Friday, July 17, 2015

Newark air traffic controller blamed for near collision, but was it really his fault?

NEWARK — A recent report by federal aviation officials on a near-midair collision at Newark Liberty International Airport noted that one of the two jets took 15 seconds to roll for takeoff after receiving clearance.

But in the NTSB's subsequent probable cause finding issued last week, the safety board laid the blame for the near crash solely on the Newark air traffic controller.

That has prompted some to question the NTSB's narrow finding of probable cause and its failure to explore why an ExpressJet pilot waited those crucial 15 seconds, a delay that Newark's air traffic manager, Russell Halleran, believed was the main cause of the narrowly avoided catastrophe.

"Mr. Halleran thought the main cause of the incident stemmed from ASQ4100 delaying his takeoff roll for 15 seconds," states a March 17 Factual Report on the incident by the National Transportation Safety Board, referring to the ExpressJet's flight number.

Though the NTSB acknowledged that those 15 seconds allowed a United Airlines jet to fly two miles closer to the runway intersection where the near collision occurred, the board determined that it was the controller's responsibility to maintain adequate separation between the two aircraft, to monitor whether his plan was being executed and, if not, to issue new orders.

"I was very surprised," Mike Reilly, a retired air traffic controller at Newark Liberty, told NJ Advance Media, referring to the NTSB's finding.

Had the ExpressJet taken less time to take off, Reilly said, it would have been up and away long before the other plane involved, a Boeing 737 landing on a perpendicular runway, was anywhere near setting down. If the ExpressJet pilot could not roll immediately, Reilly said, he should said so to the controller.

"If they need time on the runway and they have to spool the engines up, it's the pilot's responsibility to let us know that," said Reilly, who retired two years ago after 22 years in the control tower, 17 of them Newark Liberty.

Asked why the NTSB did not include the delay as a cause or factor contributing to the near-collision, the board released a statement asserting that the pilot had not broken any rules, while emphasizing the controller's ultimate responsibility for preventing collisions.

And while the safety board offered a hypothetical reason for the delayed takeoff, the NTSB chose not to say why it failed to find out what had caused the delay.

"ExpressJet's estimated 15 second delay after the aircraft was cleared for takeoff, while not anticipated by the controller, was acceptable under the regulations and might have been necessary to ensure needed operational and safety procedures were completed before takeoff," read the statement, which was attributed to Dana Schulze, NTSB Deputy Director of the Office of Aviation Safety. "An appropriate action in the interest of safety in a case like this would have been for the controller to cancel the takeoff clearance or provide a timely go-around instruction to the landing aircraft."

ExpressJet declined to say why its Embraer took those 15 seconds to start rolling.

"Flight 4100 was under the control of Air Traffic Control while departing Newark Liberty International Airport on April 24," company Spokesman Jarek Beem stated in an email. "Our crew followed ATC instructions and took off as directed." 

The near-miss, which occurred on the sunny, windy morning of April 24, 2014, was a startlingly close encounter for commercial airliners that stunned even veteran air traffic control officials and terrified passengers who watched it out their cabin windows. The ExpressJet plane with 50 passengers on board had just gotten airborne when it flew 400 feet below the United Airlines plane carrying 160 passengers.

The controller, a 24-year veteran of the job, had been tasked with weaving a string of flights departing on a south-north runway through a succession of flights arriving on the perpendicular landing strip, an auxiliary runway in use at the time because of construction work on Newark's second north-south runway.

The controller had cleared the ExpressJet for takeoff with the United jet 3.1 miles to the southeast. But 15 seconds later, when the controller noticed that the ExpressJet had only just begun to roll with the United jet now only a mile away, he directed the United pilot to "go around," or abort the landing and circle back for a second try. The controller also instructed the ExpressJet pilot to watch out for the United jet.  

The ExpressJet pilot put the nose of the aircraft down, staying low to the ground despite having just lifted off, while the United pilot pulled up sharply.

In its finding last week, the NTSB stated the probable cause of the incident as "the local controller's failure to comply with Federal Aviation Administration separation requirements for aircraft operating on intersecting runways."

The air traffic controller found to be at fault in the incident, a former Air Force controller who had worked at Newark Liberty since 2003, did not shirk responsibility, according to the NTSB, which stated that he acknowledged "he did not send UAL1243 around early enough."

The FAA declined to comment on any disciplinary measures the controller faced. His union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, also declined to comment.

The ExpressJet "Pilot Statement," one of a dozen documents included in the NTSB investigative docket, was not a statement by the pilot at all. Unlike the lengthy first-person accounts offered by the two United pilots, the ExpressJet statement is a brief memo from an ExpressJet company official that ignores the 15-second delay entirely.

It stated: "The crew reported that, after a line up and wait clearance, they were cleared for takeoff. Takeoff was normal."

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Cessna 207A, Wings of Alaska, N62AK: Fatal accident occurred July 17, 2015 in Juneau, Alaska

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report: 


FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Juneau FSDO-05

NTSB Identification: ANC15FA049
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, July 17, 2015 in Juneau, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 207A, registration: N62AK
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 4 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 July 17, 2015, about 1318 Alaska daylight time, a Cessna 207A airplane, N62AK, sustained substantial damage following an in-flight collision with tree-covered terrain about 18 miles west of Juneau, Alaska. The flight was being operated as Flight 202, by Sea Port Airlines, Inc., dba Wings of Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) scheduled commuter flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries, and four passengers sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions were reported at the Juneau International Airport at the time of departure. Flight 202 departed the Juneau Airport about 1308, for a scheduled 20 minute flight to Hoonah, Alaska. A company flight plan was on file and company flight following procedures were in effect.

According to Juneau Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) personnel, the pilot requested and received taxi clearance to depart for the 20 minute VFR flight to Hoonah at 1306. The flight was cleared for takeoff about 2 minutes later by the ATCT specialist on duty with no reported problems. About 15 minutes later, Juneau Police dispatchers received a 911 cell phone call from a passenger on board that the airplane had crashed.

About 1336, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Alaska received a 406 Mhz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal assigned to the accident airplane. At 1421, after being notified of an overdue airplane, and after learning about reports of an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal along the accident pilot's anticipated flight route, search and rescue personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka, began a search for the missing airplane. About 1650, the crew of a U.S. Coast Guard HH-60 helicopter located the airplane's wreckage in an area of mountainous, tree-covered terrain. A rescue swimmer was lowered to the accident site and discovered that one of the airplane's occupants, the pilot, died at the scene, and four others had survived the crash. The four survivors were hoisted aboard the HH-60 helicopter in two trips, and then transported to Juneau.

