Monday, October 5, 2015

How rare are pilot deaths on commercial flights?

The death of a pilot on an American Airlines flight bound for Boston Monday was the eighth pilot death during a commercial flight since 1994, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The number included both commercial passenger and cargo pilots and commercial charter pilots.

“The reason that it is only eight is that to fly commercial passenger service, pilots over the age of 40 are required to get medical checkups every six months,” said Mary Schiavo, an aviation attorney and former inspector general at the US Department of Transportation. “Medicine’s pretty good at identifying these problems.”

Those under 40 years old are subject to annual medical exams, according to FAA regulations.

If a pilot feels sick leading up to a scheduled flight, they will likely opt against flying, said Greg Raiff, chief executive of Private Jet Services Group in Seabrook, N.H., which arranges flights for companies and government agencies. 

Commercial airlines have reserve pilots and crew members on call in case they are needed to fill in on short notice.

“Pilots want to get the job done, but they’re not going to go do it, if they’re feeling very ill,” he said.

Aviation experts say incidents like Monday’s emphasize the importance of the medical exams.

“We need to be sure these pilots are having state-of-the-art physicals on a very regular basis,” said Gail Dunham, executive director of the National Air Disaster Foundation. “Their physical standards need to be higher than other professions.”

“It’s up to the FAA to be sure the pilots physicals are meeting the highest standards possible,” she said.

When such an event happens aboard a commercial flight, federal rules dictate that the plane land as soon as possible.

“It becomes a race to the ground when you have only one pilot,” said Raiff.

FAA regulations require that there be at least two pilots on US commercial flights, Raiff explained, so if one pilot dies, the flight is technically flying in violation of federal rules and therefore must make an emergency landing.

“The disability of the captain is certainly a situation where you’d need to have a backup pilot because planes don’t land by themselves,” said Paul Hudson, president of, an airline passenger group.

While “pilots are regularly trained for single-pilot events,” and both sides of the cockpit have redundant controls to allow for one pilot to single-handedly control the aircraft, Raiff said, the pilot is responsible for “landing the aircraft — literally doing twice the work.”

“It’s a highly charged situation,” said Raiff.

The pilot would radio the local FAA controller to declare the emergency and explain the nature of the situation.

“The FAA controller will typically clear the airspace and work with the pilot to get them to the ground as quickly as possible,” he said.

Another FAA regulation, implemented after the Sept. 11 attacks, requires that there be at least two crew members in the cockpit at all times. So the pilot would also have to call one of the crew members into the cockpit.

Raiff said he was not aware of any federal rules about whether the pilot must inform passengers in such an event.

“It would be up to the discretion of the pilot and the specific rules of the airline,” he said.

He said he imagined most pilots would tell passengers, without going into detail, that an emergency landing is being made because of a medical situation, and to remain calm.

Two passengers aboard Monday’s flight said they were told the pilot was ill.

When the flight lands, “there’s going to be first responders on site,” and the death would be investigated by the local coroner. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board may also investigate, Raiff said.

“Fortunately it doesn’t happen all that often for pilots,” said Raiff.

While medical emergencies and deaths among pilots are rare, planes more often make emergency landings for passenger medical emergencies, said Schiavo. She estimated that happens at least once a week in the United States. A 2013 study found that in-flight emergencies occur in one out every 604 flights.

The study, which looked at medical emergencies on five major airlines over a three-year period found that out of 12,000 infirm passengers, 31 died, a rate of 0.3 percent.

Original article can be found here:

Pilot's Rampage Didn't Worry Etihad, Man Says

CHICAGO (Courthouse News Service) - Etihad Airways spirited one of its pilots out of the United States so that he would not face charges for a drunken attack, the co-worker he injured says in Federal Court.

Martyn Baylay, a resident of the United Kingdom, filed the lawsuit on Friday against the United Arab Emirates airline; his co-worker Saravdeep Mann, and the Chicago businesses that he says gave Mann too much to drink on the day of the altercation.

The trouble began on Oct. 13 or Oct. 14, 2013, when Baylay, Mann and two other members of the Etihad flight crew were on a layover in the Windy City.

Mann had already started drinking before the quartet settled in for drinks at their hotel. At the Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago for just 30 minutes, Mann proceeded to drink a "significant amount" of alcohol, according to the complaint.

At Dublin Bar and Grill, Mann drank "a lot more" and began making anti-British and anti-American comments, says Baylay, who believes that Mann lives either in India or Abu Dhabi.

At one point, Mann put his hands around Baylay's throat and "stared at him menacingly," the complaint states.

The other pilots had to cover Mann's tab that night, and Baylay agreed to hold on to the coat Mann left behind, according to the complaint.

Mann allegedly showed up at Baylay's hotel room at midnight, and Baylay says he opened the door under the impression that Mann had come to apologize and get his jacket.

Instead, Mann hit Baylay on the head with a bronze-bladed ornament, according to the complaint.

Baylay claims that he fell to the floor, and that Mann then hit him on his leg. When Mann lunged at his head again, Baylay grabbed the weapon, according to the complaint.

He says he escaped to the lobby after Mann told him, "I'm going to kill you. You f*cking British bastard." (Redaction in original.)

Claiming that he underwent treatment at a nearby hospital for a head injury and scalp laceration, Baylay says Mann had "gone on a drunken rampage earlier that evening" and was confronted twice by a hotel security official.

Mann was ultimately arrested and charged with battery, the lawsuit says.

Etihad meanwhile crafted a plan to get its pilots out of the U.S. Baylay says Etihad reconfigured its flight schedule and pilot configuration, and that Mann in turn missed his court date and violated his bail bond.

The lawsuit states that Mann's father-in-law is a senior Etihad instructor, and his friend is its vice-president of training and standards.

Although the airline asked Mann to resign as a direct employee, he is now a pilot at Jet Airways (India), of which Etihad is a partner and 24 percent minority equity stake owner, according to the complaint. Jet Airways is not named as a defendant in the complaint.

Baylay says the 44-year-old Mann is also "an avid participant in weapon contest [sic] involving guns."

Etihad employed Mann despite knowing his history of violence and alcohol problems, according to the complaint.

Baylay goes on to evoke this year's March 24 crash of a Germanwings plane in the French Alps, a disaster investigators have pinned on homicidal pilot Andreas Lubitz.

"At a time both pre-dating and post-dating the tragedy of Germanwings' mishandling of its pilot, Andreas Lubitz, Etihad and, now, Jet Airways appear to be ignoring warning signs about Mann's fitness to fly passenger jetliners," the complaint states.

