Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Federal Aviation Administration: Wayne County Airport Authority should be fined for airfield conditions during 2014 storm

DETROIT -   The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday proposed a $200,000 civil penalty against Detroit’s Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA) for allegedly failing to maintain safe airfield conditions during a November 2014 storm.

The FAA alleges that WCAA, which operates Detroit Metro-Wayne County International Airport (DTW), failed to follow its FAA-mandated Snow and Ice Control Plan (SICP) during the storm. As a result, it allegedly allowed various DTW airfield surfaces to become unsafe and failed to limit air carrier operations to portions of the airfield where they could safely occur.

Among other things, the FAA alleges that WCAA failed to treat a taxiway and a deicing pad with deicer fluid. One commercial jet slid off the untreated taxiway and onto the grass, and a cargo jet became stranded due to icy conditions after exiting a runway.

Additionally, three commercial airliners became stranded on the de-icing pad for approximately three hours each due to icy pavement conditions, the FAA alleges.

The FAA further alleges that WCAA failed to notify airlines of changing runway conditions; activate the DTW “snow desk” to coordinate snow removal operations; monitor snow removal operations and issue information about conditions affecting the runways, taxiways and ramp areas; conduct frequent runway inspections and friction tests; provide enough qualified personnel on the airfield to comply with the SICP; and issue a timely notice that a runway was closed.

In January 2014, representatives from the FAA and WCAA met to discuss concerns about winter operations at DTW. Additionally, the FAA issued a warning letter to WCAA in May 2014 for failing to comply with their SICP during a February 2014 storm.

WCAA has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

Statement from Wayne County Airport Authority

The Airport Authority has an excellent history of providing a safe and secure airfield at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) and safety remains our number one priority.

During two extraordinary weather events in February 2014 and November 2014, there were certain deviations from the WCAA's Snow and Ice Control Plan. 

The Authority has already addressed and corrected its procedures. Over the last two snow seasons, and for the next two years, the Authority has and will be adding $13 million worth of new or upgraded heavy snow and ice equipment. Detroit Metropolitan Airport has also added nine employees to our hard-working and professional maintenance team to address snow and ice control. Further, four new operations personnel and scheduling adjustments have been added to enhance airfield monitoring during these events.

The events that precipitated this investigation occurred in extraordinary circumstances.

For instance, in the November 22, 2014 event, prior to the precipitation, airport maintenance applied 9,700 gallons of liquid pavement de-icer and 24 tons of “hot” sand to the airfield between 3:30 and 6 a.m. yet the relentless subsequent ice storm created slippery conditions.

In the February 5, 2014 event, two regional jets became stuck in snow after turning onto untreated taxiways and one private Beechcraft pilot turned onto a Fire Access Road instead of a treated taxiway as he had been instructed by the control tower.

The Airport Authority is committed to working cooperatively among all of its departments, with its airline partners and the FAA to continue to fine-tune and improve winter weather procedures.

The FAA approved snow plan for this season was a collaborative effort among the FAA region, the control tower in Detroit and all airlines serving DTW.

- Story and video:

Feds to review flight paths as Bay Area noise complaints take off

Jon Zweig looks at an airplane tracking program in his house in Palo Alto, California, on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. 

Palo Alto resident Jon Zweig, 67, can identify just about every plane that flies overhead — and not because he’s an aviation buff.

Flyovers have gotten so loud and frequent above his two-story home on a leafy street west of Highway 101 that they all but force him to turn his attention skyward, where he’s come to learn the makes and models of many jets.

“What do we have here?” asked the retired doctor one afternoon this week, after being interrupted by what he discerned was the whistle of an Airbus A320. “It’s really loud. It makes a noise like blowing over a bottle. I find the sound physically painful — like fingernails on a blackboard.”

It hasn’t always been this way. But over the past year, the Federal Aviation Administration has launched a major modernization of the nation’s air traffic control systems, resulting in new flight paths in and out of Bay Area airports.

Some people may be noticing less noise in recent months. But thousands of others like Zweig between Palo Alto and Santa Cruz, blame the high-tech change for putting more rumbling planes above their homes — and they’re not happy.

In a small victory for these residents, the FAA this week agreed to review the rerouted flights. The agency, however, stopped short of promising changes, leaving residents uncertain of whether their once quiet neighborhoods will remain drowned in the buzz of jets, which could affect their health and home values.

