid to its full aft position and jammed. Gottlieb’s hands and feet could not reach the aircraft’s controls and the aircraft flew off course, out of control. Gottlieb unbuckled his seat belt so that he could scoot on his knees up to the aircraft’s control wheel.  But before Dr. Gottlieb could regain control of the aircraft, it crashed into the hillside.

The pilot seat slid back and jammed because Khalaf’s undocumented work was improperly performed.  He charged the aircraft owners for new seat parts, but did not install them. Instead, he illegally jury-rigged the existing seat release mechanism. The faulty repair held up for a while, but failed just as Gottlieb took off, causing the seat to slide back and jam in place.

Making matters worse, we found emails from Khalaf on Gottlieb’s hard drive. Gottlieb had asked Khalaf to perform an annual inspection of the aircraft just days before the crash.   Khalaf's emails confirmed that he had in fact "finished with the annual" and that the plane was "good to go."  Based on Khalaf's confirmation that the plane was safe to fly, Gottlieb departed on his flight from Napa. But, in fact, Khalaf never inspected the plane at all. All he did was change the oil, to make it appear as though he had serviced the aircraft when in fact he had not.  Had Khalaf performed the inspection, he might have learned that his previous improper repairs were about to fail.

Earlier this afternoon, the jury entered its verdict against Khalaf for $13,360,000. The verdict is believed to be a record amount in California for the death of someone over age 65.

Khalaf's attorney quit the case one year before the trial was set to begin. Khalaf elected to represent himself during the 7 day trial. Adbi Anvari of Air West Aircraft Engines testified as Khalaf's expert.  Khalaf called Dr. John Kane to testify as to medical issues, but the judge ruled the doctor to be unqualified and refused to allow him to take the stand.

Dr. Gottlieb was a prominent San Francisco forensic psychiatrist.  He left his wife Gale, daughter Tamar, and son, Mike who is a lawyer and special assistant to President Obama.

Before trial, Gottlieb's family offered to drop the suit entirely if Khalaf agreed to surrender his mechanic’s license. Khalaf refused.  That means despite the verdict, Khalaf is still legally entitled to work on aircraft and return them to service.

Article, comments and photos:


NTSB Identification: WPR09FA385
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 05, 2009 in Napa, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/11/2010
Aircraft: CESSNA 182S, registration: N23750
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

The instrument rated pilot was planning a cross-country flight from his home airport in low fog conditions. The pilot received an instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance about 15 minutes prior to departure from runway 18R. Witnesses reported observing the airplane pass directly over their work site at a very low altitude about 1 mile south of the airport. Recorded radar data disclosed that the airplane was airborne for about 1.5 minutes. Following departure, the airplane made a left bank while gradually increasing its altitude to 1,000 feet mean sea level (msl) to an easterly heading. The last two returns show an altitude of 900 feet msl and a slight change of direction back toward the south. The last radar return was located about 0.5 miles north of the accident site. The departure clearance dictated that the pilot was to continue straight on the runway heading of 180 degrees until intercepting a VOR radial about 6 miles from the airport. Thereafter, he was to make a left turn to join the radial and follow it to the first intersection on the departure route (about 10.25 miles south of the airport). The accident occurred during the hours of darkness with a full moon about 12.9 degrees above the horizon. A routine aviation weather report (METAR) disclosed that during the time of the accident there was an overcast cloud layer at 600 feet agl and 10 miles visibility. The pilot received an Instrument Competency Check several days prior to the accident and reportedly frequently flew with sole reference to the instruments. Ground scar analysis, impact signatures, and wreckage fragmentation patterns disclosed that the airplane impacted terrain in a near level attitude, with high forward velocity. There was no evidence of a pre-mishap mechanical malfunction or failure observed during the examination of the engine or airframe.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The instrument-rated pilot’s loss of situational awareness and failure to follow the prescribed instrument departure clearance/procedure, which resulted in an in-flight collision with the terrain.


On August 05, 2009, at 0431 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 182S, N23750, impacted hilly terrain shortly after departing from Napa County Airport, Napa, California. Sierra Madre Corp. was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was killed. The airplane was substantially damaged. The cross-country personal flight was originating from Napa with a planned stop in Bakersfield, California, and final destination of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area surrounding the accident site. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed and a clearance had been issued; the flight plan was never activated.

