Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Port Angeles to get new passenger airline service to Sea-Tac starting March 1 with SeaPort

PORT ANGELES — Scheduled air passenger service will resume March 1 between William R. Fairchild International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

SeaPort Airlines of Portland, Ore., announced Tuesday it will begin service with five 40-minute flights most days on single-engine, nine-passenger Cessna Caravan turboprop aircraft similar to those flown by Kenmore Air.

Kenmore abandoned service to Port Angeles last November. Port of Port Angeles officials have sought another carrier since then.

“This is great news,” said Ken O'Hollaren, Port of Port Angeles executive director.

“Kudos to all involved for writing letters to SeaPort supporting the service. SeaPort said that was a big factor in its decision.”

Initially, the Transportation Security Administration will provide no inspections at Fairchild. 

Passengers flying beyond Sea-Tac must undergo security checks when they reach Seattle, O'Hollaren said.

The port will try to establish TSA security at Fairchild, he said.

“First we get the service,” he said. “Then we worry about the amenities.”

Single-ticket itineraries

SeaPort, however, will offer single-ticket itineraries and baggage transfer to flights from Sea-Tac on Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, said SeaPort CEO Rob McKinney. 

He said SeaPort was discussing similar agreements with other airlines.

SeaPort also will provide three daily flights between Moses Lake and Sea-Tac plus one daily flight between Moses Lake and Portland, its headquarters.

SeaPort will take advantage of fee waivers at Fairchild and Sea-Tac.

The Port of Port Angeles will waive all landing and terminal fees the first year and half of them the second year. 

It also will contribute $6 per outbound seat to market the service. The amount will drop to $3 after the first year.

Sea-Tac will waive up to $225,000 in annual ground fees for each daily flight by a 76-passenger aircraft — proportionately less for SeaPort's Cessna Caravans, it announced in March in an initiative to restore scheduled service to Seattle from rural Northwest communities.

Profits in 3 years

Forecast Inc. of Denver's consultant Ben Munson said then it would take three years for scheduled air service to Port Angeles to mature, with cash flow at that time offsetting the first two years of subsidy.

All of the incentives for five daily flights between Port Angeles and Seattle would total about $400,000 a year, Munson said.

Port of Port Angeles Commissioner John Calhoun also has called for Fairchild to waive parking fees, but O'Hollaren said Tuesday they would remain in force for the time being.

Besides SeaPort, Alaska Airlines had considered flying the Port Angeles-Seattle route but with a single flight by a 76-passenger Bombardier Q-400 twin-engine turboprop.

Other possible carriers included Skywest and a return by Kenmore Air.

Community officials, including Port Commissioner Colleen McAleer, said they would prefer more frequent flights by smaller aircraft to increase flexibility for connections at Sea-Tac.

Officials applaud

Port commission President Jim Hallett said, “We're delighted at SeaPort Airlines' decision to begin regular air service to Sea-Tac.

“We appreciate the confidence SeaPort is demonstrating in our community and know the community will respond with its own commitment to support the new service.”

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, also applauded the service, which he said “gives folks an easy way to get to Seattle and other parts of the country while boosting tourism by bringing new visitors to the Olympic Peninsula.”

Bill Greenwood, executive director of the Clallam County Economic Development Corp., said last week the lack of scheduled air service had dampened some companies' willingness to locate in the Port Angeles area, saying in effect that they'd wait to see if the community could attract an airline.

Eric Lewis, CEO of Olympic Medical Center, said the lack of air service also had discouraged some doctors from joining OMC.

History of service

SeaPort Airlines is a privately held company that was founded in 1982 as Wings of Alaska before it was bought by SeaPort Air Group LLC.

SeaPort initially flew between Seattle and Portland — hence its name — although it discontinued the service.

It now serves 20 cities in an area from Oregon to Mississippi in the United States, as well as San Felipe, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Kenmore Air ceased its scheduled service Nov. 14. By that time, flights had dwindled from several daily to one.

Kenmore flew from Fairchild to Seattle's Boeing Field and provided shuttle service to Sea-Tac.

Kenmore cited decreasing ridership and revenues and increasing costs after 10 years of service that started when it took over from Horizon Air.

San Juan Airlines flew from Fairchild to Boeing Field in 2003-04. It replaced Harbor Air, which went out of business in 2001.

In the intervening year since Kenmore's departure, Rite Bros. Aviation has flown charter air service to Sea-Tac.

As for a return of scheduled service, McAleer said last winter that customer support would be crucial for a carrier.

“I'm hoping the cost of flying out of Port Angeles would be offset by the cost of driving and the cost of parking [$28 a day at Sea-Tac] and, of course, the time savings,” she said. 

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  SeaPort Airlines Talks Business: 

Port Angeles – Now that SeaPort Airlines has committed its business to the Peninsula and Fairchild International Airport, there will be a number of travel options for travelers who want to get to Sea-Tac for their travel plans.

KONP spoke with the Executive Vice President, Tim Sieber, on the reasons Seaport elected to come to Port Angeles.

Sieber also addressed other business issues that all airlines are facing right now, a shortage of pilots and business marketing.

SeaPort was founded in Juneau, Alaska in 1982 as Wings of Alaska. In 2008, Wings of Alaska was purchased by SeaPort Air Group, LLC and the headquarters moved to Portland, Oregon.

SeaPort has found its market niche as a regional airline, connecting small and rural communities with national air transportation via large hub airports.

Editorial: Airport isn't seeking name change

There seems to be some misunderstanding over a request by airport authority attorney Douglas Burnett made before our county legislative delegation last week. We’ve received a few letters and phone calls expressing anything from outrage to concern over the airport board seeking to change the name of the facility — removing the “St. Augustine” part of the name and replacing it with “St. Johns.”

First, the airport is no longer named the St. Augustine Airport and hasn’t been for a while. That was a different time and there was a vastly different groove going on there.

Back then, the airport was a mecca for a barnstorming band of aerobatic pilots who plundered the skies over the Oldest City to the joy of onlookers and the horror of neighbors nearby.

