Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hangar, runway expansions at DeKalb County Airport (KGWB), Auburn, Indiana


AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) – More and more corporate and commercial planes want to fly out of a regional airport. The demand has caused the DeKalb County Airport to expand.

Jet and aircraft traffic has continued to increase in recent years, and more people have wanted to house their planes at the airport. That’s why leaders with the airport authority built two new rows of hangars that will hold 11 more planes.

“We’ve had a waiting list at this airport for over a decade,” said airport manager Russ Couchman, who said there is room for 66 planes right now. The additional 11 will open in May. “Believe it or not, we have two people on the waiting list still after we filled all of the hangars we’re just building.”

Hangar space will likely continue to be addressed. The airport as another section of hangars that is outdated and will need replaced soon.

The airport also recently finished remodeling a terminal.

More planes will generate more business at the regional airport. The airport does receive a small amount of money through property taxes, but leaders hope that soon the airport will not need to rely on those dollars.

“The current board tried to make these new hangars pay for themselves,” Couchman said. “Currently they do so they won’t be a drain to us or to the taxpayer.”

The airport is also making the runway safer for those to use it.

That’s why the airport is in the midst of expanding its 5000-foot runway to somewhere between 6,400 and 7,000 feet.

“A lot of times when pilots are looking for an airport they won’t search for any airport with less than a 7,000-foot runway,” Couchman said. “We think it’s important to go to 7,000 feet to be competitive.”

The airport needed the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval for the expansion. It deemed the expansion redeemable and said it would help fund it.

The expansion will cost $9 million overall, with the FAA funding approximately $8.1 million, or 90 percent. The state will cover five percent, and the airport – along with local governments – will fit the rest of the bill.

The FAA has already helped fund the initial phases of the project. It began with an environmental impact study, which took five years.

From there, engineers are working with others to get other projects done so the runway can be extended.

The airport is working with American Electric Power to remove power lines, which AEP had planned as it increases power in the Auburn area. It has already gotten permission to remove a section of County Road 29, between C.R. 60 and 62. The airport will build a new road to help motorists. Also a section of wetlands, which sits on the east end of the property, will be moved off site west of the airport. Extending the runway will give pilots flying in bad weather conditions a longer area to land. “This is a major safety concern,” said Couchman.

Pilots flying in bad weather come in to land at a different angle and need more space to stop.

“If you have to shoot a minimum approach, you will have to use a stabilized approach,” Dan Schiebel, a pilot who flies out of the DeKalb airport a few times a week, said. “That’s going to put your touch down approximately 1,200 feet down the runway. At a 5,000-foot strip like Auburn, that leaves you with 3,800 feet.”

Schiebel said an average jet would need at least 3,000 feet to land in that scenario. If snow, rain, or ice is on the runway, the landing would take more space and could easily force the pilot to make landing arrangements at another airport.

“Runway behind you or non-existing runway is pretty useless to an airplane pilot,” said Couchman.

With all the outlying work needed to pave the runway, the extension would likely take place in the next three to five years.

Original article can be found here:  http://wane.com

Wyoming's Civil Air Patrol looking for volunteers, cadets

CHEYENNE - A little-known group is looking for volunteers and cadets to take part in search-and rescue flights and other missions.

Col. Ken Johnston, commander of the Civil Air Patrol's Wyoming wing, told local business leaders Friday that the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force is looking for new members.

"We provide a tremendous benefit to the Air Force and to the local community," he said during a presentation about the group to the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce's monthly Military Affairs Committee luncheon. "And part of the reason I'm here is recruitment."

The Civil Air Patrol, including its Wyoming wing, was created by Congress in 1941 to help with disaster and emergency responses, as well as to provide aerospace education programs and training for cadets.

It is made up of about 60,000 volunteers and 550 aircraft across the nation.

The patrol receives its funding from the federal government, donations and membership fees, since the volunteers routinely have to pay for their travel and other expenses.

Its Wyoming members routinely take part in search-and-rescue operations, where they assist the National Guard or other groups with missions that include finding missing hikers or downed aircraft.

The group also helped with last year's flood relief efforts in the state by taking photos of the flood conditions and sending them to the Wyoming National Guard.

Johnston said the patrol helped save five lives last year alone.

But he said much of the public doesn't even know the group exists. "We've been around a long time, but a lot of people don't know about us," he said. "That's why I consider us to be the best-kept secret around."

But Johnston said he doesn't want to keep the group a secret.

He said volunteers don't have to be involved in the military, and many, like himself, do it part time.

In addition to taking new volunteers, he said the Civil Air Patrol is always on the lookout for 12- to 18-year-olds who want to become a cadet.

The cadet program offers "aerospace education, leadership training, physical fitness and moral leadership," according to the Civil Air Patrol's website.

Johnston said the program is especially beneficial for those looking to join the Air Force.

"About 10 of the Air Force Academy members are Civil Air Patrol cadets," he said. "So if they want to get involved with any of the academies, this will give them a step up."

Those who want more information on the Wyoming Civil Air Patrol can find it on the group's website at wywingcap.com.

Original article can be found here:  http://m.wyomingnews.com


Friday, April 24, 2015

Incident occurred April 24, 2015 at Clearwater Air Park (KCLW), Clearwater, Florida



Clearwater, Florida -- A small plane skidded off the runway after its nose collapsed while landing on Friday afternoon.

Police say the accident happened at Clearwater Air Park. They report no injuries and no fuel leaks.

The aircraft is a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

10 News will have more information as it develops.

Medical expert fired after photos of plane crash victims displayed • Images used of body parts from Malaysia Airlines wreckage to illustrate public lecture

A Dutch medical anthropologist has been fired from the forensics team tasked with identifying the bodies of those killed aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 – after he used photographs of the victims’ body parts without authorization to illustrate a public lecture.

Prof George Matt of Leiden University, an international authority on physical anthropology, used the photographs in a talk to medical students in Maastricht earlier this month – at which he is also accused of making incorrect observations about the cause of the crash.

The lecture prompted a furious reaction from the families and friends of the dead. Evert van Zijtveld of the MH17 Air Disaster Association said showing the photographs in public had been “shameful and very shocking to the victims’ relatives” and added to their grief.

The furore led to a statement in parliament yesterday by Justice Minister Ard van den Steur, in which he described the lecture as “completely inappropriate and in bad taste”, adding: “the collaboration with George Matt has been terminated.”

The chorus of condemnation was joined by Arie de Bruijn, head of the police forensics unit that is leading the multinational identification team, who said it was “unacceptable” that confidential images – including photographs of body parts – had been used in public.

He said that while experts who were members of the team were allowed to share certain information with colleagues, Prof Matt had apparently used the images to explain and illustrate elements of the identification process – without any form of official clearance.

The Boeing 777 jet crashed in eastern Ukraine last July after apparently being hit by a BUK missile allegedly fired by Russian-backed separatists, but Mr de Bruijn said Prof Matt’s lecture had included comments about its cause that were “speculative, untrue and partly outside his area of expertise”.

Although the Maastricht lecture was advertised as open to the public, and attracted an audience of at least 150, Prof Matt said he had believed it was restricted to medical students.

His statement went on: “It appears that other people were there. I hadn’t realized. I’m very sorry to have hurt or distressed victims’ loved ones.”

All but two of the 298 passengers and crew on the flight have been identified, and a team of investigators has been back in Ukraine this week collecting the last of the human remains and personal belongings.

Original article can be found here: http://www.irishtimes.com

Mystery object found off Speyside

What is it?: These fishermen found this part of an object floating in the waters of Speyside, Tobago on Wednesday. 



An unidentified object has been recovered floating off the waters of Speyside, Tobago by fishermen.


According to official reports, at about 8.30 am on Wednesday, a fisherman and his crew saw something resembling a vessel floating off Speyside. The men thought it was an upturned boat with a hand sticking out of the water. Upon investigating, they discovered that it appeared to be part of aircraft wreckage.


Officials of the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) were alerted and director Allan Stewart said his agency has contacted the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to investigate as he explained that at this time the object and its origin remains unclear.


“I can confirm that an item has been found off the waters of Speyside, but at this time it’s unclear what the object is and its origin. My agency contacted the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority to investigate and only then we can know for sure,” Stewart said on Thursday.


Newsday understands the object is silver, green and white, approximately 12 feet by six feet in size and rectangular. Numbers were observed, with each increasing in size. However there are no markings or inscriptions which could indicate the origin or ownership of the object.


Officials from the Civil Aviation Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (CAATT) were in Tobago conducting inquiries.


It is however not the first such sighting in the southern Caribbean. Last year a similar sighting was made in waters off St Vincent.


Locals believed the wreckage in that incident was part of a Russian spacecraft; however no confirmation has yet been made.


http://www.newsday.co.tt
  
 Possible aircraft wreckage spotted off Tobago

SCARBOROUGH, Tobago -- There have been reports of the sighting of possible plane crash debris in waters off Tobago.

According to reports, around 8:30 on Wednesday morning a group of fishermen saw something resembling that of a vessel floating in waters off Speyside. 


The men thought it was an upturned boat with a hand sticking out of the water. 


Upon investigating, they discovered what appeared to be part of aircraft wreckage. 


Director of the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) Allan Stewart said his agency has contacted the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to investigate. 


The object is approximately 12 feet by 6 feet, rectangular in shape and silver, green and white. 


Numbers were observed, with each number increasing in size compared to the previous number. 


However there are no markings or inscriptions that could indicate the origin or ownership of the object.


It is, however, not the first such sighting in the southern Caribbean. 


Last year a similar sighting was made in waters off St Vincent. 


Locals believed the wreckage in that incident was part of a Russian spacecraft; however, no confirmation has yet been made.


Original article can be found here: http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com

Scrap Ministry Of Aviation - Capt. Daniel Omale

By Capt. Daniel Omale


The whole world has discarded a ministry dedicated to aviation alone. In addition to the associated cost elements, a ministry of aviation as opposed to a ministry of transport is directly an “addictive inverse” to the functions and responsibilities of the Civil Aviation Authority of a country.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) like its counterparts in other countries of the world should be autonomous, and charged with the responsibility for air safety. There is no reason, whatsoever, to retain a dedicated ministry for aviation sector, because the natural uncoordinated interface will come to play between the minister of aviation, a politician, and the director-general or head of the NCAA, who is usually a professional aviator.

Aviation stakeholders erroneously fought for the establishment of a ministry of aviation alone, and it’s no secret today that, with the benefit of hindsight, it was a gigantic mistake because of its hindrance to aviation development.

According to the act that established the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, it is the only regulatory body for aviation in Nigeria. It became autonomous with the passing into law of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 by the National Assembly and assent by the President The Act not only empowers the Authority to regulate aviation safety without political interference, but also to carry out oversight functions of airports, airspace, meteorological services, etc as well as economic regulations of the industry. Therefore, a ministry of aviation is absolutely in dissonance with the core function and responsibility of the NCAA, a self-funding agency.

What is necessary in this country is a ministry dedicated to transportation: air, sea, railway, and highways.

On October 15, 1966, United States President Johnson, signed the Department of Transportation Act (Public Law 89-670), bringing 31 previously scattered federal elements, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), under the wing of one Cabinet-level Department. The new Department of Transportation (DOT) had responsibility to:

  • Ensure the coordinated, effective administration of the transportation programs of the Federal Government;
  • Facilitate the development and improvement of coordinated transportation service, to be provided by private enterprise to the maximum extent feasible;
  • Encourage cooperation of federal, state, and local governments, carriers, labor, and other interested parties toward the achievement of national transportation objectives;
  • Stimulate technological advances in transportation;
  • Provide general leadership in the identification and solution of transportation problems; 
  • Develop and recommend to the president and the Congress national transportation policies and programs to accomplish these objectives with full consideration of the needs of the public, users, carriers, industry, labor, and the national defense establishment.
The legislation provided for five initial major operating elements within the new department. Four of these organizations were now headed by an administrator: the Federal Aviation Administration (previously the independent Federal Aviation Agency), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. The new DOT also contained the U.S. Coast Guard, which was headed by a commandant and had previously been part of the Treasury Department.

The act also created within DOT a five-member National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). It charged NTSB with determining the clear or probable cause of transportation accidents and reporting the facts, conditions, and circumstances relating to such accidents; and reviewing on appeal the suspension, amendment, modification, revocation, or denial of any certificate or license issued by the secretary or by an administrator. In the exercise of its functions, powers, and duties, the board was independent of the secretary and the other DOT offices and officers. The new department began operations on April 1, 1967. While the president worked to consolidate management of the transportation modes, improving air traffic control and aircraft safety remained priorities for FAA.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) remains the principal federal agency responsible for providing the safest and most efficient aerospace system in the world.

Since 1958, FAA has regulated and overseen all aspects of civil aviation in the United States, proudly running the largest and safest air traffic control system in the world, and ensuring the safety of the traveling public. The FAA is laying the foundation for the aerospace system of the future. As an agency, FAA has a tremendous opportunity to make a difference for stakeholders, while addressing the challenges that the changing industry presents.

In the United Kingdom, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is a public corporation, was established by Parliament in 1972 as an independent specialist aviation regulator and provider of air traffic services (the air traffic control body NATS was separated from the CAA in the late 1990s and became a public / private partnership organisation in 2001).

The UK Government requires that the CAA’s costs are met entirely from its charges on those whom it regulates. Unlike many other countries, there is no direct Government funding of the CAA’s work.