During a telephone conversation with a Safety Board investigator, the pilot's spouse recalled that they had been planning a trip down to New Mexico. As for the trip's logistics, she stated that she was a timid flyer and therefore, opted to take a commercial flight; the pilot planned to fly the accident airplane, which was based at Napa County Airport. He had flown the airplane on this route about five times prior and usually chose to leave early to avoid any inclement weather. For this flight he planned to land in Bakersfield to refuel and then continue on to Santa Fe, where he would meet his wife later in the day. 

After leaving their residence in the San Francisco area, the pilot called his spouse about 0315 reporting that the weather was good. He again telephoned her around 0400, stating that he was at the airplane's hangar and preparing to depart. 

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, at 1351 the day prior to the accident, the pilot contacted the Prescott Automated Flight Service Station (FSS). He requested to file two IFR flight plans, the first of which was from Napa to Bakersfield, and the latter was from Bakersfield to Santa Fe. He reported a planned departure time of 0430, and a cruising altitude of 7,500 feet at an airspeed of 130 knots. The pilot stated that he thought there was probably going to be "that morning fog IFR getting out of Napa."

He called flight service the day of the accident at 0408 to open his flight plan and request a clearance. During the ensuing conversation, the pilot received an IFR clearance and correctly read back the following: cleared Napa to Bakersfield via the LIZRD3 departure, CROIT transition, on V108 and as filed, climb and maintain 7,000 feet. 

A contracting crew was pouring concrete the morning of the accident about 1 mile south of the airport [located about 2 miles west of the accident site]. The crew recalled that at about 0430 they witnessed an airplane pass directly over their work site at a very low altitude. They recalled that the area was foggy, but could not determine the height of the cloud layer. They witnessed a fire plume in the distance shortly after the airplane passed over them.

Recorded radar data covering the area of the accident was supplied by the FAA in the form of a National Track Analysis Program (NTAP) printout from Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). The radar data was analyzed for time frame and proximity to the anticipated flight track of the airplane en route as dictated in his IFR clearance.

The radar data consisted of approximately equidistant radar returns from 0429:17 to 0430:54, or about 1.5 minutes intervals. The data was consistent with the airplane making a shallow left bank following departure from runway 18R and gradually increasing its altitude towards the east. The target was first identified at a Mode C reported altitude of 100 feet mean sea level (msl). During the proceeding minute, radar returns disclosed a gradual ascent to 1,000 feet msl, corresponding to about 960 feet above ground level (agl). The last two returns show an altitude of 900 feet msl and a slight change of direction to the south. The last radar return was located about 0.5 miles north of the accident site.

The LIZRD 3 departure description for runway 18R is as follows: The pilot is to depart and climb on a 180-degree heading. This heading will lead to the intercept of the Scaggs Island VORTAC radial-127 [located about 6 miles from the departure end of runway 18R], which the pilot is to follow until reaching the LIZRD intersection [located about 10.25 miles south of the runway]. The pilot is to cross the LIZRD intersection at or above 3,000 feet. 

The accident occurred during the hours of darkness, with civil twilight beginning at 0546, and sunrise at 0615. According to the United States Naval Observatory astronomical data, at the time of the accident the moon was 12.9 degrees above the horizon on an azimuth of 233 degrees, and was 100 percent illuminated with a full moon occurring on August 5, 2009.


A review of the airmen records maintained by the FAA disclosed that the pilot, age 67, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane ratings for single and multi-engine land. The pilot received his instrument rating in April 2001. His most recent third-class medical was issued on July 22, 2008, with a limitation that he must wear corrective lenses to exercise the privileges of his certificate. 

The pilot's personal flight records were found at the accident site; the entirety of the contents could not be read, as they were partially burned. Only one page in the logbook contained flight entries, of which there were six entries dated from January 31, 2009, to August 02, 2009. The entries all indicated the flights originated and terminated in Napa and were conducted in the accident airplane. In pertinent part the entries were as follows:

January 31: Instrument Competency Check, 2 hours (1.8 hours simulated instrument)
March 28: Cross Country, 3.5 hours
April 25: Cross Country, 3.1 hours
May 29: Cross Country, 3.1 hours
June 28: Cross Country, 8.4 hours (0.1 hours actual instrument)
August 02: Instrument Competency Check, 1.8 hours (0.3 hours actual instrument)

The totals at the bottom of the page were recorded as follows (excluding the times listed above): 
Night: 28.5 hours 
Actual instrument: 28.5 hours
Simulated instrument: 162.1 hours 
Total time: 1,080.3 hours

During an interview with a Safety Board investigator, the pilot's certificated flight instructor (CFI) stated that he had flown with the pilot for the duration of his instrument training (over about 2 years) and continuously since that time. He classified the pilot as being a "brilliant" aviator, and commented that he often flew his airplane with sole reference to instruments. He performed the pilot's instrument competency check a few days prior to the accident. During that time, they thoroughly discussed taking off in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) at an uncontrolled airport, and specifically the departure procedures the pilot was executing on the day of the accident. 