“It’s a good first step,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat representing Palo Alto, who worked with Rep. Sam Farr, D-Monterey, and Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, to draw the federal government’s attention to the noise.

She said she’ll push for more specifics about what steps the FAA will take and when. “My constituents deserve to know exactly what the plan is,” Eshoo said.

The FAA’s traffic-control project, known as NextGen, is an effort to guide planes more precisely, saving time and fuel and boosting safety. The program subs out older, ground-based navigation systems in favor of satellite technology.

NextGen has rolled out in a few parts of the country, including airports in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento late last year. While the FAA’s preliminary review anticipated no “significant noise impact” for Northern California, complaints in the region have skyrocketed.

The latest tally for San Francisco International Airport, from August, counted 62,391 noise complaints — compared to just 824 during the same month last year. Prior months also showed spikes, with the bulk of protest coming from Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and Palo Alto.

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said there haven’t been major shifts in flight patterns, just “multiple, incremental” changes that may be putting planes either above new areas or slightly closer to the ground.

Airport officials, who are at the mercy of the federal government when it comes to flight plans, have followed up on complaints in Palo Alto and points south. They say that while there may be more noise, it hasn’t exceeded the acceptable standard: 65 decibels on a weighted average over 24 hours.

At Zweig’s home off the Oregon Expressway, however, a reporter using an iPhone app on Wednesday recorded many flights reaching 65 decibels, or close to it, as they flew over — which happens 10 to 12 times an hour, Zweig estimates. That volume is equivalent to a moderately lively conversation.

“It’s not quite as loud as a vacuum cleaner,” Zweig said. “But it definitely gets your attention. It makes it hard to concentrate on your work or read.”

Zweig has joined a group of irritated residents, called Sky Posse Palo Alto, which estimates the city has seen a 65 percent uptick in airplanes flying at 3,000 to 4,000 feet during the past two years.

For many on Sky Posse’s 1,100-member mailing list, the problems go beyond the distraction that Zweig experiences. The group’s website cites sleep disruption, stress, exposure to pollutants and declining property values as potential issues.

“We don’t think all the noise should be moved into the next guy’s yard,” said Zweig, who proposes putting more flights over San Francisco Bay to avoid neighborhoods. “And what can’t be sent over the bay should be spread out.”

FAA officials did not specify what changes are likely, but their agreement to “explore modifications” in Northern California said they will look into steering more planes over water and to higher elevations.

“We are committed to working with the communities and members of Congress to analyze a wide range of suggestions aimed at addressing local noise issues,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle.

Two pieces of legislation, each supported by Eshoo, Farr and Speier, aim to prevent other parts of the country from experiencing the problems seen in the Bay Area.

One of the bills would reestablish the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Noise Abatement to monitor planes. The other would require the FAA to work with communities on noise issues.

- Source:

Commercial, cargo jet noise concerns

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. —In the skies over the Central Coast, there are concerns about commercial and cargo jet noise in the region. For months people in Santa Cruz County have been trying to get the Federal Aviation Administration to address the problem.

Now, it looks like they've captured the FAA's attention.

A group called Save Our Skies, has met twice with FAA officials who came back with a 12-page report after those meetings.

Save Our Skies doesn't believe it goes far enough in addressing jet noise concerns

"The worst thing is a plane going over your head at 10,000 feet every one to two minutes apart," a member of Save Our Skies said.

Hundreds of flights pass over Grant Weseman's home every day through routes designed by a state-of-the-art air traffic control system implemented nationwide by the FAA.

It's called, "Nextgen," the Next Generation Air Transportation System. It's purpose is to cut down on air traffic congestion.

"When they come in, I note the altitude, the type of plane, and I click the computer and then it goes to SFO noise office and I've done hundreds and hundreds of complaints," Weseman said.

In a letter prepared for U.S. Representatives Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, and Sam Farr, the FAA announced a new three-phased initiative that will explore a variety of possible modifications to flight speeds, altitudes, and waypoint locations.

"What we're trying to do is very complicated to get all of these things have the FAA address," Sam Farr said.

"Unfortunately, it is extremely vague and doesn't really lay out a plan of action that we think it's workable at this point," Save Our Skies Co-Chair, Patrick Meyer said.

Save Our Skies would like the FAA to specify a date when these actions will be implemented.

They also want flight patterns moved away from densely populated areas and for jets to begin their descent from higher altitudes.

"As we look at it now, it basically doesn't meet any of the needs that we have right now to relieve us of the jet noise," Meyer said.

Between March and August of this year, the SFO noise abatement website logged 147,442 complaints from residents living near the flight paths.

In Santa Cruz County, residents filed 29,370 noise complaints, with almost 415 complaints a day in August.

"Why did they try and change the flight path that had worked so well for forty years? And why they fixed it with something that was broken from the beginning," Grant Weseman asked.

"It developed a detailed plan of action to explore proposed modifications. We are committed to working with the communities and members of Congress to analyze a wide range of suggestions aimed at addressing these local noise issues," the FAA said.


Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil, N711BE: Fatal accident occurred November 18, 2015 at McClellan-Palomar Airport (KCRQ), Carlsbad, San Diego County, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 


NTSB Identification: WPR16FA029
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 18, 2015 in Carlsbad, CA
Aircraft: AIRBUS HELICOPTERS AS350B3E, registration: N711BE
Injuries: 2 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 November 18, 2015, about 1624 Pacific standard time, an Airbus Helicopters AS350B3E, N711BE, departed controlled flight while landing on a moveable helipad at Mc Clellan-Palomar Airport, Carlsbad, California. The pilot, who was the owner, was operating the helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot and private pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured; the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The local personal flight departed Carlsbad at 1411. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The entire accident sequence was captured on airport security cameras and the mobile phone cameras of multiple witnesses.

The helicopter departed earlier in the day from the east end of the Premier Jet fixed base operator (FBO) ramp, which was located midfield on the south side of runway 6/24. After departure, line crew moved the helipad to the west end of the ramp.

Upon returning, the helicopter approached the airport from the northeast and was cleared to land on runway 24. It descended to midfield, turned left, and approached the ramp in a low hover via taxiway A3. The helicopter then followed taxiway A and began an approach to the helipad from the east and into the direction of the sun. The helicopter then landed short of the helipad, with the center of its skids making contact with the pad's front edge. The helicopter immediately rocked back and its tailskid struck the ground. The helicopter then began a series of back and forth oscillations, and the helipad broke free from the rear left chock, rotated to the right, and pivoted around its front right wheel. The helicopter spun with the helipad for the first quarter of the turn, and then rapidly climbed and rotated 270 degrees to the right. The helipad came to rest to the north, having revolved 180 degrees, and about 50 seconds later the helicopter landed on the tarmac east of the helipad, while partially straddling taxiway A and the ramp at a 45-degree angle.

For the next 2 1/2 minutes line crew re-secured the helipad, installing chocks on three of the four wheels. The helicopter then repositioned for an approach to the helipad from the west. During the next 4 1/2 minutes the helicopter made three landing attempts, getting to within 5 to 20 ft of the helipad. A video of the final landing attempt was captured by a witness, who was located about 130 ft south. He had observed the other landing attempts and was concerned that the helicopter may crash, so positioned himself behind a car at the corner of the FBO's hangar.

The video revealed that the helico
pter again landed short of the pad, similar to the first landing attempt, rocking back and forth twice onto its tailskid. After the final strike, the helicopter pitched violently forward and out of view behind the hangar. Security cameras revealed that from here the helicopter spun 180 degrees to the left, and after reaching a 45-degree nose up attitude, the aft tailrotor and vertical stabilizer assembly struck the ground and separated. The helicopter bounced and rotated another 360 degrees before landing hard on its left side. Once on the ground, the main rotor blades and cabin continued to spin with the engine still running. The helicopter continued spinning for the next 5 minutes and 10 seconds while slowly sliding about 530 ft east along the ramp. The tailboom and horizontal stabilizer then separated and the helicopter rolled onto its side, shedding the main rotor blades. The engine continued operating for another 30 seconds while fire crew doused the helicopter. White smoke billowed from the engine's exhaust after the helicopter came to rest, but there was no indication of fire.

The pilot purchased the helicopter on October 29, 2015, but had flown demonstration and familiarization flights in it since September 20. According to the helicopter's maintenance records, those flights totaled about 8.8 hours, and were all conducted with a certified flight instructor present. He received an additional 2 hours of flight training on November 13.

According to friends and flight instructors who had flown with the pilot, he had previously owned a Bell 407, and the accident flight was the first he had flown in the AS350 series without a professional pilot present.

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA San Diego FSDO-09

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Wayne Lewis

Bruce Erickson

Team 10: 'They didn't chock my cart' pilot said moments before helicopter spun out of control

SAN DIEGO -- There is new information about what may have caused Wednesday's deadly chopper crash -- just moments before the helicopter spun out of control the pilot complained that something was wrong on the ground.

The pilot who was killed in a bizarre helicopter accident at Palomar Airport Wednesday complained to air traffic controllers that the cart he was trying to land on wasn’t secured.

"They didn’t chock my cart. It was like a skateboard out here,” said Bruce Erickson to air traffic controllers moments before his helicopter began spinning out of control.

Chocking involves jamming a wedge of wood or a metal angle-iron near the tires so the cart, which is used to roll helicopters into the hangar, doesn’t move during landings.

Erickson was trying to land his chopper on a cart outside Prestige Jet. Doing so is difficult, pilots say, because it’s a very small landing target. And if you don’t put the rotorcraft down on it just right the landing could end in disaster.

"It’s gonna come out from under you and slide around. You don’t want to land on it unless it is chocked,” said lifelong pilot Tom Ricotta.

Ricotta didn’t want to speculate on Wednesday’s crash, but he agreed with Team 10 sources who say a moving cart could trigger much bigger problems for the pilot. If the skid misses the cart the chopper’s rotors or tail could hit the ground.

Story, video and photo gallery:

Bruce Erickson, American Bank’s chairman, is a licensed pilot with many years of experience. Bruce has over 25,000 hours of flight time after getting his first flight lesson at age 10. He is rated on single-engine, twin-engine, helicopter and several jet aircraft. 


Bruce Allen Erickson, the CEO and president of Bozeman-based American Bank, died Wednesday in a helicopter crash. 

The crash occurred as Erickson, the pilot, was practicing landings, the Associated Press reported.

The San Diego County medical examiner's office said the helicopter's tail struck the ground during a landing Wednesday and it spun out of control at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, Calif.  

The medical examiner identified the pilot as 65-year-old Erickson. Also killed was his friend, 60-year-old Wayne Frank Lewis of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif.

On Thursday afternoon, American Bank said in a statement that Erickson “had a heart of gold with boundless energy, and his devotion toward community banking was insurmountable.”

“He placed utmost importance on his employees and was very generous to all,” the statement said. “Bruce’s zest for life elevated all those who he came in contact with. He was passionate about giving, with a special concern for children and the local communities the bank serves.”

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the Erickson family, and all those affected by this tragedy.”

The bank “is on solid ground,” the statement concluded, “has a great team, and we will carry Bruce’s legacy into the future.”

American Bank has branches in Bozeman, Livingston, Big Sky, Whitefish and Big Timber.

Erickson had more than 25,000 hours of flight time and ratings to fly various types of airplanes and helicopters, according to the bank's website.


PALOMAR AIRPORT (KUSI) - The pilot and a passenger killed in a fiery Bell 407 helicopter crash at McClellan-Palomar Airport were identified today. 

Bruce Allen Erickson, 65, of Rancho Santa Fe and his 60-year-old passenger, Wayne Frank Lewis of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, died as a result of a crash and fire that occurred as they were practicing landings at the general-aviation facility on Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad shortly before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office.

The helicopter's tail hit the ground as it approached the landing pad and the body of the chopper then hit the ground, spun out and went up in flames, authorities said.

Emergency crews were still extinguishing the resulting fire a half-hour later, according to North County Dispatch.

5:17 p.m. - Two people died in a helicopter crash at McClellan-Palomar Airport Wednesday afternoon.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the accident occurred around 4:30 p.m.

Emergency crews were still extinguishing the resulting fire a half-hour later, North County Dispatch reported.

The circumstances of the crash, which prompted a closure of the airport, were unclear, and the victims' identities were not immediately available.

5:10 p.m. - Two people have been killed in that helicopter crash at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, according to North County dispatch.

The airport is closed due to the accident.

4:45 p.m. - A helicopter crashed at McClellan-Palomar Airport Wednesday afternoon.

The incident happened at 2198 Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad, according to North County dispatch.

- Source:

CARLSBAD – Two men killed in a helicopter crash at McLellan-Palomar Airport Wednesday afternoon have been identified.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner reported Thursday that 65-year-old pilot Bruce Allen Erickson of Rancho Santa Fe and his 60-year-old passenger Wayne Frank Lewis of Cardiff-by-the-Sea died on the airport runway. 

According to the Medical Examiner, they were practicing landings at Palomar Airport when the tail of their helicopter hit the ground. The helicopter then “impacted” the ground and spun out of control on the runway and burst into flames.

Due to the fuel aboard, when Carlsbad police and fire crews arrived on scene, they first tried to put out the blaze before accessing the helicopter. Both Erickson and Lewis were pronounced dead at the scene. 

According to Bloomberg News, Erickson was the CEO of American Bank in Montana. Lewis was a realtor. According to a piece in the Robb Report, Erickson had been flying aircraft since he was 12 years old. 

Palomar Airport remained closed Thursday. The FAA and NTSB will investigate the crash.

- Source:

 WARNING: Some may consider the video disturbing 

FAA recognizes Wayne Frank Lewis
Cardiff-based pilot sets positive example
September 18, 2013, 11:01 a.m. ET

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is recognizing Wayne Frank Lewis with inclusion in the prestigious FAA Airmen Certification Database.

The database, which appears on the agency's website at, names Lewis and other certified pilots who have met or exceeded the high educational, licensing and medical standards established by the FAA.

Pilot certification standards have evolved over time in an attempt to reduce pilot errors that lead to fatal crashes. FAA standards, which are set in consultation with the aviation industry and the public, are among the highest in the world.

Transportation safety experts strongly recommend against flying with an uncertified pilot. FAA pilot certification can be the difference between a safe flight and one that ends in tragedy.

The FAA recently announced that is it increasing the qualification requirements for co-pilots who fly for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines. These requirements mandate additional minimum flight time and training, as well as aircraft specific training.

"Safety will be my overriding priority as Secretary, so I am especially pleased to mark my first week by announcing a rule that will help us maintain our unparalleled safety record," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a press release. "We owe it to the traveling public to have only the most qualified and best trained pilots."

According to the FAA, the new regulations stem in part from the crash of Colgan Air 3407 in February 2009. An investigation of the crash revealed that pilot Renslow, had failed three "check rides" (the flying equivalent of driver proficiency tests) and may not have had adequate training to respond to the emergency leading up to the crash.

The FAA offers a variety of pilots licenses and certificates, each with a different set of privileges. These levels include Student, Recreational, Sport, Private, Commercial And Airline Transport Pilot.

Pilots with a student pilot certification are not permitted to fly solo and are barred from carrying passengers. Sport pilot certificate holders can not carry more than one passenger and are permitted to only fly light-sport aircraft during the daytime.

The highest level of certification is the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP), which is required to fly a commercial airliner.

To obtain Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, pilots must possess a commercial pilot license, have more than 1500 hours of experience in aircraft and be at least 21 years old. However, pilots with an aviation degree can qualify for the certificate with just 1,000 hours.

Pilots obtaining an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate must also pass an exam covering air law, general aircraft knowledge, flight planning, meteorology, navigation, instrumentation and other important topics.

Pilots are required to pass a physical examination administered by a FAA-authorized medical examiner.

There are a number of medical conditions that the FAA considers disqualifying, such as Bipolar disease, cardiac valve replacement, coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus requiring hypoglycemic medications, disturbance of consciousness without satisfactory explanation of cause, epilepsy, heart replacement, Myocardial infarction, permanent cardiac pacemaker, personality disorder that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts, psychosis, substance abuse, substance dependence, transient loss of control of nervous system function(s) without satisfactory explanation of cause.

Pilots are required to report to the FAA's Security and Investigations Division any alcohol-related vehicle actions, such as an arrest, administrative action, driver license suspension.

The FAA has reason to be concerned in general about alcohol use by pilots. Recently, a 48 year-old American Eagle pilot was forced from the aircraft cockpit after airline employees smells alcohol on him. The pilot, Kolbjorn Jarle Kristiansen , subsequently failed a breathalyzer test and was arrested.

The Federal Aviation Administration's Airmen Certification Database contains the following listing:

UniqueID: A4601965
FirstName: Wayne Frank
LastName: Lewis
Street1: 2225 Newcastle Ave
City: Cardiff
State: CA
Zip: 92007-1917
Country: USA
Region: WP
MedClass: 3
MedDate: 052012
MedExpDate: 052014

- Source:

WARNING: Some may consider the video disturbing 

UPDATE: The county Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the two men killed in a helicopter crash at McClellan-Palomar Airport late Wednesday afternoon as 65-year-old pilot Bruce Allen Erickson of Rancho Santa Fe and 60- year-old passenger Wayne Frank Lewis of Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The helicopter crashed and caught fire as the pair were practicing landings.

Two people were killed after a helicopter spun out of control and crashed at McClellan–Palomar Airport Wednesday evening, according to authorities.

The Bell 407 helicopter appeared to be trying to land on a portable landing pad when it’s tail hit the ground, a witness told FOX 5. Then, the rotors lost control causing the helicopter to spin uncontrollably.

Carlsbad firefighters were called to 2198 Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad around 4:22 p.m. after several witnesses watched the helicopter caught fire after crashing near a hangar, Carlsbad police said.  Both people aboard the aircraft died in the crash, according to a NorCom Fire dispatcher.

The circumstances of the crash, which prompted a closure of the airport, were unclear.

Weather does seem to have played a factor in the crash, according to another helicopter pilot who was at the crash site.

“The National Transportation Safety Board is en route and will conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash. We are unable to release details as to the specific type of helicopter or the identities of the passengers at this time,” according to Alex Bell of the County of San Diego.

Carlsbad Fire Department was assisted by crews from Vista, San Marcos and Palomar Airport.

- Source:

CARLSBAD — Two people died aboard a helicopter that spun wildly out of control and crashed at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad Wednesday, authorities said.

The crash and a fire were reported about 4:20 p.m. Carlsbad fire Division Chief Mike Lopez said the pilot was trying to land at the time.

A witness said he saw the helicopter spinning and tilting on the ground, with the blades striking the pavement and sparking.

Marco Hernandez, who was checking his airplane with plans to fly to Torrance, said as he watched, two people inside the helicopter were trying to get out. Then, he said, the aircraft tipped over.

He said his view then was blocked by vehicles driven over to the helicopter. A cloud of smoke erupted from the helicopter.

County fire crews at the airport used foam to spray the aircraft, preventing spilled fuel and oil from burning, Lopez said. Carlsbad and Vista firefighters assisted.

The crash occurred near Premier Jet hangars.

Helicopter pilot Mark Simo was working in the Premier Jet building when he said people came in and told him and others to get out. He walked out and saw the helicopter spinning “out of control.”

He said it appeared that the tail rotor had hit the ground after landing, causing the helicopter to go out of control for what he said seemed to be at least five minutes.

He said he saw one man hanging partially out of the helicopter, still strapped into his seat. He appeared to be unconscious, Simo said.

Simo called it a high-performance helicopter and said he was not aware of seeing it at the airport before.

An employee at Civic Helicopters, which offers flight training, said none of their craft was involved in the crash.

Lopez said he could not confirm that the helicopter was privately owned, but he said it was not a public safety aircraft and was not used for flight training.

The airport was closed during the investigation by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.

The last fatal aircraft crash near the airport occurred in 2008 when a Beechcraft Bonanza airplane slammed into a hillside, killing the pilot.

- Source:

Two people were killed after a helicopter landed, spun out of control and caught fire at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, California, officials confirmed.

Video sent to NBC 7 shows the helicopter after it touches down on the runway at 4:20 p.m. As its blades continue rotating, the chopper spins round and round for more than a minute before the tail breaks off and smoke engulfs it.

According to witnesses, the helicopter continued spinning for another five minutes. When it stopped, both people onboard were dead, Carlsbad Fire officials said.

The airport, located at 2198 Palomar Airport Road, is closed until further notice. Witness Marlena Niemann posted a video of the scene to Twitter.

The man flying the chopper was a new pilot, according to a helicopter instructor who says he knew the victim.