Strategic Objectives include:


Enhancing aviation safety performance by pursuing targeted and continuous improvements in systems, culture, processes and capability.

Improving choice and value for aviation consumers now and in the future by promoting competitive markets, contributing to consumers’ ability to make informed decisions and protecting them where appropriate.

Improving environmental performance through more efficient use of airspace and make an efficient contribution to reducing the aviation industry’s environmental impacts.

Ensuring that the CAA is an efficient and effective organisation which meets Better Regulation principles

Other countries such as Australia, India, Singapore, Kenya, South Africa, just to name a few have since scrapped aviation ministry.

There is no reason for Nigeria to keep appeasing politicians by offering a ministerial appointment in aviation. We must continuously empower our civil aviation authority to maintain its autonomy through provision of air safety oversight, crew licensing, and economic regulation of the airlines. Also, the NCAA must be made the focal -point, to lead the other subservient agencies like the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).

Nigeria will greatly reduce the cost of governance by scrapping the ministry of aviation.

Original article can be found here:  http://leadership.ng

OneJet plans nonstop service between Milwaukee and Pittsburgh

OneJet CEO Matthew Maguire exchanges greetings with Dave Johnson, one of the pilots on the Hawker 400A aircraft as he boards at Mitchell International Airport.




OneJet, the Indianapolis-based small jet start-up, said Friday that it is adding nonstop service between Milwaukee's Mitchell International and Pittsburgh International Airport.

OneJet operates small jets and only flies when someone purchases a ticket for one of its flights. It began service between Milwaukee and Indianapolis on April 6.

OneJet's business model focuses on city pairs that do not have nonstop air service between them and where the company's research shows there is demand.

Pittsburgh is among the top-demanded destinations not served by nonstop flights from Milwaukee, officials at Mitchell International said.

The Pittsburgh service is set to begin May 4. The flights will be offered four times weekly, Monday through Thursday, departing from Milwaukee at 8 a.m. Central time and arriving in Pittsburgh at 10:10 a.m. Eastern time. Return service from Pittsburgh will depart at 4:30 p.m. Eastern and arrive in Milwaukee at 4:50 p.m. Central time.

"I am thrilled that OneJet is already expanding its innovative business model here to include service to Pittsburgh," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said in a statement. "We are always looking for more options for those who travel out of Mitchell and when companies can successfully accomplish that, we're committed to helping them succeed and expand."

Mitchell International is owned and operated by Milwaukee County.

Pittsburgh International is owned and operated by the Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Airport Authority.

"More than 27,000 people per year fly between Pittsburgh and Milwaukee," Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said in a statement Friday announcing the new service. "We're very pleased that OneJet will provide our community with these much-needed nonstop options."

Nonstop service between Milwaukee and Pittsburgh on Frontier Airlines ended in January 2012.

OneJet is also adding service between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis as part of the service expansion. Nonstop service from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis on US Airways ended in January 2009.

OneJet's base of operations is Indianapolis. Its flights will feature six-seat Hawker 400 jets. OneJet flies out of Concourse D at Mitchell International.

The company plans to continue adding service on routes that major carriers have abandoned, but where nonstop demand exists.

"We plan to add about one aircraft and several destinations to the network each month for the rest of the year," said OneJet CEO Matthew Maguire. "Milwaukee to Indy was our soft-launch route."

OneJet flights are being operated by the company's regional partner, Pentastar Aviation. Pentastar is wholly owned by Edsel B. Ford II.

OneJet is pursuing a strategy of starting small. It will only fly when tickets are sold for its flights. It focuses almost exclusively on corporate travelers. There is no checked baggage. Small carry-ons are allowed.

"You book it the same way as you would any other airline," Maguire said. "There's a ticket counter here. There's a gate here.

"You're at your destination in a fraction of the time it takes to connect from somewhere else," he added.

Flight time between Milwaukee and Pittsburgh is about an hour.

The flights will be priced competitively with commercial air carriers, factoring in what OneJet says is the premium corporate travelers are willing to pay to conduct business in another city and get back home the same day.

On the Milwaukee-Indianapolis route, for example, "you're not going to see more than $300 or $400 from us, which is a great value when you're looking at $250" for a one-stop connecting flight, Maguire said.

OneJet flights can be booked via corporate or online travel agencies including American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel, Expedia, or Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.jsonline.com

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, Era Alaska, N12373: Accident occurred November 29, 2013 in Saint Marys, Alaska

NTSB Identification: ANC14MA008 
 Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, November 29, 2013 in Saint Marys, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/26/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 208B, registration: N12373
Injuries: 4 Fatal, 6 Serious.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The scheduled commuter flight departed 40 minutes late for a two-stop flight. During the first leg of the night visual flight rules (VFR) flight, weather at the first destination airport deteriorated, so the pilot diverted to the second destination airport. The pilot requested and received a special VFR clearance from an air route traffic controller into the diversion airport area. Review of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast data transmitted by the airplane showed that, after the clearance was issued, the airplane's track changed and proceeded in a direct line to the diversion airport.

Postaccident examination of the pilot's radio showed that his audio panel was selected to the air route traffic control (ARTCC) frequency rather than the destination airport frequency; therefore, although the pilot attempted to activate the pilot-controlled lighting at the destination airport, as heard on the ARTCC frequency, it did not activate. Further, witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's reported that the airport lighting system was not activated when they saw the accident airplane fly over, and then proceed away from the airport. Witnesses in the area described the weather at the airport as deteriorating with fog and ice. About 1 mile from the runway, the airplane began to descend, followed by a descending right turn and controlled flight into terrain. The pilot appeared to be in control of the airplane up to the point of the right descending turn. Given the lack of runway lighting, the restricted visibility due to fog, and the witness statements, the pilot likely lost situational awareness of the airplane's geographic position, which led to his subsequent controlled flight into terrain.

After the airplane proceeded away from the airport, the witnesses attempted to contact the pilot by radio. When the pilot did not respond, they accessed the company's flight tracking software and noted that the airplane's last reported position was in the area of the airplane's observed flightpath. They proceeded to search the area where they believed the airplane was located and found the airplane about 1 hour later.

Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. About 3/4 inch of ice was noted on the nonprotected surfaces of the empennage. However, ice formation on the airplane's inflatable leading edge de-ice boots was consistent with normal operation of the de-ice system, and structural icing likely was not a factor in the accident.