It had more the feel of a biker gathering than a commercial terminal. And was a very cool place under the direction of Jim Moser, his dad Ernie and Jim Holland. They did things humans did not — such as Ernie and Jim tying their airplanes together with rope and flying that way.

Holland and the senior Moser formed the famous “Flying Circus” and founded the “aerobatic box” that allowed stunt planes to defy gravity and sanity above the airfield. It drew young aerobatic pilots here like moths to a fire.

Since 2009, the name has been — and will continue to be — the Northeast Florida Regional Airport. The marketing folks say that’s a better draw; and, truly, it is a countywide facility in its scope of service.

What the airport authority is asking the legislature to do is to change its “proper” name from the St. Augustine/St. Johns County Airport Authority to the St. Johns County Airport Authority.Burnett says that the request is simply to make the name more inclusive. For instance, it would also be the Ponte Vedra and the St. Augustine Beach board in geography practice.

So, who cares? A rose by any other name is still going to be called “the airport authority” by 90 percent of the population. Printing new stationery will be the biggest obstacle.

Just in case we might be missing something, we checked with St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver who cautioned that she’d not heard about it and might be missing something, “but I don’t really have a dog in this fight ... I think it makes sense to respect the wishes of that board ... It’s not a marketing thing.”

City manager John Regan said he’s asked airport director Ed Wuellner for a written explanation of the request, and plans to put it on the consent agenda for city commissioners to discuss. That’s the right call.

There is a second request from the board that probably won’t go down as easily in the public eye, drawing some fire from the usual suspects. The board is asking that the legislature also amend the charter to allow board members to vote themselves a stipend/paycheck of up to $7,500 annually. Unless we’re missing something, it remains the only elected board in the county that works for free. (Mosquito board members currently receive $400 a month for their time).

We’ll save the space for another editorial down the road and say that we support paying board members for the work they do.

The airport is a much different entity today, as a commercial and charter hub — albeit in its toddler stages.

Board members have a full plate of complicated matters, and are responsible for a budget pushing $10 million.

And $7,500 seems a good number — sufficient to compensate, yet too small to attract those interested in a paycheck over background and service.

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Waco Flying Service Company Capitulates; Flags, Signs Will Come Down • Waco Regional (KACT), McLennan County, Texas

WACO (October 21, 2015)     Unapproved flags and signs displayed at hangar at Waco Regional Airport are coming down, the company leasing the hangar said Wednesday, a month after vowing to fight to keep them in place.

Waco Flying Service Co, which provides such services as fueling, hangar space, tie-down service, aircraft rental and maintenance and flight instruction, placed U.S. and Baylor University flags on the company’s sign in front of the hangar and signs on the hangar bearing the messages “We Support Our Troops” and “Sic ‘Em Bears.”

But in September Airport Director Joel Martinez sent a letter to the fixed-base operator demanding that the unapproved signs and flags be removed from the hangar the company is leasing from the city.

Operations manager Will Bowers said in September he and his company were prepared to fight the removal order, but a spokesman confirmed Wednesday that the unapproved signs will be taken down next week.

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SeaPort calling it quits after less than a year

SeaPort Airlines Talks Business:

MUSCLE SHOALS — SeaPort Airlines has announced it will cease operations in the Shoals on Friday, despite a U.S. Department of Transportation order requiring the airline to remain here until Dec. 28. 

This means the Shoals will be without commercial air service until another airline can begin service under the federally subsidized Essential Air Service program.

In a brief, but to the point letter to Kevin Schlemmer, chief, Essential Air Service and Domestic Analysis Division at the U.S. Department of Transportation, SeaPort Vice President Tim Sieber said the commuter airline is “getting hammered” by the nationwide pilot’s shortage, especially at its Memphis, Tennessee, hub.

“We can’t reliably publish a schedule for Muscle Shoals and Tupelo beyond this coming Friday and have no choice but to end service,” Sieber wrote.

Sieber is referring to Tupelo, Mississippi, and the Tupelo Regional airport, which was also served by SeaPort.

The airline began providing air service at the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Jan. 12.

“We are disappointed that SeaPort Airlines was unable to provide reliable air service to the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport as originally planned,” Airport Director Barry Griffith said. “Due to pilot shortage issues and Seaport’s inability to fly published schedules, MSL service will end on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, two months ahead of a DOT hold-in order that requires Seaport to remain in place until Dec. 28, 2015.”

Schlemmer acknowledged receipt of Sieber’s correspondence and reminded him of the Transportation Department’s hold-in order.

“As a reminder, carriers are subject to enforcement action when they fail to comply with federal aviation statutes and regulations and department orders,” Schlemmer wrote.

He also pointedly mentioned that he noticed SeaPort’s announcement of new service in Washington State. SeaPort is based in Portland, Oregon. The airline also recently sold it’s airline operations in Alaska.

The Transportation Department has issued an order requesting proposals from airlines wishing to provide air service in the Shoals as well as Tupelo. Griffith said he anticipates four or five airlines will submit proposals.

“Muscle Shoals and Tupelo officials will closely evaluate each proposal and make the best possible selection,” Griffith said.

Griffith is no stranger to the frustration local travelers have experienced over the last couple of years primarily caused by SeaPort and Silver Airways, the airline that preceded SeaPort.

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Helicopter base work begins at Henry County Airport (KPHT), Paris, Tennessee

Work has begun on the first of two permanent air ambulance helicopter bases at the Henry County Airport.

Construction workers started work earlier this week on the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter base at the airport.

A second base for a Vanderbilt Medical Center Lifeflight helicopter and crew is expected to start early next year, according to Don Davenport, airport manager.

Both bases will be constructed at the eastern edge of the airfield along the old crosswind runway, Davenport said.

The Air Evac base will include a hangar and pad at that runway’s southwest end.

As of Tuesday afternoon, workers from Michael Galloway Construction of Greer’s Ferry, Ark., were doing dirt and electrical work, with concrete workers expected to start pouring sometime this week.

Both the pad and hangar will be the property of the airport, and will be leased to Air Evac for a 20 year period.

