Saturday, November 28, 2015

Aircraft crash mistakenly reported as drill: Mooney M20M Bravo, N243CW, fatal accident occurred October 24, 2015 near Worcester Regional Airport (KORH), Worcester County, Massachusetts

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA023
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 24, 2015 in Worcester, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/28/2017
Aircraft: MOONEY M20M, registration: N243CW
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 airline transport pilot was departing on a personal local flight in his airplane when the airplane's engine lost total power. Review of airport security video revealed that, after takeoff, the airplane reached an altitude of about 200 ft before turning right and reversing direction. The airplane subsequently stalled, rolled to the right, and descended uncontrolled into trees. It is likely that the pilot reversed direction to return to the airport but failed to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack, an aerodynamic stall, and loss of control. Examination of the engine revealed that the crankshaft had failed due to fatigue cracking between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The cracking pattern suggested that numerous overstress conditions of relatively short durations acted to initiate the fatigue cracks, but the cause for this overstress could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

A total loss of engine power during the initial climb due to a fatigue failure of the engine's crankshaft. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.


On October 24, 2015, at 0753 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20M, N243CW, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after taking off from Worcester Regional Airport (ORH), Worcester, Massachusetts. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight.

There was no radar coverage of the area. Airport security cameras captured partial segments of the flight and showed that the airplane took off from runway 11. One camera showed the airplane in flight, climbing over the intersection of runway 15 about 1,500 ft from the departure end of the 7,000-ft-long takeoff runway. Using the height of the airplane's tail as a reference, the estimated altitude of the airplane was about 80 to 90 ft above the runway surface at that point, climbing in a slight right turn.

The airplane then flew out of view and reappeared about 16 seconds later headed in the roughly the opposite direction of takeoff. Based on the approximate height of the control tower, the airplane appeared to be about 200 ft above the ground in a shallow, climbing right turn. The airplane's nose then began dropping, and the right bank angle increased. The airplane continued to turn to the right in an increasingly nose-down attitude as it descended into a stand of trees.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multi-engine land, as well as a flight engineer certificate. He held an FAA third-class medical certificate, issued July 11, 2014. On the application for this medical certificate, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 7,217 hours. The pilot's logbook was not recovered. 


The four-seat, low-wing airplane was manufactured in 1996. It was powered by a 310-horsepower Lycoming TIO-540 engine and equipped with a three-blade, constant-speed McCauley propeller. 

A review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on April 14, 2015. At that time, the airframe had accumulated 2,872.8 total flight hours. 

The engine logbooks could not be located. According to engine manufacturer data, the engine was manufactured in 1993 and returned once to their facility where it was overhauled in December 2001. According to the manufacturer's records, the engine was placed in service on the accident airplane on March 1, 2002. The investigation could not determine if the engine received a subsequent overhaul at another facility. The manufacturer recommended that the engine be overhauled every 2,000 hours or 12 years, whichever occurred first. 


The 1154 recorded weather observation at ORH included wind from 350° at 8 knots, visibility 10 miles, overcast skies at 2,700 ft, temperature 1°C, dew point -3°C, and altimeter 30.39 inches of mercury.


The accident site was located in flat, wooded terrain, and the wreckage was confined to an area extending about 100 ft. There was no wreckage path; the airplane came almost straight down through the trees. There was no evidence of smoke or fire.

The propeller and spinner were found together, separated from the main wreckage, and mostly buried in the ground. The spinner exhibited fore-to-aft crushing, and none of the three propeller blades exhibited evidence typical of engine power at impact.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. The left wing was separated from the fuselage about 4 ft from the wing root, and the right wing was mostly still attached. The left horizontal stabilizer was separated from the airplane, and the right horizontal stabilizer remained attached. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the flight control surfaces to the cockpit.

The engine remained attached to the airframe and was subsequently removed and taken to a maintenance garage for further examination. The starter ring did not exhibit any evidence of powered rotation at impact. The crankshaft was rotated by hand at the flange; it rotated a few revolutions before it jammed and could not be rotated in either direction.

The oil suction screen was removed and found to be contaminated with metal fragments. The accessory case housing was removed, and the No. 5 main bearing was found partially extruded out through the crankshaft gear. Holes were also noted in internal portions of the crankcase halves, and the No. 6 connecting rod was broken.

The engine was subsequently disassembled, and the crankshaft was fractured between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The camshaft was also broken near the crankshaft fracture, and the interiors of the case halves were gouged rotationally, consistent with the damage having occurred while the engine was still operating.

The engine was sent to the manufacturer's materials laboratory for further investigation. According to the manufacturer's report, the metallurgical examination revealed that the crankshaft failed in fatigue, with crack initiation from the rear fillet radius of the No. 5 crankpin journal, followed by stable fatigue crack growth through nearly the entire section thickness of the No. 8 cheek. Fracture surface markings indicated a likelihood of multiple fatigue crack initiation sites. Multiple origins typically indicate high stress conditions; however, the majority of crack growth through the No. 8 cheek occurred under high-cycle fatigue loading, consistent with relatively lower nominal stress conditions. This cracking pattern suggested that overstress conditions of relatively short duration acted to initiate the fatigue cracks. The report stated that the root cause for this overstress was not determined, but it was not related to any material non-conformance. 