The CFI further recalled that the pilot did not use the autopilot system, but did frequently use his Garmin GPS for backup reference.


The Cessna 182S, serial number 18280452, was manufactured in 1999. The airplane's maintenance logbooks were found by a Safety Board investigator in the pilot's hangar. A review of the logbooks revealed that the most recent annual inspection of the airframe and engine was recorded as being performed on July 07, 2008, at a total time of 1,073.8 hours.

A typed letter was found predominantly placed on top of the logbooks in the airplane's hangar. It was dated August 02, 2009, and was addressed to the airplane's mechanic from the pilot. It stated that he did not fly several days prior because he would have had to depart IFR, which he did not want to do with an airplane that had just undergone an annual inspection. 

During an interview with a Safety Board investigator, the airplane's mechanic indicated that he hadn't performed an annual inspection recently. He had agreed with the pilot that he was going to do the annual inspection, but the pilot did not leave him the maintenance logbooks, and therefore, he did not do the maintenance as planned. The pilot had indicated to him that he was not going to fly the airplane.

The pilot's family provided a series of e-mails between the pilot and mechanic, which mainly concerned the annual inspection. On July 20, 2009, the mechanic indicated that he would start the inspection at the end of July. The next day he stated that he "spent time looking over the airplane" and that nothing looked "bad." He further stated that he was "aware of your much anticipated flight of July 30th" and therefore could "confidently say that your airplane will take you where you want to go and bring you home without any problem."

On July 29, 2009, the mechanic e-mailed the pilot that he was "finished with the annual," and that the airplane was "good to go." He asked for the pilot to leave the logbooks in the hangar, to which the pilot replied he would do so, most likely on August 02, 2009, when he had to complete his Instrument Proficiency Check. 


A routine aviation weather report (METAR) generated by an Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) in Napa reported that at 0354 there was a broken cloud layer at 600 feet above ground level (agl) with 10 miles visibility. It recorded the temperature at 55 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 54 degrees Fahrenheit. An updated weather report at 0454 additionally reported a broken cloud layer at 600 feet agl with no temperature/dewpoint spread.

The National Weather Service facility in Monterey, California, provided the archived weather information of the Napa ASOS at the time nearest to the accident (given with 5 minutes between observations). The information disclosed that between 0420 and 0435, there was an overcast cloud layer at 600 feet agl with 10 miles visibility. It recorded the temperature at 55 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 55 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of the accident. 

Pilot Preflight Weather Information 

According to FAA records, at 0310 the morning of the accident, the pilot contacted Prescott Automated FSS via telephone and requested a standard weather briefing for his two previously filed IFR flight plans. He indicated that he would be departing Napa at 0430 en route to Bakersfield. The briefer stated that the conditions in Napa were clear below 1,200 feet, with a temperature dewpoint spread of 1 degree (12 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively). 


No record exists of the pilot, or a pilot using the airplane's registration number, contacting any FSS, Air traffic Control (ATC) tower, or common frequency during the duration of the flight.


Investigators from the Safety Board and Cessna Aircraft Company examined the wreckage while onsite on August 06, 2009. The accident site was located in the Napa Valley hills about 3.25 nautical miles (nm) southeast of the departure end of runway 18R at Napa. The main wreckage was located at an estimated 38 degrees 11.429 minutes north latitude and 122 degrees 14.133 minutes west longitude, at an elevation of about 475 feet msl.

The first identified points of contact consisted of newly cut brush and disrupted dirt in a small ravine making up the far northern end of the debris field at an elevation of 425 feet msl. The area of contact was in a slight ravine between two hills. The ground depressions started at the base of the severed brush and were consistent in size and orientation to that of the landing gear. The ground disturbance continued up to the main wreckage on a magnetic heading of 165 degrees. The debris path was easily identifiable as it was buff in color, starkly contrasting the adjacent black burned ground. The pattern was consistent with the fire not igniting areas where the wreckage had bent/disrupted the dry brush/grass.

