Sunday, March 15, 2015

Southland Executive Airport (KUXL) feeling effects of economic boom

The last time Southland Field unveiled new hangars was back in 2011. The executive airport currently has six T-hangars and two large community hangars. Officials are hoping to build six more T-hangars north of the ones shown here, at a coast of about $350,000.



Southland Executive Airport is already feeling the effects of the industrial boom in Southwest Louisiana, and a preliminary airport plan indicates the airport will likely see an increase in traffic in the coming months and years.

“We’ve already seen an uptick in fuel sales to corporate aircraft and in corporate aircraft landings,” said Tim LaFleur, who came on board as Airport Manager about one-and-a-half years ago.

The Airport Development Group, ADG, an aviation development company, is currently devising an Airport Layout Plan for the airport, which is required by the Department of Transportation and Development and the Federal Aviation Administration every 10 years in order for airports to receive grant monies. The preliminary ALP for Southland suggests that the airport’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico will make it an ideal base for increasing helicopter traffic resulting from industrial expansion.

“The plan points to our market niche being helicopters and smaller corporate jets,” said LaFleur.

Beyond proximity to the Gulf, Southland offers other incentives for doing business at their location just south of Sulphur.

“We try to remain very competitive in our fuel pricing as a general aviation airport,” said Darla Perry, CPA for Southland Executive Airport.

Perry said the fuel costs hover around 25-cents lower per gallon than competitors.

“That’s to try to give an incentive for planes that are not hangared here to stop in and buy fuel,” she said. Southland also doesn’t charge landing fees as another incentive to use their facility.

The current footprint of the airport consists of primarily donated land. In 1981, Citgo donated 251.7 acres. The airport board, at the time known as the Sulphur Airport Authority, purchased 14.07 acres and the Lawton family of Sulphur, in conjunction with Burton Industries, donated 4.14 acres in exchange for a guaranteed 99-year lease of one acre for $1 annually of one acre on which the Lawton’s built a hangar with ramp access to the airport for a jet Burton Industries based on-site.

There are currently six new T-hangars and eight older T- hangars on north end of airport as well as two large community hangars able to house numerous aircraft and one large hangar that can house two large aircraft. There is a two-tank fuel farm that holds aviation gas and jet fuel. Pending available funding being sought by the airport from several different sources, Southland is looking to build six more T-hangars north of the newer ones at a cost of about $350,000. Perry said all of the T-hangars have been booked fairly solid for at least the past two years. LaFleur said they also need another large community hangar.

There are currently 30 aircraft based at the airport and there are 19,690 take-offs and landings annually.

In anticipation of the industrial expansion, Southland has been advertising for new tenants in the newspaper and trade publications.

“We wanted to put out feelers to see what needs clients might have for this space,” said Perry. “We’ve had two or three proposals - a concrete company, a lay-down yard and a parking company. But we’ve had no serious proposals.”

The airport is an ideal location for aircraft mechanics and inspectors to set up shop. LaFleur said that Federal Aviation Administration regulations require aircraft to undergo an extensive inspection once a year and then less intensive inspections every 100 flight hours.

LaFleur said he flew to an airport in Lufkin, Texas recently that had a restaurant on-site, something that he would like to see at the airport here.

“It’s right in front of the tarmac. There were more people there than planes,” he said.

Southland currently leases upstairs space to a pilot training service. Perry said that in the last year, it has grown from two to three students to 18 students and four certified flight instructors.

“And when those pilots get trained, they’re going to want to buy a small plane,” she said. “And they’re going to buy fuel and need hangar space.”

If First Flight Holdings is awarded a housing contract by local industry, there will be some permanent benefits for the airport.

“Some of the benefits of leasing to prospective future tenant First Flight Holdings will be the construction of a community hangar that will belong to the airport after First Flight’s lease is up as well as another road for ingress and egress and underground utilities that could service new tenants,” said Perry. The improvements would not cost the public or the airport.

Southland operates on about $400,000 a year - $200,000 of which comes from a cooperative agreement with Chennault Industrial Airpark. The rest comes from hangar rentals and fuel sales.

Airport operating hours are from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Amenities for pilots include a lounge with recliners, showers, large bathrooms and coffee.

On the web: southlandfield.com

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

Sonex: College Station High School class building a fully functional airplane

From left, College Station High School Students Zachary Hardin, Aric Ziegelmann and Chase Zamulinski punch in rivets on the side of a fuselage of a Sonex plane kit on Thursday.



College Station High School STEM teacher Jill Conlin encourages her students to shoot for the stars. Or at least for the clouds.

Her class, Practicum in STEM, is one of what she estimates to be less than one dozen classes in the country building a fully-functional airplane. The six-student class is in its first semester and has been putting together the Sonex aerobatic two-seater plane since the beginning of the school year.

Once fully assembled, the 1,100-pound aircraft will measure 22-feet-wide and 18-feet-long and have a max speed of 197 mph. The plane kit comes with more than 10,000 rivets alone, and Conlin couldn't even guess how many pieces the finalized project will contain.

The two-seater airplane is purchased as a kit, so it is meant to be designed by novice builders, Conlin said. So far the students have finished the plane's tail and are constructing the fuselage and they still have the wings, nose and engine left to check off of their list.

Prior to the construction phase, her students had lessons on the physics of flying, along with the applicable science, math and technology they would use. The building process involves measuring rivet locations, cutting the metal pieces and crafting them together, for starters.

"It's a great way to show kids lots of different skills," Conlin said. "They're not only machining parts and putting things together, they're reading prints, working on measuring, attention to detail, and they're working together to accomplish a goal that seems unreachable at this point, but they break it down into smaller goals and make small accomplishments."

Many of the students said the process takes extreme attention to detail, which is one reason senior Melissa Wood got involved.

"I wanted a challenge, and it's neat that every day you're being challenged," she said. "I didn't think I had the amount of talent to meet the standards, but I think anybody can do it."

The majority of the funds for the $20,000 airplane kit, along with all of the tools and equipment, were donated by the Brazos Valley chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Clarence Ranck, a former flight mechanic and pilot in the Army for 31 years, serves as a mentor to the project and initially proposed the program to interest students in general aviation and teach them vocational skills. Prior to the project, five out of six kids had never used a drill, he said.

The EAA compiles monthly reports on the plane's progress, and once it is completed it will be evaluated by an instructor with the Federal Aviation Administration. After its initial approved, the EAA will put the aircraft through a number of test flights.

Conlin hopes the project will be completed by December, and the goal is to allow the students to fly alongside a pilot in the plane they crafted. Of course, junior Zachary Hardin said they have two main goals.

"Once we're finished, hopefully it'll actually fly ... and we don't want any fatalities," she joked.

But Ranck will be the pilot putting the plane through its test flights, and he said he's not nervous at all.

"I get to see every rivet, I get to see every hole drilled, every piece cut and finished, so I know what goes into the airplane," he said. "Every time I fly I have a big grin on my face. I've been doing it for over 50 years, and it's just like it's the first time every time I take off."

Once the aircraft is fully approved, Conlin hopes to sell it for about $32,000. The sale would fund the purchase of the aircraft kit for next year's class, so the goal is to have the project ultimately become self-sustaining.

Conlin already has nine students signed up for the class next year, and she hopes it will grow year by year to become by application only. Because it's such a unique class, several of the students figured there would be plenty of interest.

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

Eurocopter AS 350 B2 AStar, N919EM, EagleMed LLC: Fatal accident occurred March 12, 2015 in Eufaula, McIntosh County, Oklahoma

 Pilot Matt Mathews 
~

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 


Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
FAA AVP-100; Washington, District of Columbia
Transportation Safety Institute; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Airbus Helicopters, Inc; Grand Prairie, Texas
Turbomeca USA; Grand Prairie, Texas
Eagle Med, LLC; Wichita, Kansas
Bureau d’EnquĂȘtes et d’Analyses; Le Bourget, France, FN

Investigation Docket  - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms


Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf



EagleMed LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N919EM

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA171
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Thursday, March 12, 2015 in Eufaula, OK
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS 350 B2, registration: N919EM
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious.

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 March 12, 2015, about 2315 central daylight time, a Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter, N919EM, impacted trees and terrain while maneuvering near Eufaula, Oklahoma. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the two medical crewmembers sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Eagle Med, LLC, Wichita, Kansas, as Eagle Med 35, a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 emergency medical services (EMS) positioning flight. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a company visual flight rules flight plan had been filed. The helicopter departed from St. Francis Hospital Heliport (4OK3), Tulsa, Oklahoma, about 2248 and was destined for McAlester Regional Airport (MLC), McAlester, Oklahoma.

According to the two medical crewmembers, one of whom was an emergency medical technician (EMT) and one of whom was a flight nurse, the crew checked the weather before the previous flight to transfer a patient to 4OK3, and the report showed ceilings at 8,500 ft and 6 miles visibility at MLC and ceilings at 10,000 ft. at 4OK3. During the flight to transport the patient, the pilot stated that the clouds above their cruise altitude were lower than he expected. The pilot descended the helicopter and then landed it at 4OK3 without incident. While on the ground at 4OK3, the pilot checked the weather conditions again , and they were the same. The pilot conferred with the medical crew per their risk management procedures, and they decided to return to MLC as planned. The helicopter took off and headed southbound at a cruise altitude of about 1,500 ft. mean sea level (msl) in an area with a terrain elevation of about 700 to 900 ft. msl.

The EMT, seated in the far left back seat, stated that they were about halfway to MLC when they suddenly entered instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). He recalled the pilot saying that this was "not good." He told the pilot to climb to 3,500 ft., but he did not think the pilot initiated a climb. He also told the pilot that he could see lights on the horizon. The pilot asked him to "tell him about those lights." He told the pilot, "They are to the left" and gestured a left turn with his hands. The EMT said that he then saw a strobe flash and trees and said, "pull up," but the helicopter crashed.

The flight nurse, seated in the far right back seat, stated that as they departed the Tulsa area, she began monitoring their route on the chart. She added that they were practicing a procedure regarding inadvertently encountering IMC when the EMT said, "We're in a cloud." The pilot responded, "What do I do now?" and the EMT answered, "go up." The pilot then said that he was proceeding to Okmulgee, Oklahoma, because he could see lights to the left. He then said, "I'm turning left." When he started the turn, the EMT began yelling "pull up." The pilot then said, "What's that noise?" The EMT responded, "that's your 500" (altitude warning). The flight nurse said she started seeing trees and then did not see or hear anything after that.

The helicopter had an EMS Sky Connect GPS transmitter that sent 39 messages to the company containing location information and device power status. The last three messages showed the helicopter as it approached the accident site. The third-from-the-last message showed the helicopter on a 173° heading at 414 ft. and a ground speed of 118 knots. The next-to-last message showed the helicopter on a 146° heading at 397 ft. and a ground speed of 110 knots. The last message showed the helicopter on a 172° heading at 380 ft. and a ground speed of 119 knots.

PERSONAL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine land airplane, helicopter, and instrument ratings. On August 23, 2014, he was issued a second-class medical certificate with no limitations.

Company records showed that the pilot had flown 2,384.7 total hours and 7.6 hours in the 30 days before the accident. The records also showed that the pilot successfully completed a flight review in the accident make and model helicopter on February 24, 2014.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The four-place, single-engine helicopter, serial number 4113, was configured for EMS transport. It was equipped with a single 143-gallon fuel tank and was powered by a 712-horsepower Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 turboshaft engine, serial number 19080.

A review of the company's maintenance records revealed that the helicopter was maintained under a company aircraft inspection program and had undergone a 100-hour inspection on March 9, 2015, at total airframe time of 1,935.2 hours. The Hobbs meter was recovered at the accident site, and it read 1,941.5 hours.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducted a ramp inspection of the Eagle Med facility on March 11, 2015, that revealed discrepancies with the night vision goggle (NVG) lighting system and the radio altimeter indicator. The NVG system and radio altimeter were deferred until a 100-hour inspection could be completed on the NVG system and a filter could be replaced on the radio altimeter indicator. Until that was completed, helicopter night vision goggle operations were not permitted.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A meteorological reporting station was located at Okmulgee Regional Airport, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, about 20 miles north-northwest of the accident location at an elevation of about 720 ft. A 2315 automated weather report indicated wind from 020° at 3 knots, visibility of 10 statute miles or greater, ceiling broken at 2,400 ft. above ground level (agl), broken cloud layer base at 3,000 ft. agl, temperature 12° C, dew point temperature 11° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.13 inches of m ercury. From 2015 to 2315, the reported cloud layer was generally at or above 5,000 ft. agl; however, at 2255 (20 minutes before the accident), the reported cloud layer was scattered at 1,100 ft. agl.

A meteorological reporting station was located at MLC about 28 miles south of the accident location at an elevation of 770 ft. At 2053, MLC reported overcast clouds with bases at 9,000 ft. agl. Beginning at 2153 and continuing through the accident time, MLC automated reports indicated that the lowest cloud bases were between 900 and 2,100 ft. agl.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located atop a wooded hill on an embankment next to a creek about 9 miles west of Eufaula at an elevation of 840 ft. msl. The helicopter came to rest on its right side and was oriented on an easterly heading. (See figure 1 for a photograph showing the accident site and main wreckage.)





Figure 1. A photograph showing the accident site and main wreckage.

The initial impact point was a tree about 190 ft. west of the main wreckage. Several trees in the immediate vicinity of the helicopter were broken and showed marks that corresponded with impact marks on the helicopter's fuselage and rotor blades. The wreckage debris path was on a bearing of 093° from the initial tree impact.

The main wreckage consisted of the cabin, fuselage, fuel tank, engine, transmission, main rotor system, and left skid. The cockpit area, including the instrument panel, windscreens, right side pilot seat, medical litter, and chin windows, was broken downward, separated, and fragmented. The horizontal situation indicator was found with the heading stopped at 093°, the course selector needle was found set to 175°, and the heading bug was found set to 240°. The right cockpit and cabin doors were broken out, twisted, and fragmented. The left cabin and cockpit doors were also broken out. The left cabin door rested on the left skid, and the left cockpit door was behind the helicopter fuselage. The left skid was undamaged. The aft portion of the fuselage was broken upward and twisted about 45° to the right.

The transmission and engine were broken downward and aft but remained intact. The main rotor system mast and head remained attached to the transmission. The three blades remained attached at the head but were displaced aft. The outboard leading edges of all three blades showed gouges and fractures. One blade was bent downward 30° about 5 ft. outboard of the rotor head. The outboard portion of the blade was broken aft about 4 ft. from the bend. The other two blades were broken aft about 5 ft. outboard of the rotor head.

The fuel tank remained intact. During wreckage recovery, about 60 gallons of clean, uncontaminated fuel were removed from the tank.

Adjacent to the right side of the helicopter fuselage, in and along the creek and on the opposite side of the creek, were broken pieces of the right skid, flight publications, medical equipment, pieces of the cabin interior, the right cockpit door, and parts of the right cockpit door frame. The pilot seat was located along the creek aft of the helicopter fuselage. The pilot seat was intact and the restraints were connected. It was separated from the floor track.

The tailboom was separated about 2 ft. aft of the fuselage, was resting upright on the ground about 55 ft. aft of the main wreckage, and was oriented west-northwest, opposite the main wreckage. The top and bottom vertical stabilizers were broken aft. The left horizontal stabilizer was intact but showed upward bends at the inboard trailing edge and aft tip. The right horizontal stabilizer was bent and broken upward and twisted aft. A 6-ft-long piece of broken tree trunk was located beneath the left horizontal stabilizer and along the left side of the tailboom. The tail rotor hub and blades were attached and located beneath the tail rotor gear box. One tail rotor blade was broken near the hub but remained attached. Both blades showed chordwise scratches, and the leading edges and ends of the blades showed bends and gouges. The tail rotor drive shaft was separated torsionally at the connection to the tail rotor gear box and fractured torsionally about 30 inches outboard of the gear box. The drive shaft was also separated about 4 ft. forward of where the tailboom was separated from the fuselage.

Pedal and cyclic control to the main and tail rotor systems was established. The helicopter and all the separated components were recovered for further examination. The examination of the engine, transmission, flight controls, and other systems revealed no preimpact anomalies.

Three personal electronic devices were recovered from the wreckage and sent to the National Transportation Safety Board's Vehicle Performance Laboratory for examination and data extraction; no data pertinent to the accident were extracted. For more information, see the report, "Multiple Electronic Devices," in the public docket for this accident.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Board of Medical Investigations, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Eastern Division, Tulsa, Oklahoma, conducted an autopsy of the pilot. The pilot's death was attributed to "multiple blunt impact injuries."

The Federal Aviation Administration's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory conducted toxicology testing on the pilot's specimens. The tests detected zolpidem in the pilot's blood and liver. Zolpidem is a prescription hypnotic medication used to treat insomnia and may impair mental and/or physical ability required to perform potentially hazardous tasks such as driving or operating heavy machinery.

SURVIVAL ASPECTS

After impact, the surviving medical crewmembers egressed the helicopter wreckage, and the EMT immediately called company dispatch to report the accident and their location. Several agencies then used the position report from the crew, data from the on-board GPS, and signals from the 406-MHz emergency locator transmitter to locate the wreckage. Emergency responders hiked in dark night conditions through remote rugged terrain and arrived at the crew's location several hours later .

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Per company information, in 2012, Eagle Med entered into the FAA's Safety Management System and established a risk management program. Risk mitigation procedures the company follows includes Crew Resource Management and their "EagleMed Three to Go – One to Say No" policy where it takes the consensus of all three crew members to agree to take a mission, but it only takes one crew member to say no to reject a flight.

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA171
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Thursday, March 12, 2015 in Eufaula, OK
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS 350 B2, registration: N919EM
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious.