The pilot was trying to land on a helicopter landing cart when the crash occurred, he said. The cart is used to help tow aircraft into hangars, but if pilots do not land on it correctly, the result can be catastrophic.

"Flying helicopters, what seemed odd is that the engine was still wide open it was they didn't turn the throttle off. Why that happened is beyond me," said witness Mark Simo.

Carnell Chappelle, a recreational pilot, was planning to meet his wife and friends for an evening flight out of Palomar. He saw the emergency lights as he drove down the main road and pulled over to the scene.

He told NBC 7 weather would not have played a factor in the crash because winds are calm and skies are clear.

"I feel for the people that this has happened to and the fatalities," Chappelle said. "The flying community, every time we see this, our heart breaks because it's one of our family, one of our own that has perished in this."

The pilot also said because he could detect what smelled like fuel in the air, it indicates the helicopter probably did not run out of fuel.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate to determine the crash's cause at first light Thursday. That's also when they'll begin removing the aircraft. Fire officials say the cause appears to be landing-related.

The identities of the victims have not been released.


Sluggish economies weaken business jet sales

Air Baltic Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft takes-off at Riga International airport, Latvia, October 28, 2015. 


Weakening or sluggish economies around the globe are taking a toll on business aircraft sales and prices, forestalling an incipient recovery that had raised the hopes of plane makers and suppliers.

Manufacturers attending the industry's largest jamboree this week predicted flat or lower sales next year, and possibly in 2017, before the arrival of new models stirs interest and buying later in the decade to restart industry growth.

Prices also are falling. When buying last peaked in 2008, a new Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft, a so-called "super large" jet, cost about $52 million. "Now you can get the same aircraft with a better cockpit for $43 million, almost $10 million less," said Chad Anderson, president of Jetcraft, a major aircraft broker.

Such discounts are distorting the market and even affecting used aircraft prices, said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at the Teal Group.

Amid the weakness, Bombardier scaled back production of Global 5000 and long-range Global 6000 planes. Buyers are more cautions about big plane purchases and more used planes are on the market, industry experts said.

Anderson said he expects Gulfstream will have to slow production of some of its G450 and G550 planes, also considered "super large" jets. Gulfstream said it is "evaluating 2016 production rates right now" and will announce them in late January.

Even companies positioned with better-selling light and mid-sized jets have concerns. "2016 will be a challenge," said Marco Tulio Pellegrini, chief executive of Embraer Executive Jets, which has seven models mostly in the small and mid-size categories. "It will be as tough as 2015."

The shifts suggest a continued slow recovery from a 2011 nadir. But the activity at the National Business Aviation Association convention shows aircraft makers are not betting on weakness for long, and that a strong recovery is due by the end of the decade.

"Some countries, where we have good hopes in terms of selling our (Falcon) 7x and 8x long-range planes, like Brazil, like India like China, are getting slow a little bit,” said Dassault Aviation Chief Executive Eric Trappier.

He and others see stronger sales in the United States and northern Europe. "So we cannot imagine China staying at this level of growth. It will be back to a better growth. They need to travel because they need to meet their customers," he said.

Similarly, Anderson and others said corporations are renewing their jet fleets after the downturn in recent years, and are also taking advantage of lower prices. But there are fewer emotional buyers and more focus on value, he said.

Manufacturers also are investing in new models in anticipation. Textron announced plans for a new large business jet, the Cessna Citation Hemisphere, due out in 2019. Fractional aircraft firm Flexjet placed a $2.4 billion order for 20 sleek supersonic AS2 jets from Aerion, with deliveries starting in 2023.

"Deals will be hard," said Anderson, whose business jet sales forecast predicts 7.4 percent annual growth over the next 10 years. "But with the North American demand that exists, deals can be had. They have to be done at the right price."


Geoff Kubank: Newcastle pilot shares joy of flying P-51 Mustang warbird to Temora

Newcastle pilot Geoff Kubank has been flying for 52 years.

With the sun shining overhead and heat in the air, the throaty sound of whirring plane engines slices through the bright blue sky.

The scent of aviation fuel, grease and freshly clipped grass wafts on the strong breeze.

It is a bright spring day at the Royal Newcastle Aero Club at Rutherford, and 68-year-old Newcastle pilot Geoff Kubank busily wipes the metallic silver wings of a P-51 Mustang airplane in the shade of a large hangar.

He is putting the finishing touches on the aircraft before he takes off for a war plane air show at Temora in the New South Wales Riverina region.

Mr Kubank has been a pilot for the last 52 years, and over that time, he developed a desire to fly a P-51 Mustang — a symbol of aviation combat during World War II.

Geoff Kubank said flying the Mustang is a dream come true. 

 Secret desire to fly Mustang fulfilled

The P-51 Mustang Mr. Kubank flies is owned by a syndicate of 11 shareholders and is based in Caboolture, Queensland.

When the opportunity to buy-in to the venture arose, he took it.

"There are not many pilots in the world who don't have a secret desire to fly a Mustang," Mr.  Kubank said.

"It finally happened for me after many years.

"After having a long, hard think about [buying-in to the company], I decided I couldn't really afford it, [but that] I would do it anyway.

"We share the flying around as much as we can."

For the trip to Temora, Mr. Kubank flew to Brisbane, and travelled to Caboolture, north of the state capital, to prepare the Mustang.

From there he flew to Coffs Harbour in NSW, then to Rutherford for an overnight stop, and finally on to southern NSW.

The Mustang plane is believed to be able to fly to 30,000 feet.

War plane like having 'two legends in one'

Mr. Kubank said P-51 Mustangs were built in Australia and the United States during WWII.

"Initially they were used in Europe to fly out of England to escort the bombers all the way to Berlin and back, because the other fighters couldn't do it," he said.

Mr. Kubank's Mustang was built in Melbourne in 1946, and is equipped with a V-12 Merlin engine.

The engine's capacity at takeoff is rated at 1,490 horsepower.

The aircraft is believed to be able to fly to 30,000 feet; however it hasn't been flown to that altitude because it is not equipped with oxygen supplies.

It has a fuel capacity of 780 litres, which is split into two tanks located in the wings.

"Once we're up to altitude and cruising along, we get it (fuel consumption) down to about 200 litres per hour," Mr. Kubank said.

"We cruise along at about 200 knots, [which is] a little under 400 km/h, but they can go quite a bit faster, probably [up to] 300 to 350 knots.

"It can be a little bit of a handful on takeoff because of the high horsepower, and it will swing if you don't control it.

"Once it's airborne of course, it's an absolute delight."

Mr. Kubank said being able to fly the war plane was a dream come true.

"To be flying a Mustang is just absolutely fantastic because, in my opinion, it's two legends in one.

"One, it is a Mustang, and secondly, you're sitting behind a Merlin [engine], which is a fairly legendary aircraft engine from WWII."

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Geoff Kubank is flying the plane to Temora.

Move of medical helicopter expands critical care coverage south of Fort Wayne

PORTLAND, Ind. (21ALIVE) -- Lutheran Hospital has made a change to shift the coverage area of its medical helicopters.

One of two air transport units has been re-located from Fort Wayne to an airport 50 miles south of the city.

A hangar at the Portland Indiana Municipal Airport is the new home for what's called "Lutheran Air 1."

It acts like a flying emergency room.

The pilot sits at the controls, while a specially trained paramedic and nurse ride in the back with the patient.

The staff has access to the kinds of medications and instruments found in a regular ambulance, used to treat a heart patient or accident victim at speeds of 150 mph, as the craft wings towards one of a number of hospitals in this part of the Midwest.

October 26th, Lutheran re-situated one of its two medical helicopters in Portland, to better serve East Central Indiana and West Central Ohio.

Patients in distress in Fort Wayne can generally be whisked to a hospital by 1st responders on the ground.

"It's the rural communities that have the longer transport time and there's many things, health-care wise, that have a limited time to fix. Heart, head, all kinds of things, trauma that have a limited time frame and we need to get care to them quicker," said Krista Quinones, a Vice-President overseeing critical care air transport services for Lutheran.

If a call for help comes in and the weather conditions allow for safe flight, the crew can scramble to lift off and get to a scene without the obstacles faced by an ambulance crew.

Parkview Hospital operates medical helicopters out of Fort Wayne and Rochester Indiana, making more than a thousand runs a year.

The location shift to Portland by Lutheran helps patients in outlying areas south of the city to know that if they're hit with an emergency, help is on the way is not just an empty phrase. 

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