Crews were also at work at a nearby dirt pad, which will be the site of a prefabricated building serving as living quarters for the helicopter’s crew.

That building is expected to arrive in two weeks.

The base could be ready to be occupied within a month, according to the construction company’s Bud Galloway.

Work is expected to begin on the Vanderbilt base nearby sometime this spring, Davenport said.

That base will be built north of the Air Evac base along the old runway. A space for a future fixed-wing aircraft hangar will separate the two helicopter hangars.

Both helicopter services currently are operating out of converted mobile homes at the airport.

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Improving passenger safety means changing how technology is designed

Many aspects of air travel are completely automated, which is great most of the time, but leaves pilots unprepared when technology fails. We need to change how technology is designed to help pilots cope with unexpected situations.

Technology has revolutionized the aviation industry, and nowhere more profoundly than in the area of safety.

Improvements in propulsion mechanics have helped reduce the rate of in-flight engine failures from 1 case per 5,000 hours in 1970 to just 1 per 100,000 hours today. Structural engineering advances mean catastrophic failures due to airframe corrosion do not necessarily render an aircraft inoperable. And in the event of a crash, revolutionary fire resistant material can keep cabin fires at bay long enough to allow passengers to evacuate the aircraft.

Numbers bear out the benefits of technological progress. In 2014, more than 38 million commercial flights took to the skies, the highest on record. Yet the global jet accident rate sits at one accident for every 4.4 million flights – the lowest in history.

Technology has also introduced challenges. Safety experts warn that an increasing reliance on technology can degrade basic flying skills. Warren VanderBurgh, a former aviator, famously opined that present-day pilots had turned into “children of the magenta,” a reference to the magenta-colored lines on cockpit screens that are used to guide modern airliners. The ability to predict how humans interact with technology has also not kept up with the pace of technological progress itself.

This explains why some systems aimed at improving safety have in fact led to accidents. In 2013, a jetliner crashed during a landing attempt in San Francisco. A subsequent investigation found that the pilot had changed an engine power setting with one goal in mind, without realizing the onboard computer assumed that another was desired. Three passengers were killed and more than 200 injured.

System designers have labored to address these issues. But there is another danger, one that is increasingly common yet seldom discussed.

The ‘fly-by-wire’ system is a modern engineering marvel. A computer linking the cockpit to aircraft control surfaces continuously analyzes pilot inputs. If the pilot pulls the control stick back, the computer recognizes that the pilot wants to climb and raises the aircraft’s nose. Such maneuvers are always performed within limits deemed safe by the aircraft manufacturer. In fact, the system is so advanced that it prevents the pilot from executing maneuvers that jeopardize the aircraft’s safety. The system does not however, stop a pilot from attempting to do so. That freedom still exists and it is one that is hardly unique to fly-by-wire. More and more, system designers are opting to provide technological solutions that obscure the impact of human error rather than prevent those errors from occurring. Given record low accident rates, the general sentiment seems to be ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

Such thinking can be problematic, according to Greg Jamieson, a professor of industrial engineering at University of Toronto. An expert on how humans and machines interact, Mr. Jamieson questions whether or not designers should be satisfied that their inventions have minimized the impact of human error. Or is there, as he points out, “an additional responsibility to ensure those errors do not occur in the first place?”

Meeting this responsibility is important should technology fail. And technology does fail. In 2014, a technical glitch in an air traffic control system caused the grounding or delay of hundreds of flights in the United States. A similar incident occurred a year earlier in India. In that instance, radar screens that air traffic controllers rely on to direct airplanes went blank for more than nine minutes. Human intervention was needed in both cases to resolve the situation.

Ensuring such intervention is safe means shifting focus from designing systems that accommodate undesirable human behavior to developing systems that change it. Such an approach has seen previous success. For example, the airline industry has long struggled with what travel writer Spud Hilton calls, “luggage that is more the size of a clown car than a carry-on.” Oversized carry-ons force passengers to check in their bags due to limited overhead cabin space. This, in turn, causes flight delays. Airlines are responding by imposing penalties to dissuade passengers from not complying with carry-on rules. United Airlines for example, sends some passengers back to the ticket counter to check in oversized carry-on luggage for a $25 fee. So does Toronto-based Air Canada. These policies are designed, in the words of one airline executive, “to reshape passenger behavior.”

When it comes to designing the next generation of technology, engineers would be wise to follow their lead.

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Airline Service Launch - Almost Ready! Los Alamos Airport (KLAM), New Mexico

Los Alamos Airport will be posting the flight schedule within the next few days listing the Boutique Air flights between Los Alamos and Albuquerque.

Service is expected to begin in early November. Residents interested in the flight schedule should watch for the posted schedule on

Boutique flies the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, a single engine, turboprop, pressurized aircraft configured with either eight or nine passenger seats. 

Boutique is currently flying scheduled air service in New Mexico from Clovis Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, from Silver City Airport to Albuquerque Airport, from Carlsbad Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, and from Carlsbad Airport to Albuquerque Airport.

Ticket prices will start at $49 one way and increase on a graduated scale depending upon the number of available seats remaining at the time the reservation is made for the flight. 

The average fare is proposed to be $66.

Boutique will have a ticket agent on site at Los Alamos Airport to check passengers in for their flights and check their baggage.   

Boutique can interline with other destinations such as Carlsbad and Silver City.

Boutique is also expected to be available to book flights via the Concur travel system for LANL business travelers.

Boutique's counter is located on the lower level in the Albuquerque Airport.

The agreement between Los Alamos and Boutique has a one year term and the option to renew for two additional one year terms.

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San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (KSAN) sues over tall downtown cranes • Officials say they could cause crashes, force flight cancellation

Airport Authority Lawsuit:

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has filed a lawsuit against the Judicial Council of California because the three gigantic cranes being used to construct a new State Superior Courthouse in downtown San Diego are too tall.

The lawsuit says the Federal Aviation Administration gave the contractors building the courthouse permission for one crane at a maximum height of 511 feet. However, there are three cranes in use that extend to 650 feet.