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 March 12, 2015, about 2315 central daylight time, a Eurocopter AS 350 B2 helicopter, N919EM, operating as "Eagle Med 35", was destroyed after impacting trees and terrain during maneuvering flight near Eufaula, Oklahoma. The pilot was fatally injured and the two medical crewmembers sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Eagle Med, LLC; Wichita, Kansas. Dark night visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the accident and a company visual flight rules flight plan had been filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 helicopter emergency medical service positioning flight. The helicopter departed from St. Francis Hospital Heliport (4OK3); Tulsa, Oklahoma, about 2248, and was destined for McAlester Regional Airport (MLC), McAlester, Oklahoma.

During the previous northbound flight to transport a patient to the 4OK3 heliport, the pilot mentioned to the medical crew that he noticed that the clouds above their cruise altitude were lower than he expected. The pilot descended slightly and the helicopter landed at 4OK3 without incident. While on the ground the pilot checked weather again and after conferring with the medical crew they decided to begin the planned return flight from 4OK3 to MLC. The helicopter was southbound at a cruise altitude of about 1,500 feet msl when the medical crew reported the helicopter had twice briefly entered and exited instrument meteorological conditions. After a short discussion the pilot then stated he was going to divert, and he began a left turn to return to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Soon after beginning the left turn the helicopter impacted trees and terrain at a surface elevation of about 850 feet msl. The impact resulted in the separation of the tail boom and portions of the fuselage and the main wreckage came to rest on its right side. The helicopter's fuel tank remained intact, there was no fuel leak, and there was no postimpact fire.

After impact the surviving medical crewmembers extracted themselves from the wreckage and immediately made a cell phone call to report their situation and location. Several agencies then used the position report from the crew, data from the on-board GPS position reporting system, and signals from the 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter to locate the wreckage. Emergency responders hiked in the dark night conditions through the remote rugged terrain and arrived several hours later.

A meteorological reporting station was located at Okmulgee Regional Airport (OKM) in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, about 20 miles north-northwest of the accident location at an elevation of approximately 720 feet. An automated weather report from OKM at 2315 indicated wind from 020 degrees at 3 knots, visibility of 10 statute miles or greater, ceiling broken at 2,400 feet above ground level (agl), broken cloud layer base at 3,000 feet agl, temperature of 12 degrees C and a dew point temperature of 11 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.13 inches of Mercury. Prior to this report, the lowest cloud layer had been reported as being at or above 5,000 feet agl since 2015, except for 2255, when the lowest cloud layer was reported as being scattered at 1,100 feet agl.

A meteorological reporting station was located at McAlester Regional Airport (MLC) in McAlester, Oklahoma,about 28 miles south of the accident location at an elevation of 770 feet. Beginning at 2153 and continuing through the accident time, MLC automated reporting indicated the lowest cloud bases were between 900 and 2,100 feet agl. A previous report at MLC at 2053 showed overcast clouds with bases at 9,000 feet agl.
=======

Pilot Matt Mathews died a hero.

Mathews was at the helm of the EagleMed helicopter that crashed into a wooded area Thursday night near Lake Eufaula, killing Mathews and injuring two crewmates — Nurse Kim Ramsey and Paramedic Ryan Setzkorn.

It is not known yet what caused the crash, but we can say two things with absolute certainty at this point as the investigation proceeds: first, Mathews, Ramsey and Setzkorn put themselves at great risk giving themselves for the benefit of others. Specifically, on the night in question, the crew had lifeflighted 13-year-old Dillan McCoy to Tulsa after the youth was critically injured in a pedestrian-vehicle traffic accident in McAlester. For this sacrifice and the countless others the crew has carried out,  we offer our thanks and appreciation.

Mathews perished in the line of duty and he should forever be remembered as a hero on behalf of the citizens of southeast Oklahoma.

Another thing we can say with certainty as well — the safety of these helicopter flights has to be addressed. Some of us at the News-Capital have been down this road before — some of us multiple times — covering tragedy just like this, whether it be here in southeast Oklahoma or across the nation at other newspapers. The story line is almost identical: a helicopter crew risks life and limb to save others, their chopper goes down in the middle of the night, and everyone is left to cope with the resulting  heartbreaking tragedy.

The Federal Aviation Administration is trying to address this critical issue. In February 2014 the FAA issued a sweeping final regulatory rule that required helicopter operators, including air ambulances, “to have stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications and training and additional on-board safety equipment.”

A check of the death toll from these type of accidents, meanwhile, is staggering. The FAA in a statement on its new rule said in 2008 five accidents claimed 21 lives.

“The FAA examined helicopter air ambulance accidents from 1991 through 2010 and determined 62 accidents that claimed 125 lives could have been mitigated by (the new rule,” the agency said. “While developing the rule, the FAA considered 20 commercial helicopter accidents from 1991 through 2010 (excluding air ambulances) that resulted in 39 fatalities. From 2011 through 2013, there were seven air ambulance accidents resulting in 19 fatalities and seven commercial helicopter accidents that claimed 20 lives.”

Those numbers are shocking.

We as a community, and as a nation, must do more to make sure the death of heroes like Matt Mathews aren’t in vain.

Editorial:   http://www.mcalesternews.com

Philippine Airlines all set to fly to New York

March 15, 2015 is a milestone date for flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) as it marks the company’s 74th founding anniversary and signals the start of PAL’s four times weekly service to New York City.

"We are prioritizing our U.S. network expansion in answer to the clamor of the huge Filipino community in the U.S. East Coast. We are confident we will be able to meet the expectations of our passengers in New York with PAL's brand of quality service that is distinctively Filipino,” said PAL President Jaime J. Bautista.

The new service will operate between Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport. PAL’s flagship airplane– the Boeing 777-300ER – will be utilized for the inaugural journey to the Big Apple. The twin-aisle aircraft, with its award-winning passenger experience, delivers the highest reliability and lowest operating cost-per-seat of any aircraft flying today.                  

New York marks the fifth US city in PAL’s network, following Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam.

PAL’s arrival has been keenly anticipated by the huge Filipino-American communities along the US eastern seaboard. About half a million ethnic Filipinos reside on the East Coast, with more than 253,000 in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, 90,000 in Virginia, 75,000 in Washington, DC and environs, and 31,000 in the Philadelphia metro area. Overall, Filipinos on the East Coast account for 15% of the estimated 3.4-million-strong Filipino population in the U.S., comprising a natural base market for PAL.

The robust business sector in New York City, the world’s financial capital, as well as the sizeable government and diplomatic community attached to the United Nations, which is also based in the city, provide other key traffic streams.

The choice of JFK International, one of the busiest airports in the U.S., as PAL’s gateway to New York, is a major advantage for the new service. Located in the borough of Queens, the airport is a mere 15 miles from midtown Manhattan, nerve center of New York.

Source:  http://manilastandardtoday.com

AIRBUS: Mobile poised for historic cargo



The first American-built Airbus, an A321 for JetBlue, won’t roll out until 2016, but the gears are in motion to bring the European-built sections to Mobile that will mark the start of a new era in U.S. aviation history.

This summer a shipment from Hamburg, Germany, will arrive at the Port of Mobile with large aircraft components. The cargo, two fuselage sections, wings and tail assemblies, will have traveled some 5,000 miles over road, land and sea to make history. They’ll become the first Airbus passenger jet made in America.

The shipment in June will have five major components: rear fuselage, forward fuselage, wings, vertical tail plane and horizontal tail plane. The largest piece, a 34-by-70-foot fuselage section, weighs some 28 tons, more than four adult elephants. But there’s much more that will go into the first plane.

“Thousands of individual parts will come into Mobile from a global supply base by air, sea and land,” according to Airbus, with many of parts, systems and components coming from U.S. suppliers, including possibly the engines.

The components that will be shipped from Hamburg in May are built at various locations in Europe from smaller components from all over the world. The wing assemblies, for instance, are made in Broughton in Wales, using smaller systems such as stringers (material joining wing and fuselage) and ribs (the wing’s skeletal, inner backbone) made elsewhere.

Although major sections are built in Europe, that belies the fact that some 42 percent of Airbus’ aircraft-related spending on components is with U.S. suppliers. It buys more parts, tooling and other material from the United States than from any other country.

In fact, Airbus is the largest export customer for the United States aerospace industry. Since 1990 it has spent $154 billion with hundreds of U.S. suppliers in more than 40 states. In 2013 alone, it spent more than $14.4 billion with U.S. companies. The list includes Alcoa, Eaton, GE, Goodrich, Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, PPG, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Collins and more.

The shipment in June is just the beginning. There will be about one shipment of large components per month, but that will ramp up over time. By 2018, Airbus anticipates the Mobile Assembly Line will be producing up to 50 planes annually.

Currently, Airbus plans to use lift on/lift off – or lo/lo vessels, carriers outfitted with cranes, to load, transport and unload the components. It doesn’t rule out using roll on/roll off vessels or ro/ro’s, which would entail outfitting components with wheels in order to roll them on and off, in the future.

Components arriving by lo/lo will be unloaded at the State Docks. The Alabama State Port Authority, which, thanks in part to improvements such as heavy-lifting cranes installed several years ago in anticipation of the ThyssenKrupp steel plant, spent relatively little to prepare for arrival of plane components. Port Authority Director Jimmy Lyons says about $600,000 went into elevating a single rail crossing to accommodate vehicles that will carry the components. That, essentially, was all the preparation needed on the port’s end.

Components will be stored for a few hours or a few days at the state docks before being transported by truck to a 3,570-square-foot Airbus hangar at the Mobile Aeroplex. The components will not gather dust in the hangar.

“The intent is to not store anything for any length of time,” Airbus spokeswoman Kristi Tucker said. “When the pieces come in they should enter the assembly process relatively quickly.”

Airbus is confident that, once the first shipment of major components arrives, the $600 million final assembly line will be ready. Mobile’s Airbus site is 53 acres of buildings, aprons and roadways contained within a 116 acre site. Work remaining as of late January:

— Jesco Inc. is leading construction of a $13 million paint shop hangar that will be operated by Ireland’s MAAS Aviation Services. The shop will be finished in July and ultimately will employ 34 people.

— Italy’s Comau Aerospace is supplying the main assembly and test stations, including all jigs and tooling for every station at the Mobile plant. Its work will continue to the first quarter of 2016. It also plans to open an integration center near the plant that will offer full project support.

— Work is underway on the center where customers will take delivery of their aircraft. It’s scheduled to be finished by May, but won’t be equipped or occupied until the end of the year.

Hiring is also keeping pace. As of February 1 about 150 people had been hired.

“We’re on time and on track to complete construction as planned in order to begin receiving components this summer, and to deliver our first aircraft in 2016,” Tucker said. “Our customers expect on-time delivery of their aircraft, and we intend to meet their expectations.”

The first customer is New York-based JetBlue, which is scheduled to take delivery in April 2016 of the first Mobile-built passenger jet, an A321 with a list price of $113.7 million.

The delivery phase itself will be spread out over four or five days and includes ground checks, an acceptance flight, completion of technical acceptance and finishing paperwork, including documents attesting compliance and title transfer, before the jet heads for its home base.

Component makers

France: From Nantes the center wing box, radomes and inlets, from Saint Nazaire the front and central fuselage and from the St. Eloi plant in Toulouse the engine pylons.

Germany: From Stade the vertical tail and composite flaps, and from Buxtehude the communications and cabin management systems. Bremen will build the high-lift systems for the wings.

United Kingdom: The wings will be built in Broughton, North Wales, and the landing gear in Filton, England, by supplier Messier Dowty, part of Safran.

United States: Engines will come from Connecticut (IAE V2533-A5), Ohio or France (CFM56-5B).

A320 family assembly lines
Toulouse, France: A320
Hamburg, Germany: A318, A319, A320, A321
Tianjin, China: A319, A320
Mobile, USA: A319, A320, A321


Gulf_Coast_Aerospace_Corridor.com is a website created in 2008 to highlight aerospace activities along the Interstate 10 corridor between New Orleans and Northwest Florida. It includes reference material, job postings, a daily aerospace newsfeed and weekly column. In 2011, the website teamed with several journalists to create the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League, which writes and publishes an annual book about aerospace in the region. The first book was published in June 2011. In September 2013, the League launched an eight-page quarterly aerospace newsletter, which became a bimonthly in August 2014 after the League published the fourth edition of the annual.

Story and photo:  http://pensacolatoday.com

Beechcraft 35-33 Debonair, Arizona Cloudbusters Inc., N400DJ: Accident occurred February 16, 2014 in Telluride, Colorado

http://registry.faa.govN400DJ 

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA141
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 16, 2014 in Telluride, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/10/2015
Aircraft: BEECH 35/33, registration: N400DJ
Injuries: 3 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 airplane departed the airport (which is at an elevation of 9,070 ft mean sea level [msl]) for a day cross-country flight in instrument meteorological conditions. The airplane wreckage was found 1/2 mile from the end of the departure runway in steep mountainous terrain 300 ft below a cliff band at an elevation of about 8,760 ft msl, which indicates that the airplane had not obtained a positive climb rate. The airplane impacted terrain in a wings-level attitude and was damaged by impact and a postimpact fire. An examination of the airplane, engine, and related systems revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. 

At the high end of the airplane’s estimated weight, it would have just met the airport’s required climb performance to clear the terrain beyond the end of the runway. Other factors that may have been present at the time of the accident, including the weather, mountainous terrain, and snow or ice accumulation before takeoff, could have adversely affected the airplane’s climb performance; however, it could not be determined to what extent these factors played a role. It is likely that the airplane did not establish a positive climb rate after takeoff and, based on the wreckage orientation, that the pilot flew the airplane directly into the terrain. It could not be determined what preflight planning the pilot conducted for the flight, including whether or not she received a weather briefing.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The airplane’s failure to obtain a positive climb rate, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s inadequate preflight planning.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT 

On February 16, 2014, at 1126 mountain standard time, a Beech 35-33, N400DJ, impacted mountainous terrain, ½ mile west of the Telluride Regional Airport (KTEX), Telluride, Colorado. The female airline transport certificated pilot, the flight instructor, and one airline transport pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged and a postimpact fire ensued. The airplane was registered to and operated by Arizona Cloudbusters Flying Club, Gilbert, Arizona, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a training flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to Cortez Municipal Airport (KCEZ), Cortez, Colorado.

The time sources for the text messages, airport UNICOM, airport camera, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radar were different. The times provided in this report are as provided from each source and were not corrected or adjusted for any variation or discrepancy. For the purposes of this report, the FAA time stamp was used to determine the time of the accident. 

According to the president of the Arizona Cloudbusters Flying Club, this was an instructional flight for the female airline transport pilot (ATP), to complete her airplane checkout as a new member of the flying club. Most likely the airplane departed Stellar Airpark (P19), Chandler, Arizona, full of fuel, and flew directly to KTEX. Their intention was to continue to KCEZ, refuel, and then return to P19. 

A family member of the flight instructor received a text message from him at 1040 stating that they had landed in Telluride. At 1120, the flight instructor sent another text message indicating that they would be taking off in 5 minutes. 

According to airport employees, the three pilots came in to the fixed base operator, took refreshments, and purchased t-shirts. They did not take any services. At 1108, one of the pilots called on the UNICOM frequency and reported that they were taxing from the ramp for departure. At 1118, they called and reported that they were taking the runway for departure. A camera positioned on the firehouse at the airport recorded the accident airplane departing runway 27 and passing the alpha 3 intersection at 1120:26. No other communications were heard on the UNICOM. 

At 1120:38, the Denver Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) contacted the Denver Center Sector 12 controller and requested a clearance for N400DJ. The Denver AFSS was communicating with the female ATP over Denver Radio when the clearance was requested. The Denver Center Sector 12 controller provided the clearance via the Denver AFSS. The flight was cleared from KTEX to KCEZ via the instrument flight rules (IFR) departure procedure to Cones, direct Dove Creek, and then direct KCEZ, at an altitude of 14,000 feet. The flight was instructed to contact Denver Center leaving 11,000 feet, and the clearance was void if they had not departed KTEX by 1130. The flight plan for the accident flight was not filed with the Denver AFSS, through the FAA, or through DUATS. Investigators were not able to determine what source the pilots used to file their flight plan and were unable to determine the entire contents of the flight plan.

Radar data provided by the FAA, identified and depicted the accident flight as the airplane started its takeoff roll at 1125:15. The last location of the airplane was recorded at 1126:27, just off of the departure end of runway 27, at an altitude of 9,000 feet mean sea level (msl). The pilots never established contact with air traffic control and an Alert Notification for a missing airplane was issued. Search and Rescue volunteers located the wreckage later that evening. There were no known witnesses to the accident.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Female ATP

The female ATP pilot, age 56, held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multiengine land rating, a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating, and type certificates in the B-747, B-747-4, B-757, B-767, B-777, BA-3100, LR-Jet, and A-320. She also held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single and multiengine, and instrument airplane ratings issued on January 30, 2013. She was issued a first class airman medical certificate on February 1, 2014. The certificate contained the limitation "Must wear corrective lenses."

On the female ATP pilot's last application for medical certificate she reported 13,300 hours total time; 400 hours of which were recorded in the past 6 months. According to the flight club records, she had successfully completed the requirements of a flight review in January of 2014. Investigators did not establish the female ATP pilot's instrument currency or flight time and experience in the make and model of the accident airplane. 

Flight Instructor

The flight instructor, age 48, held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane single-and multiengine land ratings, and a commercial pilot certificate with rotorcraft helicopter and instrument helicopter ratings. He also held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single and instrument airplane ratings issued on March 21, 2013. He was issued a second class airman medical certificate without limitations on January 8, 2013. 

On the flight instructor's last application for medical certificate he reported 1,166 hours total time; 29 hours of which were recorded in the past 6 months. According to the flight club records, he had successfully completed the requirements of a flight review on June 4, 2013. Investigators did not establish the flight instructor's instrument currency or flight time and experience in the make and model of the accident airplane. 

Male ATP

The male ATP pilot, age 64, held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multiengine land rating, a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land and rotorcraft helicopter rating, and type certificates in the EMB-120, DHC-7, B-737, and A-320. He was issued a first class airman medical certificate on September 9, 2013. The certificate contained the limitation "Must wear corrective lenses."

On the male ATP pilot's last application for medical certificate he reported 28,000 hours total time; 300 hours of which were recorded in the past 6 months. According to the flight club records, he had successfully completed the requirements of a flight review on December 18, 2013. Investigators did not establish the male ATP pilot's instrument currency; he had completed his check out in the airplane the week prior to the accident flight.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane, a Beech 35-33 (serial number CD-40), was manufactured in 1960. It was registered with the FAA on a standard airworthiness certificate for normal operations. A Continental Motors IO-470-N11B engine rated at 260 horsepower at 2,625 rpm powered the airplane. The engine was equipped with a 2-blade, Hartzell propeller. The airplane was maintained and current for instrument flight.

The airplane was registered to and operated by Arizona Cloudbusters Inc., and was maintained under an annual inspection program. A review of the maintenance records indicated that an annual inspection had been completed on November 1, 2013, at an airframe total time of 4,509.6 hours. The last maintenance performed on the airframe was on January 28, 2014, at a total airframe time of 4,550.0 hours. An electronic tachometer was installed during this maintenance. January 9, 2014, the engine oil was changed at a reported engine total time of 76.4 hours.

The airplane was originally equipped with a Continental IO-470-J engine, rated at 225 horsepower at 2,600 rpm. According to the engine maintenance records, the Continental Motors IO-470-N11B engine installation was completed on November 1, 2013. This was accomplished under the supplemental type certificate (STC) SA09603SC, held by Hammock Aviation Services, Inc. The first page of the supplement stated, in part, that the information contained in the document "supplements or supersedes the Airplane Flight Manual only in those areas listed herein. For limitations, procedures, and performance not contained in this supplement, consult the Airplane Flight Manual."

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Infrared satellite imagery of Colorado displayed overcast clouds directly over the accident site. The cloud tops around at the accident site were around 23,000 feet. Doppler weather radar depicted light precipitation returns in the area at the time of the accident. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) had issued AIRMET (Airman's Meteorological Information) TANGO for moderate turbulence below flight level 180. There were no SIGMETs issued for the area at the time of the accident.

The closest official weather observation station was KTEX, Telluride, Colorado, located ½ nautical mile east of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 9,070 feet msl. The automated weather observing station (AWOS) for KTEX, issued at 1135, reported, wind 080 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 1.5 miles with light snow, sky condition clouds broken at 1,000 feet, overcast at 1,400 feet, temperature 0 degrees Celsius (C), dew point temperature minus 1 degrees C, altimeter 30.17 inches.

Calculations of relevant meteorological data revealed that the density altitude was 9,230 feet, and the pressure altitude was 8,840 feet.

There was no record that any of the pilots obtained a weather briefing from the FAA Flight Service Station or Direct User Access Terminal System (DUATS) for the accident flight. One record for the accident airplane registration was located for a flight in Arizona on the day prior to the accident. It could not be determined which resources were used by any of the pilots prior to the flight. 

Investigators were not able to determine what actions the pilots may have taken to remove any snow or ice which may have accumulated on the airplane prior to flight.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

Telluride Regional Airport (KTEX), Telluride, Colorado, is a public, uncontrolled airport located 5 miles west of Telluride, Colorado, at a surveyed elevation of 9,070 feet. The airport had one open runway, runway 9/27 (7,111 feet by 100 feet, asphalt). The airport had three instrument approaches. KTEX also had specific takeoff minimums and obstacle departure procedures. For runway 27, standard instrument flight rules (IFR) takeoff minimums applied which required one statute mile visibility. In addition, the departure procedure required that the airplane climb at 463 feet per nautical mile to 10,500 feet. In instrument meteorological conditions, the departure procedure required that the airplane climb to 12,000 feet via heading 273 degrees and intercept the 096 radial of the Cones (ETL) VOR. 

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located in steep mountainous terrain, 300 feet down from the top of a cliff band, ½ mile west of the departure end of runway 27. The accident site was at an elevation of 8,760 feet msl and the airplane impacted on a magnetic heading of 270 degrees. A coniferous tree located directly behind/beneath the main wreckage exhibited broken branches at the top of the tree.

The main wreckage included the fuselage, the left and right wing, the empennage, and the engine and propeller assembly. The airplane was impact and fire damaged. The propeller separated from the engine and was located uphill, a few feet west of the wreckage. Broken plexiglass and torn metal was located in the ground between the propeller and the main wreckage.

The fuselage consisted of the cabin, airplane seats, and the instrument panel. The cabin was impact damaged and was charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire. The instrument panel was impact and fire damaged. Many of the instruments were destroyed and neither the instruments nor radios conveyed reliable readings. The fire damage extended aft to the aft portion of the fuselage and the forward empennage.

An outboard section of the right wing and a section of the right aileron separated and were located downhill, just beneath the main wreckage. The leading edge of the right wing was impact damaged and the inboard portion of the right wing exhibited fire damage. The right flap was in a position consistent with flaps retracted. Control continuity to the right aileron was confirmed from the aileron inboard to the forward fuselage. Impact and fire damage precluded confirmation to the cockpit flight control yoke. The right main landing gear was located within the wheel well.

The left wing included the left aileron and left flap. The leading edge of the left wing exhibited impact damage consistent with contact with the tree directly behind (downhill from) the main wreckage. The inboard portion of the wing exhibited impact and fire damage. The left flap was in a position consistent with a flaps retracted position. Control continuity to the left aileron was confirmed to the forward fuselage. Impact and fire damage precluded confirmation to the cockpit flight control yoke. The left main landing gear was located within the wheel well.

The empennage included the horizontal and vertical stabilizer, the elevator, and the rudder. The empennage was not damaged. Control continuity to the elevator and rudder was confirmed to the forward fuselage. Impact and fire damage precluded control continuity confirmation to the cockpit flight control yoke and the rudder pedals.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The female ATP was located in the front of the airplane wreckage. The coroner was not able to determine the seat positions of the two male passengers.

Female ATP

The autopsy was performed on the female ATP by the Montrose Memorial Hospital – Division of Forensic Pathology, on February 18, 2014, as authorized by the San Miguel County Coroner's Office. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries and the report listed the specific injuries.