Assisted by the crew of a United States Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), along with three members from Juneau Mountain Rescue, reached the accident site on the afternoon of July 18.

The on-scene examination revealed that the airplane impacted at large spruce tree, at an elevation of about 1,250 feet mean sea level. After the initial impact, the airplane fuselage separated into two pieces. The forward section of the airplane, consisting of the cockpit and engine, separated just forward of the main landing gear assembly and came to rest inverted about 50 feet forward of the initial impact point. The remaining section consisting of the main cabin, wings, and empennage came to rest inverted just below the initial impact point. The wreckage path was on approximately a 215 degree heading, and uphill (All headings/ bearings noted in this report are magnetic). The average heights of the trees surrounding the accident site were in excess of 100 feet tall.

All of the airplanes major components were found at the main wreckage site.

The closest official weather observation station is Juneau, which is located about 18 miles east of the accident site. On July 17, at 1253, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting in part: Wind, 110 degrees at 14 knots; visibility, 7 statute miles in light rain and mist; clouds and ceiling, 200 feet few, 3,500 feet overcast; temperature, 57 degrees F; dew point, 55 degrees F; altimeter, 30.24 inHg.

The accident airplane was equipped with an avionics package known as automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), which is also known as "Capstone." ADS-B technology provides pilots with situational awareness by displaying the airplane's position over terrain, while using GPS technology, coupled with an instrument panel mounted, moving map display. The ADS-B equipment installed in the accident airplane included two Chelton multifunction display (MFD) units. One MFD provides the pilot with a moving map with terrain awareness information, and the other provides primary flight display information. The two MFD units were removed from the wreckage and shipped, to the NTSB vehicle recorder laboratory, Washington, D.C.

The airplane was equipped with a Continental Motors IO-520-F reciprocating engine. A detailed engine examination is pending.

Auburn University graduate Fariah Lashawn Peterson, 45, died July 17, 2015 when the airplane she was piloting crashed in Alaska.

Fariah Lashawn Peterson, 45, always wanted to be an airplane pilot, from the time she was a small child growing up in Birmingham.

"When she was a little girl, she pretended we were flying instead of riding the bus," said her older sister, Michelle Ramsey. "If my mother was taking us shopping, we rode the city bus. I was the co-pilot and she was the pilot. She knew that's what she wanted to do from a young age."

Peterson got to live her dream, but it ended tragically on July 17 when the Wings of Alaska plane she was piloting crash-landed. She was killed. The four passengers survived.

"All of her passengers survived," Ramsey said. "We're very grateful to God for that."

Peterson attended Wylam Elementary School and the Alabama School of Fine Arts before graduating from Ensley High School in 1988. She graduated from Auburn University in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in business administration, with a concentration in finance.

In 1997, she graduated from Kennesaw State University with a master's degree in business administration. She worked for Coca-Cola Enterprises in Atlanta 1998-2001.

She received a Delta Airlines scholarship and graduated in 2003 from Western Michigan University with a degree in aviation flight science. She wanted to be a commercial pilot, but many of the airlines were not hiring after the terrorist attacks of 2001, so she went back to work as a financial analyst, Ramsey said.

She worked for Global Response in Margate, Fla., from 2003-04 and for Pediatric Medical Group in Sunrise, Fla., from 2004-05.

She worked as a senior financial analyst for Federal Express in Memphis from 2005-2013. While living in Memphis, she attended Greater Imani Church. She was ordained as the first woman deacon at the church, Ramsey said.

She had hoped to move into a job as a pilot for Federal Express, but that didn't happen.

"She never gave up her dream about wanting to fly," Ramsey said. "Then she called and said, 'I quit my job. I sold my house.'"

She went to work as a flight instructor in Florida and then Georgia before going to work for Seaport Airlines.

"She was an adventurer," Ramsey said. "She always said, 'God didn't create this world for us to just sit in one little spot.' She was never afraid."

Wings of Alaska is a division of Seaport Airlines. "She said, 'They're very short-staffed in Alaska. I'm going to go help them.' She was only supposed to stay for the summer. She went there at the end of May. The people in Juneau loved her. She loved it there. She took so many pictures."

The morning of the crash, Peterson called her sister to wish her well on her state nursing test that day. "She said, 'Don't worry, you'll pass.'"

Ramsey did pass, but that same day, she got the news from Alaska. "On July 17, we got that fateful call that they lost contact with her plane," Ramsey said. "She braced them for an emergency landing. She knew that they were going to crash land. When they treated the survivors, they kept asking, 'How is the pilot?'"

The crash happened about 18 miles west of Juneau, on what was supposed to be a 20-minute flight to Hoonah, about 40 miles west of Juneau. The airplane went down in a rugged area and struck a spruce tree, according to a preliminary report issued by the National Transportation and Safety Board. On July 17 in the vicinity of the crash, the National Weather Service reported rain, fog and reduced visibility with cloud ceilings down to 400 feet.

"All of us at Wings of Alaska and SeaPort Airlines are deeply saddened by the accident, and the confirmation of the loss of pilot Fariah Peterson," Wings of Alaska CEO Rob McKinney said on the day of the crash. "We have lost a member of our work family, and our thoughts and prayers continue for everyone involved and touched by this tragedy." 

The NTSB has recovered equipment from the Cessna 207A airplane, N62AK, and will issue a full report at a later date.

Ramsey believes her sister did everything she could to put the safety of her passengers first. "I know she did everything she could to save those passengers," she said.

"She was very wise, always giving me advice," Ramsey said. "Whatever she set her mind to do, she was going to do. She always had this very contagious smile and laugh. Some people live to be 90 and don't accomplish what she did at 45."

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Fariah Peterson

Fariah Peterson, 45, of Birmingham, Alabama, was the pilot of the Wings of Alaska Cessna 207 that crashed Friday and the sole casualty of the incident.
Courtesy of Jonathon Peterson 

This image was captured by an FAA webcam facing northeast from Sisters Island, near the crash site, moments before the crash was first reported in the area of the crash, the National Weather Service reported rain, fog and reduced visibility, with cloud ceilings down to 400 feet.