The main wreckage came to rest at the perimeter of a vineyard and had been subjected to severe thermal damage. The main wreckage consisted of the inboard right wing, empennage, engine, and the mostly ashen remains of the fuselage. The cabin was completely consumed by fire. The wreckage was partially entangled within the vineyard structure, which included wood posts and wire. 

The inboard right wing was located on the left side of the fuselage with the outboard side pointing downslope and nearly parallel to the debris path. The empennage was thermally destroyed up to the aft baggage area. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers, elevators, and rudder did not appear to have been subjected to fire. The leading edge and outboard section of both horizontal stabilizers sustained crush damage; both elevators remained affixed to their respective attach points. The rudder and vertical stabilizer remained intact. The left inboard wing section (77 inches) was entangled in the vineyard structure about 30 feet southwest (right) of the main wreckage. The Cessna representative stated that the flaps were in the "up" position.

Control continuity was established from the empennage control surfaces to the control cables found within the thermally destroyed area of the fuselage. Thereafter, the wreckage was too fragmented to verify continuity to the respective cockpit controls. The cockpit was thermally consumed and imbedded in the firewall. 

A detailed wreckage and impact report with accompanying pictures is contained in the public docket for this accident.


The Forensic Medical Group, Inc., Fairfield, California, completed an autopsy of the pilot, which stated cause of death to be, "blunt force injury (seconds)." It additionally noted the absence of soot in the tracheo-bronchial tree. 

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) performed toxicological screenings on the pilot. According to CAMI's report (#200900195001) the toxicological findings were negative for carbon monoxide and tested drugs. The following was detected in the pilot's specimens: 7 (mg/dL, mg/hg) acetone in the liver, 19 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ethanol in liver, and 10 (mg/dL, mg/hg) isopropanol in the liver. The toxicology report additionally noted evidence of putrefaction in the specimens received.


Investigators from the Safety Board, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Textron Lycoming examined the wreckage on September 15, 2009, at the facilities of Plain Parts, Pleasant Grove, California.

The powerplant, a Textron Lycoming IO-540-AB1A5, serial number L-26714-48A, was separated from the airframe. All six cylinders remained attached to the crankcase. The engine exhibited no evidence of catastrophic or mechanical malfunction. 

When the magneto drive shaft was rotated by hand, the impulse coupling functioned normally and spark was produced at all six towers. The right magneto was intact. When the magneto drive shaft was rotated by hand, the impulse coupling functioned normally and spark was produced on all six towers. The top spark plugs were intact. No damage was observed within the electrode areas. Light gray deposits were observed within the electrode area. The ignition harness was destroyed. The engine was completely disassembled for further examination. 

Mechanical continuity was visually established throughout the engine. No evidence of heat distress was observed on any of the rotating and reciprocating components. No evidence of metal contamination was observed within the engine. The rear accessory gears were intact and undamaged. All internal areas of the cylinders exhibited no evidence of internal foreign object ingestion. All of the intake and exhaust valve faces were intact and exhibited normal operational signatures. All six pistons were intact and undamaged. Each piston ring assembly was undamaged and remained free within its respective ring land. 

The camshaft was intact and undamaged. Each cam lobe exhibited normal operational signatures. The crankshaft was intact and undamaged. The crankshaft counterweight assemblies remained secure to their respective positions. The crankshaft part number was 13E27628, serial number V53796498. 

The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange. One of the three propeller blades was separated from the propeller hub. The remaining two propeller blades exhibited chordwise striations, trailing edge "S" bending, torsional twisting, and leading edge damage. 

No anomalies were noted with the recovered engine that would have precluded normal operation.

The directional indicator was found within the cockpit remains with the heading bug set at 127 degrees. The vacuum system was found strewn in the debris field. The main and standby vacuum pumps were disassembled and examined. The shear drive shafts were intact; the carbon rotor and vanes were shattered, consistent with impact damage. There was light scoring on the inside housing.


Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT)

On March 1, 2003, the Federal Aviation Administration issued Advisory Circular number 61-134, "General Aviation Controlled Flight Into Terrain Awareness." The circular was issued to the general aviation community to "...emphasize the inherent risk that controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) poses for general aviation (GA) pilots." 