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological tests on specimens that were collected during the autopsy (CAMI Reference #20140002203). Tests for carbon monoxide and cyanide were not performed. Results were negative for ethanol and drugs. 

Flight Instructor

The autopsy was performed on the flight instructor by the Montrose Memorial Hospital – Division of Forensic Pathology, on February 18, 2014, as authorized by the San Miguel County Coroner's Office. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries and the report listed the specific injuries.

CAMI performed toxicological tests on specimens that were collected during the autopsy (CAMI Reference #201400022001). Tests for cyanide were not performed. Results were negative for carbon monoxide and ethanol. Cetirizine was detected in the urine and blood. Cetirizine, marketed as Zyrtec, is used to temporarily relieve allergy symptoms. 

Male ATP

The autopsy was performed on the male ATP by the Montrose Memorial Hospital – Division of Forensic Pathology, on February 18, 2014, as authorized by the San Miguel County Coroner's Office. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries and the report listed the specific injuries.

CAMI performed toxicological tests on specimens that were collected during the autopsy (CAMI Reference #201400022002). Tests for carbon monoxide and cyanide were not performed. Results were negative for ethanol and drugs. 

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The wreckage of the airplane was recovered to a hangar in Greeley, Colorado. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and Continental Motors, Inc., examined the engine and propeller assembly.

The engine was impact damaged and exhibited exposure to heat and fire. During the examination, the top spark plugs, valve covers, fuel pump, vacuum pump, fuel nozzles, oil pump, and fuel manifold were removed. The engine was rotated through at accessory housing. A blue spark was noted on all leads. Thumb compression, continuity, and valve movement were noted on all cylinders. 

Spark plugs exhibited normal signatures when compared to the Champion Spark Plug Chart. Fuel nozzles were free of visible contamination. The fuel manifold screen was clean and no fuel was observed within the fuel manifold. The fuel pump was difficult to rotate by hand. The spline was intact and the vanes exhibited exposure to heat and fire.

The spinner was crushed and torn in a rotational direction. The propeller blades were labeled "A" and "B" for identification purposes. Blade A was bent aft approx. 90 degrees and twisted along the blade length. The blade exhibited leading edge scratching and scratches on the blade face. The trailing edge outboard portion of blade was torn in several locations. Blade B was bent aft about 90 degrees and twisted along the blade length. The blade exhibited leading edge scratching and scratches on the blade face.

The throttle control lever was impact damaged and the arm was loose. Further examination of the throttle control arm exhibited that the throttle shaft was bent and the machined splines were sheared which resulted in the throttle arm disengaging. The bent shaft and sheared splines were a result of impact damage.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Airplane Performance

According to the Beech 33 Airplane Flight Manual, Section V Performance, the climb table uses temperature, pressure altitude, and airplane weight to estimate the climb performance of the airplane. The estimated climb performance is based upon full throttle at 2,600 rpm, a leaned fuel mixture, flaps and landing gear up, and 90 knots.

The following parameters were used by investigators to estimate the climb performance:

- Outside Air Temperature of 0 degrees C/32 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pressure Altitude of 8,840 feet
- Estimated airplane weight of 2,600 to 2,700 pounds

Based upon these parameters it is estimated that the climb capability of the ranged between 700 feet and 750 feet per minute. 

The STC for the modified engine included an FAA approved Airplane Flight Manual Supplement. In section 5, Performance, the climb speed was listed at 90 knots and the cruise climb speed was listed at 104 knots. A climb performance chart was not provided. The actual climb performance of the airplane with the modified engine is not known.


Sherry & Sherman Anderson; Eric Durbin



The National Transportation Safety Board released their report earlier this week on the February 2014 plane crash at the Telluride Regional Airport that resulted in the deaths of three Arizona pilots. The NTSB investigation found no mechanical failures in the plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza, and the only possible cause they found for the accident was inadequate preflight planning by the pilot, Sherry Anderson.

On Feb. 16, 2014, the small plane piloted by Anderson and her husband Sherman, both commercial airline pilots, crashed into steep mountainous terrain half a mile from the end of the runway and 300 feet below a cliff band, indicating that the plane did not attain a positive climb rate. A passenger in the plane, Eric Durban, an accomplished former military pilot, also died in the accident.

Toxicology reports included in the NTSB investigation found no alcohol or drugs in any of the three on board, save traces of an allergy medication in Durban. All three were members of the Arizona Cloudbusters Flying Club and were completing a checkout flight for the plane, stopping over in Telluride before continuing on to Cortez and back to Arizona.

The plane took off at 11:20 that morning and never established contact with air traffic control in Telluride or Denver, and the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office initiated a search and rescue operation about an hour later, eventually locating the wreckage near the end of the runway early that evening.

“This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for, it’s just a terrible tragedy,” Sheriff Bill Masters said after the wreckage was found with the three bodies inside.

A helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft were used in the search for the wreckage. About a dozen people from the sheriff’s office responded to the scene the next morning to inspect the wreckage and recover the three bodies.

Released more than a year after the accident, the NTSB report also includes an account from an airport employee who interacted with the three pilots immediately prior to the accident and assisted in coordinating the search and rescue activities later.

Becky Souther wrote in her witness statement that the three landed, purchased refreshments and T-shirts and took off, with calm winds and decent visibility at the time. Shortly after takeoff, the plane crashed into the east-facing slope of Deep Creek Canyon, where it caught on fire. According to the NTSB report, all three passengers suffered serious traumatic injuries in the crash.

The fire that engulfed the plane after the accident destroyed most of the plane’s instruments, preventing investigators from gleaning any information about the flight from them. Because the crash occurred on steep terrain, wreckage from the plane was found spread across the hillside, with photos included in the NTSB report showing the propeller and right wing completely separate from the main plane body.  

Though the NTSB was unable to determine a definite cause for the accident — the plane seemed to be mechanically sound and the wreckage showed that the plane was flying in control at the time of the accident — the report did say it was unclear if the pilot had received a weather briefing or what efforts to de-ice the plane had been made, two possible contributors to the accident.