The crankshaft conformed to engineering drawing requirements for alloy chemistry, case hardness, case depth, and case and core microstructure. It was slightly below the core hardness specification, but this was not considered relevant for this fracture. Charpy impact test bars cut from the undamaged regions of the No. 8 cheek were free of any honeycomb or microcrack features, indicating the steel had not been exposed to excessively high temperatures during billet forging or crankshaft forging. The crankshaft journal diameters conformed to engineering specifications. The crankshaft journals also conformed for roundness, except for the No. 1 and No. 3 crankpin journals, which exceeded the specification tolerance for out-of-round; however, these crankpin journals were undamaged.

The JPI 700 engine monitor was sent to the NTSB Records Laboratory for download. Due to internal buffering of the data before being written to non-volatile memory, the final portion of the flight was not recorded. The data that was captured, was from the time of the master avionics switch was turned and, after engine start when the oil, cylinder head, turbine inlet, and exhaust gas temperatures were just starting to climb during warm-up. Then the data showed the temperatures climbing, representing the take-off, and an initial power reduction, before ending abruptly. 


The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was described as blunt injury. The autopsy also identified mild, focally moderate, atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries, with approximately 40% stenosis of the left anterior descending coronary artery, less than 10% stenosis of the right coronary artery, and no significant stenosis of the left circumflex coronary artery. 

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The toxicology tests detected no carbon monoxide in blood and no cyanide in blood. The test did detect losartan in the liver and blood. Losartan is approved for use by the FAA and is not considered impairing.

WORCESTER - While the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the cause of a fatal Mooney M20M Bravo plane crash at Worcester Regional Airport October 24, there is additional evidence of a communications breakdown between emergency personnel.

According to the Worcester Fire Department incident report obtained by the Telegram & Gazette, a city dispatcher entered in her notes, "MASS PORT PUT THIS INCIDENT OUT AS A DRILL....MEMA CALLED US AT 0818HRS AND WERE NOTF (notified) THAT IT IS NOT A DRILL!!!"

The newspaper had requested the incident report under the state's Public Records Law, but a spokesman for City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. cited the pending National Transportation Safety Board probe of the crash as the reason for a delay in releasing the report. The incident report was not provided to the newspaper by Mr. Augustus' office.

Peter Judge of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said officials at that agency learned that someone at Massport "pushed the wrong button" while sending out an electronic notification about the crash. The faulty notice indicated the event was an "exercise," not an actual emergency. But Mr. Judge said the error was quickly corrected within two minutes and did not affect the emergency response to the crash.

A second anomaly was evident the day of the crash.

In the playback of audio recordings of the controller handling air traffic at the time, the controller repeats three times "can't reach ARFF." ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting) is shorthand for security/fire/rescue personnel.

Seconds later, the controller said, "I am on the line with 911," indicating that she called Worcester's Fire Department to respond to the crash scene.

As the NTSB investigates the crash, the reason for the communications breakdown between the tower, ARFF and MEMA has not been released by Massport, if the reason is known.

According to Worcester Fire Department records, city fire personnel reached the crash site off Coppage Drive within six minutes. 

The crash was within sight of the airport runway.

Even though city fire crews had to travel several miles to reach the scene, they got to the crash before the airport ARFF personnel.

A Putnam man died in the crash within sight of Runway 11 and the control tower, about 100 feet outside the airport perimeter fence, but on airport property.

The crash site, although outside the perimeter fence, is on Massport land transferred to the authority by the city in 2010.

A January 2015 Federal Aviation Administration emergency plan filed by Massport is ambiguous about which agency has primary responsibility in such a scenario.

Hours after the October 24 crash, Massport spokesman Matthew Brelis said the Worcester Fire Department has primary responsibility for responding to crashes outside the airport perimeter.

But the January 2015 Federal Aviation Administration emergency plan says the Worcester Fire Department is to provide "support" services "within Worcester and within the airport perimeter fence line" for aircraft rescue and firefighting.

Worcester Fire Department Deputy Chief John F. Sullivan acknowledges the confusion in the emergency plan.

"The January 2015 plan is ambiguous in wording. The Federal Aviation Administration plan is relevant to inside the perimeter. They do not dictate outside the fence. It does not dictate the rules of engagement outside the fence," the deputy chief said.

"Our duties have never changed. It does not matter what they are doing inside the perimeter, we will support. Outside we are going to have primary responsibility," Deputy Chief Sullivan said.

While the emergency airport plan has gone through several iterations, he noted the language should be clarified.