The Alaska State Troopers released an updated list of names Saturday morning of the passengers aboard a Wings of Alaska plane that crashed on land 18 miles west of Juneau Friday afternoon.

The passengers were Humberto Hernandez-Aponte, 57, and Sandra Herrera Lopez, 60, of Juneau; Ernestine Hanlon-Abel, 64, of Hoonah; Jose Vazquez, 15, of Puerto Rico; and pilot Fariah Peterson, 45, of Birmingham, Alabama.

Peterson died in the crash. Troopers are working to recover her body.

“All of us at Wings of Alaska and SeaPort Airlines are deeply saddened by the accident, and the confirmation of the loss of pilot Fariah Peterson,” Wings of Alaska CEO Rob McKinney said in a noon statement. “We have lost a member of our work family, and our thoughts and prayers continue for everyone involved and touched by this tragedy.” 

The other four victims were transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau for treatment.

According to a statement from the hospital, Hernandez-Aponte and Vazquez are listed in stable condition and are receiving treatment locally.

Lopez and Hanlon-Abel were both medevaced to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. As of 3:15 p.m., they were both listed to be in serious condition and were receiving care in the hospital's intensive care unit, according to the nursing manager. Hanlon-Abel had previously been listed to be in critical condition. The hospital was unable to give any details of the passengers' injuries.

Wings of Alaska has hired a counselor "to provide information and support" for family and friends of victims of the crash, according to a statement from the company. The counselor will be available at 2 p.m. Saturday.

To set up a counseling session, friends and family can call the Wings of Alaska assistance line at 407-362-0632. Those connected to people on board the flight yesterday who would prefer to talk to a counselor via phone are also encouraged to use this number, according to the statement.

Wings of Alaska has cancelled its Saturday flights "out of sensitivity to employees." Service will resume Sunday. The airline will contact affected customers to refund and rebook tickets. Customers with questions about a reservation can reach the reservation call center at 800-789-9464, according to the statement.

 Fariah Peterson 

 Fariah Peterson 

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The woman who died in a plane crash in Alaska was the pilot of the aircraft and is originally from Birmingham, Alabama.

Relatives of 45-year-old Fariah Peterson confirm she was the pilot on board who died in the crash. Several family members posted messages on Facebook Saturday morning sharing the news of her death.

"She loved what she did," said Michelle Ramsey, one of Fariah's sisters.

Peterson was a pilot for Wings of Alaska and moved to Juneau, AK about 2 months ago. Prior to that she lived in Oregon and Georgia and was a flight instructor, according to Ramsey.

Peterson graduated from Ensley High School in Birmingham, completed undergraduate studies at Auburn University and earned a Masters degree from Kennesaw State in Georgia. Peterson grew up in Birmingham's Wylam neighborhood, Ramsey told WBRC FOX6 News early Saturday morning by phone.

Peterson learned to fly at a school in Battle Creek, MI, according to Ramsey.

The Cessna 207 was flying from Juneau, AK to Hoonah, AK Friday afternoon when it crashed. It was carrying four passengers with Peterson piloting the aircraft, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The Juneau Police said they received a 911 call on Friday afternoon from a person reporting they had been in a plane crash. The name of the caller matched the name of one of the passengers.

"She saved the lives of those passengers," Ramsey said of her sister.

The Coast Guard was able to hoist three of the injured, Humberto Hernandez, 57, and his wife, Sandra Herrera, 60, both of Juneau; and Jose Vasquez, 15, of Puerto Rico, on the first trip and 64-year-old Hoonah resident Ernestine Hanlon-Able on a second trip. All were transported to Juneau, according to Alaska State Troopers.

"I know she did everything she could to save those passengers," said Ramsey.

A U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty were dispatched for search and recovery efforts.

The NTSB will fly to the scene Saturday to conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Statements from Wings of Alaska on plane crash:

We are working on getting more information about this crash. Check back for updates.

A single-engine commuter plane on a short flight between Juneau and Hoonah crashed Friday afternoon, killing the 45-year-old pilot. The plane’s four passengers survived, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers identified the pilot of Wings of Alaska Flight 202 as Fariah Peterson of Birmingham, Alabama. Her family described her as brilliant, outgoing and determined to fly.

“I can remember when we would ride the school bus she would pretend that we were flying and she would be the pilot,” said Michelle Ramsey, Peterson’s 48-year-old sister, in a phone interview from Alabama.

Peterson piloted the Cessna 207 that crashed into rugged terrain north of Point Howard, about 18 miles west of Juneau. The cause of the crash remained under investigation late Friday, troopers said.

Troopers identified the plane's four passengers as Humberto Hernandez, 57, and his wife, Sandra Herrera, 60, both of Juneau; Jose Vasquez, 15, of Puerto Rico; and Ernestine Hanlon-Abel, 64, of Hoonah.

At 1:26 p.m., Juneau 911 dispatchers got a call from one of the passengers who said “they had just been involved in a plane crash,” according to a statement from the Juneau Police Department.

“The name of the 911 caller matched the name of one of the people listed on the missing plane,” said the statement. The call came in two minutes after the plane was due to arrive in Hoonah.

Three helicopters carrying volunteers from Juneau Mountain Rescue flew to the area of the crash and ground crews found the downed plane at about 1,300 feet above sea level, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst.

By 6:30 p.m., rescue crews had lifted three of the survivors into a helicopter. Troopers said the first three people out of the crash area were Hernandez, Herrera and Vasquez. DeVuyst reported about an hour later that a fourth person with “extensive injuries” had been lifted into a helicopter. Troopers identified this person as Hanlon-Abel.

All four were taken to Juneau for treatment, DeVuyst said.

Bartlett Regional Hospital said in a statement that two of the survivors were in stable condition, one was in critical condition and one was in serious condition.

"Arrangements are being made for medical evacuation of the latter two patients," the statement said.

Around 8 p.m. the Coast Guard sent a statement saying a search team found the fifth person dead.

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims following this tragic event," said Cmdr. Patrick Hilbert, deputy commander, Coast Guard Sector Juneau, in the statement.

Jonathon Peterson, the nephew of the pilot, described his aunt, Fariah Peterson, as amazing. "I bet she did something heroic to save everyone onboard but herself,” he said.

Her sister, Michelle Ramsey, said Peterson grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and graduated from Auburn University with a business degree, later earning her master’s degree from Kennesaw State University in Georgia. More than a decade ago, she graduated from flight school in Michigan, Ramsey said.

“She was just a loving person,” Ramsey said. “She loved doing what she was doing, and we’re very grateful that she saved the lives of those passengers. We’re praying that all of them heal and recover.”

Peterson had two sisters and two brothers, Ramsey said, as well as many nephews and nieces. She arrived in Juneau this summer and was scheduled to fly in Alaska until September before transferring to Tennessee, Ramsey said.

On Friday evening, Treana White, 24, waited at Barlett Regional Hospital in Juneau to hear about her grandmother, Hanlon-Abel. Hanlon-Abel lived in Hoonah, but was in Juneau this week to take care of her mother. She flies between the two communities frequently, White said.

“It was pretty heartbreaking to hear about, but once we figured out that she was OK, it was huge relief,” White said.

A nurse told the family Friday evening that Hanlon-Abel knew her birthday and her husband’s phone number, White said. 

“She’s pretty strong,” she said.  

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator was traveling to Juneau from Anchorage on Friday evening, said the board's Alaska chief, Clint Johnson.

The investigator, Chris Shaver, was planning to meet with troopers when he arrived at the airport Friday night. Weather permitting, he will travel to the crash site Saturday, Johnson said.

Hoonah City Council member Mary Erickson said early Friday evening that she and others in Hoonah were following the news of the crash on social media and news websites. She described Hoonah, a largely Tlingit town of about 800, as tight-knit.

"In one way or another everyone is related," she said. "It’s mostly local people that travel back and forth."

Hoonah is 40 air miles west of Juneau. A spokeswoman for Wings of Alaska said in an email that the Cessna took off from Juneau at 1:06 p.m. and had been scheduled to complete the short hop to Hoonah by 1:24 p.m.

“The aircraft is known to be in rugged terrain, and rescue teams were dispatched immediately,” the airline spokeswoman said.

In messages posted to Twitter on Friday afternoon, Wings of Alaska said it “regrets to confirm that flight number 202 from Juneau, Alaska, to Hoonah, Alaska, has been involved in an accident.” The company said friends and family of the passengers can call 407-362-0632.

In the area of the crash, the National Weather Service reported rain, fog and reduced visibility Friday afternoon, with cloud ceilings down to 400 feet.

Mayor Ken Skaflestad of Hoonah said Friday afternoon that the news of the crash had shocked Hoonah, whose residents depend on planes or the ferry service to travel out of the town on Chichagof Island.

"It's accepted for us in the Bush that we are flying around and there are risks," Skaflestad said. "We are certainly thoughtful about all of the people onboard and those affected by it."

Skaflestad said the town was anxious as it waited for more information.

"The whole town has one ear to the telegraph to see what they can find out," Skaflestad said. "We're just devastated to hear about a plane crash anywhere, let alone one bound for Hoonah."

He said Wings of Alaska is one of two airlines flying between Hoonah and Juneau.

Wings of Alaska is owned by SeaPort Airlines Inc. of Portland, Oregon. Its president since 2007 is Rob McKinney of Oregon, a pilot. The company also operates in Oregon, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas and California, according to a posting by McKinney on LinkedIn.


Americans just can’t seem to stop pointing lasers at planes


Do you have a laser pointer? Maybe for presentations? Or playing with cats?

Don't point it at a plane.

Seriously, it's dangerous and illegal.

"When aimed at an aircraft from the ground, the powerful beam of light from a handheld laser can travel more than a mile and illuminate a cockpit, disorienting and temporarily blinding pilots," the Transportation Security Administration's Web site says. "Those who have been subject to such attacks have described them as the equivalent of a camera flash going off in a pitch black car at night."

That could be incredibly dangerous, especially when planes and helicopters are taking off or landing. "During critical phases of flight, particularly in hours of darkness when the eye is more sensitive to light sources, a laser strike in the cockpit can create a 'startle response' which negatively impacts pilot health and flight safety," Capt. Joe DePete, first vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association told the Post.

But people can't seem to stop doing it.

Just Wednesday night, 12 flights reported that lasers were pointed at them as they flew over New Jersey alone, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Eleven commercial aircraft and one military aircraft reported being illuminated by a laser, an agency spokesperson told The Post in a statement. And pilots across the country reported 23 other "laser incidents" that night.

That's more than normal, but part of a trend. The number of aviation-related "laser incidents" reported in the U.S. has increased more than tenfold in less than 10 years, according to the FAA's Web site. Back in 2006, there were 384 reports of lasers being pointed at aircraft. Last year, there were 3,894.

On the bright side, it doesn't look like America's obsession with lighting up planes with laser pointers has resulted in an aircraft crash. But getting caught pointing a laser at a plane can have some serious consequences: It's a federal crime that could net you years in prison and a hefty fine. And the FAA can also impose civil penalties.

Last year, a California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for repeatedly directing a laser pointer at a police helicopter, although an appeals court later overturned the sentence.

Original article can be found here:

Two planes collide at Murtala Mohammed Airport

The incident occurred at about 12pm on Friday, July 17, 2015, between two aircraft belonging to FirstNation Airways.

Two airplanes have collided at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos State.

The incident occurred at about 12pm on Friday, July 17, 2015, between two aircraft belonging to FirstNation Airways, Vanguard reports.

One of the planes was reportedly taxiing from the runway to MMA2 to drop off passengers while the other aircraft was preparing to take off for Port-Harcourt when the collision happened.

A source at airport is said to have blamed the incident on a possible misdirection by the marshals who directed the arriving plane to taxi to the wrong part of the apron.

The incident has been confirmed by the General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Fan Ndubuoke.

Ndubuoke said that there was no casualty and that the incident had been referred to the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) for further investigation.

A similar incident had occurred at the airport on July 6, after an Emirates aircraft hit a parked Hak Air plane.


Tragedy was averted on Friday at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 in Lagos following a ground collision of two aircraft belonging to FirstNation Airways. 
A similar incident had occurred at the airport on July 6, following the collision of two aircraft belonging to Emirates and Hak Air.

Friday’s incident which happened at about midday involved two Airbus 330 conveying not fewer than 250 passengers.

The two aircraft were partially damaged as a result of the collision.

A source at the airport said one of the aircraft was taxiing from the runway to the terminal, for passengers to disembark while the other aircraft was preparing to take off to Port-Harcourt from the same terminal.

The source said the pilot may have been misdirected by the marshals who led the pilot to taxi to the wrong part of the apron.

According to the source, the Port Harcourt bound aircraft was parked at Gate 4 while the arriving aircraft was bound for Gate 3 of the terminal.

However, the source claimed that the marshals misdirected the arriving aircraft to the same Gate as the parked aircraft which led to the two wings brushing each other.

Following the incident, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority immediately grounded both aircraft while passengers were asked to disembark by the airline.

It was gathered that the refund of tickets were made to passengers on the Port-Harcourt bound aircraft by the airline.

The NCAA also confirmed the incident in a statement issued by its General Manager, Public Affairs, Fan Ndubuoke.

Mr. Ndubuoke said no passenger was hurt and that the incident had been referred to the Accident Investigation Bureau for further investigation.

He also reiterated NCAA’s commitment to safety and security of passengers.


Rescue teams on standby in two potential plane crisis

Northland's top-notch helicopter rescue team was put on alert for two separate call-outs involving planes preparing to ditch into the ocean off the region's coast.

Extra life rafts, trained rescue swimmers, lights and specialist winch operators were ready to take to the air in the Northland Electricity rescue helicopter and carry out the complex night-time rescues if needed.

The first call for help came last Saturday at 10.50am, followed by another distress call from a pilot about 4.55pm on Monday. In the first call, Airways NZ reported a PAC P750 aircraft was overdue on a ferry flight from Kerikeri to Norfolk Island. It was revealed the aircraft was on the ground at Kerikeri.

However, one and a half hours later, after it had taken off, Auckland Oceanic advised the same aircraft had failed to report at a waypoint and could not be raised on HF or VHF radio. Another aircraft attempted a relay and established the P750 had a communications failure.

Through a series of clicks they worked out the pilot, and sole occupant, was able to get the light aircraft to Kerikeri with unknown problems.

The Northland rescue helicopter was placed on standby until the pilot was finally able to make phone contact on landing at Kerikeri.

On Monday, the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ in Wellington was advised the pilot of a light aircraft on a delivery flight to New Zealand via American Samoa was concerned he might not have enough fuel to reach Auckland. He was encountering strong head winds but it was also suspected the fuel gauge was faulty.

The Nest helicopter in Whangarei was advised and prepared for a flight if required.

Subsequent information from the aircraft showed winds had eased significantly and he would have enough fuel to reach Auckland. It was confirmed the aircraft arrived safely.

Nest chief pilot Peter Turnbull said the rescue crew were on standby at their Whangarei base, ready to fly to the helicopter's offshore maximum range of about 250km.

"We could have escorted them back but if they ditched we would have done all we could to save the pilots. We had the gear and the crew to carry out such a heavy duty operation," Mr Turnbull said.

"Ditching at night in the sea would have been a horrifying experience."


Wigan plane crash fear

Emergency services were scrambled after fears that a low flying airplane was about to crash in Wigan.

A 999 call was made from a Gidlow resident after the light aircraft was seen very low in the sky coming over the tops of houses with smoke pouring out of its front.

The flight path was taking it north and it was thought that if the plane was stricken that it might try to make an emergency landing at Haigh Country Park.

Many other residents also saw the plane and one speaking to the Wigan Evening Post this morning said that she had heard rumors that it had crash-landed in the park’s windmill field.

But police say that they could find no trace of the aircraft after Wednesday evening’s emergency.

A spokesman said: “We took a call at 6.46pm from a member of the public living in Gidlow Lane who said that a light aircraft had come over houses quite low with smoke coming out of the front.

“Police went to Haigh Hall because that was in its flight path but could not see anything. The National Police Air Service also conducted a full aerial search up to Bolton and could find no evidence of a crash either.

“The call was well intentioned though.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were on standby after receiving reports of an aircraft in distress.

“We sent a fire engine to follow its flight path and there was a theory that it might have come down on the Haigh Hall estate, but this proved not to be the case.

“Checks were made with air traffic control and local airports and aerodromes but no planes had been reported missing.”


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The plane looked to be heading for the grounds of Haigh Hall, but no wreckage was found.

Deer Creek Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania: Search turns up no sign of plane



An hour and a half long search in northern Mercer County was called off Friday after no signs were found of following a small plane that was reported to have gone down near Interstate 79.

Authorities received the report shortly before noon on Friday.  The caller told dispatchers that the plane went down behind trees north of Lake Wilhelm in Deer Creek Township.

One witness reports seeing a plane flying very low to the surface of the lake, but they did not see the plane crash.

A helicopter that searched from above found no traces of wreckage. 

Authorities also contacted officials at local airports, who had no reports of missing aircraft.

The search was called off just before 1:30 p.m.


Paduol Ater's high-flying dream (with video)

A "Lost Boy" of Africa, a refugee and now a qualified pilot, Paduol Ater's journey has been long and often life-threatening. And it's not over yet.

 Sky pilot: Paduol Ater at the controls.

Retired scientist Bob McCown with Paduol Ater at Archerfield Airport in Brisbane. 

Coming to Australia in 2002 with limited English from war-torn Sudan, refugee Paduol Ater is now a qualified commercial pilot.

The brightest thing in Paduol Ater's austere Brisbane flat is a wall poster, positioned above his armchair, showing instrument lights glittering like jewels in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 passenger jet. Both pilot seats are empty, which allows Ater to visualize himself in one of them, guiding the beautiful machine around the globe. "That helps to keep my dream alive," he says. "It has been a long struggle, but every time I look at that picture it makes me feel happy."

Ater, 36, was just 10 when he fled his village in war-torn southern Sudan to escape a massacre. His parents and three of his four siblings were never seen again. Ater became one of Africa's so-called Lost Boys, running for his life with thousands of others and ending up in UN refugee camps. Many boys died during their ordeals, but for Ater, fascinated by jet trails above them as they crossed the desert, the experience led to a singular ambition that set the course of his life.

"That was my first inspiration to be a pilot," he says. "I watched the planes and thought, 'One day, I might be able to fly like that ... but first I have to go to school.' " Ater excuses himself, goes to the kitchen and returns with a Coke and a bottle of water on a doily-lined tray, which he places before me. "I didn't know which," he says, hovering attentively.