A hearing is set for Thursday morning for a temporary restraining order against the use of the cranes by the contractors.

On 10News at 6 p.m., a pilot explains how the cranes pose a safety hazard to flights on arrival to Lindbergh Field.

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking removal of three towering cranes in downtown San Diego that the authority says could cause a plane crash or clog regional air traffic by forcing diversion of many flights.

The roughly 650-foot-tall cranes, which contractors are using to build a $500 million downtown courthouse expansion, significantly exceed the 472-foot limit the Federal Aviation Administration prescribed last summer for cranes working on the project.

In addition, the FAA only approved one crane — not three — and required that crane be equipped with a large flag for daytime visibility and red lights at night, conditions the lawsuit claims that the contractors have failed to meet.

The presence of the cranes prompted the FAA last Thursday to begin requiring pilots approaching from the east to visually identify Lindbergh Field’s single runway from a farther distance and a higher altitude.

The lawsuit says that during inclement weather, such as the El Nino winter storms many forecasters are predicting, the FAA’s policy change will cause many flights to be canceled or diverted away from San Diego to Ontario or Los Angeles because pilots won’t be able to see the runway through clouds.

"If the cranes are not lowered and the current constraints on landing minimums remain in place, the result will be substantial cancellations and diversions from the airport during inclement weather and the acute disruption of civil aviation throughout the Southern California region, if not the nation," the suit says.

The suit says the potential for a plane crash is an even greater concern, contending that the cranes "pose a serious threat to the health and safety" of county residents and tourists by constraining "landings, takeoffs and maneuvering of aircraft."

Bret Lobner, the airport authority’s general counsel, said Wednesday that preventing crashes is the agency’s highest priority and a key motivation for the lawsuit.

Lobner said he hopes the airport authority can work the situation out with the defendants in the lawsuit: the Judicial Council of California, which is building the 22-story courthouse expansion on B Street; general contractor Rudolph and Sletten; Brewer Crane and Rigging; and architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

A spokesman for the Judicial Council said Wednesday that his agency was also optimistic.

"We’re certain the issue will be resolved quite soon,” said the spokesman, Peter Allen. “The well-regarded contractors, Rudolph and Sletten, are being responsive to the situation."

The other defendants didn’t respond immediately to requests for comment from The San Diego Union-Tribune.

A hearing has been scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday before Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil on a temporary restraining order the lawsuit seeks.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the airport authority by attorney William Pate, asks that the contractors remove the cranes, or potentially maintain one crane at the height prescribed by the FAA — 472 feet above the ground, which is 511 feet above sea level.

The lawsuit says Brewer Crane and Rigging told airport authority officials last week that the company sought on Oct. 6 an FAA waiver allowing the cranes to be as tall as 695 feet. The FAA hasn’t yet responded to that request, according to the suit.

The city of San Diego and the state Department of Transportation are also named as defendants because they have regulatory authority that could be affected by the lawsuit. They both also declined to comment.

The cranes could be in place as long as another year or more, because the courthouse project isn’t scheduled for completion until October 2016. Construction of the project, a replacement for the older portion of the downtown courthouse, began in March 2014.

The project is bordered by B, C, Union and State streets, less than a mile south of the airport’s eastern approach for landings.

The lawsuit stresses that Lindbergh Field is the busiest single-runway airport in the nation and the second busiest in the world, after Gatwick in London. In 2014, there was an average of 525 flights per day and 51,000 passengers.

Last week’s FAA policy change requires pilots approaching from the east to switch from instrument navigation to visual navigation earlier and at a higher altitude because of the cranes.

They were previously required to switch when they got three-quarters of a mile away and they could be at 258 feet altitude. Now they must switch at a mile and a half and be at 461 feet altitude.

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Fox Valley Technical College earns new flight training certification

Fox Valley Technical College students training to become pilots can now achieve Airline Transport Pilot certification sooner.

The school recently earned its restricted ATP training certification, a three-step, multiyear process that allows students to earn the restricted ATP status in 1,250 hours. Pilots need to attain ATP status — logging 1,500 flight hours — in order to become captains for commercial airlines.

Fox Valley Technical College Chief Instructor of Aeronautics Jared Huss said the restricted ATP will allow students to get into the field with 1,250 hours and work as first officers for an airline, then continue logging hours until they reach 1,500 hours. At that point they'll earn full ATP status.

Getting in the field sooner can take one to two years off a student's training time, he said, which can lead to other perks.

"The advantage to getting the airline job sooner is you get that seniority number sooner at the airline," he said. "Seniority really dictates everything, from quality of life to where your based, what your pay is, schedule, all that stuff."

He added the certification is a small piece of a solution to a major issue in the aviation industry: there are not enough trained pilots to take over the seats of pilots who are retiring in coming years.

He said the technical college joins an elite group of schools that offer the restricted ATP. There are only a handful nationwide and one other school in Wisconsin, Gateway Technical College in Kenosha.

The process to earn ATP training status began in fall of 2013, Huss said. Fox Valley Technical College had to completely rebuild its flight training program from the ground up to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements. Then the program had to be approved by both the FAA and the Wisconsin Technical College System.

The school passed with flying colors — the FAA requires schools to have an 80 percent first-time pass rate or better. Fox Valley Technical College scored 92 percent.

"I think it speaks volumes to the high quality training and the commitment we have to our students' success," Huss said.

Fox Valley Technical College student Sam Smith said he's eager to earn his ATP status. The freshman from Green Lake said he's been dreaming of becoming a pilot since age 5.

"I love the feeling of being able to hop in an airplane and go wherever you want," he said.

Smith wants to fly for a commercial airline so he can travel and work at the same time, he said. Having already logged about 70 hours in the air, the 18-year-old said the new certification will help him get there faster.

"I'm definitely ready," he said. "I don't want to rush through it cause I still want to get quality training, but I'm definitely ready to get out and start flying, start making money doing it."


Air Evac Lifeteam notifying town residents of coverage

Four Randolph County municipalities are providing their residents with peace of mind when it comes to air medical service. Missy Welborn, membership sales manager for the Troup County, Ga., Air Evac Lifeteam base, said the city councils of Wedowee, Roanoke, Wadley and Woodland made it possible for every family in those cities to receive an Air Evac membership. Woodland water customers are covered, even if they do not reside in the town of Woodland.

If the residents of those cities are flown for a life-or-limb threatening emergency by Air Evac Lifeteam from Randolph County, they are covered by the Air Evac Lifeteam membership. A mailer explaining the details of the membership was sent to all residents of Wedowee, Roanoke, Wadley and Woodland. In order to be eligible for this membership, a family must reside within the city limits. For a $35 upgrade fee, families in these four cities would be covered no matter where their Air Evac Lifeteam flight originates. Because Air Evac Lifeteam is part of the AirMedCare Network, residents are covered by more than 220 bases in 32 states.

Air Evac Lifeteam, headquartered in O'Fallon, Mo., is the largest independently owned and operated air medical service in the country, serving as the critical link to improved response time and immediate access to medical care facilities. Air Evac Lifeteam has 124 bases in 15 states. For more information about Air Evac Lifeteam, please visit, or like them on Facebook. For more information about upgrading a membership, please contact Missy Welborn at 706-590-8498.

Air Evac Lifeteam is a membership-supported air ambulance service that is part of the AirMedCare Network. AirMedCare is America's largest air medical transport membership network, providing emergency access to the highest levels of care for its 1.6 million subscribers. The AirMedCare Network combines the membership programs of four leading air ambulance operators: Air Evac Lifeteam, EagleMed, REACH, and Med-Trans Corporation. For more information about memberships, visit

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U.S. Air Force apologizes over "insensitive" tweet of flaming plane on day of Cambridgeshire jet crash

The U.S. Air Force has had to apologize after tweeting a picture of a fighter jet with flames coming from its wings on the same day a pilot died in a plane crash in Cambridgeshire.

The tweet, promoting Back to the Future day, showed a new F-35 fighter trailing streaks of fire like those created by the time-travelling Delorean car in the 1980s hit. 

The tweet added: "GREAT SCOTT! We're celebrating #BackToTheFutureDay, are you?" 

After receiving negative backlash, the tweet was later deleted, with the U.S. Air Force adding: "We apologize for the insensitivity of our #BackToTheFutureDay post. We pulled the post in light of recent events."

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Quad City International Airport (KMLI) buys Bud's Skyline Inn

MOLINE, Ill. --  An iconic QC restaurant has been sold to the Quad City International Airport.

Bud's Skyline Inn closed earlier this month after a nearly 30 year run.

The Metropolitan Airport Authority of Rock Island County Board of Commissioners voted to purchase the property for $905,000.  The deal should be finalized in December.

The board will explore possible uses for the site in the coming months.

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Rans S-7S Courier, N272X: Accident occurred October 21, 2015 in Gerlach, Washoe County, Nevada

Date: 21-OCT-15 
Time: 18:15:00Z
Regis#: N272X
Aircraft Make: RANS
Aircraft Model: S7
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: Minor
Damage: Substantial
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Reno FSDO-11
State: Nevada


GERLACH, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- An FAA representative said that the plane was a Rans S-7S Courier.

The representative, Ian Gregor, said that it crashed under unknown circumstances around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday.

Gregor says that the pilot was the only person on board and was not injured.

The FAA will investigate.

GERLACH, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- An experimental airplane crashed near Gerlach in Northern Nevada on Wednesday morning, a fire official says.

Information conflicted on whether the pilot was injured, but he probably will not require hospitalization, said Fire Chief Willard Gooch of the Gerlach Volunteer Ambulance and Fire Department.

The crash occurred about 11:35 a.m. near the Northern Nevada community, Gooch said.

The cause of the crash is not known.

No other injuries are reported.


An investigation is underway after a Rans S-7S Courier plane crashed in a field in Gerlach late Wednesday morning.

The crash happened around 11:15 a.m. near Main and Elm Streets. 

Ian Gregor with the Federal Aviation Administration says the unidentified pilot was not hurt.

The pilot was the only person aboard the plane.

The FAA will now investigate the crash. 

GERLACH, Nev. -- An experimental airplane crashed near Gerlach, Nevada on Wednesday morning, a fire official says.

The pilot was hurt but probably will not require hospitalization, said Fire Chief Willard Gooch of the Gerlach Volunteer Ambulance and Fire Department.

The crash occurred about 11:35 a.m. near the Northern Nevada community, Gooch said.

The cause of the crash is not known.

No other injuries are reported.

Engineer says Apalachicola Regional Airport (KAAF) future looks bright

At Cleve Randolph Field, hangar occupancy is at a high point and government money has been secured to fund updates and refurbishment for the 70-year-old facility.

At Tuesday’s county meeting, Lee Lewis. spokesman for AVCON, engineering consultant to Apalachicola Regional Airport, said he sees the beginnings of an economic rebound there.

Lewis said when AVCON took over as engineering consultant in 2008, small airports across the country saw an economic downturn that is showing signs of ending, with the greatest area of recovery in business-type aircraft.

He described many recent improvements to the airport including repairs to the decades-old pavement aprons. “We repaired holes you could have parked a car in,” Lewis said.

He said the county’s corporate hangar is a major asset in drawing new business to the airport, despite that it has been “somewhat underutilized.

“Nobody wants to wait 18 months to (relocate a business),” he said. “It gets us in the game.”

He said that, for the first time since AVCON became consultants to the county, all of the T-hangars at the airport are rented, with a waiting list. He said more than $4.5 million in construction is now under grant.

Lewis said the county has secured both federal and state transportation funding for updates including improvements to the airport’s stormwater control system, which dates back to WorldWar II.

More projects will kick off next month, he said.

The airport’s current lighting system, buried cable powering incandescent lights, will be replaced by LED lights powered by cable running through conduit. This will reduce the cost of lighting and provide more protection for buried cable vulnerable to damage by ants and other natural hazards.