Original article can be found here:

Dr. Gary L. Weller

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA023 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 24, 2015 in Worchester, MA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20M, registration: N243CW
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 24, 2015, at 0753 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20M, N243CW, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after taking off from Worchester Regional Airport (ORH), Worchester, Massachusetts. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The airplane was not operating on flight plan for the local personal flight, which was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Airport security cameras captured partial segments of the flight. The airplane took off from runway 11. One camera showed the airplane in flight, climbing over the intersection of runway 15, or about 1,500 feet from the departure end of the 7,000-foot takeoff runway. Using the height of the airplane's tail as a reference, the airplane was about 80 to 90 feet above the runway surface at that point, still climbing in a slight right turn.

The airplane then flew out of view, reappearing about 16 seconds later, headed in the roughly the opposite direction of takeoff. There was no radar coverage of the area, but based on the approximate height of the control tower, the airplane appeared to be about 200 feet above the ground, in a shallow, climbing right turn. The airplane's nose then began descending, and the right turn intensified. The airplane continued the right, almost nose down turn as it descended into a stand of trees.

The accident site was located in flat, wooded terrain in the vicinity of 42 degrees, 15.68 minutes north latitude, 071 degrees, 52.15 minutes west longitude at an elevation of about 975 feet. The wreckage was confined to an area extending about 100 feet. There was no wreckage path, but there was evidence of the airplane coming almost straight down through the trees. There was no evidence of smoke or fire, either in flight or at the accident site.

The three-bladed propeller and spinner were found together, but separated from the main wreckage and mostly buried in the ground. When removed, the spinner exhibited fore-to-aft crushing, and none of the three propeller blades exhibited evidence typical of engine power at impact.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. The left wing was found separated from the fuselage about 4 feet from the wing root, while the right wing was mostly still attached. The left horizontal stabilizer was also separated from the airplane, while the right horizontal stabilizer remained attached. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the broken flight surfaces to the cockpit.

The engine had remained attached to the airframe, but was subsequently separated from it and taken to a maintenance garage for further examination. The starter ring did not exhibit any evidence of powered rotation at impact. The crankshaft was rotated by hand at the flange, but could only be rotated a few revolutions before it jammed, and could not be rotated in either direction.

The oil suction screen was removed and found to be contaminated with metal fragments. The accessory case housing was removed, and the No. 5 main bearing was found to be partially extruded out through the crankshaft gear. Holes were also noted in internal portions of the crankcase halves, and the No. 6 connecting rod was observed to be broken.

The engine was subsequently disassembled, and the crankshaft was found to be fractured between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The camshaft was also broken in the vicinity of the crankshaft fracture, and the interior of the case halves were gouged rotationally, consistent with the damage having occurred awhile the engine was still operating.

The crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rods, and bearings were retained for further laboratory examination.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Windsor Locks FSDO-63

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

Dr. Gary L. Weller

Dr. Gary Lee Weller of Putnam Heights, CT, former resident of Greenfield, MA, departed this earth unexpectedly on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, onto his next journey, following an accident while flying his airplane, one of his many passions.

Gary leaves behind his beloved wife, soulmate and best friend, Sharon Weller. His loving mother, Elsie Weller; his sisters, Jana (Tom) Papke, Jean Weller and Lori (Dan) Strickler; his stepdaughters, Haley Trenholm and Calista (Cody) Thompson; grandson, Colgan Thompson, and his many cherished nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind his devoted black labs, Lucy and Desi. Gary will be joining his father Duke, who left us in 2013.

Dr. Weller received his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1979 and began practicing his craft in Michigan. Thereafter, he relocated and established a thriving dental practice in the Boston area. Concurrent with his medical training and career, he rose through the ranks as an FAA certificated pilot and began flying for various airlines including Eastern and U.S. Airways. Upon his retirement from the airlines, he relocated both his home and dental office to Putnam, CT, where, under his leadership and vision, Weller Dental Associates, expanded into one of the most recognized, modern and respected dental practices in the area.

A man of many talents and interests, Gary enjoyed flying most of all. A very accomplished and respected pilot, he never encountered a plane he couldn't fly. Whether it be one of his vintage or antique airplanes, an ultra modern Mooney, or a passenger jet, he was equally at home behind the controls. His airline colleagues dubbed him "the flying dentist," others referred to him as a "pilot's pilot," as well as a teacher and a mentor. His passing leaves a large tear in the fabric of that close knit community.

Gary loved to travel. He and Sharon had many adventures by air to so many wonderful places along with very dear friends. He also owned a BMW motorcycle and would ride frequently with his dearest friend, Bill. The two would take week-long trips over thousands of miles to many interesting places.

An accomplished woodworker, craftsman and journeyman electrician, he possessed an uncanny "MacGyver" like talent to fix almost anything and considered it a personal failure to call in a professional!

He truly was a renaissance man in every sense of the word. He taught himself how to play guitar and enjoyed (in his words) "massacring a song" every now and then and joking with friends and family to "cover their ears" when he picked up his guitar.

A great man with a sharp wit, keen intellect, and a unique sense of humor, Gary made us all laugh. A soft and giving heart, he never said no to a favor or turned away a patient in need. He had the ability to take away pain and make us healthy and whole, and the unwavering ability to make us feel welcomed and special - not just as a healer, but as a son, a husband, a father, a brother and a friend. This is what those that love him can hold on to: his zest for life and his ability to make anyone laugh. Our lives have forever been changed because of him.