Baylay says that Etihad should have investigated, discharged or reassigned Mann, and is partly responsible for his assault. He claims the airline also ratified Mann's actions by helping him leave the country despite his criminal charges.

In addition to Etihad, Mann, and the Dublin Bar and Grill, Baylay names as defendants the owners of the hotel, LaSalle Hotel Properties and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Baylay seeks damages for negligence, personal injury and dram shop liability.

He is represented by Craig M. Sandberg with Muslin & Sandberg.

Original article can be found here:

Alcoa Wins $1 Billion Parts Deal With Airbus • New York company calls contract its largest ‘aerospace fastening systems’ pact

The Wall Street Journal

Oct. 5, 2015 3:23 p.m. ET

Alcoa Inc. on Monday said it signed a $1 billion deal to supply airplane maker Airbus Group SE with bolts, rivets and other pieces used to hold planes together.

The contract, which New York-based Alcoa calls the largest deal for “aerospace fastening systems” in its history, comes only a week after the 126-year-old aluminum maker said it would split itself in two.

The parts, to be made from titanium, steel and nickel-based alloys at 14 factories, will be used on planes including the Airbus A350, the Toulouse, France-based plane maker’s newest commercial aircraft, the A320neo and the A330. The pieces, designed to withstand lightning strikes and be more resistant to wear, will be used for “the assembly of aircraft panels and engine pylons on newer airplanes with sophisticated design features,” Alcoa said.

Chief Executive Klaus Kleinfeld called the fastening systems “breakthrough technologies for some of the most advanced aircraft in the world.” Alcoa also has supply agreements with Airbus rival Boeing Co.

Airbus confirmed the deal, saying “majority of the work relevant to the contract” would be completed in California, as well as in “more than a dozen other Alcoa sites around the world.”

The company’s raw-aluminum business has been battered by falling aluminum prices, driven by booming Chinese exports. Last week, the company said its mining, processing and smelting divisions would next year become a separate company, still called Alcoa. A second company, whose name has yet to be determined, will be spun off and focus on making parts and pieces for airplanes and cars, including in deals like the Airbus contract. That company is expected to be the more profitable one.

Under Mr. Kleinfeld, Alcoa last year bought U.K. jet-engine-parts maker Firth Rixson Ltd., and this year acquired Pittsburgh-based RTI International Metals Inc., one of the world’s biggest makers of fabricated titanium products for the aerospace industry. Those acquisitions made the split announced last week a better option than selling off the raw-aluminum business, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Kleinfeld, a former Siemens AG executive, will remain CEO of the still-unnamed company and will be temporary chairman of the new Alcoa.

Alcoa’s new spinoff company will compete with Portland-based Precision Castparts Corp., which Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to buy in August for about $32 billion, the investor’s biggest acquisition yet.

For the second quarter, Alcoa posted a profit of $140 million, or 10 cents per share, up slightly from a year earlier. Its smelting division earned $67 million, a 31% drop from a year earlier, and its average “third-party realized price,” which it charged outside customers, fell 5% to $2,180 per metric ton.

Alcoa will kick off earnings season for major U.S. companies this week, with third-quarter results due out on Thursday.

—Joann S. Lublin contributed to this article.

Original article can be found here:

Piper PA-46 301P Malibu, N9126V, Grand River Emergency Department Consultants LLC: Fatal accident occurred October 13, 2014 in Dubuque, Iowa

Ann Butzier, widow of Dr. Doug Butzier, sits with her children (from left) Chris Chapman, 16; Sarah Chapman, 18; and Ben Chapman, 16, at their Dubuque home. 

 Dr. Douglas J. Butzier MD

One year after a single-engine plane crashed on the outskirts of Dubuque, killing its pilot, questions remain.

The National Transportation Safety Board still has not determined the probable cause of the Oct. 13 crash, which killed local physician and U.S. Senate candidate Doug Butzier. A preliminary report released in November notes that Butzier utilized an instrument-based flight plan but contains few other details.

Butzier's widow, Ann, said she has accepted that exactly what led to her husband's fatal crash might never be known. But his legacy and what he meant to the community have always been crystal clear, she said.

"People have, to this day, (come up) and tell me their stories about him and how he touched them somehow," Ann said, noting her husband's humility. "I don't think he had any idea the lives he touched or the impact he made."


Butzier, an emergency room doctor and Libertarian Senate candidate, was flying home from a campaign event in West Des Moines the night of the crash. He was flying in from Ankeny, Iowa, and was scheduled to land at Dubuque Regional Airport at about 11 p.m.

Butzier was relying on instruments, rather than sight, during his approach, possibly due to rainy weather.

"He had made his approach, (was) unable to get the runway in sight and did a standard missed-approach procedure," said Todd Dalsing, the airport's operations manager.

At some point during the second landing attempt, Butzier's plane went down. Wreckage of the single-engine plane came to rest between two residential properties on Military Road.

Key West Fire Chief Brian Arnold was one of the first responders on scene. Firefighters secured the scene, extinguished a small fire and blocked off roads in the area, he said.

"A lot of debris (was) scattered around," Arnold said. "(The plane) had impacted the tree after it hit the ground and slid up into the yard."

With 36 years of firefighting under his belt, Arnold has been present for the aftermath of multiple crashes and disasters. He said the plane's final resting spot showed how close the already tragic situation came to being substantially worse.

"It basically came up between two houses," Arnold said. "It could have been definitely a lot worse had it gone into one of those two houses."


A young Doug Butzier had lofty career ambitions, according to Ann Butzier.

"He wanted to be Smokey the Bear when he graduated," she recalled. "He loved the outdoors and wanted to be in forestry."

Early in his career, Butzier worked as a firefighter in Montana. The job required him to frequent local hospitals, where he developed a passion for emergency medicine.

Butzier eventually returned to school and became a doctor. For 17 years prior to his death, he worked in the emergency department at Mercy Medical Center-Dubuque.

He was president of Mercy's medical staff, served on the hospital's board of trustees and was medical director for the Dubuque and Asbury fire departments.

Ann described her late husband as "adventurous," but "no frills."

"(When) I met the guy, he had one pair of jeans," she said. "He was a down-to-earth, T-shirts and tennis shoes kind of a guy. A humble, everyday kind of guy."

Sarah Chapman, Butzier's stepdaughter, agreed.

"He just would have thought that all this fuss over him was ridiculous," she said. "He didn't think he was a big deal."

In the months since Butzier's death, multiple organizations have honored the late doctor. He was awarded the Star of Life during the Dubuque Emergency Medical Services annual dinner and a scholarship for EMS students was created in his honor.