The circular defines CFIT as a situation which "...occurs when an airworthy aircraft is flown under the control of a qualified pilot, into terrain (water or obstacles) with inadequate awareness on the part of the pilot of the impending collision."

According to the CFIT circular, "situational awareness" is defined as "...when the pilot is aware of what is happening around the pilot's aircraft at all times in both the vertical and horizontal plane. This includes the ability to project the near term status and position of the aircraft in relation to other aircraft, terrain, and other potential hazards."

Williston OKs anti-ice gear after 2 airplanes slide: Sloulin Field International Airport (KISN), North Dakota

WILLISTON, N.D. (KFGO-AM)  Williston is spending more than $51,000 on anti-ice equipment after two airplanes slid off an icy taxiway at Sloulin Field International Airport this week.

Airport Manager Steven Kjergaard tells the Williston Herald that the equipment was going to be in his 2016 budget request, but he asked for the money early after the Federal Aviation Administration and SkyWest Airlines inquired into the incidents.

Kjergaard says luckily no one was hurt and the planes were not badly damaged. But he says the city needs to show the FAA and airlines that it's proactive.

City officials approved the spending on Tuesday.

Original article can be found at:

Monitoring Valley Crops By Plane At 3-Thousand Feet

FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) -

Drones aren't alone when it comes to monitoring agriculture from the air.  A Fresno based company uses a plane monitoring system that captures everything ag from 3-thousand feet.

Hans Lambrecht is the brainchild behind Aerial Agriculture Imagery.  The former aerospace engineer for Boeing, Northfrup-Grumman and the Department of Defense dreamed up the concept while commuting to Edwards Air Force Base from Kerman.  He uses a small plane to collect data that is stored in a portable hard drive.

There are five cameras aboard the plane.  In a couple of passes over several acres of almond trees the cameras can give a grower a snapshot of everything going on in the field.

The plane is hardly noticeable because it cruises at 3-thousand feet.  Lambrecht says it collects visible spectrum images and other images similar to infrared. "We combine those together to give farmers a comprehensive picture of plant stress, nitrogen uptake, water stress and trend growth."

In recent months drones have been the darlings of aerial imagery in agriculture.  Lambrecht believes his system is better.  "We can cover a lot of territory than a drone can.  So in one day we can fly all over the Central Valley and make collections all over the area.  What that means is we can distribute those costs of operation to all of our customers.

Crop monitor will cost a grower anywhere from ten dollars to 26 dollars an acre.  It's all determined on the number of collections Aerial Ag Imagery makes in a crop year.

Original article can be found at:

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says 3 of 4 government planes sold for $6.1M

A government of Alberta airplane is shown in a handout photo. Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says his government has sold three of four planes that were part of the provincial fleet. 
THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Government of Alberta 

CALGARY – Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says his government has sold three of the four planes that were part of the controversial provincial fleet.

The first decision of Prentice’s new cabinet was to sell the four-plane fleet that had become a public relations millstone around the neck of the Progressive Conservative government.

The planes had become symbols of waste, excess and entitlement that brought down former PC premier Alison Redford last March.

“The first decision that we made was in fact to put the government air fleet up for sale, which was executive order number 1 as I referred to it,” said Prentice in a noon hour speech Thursday to the Canadian Club of Calgary.

“The Dash 8 is still available if anyone in the room is interested,” Prentice said.

Alberta auditor general Merwan Saher reported last year that Redford had used the “aura of power” of the premier’s office to take the planes for personal trips for herself, her pre-teen daughter, and her daughter’s friends.

He said Redford’s staff even booked phantom passengers on the planes so that Redford could fly solo.

Government MLAs also used the planes to fly to political events under the guise of official government business.

Prentice told reporters there is no justification for a provincial fleet of planes. He said government members either fly commercial and occasionally need to charter an aircraft.

“From time to time, to be clear, it’s important for the premier, lieutenant- governor and ministers to get out to rural Alberta, to remote parts of the province,” Prentice said.

“We’re able to access charters but that’s done sparingly. I think I’ve been on four or five charters since I became the premier. I don’t think that justifies owning a fleet of airplanes.”

Fargo Jet Centre Inc. of Fargo, N.D., was the successful bidder. It exceeded the minimum bid price by approximately $600,000, or 11 percent.

“Considering there is a limited market for some of these planes and the economy is tight, especially in western Canada, we are pleased to have sold three of the aircraft at a fair price,” said Stephen Khan, minister of Service Alberta.