Calling hours are planned for Friday, Oct. 30, from 5 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 31, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a memorial service immediately following at the Gilman Funeral Home, 104 Church St., Putnam, CT. A gathering to share memories and stories of Gary will follow at 3:30 for family, friends and close colleagues at The Putnam Elks.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be considered to the Connecticut Foundation for Dental Outreach, 835 West Queen St. Southington, CT 06489. For memorial guestbook, please visit

Paul Cox, a National Transportation Safety Board senior air safety investigator, speaks at the scene of the fatal plane crash near Worcester Regional Airport (KORH).

Incident occurred November 28, 2015 in Plant City, Hillsborough County, Florida

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue was called Saturday to rescue a skydiver dangling 25 to 30 feet off the ground after his parachute became stuck in a tree in Plant City.

The skydiver was not in medical distress but was evaluated for treatment after he was brought down, the agency said. He was not transported to a hospital.

About 12:20 p.m., emergency personnel were called to Jump Florida Skydiving, at 9002 Paul Buchman Highway.

A fire engine with aerial capability was able to reach the man so firefighters could bring him down unharmed, the agency said. 

Firefighters were also able to retrieve the parachute and skydiving equipment from the tree.


Federal Aviation Administration to Propose Safety Fixes for Certain Boeing and Embraer Jets: U.S. agency’s proposal affects Boeing 737, Embraer 170 and 190

The Wall Street Journal
November 28, 2015 6:42 p.m. ET

U.S. aviation regulators on Monday will propose mandatory inspections and, if necessary, replacement of suspect parts on nearly 1,600 jetliners to prevent potentially catastrophic failures.

The pair of proposed Federal Aviation Administration safety directives, related to certain Boeing Co. and Embraer SA jets and slated to be formally published Monday in the Federal Register, are unusual because they are each intended to counter a single defect that can result in such a serious problem.

Most essential systems on commercial jets have backups, so a single-point failure or malfunction can’t cause a crash. In both of the documents, however, the FAA says a single defective component type has the potential to immediately end safe flight. The agency isn’t ordering immediate fixes, however, which means officials have determined the hazards aren’t imminent and don’t require emergency action.

The FAA is moving to require U.S. operators of certain versions of the popular Boeing 737 model to check for possible corrosion of attachments for the horizontal stabilizer, part of the tail section.

According to the agency, because of a manufacturing mistake that left some parts without the necessary protective finish to guard against corrosion, certain bushings can crack. That can result in structural failure and possibly “departure of the horizontal stabilizer from the airplane,” according to the FAA, “which can lead to loss of continued safe flight.”

The proposed directive covers some 1,400 of the 737 models, beginning with the 737-600 version and a number of later variants.

The FAA document indicates the problem was discovered after production of the affected stabilizers and the agency wants airlines to detect and correct possible structural cracks.

A separate proposed mandate, applying to airliners manufactured by Brazil’s Embraer, the world’s third-largest plane maker behind Boeing and Airbus Group SE, covers a total of 197 twin-engine Embraer 170 and 190 regional jet models.

The FAA has determined that certain defective valves, prone to cracking, could “result in dual engine in-flight shutdown” on the affected aircraft. The agency envisions giving U.S. carriers three months to comply with some of the mandates.

Both manufacturers raised the safety issues previously in separate safety bulletins. Last year Brazilian air-safety regulators mandated some of the fixes, but didn’t include certain 170 models in their order.

Pending public comment, the FAA now wants to make all of the previous voluntary fixes mandatory for U.S. operators while expanding beyond Brazil’s directive.

Foreign airlines and regulators typically follow the FAA’s lead.

The agency’s proposals don’t mention any accidents or incidents stemming from the manufacturing defects.

Original article can be found here:

Burt Rutan’s new SkiGull flies for first time: Test pilot Glenn Smith reported great handling qualities • Coeur d'Alene Airport (KCOE), Kootenai County, Idaho

HAYDEN — During his pre-first-flight briefing Monday, Burt Rutan said the most fun one can have at an airport is to watch the first flight of a totally new airplane design.

According to that definition, a couple dozen people had their best day at Coeur d’Alene Airport (KCOE) watching Rutan’s amphibious SkiGull successfully take to the air.

In immediate attendance at the briefing were Rutan and his wife, Tonya, SkiGull systems engineer/builder and communications chief (CAPCOM) Brent Regan, SkiGull engineer/builder Dale Martin of Lewiston, SkiGull engineer/builder Joa Harrison, Certified Flight Instructor/FAA Designated Examiner and author Mike Kincaid of Mountain Lakes Seaplanes, test pilot Glenn Smith, Aerocet CEO Tom Hamilton of Priest River and KCOE Airport Manager Greg Delavan.