This year, Ann will begin presenting the Doug Butzier Award for Excellence in Emergency Nursing, she said.

"Those nurses were real special to him," Ann said. "They were a huge part of his everyday work there."

The backyard of Ann's home also is a testament to Butzier, she said. He spent months hand-building a deck and pool on the steep, heavily wooded property.

The project was completed just months before his death.

"This summer has been unusually special," she said. "The people that have come here to enjoy this masterpiece of a backyard. ... That makes me find a little bit of peace in that."


Keith Holloway, a public affairs officer with the NTSB, said it's not unusual for investigators to take 12 to 18 months before releasing a probable cause report for an airplane crash.

While investigation of the scene and wreckage is completed soon after the incident, follow-up work can be more time consuming.

"A lot of the work really takes place afterwards," Holloway said. "That's going through (records), the pilot's medical history, licensing. ... That's part of the process."

Holloway said he could not provide specific details about the investigation and described it as "ongoing."

Ann Butzier said she does not believe the crash was due to pilot error. She said something must have occurred that Butzier could not overcome.

"Anybody who flew with him, they just know he was such a good pilot," Ann said. "He was calm and meticulous. He's been in trouble up there before, and he's been able to handle anything."


NTSB Identification: CEN15FA008 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, October 13, 2014 in Dubuque, IA
Aircraft: PIPER PA 46-310P, registration: N9126V
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 October 13, 2014, approximately 2305 central daylight time, a Piper PA-46 airplane, N9126V, collided with trees and impacted the ground near a residential area following a missed approach to Runway 36 at the Dubuque Regional Airport (DBQ), Dubuque, Iowa. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. Dark night Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area and during the approach. An Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight which was conducted under the provisions of Federal Code of Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from the Ankeny Regional Airport (IKV), Ankeny, Iowa, about 2200, and its destination was DBQ.

Flight Standards District Office: FAA Des Moines FSDO-61 

Any witnesses should email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Southold, Suffolk County, New York: Public invited to hear helicopter committee update

Residents concerned about ongoing helicopter noise can turn out for a new informational meeting of Southold Town’s helicopter noise steering committee.

The meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 17, at 9 a.m. at the town’s recreation center on Peconic Lane.

Highlights of the gathering include a review of the effects of the East Hampton town board’s changes to the flight policies at East Hampton’s airport this summer, said Councilman Bob Ghosio, liaison to the committee.

In addition, an update will be given on ongoing legal proceedings, the group will review the most recent complaint statistics, and a discussion will be held on the proposed North Shore flight extension path around Plum Island, and “what more can be done to incite change,” said Ghosio.

The public is invited to attend.

Southold Town has been proactive in bringing together residents to hear concerns and determine an action plan.

In August, a second helicopter noise forum was held; residents, overwhelmed by a summer of helicopter noise they said was even worse than last year demanded that the Federal Aviation Administration and United States senators hear their cries for relief from helicopter noise.

Kevin Dowling, legislative aide for Congressman Lee Zeldin, said helicopter noise was a critical issue. “This is a huge priority for us,” he said.

Dowling pointed out that Zeldin authored an amendment to ensure that the FAA would not use any new funding to act against East Hampton Town in regard to its efforts to regulate helicopter noise.

Mattituck resident Teresa McCaskie, who’s taken the lead on local efforts to get officials to sit up and take action, said the problem is not unique to Southold. “We all have to work together to find resolution,” she said.

Kathleen Cunningham of the Quiet Skies coalition agreed.

Giving the history of the East Hampton town board’s efforts, Cunningham said the board has worked hard to impose meaningful restrictions. But, she said, their efforts have been challenged by aviation organizations, “heavy hitters and big players that don’t want to see this airport regulate itself.”

East Hampton recently appealed a Supreme Court injunction against legislation that would restrict noisy aircraft operations at the town’s airport to one trip a week.

Back in April, the East Hampton town board adopted three local laws meant to impose use restrictions on airport operations.

Opponents slapped the town with a lawsuit in federal court. Federal District Court Judge Joanna Seybert upheld two local laws instituting year-round curfews: one, a mandatory nighttime curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., and the other, an extended curfew on noisy aircraft, from 8 p.m. until 9 a.m.

In late June, Seybert placed an injunction on the one restriction that would restrict trips to once a week. The other two laws have been in effect and enforced since July 2.

The three use restrictions were intended to work together to curb aircraft noise and provide relief to residents, East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said.

A much-debated fourth restriction, which would have banned all helicopter traffic on weekends, from Thursday to Monday during the height of the summer season, was ultimately not included in the vote.

On December 31, the town of East Hampton let expire four FAA grant assurances, taking back the reins in terms of overseeing its airport. For years, East Hampton had its hands tied and could not regulate hours of operation and number of flights after accepting funding from the FAA.

But despite “slow progress,”, Cunningham said without the regulation limiting trips to once a week, the “curfews are basically useless. In fact, it’s made traffic worse because it compresses, into a shorter period of time, the same traffic as before,” she said.

Cunningham said the Quiet Skies Coalition is still working to encourage the East Hampton town board to resurrect its pitch for a weekend ban on helicopters.

Still, Cunningham said, there has been good news: East Hampton hired “top-notch litigator” Kathleen Sullivan; she also said there has been a little bit of positive news from the FAA, which “has modified its position on fighting the preliminary injunction.”

Good neighbors

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell thanked the East Hampton town board, an ally after years of pleas falling upon deaf ears. “The tone and tenor have changed. The supervisor and board have shown great courage and leadership. They have shown us they want to be good neighbors.”

Cantwell said together, the restrictions would have reduced the number of landings at the East Hampton airport from 4,000 to 1,000 per year, or 75 percent. “This was very meaningful, well-thought-out, documented and supported legislation,” Cantwell said.

Important to note, Cantwell said, was that the judge ruled in East Hampton’s favor on its right to restrict landings and have some local control over the airport.

And that’s why, Cantwell said, the board refused to take FAA funding. “We really do believe local control of the airport is more important than taking federal dollars.”

One resident suggested a social media petition.

David Gruber, chair of East Hampton’s airport noise subcommittee, said he’s been working on the issue for 17 years. “We need the Senate or nothing can happen.”

He said that Assemblyman Fred Thiele had introduced legislation that would allow for a bonding period, critical to East Hampton supporting itself without FAA funding in the future; also,another piece of legislation would allow for a permissive referendum should any future East Hampton board try to accept funding from the FAA.