Lewis said the new access road will allow visitors to access airport facilities without driving on the runways.

County Planner Alan Pierce said he expects two of the existing three runways to stay in use but said an evaluation by state transportation officials determined the two runways in regular use are all that is needed to handle current traffic.

“We can’t get money to maintain the third runway because they say we don’t need it,” said Pierce. Lewis said the third runway might eventually be used as a taxiway.

Pierce agreed the state is very supportive of airport development here because it would be impossible to build an airport as large in a rural setting in today’s business environment.

Lewis said the state is trying to provide money to “jumpstart” Randolph Field.

Lewis said AVCON is now partnering with engineering consultants BRPH of Melbourne, and he introduced BRPH economic development professional Beth Kirkland, who he said will represent BRPH in the county.

 According to her webpage, Kirkland is a 2000 Leadership Tallahassee graduate who has led the Florida Economic Development Council, Tallahassee Ballet and the local chapter of the American Heart Association. She served as director of business retention and expansion for the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/ LeonCounty, Inc.

Lewis said he hopes the county can partner with Gulf County to seek a portion of the $1.5 billion in BP restitution money slated for distribution to the eight Panhandle counties through Triumph Gulf Coast, an economic recovery initiative for areas most affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

He asked commissioners to support in seeking those funds, and to support AVCON in returning to the state to ask for funds for a selective study of economic development for the airport.

“I have been working on this BP money for a while. All I can say is there are an awful lot of people after that money,” said Commissioner William Massey.

Commissioner Smokey Parrish said he would support any program that could lead to regional job development as long as the industry remained environmentally-friendly.

“This is a very positive report. We have a great possibility to maximize this asset,” said Commissioner Rick Watson.

Commissioner Noah Lockley was more skeptical. “I know you have to do studies but I want to see results. We have a lot of people who need some work. That’s what I want to see,” he said.

Parrish said he would like to see Airport Manager Jason Puckett of Crystal Air involved in the economic planning process. “I am excited about the possibility of economic development,” said Puckett.

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Former Miami International Airport (KMIA) cargo manager sentenced for intent to distribute cocaine

MIAMI (WSVN) -- A former cargo operations manager at Miami International Airport has been sentenced to 50 months in prison for a scheme to distribute cocaine out of the airport.

Vinicio Morales, 53, previously pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.

According to the court record, while working for MIA in 2011, Morales agreed to be paid $12,500 for his participation in a conspiracy to assist with the offloading of cocaine into the United States from arriving international flights.  

Morales had reportedly offloaded what he believed to be five kilograms of cocaine from the cargo area of a plane that had arrived at Miami International Airport when he was arrested. 

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Riverton’s Air Service future may be tied into other communities, Airport Board Told

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Riverton’s commercial air future may have the city linked with at least one other city given trends in the airline industry, Riverton Airport Manager and Public Works Director Kyle Butterfield has told the airport board.

Butterfield recently returned from two airline industry meetings, one in Jackson and one in Lander.

“Airlines are now moving away from the 30 and 50 seat airframes as those are not being manufactured any more, and looking more toward 70 passenger regional jets,” he said. “These are equipment issues nationwide, just not here. By 2020 most 50-seat jets will be retired.”

The good news, Butterfield said, is that the runway improvements now concluding at Riverton Regional will accommodate the larger aircraft. “We’re being proactive on that end,” he said.

The Airport Manager also reported that the airline pilot shortage is now beginning to impact the major carriers.”The problem is moving up the ladder now.”

Airport Board Chairman Dean Peranteaux noted that with pilots bumping up against restrictions in how long they can be in the cockpit means airlines will be consolidating routes, that is, flying to more than one city on a route resulting in fewer non-stop flights. “They’ll be flying larger planes to accommodate the same number of passenger and thus will be looking to add capacity by adding another city to the route,” he said. “These are things we already knew, but its good to finally her it from the air service providers themselves,”

Butterfield also said the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission will soon prioritize airports for funding that is available. The airports in Jackson, Casper and Cody that are already doing well on their own might be further on down the funding list. ”

“I think that would work in our favor,” he said.

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Company stopped from spraying pesticides in Oregon • Cedar Valley resident blows whistle on aviation firm

The state Department of Agriculture has obtained a restraining order against Applebee Aviation of Banks, ordering them to cease chemical pesticide spraying in the state — including operations it was recently hired to do in Curry County.

The firm was turned into the agency after an employee was sprayed with herbicides during a timberland operation in April in Douglas County. 

“I had sores and rashes, was spitting up blood and felt very sick after three weeks on the job,” said Darryl Ivy, the whistleblower who filmed the airplane as it flew over him as he leaped to safety in his truck. “I’ve worked in a lot of dangerous occupations before, but had never seen such careless treatment of workers and poor work practices that put all of us, nearby communities and the environment at risk of pesticide contamination.”

He said he felt it was his duty to report what he witnessed to the authorities. Ivy was also slated to speak at a town hall meeting last summer addressing chemical spraying, but he did not make it.

And it has been discovered that the company has made sprays over the Cedar Valley area last month.

Illegal sprays

An ensuing state investigation concluded that Applebee was in violation of numerous state laws, including improper hazardous pesticide handling, the lack of chemical safety data sheets, employees not provided with protective gear, a lack of equipment and vehicle inspections, allowing employees to wash contaminated clothing in public laundromats and not carrying out worker safety inspections, said Bruce Pokarney, director of communications for the ODA.

As recently as last month, an Applebee Aviation chemical delivery truck crashed and spilled 500 gallons of water mixed with glyphosate, as well as jet fuel, just off Highway 199 in California near the Smith River.

Ivy had previously reported to authorities that Applebee did not properly maintain the brakes and pesticide tank seals on its trucks. He provided state agencies with photographs of pesticide trucks with leaking seals and streams of pesticides dripping down the sides of the tanks.

The OSHA investigation also found the company had not properly reported accidents, injuries and deaths of its employees.

The firm is also accused of leaking hazardous, restricted-use herbicides such as atrazine on public roads and parking lots, said Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics, a Eugene-based nonprofit that fights on behalf of people contaminated by chemicals.

On Oct. 1, the state Occupational Safety and health Division cited the company for 12 serious violations of worker safety and protection laws, and fined it $8,850.

Mike Applebee, the owner of the firm, said last week it is being treated unfairly and would release a press release shortly.

But spraying continued even after his license was suspended, Pokarney said.

“On Oct. 8, ODA became aware that Applebee Aviation performed an aerial application of pesticides on Bureau of Land Management lands north of Christmas Valley in Lake County on or around Oct. 1 and 2,” he wrote in a press release Tuesday. “ODA also learned that Applebee Aviation engaged in pesticide application activities in Astoria in Clatsop County on Sept. 26.

“The temporary restraining order was granted because Applebee Aviation knowingly and willfully ignored ODA’s express instructions and engaged in pesticide application activities even though its license was suspended.”

Applebee and Cedar

The license suspension is little consolation for Jim Sweeney of Cedar Valley, northeast of Gold Beach, who says he was affected by herbicides sprayed by Applebee Aviation Sept. 19. The applicator’s flight records indicate the helicopters he saw that day did indeed belong to the firm; they also list the herbicides that were sprayed.

“According to them, it was just outside my prescription area (the area being treated),” Sweeney said, adding that the agency told him a second spraying would be conducted the next day, Sept. 20.

“Well the wind shifted,” he said. “I got sick, the neighbors got sick, my cat got sick, a bird flew into the house, the deer were disoriented — and we’re a mile away.”

Nothing new

He and his neighbors have seen this before.

In October 2013, Cedar Valley residents were sprayed with herbicides from a helicopter operated by Steve Owen of Pacific Air Research of White City. A Portland judge ruled that he illegally sprayed the herbicides Triclopyr, an endocrine disruptor found in Round-Up, and 2,4-D, an herbicide found in Agent Orange.

The chemicals caused instantaneous reactions among about 40 residents, including blistering rashes, wheezing, raspy breathing, blurry vision, stomach ailments and headaches — some symptoms of which still linger today. A horse went blind, a dog had to be euthanized and a woman blames the lingering effects of the spraying on a miscarriage.

Residents fought to get recognition from local and state agencies, with even state Sen. Jeff Kruse demeaning them on the Senate floor this July.

“Those people … who complained,” Kruse said. “I know them — I represent them. I know for a fact that the chemicals sprayed could, in no way, shape or form, could have caused the reactions they (said they) caused.

“I also know those people have a long history of substances and adult beverages that might have contributed to it,” he added. “The two chemicals sprayed did not cause the reactions they have — could not have killed their dogs. They were herbicides. I know this for an absolute fact.”

He later sent apologies via email and telephone, but citizens are still demanding one  from the Senate floor.


The group, however, was able to get House Bill 3549 — the so-called Baby Buffer Bill — approved in the legislature. It provides no-spray buffer zones around homes and schools and established stiffer fines for pesticide violations.

It doesn’t go far enough, said Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics, whose Eugene-based nonprofit works on behalf of those sprayed by chemicals.

Oregon has the weakest laws in the Pacific Northwest regarding buffer zones and spraying operations, according to the ODA, the agency in charge of monitoring and implementing legislation changes

Laurie Bernstein, a retired fish biologist with the Forest Service, said in May 2014, that spray restrictions do not address non-fish stream contamination at all.

Washington, a similar state in regards to timber, topography and precipitation, has buffers of 25 to 200 feet; Idaho has 100-foot buffers around streams. And in Washington, sprayers can’t come within 200 feet of a home; in Idaho it’s a half-mile.

Even the Forest Service does not allow aerial spraying on their lands in Oregon.

Residents have said they feel state laws protects spray operators better than citizens; indeed, this is the only time the ODA has ever gone to court seeking a restraining order against a chemical applicator.

Sweeney and his neighbors — some of whom are multi-generational loggers and have said they understand why the chemical applications are needed — are still fighting for stricter laws, particularly around schools, residences and waterways.

They’re fighting for their property rights for the health of tributaries that provide valuable salmon habitat and drinking water and the health of their families.

“This investigation gives the public an insider’s view of the deplorable safety standards for poisonous pesticides that occur in Oregon,” Arkin said. “State agencies know very well that these violations are common, but it took a whistleblower’s documentation to bring any inquiry and action.”

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Aviation commission fires Augusta Regional Airport (KAGS) director

The Augusta Aviation Commission voted unanimously to fire the executive director of Augusta Regional Airport Tuesday.

Roy Williams had been at the airport less than a year after being named to replace Gary LeTellier in January.

Aviation Commission Chairman Cedric Johnson said the reason for Williams’ termination was “to take the airport in a different direction” but refused to elaborate.

Williams was terminated without cause, meaning he will receive six months’ salary and benefits under his three-year contract, Johnson said. His annual salary was $150,000.

Johnson said he informed Williams of the decision and expected him to vacate his office Tuesday.

The board also voted to negotiate a contract with LeTellier to serve as interim director.

LeTellier, who became director of the airport in 2010, resigned in December. He has since returned to Washington state, but “might be” interested in the interim position, Johnson said.

LeTellier “did a good job and knows how to run an airport,” Johnson said.

The aviation commission scrambled to find a candidate to replace LeTellier late last year despite having a year’s notice of LeTellier’s decision to retire, according to Augusta Chronicle reports.

After a search conducted by aviation search firm ADK Consulting and Executive Search, the commission picked Williams in January over three finalists who included airport management at Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W.Va., GAI Consultants and Dayton International Airport.

Williams had worked as a consultant for aviation projects in Liberia and Puerto Rico and at London’s Heathrow Airport and Chicago’s Midway Airport before being hired in Augusta. He had led the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, and then had a brief stint at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

In Salt Lake City, then-Mayor Rocky Anderson fired Williams as the city airport’s executive director after five months on the job. According to Salt Lake City Tribune news reports, Anderson and Williams differed on how to handle certain airport issues. Anderson criticized Williams’ decision to spend up to $500,000 on a master plan, a decision the airport director defended, according to Tribune reports.

The airport already had a master plan, and the consent of the mayor and airport board were not needed, according to The Tribune.

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The Federal Aviation Administration Wants New Helicopters to Have Crash-Resistant Fuel Tanks

U.S. aviation regulators plan to require all newly built helicopters to have crash-resistant fuel tanks to cut the risks of leaks and deadly fires after accidents as part of the broadest effort in decades to improve rotor-aircraft safety.

The Federal Aviation Administration asked an advisory committee to draft new regulations requiring the technology, according to a Sept. 28 letter sent to the National Transportation Safety Board and posted on the agency’s website.

That marks a significant shift on a controversial safety issue that has been linked to more than 200 civilian deaths since 1994. The U.S. Army has cut casualties from fires after helicopter crashes with the use of bladder-like fuel tank linings developed during the Vietnam War, but some operators and manufacturers argued that such technology was too expensive and would hamper operations.

“It is going to be extremely difficult and expensive to figure out how to incorporate it into an existing design,”  Walter Desrosier, the vice president for engineering and maintenance at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association trade group, said in an interview.

The FAA asked the industry panel, called the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, to explore ways to better protect helicopter occupants from crashes, according to an Oct. 8 letter. It was spurred by a recent study showing better protections would save lives, according to the FAA letter. The agency also is asking for a review of other safety measures, including requiring seats that don’t break loose in accidents and structural changes to prevent occupants from being crushed.

New Standards

In the 1980s and 1990s, the FAA adopted helicopter safety standards for new designs. Since then, however, only 16 percent or fewer helicopters sold have the protections because manufacturers mainly produce aircraft based on older designs.

“This approach has resulted in a very low incorporation rate of occupant protection features into the rotorcraft fleet, and fatal accidents remain unacceptably high,” the FAA said.

While the helicopter industry supports reviewing whether new standards make sense, it hasn’t endorsed any specific measures, Desrosier said. Requiring fuel-tank upgrades may cost manufacturers millions of dollars, an expense that wouldn’t justify whatever benefit it creates, he said.

One option may be to create a streamlined protection system that would be cheaper to install on existing models, he said.

UT, Airbus

GAMA represents helicopter makers including United Technologies Corp.’s Sikorsky Aircraft division, Airbus Group SE’s Airbus Helicopters Inc. and Textron Inc.’s Bell Helicopter. GAMA members delivered 971 new helicopters last year, according to the group’s annual statistical report.

The Helicopter Association International, a trade group representing fleet operators, supports the FAA’s effort though it hasn’t endorsed changes to fuel tanks or other specific measures, said Chris Dancy, a spokesman. The group will work on the advisory committee, he said.

Safer fuel tanks were developed by the military in the 1960s in response to the high number of casualties in Vietnam after helicopters caught fire in the aftermath of crashes that were otherwise survivable.
Companies including Robertson Fuel Systems LLC of Tempe, Arizona, have built such tanks for military aircraft and ground vehicles, as well as race cars, according to company founder S. Harry Robertson. Their system, known as “Robbie Tanks,” work by preventing leaks even after being pierced by bullets or fractured by an impact.

The safety board on July 23 urged the FAA to impose stricter standards. The FAA agrees with the NTSB on the need to upgrade fuel tanks and has started the rulemaking process, Administrator Michael Huerta wrote in the September letter.

Wichita Crash

The NTSB’s July recommendation was prompted by an Oct. 4, 2014, helicopter accident in Wichita Falls, Texas. Surveillance video that captured the crash showed a flight nurse and paramedic survived the impact, but died when fuel spilled and ignited, according to the NTSB.

From 1994 to 2013, there were 135 helicopter accidents in which fire broke out after impact, resulting in 221 deaths and 37 serious injuries, according to NTSB. Of those crashes, only three had crash-resistant fuel systems.

After the U.S. Army began requiring fuel protections in the 1960s, it saw a 75 percent decrease in injuries and zero fatalities attributed to post-crash fires, according to the NTSB letter. The letter didn’t specify the years when the decrease took place or how many deaths there were prior to the requirement taking effect.

The FAA didn’t set a deadline for when it would complete its new regulations. It must first draft the rule and then allow the public and industry to comment.

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NTSB Identification: CEN15FA003
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, October 04, 2014 in Wichita Falls, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/23/2015
Aircraft: BELL HELICOPTER TEXTRON 206L 1, registration: N335AE
Injuries: 3 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.

The pilot reported that he was making an approach to a hospital helipad into light wind at night when he chose to go around because he felt that the approach was too high and fast. The pilot lowered the helicopter’s nose, added power, and raised the collective, and the helicopter then entered a rapid, “violent” right spin. A review of the last 43 seconds of the helicopter’s flight track data revealed that, as the helicopter approached the helipad, it descended from 202 to 152 ft and decelerated from a ground speed of about 9 to 5 knots before it turned right. The pilot attempted to recover from the uncommanded spin by applying left antitorque pedal and cyclic, but he was unable to recover, and the helicopter then spun several times before impacting power lines/terrain. Postaccident examination of the helicopter and the engine revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have caused the helicopter’s uncommanded right spin. The helicopter was under its maximum allowable gross weight at the time of the accident, and the wind was less than 4 knots. 

Federal Aviation Administration guidance states that the loss of tail rotor effectiveness could result in an uncommanded rapid yaw, which, if not corrected, could result in the loss of aircraft control. The guidance further indicates that, at airspeeds below translational lift, the tail rotor is required to produce nearly 100 percent of the directional control and that, if the required amount of tail rotor thrust is not available, the aircraft will yaw right. Therefore, it is likely that that the pilot did not adequately account for the helicopter’s low airspeed when he applied power to go around, which resulted in a sudden, uncommanded right yaw due to a loss of tail rotor effectiveness. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain yaw control when he applied power to execute a go-around at a low airspeed in dark, night conditions, which resulted in a rapid, uncommanded right yaw due to a loss of tail rotor effectiveness.