With snow in the forecast Monday evening and with high-speed taxi tests completed on Sunday, Rutan chose to go with the first flight of his 47th unique manned aircraft design flown by Smith. As with his previous designs, Rutan prepared a flight test regimen intended to answer questions about handling, three-axis stability, high airspeed and low airspeed numbers, plus its behavior when the ski landing gear and the single center flap are cycled up and down, each alone and both together. Specific stall testing was purposely left for a subsequent flight test.

The complete flight test card designed by Rutan did not include any maneuvers that would put Smith in any needless danger. All tests were conducted at an altitude and within a glide-capable, engine-out cone above the approach end (west end) of Runway 6 at KCOE. Rutan’s plan was to let Smith get comfortable with SkiGull and, after the required tests, to just have some fun with her.

During the test flight, Kincaid flew his Super Cub on floats with Rutan in the back seat as Chase Plane One and Hamilton flew his Cessna 182 with CAPCOM Regan, recording engineer Harrison and videographer Scott B of Antenna Films in Agoura, Calif., as Chase Plane Two.

Land taxi testing a couple weeks previous had destroyed several of the main landing gear ski’s plastic wheels. While the nylon-sleeved bearings were intact, the plastic wheels had overheated and melted from the compression pulsing of the weight of the aircraft. These had been replaced with aluminum wheels with ball bearings for Sunday’s final high-speed taxi tests. After the successful taxi tests, I drove Rutan and Regan behind Smith as he taxied SkiGull when Rutan remarked how well everything had gone.

Immediately, Regan said, “Don’t say that, it’ll jinx it.”

Sure enough only 200 yards from Rutan’s hangar, smoke appeared from the only remaining plastic wheel, the tail wheel. After alerting Smith by radio to stop, Regan jumped out with a fire extinguisher but the smoke had already dissipated. SkiGull was pushed the rest of the way to the hangar with Regan carrying the tail on his shoulder.

Rummaging through Rutan’s collection of wheels, Regan chose an aluminum ball-bearing wheel that was a little too wide and a little too large in diameter. He immediately headed for home and by 8 p.m. had texted Rutan that he had machined the aluminum to the proper width and the hard rubber outer tire to the correct diameter. Monday morning Regan installed the new tail wheel before the pre-first-flight briefing.

With everyone in his or her assigned places, Smith started SkiGull’s Rotax 912iS engine and immediately began to taxi. SkiGull has no brakes except for a maple center keel that brakes against the hard ground surface when the ski gear is fully retracted.

With both chase planes trailing, SkiGull applied power and was almost immediately airborne; its glider-like wings jumped at the chance to fly. Smith kept the climb gradual with the skis extended as he felt SkiGull’s controls and monitored the Rotax engine’s performance. Finally he made a left turn to the north while Chase Plane One and Chase Plane Two took off and loosely formed up.

SkiGull was in the air for a total of 1.8 hours as Smith worked his way through the test card, then it was time for Chase Plane Two to get in close for video and photographs.

The first flight tests proved SkiGull to be dynamically, positively stable in each axis. When the skis were cycled down and up and the center flap on the back of the wing was cycled down and up, SkiGull’s attitude (nose up or nose down) changed very little when each of these was cycled independently. The combination of both being lowered and/or raised together canceled any changes in attitude.

Because of its thin, laminar-flow wing, Rutan was not surprised by SkiGull’s lack of pre-stall buffeting. Most aircraft signal an impending wing stall with some buffeting. SkiGull will need some changes to give its pilot that early-warning of an impending stall but Rutan has at least a half-dozen ways to accomplish that and none of them are that difficult.

As Smith brought SkiGull in for its first landing, he kept the wings level and gently touched the skis on Runway 6. Then first the left wing dipped, then the right wing. A snap was heard and then a scraping sound as SkiGull listed to the right.

Smith kept everything under control and taxied off Runway 6 at Intersection G, only a couple hundred yards from its initial touchdown spot.

The right ski had partially delaminated in the same place where it first delaminated in late June just prior the EAA’s AirVenture in Oshkosh where Rutan had intended to present SkiGull to the world. After viewing photographs and video, Rutan ventured that the left wing had stalled as the weight was settling on the gear, which dropped the left wing and with that the left ski built up a degree of asymmetrical spring strength. That in turn pushed up the left wing and simultaneously dropped the right wing, which proved too much for the repaired right ski as sudden loads were placed on it.

Rutan plans to build new, stronger skis using an autoclave (pressure) process, which will greatly increase the ski’s integrity. He also plans to add two more wheels to each ski, centered between the current wheels to prevent any surface abrasion when the ski bends under a load.

Hamilton, who has pioneered many aircraft himself (Stoddard-Hamilton’s Glasair and Quest’s Kodiak), called the flight test of SkiGull eminently successful. Rutan shared his enthusiasm as SkiGull’s crew and friends gathered in Rutan’s hangar for the informal debriefing and celebratory toasts.

Over the winter Rutan will address the wing-stall buffeting, the new landing gear skis, plus repositioning the pitot tube (airspeed indicator sensor) from the front fuselage to somewhere on the wing.