A 1985 DeHavilland Dash 8-103 did not receive a bid that complied with the criteria of the bid process.

The government is looking at options including re-tendering the remaining plane and the related inventory of spare parts and tools.

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York County commissioners OK aerial photographs for map

Prepare to have your picture taken, York County.

Soon after the snow melts but before leaves return to the trees, a plane will fly over the county to photograph its every inch to create an up-to-date map of the county, said Wade Gobrecht, chief of the planning commission's informational systems division.

But there's a short window of time when the photographs can be taken, and conditions must be optimal.

There can't be any shadows on the ground, so the plane will be flying at midday.

There also can't be any cloud cover or snow or flooding on the ground, and vegetation must free of its spring-time blooms of new leaves, Gobrecht said.

"There's a lot more we can see with leaf-off vegetation," he said.

That means the plane will be in the air taking snapshots of the county in late March or early April, Gobrecht said.

Cost: The county commissioners at their weekly meeting on Wednesday approved spending $88,919 to undertake the initiative.

The county is saving more than 20 percent by linking up with government agencies in the eastern part of the state, the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers, the U.S. Geological Survey and New Jersey, Gobrecht said.

As such, an area from York County to the Atlantic Ocean will be under the scope of the camera's lens.

"It's a pretty big area, but that's where you realize the cost savings, teaming up with other agencies," he said.

In order to make sure the whole of the county is photographed, the plane will fly in a grid pattern, likely starting in the southern end of the county. Once complete, the photographs will be turned into a map, which will be finished in the fall.

The last time the county was photographed from above for county mapping purposes was in 2008.

Uses: Upwards of eight county departments use the mapping data for a variety of different reasons.

"There's a lot of data extraction we can use," Gobrecht said.

The county's planning commission uses it to review sites of proposed development, and the county economic alliance uses it when marketing a location to businesses.

The county's 911 center also relies on the mapping data when dispatching calls. When a call comes into 911, a dispatcher can pull up the map of the area where first responders are being sent, said Kim Holtzapple, GIS and addressing supervisor for 911.

The images will also be used by the USGS to update the National Map, a nationwide effort to map the country.

No peeping Toms: Though the images will be high resolution, they won't invade people's privacy, Gobrecht said.

Since the photographs will be taken from above, no one can get a glimpse into a window of home. And, for example, if there's somebody sunbathing in early spring, that person wouldn't be distinguishable, he said.

"You can't really see an individual," Gobrecht said.

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Injured hawk recovers after crash with model RC airplane


SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - At the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, an unusual patient has taken up temporary residence.

An injured adult male ferruginous hawk was checked in on Valentine's Day.

"The species is rare for our hospital to receive. We actually haven't had one come in in close to 20 years," said Ashley Kinney, Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist, Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.

The circumstances were even more unusual.

"Definitely unusual. We've never seen this happen," said Kinney.

The accident happened at the Santa Clara County Model Aircraft Skypark in Morgan Hill.

Michael Luvara, president of the Tomcats group that uses the park said via email that it was "purely an accident," and no other injuries were reported. He also said the wingspan of the model plane was about 4 feet.

According to rescuers, the pilot of the model plane feels terrible, and a ranger was called in to help the injured bird.

The bird was transferred to WCSV, where rescuers put a sling on its left wing.

"It's a fractured ulna of the left wing, so it's a fracture just right above the elbow, and it was luckily a clean fracture so no surgery was needed -- just stabilization," said Kinney.

Rescuers said the bird is an adult male ferruginous hawk with a wingspan of nearly 4 1/2 feet. The bird is now recovering in a small box that prevents him from flying or thrashing around too much.

It remains unclear why the accident may have happened. "Whether he was protecting his territory, thinking it's another bird coming into his territory, or just a freak accident and the plane maneuvered into the bird, we're not 100 percent sure how it happened," said Kinney.

Rescuers said they expect the hawk to make a fully recovery, and that they anticipate being able to release him back into the wild in Morgan Hill in a few weeks.

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Allegheny County Airport set for $4M sidewalk, parking lot upgrade

Allegheny County Airport Authority is preparing to spend nearly $4 million to upgrade sidewalks and parking spaces at West Mifflin's Allegheny County Airport.

On Monday, PennDOT's acting secretary Leslie S. Richards announced $9.7 million in state grants for safety improvements to operations at six airports in five counties.