“It’s unending”

Realtor Marie Beninati, who lives on Cedar Beach in Southold, said on a recent Monday, her day off, she heard 17 flight overhead in 133 minutes, one every eight minutes. “It’s unending.”

Beninati suggested a monitoring system to record data, a system she said would be “far more effective and precise,” rather than “hit or miss”.

Paula Flaherty of Mattituck suggested hiring a bus and heading to DC, to let the voices of the community be heard.

“I don’t want to ride a bus,” said Margaret Skabry of Peconic. “I want to stay home and enjoy the peace and quiet. It’s nonsense. I’m fed up.”


Air France Plans Almost 3,000 Job Cuts After Failed Pilot Talks

  • Carrier briefs works council on moves to shrink business
  • Savings strategy calls for reduction in fleet, route network
Pierre Plissonnier flees flanked by security.

Air France informed workers that it plans to cut 2,900 jobs and cancel Boeing Co. 787 jetliners to deliver savings blocked by pilots, including the first forced dismissals since the 1990s.

Some 300 cockpit crew could go, together with 900 flight attendants and 1,700 ground staff, Air France told a meeting with its works council Monday, a representative of the UNAC cabin-crew union said. The briefing was interrupted for a period when protesters stormed the room.

The Air France fleet would be reduced by 14 aircraft, UNAC said, with the cancellation of 787 Dreamliners and phasing out of Airbus Group SE A340s, and weaker routes would shut. The unit of Air France-KLM Group indicated there’s scope for compromise if unions propose serious savings measures.

Air France said last week it was planning cuts to jobs, jets and routes after failing to reach a deal with pilots, who had been asked to work more hours for the same pay to help end annual losses that began in 2011. Government ministers had urged the sides to continue talking so that jobs could be saved.

Asia Impact

The changes would require a shrinking of Air France’s network, with a reduction in frequencies and more sweeping seasonal capacity cuts next year, following by the termination of some routes in 2017, especially to Asia, where competition is toughest. Frequencies to 22 destinations would be affected.

Job cuts couldn’t be implemented before mid-December at the earliest, given French legal requirements, leaving about two months for the two sides to agree an alternative way forward, should negotiations resume.

Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac has forced the showdown with pilots after last year being defeated in plans to establish a low-cost airline outside of France when crews walked out for two weeks, costing the airline 500 million euros ($564 million) and prompting the government to intervene.

Air France has never recently fired workers outright, relying on attrition and early retirement packages to reduce the payroll by 9,000 over three years. The last time it sought to dismiss staff, in 1993, weeks of walkouts cost the job of CEO Bernard Attali.


Commercial Helicopter Pilot Seeking Instructor Position (Seattle, Washington)

My name is Nathan Diller and I'm a Commercial Helicopter Pilot. I am qualified as a flight instructor and looking for an instructor position, however I am interested in any helicopter flight position. I am willing to travel, although I prefer the greater Seattle area.

Read more here:

Crowds urged to stay away from this weekend’s Doncaster Vulcan farewell

  • Vulcan set for farewell tour this weekend 
  • Last chance to see XH558 in the skies 
  • But crowds told to stay away from Doncaster over fears flights could be axed 


Crowds have been warned to stay away from Doncaster for the last flying Vulcan’s farewell tour this weekend - with warnings the flights could be axed if thousands of sightseers turn up.

Cold War icon XH558 is due to take off on a two day tour of Britain from Robin Hood Airport this Saturday and Sunday - the last time ever the plane is scheduled to take to the skies.

But people have been told to stay away from the farewell - and have been told that huge crowds could see the event pulled due to safety fears.

Police have warned owners the Vulcan To The Sky Trust that the flights may not be able to go ahead due to safety and security concerns if thousands of people descend on Doncaster.

Superintendent Caroline Rollitt, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Although I understand the passion of the supporters of the Vulcan over the past few months as we approach its final flights more and more spectators have turned up at events where the Vulcan has been.

“I must ask everyone please, do not come to Robin Hood to see her take-off and land. This has started to overwhelm local authorities and emergency services.

“My first priority is ensuring the safety of all road users and local communities. Doncaster airport is a small commercial airport that can accommodate its passengers.

“However, the infrastructure around it cannot accommodate a large influx of people hoping to see the Vulcan.”

Dr Robert Pleming, chief executive of the VTTS said: “The roads, villages and availability of parking around the perimeter of Robin Hood Airport are very restricted. As the final few flights approach, we must warn you that the chances of seeing XH558 take-off and land will be slim. There are no plans for any displays or repeated circuits over the airfield and the aircraft will come straight-in to land on her return.

“We wish to bring the aircraft to you – as much as possible, so please plan to go to one of the published locations on the final tour when they are announced, or one of the existing display venues, rather than come to Robin Hood.

“As the last few flight dates approach, spectator interest around the airport at Doncaster is reaching new heights, with huge numbers already being seen on surrounding roads. The police and emergency services, local authority and the airport are very much aware of growing issues. There is great risk of severe restrictions being imposed on our last few days of flight operations. We do need to minimize the risk of enforced flight cancellations on the grounds of public safety.

“We would request all our supporters try to view XH558 from another vantage point along a notified flight-path or display venue. Please do not travel to Doncaster.”

The iconic aircraft has been enjoying one long summer of flypasts and displays with thousands turning out to see her.

But while Vulcan XH558 may no longer be soaring gracefully through the skies, she will stay in Doncaster – as the centerpiece of a new museum celebrating her heritage as well as her life and times, in the former RAF Finningley hangar where she sat in readiness for fighting and bombing during the 1960s and 70s.

Dr Pleming said: “We have set out from the start to create a lasting legacy for the Vulcan by planning for the day when the aircraft will have to cease flying.”

Vulcan To The Sky chiefs have had to make the tough decision that this year will be her last - for safety and technical reasons.

Dr Pleming said that while the aircraft, affectionately dubbed the ‘tin triangle’ was still safe, the age of her airframe, engines and a growing difficulty to source skilled engineers to keep her airborne were all factors taken into account when deciding her fate. It also costs £2 million a year to keep the plane in the air.
Details of the farewell flight are expected to be revealed tomorrow.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park seeks info on low-flying aircraft

ESTES PARK, COLORADO — Rocky Mountain National Park officials are seeking information about an ultralight aircraft flew low in the area of Moraine Park at around 5:30 p.m. Friday, September 25.

Park rangers are seeking information pertaining to the incident, park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said in a press release. "They are interested in speaking with witnesses or anyone who might have photographs or videos of the aircraft," she said.

Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call Rocky Mountain National Park's Communications Center at 970-586-1204.