He also has plans to address the nose-low water taxi tendencies.

Rutan pledged to keep working on SkiGull to achieve his intended goal to make it the first seaplane capable of landing and taking off in ocean swells and to be able to beach through ocean surf.

Nobody said it would be easy and Rutan himself said, “If 50 percent of people don’t think it’s impossible, it’s not research — it’s just development.”

LightWing 912s, 25-3370: Fatal accident occurred November 29, 2015 in Woodstock near Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Ross Millard died in a light aircraft crash at Woodstock near Townsville on Sunday, November 29, 2015.

A Townsville pilot killed in a light plane crash at Woodstock yesterday was a larrikin who “lived and breathed” flying, according to friends.

Ross Millard, 64, died when his LightWing 912s aircraft crashed after take-off at Ace Aviation’s private airfield at 6.40am.

Mr. Millard, Recreational Aviation Australia’s North Queensland board member, had been flying for more than 45 years.

He had cheated death once previously, surviving a crash in the Northern Territory in 1974 in which two people died after a skydiving plane suffered “major engine power loss”.

Devastated friends yesterday remembered Mr Millard as someone who dedicated his life to improving aviation safety standards.

“He is a very experienced man and had flown all types of aircraft for many years so this a catastrophic loss,” fellow Woodstock pilot Ray Horn.

“He had done a lot of unpaid work through the ultralight fraternity because he was that passionate about flying.

“If I needed an inspection on my plane, he would be the man I go to because he took safety very seriously.

“There was every chance he was flying a plane he had been doing inspections on and I understand it was about ready for a test flight.”

Mr. Millard was a contract aircraft maintainer and aviation consultant across the North and was a member of Ingham Aero Club.

He had previously worked as an aircraft engineer for Air Whitsunday Seaplanes and TransAir in California, as well as a technician for the Royal Australian Air Force.

North Queensland Aviation Services owner Mary Brown said Mr Millard was known as “little buddy” around Ingham and was an upbeat, outgoing man.

“He was very pro-active at promoting in aviation in this region,” she said.

“Ross always strived for the highest standard of aircraft maintenance and always promoted good, safe aviation.

“He was very well known, an absolute unique character and a bit of a larrikin and it’s so tragic we’ve lost him, but he died doing what he loved.”

Woodstock’s Donnington Airpark owner Ray Smith said the crash was a terrible loss for the ultralight industry.

“I had known Ross for several years and always found him to be a good sort of fellow to know

and I have never heard anyone say a bad word against him,” Mr Smith said.

“We had nothing in the way of wind here so flying conditions would have been perfect.”

Mr. Millard was involved in the investigation of two planes that crashed near Woodstock in February, killing pilots Errol Young and Robin Friend.

“We all accept normal risks when we fly,” Mr Millard said at the time.

An investigation into the crash has begun and a report will be prepared for the coroner and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.


Ross Millard (r)
Aviation investigators will examine whether a light aircraft suffered mechanical failure during takeoff before it crashed at Woodstock, ­killing a Townsville pilot.

Experienced pilot Ross Millard was the sole occupant  of  an Australian-built 4-stroke light sport aircraft that crashed just after leaving the runway at Ace Aviation’s private airfield about 6.40 am yesterday. He died at the scene when it’s believed the plane burst into flames on impact.

The airfield was ­expected to remain closed and under police guard last night to allow investigators to sift through the wreckage today.

Townsville Forensic Crash Unit officer-in-charge Sergeant Robert Nalder said a number of people were distraught after seeing the crash.

Sgt Nalder said witnesses saw the plane takeoff and gain altitude shortly before crashing at the airfield. “It is a very close-knit community, so they are all distraught about what happened.”

Sgt Nalder was unable to confirm if Mr Millard was undertaking a test or joy flight at the time of the crash. “We will be assisted by Recreational Aviation Australia and I also believe the ATSB (Australian Transport Safety Bureau) will also overview the investigation,” he said.

“They’ll investigate the site and examine the aircraft itself to try and piece together what was has occurred.

“It will take a considerable amount of time to complete the investigation and the report (for the coroner).” Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said Recreational Aviation Australia officials would likely travel from outside Townsville, as its believed Mr ­Millard was the sole North Queensland-based inves­tigator.

“It will be some days ­before we have some ideas as to what happened,” he said.

“We know it had just taken off and something went wrong but nothing ­beyond that. “It’s obviously terrible when this sort of thing happens.

“They (RAA) will give a report to us in due course, which we will review to see if there are safety lessons to learn from this tragedy.”

Mr Millard is the third pilot to die in a recreational plane crash in North Queensland this year. In ­February, Errol Young and Robin Friend were killed when their planes crashed into each other about 7km south of Donnington Airpark at Woodstock.

Releasing the findings of its initial investigation into the fatal crash, RAA found the two aircraft collided in midair but the reason has still not been determined.

RAA found no evidence of mechanical failure.

A 64-year-old man was killed when his ultralight aircraft crashed while taking off from an air strip south of Townsville in north Queensland this morning.

The accident happened at Woodstock, about 40 kilometres south-west of Townsville, just before 7:00am.

Peter Gibson from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority said the pilot was trying to turn the aircraft around to land when it crashed and burst into flames.

"The aircraft was just taking off, it's had some difficulties and tried to turn back to the airstrip and hasn't made it," he said.

"It crashed into a wooded area quite close to the airstrip at Woodstock."

He said the pilot was the only person on board.

The airstrip is owned by Ace Aviation.

Light aircraft community 'distraught'

Sergeant Robert Nalder from the Townsville police forensic crash unit said the local aviation community was taking it hard.

"Obviously, as you can understand it's a very close-knit community, the light aircraft (community)," he said.

"They're all quite distraught over what's happened here today, so we've given them a little bit of time to compose themselves."

Mr Gibson said police are still at the scene and investigators will travel to the airfield to examine the wreckage and pinpoint the cause of the accident.

"The aircraft, being an ultralight, is registered with Recreational Aviation Australia," Mr Gibson said.

"They'll be conducting an investigation, providing a report to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

"We'll be reviewing that report and obviously trying to learn any safety lessons we can, so we can avoid these kinds of tragedies in the future."

InselAir McDonnel Douglas MD-82: Incident occurred November 28, 2015 at Curacao Airport

WILLEMSTAD – Saturday morning, November 28, lightning struck one of the bridges at Curacao Airport to which one of InselAir’s aircraft (MD) was connected and caused severe damage to the body of the aircraft. 

At the time of the event no passengers and no crew were on board. 

The aircraft has been taken to the hangar and engineering and maintenance teams of InselAir are inspecting the aircraft.

The Miami-bound passengers that were waiting in the departure hall to board the aircraft have been informed about the incident and InselAir is currently looking into arranging another aircraft to take the passengers to Miami as soon as possible.

This unfortunate event has not caused any other changes to today’s flight schedule. 

As soon as the aircraft has completed the inspection and reparation it will return into operations.

Original article can be found here:

Bernard Hickey: Longer runway not plane sailing

As a Wellingtonian, I would love a runway that permits direct flights to Asia and the US.

It would save me schlepping up to Auckland and walking the gauntlet through the carparks to the international terminal.

It could encourage more direct international tourism and boost demand for foreign education.

And what I'd love more than a fancier airport is the sort of house price inflation that Auckland gets from all those tourists, students and foreign buyers of houses.

I'm frustrated at living in a "dying city" - as the PM famously called it - where house prices have risen 3 per cent in six years while Auckland's rose 83 per cent.

Even John Key acknowledged in August others would like to see Auckland-style foreign visitor and investor joy in their cities. So it's no wonder Wellingtonians would like to juice up economic growth with Government help.

This week, Wellington Airport detailed its case for a 354m runway extension. It would cost around $300 million and generate about $2 billion net benefits. In theory, it would allow long-haul 787 and A350 planes to fly direct from Asia and North America, although there is vagueness about whether planes could fly to Vancouver, San Francisco, Beijing or Tokyo. Pilots also have doubts whether these fully laden planes can safely fly in and out of Wellington.

But the catch is that the airport - 34 per cent owned by Wellington Council and 66 per cent per cent owned by listed infrastructure investor Infratil - would like the Wellington region's councils to put up $150m. The rest would be paid for by the airport and the Government, which means taxpayers.

The airport's logic seems compelling. If an extra dollar is spent and it returns $7 to the nation then taxpayers and Government benefit.

But it depends on whether the flights would come. Wellington may be New Zealand's most popular destination for local tourists, but foreigners tend to ignore it.

Without a Lord of the Rings museum, snow-capped mountains or a fancy casino, Wellington seems a bit off the beaten track. There is a hefty batch of chickens and eggs in this debate, but the lack of entertainment for foreigners can't be ignored.

Wellington's ratepayers should chat to politicians in Invercargill, Rotorua, Hamilton and Canberra, who spent millions on the promise of direct international flights, to see them dry up and go away or never arrive. The fallout if the airlines don't come would be significant.

The airport would have to increase landing charges for domestic travelers. Prices could increase by $10 a ticket to pay for the airport's share of the $300m investment. Ratepayers and taxpayers would be out of pocket.

The Government was skeptical, arguing if the business case was so strong, Infratil and the council should stump up all the money.

The extension is a risk and it may be a risk worth taking. But it's a risk informed shareholders should take, rather than ratepayers and taxpayers.

- Source:

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (KSEA) installing high-tech system to detect runway debris, scare birds away

SEATAC, Wash. — Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is installing a runway debris detection system.

Officials at the Port of Seattle say Sea-Tac will be only the second airport in the country to have a foreign object debris detection system.

The system is designed to avoid aircraft damage that is estimated to cost the industry more than $4 billion a year.

The system will detect items as small as a metal bolt and will look for wildlife as well. They system uses both image and radar detection.

It will be able to alert airport staff in real time if there are birds in the vicinity so they can turn on a sound system designed to scare birds away.