During his 11 years in refugee camps, my host learnt English, tore through primary school and began his secondary education. He arrived in Australia as a refugee in 2002, settled in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, and completed his final three years of high school in record time.

He threw himself into pilot training, avoiding social distractions and working long hours at various jobs to save for flying lessons. By 2011, with financial help from a local benefactor, he had moved to Fortitude Valley in Brisbane and qualified as a commercial pilot.

Ater was elated, yet still he couldn't relax. To become an airline pilot he needed to get work flying light aircraft and clock up as many hours as possible. So he began responding to advertised pilots' positions in tourism, mining and charter work in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

And that's when his extraordinary "dream" hit an unanticipated obstacle: despite applying for more than 300 pilots' jobs since 2011, Paduol Ater, a teetotal Christian with no criminal background, has yet to be granted a single interview.

Still alone – "I think about marriage and a family, but I can't yet because it would distract me from my goal" – he remains astonishingly upbeat. He works at two jobs to support himself and his younger brother, Lazarus (who also escaped the massacre and is now in Kenya), and spends his nights studying advanced aviation subjects.

"If sometimes I feel frustrated," he says, "I get in my car and drive to Brisbane Airport, just to be close to the planes. I have not lost my determination. Because I know that one day my dream will come true."

Not long before fleeing his village of Akop in southern Sudan, Ater underwent a traditional Dinka initiation ceremony to mark his passage, at age 10, from boy to man. He sat quite still, reciting the names of his ancestors, while tribal markings were scarified deep into his forehead with a sharp knife. (A kink or bend in the parallel scar lines is indelible proof that the initiate flinched or moved. Ater's lines are uniformly straight.)

"You then become an important member of the family," he says. "You take part in decisions, and your father will always have you beside him."

Sudan's long and murderous civil war (between the Muslim-Arab government in Khartoum in the north, and the predominantly black African, Christian-animist south) had undergone several stages before Ater and his brother and three sisters were even born. Their father, who kept a few cattle and goats, hoped to find a way to send at least some of the children to school. "Otherwise, I would have become a survival farmer like my father," Ater says.

Then came the terrible dawn raid by government-backed militiamen, known as Janjawid ("man with gun on horse"). Ater woke to shouts and screams and realised their house was on fire. "Our parents told us to run and run and just keep running ... outside, people were running in all directions. I ran beside many other children into the desert."

He joined a ragged, half-starved group of boys marching across the desert in search of safety. "There were thousands of us. There were a few girls, but mostly boys aged from 10 to 20 who'd followed one another out of the [sacked] villages. The girls must have followed their mothers in other directions."

They ate roots and insects, travelling only by night to avoid pursuing militia and aerial bombardments. Thousands died along the way of starvation, gunshot wounds, animal attacks, illness and drowning.

"A lot of us drowned crossing the Nile," Ater says. "We made rafts from timber and grass for the young ones, but the current was so strong and the crocodiles were everywhere, waiting."

By day, hiding where he could, Ater lay watching jet trails and wondering how people learnt to fly. "At first," he tells me, "I thought pilots must have some special ability given to them by God. But later I realised it was a matter of opportunity."

Ater and what remained of his group were eventually rescued by UN forces and taken to a camp in the Ethiopian border town of Narus. "Then I thought, 'Okay, I'm alive. But what about the rest [his family and friends at home]?' Those were my thoughts, over and over. But there was nothing I could do. There was no telephone to ring, no news, no nothing."

In 1991, two years after he arrived in Narus, the Ethiopian government fell to a coalition of rebel forces, forcing Ater and his friends at the camp to again run for their lives: "We ran away back across the same desert!" The rebels, aided by Sudanese forces, were trying to drive boys who had been hiding in Ethiopia back to Sudan, where they would face a choice of conscription into the army or death.

"Knowing this, we headed towards Kenya," says Ater. "We had no food, and more of us drowned crossing another dangerous river. And all the time the rebels were shooting at everybody and planes were bombing everybody. I was 12 then. I thought, 'If planes are good, why are they killing us? What's happening!' " It took three weeks to reach the Kakuma refugee camp on the Kenyan border.

The hot, windswept camp became Ater's world for the next nine years. "We could not go beyond the perimeters, and there was so many people that the food was never adequate. But I could go to school, for the first time in all those years of chaos. I told myself, 'Even though I am hungry I must keep studying to give myself a good future and become a pilot.' " Helped by a cousin who had left Akop before him and made it to Australia, Ater successfully applied to the Australian Embassy for resettlement.

Part of his journey here in 2002 was made aboard an EgyptAir 767, whose captain he met during the flight. "I spoke to him in Arabic [about] how I wanted to be a jet pilot like him," Ater says. "He gave me advice, and then he said, 'If you do it, Paduol, perhaps one day we will meet at the airport.' For some reason, I always remember those words."

On the crest of the Great Dividing Range, 90 minutes' west of Brisbane, the "Garden City" of Toowoomba is home to a well-established Sudanese community. (More than 20,000 Sudan-born people now live in Australia. Most are in Victoria, followed by NSW, Western Australia and Queensland.)

There have been pockets of opposition to the Sudanese – typically, shouted racial abuse, or online propaganda from White Australia types – and some social problems within the transplanted refugee communities. But the newcomers have also met with warm welcomes and acts of remarkable generosity.

In Toowoomba, while completing his education at St Mary's College, Paduol Ater got to know agricultural scientist Bob McCown, a long-time Africa-lover who became his unsung benefactor. Then based at the local CSIRO branch, McCown was so taken by Ater's story he personally donated most of the roughly $100,000 it cost for him to get his commercial pilot's licence.

"It cost a lot of money; more than I ever thought," Ater says. "Bob made it possible, and whenever I think of my achievement, I think of Bob and give thanks for what he did."

Now retired and living in Brisbane, McCown, 77, and his family moved to Queensland from the United States in the mid-1960s. Over the years, the scientist made a number of extended visits to Ethiopia and Kenya to work voluntarily on agricultural projects.

"Paduol is just so passionate about flying," he tells me at his home in Kangaroo Point, "and I've always found it difficult to resist passionate people." McCown is puzzled and frustrated by the lack of responses to Ater's search for a job as a pilot. He thinks a downturn in demand for pilots in the mining industry might be a factor, but suspects there could be other reasons.

"I can't help but feel there is a racial aspect to it," he says. "I could be dead wrong on that, but if employers are being more picky, when it comes to the crunch a black face doesn't help you get a job."

Leonie Redfern, Ater's current instructor at the Royal Queensland Aero Club, has the same feeling. "Yes, it's very difficult right now, with many pilots seeking work," ventures the veteran aviator, "but I do think Australians on the whole are fairly racist, though they may not like to admit it."

She's quick to add that Ater himself hasn't complained of racism: "Paduol never complains about anything, ever. He's had so many knocks, yet he just keeps on going." Redfern says most applications from inexperienced pilots seeking general aviation positions "go straight in the bin" in the current environment, and that to compete Ater needs to keep adding to his flying time – at a cost of about $500 an hour for a twin-engine plane.

During his last flight test with her a few days earlier, Ater, as usual, wore his freshly pressed black and white pilot's uniform: "A lot of students try to avoid the uniform, but I think Paduol feels it helps him to fit in." As they prepared to land at the end of the flight, the weather turned ugly.

"We could only just make out the runway, with rain and a crosswind. But Paduol just grabbed hold of the airplane and made it happen." Redfern says she wouldn't hesitate to recommend him as a pilot. "He's hard-working, honest, and you can bet he'd put his heart and soul into any job he got."

Depressingly, though, businessman-aviator Dick Smith told Good Weekend there were "hardly any" jobs for general aviation pilots in Australia. "Over the last 10 years the thriving general aviation industry has been basically destroyed by [successive federal governments allowing] incredible increases in regulations and costs," Smith says.

Ater himself has little to say when asked if he thinks his ethnicity has played any part in the failure of his many job applications. "I can't figure it out," he tells me uncomfortably. "And because I've never [progressed to an] interview, it is hard to know what anyone involved might be thinking."

What about the publicity generated by some young Sudanese men in Australia getting involved in crime and street gangs? Could that be a factor?

"The entire Sudanese community is worried about that," says Ater. "There is good and bad in every community, but some young Sudanese growing up here haven't had that set of moral orientations where they learn what is right and wrong. And in this country, where everything is lovely and good, some [don't] take the opportunity to get educated and become better people. They are [distracted] by stupid things like drinking and smoking and fighting and making a lot of crimes."

Even during his trainee days, when he shared a Brisbane flat with a group of other would-be pilots, Ater was too preoccupied by his goal to join the socializing. "Every Friday the others would be bringing beer home," he says, "and I was the only one who didn't drink. They were all disappointed, asking why. Most of the time when they were drinking I would lock my door and just keep studying, studying, studying."

When he talks about flying, Ater's shyness disappears and he seems almost to relive the experience. The happiest day of his life so far, he says, was the first time he flew solo in Toowoomba in 2006. "It was in a little two-seater Tomahawk. I did a few circuits with the instructor and when we landed he said, 'Okay, you are on your own.' I said, 'What do you mean?' And he said, 'I'm happy. You can fly by yourself.' " A smile spreads across Ater's face.

"So I took off and flew and everything felt perfect. I told myself, 'Now I am on my own! Now the dream is really coming true.' "

When he landed, the instructor gave him his solo wings badge, which he wore in a photo that appeared in the local paper. "That is the day I will not forget," he says. Later, when he qualified to fly twin-engine aircraft, Ater criss-crossed the state on solo flights that lasted all day.

As he talks I try to imagine Ater as a child, the scars of his initiation barely healed, staring up from the desert at the mysterious vapour trails that became his only distraction from the horrors of war. "To fly like a bird," he says when asked what he remembers thinking back then. "Like a piece of machine high in the air!" He laughs. "It's unimaginable when you look at an airplane flying. How does it fly? That's what I asked myself, over and over."

Now he is the only qualified pilot in the local Sudanese community. "And when I see how [community] people address me, the way they perceive me, then I realize I have achieved something quite difficult and special. Since I qualified, everyone has come to know me. But I had to take some of them up for joy flights before they would actually believe I can fly!"

Before we part, he produces a red model biplane (a gift from the EgyptAir captain) and displays it proudly: "He also presented me with a little watch. It still goes now, and when the battery runs out I always change it." The following morning, Paduol Ater rises early and drives to a farm at Gatton, en route to Toowoomba, to spend another back-breaking day picking tomatoes. The Lost Boy from Akop still has a long way to go to reach the hallowed cockpit of a Boeing 737, yet nowhere near as far as he's already traveled.

Story, video and photos:

Paduol Ater with a model biplane gifted to him by an EgyptAir captain.

Incident occurred July 16, 2015 at New Bedford Regional Airport (KEWB), New Bedford, Massachusetts

NEW BEDFORD — A small plane with one person aboard averted an emergency at about noon Thursday, landing safely at New Bedford Regional Airport after reporting landing gear trouble on its approach. 

 The pilot said on the way in that he couldn't lower his landing gear, which was confirmed by the tower shortly after noon.

Fire and EMS equipment and personnel were dispatched to stand by while the pilot attempted to crank his landing gear down by hand, according to Fire Chief Michael Gomes.

"They've got three green lights," Gomes told The Standard-Times.

With that success, the plane landed safely at about 12:15 p.m.

The aircraft involved is a Beechcraft Bonanza, according to Airport Manager Erick D'leon.

Once safely on the ground, the pilot took the plane to the facility of NorEast Aviation. He refused to talk to The Standard-Times.


Aero Vodochody L-39C, N6175C, Momentum Foundation Inc: Accident occurred May 28, 2015 in Grand Junction, Colorado

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board:

FAA FSDO:  FAA Salt Lake City FSDO-07


Aviation Accident Data Summary -   National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: GAA15CA096
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, May 28, 2015 in Grand Junction, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/12/2015
Aircraft: AERO VODOCHODY L39, registration: N6175C
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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

According to the pilot, while flying over a river at an altitude of about 100 feet above water and ground level, at 250 knots, the airplane impacted unmarked power line wires that spanned the river. The power line wires are clearly identified on the Visual Flight Rules Sectional Aeronautical Chart. The pilot immediately established a climb and returned to the airport without further incident. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the nose, left wing, and vertical stabilizer. 

The pilot reported that there were no pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's inadequate preflight planning and subsequent failure to remain clear of power line wires while maneuvering at low altitude.

The identity of the jet pilot who barreled up De Beque Canyon at 300 mph or more and sheared off seven power cables more than six weeks ago will come out in a final report this month, a federal official investigating the case said.

The final report also will identify a second person in the Aero L-39C Albatros jet, said Michael Hicks, an air-safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, on Monday.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., meanwhile, is set to inquire with the Federal Aviation Administration “to try to get a more complete accounting from the FAA of what happened and who is liable for damages,” his office said.

The jet, which lost a portion of its right wing in the collision near the confluence of the Colorado River and Plateau Creek on May 28, was broken down into several pieces and shipped from Grand Junction Regional Airport last week to Gadsden, Alabama.

“Our investigation is not complete,” Hicks said. Some details remain to be collected and the final report written before details are made public, he said.

The final report is to be reviewed by John DeLisi, director of the Office of Aviation Safety, and another accident investigator, Larry Lewis, is to approve it, Hicks said.

Tipton’s office, along with Mesa County officials, will discuss the incident next week in a conference call with FAA officials, Tipton’s office said.

Among the details to be included are the identity of a second person aboard the jet, Hicks said.

While the pilot isn’t being identified because the investigation is continuing, “I can say he was qualified to fly the aircraft,” Hicks said.

The pilot, who was interviewed by the Colorado State Patrol soon after the incident, questioned a state trooper about why the power lines were unmarked.

The towers from which the cables were strung stand 65 feet tall. Aviation regulations require that aircraft fly no lower than 500 feet above the ground.

In an interview with the State Patrol, the pilot told a trooper that he was traveling east up De Beque Canyon, looking at the Grand Valley roller dam, when he struck the cables.

He pulled up after the collision and, with much of the right wing sheared off, circled the Grand Valley to burn off fuel, then landed at Grand Junction Regional Airport, which was where he took off originally.

His passenger left immediately, the patrol said.

No state charges are being pursued by the State Patrol, and officials didn’t get the pilot’s identity.

Steve Reynolds of Glenwood Springs, whose car was damaged by the high-tension cables as they snapped, said the FAA told him his insurance company would be reimbursed for its payment to repair his car.

“By the grace of God, I’m fine and my car’s repaired and that’s all I’ve heard,” Reynolds said.

Red Bluff, California, trucker Stan Kolbert, who loaded the plane onto his flatbed to take it to Alabama, said he simply answered a call for a pickup.

The disassembled jet was an item of interest all along the trip, Kolbert said, with many motorists taking photos along the way, especially from cars with Colorado plates.

“It was probably about the coolest thing I ever hauled,” Kolbert said.

Story, comments and photo gallery:

L-39 N6175C from Matt Cawby on Vimeo.
L-39 N6175C taxi test at Paine Field May 8, 2010.

A WestStar Aviation ground crew tows an Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros aircraft across the tarmac to a hanger at Grand Junction Regional Airport on May 28.

A jet that sheared through at least one power cable in De Beque Canyon on Thursday should have been no lower than 500 feet above the Colorado River, federal rules suggest.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, a spokesman said, noting that he couldn’t elaborate.

In addition to setting a minimum altitude for flying in “other than congested areas,” Federal Aviation Regulations also prohibit operating aircraft in a “careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.”

According to another section of the regulations, when flying over uncongested areas, pilots are required to maintain “an altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.”

The regulations also prohibit flying at an indicated airspeed of 250 knots, or 288 mph, at less than 10,000 feet in altitude.

The regulations list no penalties for violations of its provisions. The FAA, however, is the licensing agency for pilots.

State officials are not pursuing investigations of the incident, in which a jet that later landed safely at Grand Junction Regional Airport, cut through power cabling in De Beque Canyon near the Colorado Highway 65 exit.

One snapped cable damaged several passenger vehicles and a semi-trailer. No injuries were reported, though witnesses said the semi driver’s face was bloodied in the collision that shattered the front windshield of the truck.

The jet, an L–39C Vodochody, is owned by a Tennessee foundation and a person answering the telephone there said it had been leased to the federal government and that all questions were being referred to the U.S. Air Force.

The Air Force has offered no response to inquiries about the incident.

A truck belonging to Monument Transportation was hit by a power line and dragged nearly a quarter mile along Interstate 70 near the exit to Colorado Highway 65 in De Beque Canyon around 1 p.m. Thursday.

UPDATE 2 p.m. An Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros allegedly made contact with an overhead power line near the intersection of I-70 and Colorado Highway 65, causing the line to snap, fall and break the windshields of several cars and a semitrailer traveling on I-70, according to Colorado State Patrol. The break in the line apparently caused the power to go out around 1 p.m. for about 30 people who live off Canal Road about 1 mile west of Cameo. Xcel energy is at the scene making repairs. Xcel energy estimates power will be restored shortly after 3 p.m.

UPDATE 1:49 p.m.: Pilot has landed plane safely at Grand Junction Regional Airport.

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: According to scanner traffic, the plane is a Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros plane with one soul on board. The plane is at 16,000 feet and burning off fuel, according to scanner reports, and has wing damage.

12:55 p.m.: The exit along I-70 in De Beque Canyon that connects Colorado Hwy 65 is closed, and at least one lane of the interstate is shut down, on a report of debris from a plane striking a number of vehicles in the roadway.

Radio traffic indicates that a low-flying plane may have clipped a power line in the area. Emergency crews are working to free a wire from the roadway, and numerous vehicles have stopped and reported damage, according to initial reports from the scene.

Earlier radio calls indicated that debris from a plane is what the caused the vehicles to stop. Witnesses at the scene report no plane down in the area, but an effort has been launched to sweep the area from the air.

Most of the activity is near mile marker 49 along I-70, according to dispatch reports.

What is being described as a 'military style' plane over emergency dispatch traffic, made an emergency landing at Grand Junction Regional Airport Thursday afternoon "without incident" according to Amy Jordan, with the airport.

The call first came in around 1 p.m. Witnesses reported the plane hit a power line and possibly some cars in the area of the Roller Dam along Interstate 70 in the Debeque Canyon.

Witnesses reported seeing debris along the roadway and river bank from the plane's wing.

The plane, circled the area for about 20 minutes to burn off before landing at the airport and being checked out. It appears the two people on board the plane were not injured.

There are traffic impacts along I-70 as of 2 PM this afternoon, the right lane of both East and West bound have been shut down by CDOT.

The plane, is now in a private hangar on private property. The airport says they do not have the authority to show us the condition of the plane.