Westmoreland County subsidy that helps finance Spirit Airlines draws scrutiny

Latrobe airlines services ramp crew members service a Spirit Airlines aircraft on Friday, October 2, 2015, at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

Westmoreland County officials say they'll continue an unorthodox taxpayer-funded subsidy that attracted Spirit Airlines to Arnold Palmer Regional Airport but drew the attention of federal officials.

Citing the economic benefits of an ultra-low-cost carrier in town, the county spends about $700,000 annually to employ ticket agents and ground operators for Spirit. The program, called Latrobe Airline Services, supports about 40 authority employees a year. The money is part of $2 million to $2.7 million in annual funding the county pays to the Westmoreland County Airport Authority for general operations and debt service.

Spirit, a company valued at $3.6 billion that built its brand on cheap nonstop flights, serves more than 50 airports in the United States and internationally. In Westmoreland County, commissioners said they are eager to provide the appropriation and enable Spirit's presence to grow.

“It's money we put in to make the operation happen so that we could reap the impact,” said Commissioner Chuck Anderson. “It's part of the cost of doing business.”

The county-to-authority money transfer caught the eye of the Federal Aviation Administration at least as early as 2013. In February 2014, the safety and standards branch requested information to determine “if the rates and charges at the airport are allocated in an unjustly discriminatory manner,” or were subsidizing the costs of an air carrier.

FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said the agency's review of the program is continuing.

Spirit began serving the Latrobe airport in February 2011. The year before, the airport had 6,000 commercial passengers.

“We're about to have balloons go up for the millionth passenger going through there,” Anderson said. “The impact is huge.”

This year, the airport has counted more than 250,000 passengers on Spirit flights to five destinations, although the airline will suspend nonstop flights to Chicago and Las Vegas in November because of low passenger traffic. Other destinations include Orlando, Myrtle Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

PennDOT gauged the airport's economic impact at $158 million, according to the airport's annual report, up from $98 million in 2011.

Ken Button, a public policy professor at George Mason University who studies aviation, said the lines are fuzzy regarding public support to airlines, but smaller airports are more likely to use local funding to lure carriers. The biggest concern, he said, is engendering unfair competition if nearby airports must one-up each other's offers.

“These airports are desperate to have it,” Button said. “This doesn't necessarily help other airports nearby.”

Westmoreland County has three regional airports — two of them county-run — and there are a dozen or so nearby in other counties.

Pittsburgh International Airport, the region's largest, added ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Air this year. Allegiant gets no special subsidy from the airport.

Incentive programs vary among airports, Spirit spokesman Paul Berry said. Some have none. Spirit reported $76 million in net income in June.

The size of the airport and amount of traffic determines which employees work directly with the airline, Berry said. If the scale of operations is large enough, Spirit hires its own workers, as at the Fort Lauderdale airport where the airline has its headquarters.

“At most of our other airports, we don't have that much traffic, so we hire third-party vendors to handle that traffic for us,” Berry said.

That's the case at Oakland International Airport, said Brian Kidd, marketing supervisor at the California facility. Major airlines can employ their own staff. Smaller airport incentives can be “a win-win,” but airports must be careful about regulations, Kidd said.

“Airports have to be fairly even-handed about this,” he said. “You can't offer an incentive to one carrier that's not available for another carrier.”

Gabe Monzo, executive director at the Arnold Palmer airport, said if another carrier came to town, “We'd serve them the same way.” The model drives traffic and economic development, he said.

“It's unique,” he said, “it's a new way of doing business. But it works for us.”

The county has an overall budget of $334 million. Anderson said this year the county is working around a $5.8 million deficit, which has shrunk to about $2 million because of higher-than-anticipated revenue from various sources, including the Marcellus shale impact fee. Commissioner Ted Kopas said the county evaluates its appropriation to the airport as part of its budget talks every year, as it does other county-related agencies.

“The way the airport has grown over the five years, the target investment has paid off,” Kopas said.

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Latrobe airlines services ramp crew members add water to a Spirit Airlines aircraft on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

Woman 'hears' Air India pilot talk of 'last flight', refuses to fly

NEW DELHI: The Germanwings crash and continuing mystery of the missing Malaysian airliner MH 370 seem to have created serious distrust between air travelers and pilots.

On Sunday, an Air India business class passenger onboard the aircraft scheduled to take off from Singapore to Delhi refused to continue her journey after she felt the commander said "this is my last flight" to a ground worker. The passenger, reportedly European, immediately told the crew she wanted to get off the aircraft and then alerted local security agencies, said sources.

Security agencies at Changi Airport asked the pilot to get off the plane. "They spoke to the pilot for about an hour. Only after it became clear to them that there had been a serious misunderstanding, the commander was cleared to operate the flight (AI 381) to Delhi," said a source.

Air India did not comment on the 'misunderstanding'. Sources say the commander was not satisfied with the ground staff over something. The passenger might have misunderstood the pilot saying "I am warning you for the last time" and assumed it to be "last flight". The difference in the accents added to the confusion, they said. The flight took off with an hour's delay.

Original article can be found here:

What’s up with the blue-and-white helicopter next to Catskill Regional Medical Center?

Flight nurse Tanya Gushin and Rich Willey, medical base supervisor, in the helicopter that's based adjacent to Catskill Regional Medical Center.

What’s up with the blue-and-white helicopter next to Catskill Regional Medical Center?

Well, it may surprise you that inside that one-story gray structure next to the landing pad, there is one helicopter pilot, one registered nurse and one medic living round the clock and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

They all have separate bedrooms and lockers and a shared kitchen, living room, two bathrooms, a laundry room, food pantry, stock room for medications and a decontamination room.

“Basically, it’s set up like a firehouse,” says Tanya Gushin, 29, flight nurse with LifeNet, who runs the medical helicopter service. “We bake a lot of cookies around here.”

The nurses and medics work 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on and then have five days off. The pilots work 12-hour shifts. There are four pilots, four nurses and four medics on rotation.

It also may surprise you that none of the crew are employed by Catskill Regional Medical Center: They all work for Air Methods, LifeNet’s parent company, the largest air medical provider in the world.

When a call comes in, the LifeNet crew can be in the air in as little as seven minutes.

“Most everything is already in the helicopter, and we are in our flight suits, so we just grab our helmets and head out the door,” says Gushin. “We do a quick 360-degree walk around the helicopter, the pilot runs through his standard aviation checklist and then it takes three minutes to warm it up.”

The helicopter crew heads out to 30-40 calls a month and has responded to stabbings, shootings, snowmobile and ATV accidents, car accidents, falls with significant injuries, heart attacks and strokes over the years.