Included is $2.9 million to rehabilitate the severely deteriorated terminal public parking lot and sidewalks outside County Airport.

“The grant will cover approximately 75 percent of the cost of the project,” authority public relations supervisor Alyson Walls said. “The Allegheny County Airport Authority will utilize capital funds for the remaining 25 percent.”

Approximately three acres or 130,000 square feet are affected.

“It has significantly deteriorated pavement in need of full replacement,” Walls said. “The design phase of the project will begin as soon as possible, with the construction phase occurring primarily in 2016.”

Walls said the lot is used by many involved in approximately 60,000 operations each year at County, including landings and takeoffs for private and corporate craft and medical helicopters.

“It's vital that we ensure airports in Pennsylvania can make safety and operational upgrades,” Richards said. “These projects are also investments in the communities these airports serve.”

Despite a lack of commercial flights, County Airport continues to be one of the state's busiest — and is designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as the primary reliever airport for Allegheny County Airport Authority's Pittsburgh International Airport.

Walls said Pittsburgh International has approximately 140,000 operations per year.

PennDOT representatives said the grants are distributed through the Aviation Transportation Assistance Program, which is a capital budget grant program funded with bonds.

“We're excited and happy to receive the funding,” Walls said.

The largest single grant announced on Monday is $5 million for a new terminal for Williamsport Regional Airport in Lycoming County. Other grants were announced for Doylestown Airport ($487,500) and Quakertown Airport ($180,000) in Bucks County, Hazleton Municipal Airport ($300,000) in Luzerne County and New Castle Municipal Airport ($100,000) in Lawrence County.

PennDOT spokespersons said the state grants will leverage more than $8.3 million in local matching funds.

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Airbus Pays Record Dividend as Profit Jumps • Europe’s Largest Plane Maker to Boost Production of its A320 Single-Aisle Jet

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall
Updated Feb. 27, 2015 5:38 a.m. ET

Airbus Group on Friday said it would boost production of its popular A320 single-aisle jet, as Europe’s largest plane maker reported a 59% rise in full-year profit despite problems with a big military aircraft program.

Net income in 2014 was 2.34 billion euros ($2.62 billion), the Toulouse, France-based company said, compared with €1.47 billion a year earlier, when earnings were weighed down by costs linked to the new A350 long-range jet that entered service in January. Sales in the period rose 5% to €60.7 billion. The company proposed a record dividend of 1.20 a share, while its order book reached an all-time high of €857.5 billion.

“We achieved a significant improvement in profitability and cash generation in 2014 thanks to a record order book and strong operational performance in most areas,” Chief Executive Tom Enders said in a news release.

Airbus said it would hike output of the A320 plane to 50 jets a month starting in 2017. The world’s second-largest plane maker, which currently builds 42 of these planes a month, had already planned to reach a monthly production rate of 46 narrowbodies next year.

Airbus, which builds the A320 jetliner in Hamburg, Toulouse, Tianjin in China and is setting up a final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama, had an order backlog of 5,099 narrowbody planes at the end of January.

Airbus, the world’s second largest airliner maker, and larger rival Boeing Co. have enjoyed a surge of orders for new planes as airlines seek growth and look to replace less efficient models with more efficient jets. Boeing, which makes 42 of its single-aisle jets each month, is raising output of the 737 planes to 52 units a month staring in 2018.

The European plane maker also said it would further cut output of its A330 widebody plane to six planes a month from 2016 from 10 at present. The company had said it plans to reduce output to nine planes a month later this year as demand for the current model dries up. The plane maker is working on an updated version, called the A330neo for “new engine option,” that is due for its first delivery in late 2017.

Airbus expects commercial plane deliveries this year to rise, including production of 15 of the new A350 long-range jets and 30 A380 superjumbos.

Earnings per share and dividend also are due to increase, it said. Free cash flow should reach break-even, it said.

Earnings were negatively impacted by €551 million on renewed problems in building the A400M military transport plane that previously weighed on results when it fell years behind schedule and ran massively over cost. The issues caused Airbus to replace the head of its military aircraft programs last month. Airbus builds the A400M for eight customers, though deliveries have been marred by delays and technical defects. Airbus said it is in talks with A400M customers about delivery plans and how to enhance the aircraft’s features beyond the basic transport capabilities it now performs. The company this year is hoping to ramp up sales campaigns to secure additional orders for a program that remains unprofitable.

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