According to the company's General Operations Manual (GOM), operational control was held by the flight coordinator for the accident flight, and the flight coordinator and pilot-in-command (PIC) were jointly responsible for preflight planning, flight delay, and release of the flight, which included the risk assessment process. The flight coordinator assigned the flight a risk level of 2 (on a scale of 1 to 4) due to instrument meteorological and night conditions and contaminated runways at both of the destination airports. The first flight coordinator assigned another flight coordinator to create the manifest, which listed eight passengers and a risk assessment level of 2. According to company risk assessment and operational control procedures, a risk level of 2 required a discussion between the PIC and flight coordinator about the risks involved. However, the flight coordinators did not discuss with the pilot the risks and weather conditions associated with the flight. Neither of the flight coordinators working the flight had received company training on the risk assessment program. At the time of the accident, no signoff was required for flight coordinators or pilots on the risk assessment form, and the form was not integrated into the company manuals.

A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) surveillance activities revealed that aviation safety inspectors had performed numerous operational control inspections and repeatedly noted deficiencies within the company's training, risk management, and operational control procedures. Enforcement Information System records indicated that FAA inspectors observed multiple incidences of the operator's noncompliance related to flight operations and that they opened investigations; however, the investigations were closed after only administrative action had been taken. Therefore, although FAA inspectors were providing surveillance and noting discrepancies within the company's procedures and processes, the FAA did not hold the operator sufficiently accountable for correcting the types of operational deficiencies evident in this accident, such as the operator's failure to comply with its operations specifications, operations training manual, and GOM and applicable federal regulations.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's decision to initiate a visual flight rules approach into an area of instrument meteorological conditions at night and the flight coordinators' release of the flight without discussing the risks with the pilot, which resulted in the pilot experiencing a loss of situational awareness and subsequent controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident were the operator's inadequate procedures for operational control and flight release and its inadequate training and oversight of operational control personnel. Also contributing to the accident was the Federal Aviation Administration's failure to hold the operator accountable for correcting known operational deficiencies and ensuring compliance with its operational control procedures.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 29, 2013, at 1824 Alaska standard time, a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan airplane, N12373, sustained substantial damage after impacting terrain about 1 mile southeast of St. Mary's Airport, St. Mary's, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as flight 1453 by Hageland Aviation Services, Inc., dba Era Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) scheduled commuter flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135. Of the 10 people on board, the commercial pilot and three passengers sustained fatal injuries, and six passengers sustained serious injuries. Night, instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at St. Mary's Airport at the time of the accident, and company flight-following procedures were in effect. Flight 1453 departed from Bethel Airport, Bethel, Alaska, at 1741 destined for Mountain Village, Alaska. Before reaching Mountain Village, the flight diverted to St. Mary's due to deteriorating weather conditions.

The pilot's flight and duty records indicated that, on the day of the accident, the pilot arrived at the company office in St. Mary's about 0800. The accident flight was the pilot's fifth flight of the day. Flight 1453 was to depart Bethel Airport with eight adult passengers and one infant passenger (who was not listed on the flight manifest), make a stop in Mountain Village, and then proceed to St. Mary's.

Hageland Aviation Services had recently incorporated a risk assessment program into its operational control procedures, which required each flight be assigned a risk level on a scale of 1 to 4, with the intention of mitigating the hazards for high-risk flights. Although not required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the risk assessment was being used as part of the company's operational control procedures; however, it had not been incorporated into the company General Operations Manual (GOM).

Before departure, the flight coordinator checked the weather and assigned the flight a risk assessment level of 2 due to IMC and night conditions and contaminated runways at both of the destination airports. He assigned another flight coordinator to create the manifest, which listed eight passengers and a risk assessment level of 2.

A risk assessment level 2 required a conversation between the flight coordinator and the pilot about possible hazards associated with the flight. However, the flight coordinators did not discuss with the pilot the risk assessment level assigned to the flight, current weather conditions or hazards, or ways to mitigate the hazards as required by the risk assessment program. Neither of the flight coordinators working the flight had received company training on the risk assessment program.

The flight was scheduled to depart at 1700, but it was late arriving into Bethel and did not depart until 1741. The pilot reported his departure from Bethel Airport to the company flight coordinator via radio at 1741, reporting 10 souls on board and 4 hours of fuel.

According to a passenger, they had been flying for about 30 minutes when the airplane entered thick fog. He reported that the airplane was picking up ice and had accumulated about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of ice on the lift strut.

According to an Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) recording, about 18 miles from Mountain Village, the pilot made an announcement to the passengers that, due to deteriorating weather conditions, the flight was diverting to St. Mary's, which is about 13 miles east of Mountain Village.

At 1819:20, the pilot contacted the Anchorage ARTCC and requested a special VFR clearance to St. Mary's Airport.

At 1819:43, an Anchorage ARTCC controller cleared the flight into the St. Mary's surface area, told the pilot to maintain special VFR conditions, and provided the St. Mary's altimeter setting of 30.35 inches of Mercury (inHg). This was the last communication with the airplane.

About 1822, sounds similar to that of a microphone being keyed to activate pilot-controlled approach lighting were heard on the ARTCC frequency. Postaccident examination of the pilot's radio showed that his audio panel was still selected to the ARTCC frequency rather than the destination airport frequency; therefore, the pilot-controlled lighting would not have activated. Witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's reported that the pilot-controlled airport lighting system was not activated when they saw the accident airplane fly over the airport. A passenger reported that no lights were visible but that she saw the ground about 30 ft below the airplane and was able to make out dark patches of trees.

Witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's Airport reported seeing the airplane fly over the airport at a relatively low altitude, about 300 to 400 ft, traveling southeast. They watched the airplane travel away from the airport until its rotating beacon disappeared. One witness stated that he saw the landing lights of the airplane illuminate something white before he lost sight of the beacon, and he assumed that the airplane had entered the clouds. Due to concern about the direction and altitude the airplane was flying, the witnesses attempted to contact the pilot on the radio, but the pilot did not respond. They then heard another pilot report on the radio that there was an emergency locator transmitter broadcasting in the vicinity of St. Mary's. After checking for the airplane's last reported position on the company's flight-following software, a search was initiated.

About 1 hour after the search was initiated, the airplane was located, and rescue personnel confirmed that the pilot and two passengers died at the scene. One passenger died after being transported to the local clinic. The six surviving passengers were evacuated to Anchorage for treatment.

The airplane impacted the top of a ridge about 1 mile southeast of St. Mary's Airport at an elevation of about 425 ft mean seal level (msl) in a nose-high, upright attitude. The airplane came to rest upright about 200 ft from the initial impact point at an elevation of about 530 ft.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 68, held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land, single-engine sea, multiengine land, and instrument ratings. Pilot training records indicated that he had accumulated over 25,000 hours of flight time with over 1,800 hours in Cessna 208 airplanes. His most recent FAA second-class airman medical certificate was issued on August 21, 2013, with the limitation that the pilot must wear corrective lenses for distance and must possess corrective lenses for near vision. The pilot's personal logbooks were not located.

A review of Hageland Aviation Services personnel records indicated that the pilot was hired, completed his initial company training (which included pilot ground and flight training), and was assigned to fly Cessna 207A airplanes on December 18, 2012.

On February 11, 2013, the pilot completed initial Cessna 208B ground training. On June 14, 2013, he completed recurrent ground training. On June 19, 2013, he completed flight training and a check ride and was assigned to fly Cessna 208B airplanes out of the St. Mary's base.

Flight and duty records revealed that, in September 2013, the pilot was on duty for 15 days, flew 60.5 hours, and had 15 days off. In October 2013, the pilot was on duty for 16 days, flew 73.8 hours, and had 15 days off. In November 2013, the pilot was on duty November 1 to 16, flew 63.7 hours, was off duty November 17 to 28, and returned to work on November 29 (the day of the accident).

On the day of the accident, the pilot was on a 14-hour assigned duty day, starting at 0800 and ending at 2200. He flew four trips totaling about 4.4 hours before the accident flight.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was a turboprop Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, registration number N12373, manufactured in 1998. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated 12,653 total flight hours and was maintained under an approved aircraft inspection program. The most recent inspection of the airframe and engine was completed on November 12, 2013.

The airplane was equipped with a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-114A turbine engine that was rated at 675-shaft horsepower. The engine was overhauled 4,655 hours before the accident.

The airplane was equipped for instrument flight and flight into icing conditions and was certificated for single-pilot operation. The airplane was equipped with a Honeywell KGP-560 Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), and a Midcontinent Avionics MD41 Terrain Awareness Annunciator Control Unit. The fully integrated control unit provided annunciation and mode selection for both TAWS and the general aviation-enhanced ground proximity warning system (GA-EGPWS).

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At the time of the accident, an airmen's meteorological information (AIRMET) valid for the accident site forecast mountain obscuration conditions due to clouds and precipitation. Another AIRMET for turbulence was valid for flight level (FL) 270 to FL 370. The area forecast issued at 1806 predicted few clouds at 500 ft above ground level (agl), scattered clouds at 2,000 ft, and a broken ceiling at 4,000 ft with tops to 12,000 ft. The ceiling was forecast to be occasionally at 2,000 ft with isolated light snow showers and visibility below 3 miles. No turbulence or icing conditions were forecast for the accident site at the accident time. The area forecast issued at 1210 predicted similar conditions to the 1806 area forecast; however, the 1210 area forecast predicted isolated moderate icing between 3,000 and 9,000 ft along the coast and inland through 1600.

The nearest official weather reporting station was St. Mary's Airport. About 8 minutes before the accident, at 1816, a meteorological aerodrome report (METAR) was reporting, in part, the following: wind from 230 degrees (true) at 6 knots, visibility 3 statute miles, sky condition overcast at 300 ft agl, temperature 18 degrees F, dew point -32 degrees F, and altimeter setting 30.35 inHg.

The 1836 METAR was reporting, in part, the following: wind from 240 degrees (true) at 5 knots, visibility 2.5 statute miles, sky condition overcast at 300 ft agl, temperature 18 degrees F, dew point -32 degrees F, and altimeter setting 30.35 inHg.

None of the persons interviewed from the Bethel base had any knowledge of the accident pilot reviewing weather information before takeoff. The last known weather information received by the pilot was the weather at the top of the hour before takeoff for his destination (METARs around and before 1700).

AIDS TO NAVIGATION

There were no reported malfunctions or anomalies with aids to navigation at the time of the accident.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

St. Mary's Airport is a public airport in Class E airspace, located 4 miles west of St. Mary's, Alaska, at a surveyed elevation of 312 ft msl. The airport had two open runways (17/35 and 6/24) at the time of the accident. Runway 17/35 was 6,008 ft long and 150 ft wide, and runway 6/24 was 1,520 ft long and 60 ft wide.

Runway 17 was equipped with pilot-controlled high-intensity runway edge lights, a visual approach slope indicator (VASI), and a 1,400-ft medium-intensity approach lighting system with runway alignment indicator lights, but they were not illuminated at the time of the accident. It was serviced by a LOC/DME and an RNAV (GPS) instrument approach. Runway 35 was equipped with high-intensity runway edge lights and a VASI and was serviced by an RNAV (GPS) instrument approach.

FLIGHT RECORDERS

The accident airplane was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped with, a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Tracking and Recording

The airplane was equipped with ADS-B technology. In typical applications, an airplane equipped with ADS-B uses an ordinary GPS receiver to derive its precise position from the Global Navigation Satellite System constellation and then combines that position with any number of aircraft parameters, such as speed, heading, altitude and flight number. This information is then simultaneously broadcast to other aircraft equipped with ADS-B and to ADS-B ground or satellite communications transceivers, which then relay the aircraft's position and additional information to ARTCCs in real time.

A review of the ADS-B data received by the Anchorage ARTCC showed the following:

At 1820:31, the airplane passed 1 nautical mile (nm) west of the ONEPY intersection at 800 ft msl inbound to St. Mary's Airport on a heading of 357 degrees magnetic.

At 1823:01, the airplane started a descent from 900 ft msl (800 ft agl) while about 3/4 nm from the runway 35 threshold and 1/4 nm left of the runway 35 extended centerline.

At 1823:09, the airplane started a right turn that continued until radar contact was lost about 36 seconds later. The average turn rate was 7 degrees per second with an average ground speed in the turn of 119 knots and an average descent rate of 835 ft per minute. During the turn, at 1823:18, the airplane passed through the runway 35 extended centerline, about 1/10 nm from the runway threshold, passing through a heading of about 051 degrees magnetic.

The last radar return occurred at 1823:45, which showed the airplane at 450 ft msl (75 ft agl). The airplane heading showed that the airplane was flying toward rising terrain and that the last radar return was less than 1/10 nm from terrain that was 450 ft msl.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge and an inspector from the FAA Anchorage Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) traveled to the accident scene but continuous poor weather conditions prevented site access until December 1, 2013.

The wreckage path, which extended about 200 ft along a heading of 122 degrees magnetic, began at an area of broken small trees and disturbed ground. The initial impact site consisted of three separate ground disturbances. The first two disturbed areas were noted to be the contact points of the airplane's main landing gear, followed by a large impact crater where the nose and fuselage of the airplane impacted the up-sloping terrain. The majority of the airplane belly cargo pod and its contents remained in the initial impact crater with fragments of the belly pod structure and belly pod contents scattered forward from the initial impact point and along the wreckage path.

The main wreckage was located in an open area of snow-covered tundra, at an elevation of about 425 ft msl. The top of the ridge where the airplane impacted was at an elevation of about 530 ft msl. The main wreckage consisted of the right and left wings, empennage, main fuselage, cabin, and engine. About 3/4 inch of ice was noted on the nonprotected surfaces of the empennage. Ice formation on the airplane's inflatable leading edge de-ice boots was consistent with normal operation of the de-ice system.

The cockpit survivable space was severely compromised. The pilot's seat was crushed under the center wing structure and inboard of the left wing. The copilot seat was lying on its left side and was mostly buried by snow that entered the cockpit during the impact.

Examination of the airframe revealed extensive component and structural damage to the area of the fuselage near the carry-through structure for the wing spars. Both forward wing spar fittings were separated at the fuselage attachments, and each aft spar attachment showed twist deformation.

Elevator and rudder control cable continuity was established from the flight control surfaces to the cockpit area just before the control yoke. Aileron and flap continuity was not established on-scene due to the disposition of the wreckage.

No preaccident anomalies were noted with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

A postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted under the authority of the Alaska State Medical Examiner, Anchorage, Alaska, on December 2, 2013. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed toxicological testing for the pilot on December 17, 2013, which was negative for carbon monoxide and ethanol. The toxicological tests revealed 44.8 ug/ml of salicylate in the pilot's urine. Salicylate is an over-the-counter analgesic with an acceptable profile used in the treatment of mild pain.

SEARCH AND RESCUE

After the witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's saw the airplane fly overhead, they attempted to contact the pilot by radio. When the pilot did not respond, they accessed the company's flight tracking software and discovered that the airplane's last reported position was in the area of the airplane's observed flightpath. They proceeded to search the area where they believed the airplane was located and found the airplane after about 1 hour of searching. Additional search and rescue personnel were then directed to the accident site to aid in the rescue operation.

SURVIVAL ASPECTS

The fuselage sustained extensive impact damage and the forward section of fuselage (forward of the aft wing carry-through spar) was severely fragmented. The forward fuselage section was rotated about 90 degrees on the longitudinal axis and was laying on the right side. The top cabin roof section had separated at the aft wing carry-through spar and shifted forward and down leaving an exposed area of the floor and cabin. The floor of the airframe was buckled upward. The survivable cabin space in the area directly below and forward of the wing was severely compromised. The aft section of the fuselage was more intact. There were multiple areas of tearing of the skin around the window frames. The cargo door frame was buckled forward and torn just above the upper door's attachment bracket. The lower section of doorframe was mostly undamaged, and the door moved freely. The rear of the cargo door frame had another forward buckle near both corners of the aft window. The door was opened, likely by the first responders.

One of the four fatalities was an infant who was being carried as a "lap child" by his mother in a forward-facing backpack carrier.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

On March 18, 2014, the Honeywell Bendix/King KGP-560 GA-EGPWS processor was examined at the Honeywell facility located in Redmond, Washington. The Honeywell GA-EGPWS is a TAWS, which provided terrain alerting and display functions with additional features meeting the requirements of Technical Standard Order C151b Class B TAWS. The GA-EGPWS uses aircraft inputs including geographic position, attitude, altitude, airspeed, and glideslope deviation. These are used with internal terrain, obstacles, and airport runway databases to predict a potential conflict between the aircraft's flightpath and terrain or an obstacle. A terrain or obstacle conflict results in the GA-EGPWS providing a visual and audio caution or warning alert.

The GA-EGPWS "Look-Ahead" alerting and warning and runway field clearance floor (RFCF) functions are gradually "de-sensitized" as an aircraft nears a known runway. Aircraft operating near known runways may experience very short or no advance warnings with respect to terrain or obstacles in this area. The altitude and distance between the accident airplane and the runway at the time of impact would have remained above the floor of protection for the "Look Ahead" and RFCF function, and no alerts would have been triggered.

The KGP 560/860 database is contained in a removable card installed in the top of each unit. It is up to KGP 560/860 customers to determine if a specific database is applicable to their operation. Honeywell estimates that KGP 560/860 customers will update their database about once per year, although there is no regulatory requirement to update the database. The database in the airplane was dated December 2006. Information regarding new releases and the content details of the database may be obtained via the internet at the following websites: www.bendixking.com and www.egpws.com.

GA-EGPWS Inhibit Mode

The KGP 560/860 GA-EGPWS requires the installation of a terrain inhibit switch as part of the system installation. When engaged by the pilot, this switch will inhibit all visual and aural alerts and warnings associated with the GA-EGPWS. Also, an external annunciator lamp is illuminated, and a message will be displayed indicating "Warnings Inhibited." The terrain display, if installed, remains operational. The purpose of the terrain inhibit switch is to allow aircraft to operate without nuisance or unwanted warnings at airports that are not in the KGP 560/860 database. Examples might be private airports or those with runways shorter than 2,000 ft. Additionally, there may be some "VFR only" airports where unique terrain features are near the runway, and the terrain inhibit switch may be used when operating in good VFR conditions. According to the operating manual, the terrain inhibit switch should NOT be engaged for normal operations.

Examination of the airplane's cockpit instruments revealed that the terrain inhibit switch was in the "inhibit" mode at the time of the accident. Data recovered from the GA-EGPWS showed the following operational times:

Total time of operation for GA-EGPWS: 12,206:31 hours.

Total GA-EGPWS flight time: 10,485:11 hours.

Total time GA-EGPWS operated in "inhibit" mode: 9,277:34 hours.

ORGANIZATIONAL AND MANAGEMENT INFORMATION

Hageland Aviation Services is a 14 CFR Part 135 air carrier that holds on-demand and commuter operations specifications and is authorized to conduct business exclusively under the business names "Hageland Aviation Services, Inc." or "Era Alaska." The company headquarters are located at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Anchorage, Alaska. The president, director of operations, and chief pilot in place at the time of the accident all resided in Anchorage. The director of maintenance resided in Palmer, Alaska.

At the time of the accident, Hageland operated 56 airplanes and employed about 130 pilots. The company had 12 bases located throughout Alaska at Anchorage, Palmer, Aniak, Barrow, Bethel, Deadhorse, Fairbanks, Galena, Kotzebue, Nome, St. Mary's, and Unalakleet.

According to the company's GOM, the flight coordinator had operational control for the accident flight, and the flight coordinator and pilot-in-command (PIC) were jointly responsible for preflight planning, flight delay, and release of the flight, which included the risk assessment process. Authority for operational control is specified in federal regulations, the company's operations specifications, and the procedures outlined in the GOM. In all, about 80 flight coordinators and 96 company pilots were allowed to release flights and exercise operational control on behalf of the company.

A review of the company's FAA-approved operations training manual revealed that flight coordinator training was required for personnel authorized to exercise operational control. Initial flight coordinator training consisted of 8 hours of classroom time, and recurrent training consisted of between 3 and 4 hours, depending on the student's experience. Both of the flight coordinators working at the time of the accident had completed the initial flight coordinator training.

In addition, the company used a basic risk assessment form containing a four-tiered numbered system to determine the level of operational control needed for a specific flight, with 1 being the lowest risk and 4 being the highest risk. A risk level of 1 required no risk mitigation, a level 2 required a discussion between the PIC and flight coordinator about the risks involved, a level 3 required a phone call to management for evaluation and approval, and a level 4 required canceling the flight. At the time of the accident, no signoff was required for flight coordinators or PICs on the risk assessment form, and the form was not integrated into the company manuals. According to the company, the risk assessment was part of its operational control and flight release system and was presented to and accepted by the FAA but was not incorporated into the GOM, training program, or other company manuals.

An FAA principal operations inspector in the Anchorage FSDO was assigned to oversee the company. He had been employed with the FAA for about 7 years at the time of the accident and had been temporarily assigned to the Hageland certificate from October 2012 to April 2013 and permanently assigned to the certificate in September 2013, about 3 months before the accident.

A query of the FAA Program Tracking and Reporting System found that from July 16, 2013, to October 22, 2013, FAA aviation safety inspectors conducted five operational control inspections of Hageland. The inspections noted deficiencies in the company's training, risk management, and operational control procedures.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

In the months following the accident, both the FAA and the operator initiated numerous safety improvements, including but not limited to, increased FAA surveillance, changes to company training programs, changes to company management, addition of established routes and increased limits for special VFR operations, and the establishment of a company operations control center to handle release and dispatch of flights.

 


Docket And Docket Items:  http://dms.ntsb.gov

NTSB Identification: ANC14MA008
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, November 29, 2013 in Saint Marys, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 208B, registration: N12373
Injuries: 4 Fatal, 6 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 traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On November 29, 2013, at 1824 Alaska standard time, a Cessna 208B Caravan airplane, N12373, sustained substantial damage after impacting terrain about 1 mile southeast of the St. Mary's Airport, St. Mary's, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as flight 1453, by Hageland Aviation Services, Inc., dba Era Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska as a visual flight rules (VFR) scheduled commuter flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. Of the 10 people on board, the commercial pilot and three passengers sustained fatal injuries, and six passengers sustained serious injuries. Night, instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at the St. Mary's airport at the time of the accident and company flight following procedures were in effect. Flight 1453 departed from the Bethel Airport, Bethel, Alaska, at 1741 destined for Mountain Village, Alaska, and continuing to St. Mary's. Prior to reaching Mountain Village, the flight diverted to St. Mary's due to deteriorating weather.


Witnesses on the ground at St. Mary's reported seeing the airplane fly over the airport at low altitude, traveling in a southeasterly direction. They continued to watch the airplane travel away from the airport, until its rotating beacon disappeared. Being concerned about the direction and altitude the airplane was flying, the witnesses attempted to contact the pilot on the radio, with no response. They then heard another aircraft on the radio report that there was an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) going off in the vicinity of St. Mary's. After checking for the airplane's last reported position on the company's flight following software, a search was initiated. 

Approximately one hour after the search was initiated, the airplane was located and rescue personnel confirmed that the pilot and two passengers died at the scene. One passenger died after being transported to the local clinic. The six surviving passengers were evacuated to Anchorage for treatment. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), along with an inspector from the Anchorage Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) traveled to the accident scene, but continuous poor weather conditions prevented them from reaching the site until December 1. 

The main wreckage was in an open area of snow-covered tundra, at an elevation of approximately 425 feet mean sea level (msl). The top of the ridge where the airplane impacted is at an approximate elevation of 530 feet msl. From the initial point of impact, the airplane traveled approximately 200 feet before coming to rest in an upright position. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, empennage, and wings. An on-scene documentation of the wreckage was completed, and a detailed wreckage examination is pending, following recovery of the airplane.

The accident airplane was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped with, a cockpit voice recorder (CVR), or a flight data recorder (FDR).

The nearest official reporting station is the St. Mary's Airport (PASM). About 8 minutes before the accident, at 1816, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting: Wind, 230 degrees (True) at 7 knots; visibility, 3 statute miles; sky condition, overcast at 300 feet above ground level (agl); temperature, 18 degrees F; dew point, -32 degrees F; altimeter, 30.01 inches Hg. 

At 1836, the METAR was reporting, in part: Wind, 240 degrees (True) at 6 knots; visibility, 2.5 statute miles; sky condition, overcast at 300 feet agl; temperature, 18 degrees F; dew point, -32 degrees F; altimeter, 30.01 inches Hg.


Melanie Coffee and her son Wyatt




BETHEL -- Serious operational flaws within Hageland Aviation -- by far the busiest airline in Alaska in terms of flights -- and struggles within the Federal Aviation Administration to fulfill its oversight responsibilities contributed to a fatal crash in 2013 near St. Mary’s, documents released Thursday suggest.

The Nov. 29, 2013, Cessna 208 crash killed four of the 10 people aboard, including the pilot and a 5-month-old boy.

The reports and interviews released by the National Transportation Safety Board paint a picture of a Western Alaska airline with loose controls and a bush pilot culture, in which untrained workers were involved in decisions on whether flights should go or not go, and where a new risk-assessment procedure failed to involve pilots.

“But the hardest thing is to get this company to police itself. If we’re not there to watch them, you know, we’re not really sure half the time if they’re doing it right,” Dale Hansen, a frontline manager in the FAA’s Anchorage-based Flight Standards District Office, told the NTSB investigators.

FAA inspectors were overwhelmed and unable to provide adequate oversight of sprawling, fast-growing Hageland, which operates 1,200 flights a week, the documents say.

At the time of the accident, Hageland Aviation, together with Frontier Flying Service and Era Aviation, was part of the Era Alaska group. The group has since re-branded itself as Ravn Alaska, a move already in the works before a series of crashes, a Ravn spokesperson said.

Hageland is the largest commuter aviation company in the nation, according to news reports based on information from FAA databases. It has grown rapidly by absorbing routes from smaller air carriers that went out of business, and also by combining with Frontier Flying Service in 2008.

The newly released records don’t include a determination of what caused the wreck, which happened during deteriorating weather. A final NTSB report on the cause is expected in a couple of months.

The single-engine turboprop left Bethel at 5:41 p.m. that day headed for Mountain Village and then St. Mary’s as a scheduled flight. But it began icing up in thick, cold fog and the pilot diverted directly to St. Mary’s. The plane crashed into a ridge. Killed were Richard and Rose Ann Polty, infant Wyatt Coffee and the pilot, Terry Hansen, 68.

The St. Mary’s crash was one in a string of Hageland crashes in a short window, including one in April 2014 that killed two pilots on a training flight near Bethel and another in November 2013 that substantially damaged a plane at the Badami Airport in Deadhorse.

Dale Hansen told the NTSB that he only had a team of three inspectors assigned to Hageland even though “they are the largest operator in Alaska, by far.” Other commuter airlines that don’t make as many flights are monitored by more inspectors, he said.

Three inspectors weren’t enough given Hageland’s size and problems overseeing itself before the St. Mary’s crash, the FAA’s Hansen said. He pushed -- unsuccessfully -- for more, he told the NTSB. Hageland since has responded to recommendations and improved operations dramatically, he said.

Hansen “stated that he had tried every avenue he could think of to request additional inspectors be assigned to the Hageland certificate, and he felt the accidents may have been avoided if the operator had done a better job of policing itself, or if the FAA had been able to provide better oversight,” according to a factual report by NTSB air safety investigator Brice Banning, who is leading the investigation’s examination of the airline’s operations.

The FAA team overseeing Hageland now has three principal inspectors and two assistants overseeing Hageland, the agency said in a statement Thursday evening.

Overall, more than 40 FAA inspectors from across the country have been involved since late 2011, the agency said.

“We have used our findings, which include enforcement actions, to work with the carrier to make changes in its safety and systems culture,” the FAA said.

Hageland has been working to improve, said Charlotte Sieggreen, a spokeswoman for Ravn Alaska and the airlines under it.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families affected by the incident in St. Mary’s. We have always, and continue to work with both the NTSB and FAA to improve the operations of our airline, as well as in their investigation into this incident,” Hageland Aviation said in a written statement Thursday. The company declined to answer other questions.

As regulators saw it, before the crash, “it was a constant battle to get them to change anything,” Hansen told investigators, according to a transcript of his interview. “The new people that are in there, they understand how important their jobs are and they have made some incredible and very important changes.”

For one, the airline established an office in Palmer that monitors all flights and watches the weather, the NTSB was told.

That is among the significant improvements being made at Hageland and the FAA, said Clint Johnson, head of the NTSB Alaska office.

The night of the crash near St. Mary’s, the Hageland worker watching the weather left for the day at 5 p.m., as was usual then.

Some of the troubles in Hageland’s safety culture came from the pilots themselves, Hansen said, describing a time when a pilot eager to fly in rough weather was told “no” by the chief pilot and then called the assistant chief pilot on the same thing.

“So they’re shopping to try to get permission to go fly, you know. And how do you change that safety culture?” Hansen told investigators. “So that’s one of the things we try to constantly overcome with this outfit. And that’s not driven, as best as we can tell, by the management or the ownership of the company, you know, it’s just the mentality of the people.

“It’s like what I call the bush pilot mentality.”

He told investigators that he was told Hageland had fired 15 pilots since the St. Mary’s crash. It had 130 pilots, almost 60 airplanes, and 10 bases of operations with ticket counters and crews, the NTSB was told.

FAA safety investigators had noted a series of problems in the summer of 2013, the documents said.

At the company’s base in Nome, for instance, a new manager and four ticket agents were coordinating flights during a July 16, 2013, inspection. “They had not received any formal training, and were attempting to manage customer service, flight manifests, flight coordination and other duties at the same time,” the NTSB operations group report said.

The next day in Kotzebue, an FAA safety inspector found that Hageland’s new risk assessment format was being used. Flights were ranked on a scale of 1 to 4, with a rating of 1 when there was no identifiable hazard and 4 when it was too dangerous to fly. But the inspector noted the program “is not functioning correctly due to non-involvement of the pilots.”

Then on Oct. 22, 2013, about a month before the fatal crash, the FAA’s principal operations investigator contacted Hageland’s director of operations to outline “issues involving failures of the risk assessment program.” The company was directed to complete a timeline to implement the program and train staff by Dec. 1, 2013.

By then, it was too late.

The crash at Badami in November 2013 of a twin-engine turboprop Beech foreshadowed the one near the St. Mary’s airport exactly one week later. In both cases, the flight coordinators who were leading the decision on whether the planes should fly were not trained. In both cases, weather was deteriorating. In both crashes, the inadequacy of Hageland’s risk assessment program may have played a role, the NTSB said in an earlier letter to the FAA.

In May 2014, after six crashes and one incident in 19 months, beginning in September 2012, the NTSB issued two safety recommendations -- one a highly unusual “urgent” recommendation -- to the FAA to improve flight operations, training, safety management and other key areas of the operators of the now re-branded Ravn Alaska, all under the parent company HoTH Inc.

The NTSB concerns stretched past the operators to “the FAA’s surveillance and oversight programs that failed to detect and correct these numerous and long-standing issues of noncompliance with FAA regulations and policies,” the May recommendation said.

Before the St. Mary’s crash, an FAA inspector, Danny Larson, had put together an enforcement case targeting Hageland, the newly released records reveal. He also was trying to get Hageland’s director of operations removed from that job.

“The case was not pursued, and he received no feedback as to why,” according to a summary of his interview with the NTSB. After his interview, Larson called the NTSB and said he found out procedures for assessing risk before flights were not in company manuals, so the FAA was unable to hold Hageland accountable for failing to institute them.

The three airlines of the rebranded Ravn Alaska fly to dozens of small communities in Western and Northern Alaska.

Hageland, now operating as Ravn Connect, is the busiest. Over the course of a week, its planes make 1,200 trips in Alaska. Village flights often carry medical patients, government workers, representatives of Native corporations and tribal organizations -- and lots of discount-rate cargo.

Three lawsuits were filed Bethel against Hageland as a result of the St. Mary’s crash. One was brought by the estate of the couple killed, the Poltys. Another was filed on behalf of Garrette Moses, who was severely injured. The third is on behalf of Keith Andrews, the father of the baby killed.

The child’s mother, Melanie Coffee, was on the plane and walked away, holding her dead baby, a witness told the NTSB. Then in October, she was killed in a four-wheeler crash.

Original article can be found here: http://www.adn.com


Passengers scramble from smoking Lion Air jet before takeoff at Sumatra airport

JAKARTA (Bloomberg) - Passengers scrambled to open the emergency doors to get out of a Lion Air plane before takeoff at an Indonesian airport, after hearing the sound of an explosion.

Black smoke came from the jet's power unit as it was waiting at Kualanamu airport in Medan on Sumatra island, with some passengers hurt while exiting the plane, J.A. Barata, a spokesman at the transport ministry, said on Friday. They were no fatalities, he said.


The cause of the incident at 1 pm local time on the Boeing 737-900ER plane is still being investigated, said Andy Saladin, a Lion Air spokesman in Jakarta. 


The plane was carrying 214 people including crew, Indonesia's largest airline said in a statement.

"There was a sound of explosion heard from the back of the plane," Saladin said by phone. "Some passengers then panicked and opened the emergency exit. We have some reported minor injuries."


Boeing is aware of it and is waiting for further information, said Jay Krishnan, a company spokeswoman.


Earlier this month a bomb threat on a Batik Air plane, owned by Lion Group, forced it into an emergency landing. Pilot errors caused a Lion Air plane to crash into the sea next to Bali airport in 2013, an investigation reported in September.


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