Although based at Catskill Regional, the helicopter coverage includes Sullivan County and parts of Ulster, Orange and Delaware counties in New York and Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania, as well. Patients can be flown to hospitals as far away as Albany, Scranton or Westchester.

“This is a very safety-conscious operation,” says Gushin. “Our slogan is ‘three to go and one to say no’ which means all three crew members have got to agree that it’s safe to fly. But if just one crew member is not comfortable with it, we don’t take off.”

Weather can be the biggest obstacle to flying, so they constantly monitor the local conditions.

“Once we are in the air, the local fire department is in charge of the landing zone,” says Gushin. “They set up a 100 by 100 area clear of obstructions such as wires and trees, and mark it off with cones. Then the pilot brings us down between the cones.”

“We’ve landed in fields and parking lots and on highways and Route 17,” she says. “Sometimes they land in remote spots and we end up jumping over streams to get to the victim.”

“Does it ever get old?” Gushin asks herself. “Well, I’ve only been doing this since May, but other nurses say they are still excited about their job even 10 years later.”

“You know, when I first started, I was afraid of heights. But after one flight, I was hooked,” she says. “And flying has given me an appreciation of how beautiful the Hudson Valley really is.”

Story and photos:

Flight nurse Tanya Gushin gets her flight helmet out of a locker at the helicopter facility at Catskill Regional Medical Center.

Military fly-by honors WWII aviator but raises concerns from Appleton residents: F-16 fighters from Madision flew low during afternoon memorial

APPLETON, WI (WFRV) Some Appleton residents got a jolt from some low flying military jets yesterday. Four F-16 fighters flew a missing man formation around 3:00 P.PM Sunday. 

While the flyby came without warning, Local Five's Terry Kovarik shows us it was in honor of a deserving veteran aviator. 

Story, video and photo:

APPLETON — The Appleton area is buzzing after military jets flew over the heart of the city, rattling windows around 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars requested a military flyover this afternoon and there is no cause for concern, the Appleton Police Department said on its Facebook page.

Outagamie County Sheriff's Sgt. Angela Owens  said County Executive Tom Nelson called dispatch and said he had confirmed that F-16s from Madison conducted the flyover at the VFW's request. The flyover was planned and the pilots had permission.

She did not know how many planes had flown over.

A Post-Crescent Media reporter said he saw three military jets buzz over his house near downtown in a triangle formation.

A missing man aerial tribute consists of four aircraft flying in formation. After they are visible to people at the ceremony, one of the aircraft abruptly splits from the formation to signify the "missing man."

Story and comments:

Appleton Police: Low-flying planes part of military flyover

Action 2 News has received several calls and messages about low-flying airplanes in Appleton.

Police say the VFW requested a military flyover Sunday afternoon, and there is no cause for concern.

Police say they were notified of the flyover after the fact.

Story, video, comments and photo:

Volusia County sheriff's helicopters return to 24/7 service

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office now has a fully staffed helicopter crew after a pilot on paid administrative leave returned to duty and joined four other airmen, including three new hires.

The helicopter fleet, which had been operating with four full-time pilots, was down to one since Aug. 20 when two pilots resigned — one for family reasons and another for a new job.

A fourth pilot, Michael Mankovich, was grounded during a supervisory inquiry. Mankovich is back on duty but the inquiry determined he failed to follow orders and must serve an unpaid 40-hour suspension next month, according to reports.

When the two pilots resigned and Mankovich was placed on leave, the Sheriff’s Office's three Air One helicopters operated with one pilot, Bud Darling II. Although the pilots who resigned in April and early August — Jonathan Egerton and Greg Brooks — stayed on with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, flying as needed and as their schedules permitted, the helicopters were not available at times to respond to emergencies and medical calls when Darling was not on duty.

But the fleet, which assists other local police agencies and flies trauma patients to hospitals in addition to Sheriff's Office duties, is available for all flights again.

“Air One is back at full service,” sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson said recently. “Air One is in service 24/7.”

Newly hired pilots started working with the Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 14 and Sept. 21. A third will began flying for the Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 21, bringing the crew to five fliers, Davidson said.

The hiring of the fifth pilot was prompted by the pilot shortage and was a step taken by Sheriff Ben Johnson to prevent future disruptions, Davidson said.

The aviation unit responded to 1,248 calls in 2014 and through August of this year, has responded to 900 calls, Davidson said.

Mankovich returned to flying Sept. 22, Davidson said. That was the day after the pilot was notified that he was being suspended, according to supervisory inquiry reports obtained through a Daytona Beach News-Journal public records request.

The investigation into Mankovich’s conduct began Aug. 8 after he refused to sign employee performance notices. The notices were the result of Mankovich’s refusal to follow orders regarding his job, reports show.

Documents show that in June Mankovich refused to document preflight inspections, even after being told by his superiors to do so. Mankovich flew 20 shifts and logged no preflight inspections, investigators said.

And in July, Mankovich failed to timely fill out the insurance forms for the agency regarding the helicopter in July and only did so when reminded repeatedly by his superiors, records show.


Victim pleads for mercy for 'hero' pilot prosecuted over dramatic rescue

Dave Armstrong, Kaikoura Helicopters director and pilot. He faces prosecution for a search and rescue mission performed while his license was suspended.

A "hero" helicopter pilot is facing possible jail-time over the dramatic rescue of an injured hunter who says he owes the pilot his life.

Hunter Scott Lee was left dangling on the edge of a 50-metre drop after falling in remote bush north of Kaikoura on April 5, 2014.

He suffered  a broken femur, and had to be tethered to a tree with his girlfriend's clothing to prevent him from plunging further down the bluff to his death.

Local pilot Dave Armstrong stepped up to complete the rescue after another helicopter had already turned back.

But now  he faces charges because his license was at the time suspended, due to a medical scare from a diagnosis which had already been called into question.

The prosecution is thought to be the first of its kind in New Zealand for a pilot performing a search and rescue mission.

The situation has outraged some in the flying community, as well as the hunter Armstrong saved, with the Christchurch man saying he was "absolutely devastated" for the pilot.

Lee has written to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) pleading for them to drop the three charges Armstrong is facing next week in Kaikoura District Court.

In the letter he explains how he had gone after his girlfriend, Lisa McKenzie, who had tumbled down a shingle bank, before tripping and badly breaking his leg on the tree that broke his 15-metre fall.

Armstrong then attempted the rescue, and it is understood he sat alongside his co-pilot as a supervisor because he was suspended from flying.

But his junior struggled to make the manouevre in their Robinson R44 light four-seater machine.

Kaikoura Search and Rescue (SAR) alternate controller Mike Morrissey said it was cloudy, the couple were in dense bush on a steep slope, and the view was that Lee could not be left overnight in such conditions.

Armstrong took the controls instead and dropped in Morrissey, a doctor, and the rest of the SAR team .

"Dave knew exactly where these guys were," Morrissey said.

"He's been flying to do rain gauges there every month for years.

"At that time Dave had the opportunity to do it. He was the best person for it so we used him."

Lee said he and his girlfriend had lost hope after hearing the first chopper turn back.

He had even accepted he might die alone by the time he heard the approach of Armstrong's chopper.

It took the SAR crew about six hours to stretcher Lee out of the bush, Morrissey said.

A source close to the case said Armstrong's flight-logs were later seized by police on behalf of the CAA.

The source said the day Armstrong flew, there was doubt about his medical issue and he had been challenging the opinion while trying to get the grounding order lifted.

Lee and McKenzie both wrote to the CAA in support of Armstrong when they heard of the prosecution.

"We truly believe that we owe our lives to Dave and the team that helped us, and there is no way we will ever be able to express our gratitude to them."

Lee wrote: "Clearly it was a life or death situation and we are grateful that Dave made that decision as I would not be here without him."

He said the pilot did not deserve such scrutiny.

"He's done a heroic act in my eyes. If anything, he deserves a medal for what he's done," Lee said. "He's a hero."

Wanaka pilot and Armstrong's friend, John Levy, said the cost of the prosecution and being grounded had affected the family's livelihood.

A spokesman for the CAA said it was not in a position to comment on the case while the matter was before the courts.

Armstrong and his lawyer also declined to comment.


The charges relate to alleged breaches of the Civil Aviation Act for performing search and rescue flights without a current medical license.

The Act, which is currently under review, says pilots can breach the law in life or death emergencies, but not if they are not lawfully entitled to fly.

That includes for medical reasons, or if their craft is not airworthy.

The maximum penalty is 12 months' jail or a $10,000 fine per offense.

Story and photos:

Hands-on experiences make Community College of Beaver County aviation program stand out statewide, nationally

Moore Aviation flight instructor Chris Wohlgemuth, left, of Coraopolis and student Logan Kress of Lisbon, Ohio, prepare a plane for flight on September 18. 

CHIPPEWA TWP. -- It’s a clear day in late September. The sun is shining, and a light breeze blows from the east. It’s a bit cramped in the air traffic control tower at the Beaver County Airport. 

 Four stories above the ground, Evan Johnson, Nathan Tkach and Josh Hunt watch the skies through 360 degrees of tinted windows. They are checking for a Cessna less than 10 miles out from the airport. Johnson is working local control today, guiding local pilots as they return to the airport. He speaks evenly into his headset, giving the incoming pilot clearance to land on the runway. Johnson, 21, of Pleasant Hills, checks the temperature and wind speed. Tkach, 19, of Robinson Township, works flight data.

It’s a quiet day for the crew in the air traffic control tower, with a handful of student pilots preparing for takeoff.

These aren’t seasoned veterans controlling the airspace of Beaver County. They’re fourth-semester students at the Community College of Beaver County about to graduate with an associate degree from the school’s air traffic control program. But along with that degree comes hundreds of hours of hands-on, on-the-job training -- a trait that makes CCBC’s program stand out.

Nationally recognized program

For nearly 50 years, CCBC’s aviation program has educated the next generation of pilots. The program expanded to include air traffic control in 1977. In 2013, a third track educating students in operating unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, was added. Aviation is a strength at CCBC, said college President Chris Reber.

“What I think we have is a model program where we are in a facility that is first-rate that provides hands-on instruction with renowned instructors,” Reber said. “These are the ingredients that keep it successful -- quality instruction, programs we can do well and programs that lead to successful careers.”

There are 36 aviation Collegiate Training Initiative Programs across the country. Only a fraction offer a drone program. CCBC’s program is the longest continuously running aviation program in the state. The Federal Aviation Administration has accredited the professional pilot program for its high quality, making it the only one of the six colleges and universities in Pennsylvania with professional pilot training to earn that distinction.

Retired Air Force Col. Bill Pinter, dean of the school of aviation sciences, said the accreditation allows students to receive a reduction in the required number of flight hours to complete their training.

“Our program, due to accreditation, is recognized as the best program in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Pinter said. “We have very dynamic programs with a national reputation. What we see is that our students are highly sought after.”

CCBC is the only one of the 36 CTI programs to offer students the chance to train as air traffic controllers in an on-campus tower and take their flight classes -- a private pilot’s license is required for the air traffic program.

In fact, a private pilot’s license is required for all students in the aviation program. The college has a partnership with two private flight schools -- ACES and Moore Aviation -- that operate out of the county airport. CCBC instructors teach the theory, math and history behind flight and, through the flight schools, students put what they’ve learned to practice.

“That’s the classroom, and we’re the labs,” said Brad Cossin, chief pilot at ACES and a 1990 graduate of the CCBC pilot program. “That’s why this program is one of the best in the country.”

Alec Schoedel remembers the first time he considered a career as a professional pilot. He was a senior at Hopewell High School with no idea what he wanted to do. He was offered a “discover ride” at the airport, where he could see what it was like to be a pilot.

Three semesters of college later, he’s working toward commercial flying certification. He recently flew to Rome, N.Y., by himself for the first time -- five hours and 250 miles in the sky alone.

“Not many kids can say they go to college and fly,” said Schoedel, 19. “If you don’t take advantage of this program, then you’re crazy.”

Rob Schattauer first heard about CCBC’s program as a high school student living in Slippery Rock. His parents were encouraging him to become an engineer, but after visiting an air show at the Beaver County Airport, he learned he could become a pilot at CCBC.

Now, Schattauer helps teach the next generation of pilots as the chief flight instructor at Moore Aviation. There’s a shortage of pilots in the industry -- major airplane manufacturer Boeing projects a need for 95,000 pilots in North America in the next 20 years. Pilots are required to retire at age 65, and since 2013, have been required to have 1,500 hours of flight experience. That’s up from 250, the requirement before the last fatal U.S. passenger airplane crash.

The training isn’t easy, Schattauer said, but it’s worth the time investment.

“Learning to fly is a very steep learning curve,” Schattauer said. “It’s like getting shot at with a fire hose -- you get all of the water at once.”

Hands-on experience

The folks in the air traffic control tower have a bit of a sense of humor. That’s necessary in the business, said Wayne Resetar, air traffic control program coordinator. That’s one of the things he looks for in a successful student.

“We look for somebody who is a little outgoing, that can take constructive criticism real well. People that can think outside of the box a little and have a good sense of humor,” said Resetar, who took the helm of the air traffic control program this fall. “Usually that’s a trademark of someone that ends up being pretty good at air traffic.”

When it’s time for the tape recording activity in the tower to be changed, an alarm sounds in the back of the air traffic control tower. It’s the opening notes of “Danger Zone,” the iconic theme from “Top Gun.”

It’s a stress-relief mechanism, Resetar said. Air traffic control can be a stressful business, he said, and the ribbing and jokes are a relaxation mechanism.

“The most challenging part is you want that successful ending to all the things you do,” Resetar said. “Along that journey to get to that successful ending, sometimes things crop up. That’s the challenge, just getting to that end result with the least amount of difficulties, and when they do crop up, having the ability to deal with them because you’re going to get them.”

The students know the job is important, but they need to have some fun with it, said Pete Kirkpatrick, a supervisor at the tower. They’ll be in the field for only a finite number of years -- the FAA requires mandatory air traffic control retirement at age 56, and the oldest a controller can be when hired is 31.

Ayla King will be much younger when she enters the FAA program in Oklahoma in January 2017. She will graduate from CCBC in December at 19 and will continue to take classes and, she hopes, work in the air traffic control tower. She’s one of more than 40 students to receive a job offer from the FAA this year.

Those interested in becoming a controller have to apply to the FAA, just like any other job. Once their resume and entry test are reviewed, the FAA makes offers to place successful candidates in a training class in Oklahoma City and, if they complete training, one of 315 air traffic control facilities across the country.

In 2014, the FAA changed the requirements, de-emphasizing the completion of programs like CCBC's. Now the main requirement for a controller job is to have three consecutive years of employment, though a biographical application and aptitude test are required before placement. That has hurt enrollment, Pinter said, but students like King still rise to the top of the program.

“It definitely helped, training here,” said King, of Middlefield, Ohio. “It has a very good reputation.”

King’s father is a captain with United Airlines. She already has a pilot’s license, but after visiting the Cleveland tower, she started considering air traffic control instead.

During her visit, she found that almost all of the controllers were CCBC graduates -- and they all had a good recommendation. Now a teaching assistant for third-semester students, King said the program gives students an experience that will help them acclimate to the job.

“It’s good hands-on experience,” she said. “We get to actually run traffic and pretend we’re running traffic out of Pittsburgh (in simulators). Going up to the tower to run ground control and get weather … that’s something a lot of schools don’t have.”

Every day in air traffic control is different, said Tom Hahne, a program graduate and tower instructor at CCBC. That’s part of the appeal.

“Students are actually forced to think about how they’re impacting real airplanes with people inside, and given that, they’re allowed to apply what they’ve learned in a classroom in a real-life setting,” said Hahne, 20, of Beaver Falls. “We see a lot of excitement on a day-to-day basis, having new people on both ends of the microphone.”

Having that control tower on campus is invaluable and one of the things that makes CCBC graduates stand out, Resetar said.

“You could sit in a classroom and lecture all day about how to control airplanes, but when you get to go do it, it’s different,” Resetar said. “There is no substitute for hands-on experience. It’s live. It’s real.

“Our students get that piece of it, where you can’t get that in other places.”

Story and photo gallery:

Head sets hang on the wall at Moore Aviation waiting for pilots to take when they fly.

Cessna 150F Commuter, N6922F: Accident occurred September 26, 2015 in Fort Wayne, Indiana

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA433
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 26, 2015 in Fort Wayne, IN
Aircraft: CESSNA 150F, registration: N6922F
Injuries: 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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 26, 2015, about 0345 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150F, N6922F, impacted terrain during climb after takeoff from Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA), Fort Wayne, Indiana. The airplane received substantial damage. The private pilot and a passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.     

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA South Bend FSDO-17

The randomness and potential mayhem of a plane accident are particularly disconcerting, and when it happens, a community instinctively wants to know why it happened.

Such was the case when a small plane got into trouble after taking off from Fort Wayne’s Smith Field early September 26. On its way to land back at the airport, the Cessna 150F struck trees, a power line and a rooftop and flipped into the backyard of a Ludwig Park Drive home.

Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating, and the National Transportation Safety Board has also taken an interest. But any report is predicted to be weeks away.

Shouldn’t local authorities be a little more involved, if for no other reason than to give the public some answers?

No one on the ground was hurt in the 3:45 a.m. crash, though a passenger in the plane was treated at a local hospital for injuries. The pilot apparently walked away from the scene. Beyond that, there was little information available to the media and the public.

Wednesday, attorney Michael Loomis said he already had notified the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board that Jeffrey Mills, the registered owner of the plane, was indeed the pilot. Loomis said Thursday that Mills had left the site of the crash “dazed and confused” and was also getting medical assistance, adding that “I can tell you that he has medical conditions outside the incident.” In fact, Loomis said, he had strongly recommended to his client that he surrender the medical license that allows him to pilot a plane.

By then, it had become clear that local police were not involved in the probe and that Indiana State Police had only a limited role in the investigation. The Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority would have gotten more involved if the plane had actually crashed on airport authority property, a spokesperson said.

“We are the lead agency on the accident investigation,” Anthony Molinaro, FAA spokesman for the Great Lakes Region, said Friday. Though agency representatives had not talked with Mills, FAA officials have viewed the crash site and will interview witnesses, study records and issue a report, Molinaro said. “We will be in touch with the pilot,” he said.

But Molinaro made it clear that the FAA would only be investigating the circumstances of the crash itself.

While Loomis has provided some answers to the media, his responsibility is first, of course, to his client.

The public still knows very little about the circumstances that led to the crash, and doesn’t even know what questions are going to be asked and answered by federal investigators.

  • Who was Mills’ passenger? 
  • When will the two of them be interviewed about the accident?
  • Are authorities convinced Mills was just taking a pleasure spin around the airport area in the middle of the night, as he told his attorney? What caused the plane’s engine to sputter out? 
  • Did Mills’ medical problems play into what happened and, if so, is there something other pilots should learn from the incident? 
  • Is there anything more local air authorities should be doing to ensure that apparently spur-of-the-moment airplane rides in the middle of the night are conducted safely?
The answers may be contained in a federal report, available in just a few weeks. 
  • Is that OK with everybody? 
  • Or should there be some kind of protocol to get local authorities more involved in such investigations?
Planes don’t fall out of the sky very often. But when they do, the public deserves some answers. 

Original article can be found here: