Monday, August 24, 2015

Pilots, air taxis nervous about restrictions for Obama's Alaska visit

Pilots, air carriers and other players in Alaska aviation are gathering Monday afternoon at Stevens Anchorage International Airport to learn more about expected flight restrictions when President Obama visits Alaska next week.

Stress levels are high for small flying services that don’t yet know when or for how long they will be grounded during one of their busiest times. "Seaplane" flights in particular have been signaled out as prohibited, although the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t specified where or for how long.

“The flight plane advisory specifically lists seaplanes on the same list of nuisances to aviation that are strictly forbidden,” said Mike Laughlin, owner of Regal Air, a flight service based at Lake Hood. “Which is just absurd in the state of Alaska.”

The Transportation Security Administration says logistics including the meeting are being overseen by the Secret Service, which isn’t saying much.

“We’re definitely trying to get ahead of this a little bit,” said Jane Dale, executive director of the Alaska Air Carriers Association. “The U.S. Secret Service is keeping many of the details very close.”

An FAA advisory released Friday warned that temporary flight restrictions may be significant during Obama’s visit. He will land in Air Force One at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Aug.31, travel to Seward on Sept. 1, then fly to both Dillingham and Kotzebue on Sept. 2 before leaving Alaska.

Pilots who violate the rules face deadly force, the FAA said.

Details on how long air space will be restricted in various locations have not yet been released.

Asked when the public would learn details of the temporary flight restrictions, FAA public affairs manager Ian Gregor answered “I don’t know. Have you reached out to the USSS?”

That’s the Secret Service. Robert Hoback, a Secret Service spokesman in Washington, D.C., said the agency expects to release some information in response to questions Tuesday or Wednesday. He said he didn't know when the FAA flight restrictions would be announced.

Air carriers have been told that the security restrictions may be similar to those that governed flight around Martha’s Vineyard, Dale said. President Obama and his family just wrapped up a 16-day vacation there. They left Sunday on Marine One, the presidential helicopter.

Flights related to the president, air ambulance traffic and scheduled commercial passenger and cargo flights were allowed under FAA flight restrictions.

But other aircraft within a 10-mile radius around Martha’s Vineyard had to be screened at nearby “gateway airports” or the Martha’s Vineyard airport, under the temporary flight restrictions. Screenings were available daily from 6 a.m. to 7:59 p.m.

“Gateway screening will include ID verification and vetting of all pilots, crew and passengers, screening of persons and baggage, and inspection of the aircraft,” the rules for Martha’s Vineyard said.

Seaplanes -- the term used by the FAA -- were grounded there. They also were on the advisory sent out last week for Alaska as an example of the kind of aircraft that could be prohibited in nearby airspace.

That is one of the biggest concerns for the air carriers organization, which includes 200 companies, Dale said.

Carriers hope to learn more today.

“It is probably related more to a Lower 48 standard,” Dale said.

Perhaps seaplanes were included on the advisory for Alaska by mistake, she said.

“I think we’re going to lose a lot of business over it, if it really is as restrictive as they say it’s going to be,” Laughlin of Regal Air said.

Some clients are already in the field and may not know what is happening if their pickup plane doesn’t come on schedule, he said.

“Maybe they are going to run out of food. Maybe they’ve got flights to catch,” he said.

It’s an especially busy time.

“It’s everything,” Laughlin said. “It’s moose hunting, duck hunting, sheep hunting. We’ve still got a lot of tourists in town that are going on flight seeing tours.”

A Holland America cruise ship, for instance, is scheduled to dock in Anchorage in Monday, he said.

None of the agencies -- not the Secret Service, nor TSA nor FAA -- were able to answer why seaplanes were in a different category than other small planes.


FAA warns pilots of security restrictions during Obama's visit to Alaska

President Barack Obama’s trip to Alaska later this month will impact air traffic – right at the start of fall duck and moose hunting seasons – but just how much is not yet known.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued an advisory Friday related to a “VIP Visit” in Alaska. The agency warns it will be issuing “multiple Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) in support of a VIP visit to Anchorage, Seward, Dillingham and Kotzebue” starting Aug. 31 and running through Sept. 2.

The VIP is unnamed, but that is how FAA security measures refer to the president. The dates match with when Alaska officials expect Obama to be in the state.

Some hunters are adjusting their schedules just in case, to make sure they are not grounded. In Southcentral, fall waterfowl season starts Sept. 1. Moose seasons generally start between Aug. 25 and Sept. 1, depending on the hunting area, according to Ken Marsh, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Exact locations and times for flight restrictions have not been determined  but will be published soon in notices to airmen, or NOTAMs, according to the FAA.

Scheduled commercial passenger and cargo flights typically are allowed, the FAA said. But smaller planes face restrictions and floatplanes in particular may be grounded for at least some of that time, according to the advisory.

John Parrott, manager of Stevens Anchorage International Airport, said he expects some limits on Lake Hood – often described as the world’s busiest floatplane base -- as well as Merrill Field, Birchwood Airport and other airfields in the area.

“But I don’t have a good feel for what those constraints will be,” Parrott said. “I don’t know if there will be certain times they can’t fly or certain directions they can’t fly or if there will be someone monitoring the activity and checking who’s flying. I simply don’t have an answer for that yet.”

The FAA classifies the sensitive airspace around the president as “National Defense Airspace” and warns that violations will be dealt with seriously.

Pilots could face fines, criminal charges – or worse.

“The United States Government may use deadly force against the airborne aircraft, if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat,” the advisory said.

President Obama is coming to Alaska for a visit focused on climate change. If the trip goes as planned, he will land Aug. 31 on Air Force One at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The White House has said the president will give a speech that day to an Anchorage conference on the Arctic organized by the State Department but has not announced other details of his schedule. Advance teams have been scouting in Dillingham, Kotzebue and Seward.

While specifics for Alaska are not yet announced, typically there’s an inner 10-mile zone with the most restrictive measures, then an outer ring affecting aircraft 10 miles to 30 miles out, the FAA said.

Generally, within the inner core of 10 miles, the only flights allowed are by law enforcement, air ambulances, military aircraft supporting the Secret Service and regularly scheduled commercial passenger and cargo carriers, the FAA said.

In the outer ring, planes generally must be on active flight plans with an assigned, discrete code that they squawk while in the restricted area. They must be in constant radio communications with air traffic control, the FAA said.

But floatplanes, along with drones, ultralights and model rockets, among others, generally are grounded during restricted times, the FAA said.

Whether that will happen for minutes, hours or days isn’t yet specified.

Parrott said he hopes pilots, regulators and the president’s security detail figure out an acceptable resolution that doesn’t overly restrict flights by small planes.

“No general aviation within 30 miles of JBER for three days at the beginning of moose and duck season is not going to be a pleasant time,” Parrott said.

Just in case, Marsh, of Fish and Game, said he rescheduled his own fall bird hunt to avoid being grounded.

“The no-fly zones will definitely seem to affect hunters who have planned to fly from the Anchorage area between Aug. 31 and Sept. 2,” he said in an email. He had seen the FAA advisory.

He and a friend are flying out of Lake Hood Aug. 30, two days earlier than planned, for a hunt on the Susitna Flats across Cook Inlet.

“Luckily, we have a nice cabin to stay in, so the extra time should be pretty pleasurable,” he said.


Authorities say they foiled plan to deliver porn, gun, drugs to Maryland prison

CUMBERLAND, Md. — Want to get a handgun, some synthetic marijuana and porn into a prison?

Two men in Maryland allegedly tried to do just that — by remote-controlled aircraft — though their plot never got off the ground, authorities said Monday.

The pair was found Saturday on a side road that runs alongside the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland with the aircraft — which officials called a drone — in their vehicle, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services announced in a press release.

But officials don’t think they were planning a joy ride.

Not after what else they found in the vehicle, which they suspect the two men planned to fly over onto the WCI’s grounds.

One tweet from the state agency apparently shows the bounty: packets of K2 (or synthetic marijuana), tobacco, suboxone, pornographic DVDs and a handgun laid out on a table next to the four-propeller miniature aircraft.

“This is the first case in Maryland where a drone is suspected in a contraband delivery plot,” state Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Stephen Moyer told reporters.

The vehicle’s owner had been under surveillance for some time. An intelligence officer at the western Maryland prison and a state corrections department detective suspected the owner and his associate along with at least one inmate planned to use an unmanned drone to drop off contraband at the prison.

Corrections spokesman Mark Vernarelli told CNN on Monday that authorities are still looking at what connections, if any, both suspects have to specific inmates.

The discovery Saturday of not just the drone, but the contraband, led authorities to arrest both men.

Two days later, one of them was being held without bail, while the other was held on $250,000 bail.

While this is apparently the first time someone has allegedly tried to fly illicit material onto prison or jail property, in Maryland, it has happened elsewhere.

Late last month, for instance, a drone actually managed to drop 144.5 grams of tobacco, 65.4 grams of marijuana and 6.6 grams of heroin in the courtyard of Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio.


After his plane's engine failed, Robert DeLaurentis had minutes to save his own life

Flying his plane named "Spirit of San Diego," pilot Robert DeLaurentis circumnavigated the globe, taking off from San Diego in May and returning in August. At a press availability at Landmark Aviation, DeLaurentis talked about his trip and was greeted by admirers.

SAN DIEGO — Robert DeLaurentis had ten minutes to figure out if he would live or die.

He was flying solo over Southeast Asia when he lost oil pressure and power in the only engine in his Piper Malibu Mirage. His small aircraft had essentially turned from a complex flying machine into a glider, and it seemed like his attempt to fly around the world was coming to a premature end.

He was somewhere over the Strait of Malacca, one of the busiest waterways in the world. If he ended up crashing into the strait he not only had to worry about being killed in the wreck, but if he survived the crash he would have to stay afloat until he could be found and rescued.

It left him with one option: figure out how to get to an airport as he slowly lost altitude.

“I realized that I had five or ten minutes that would determine the rest of my life,” he said at a San Diego news conference Monday.

The decisions he made would mean the difference between death, or possibly walking away from a wrecked aircraft, or just having a broken airplane stuck on a runway in need of a good mechanic and some repairs. Like many pilots, including ones with much more experience, DeLaurentis had never fought through an engine loss outside of a simulator.

“I did what I was trained to do by my instructors and I turned to the nearest airport,” said DeLaurentis, who before he launched this trip had logged 1,200 flight hours since getting his pilot’s license five years ago.

That meant he was headed to Kuala Lumpur International Airport nearly 20 nautical miles away. It was the closest runway to his plane, but air traffic control tried to redirect him to the airport he came from so that he wouldn’t interrupt commercial traffic, DeLaurentis said.

There wasn’t enough time, or distance between his plane and the ground to take that longer trip, he said.

“I felt like I was being tested,” he said.

After air traffic control tried to divert his path for the fourth time, he finally made it fully clear that he was in peril, that he couldn’t make it to another airport, and, yes, he was landing at Kuala Lumpur International. Fire trucks were waiting on the runway, as well as around 20 spectators who weren’t used to seeing a small airplane in the lineup of 737s that frequent the airport.

“I didn’t expect that outcome. I was hoping for it but the chances were slim,” he said.

His plane, which he dubbed the “Spirit of San Diego” sat on the tarmac for a few days for repairs, and he considered abandoning the rest of his trip. Shaken, but relieved, he got back into the cockpit, and flew out of Malaysia. With a few stops in between, he landed in Monterey on Wednesday, and in San Diego, his home, on Saturday. He flew over 27,000 miles over three months.

The trip was part spiritual journey, part fundraiser for programs at Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary and Aviation Owners and Pilots Association Flight Training Scholarship Program. Besides being an aviation enthusiast, DeLaurentis is a speaker and author.

“The feat that Robert DeLaurentis accomplished, not only ingrains the innovative fabric that we have here in San Diego, but the charitable spirit of the community and people,” Anthony George, a representative for Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.

DeLaurentis was also testing new aviation technology designed to make general aviation cheaper and safer. His Piper had a unique combination of a special coating that reduced drag, a propeller that helped him climb faster and more efficiently, a transmission that allowed him to fly faster with less fuel, and a Bluetooth system that allowed him to enter pre-programmed routes into his plane’s global positioning system rather than idling on the tarmac while entering coordinates. These features have various advantages over older technologies, including making the aircraft more fuel efficient, DeLaurentis said.

“Fuel is an enormous expense,” he said.

His plane also had new safety features, including air bags to protect him if he crashes.

While the near-death experience in Malaysia was harrowing, DeLaurentis, the so-called “Zen Pilot,” said there were moments of unbridled bliss throughout the journey. Some came when he was flying over the ocean or a vast landscape.

“It’s a very emotional time and I think there’s a very emotional connection with the planet,” he said. “You realize it’s really just one.”

And there were times that there was nobody within his radio’s 1,000-mile range. Still, he didn’t feel alone.

“I don’t think it was ever just me because I always felt like there were people supporting me along the way,” he said.

The times when he did hear from people, whether it was through emails or social media messages, were among the best parts of the adventure, he said.

“People were telling me things they were going to do because of my flight,” he said.

They told him that they were inspired to lose weight, or to learn a language, or hike a mountain, he said.

“I’ll never forget that,” he said.

Story, comments, photo:

Cessna 182Q Skylane, N759TZ: Accident occurred August 24, 2015 at Pineville Municipal Airport (2L0), Louisiana

NTSB Identification: GAA15CA236 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 24, 2015 in Pineville, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/08/2015
Aircraft: CESSNA 182Q, registration: N759TZ
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.

In a statement provided to the Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspector, the pilot reported that after the initial touch down, the airplane "became airborne again." He then retracted the flaps and the airplane touched down on the runway again. The pilot reported that he applied maximum brakes, but the airplane over ran the end of runway, impacted an embankment, and "clipped the top of a fence." The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage. 

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

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to land with sufficient runway remaining to safely stop the airplane, resulting in a runway over-run and collision with terrain.


Date: 24-AUG-15
Time: 21:25:00Z
Regis#: N759TZ
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 182
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: Minor
Damage: Substantial
Activity: Personal
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Baton Rouge FSDO-03
State: Louisiana


Pineville, Louisiana - A small plane crash has been reported at the Pineville Municipal Airport.

According to other pilots at the airport who witnessed the crash, the pilot survived.

According to the plane's tail number, the plane is registered to Robert Strange of Forest Hill. 

We are awaiting details about the crash.

It has not been determined whether the pilot has been treated for any injuries.

Watchdog: Air-Traffic Towers Wasted More Than $850 Million

The federal government has wasted more than $850 million over six years by operating inefficient air-traffic control towers, according to a watchdog audit.

At a time of fewer flights, the efficiency of the Federal Aviation Administration’s facilities at airports ranging from large hubs to smaller private-plane strips varies widely, the Transportation Department’s Inspector General found Monday.

The extra labor for air-traffic controllers and equipment to handle similar volumes of flights cost the government more than $140 million a year from 2008 through 2013, according to the report.

The findings come as the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee plans to propose creating a nonprofit corporation to take over the management of the FAA’s air-traffic system, partly as a result of similar complaints. Representative Bill Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican, said he would include the proposal in legislation this year.

FAA “towers function at considerably different levels of efficiency relative to each other,” the report by Mitchell Behm, an assistant inspector general, said. “The performance gap between the relatively efficient towers and the least efficient towers was substantial.”

While the audit found poor efficiency at a wide range of airports, the bulk of the extra costs were at larger facilities. Ten large hubs accounted for at least half of the agency’s wasted costs.

Federal Aviation Administration Objections

The FAA objected to the IG’s analysis, saying it didn’t take into account use of contractors. Efficiency comparisons can be misleading because of substantial differences in factors such as air traffic volume, airspace complexity and facility size, the FAA also said in the report.

Bloomberg News reported in 2012 that more than 100 full-time U.S. airports and radar rooms have so few flights late at night they should be shut under government guidelines.

FAA’s efforts to curb costs can run into Congressional interference. Lawmakers passed a measure increasing government aid to a tower at an airport used by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s fleet of corporate aircraft.

The most efficient airports included New York’s LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International, while poor-performing ones were in Orlando, Florida, and Salt Lake City.


Watchdog: Federal Aviation Administration 8 years away from pilot database

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Federal Aviation Administration has delayed creating a critical database, which Congress mandated, to help keep track and weed out poorly trained pilots.

The Department of Transportation Inspector General’s office released an audit last week saying until the agency addresses these shortcomings “significant gaps will persist in the extent and level of data reviewed by airlines prior to hiring pilots.”

“Ensuring air carriers have all available information on a pilot’s training performance remains a critical safety area for FAA,” said Matthew Hampton, assistant inspector general for aviation audits, wrote in the report. ‘Without these additional records, air carriers may be unaware of unsatisfactory evaluation events or other items that could indicate performance issues for a pilot.”

Between 1987 and 1994, the U.S. airline industry suffered seven major accidents that were attributed in part to errors made by pilots who had been hired without background safety checks. In all cases, the hiring airlines lacked access to, or failed to obtain, the pilots’ flight qualifications and other safety records from FAA and/or previous employers before completing the hiring process.

After the 2009 Colgan Air crash near Buffalo, New York, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the captain of the commercial flight failed to disclose failed proficiency checks that occurred prior to his employment with the airline.

As a result, in 2010 Congress mandated better tracking of poor performing pilots. Congress called for the FAA to develop a database with information about the pilot and their performance from the FAA, airlines and other records (including the National Driver Register.) The records are to be maintained in the database for the life of a pilot to ensure comprehensive pilot records are available to air carriers during the hiring process.

But the audit found the FAA remains “years away” from creating such a database. The agency has made “limited progress” since the congressional mandate and will likely not have a fully operational database until another 8 years.

FAA officials said this is in part because Congress did not set a deadline for developing the database. As a result, FAA allocated resources to other congressional mandates such as raising standards in pilot training and performance, and improving rest requirements.

The database is under development, the FAA said, and will contain the records of approximately 866,000 pilots. But the agency said further work needs to be done in determining protocol for using the database and ensuring the information included remains secure. 


Chinese Airline Grounds Overweight Flight Attendant

Qingdao Airlines allegedly bars woman crew member from flying because she is too heavy for her height but the company denies the claim.

A domestic airline in China has barred a flight attendant from flying because she exceeded requirements for cabin crew, a news website quoted a company employee as saying.

A crew member from Qingdao Airlines said the airline stopped flight attendants from flying or sacked them if they did not meet height-to-weight ratio requirements, reported Shanghai-based news website

The crew member, who was not named, said one flight attendant had been grounded, but refused to give further details.

A representative from the company admitted it had stringent weight requirements, but denied any employee had been barred from flying or sacked over the issue.

China’s civil aviation authority guidelines state that women flight attendants who are between 160cm and 172cm tall should weigh between 45kg and 73 kg.

To apply to be a flight attendant with Qingdao Airlines, women must be younger than 30, between 165cm and 172cm tall and weigh between 50kg and 68kg, according to recruitment requirements listed on its website.

“We are concerned that exceeding weight standards will compromise the ability of cabin crew members to respond in emergency situations, and we hope the crew can maintain good body shape,” the airline representative told

According to an employee of the civil aviation authority, taking disciplinary action against staff members over their weight is a violation of human rights.

Most international airlines have done away with weight requirements for cabin crew members and only require they pass physical fitness examinations.

Airlines in India have previously come under fire for disciplining cabin crew members who are “too fat to fly”. According to India’s civil aviation authority, crew members who are found overweight based on their calculated body mass index will have three months to bring their weight down to “acceptable levels”. If they fail, they are declared “unfit” for cabin crew duties.


Beechcraft C35 Bonanza, N5946C: Fatal accident occurred August 16, 2015 in Hicksville, Nassau County, New York

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Farmingdale, New York
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA313
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Sunday, August 16, 2015 in Hicksville, NY
Aircraft: BEECH C35, registration: N5946C
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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


On August 16, 2015, at 0745 eastern daylight time, a Beech C35, N5946C, collided with a railroad grade crossing cantilever arm and terrain during a forced landing in Hicksville, New York. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and one passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postimpact fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions were reported near the accident site about the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Francis S. Gabreski Airport (FOK), Westhampton Beach, New York, and was destined for Morristown Municipal Airport (MMU), Morristown, New Jersey.

The pilot departed FOK about 0720 under visual flight rules, and according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) transcript information, checked in with the New York terminal radar approach control (N90) Islip departure controller while passing through 1,300 ft mean sea level (msl) 2 miles east of FOK. (For the purposes of this report, all altitudes are in msl, unless otherwise noted.) The pilot requested to climb to 6,500 ft to transition to the New York class B airspace en route to MMU. The Islip controller identified the flight at 1,500 ft and directed the pilot to squawk a mode 3 transponder code of 4356. The Islip controller transferred the flight to the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Jamaica, New York, departure controller at 0730, at which time radar data depicted the airplane was traveling westbound at 140 knots ground speed at 6,500 ft.

The pilot checked in with the JFK departure controller and reiterated his request for a clearance through New York class B airspace. The JFK controller cleared the flight through the class B airspace and directed the pilot to maintain 6,500 ft. At 0738, the JFK controller transferred the flight to the LaGuardia Airport (LGA), Flushing, New York, departure controller.

The pilot checked in with the LGA controller at 6,500 ft and was issued the LGA altimeter setting. About 10 seconds later, at 0738:43, as the airplane was on an easterly heading, it began a slight ascent to 6,600 ft while its groundspeed started to suddenly decrease. The pilot did not report any difficulty to the LGA controller, and the controller did not ask the pilot about the change in the flight profile. About 0740, the LGA controller directed the pilot to turn right heading 360°. The airplane was traveling at 60 knots ground speed at 5,700 ft at the time. One second later, the pilot responded that he was "having a little bit of a problem" and was considering diverting to Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York. The LGA controller acknowledged and asked the pilot to keep him informed of the situation and to let him know if he any needed assistance.

At 0740:31, the pilot advised that he was going to "have to take it down at…the closest spot." The LGA controller provided the pilot with the relative locations of LGA, JFK, FRG, and Westchester County Airport, White Plains, New York, and told the pilot that he could go anywhere he wanted to go. At 0740:55, the pilot responded that FRG was the closest airport but that he was not going to make it there. At 0741:16, the LGA controller asked the pilot to verify that he was going to FRG. The pilot responded, "yeah," and then asked the controller to verify that FRG was the closest airport. At this time, the pilot had started a left turn to the southeast, and the airplane was descending out of 4,400 ft at 70 knots groundspeed. At 0741:26, the LGA controller advised that there was also a landing strip at Bethpage, New York, at the pilot's 10-o'clock position at 5 miles and that the pilot might want to try that airport. The controller advised the pilot that he was about lined up for the runway's extended centerline. The pilot acknowledged, but part of the acknowledgement was unintelligible. At 0742:36, the pilot asked the controller to provide information on the location of the landing strip. The controller advised that the landing strip was at the pilot's 12-o'clock position at 4 miles and that the pilot was set up on the runway's extended centerline. At 0742:50, the LGA controller advised the pilot that FRG was 3 miles southeast of Bethpage in the event that the pilot wanted to go to FRG. The pilot responded that the airplane was losing altitude and that he was doing the best he could to maintain it.

At 0743:36, the pilot again asked for the location of the Bethpage airport and said he was not seeing it. The controller responded that there was a landing strip at Bethpage at the pilot's 12-o'clock position at 3 miles and that FRG was at the pilot's 10-o'clock position at 6 miles. The pilot responded that he was not going to make the 6 miles to FRG. At 0744:01, the LGA controller advised the pilot that Bethpage was a closed airport but that there was a runway there at the pilot's 11-o'clock position at 1.5 miles. At 0744:35, the pilot told the controller "you gotta give me a little better heading on that if you would." The controller advised that the runway was about 10° to the right and added that there was also a parkway nearby. The pilot then asked the controller, "and FRG I got 3 miles right?" The controller responded that FRG was at the pilot's 11-o'clock position at 5 miles. The pilot stated that there was no way he was going to make it to FRG and asked the controller to "show me this strip again if you would I'm sorry." The controller responded that the Bethpage runway was at the pilot's 1-o'clock position at less than 1 mile, that it was a closed airport, and that he had no additional information about the airport. There were no further communications with the pilot.

The passenger reported that they were in cruise flight when he heard a loud "pop" sound and saw a flicker of light from the engine area, followed by an "oil smell." The engine then began to "sputter" and lost power. The pilot attempted to restart the engine without success.


The pilot, age 59, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine, multiengine, and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot was issued a second-class FAA airman medical certificate on December 22, 2014, with the limitation that he must wear glasses for near vision. At that time, he reported 3,300 total flight hours.
Records provided by the FAA revealed that the pilot completed a 14 CFR Part 135.299 line check on June 18, 2015. He was listed as a single-pilot operator under the name Milo Air, Inc., conducting on-demand air taxi flights. The accident airplane was the only airplane used by Milo Air.

The pilot's family provided copies of two pilot logbooks; however, the latest logbook entries were dated May 13, 2008. No recent pilot logbooks were located.


The four-seat, low wing, retractable-gear airplane, was manufactured in 1952. It was powered by a 260-horsepower Continental Motors IO-470-N engine, driving a three-bladed Hartzell model constant-speed propeller. The airplane was modified with two Beryl D'Shannon fiberglass 15-gallon auxiliary wing tip tanks in accordance with a supplemental type certificate.

According to copies of maintenance logbook pages provided by the pilot's family, the most recent annual inspection of the airframe and engine was completed on June 7, 2015. At that time, the airframe total time was 6,979 hours. The airplane's original engine, a Continental E-185-11, was removed and replaced with the Continental IO-470-N engine on December 15, 1998. The total time on the engine at the last inspection was about 2,913 hours, including 1,427 hours since the last major overhaul.

The engine was removed and disassembled on two occasions, on February 23, 2006, and on October 24, 2007, to facilitate inspections following propeller strikes. Engine maintenance records revealed no evidence of a recent disassembly of the engine or removal or replacement of cylinders.


FRG, located about 4 nm east-southeast of the accident site, was the closest official weather station. The FRG weather at 0753 included calm wind, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 9,000 ft, temperature 25° C, dew point 19° C, and altimeter setting 30.12 inches of Mercury.

Velocity azimuth display wind profile data for JFK showed that at 4,000 and 3,000 ft above ground level (agl), the wind was from the northwest at 20 knots. At 2,000 ft agl, the wind was from the northwest at 15 knots, and at 1,000 ft agl, the wind was from the northwest at 10 knots. Data at 5,000 and 6,000 ft agl were not available.


After the pilot determined that he wanted to land at FRG, the LGA departure controller advised that there was also a landing strip at Bethpage Airport, an alternate airport depicted on his radar video map (RVM) 3 miles northwest of FRG and closer to the airplane, and he subsequently provided distance and heading information to the airport. Although Bethpage was still shown on the RVM, the airport no longer existed; it had been closed for several years, and the former airport area was occupied by buildings. The accident site was about 0.25 nm northwest of the former location of the runway 15 approach end. (See the section in this report titled, "RVMs," for more information about the RVMs used by the controllers in the LGA, JFK, and Islip areas.)

Bethpage Airport was removed from FAA sectional charts in October 2012. Bethpage Airport data were removed from the N90 airport display automation database before 2001, but the exact date was unknown. There were no known or reported equipment discrepancies related to N90 RVMs. The Air Traffic Control Group Chairman's Factual Report, located in the public docket for this investigation, includes photographs of Bethpage Airport as early as the 1940s.


The airplane initially impacted a railroad grade crossing cantilever arm. The main wreckage came to rest inverted on the tracks of the Long Island Rail Road. The wreckage debris field was about 100 ft long and about 20 ft wide, oriented on a heading of 150°. All of the airplane's major structural components were found within the confines of the debris field. The outboard section of the right wing was found under the grade crossing cantilever arm, which separated from its mount structure during the initial impact.

The cockpit instrument panel was destroyed by impact forces and a postimpact fire. Some of the flight and performance instruments were separated. No useful information was obtained from the instruments. The forward, center, and aft sections of the fuselage exhibited postimpact fire signatures. The nose landing gear was found in the retracted position. The fuel selector handle and valve were damaged from postaccident fire, and a preaccident position could not be determined.

The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. A 6-ft-long section of the leading edge was separated outboard of the fuel tank. The left aileron and the left wing flap remained attached to the wing. The left aileron exhibited impact damage at its midspan area. The left flap was found in the retracted position and was crushed in the forward direction. The inboard section of the left wing was damaged by postimpact fire. The left main landing gear was found in the retracted position. The left wing fuel tank was breached and damaged by postimpact fire, and its fuel cap was installed and secure. During recovery, fuel was noted in the tank; however, the quantity was not determined. Control cable continuity was established to the aileron. The 15-gallon, tip-mounted fuel tank was breached from impact forces, and its fuel cap was installed and secure.

The right wing separated during the initial collision with the grade crossing cantilever arm at a point about 3.5 ft outboard of the wing root. The inboard half of the right wing was damaged by postimpact fire. The right aileron and the outboard half of the right wing flap remained attached to the wing. The separated section of the right wing exhibited no fire damage. The right main landing gear was found in the retracted position. The right wing fuel tank was breached and damaged by postimpact fire, and its fuel cap was installed and secure. No fuel was noted in the area of the right wing tank. Control cable continuity was established to the aileron. The 15-gallon, tip-mounted fuel tank was in place, and its fuel cap was installed and secure.

The left ruddervator remained attached to the aft fuselage. The balance weight and trim tab were in place. The elevator trim actuator measured 1.1 inches, which corresponded to a 5° tab-up trim position. The right ruddervator exhibited impact damage. About 1 ft of the outboard section was separated. Control cable continuity was established from the ruddervator to the cables in the aft fuselage that were cut by recovery personnel.

The propeller assembly separated from the engine during the accident sequence and was located adjacent to the main wreckage. The propeller blades remained attached to the hub and exhibited no rotational damage signatures.

The engine was sent to the manufacturer's facility for examination. A large hole was observed in the bottom of the oil sump. The oil pickup tube was impact damaged. The oil pump gears were intact and coated with oil. The oil filter was opened, and metal particulates were observed in the filter element. All six cylinders were intact with rust in the barrel, and the valves and guides were in place and undamaged. The rocker arms and shafts were undamaged. The pistons were intact and undamaged and had normal combustion deposits, and all of the rings were in place and moved freely.

The crankcase halves were intact with some internal impact damage noted. The right case half had cracks in the forward bearing saddle. The No. 1 bearing was in place, and exhibited heat distress, but it was coated with oil. The No. 2 bearing was dry, exhibited heat distress, and was partially melted and extruded into the crank cheek. The No. 2 main bearing supports exhibited bearing shift and fretting signatures. The No. 2 main bearing had rotated in the bearing support. The No. 3 bearing was in place and exhibited some heat distress, but it was coated with oil. The No. 4 bearing was in place and exhibited heat distress and was impact damaged. The crankshaft was separated at the No. 2 main journal and the crank cheek. The forward area of the crankshaft was impact damaged near the thrust flange. The transfer collar was impact damaged and partly separated from the crankshaft. The connecting rods were not damaged. The rod cap bearings were dry and heat distressed. The camshaft was intact and had impact damage. Torque values obtained during the engine disassembly did not reveal evidence of an undertorqued condition.


The Office of the Medical Examiner, Nassau County, New York, conducted an autopsy on the pilot, and the cause of death was determined to be "blunt and thermal injuries," and the manner of death was "accident." No significant natural disease was identified.

Toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot was performed by the FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory. Testing identified amphetamine (1.26 ug/ml), oxycodone (0.236 ug/ml), and losartan in the heart blood. In addition, 7-amino-clonazepam, acetaminophen, amphetamine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and losartan were identified in the urine.

Amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant prescribed as a Schedule II controlled substance for the treatment of narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Common trade names for amphetamine include Adderall and Dexedrine. Prescribers and users are cautioned about the high potential for abuse of this drug. The therapeutic range of blood levels is considered between 0.002 and 0.10 ug/ml; levels significantly higher than this suggest abuse. Oxycodone is an opioid analgesic prescribed as a Schedule II controlled substance. It is commonly available in combination with acetaminophen with the names Percocet and Roxicet. Losartan is a blood pressure lowering medication. 7-amino-clonazepam is a metabolite of clonazepam, a sedating benzodiazepine prescription medication used to treat panic disorder and petit mal seizures. It is commonly marketed with the name Klonopin. Acetaminophen is an analgesic and fever reducer available over the counter and is commonly marketed with the names Tylenol and Panadol. Oxymorphone is an active metabolite of oxycodone and is also available as an opioid analgesic with the name Opana.

Oxycodone, oxymorphone, and clonazepam all carry Federal Drug Administration warnings about their psychoactive effects and cautions against operating machinery.

Information on the pilot's medical history was requested from the pilot's widow through an attorney; no information was provided to investigators.


Air Traffic Controller Actions

The N90 LGA area controller, who was working the Harp, Nobbie, Nyack, and LGA departure positions combined, was being supervised by the LGA area controller-in-charge (CIC) at the time of the accident. The CIC had relieved the LGA area front line manager, who was on a break during the accident sequence and out of the facility. The operations manager (OM) was providing overall supervision for the N90 operating floor.

The accident flight had been uneventful when the pilot checked in with the LGA departure controller at 0738 at 6,500 ft. Shortly thereafter, the radar track indicated a decrease of groundspeed from 140 to 100 knots and a slight ascent to 6,600 ft, followed by a slow descent. The LGA controller observed the descent and directed the pilot to turn right to a heading of 360° to prevent the airplane from descending into the LGA departure corridor. The controller did not solicit information from the pilot about the reason for the descent. Immediately following the instruction to turn right to a heading of 360°, the pilot stated that he was having a problem and needed to return to FRG, even though the flight did not originate at FRG. The LGA controller advised the CIC that he thought the pilot had a problem. At that time, the LGA controller and CIC considered the flight to be an emergency.

As the situation was developing, the airplane was in the N90 JFK sector airspace but was being worked by the LGA controller because control of the flight had already been transferred to the LGA area by the JFK departure controller. When providing ATC services to an aircraft in another controller's area of jurisdiction, any deviation from the expected flightpath must be coordinated with the controller responsible for the airspace in which the aircraft is operating. Accordingly, the CIC walked over to coordinate with the JFK controller to advise of a potential deviation from the anticipated flightpath of the airplane and then to the Islip departure controller to redirect other traffic away from the LGA controller.

The pilot did not declare an emergency, and the LGA controller did not request information regarding the nature of his problem or solicit information normally associated with emergency handling. Although the controller had the option to annotate the radar data block of the flight with the letter "E" to indicate an emergency, which would have alerted all of the controllers in the sectors that could see the airplane's data block that an emergency was in progress, he reported in postaccident interviews that it did not occur to him to do so.

The LGA controller was assisted by the CIC and the OM, who both stood behind the LGA controller as the situation progressed. The OM advised the LGA controller that Bethpage Airport was closed and suggested alternate landing areas such as the nearby parkways.

The LGA controller requested information on Bethpage Airport by slewing his cursor to the emergency airplane's radar target and entering the airplane's pertinent information. Bethpage did not show up in the query for the closest emergency airport; however, FRG did.

After the LGA controller lost radar contact with the flight, he was relieved from the position, and he assumed that the airplane had landed at Bethpage Airport. It was not immediately known that the airplane had crashed. A controller from the JFK area called FRG tower personnel and asked them to be on the lookout for the airplane. They reported seeing a smoke plume near Bethpage and called 911. The OM then called the Nassau County Police Department Aviation Unit, which happened to be based at Bethpage. They were able to respond immediately to the accident site but could not confirm the burning airplane's tail number. Once identification of the accident airplane was confirmed, the OM called the flight service station (FSS) to get information from the flight plan about how many people were on board the airplane and the departure airport. According to the FSS, no flight plan had been filed. The OM initially assumed the airplane had departed FRG but was able to determine the departure airport was FOK by talking to the controllers from the Islip and JFK areas.


Although there was geographic overlap between the RVMs used by the controllers in the LGA, JFK, and Islip areas, the information on each area's RVMs was inconsistent. Bethpage Airport was depicted on the LGA RVM but not on the Islip RVM. FRG was depicted on the Islip, JFK, and LGA RVMs, but the symbology used was different. The N90 ATC standard operating procedures (SOP) manual depicted the RVMs for the Islip, JFK, and LGA areas individually. The LGA section of the SOP showed Bethpage as an airport, but the Islip and JFK sections did not. The data provided in the SOP did not correlate with the actual radar presentation the controllers were using. At the time of the accident, the LGA controller was using RVM number N90-3100C, which was included in an N90 system adaptation on December 20, 2013.

Research revealed that the FAA did not require periodic review and validation of RVMs such as the RVM that depicted Bethpage Airport on the N90 area controller's RVM. The only periodic review requirement for RVMs, as defined in FAA Order 7210.3, "Facility Operation and Administration," was a biennial review of emergency obstruction video maps. The FAA also did not have procedures to ensure that closed airports were removed from RVMs systemwide. Since this accident, the FAA has revised and corrected its internal procedures to ensure all nonoperational airports are removed from RVMs in the United States.

Beech C35 Glide Performance

The Beech C35 Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH), Chapter 3, "Emergency Procedures," includes the following maximum glide configuration procedures in the event of an engine failure:


1. Landing Gear – UP
2. Flaps – UP
3. Cowl Flaps – CLOSED
4. Propeller – LO RPM
5. Airspeed – 105 KTS/121 MPH

Glide distance is about 1.7 nm (2 statute miles) per 1,000 ft of altitude above the terrain.

Recorded radar data revealed that the airplane experienced a sudden decrease in airspeed and a deviation in altitude at 0738:43 as it was on an easterly heading at 6,500 ft. At this point, the airplane was about 7 nm northwest of the approach end of runway 14 at FRG. At 6,500 ft, the lateral glide distance at the maximum glide configuration would have been about 10.8 nm, assuming calm wind conditions. The msl altitude at the accident site was about 125 ft.

The pilot continued on a westerly heading for 2 minutes 18 seconds after the sudden decrease in airspeed, and the airplane lost about 2,000 ft of altitude before he turned the airplane left toward the Bethpage area. At the farthest point from FRG, the airplane was about 8.8 nm at 4,000 ft. At this point, the maximum glide distance was about 6.6 nm, assuming calm wind conditions. Wind conditions at the time were from the northwest about 15 to 20 knots. Once the airplane was on a heading toward FRG, or a southeasterly direction, the prevailing tailwind would have improved glide performance. Several golf courses were located at the pilot's 10- to 12-o'clock positions if he had continued to descend on a westerly heading.

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA313
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Sunday, August 16, 2015 in Hicksville, NY
Aircraft: BEECH C35, registration: N5946C
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 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 August 16, 2015, about 0747 eastern daylight time, a Beech C35, N5946C, collided with a railroad grade crossing cantilever arm and terrain during a forced landing at Hicksville, New York. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and one passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an on demand air taxi flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and visual flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Westhampton Beach, New York (FOK) and was destined for Morristown, New Jersey (MMU).

According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) voice communication and radar position information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane was flying at 6,500 feet above mean sea level on an easterly heading, about 8 nautical miles (nm) northwest of Republic Airport, Farmingdale, New York (FRG). The pilot reported to ATC that he was "having a little bit of a problem" and may need to return to FRG. The pilot then reported that he would have to "take it down…" The controller provided the relative locations of LaGuardia and JFK Airports, and stated that Westchester Airport was to the north and FRG was to the southeast. The pilot responded that FRG was the closest airport to his location. The pilot then indicated that he may not make FRG. The controller then provided information on "Bethpage strip" and informed the pilot that the airport was closed; however, there was a runway there. The airplane was then observed tracking toward the Bethpage area while descending. The next several transmissions between the controller and pilot revealed that the pilot was unable to see the runway while the controller continued to provide heading and distance to the Bethpage runway. Radar and radio contact were eventually lost and emergency responders were notified of the accident.

The passenger was interviewed after the accident. He reported that the flight was in cruise when he heard a loud "pop" sound, with a flicker of light from the engine area, followed by an "oil smell." The engine then began to "sputter" and lose power. The pilot attempted to restart the engine without success.

The pilot, age 59, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine, multi-engine, and instrument airplane ratings. He reported 3,300 hours total flight time on his most recent application for an FAA second-class medical certificate, dated December 22, 2014. Records provided by the FAA revealed that he completed a Part 135.299 line check (check ride) on June 18, 2015.

The main wreckage was found inverted and burned, on the railroad tracks for the Long Island Rail Road. The wreckage debris field was about 100 ft in length and about 20 ft wide, oriented on a heading of about 150 degrees. All major structural components of the aircraft were found within the confines of the debris field. The propeller assembly separated from the engine during the accident sequence. The right wing was found under the grade crossing cantilever arm, which separated from its mount structure during the initial impact. The engine was retained for further examination.

An examination of the area of the former Bethpage Airport revealed that industrial buildings occupied the former runway surface area. The accident site was located about 0.25 nm northwest of the former runway's approach end.

Joseph Milo and his wife,  Nadine

After playing 18 holes at Tallgrass Golf Club in Shoreham earlier this month, Joseph Milo ran off the course, hopped on his motorcycle and headed for Francis S. Gabreski Airport.

There, he boarded his single-engine Beechcraft airplane, flew a customer to a destination in the tri-state area and then returned to the Westhampton airport. He then jumped back on his motorcycle and rode to his Montauk Highway restaurant to pick up groceries, before shooting up to Cutchogue to reconvene with his fellow golfers—and cook them dinner.

“That was a typical day for Joe,” Mr. Milo’s lifelong friend Jim McHugh said this week. “He was always doing something, and he never, ever complained about being overworked or having too much to do. He loved being busy.”

Active, hardworking and always eager to help—that is how friends and loved ones remembered Mr. Milo, 59, a well-known chef, restaurateur, golfer and pilot. The Westhampton Beach resident died after crash-landing his plane in Bethpage on August 16.

Born in Brooklyn, Mr. Milo spent most of his life on Long Island, moving to Westhampton Beach in 1981 after a brief stint in the Dallas, Texas area. He opened Milo’s East restaurant on Montauk Highway in Westhampton Beach, an homage to Milo’s, a restaurant that his family owned in Brooklyn.

Mr. Milo opened a second restaurant on the East End, Milo’s West in Hampton Bays, but that later closed and, about a decade ago, he renamed his original restaurant Joe’s American Bar and Grill. It still operates at the corner of Montauk Highway and Hampton Street.

In 2006, Mr. Milo began running a charter flight service, Milo Air Inc., out of Gabreski Airport. He was certified to fly both single- and multi-engine aircraft and had logged more than 3,300 flight hours, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Whether it was through his restaurants or flight business, Mr. Milo had a knack for not only making friends, but for building lasting relationships, his wife, Nadine Hampton Milo, said.

“He just had such a warm heart,” Ms. Hampton Milo said. “He really would hone in on whatever was important to you, whether it was family, whether it was business, or flying, or golf. He would find out what your interests were and try to learn more about them.

“He just had that sort of thirst for knowing people and knowing them well,” she continued. “His relationships were 35, 40, 45 years old.”

Mr. Milo was an avid golfer, playing or practicing on a near-daily basis at the Westhampton Country Club, where he had been a member for 20 years and served on the board of directors for several years.

A week before his death, Mr. Milo tied for first in a field of 80 club members who competed in the Raynor Cup, a tournament celebrating the Westhampton Country Club’s centennial. Mr. Milo shot a 71 and was the tournament’s runner-up after a tiebreaker, club pro Bobby Jenkins said.

Mr. Jenkins said Mr. Milo was among the most popular members of the club, as well as one of the better golfers, with a seven handicap. Bert McCooey, a friend and fellow Westhampton Country Club member, recalled Mr. Milo starting out as an average golfer when he joined the club in 1995. Mr. Milo’s dedication to the sport helped him excel, according to Mr. McCooey.

Mr. McCooey said Mr. Milo would even clear a path in the snow so he could make his way onto the driving range to practice in the dead of winter—that is, when he wasn’t in Florida playing at the Tequesta Country Club, where he also was a member.

“Joe didn’t approach anything half-assed,” he said. “If he wanted to do something, he wanted to do it well. It was apparent in the way he played golf and the way he went about everything.”

A funeral was held for Mr. Milo on Thursday, August 20, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Quiogue. It was followed by a reception at the Westhampton Country Club that was attended by more than 400 people.

Mr. Milo is survived by his wife, Nadine Hampton Milo, and three sons, Joey Milo, Nick Milo and Jack Clark, as well as Jack’s wife, Heather Clark. He also is survived by a brother and sister-in-law, Rusty and Maria Banks; a sister and brother-in-law, Elaine and Jim Wheeler; a brother and sister-in-law, John and Ellen Banks; his mother-in-law, Hunter Hampton; as well as various aunts, uncles and cousins.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that well-wishers donate to the animal rescue charity of their choice.

WESTHAMPTON BEACH (WABC) -- A preliminary accident report indicates a pilot killed when his plane crashed at a railroad crossing this month on Long Island had been directed by an air traffic controller to a landing strip that no longer exists at a closed airport.

Fifty-nine-year-old pilot Joseph Milo, of Westhampton Beach, was killed Aug. 16 when his single-engine aircraft hit the tracks in Hicksville. A passenger was injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report issued Monday said Milo had told air traffic controllers that his Beech C35 plane was "having a little bit of a problem."

The controller then told the pilot there was a "Bethpage strip" at an airport closed decades ago at the site of a former military defense contractor.

"Charlie, the strip is a closed airport," a log of the transmission reads "I jut know there is a runway there about 11 o' clock and a mile and a half now."

According to the report, the next transmissions revealed that Milo told the controller he was unable to see the runway. But the controller, according to investigators, continued to provide Milo directions to get there.

"The pilot in command is ultimately responsible, ultimately accountable for the safe completion of every flight," said Michael Canders, an associate professor at the Aviation Center at Farmingdale State College.

He says in an emergency landing, air traffic control is only a guide for the pilot. The final decision of where to bring down the plane rests with the pilot.

"You have no idea what was happening in that cockpit," he said. "No finger pointing, no blaming the pilot. The passenger will be able to tell the NTSB what he saw."

The surviving passenger has told investigators he heard a popping sound just before the engine failed. The plane then began to sputter before completely losing power.

Some said it is concerning that the air traffic controller apparently wasn't aware that the runway in Bethpage no longer existed.

"I think it is going to result in a reprimand, a letter down to all controllers to revisit all of the local areas that you are responsible for," aviation expert J.P. Tristani said. "What are the airports available? Don't go on your childhood memories of an airport that used to be there."

A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment.

Story and video:

Joseph Milo, left, of Westhampton Beach was killed when the Beechcraft C35 Bonanza plane he was flying crashed on Long Island Rail Road tracks in Hicksville on August 16th, 2015. 

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — An air traffic controller directed a pilot having trouble with his plane to a landing strip that no longer existed at a closed airport before the aircraft crashed at a nearby railroad crossing, killing him, according to a preliminary accident report released Monday. 

The pilot, Joseph Milo, 59, of Westhampton Beach, was killed Aug. 16 when his single-engine aircraft hit the tracks in Hicksville. A passenger was injured.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the Beechcraft C35 Bonanza had departed from Westhampton Beach, on eastern Long Island, and was headed to Morristown, New Jersey.

The plane crashed at a railway crossing between the Hicksville and Bethpage stations of the Long Island Rail Road at around 7:45 a.m. The crash happened about 8 nautical miles northwest of Republic Airport in Farmingdale, which was the closest airport at the time, according to the report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report indicates the pilot told an air traffic controller he was "having a little bit of a problem" and would have to "take it down."

The controller gave the pilot information about the location of Republic, LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, as well as Westchester Airport to the north. The pilot indicated he would attempt to get to Republic but was concerned he might not make it there.

The report says the controller then provided information about a "Bethpage strip," the site of a former airport associated with defense contractor Northrup Grumman. The controller told the pilot the airport was closed but said there was a runway there.

"The next several transmissions between the controller and pilot revealed that the pilot was unable to see the runway" while the controller continued to provide information about its location. "Radar and radio contact were eventually lost and emergency responders were notified of the accident," the NTSB said.

The investigation found that industrial buildings now occupy the former runway; Northrup-Grumman spokeswoman Jacqueline Farrell said the airfield closed in 1990.

Northrup acquired Grumman, which was founded on Long Island, in 1994. For decades, Grumman manufactured and tested various aircraft, including fighter jets, at its Bethpage facility. It also built the lunar module that first brought man to the moon in 1969.

The former runway is about a quarter-mile from the crash site, the NTSB said.

A spokeswoman for the FAA, which is responsible for air traffic controllers, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

A person answering the telephone at a restaurant owned by Milo in Westhampton Beach said no one was immediately available to comment.