The detection system is being installed as part of the reconstruction of Sea-Tac’s center runway.


Successful first run for new Rolls-Royce engine developed in Derby

ROLLS-ROYCE is celebrating the successful first running of a new aero engine that is being developed in Derby.

A Trent 7000 demonstrator engine recently completed its first run on a test bed at the firm's civil aerospace division at Sinfin.

The engine, which will eventually be the exclusive power plant for the Airbus A330neo, is scheduled to enter service in 2017.

It will be the seventh member of the Trent family of engines.

It will bring together some of the best technology developed for other engines in the Trent family that have been designed and developed in Derby – including the Trent 700, the Trent 1000 TEN and Trent XWB.

Chris Davie, Rolls-Royce's Trent 7000 program director, said: "This is a great moment for everyone at Rolls-Royce.

"We have achieved an important program milestone on the journey to deliver our latest Trent engine.

"We are working closely with Airbus to ensure the Trent 7000 brings a step change in performance and economics."

The Trent 7000 was selected by Airbus for its A330neo aircraft at last year's Farnborough International Air Show.

The A330neo is effectively an upgraded version of the A330, to which Rolls-Royce already supplies Trent 700 engines.

Capable of delivering between 68,000 and 72,000lbs of thrust, Rolls-Royce believes the new engine will deliver "significant" performance benefits compared to the current version of the Trent 700.

Rolls-Royce and Airbus have both said that the Trent 7000 will be able to deliver more thrust, use 10% less fuel and be half as noisy.

When it announced its engine choice at Farnborough, Airbus said that it aimed to sell 1,000 of the aircraft, which will look to rival Boeing's 787 Dreamliner in the mid-haul aircraft market.

If it does so, Rolls-Royce can expect orders worth tens of billions of pounds for the Trent 7000 as the firm is the exclusive engine supplier.


Santa makes grand airport entrance • Portage Municipal (C47), Columbia County, Wisconsin

Who’s that coming out of a Cessna 172N plane Friday at the Portage Municipal Airport? Why, it’s exactly who is expected by a throng of waiting adults and children — Santa Claus.

Santa who?

To watch and hear some youngsters Friday morning at the Portage Municipal Airport, you’d think that Portage’s public safety workers were the ones they’d come to see — not the jolly old red-clad, white-bearded man who emerged from a small private plane with a cry of “Ho-ho-ho!”

And, for some kids, the most enticing place to sit wasn’t on a bench beside Santa, but in the cab of a Portage fire engine.

Portage’s firefighters, police officers and police department volunteers are traditionally a ubiquitous presence at the annual Friday-after-Thanksgiving Santa Fly-In at the airport.

In the chilly, breezy moments before Santa’s plane could be seen in the southern sky, a cry frequently went up in a child’s voice: “Look! There’s a firefighter!”

Fern Westcott was only too happy to accord celebrity status to Portage Police Officer Jason Stenberg.

“Do you want to have your picture taken with the police officer?” she said to her grandchildren, 3-year-old Zoii Lappen and almost-5-year-old Chase Lappen.

They did — right beside Stenberg’s squad car.

“You know what?” Westcott said. “This is a nice time to reflect on what these guys do to help us.”

Westcott said she’s a great believer in teaching children, at a young age, that the police officer is their friend who’s there to help them, not a mean enforcer who’ll put children in jail if they’re naughty.

But Chase couldn’t help but notice the cage separating the squad car’s back seat from the front seat.

“The bad guys sit in the back,” he said solemnly.

With her Santa hat on and her eyes to the sky, 4-year-old Kinsley Benesh of Las Vegas watches the arrival of Santa Claus at the Portage Municipal Airport Friday, in the arms of her dad, Jim Benesh.

Portage Fire Chief Clayton Simonson stayed close to the fire engine that was parked at the airport, but he wasn’t on duty — not on firefighting duty, anyway. He was there, he said, in his capacity as grandfather, taking his grandkids to see Santa.

Still, he couldn’t help but notice how many youngsters waited for a turn to sit in the fire engine, even after Santa had arrived.

“Usually,” he said, “there’s only a couple kids who want to do that.”

It’s not that Santa was unpopular. Far from it.

Four-year-old Kinsley Benesh, who’s visiting from Las Vegas, turned her eyes to the sky when the plane was just overhead.

“Look, it’s a bird flying up in the air,” she said to her dad, Jim Benesh.

Then, remembering who was aboard, she said, “Oh, look! Santa! But ‘Santa’ actually starts with an S.”

After the plane landed, Santa emerged from the passenger seat, walked under the wing and opened his arms to the crowd.

“Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas! How is everybody?” he exclaimed.

The line of kids waiting to see Santa extended clear back to the fire engine and the squad car, but it was worth the wait.

When Santa lands at Portage, you see, he hands out full-size candy canes, not little dinky ones.

Friday would be a long day for Santa. A few hours after leaving the airport, he would climb aboard a float for Portage’s annual Holiday Lighted Parade through downtown.

Story and photos: