Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Pilot Since High School, Tyler Belasco Now an Instructor at RSA Flight Training: Morgantown Municipal Airport (KMGW), Monongalia County, West Virginia



Tyler Belasco says the work day looks pretty good from a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. He thought it would.

“I remember someone in high school saying when it comes to picking a career, try to find something you would do for free and you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” said the 2009 BHS graduate. “I always liked flying so I thought I’d give it a shot.”

Belasco works as a flight instructor for RSA Flight Training in Morgantown.

“There are a bunch of things I like about it,” he said. “First of all, I get paid to fly an airplane – and that’s pretty cool. Another thing is I like seeing somebody else enjoy it as much as I do.”

Belasco’s students are of various ages and they have various motives for taking to the skies.

“We have a pretty even mix of those flying for their career and for pleasure,” he said. “Some guys just really like to fly and want to be able to take their families to the beach a lot faster than driving. Some of the younger guys I teach actually want to pursue it as a career. We have some students as young as 15 years old and then there are guys in their 60s.”

Regardless of who his student is, Belasco’s job is the same.

“It’s about keeping them motivated and keeping them comfortable,” he said. “The turbulence and everything can all be unnerving. As long as you stay comfortable, they have no reason to worry.”

To acquire his or her license, a prospective pilot must complete 10 hours of cross-country time, three hours of night flight time and complete a solo flight which consists of a take-off and landing.

“It’s a traffic pattern. You make a big loop around the airport,” he said. “It’s really exciting.”

On a daily basis, Belasco and his students fly to various spots.

“Cross-country is anything longer than 15 nautical miles so for that we typically do Cumberland, Md., Parkersburg or Zanesville, Ohio,” he said. “All of those are really good cross-country flights.”

He flies in either a Cessna 172 or a 182.

“Basically, the difference is the amount of horsepower and the size,” he said. “The 182 is a little bigger and more complex.”

He also flies for pleasure.

“Some of the cooler places I’ve been are to Tulsa, Oklahoma and Indianapolis, Indiana. I’ve also flown to Attenborough, New Jersey just across the river from New York City,” he said. “One thing my dad and me do every year is fly to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to attend the largest air show in the U.S. and second largest in the world.”

It was his dad, Tom, who introduced him to flying and with whom he frequented the skies growing up.

“I was really blessed,” he said. “My dad is a pilot and ever since I was a baby, I can remember riding in an airplane with him.”

So by age 16, he was behind the controls, soaring the skies as an after-school activity.

“It was scary the first couple of times. Some of the maneuvers made me real nervous and I wasn’t sure I could do it,” he said. “My instructor pushed me and forced me to be comfortable with things. I got to the point that it didn’t bother me anymore.”

Belasco got his pilot’s license when he was 18 years old. After graduating from BHS, he went on to attend Fairmont State University and in 2013 graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aviation and administration.

“I spent that summer in Florida getting my flight instructors’ certificate,” he said. “Become a flight instructor is really difficult. The standards are a lot tighter as far as ability to fly. Not only do you have to possess a commercial pilots’ license, but you have to memorize what they call fundamentals.”

Belasco compared those fundamentals to the Praxis tests required by teachers, encompassing theory and skill.
“To teach, you have to know everything about the airplane; what it does and why,” he said. “You have to be able to explain anything on the airplane how it all works – any component of the engine, control surfaces and how all the instrumentation works. You have to be able to explain it all.”

To earn his certificate, Belasco had to pass two written tests, an eight-hour oral examination and a flight portion which took two hours to complete.

“It was all pretty mentally draining,” he said.

Belasco taught flight instruction at Fairmont State before going to RSA.

“It’s been working pretty well for me,” he said. “I’ve been there for about a year and a half – coming up on two years.”

Belasco recently passed his dad in flight hours.

“You log in your hours of flight time,” he said. “Dad has close to 1,000 hours and I’m right at about 1,100 hours right now.”

No matter how much he flies, Belasco will always remember his first solo flight. It was right here in Bridgeport.

“I was very excited,” he said. “It’s really a neat feeling.” 

- Source:    http://www.connect-bridgeport.com

Despite saving lives, air ambulance companies under fire



Earlier this month, a Summit Air Ambulance helicopter raced up Hyalite Canyon south of Bozeman in search of a skier impaled on a tree.

Emergency responders with skis, snowmobiles and four-wheelers also were mustered.

Summit’s twin 560-horsepower Pratt & Whitney turboshaft engines on its Agusta 109E easily pushed the helicopter over the trailhead. The crew was the first to see the skier.

The pilot traced the ski tracks up to the patient. It was too steep, so the crew landed in the parking lot and relayed the location.

“We got basic patient info and started prepping,” said Emily ‘M’ Rex, Summit’s flight nurse.

She helped set the skier on the ground, then loaded him into the red and white Agusta. It then took seven minutes to reach Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital.

Rex said it was a good example of a local rescue, which includes about 30 percent of Summit’s flights. Most flights are transfers from one hospital to another.

Despite their lifesaving capabilities, Summit Air Ambulance and similar companies are under scrutiny. Lawmakers in Helena might regulate air medical services. People taking emergency flights are getting stuck with huge bills. And insurance companies aren’t covering the costs.

Yet air ambulances provide a needed service in rural areas with lots of backcountry, and the cost of flights, pilots, nurses and paramedics is expensive.

“We have to close the gap and educate the public and insurance companies about the real costs of operating these services,” said Ron Walter, Summit’s director of clinical operations.

Sticker Shock

Amy Thomson, 38, was on a fixed-wing air ambulance flight last year. The Butte woman took her 2-month-old daughter Isla Rose to St. James Hospital after her weight gain had slowed. A pediatrician diagnosed respiratory syncytial virus, her heart was swollen, and she needed to get to Seattle Children’s immediately.

There were two air ambulance options available, one from Missoula and another from Seattle. The receiving doctor in Seattle made the choice, not Thomson. The team from Seattle was better equipped and trained so they would come to Butte. The mother was in crisis mode. She can’t remember getting to the airport.

“Being in the hospital with your baby is hard enough, then to be told she has a heart defect and not understanding what is going on while being told you need to be transferred to Seattle Children’s,” Thomson said. “The fear of losing your child changes you.”

The flight was the longest hour of her life. The entire ordeal took three months. Isla Rose had open chest surgery and a tough recovery. She couldn’t even eat. Thomson watched as her baby starved. But things slowly improved. She’s fine now.

The week they got home, Amy and her husband Pat opened a $43,000 bill from Airlift Northwest. The total was $56,000, but their insurance company, PacificSource Health Plans, had already paid $13,000, the cap in the policy.

“I was somewhat in denial thinking our insurance would take care of it,” Thomson said.

She was wrong.

“It was another layer of trauma. You just assume it’s part of your medical coverage,” she said.

She called Airlift Northwest’s billing number and had a meltdown. There was some swearing. “It’s not like we went out and bought a $56,000 car we couldn’t afford,” she said.

She was assigned a critical care case manager. It didn’t help. She filed a complaint with the insurance commissioner’s office. It didn’t help.

And they couldn’t apply for the air ambulance’s hardship assistance until she went through the insurance company’s appeal process. Even then, multiple people advised her against signing anything from Airlift Northwest’s billing department who started to call more often. The hardship application included questions about their income, retirement savings and mortgage. She kept fighting.

She talked to lawmakers and the Patient Advocate Foundation. She maxed out every deadline in the appeal, trying to buy time because for her, the process was time consuming. And in the meantime Amy and Pat bought a $59 membership in a life flight network to prevent another bill if Isla Rose had to go back.

In February 2015, on the same day she was set to retain a private attorney, Amy got a call from PacificSource. They agreed to pay more after the insurance commissioner’s office had said the policy language was too vague and the air ambulance company wrote off the rest.

“There’s definitely an ethical problem with this whole setup,” she said. “Life flight companies are making good profits when people are at their most vulnerable.”

Thomson felt like she’d won a victory.

Enter the Legislature

Stories like Amy’s have sparked a policy discussion in Helena. In April, House Joint Resolution 29 passed the House 71-28 and the Senate 35-14. It created an official legislative study of air ambulances, being conducted by the Economic Affairs Interim Committee. Rep. Ryan Lynch, D-Butte, is the chair.

“The folks that are calling me don’t mind paying their fair share,” Lynch said. “But these exorbitant costs. How does a $69 annual membership erase these $50,000 balance bills?”

The committee is still gathering information and taking testimony from stakeholders. They’re looking at what other states have done and are set to meet Dec. 2.

Lynch said he understands that some, but not all, companies might be charging more and aggressively collecting.

“But it’s like campaign finance laws,” he said. “You might have 99 percent of the candidates doing the right thing but the rules are for everyone.”

It seems like a given that there is going to be some regulation proposed in the 2017 legislative session. The first hurdle for the committee is trying to figure out what it can actually do. Simply capping their rates isn’t possible.

The 1978 Airline Deregulation Act doesn’t allow pricing regulations. So the goal is to get the air ambulances to negotiate lower rates with insurance providers like Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Other states have come up with workarounds, using their authority to regulate insurance and medical practices. In Montana, air ambulances are exempt from the insurance code. If that were to change, lawmakers in Helena could restrict out-of-network air ambulances from balance billing patients with HMO or PPO plans like other states have.

The committee also could require hospitals and search and rescue operations to call preferred ambulances first, in essence forcing air ambulances to negotiate rates with insurance companies. To do so they’d write a preferred and secondary call list like North Dakota created earlier this year. It immediately led to a legal challenge by Valley Med air ambulance of Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Memberships offered

Summit is also sensitive to the balance billing stories. “We do three things to address the balance billing issue,” Walter said.

The first is that they have a “compassionate billing policy” that means they’ll write off bills owed by poor people after a means test. Second, they cap their mileage charges at 200 miles. “This is our way of saying that we’re not like a taxi cab,” Walter said.

The third is memberships, like the one Amy and Pat bought from Airlift Northwest.

Not only has Summit been pitching them to individuals to avoid paying for flights, but it’s trying to get local governments to buy a membership for every resident in their county. They priced a plan for Gallatin County at $300,000.

The Gallatin County Commission politely declined, but Madison County accepted. A few days later, the Montana Association of Counties issued a warning to every county commissioner in the state.

“Montana counties are strongly urged not to enter into any direct contracts with subscription service air ambulance providers,” it said.

It offered a few reasons, the most succinct being that there was no guarantee that Summit would be the company to transport their constituents. A recent count showed at least 13 services with licenses in Montana, plus out-of-state companies, like Airlift NorthWest.

Walter suspects the insurance companies are behind the warning. They refuse to negotiate a reasonable compensation, he said, which is why “community-based services” like Summit sell the memberships.

Memberships offsets the overhead costs and the losses they take from their compassionate billing and other community service flights, such as helping search and rescue efforts, which don’t make money.

Decades ago, air ambulances were hospital-based services like Billings Clinic’s MedFlight. The services were in-network providers with negotiated prices that didn’t balance bill patients.

But now hospitals would rather outsource air ambulance service.

“Bozeman Deaconess asked (Summit) to look at coming here and we did,” Walter said.

Growing industry

Summit’s base in Belgrade averages a call per day.

During a test flight to the Ross Pass trail on top of the Bridger Mountains, it took eight minutes to roll the aircraft out of the hanger, load crew, fire the engines, clear the tower and take off. Reaching the peak was another four minutes.

A crew of nurses and paramedics, who work two 24-hour shifts per week, is always at the base. There’s the rotation of pilots, on their federally regulated schedule, and an on-call, 24/7 aircraft mechanic. Summit also staffs a fixed-wing crew in Helena. The small jet can reach Bozeman in less than 30 minutes.

Each morning they go through a routine, inspecting the aircraft, their gear and refresher training in both basic and advanced care.

These professionals require salaries and technical training to keep certifications current. Their advanced care medical equipment, all portable and certified for flight, plus safety equipment like cutting-edge night vision, are expensive.

The helicopter itself costs over $6 million. A single rotor bolt costs $15,000. A rotor control arm, which requires frequent replacement, costs $3,000. As the mechanic notes, maintenance isn’t something you can cut corners on. Then there’s the medical upgrades. The simple metal brackets that hold up monitors in the patient area cost $30,000.

Walter said Summit loses money on Medicaid and sometimes breaks even on Medicare patients whose reimbursements are capped by Congress.

On that front, the industry is asking Congress to increase Medicare reimbursements and has a bill, H.R. 822, by Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican. The bill would increase Medicare reimbursements by 20 percent in 2016 and another 5 percent by 2019.

Ten years ago there were 753 helicopters providing air medical services inside the U.S. There are 1,045 in 2015, 10 more than in 2014, according to the Association of Air Medical Services’ Atlas and Database.

That means millions of Americans, particularly in rural areas, are getting access to critical care at a time when the number of emergency rooms is shrinking.

Some places like Butte became served by multiple companies. Summit’s parent company, Reach, recently shuttered its Butte base. But it doesn’t translate into competitive pricing.

“As more providers come into the market, the pie must be shared,” Walter said. “And there’s high overhead so it’s actually raised costs.”

Story,  comments and photo gallery: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com

Airport’s return to 24/7 ops contingent on tests

The Commonwealth Ports Authority may cancel the Notice to Airmen or NOTAM that suspended nighttime operations today, Wednesday, depending on tests conducted at the airport.

The three assisting Guam International Airport Authority electricians led by Richard Cabrera will continue working at the airfield until Wednesday noon.

Cabrera met with airport users on Tuesday in the CPA conference room at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

According to CPA airport manager Ed Mendiola, the NOTAM was to remain in effect until Dec. 7; however, if they can resolve the issues before that date, the airport will resume 24/7 operations and the NOTAM will be cancelled.

NOTAM alerts pilots to hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the safety of the flight.

The NOTAM reads: “AD AP CLSD EXC DAY OPERATIONS ONLY.”

Cabrera said they will conduct tests at the airfield from Tuesday night through Wednesday.

“It makes no sense for me to give you an update because the NOTAM will continue until I have more time to do repairs,” he said.

Part of the tests, he said, is keeping the power on so they can determine whether or not a transformer is about to give out.

“If everything’s good, we may cancel the NOTAM tomorrow,” said Mendiola.

As of 11 a.m. on Tuesday, all cables had been pulled —approximately 6,000 linear feet in total — and once energized, they were to be tested one section at a time.

Cabrera said they inspected all four handholes at the airfield.

They are hoping to find the problem before the weekend, he added.

“The priority is to get the runway lights back on,” said Mendiola.

As of Tuesday, three GIAA electricians were working at the airfield.

Mendiola told airline users, “We ask for your understanding and patience as we try to resolve this.”

Source:  http://www.mvariety.com


COMMONWEALTH PORTS AUTHORITY AIRPORT MANAGER ED MENDIOLA AND GUAM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY ELECTRICIAN LEADER RICHARD CABRERA MEET WITH AIRPORT USERS AND AIRLINE REPRESENTATIVES DURING A PRESS CONFERENCE. 


Nighttime flight operations remain suspended as of Monday at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

At a 4:30 p.m. press conference with airline representatives and other airport users, and presided over by Commonwealth Ports Authority airport manager Ed Mendiola, it was announced that the airport will be open for daytime operations only following a fire in a handhole on Saturday night.

“We’re still on the same schedule — no lights have been turned on,” said Guam International Airport Authority electrician leader Richard Cabrera who flew to Saipan Sunday morning along with electrician II Peter Sablan.

Cabrera told Variety that they worked on the burned handhole and were “working toward the vault.”

He said they will continue the troubleshooting until Dec. 2.

He told the airline representatives and other airport users that they were working on the final hand hole.

“Once we are done with that [on Dec.1], we will start splicing the wires and connect them one by one and start energizing the runway lights.”

He said what is causing difficulty is the areas in the airfield that need to operate 24/7 but are not controlled by a Constant Current Regulator which regulates power going out to the airfield.

He said they told the Federal Aviation Administration that they cannot turn on their equipment because they may get electrocuted while out in the airfield.

“We all have to work together to make sure we get this safely taken care of,” added Cabrera.

Airport manager Ed Mendiola said they may provide another update today, Tuesday.

Cabrera said they will know “if we are ready to energize certain areas and if everything is stable.”

CPA and Cabrera were asked about the Notice to Airmen, or NOTAM which alerts pilots to hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the safety of the flight.

On Monday, the NOTAM read: “AD AP CLSD EXC DAY OPERATIONS ONLY.”

A Cape Air representative asked whether they would need to cancel flights.

Cabrera said as long as the NOTAM remains in effect, flights will only be allowed during the day.

There was confusion related to the notice issued to pilots, but Mendiola said they consulted with the tower in coming up with the language for the NOTAM.

He said the NOTAM used the term “day” instead of “daylight.”   It means that if there is daylight, then an aircraft can come in and land.

“They don’t have to spend time flying around,” he said which was what Asiana Airlines did on Monday morning.

Variety learned that an Asiana aircraft arrived earlier than the published sunrise time and was told by the tower to wait.

But the NOTAM, which will remain in effect until Dec. 7, has been clarified with the tower, Mendiola said.

Asiana Airlines general manager Park Sung-nam said their aircraft had to stay airborne for about 40 minutes before they were given permission to land on Saipan.

He said they are concerned about additional costs in the wake of the airport’s condition.

“All [Asiana] flights coming to Saipan are at night. We don’t have daytime flights. So all nighttime flights are impacted.”

He said their flights have to be delayed.

They also had to make other accommodations for their passengers, and transferred those who would be affected by the delayed flights to another airline.

“It costs us a lot,” he said.

Source:  http://www.mvariety.com

Guam International Airport Authority electrician leader Richard Cabrera and electrician II Peter Sablan work on the fire-damaged hand hole at the Saipan airport on Sunday.



A fire in a “hand hole” caused a blackout at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport on Saturday night and led to the suspension of evening operations.

Commonwealth Ports Authority Executive Director Maryann Q. Lizama said carriers were immediately notified that no planes could land at night.

At a press conference on Sunday, she said, “Right now, it is sunrise to sundown flight operations only. We’re not closed. We just cannot fly at night. No lights, no takeoffs no landings.”

Lizama said they may be able to resolve the issue of the runway lights in less than three days. “We have an estimate of no more than three days for full recovery. It may be sooner than that.”

As of Sunday morning, CPA’s Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting or ARFF unit was “still watering down the lines — heat was still emanating from it,” said Lizama.

She said a fire at the electrical hand hole caused a blackout that affected the runway and taxiway lights.

It was at about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday when she received a phone call regarding the incident, she added.

ARFF, she said, immediately responded. “Our firefighters were able to suppress the fire. We don’t know the cause of fire yet.”

The hand hole is located near the gates where Asiana Airlines and Delta Air Lines load and unload passengers.

Following a meeting with the airlines on Sunday, it was determined that owing to the early notice from CPA, there were neither cancelled nor diverted flights.

“They rescheduled to daytime operations,” said Lizama, referring to the airlines.

CPA was able to issue the notice to airlines at around 7 p.m. Saturday.

“We are expeditiously working to get us back to 24-hour operations again,” Lizama said.

As of Sunday night, there were eight electrical lines that needed to be replaced.

Lizama said it will take two days at most to have the work done.

Two electricians from the Guam International Airport Authority are assisting the CPA to get the lights back on at the runway, she added.

Lizama said after she notified acting Gov. Ralph DLG Torres about the situation at the airport, he reached out to GIAA for assistance.

When asked if the fire could be attributed to Soudelor, as there was a fire at the hole after the typhoon hit the island on Aug. 2, she said, “I cannot say until Team Guam has made that determination. Once they give us the assessment and identify the cause of the fire, then we will be able to give a firm statement as to what the cause was.”

Guam International Airport Authority electrician leader Richard Cabrera and electrician II Peter Sablan work on the fire-damaged hand hole at the Saipan airport on Sunday.  Photo by Alexie Villegas Zotomayor

Two GIAA electricians arrived Sunday morning and another is arriving today, Monday.

GIAA electrician leader Richard Cabrera and GIAA electrician II Peter Sablan immediately buckled down to work to isolate the problem at the hand hole.

Cabrera said this was the second time that they had responded to a completely burned-out hand hole.

They are looking at 12 pairs of electrical wires at the hand hole, he added.

He was optimistic that they could restore at least 80 percent of the lights on Sunday night.

He said they suspect there was a problem on the west side and they needed to do more tests there.

“Taxiway lights will have the east side of the runway operational while the west side will be offline until further notice,” said Cabrera.

It wasn’t long ago when Cabrera’s team flew to Saipan to respond to a similar fire incident.

He said this occurred after Typhoon Soudelor — a hand hole was severely damaged and wires were exposed.

However, he could not say whether there was a connection between the first and this latest incident.

Also on Sunday, CPA met with the airlines to update them about the progress of the work at the hand hole.

Source:   http://www.mvariety.com

Volunteers’ meeting for aviation expo announced



SEBRING — Preparations for the 12th annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, to be held Jan. 20-23, are in full swing, with a “call to volunteers” meeting scheduled for Thursday at the Sebring Civic Center.

More than 120 exhibitors from around the U.S. and Europe will be displaying their aircraft and other aviation equipment at the Sebring Regional Airport during the event.

Non-current pilots can update their knowledge at free “Rusty Pilots” seminars presented by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, officials said. Demo flights will be available daily for interested aircraft buyers, and aircraft owners can display their aircraft for sale in an Aircraft Sales Lot. New this year, all youth under 18 will be admitted free on Jan. 23, when accompanied by an adult.

Expo Director Jana Filip said: “We’re delighted to welcome young people to the airport on Saturday to introduce them to the fun and opportunities of aviation.”

The annual expo volunteer registration meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Sebring Civic Center, 55 W. Center Avenue.

“We will get reacquainted, update volunteers on expo happenings since we were last together, introduce the volunteer team leaders, review the sign-up procedures to volunteer at expo 2016, and enjoy light snacks,” Filip said.

Filip noted that volunteer registration is now automated and can be accessed online at www.sportaviationexpo.com/volunteer.

“On behalf of the Sebring Airport Authority and the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, we genuinely appreciate the efforts of all our volunteers over the years,” Filip said. “By volunteering for the expo, you are helping to stimulate our local economy, boost tourist development, and showcase Highlands County. And you can see the latest and greatest in the world of sport aviation first-hand, meet new friends from all over the globe, and soak up the Florida sunshine.”

- Source: http://www.highlandstoday.com

Mitsubishi's regional jet sets sights on US skies



TOKYO -- With the Mitsubishi Regional Jet's maiden trial flight completed, the groundwork is being laid to make a push in the crucial U.S. market.

Mitsubishi Aircraft is preparing five test planes, seeking to gain clearance for commercial operation by the spring of 2017. 

Four of these planes will be taken to the U.S. next summer. 

The country's wide expanses and the availability of long runways allow for more test flights in a day than in Japan.

The test planes are expected to log 2,500 hours in the air. 

The U.S. is also home to many engineers equipped to analyze flight data. 

The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries unit has established a test center in Seattle, the core manufacturing hub for Boeing, with an eye toward hiring 100 local engineers. Another 50 will be sent from Japan.

"We will intensively analyze the data related to the control systems and engine, helping to polish the final product," says Senior Executive Vice President Nobuo Kishi.

Demand for regional jets is projected to exceed 5,000 over the next 20 years, with the U.S. accounting for 35% of the market. 

The head of Mitsubishi Aircraft's U.S. unit hails from Mitsui & Co. and served as president of an aircraft leasing company there.

The ability to lease the MRJ would provide access to financially weaker carriers, leading to more orders.

The first test flight on Nov. 11 has been followed by two more without problems. But with the first delivery scheduled for the April-June quarter of 2017, Mitsubishi Aircraft President Hiromichi Morimoto acknowledges that time is tight.

Source:  http://asia.nikkei.com

Dassault Aircraft Services delivers medevac jet to China: New Castle Airport (KILG) Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware



Falcon JetEarlier this month, Dassault Aircraft Services delivered a fully outfitted Falcon 2000LX Medevac aircraft to the Beijing Red Cross Emergency Medical Center (999).

The  jet is the first fixed wing aircraft in China fully equipped to perform air medevac services. The conversion was performed by Dassault Aircraft Services at New Castle Airport in Delaware.

The Falcon 2000LX Medevac aircraft is equipped with an electrical patient loading system and a full medical suite, along with an electrical power supply sized for medical module.

The module includes a stretcher with dedicated lighting, a three-bottle oxygen supply, and monitoring and analysis equipment. It also can accommodate special devices. (Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).

Beijing Red Cross Emergency Medical Center, commonly known as 999, is an International Red Cross Association dedicated to providing critical pre-hospital medical services and has been among the pioneers in the Chinese air ambulance field.

The organization has a full digital command center, and staffed by more than 100 medical professionals. It was the first air medevac provider in China to launch a three-dimensional rescue package combining ambulances, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft. In the decade it has been in operation, it has provided pre-hospital rescue and medical treatment service for more than  3 million patients.

The LX and its short field sister aircraft, the Falcon LXS and S, are the latest of seven different Falcon 2000 models that have come off the assembly line since the big twin was introduced two decades ago.

The 2000 remains the most popular business jet in its segment, with more than 550 aircraft currently in service around the world.

The New Castle facility offers a full range of refitting and maintenance services for corporate jets and related aircraft. The international aerospace company, headquartered in France,  assembles corporate jets at its site in Little Rock, AK. Its stable of products includes the Mirage fighter jet.

Source:  http://delawarebusinessdaily.com

Finally under control? New Vance Air Force Base tower is a long time coming

Rome, as everyone knows, wasn’t built in a day.

It took approximately 20 years to construct the Great Wall of China and 10 years to build the Panama Canal.

In comparison, constructing the new control tower at Vance Air Force Base has not taken any time at all, though it doesn’t seem that way to those involved.

“It has taken longer to build the tower than it did to originally build Vance,” said Mike Cooper, city of Enid military liaison.

The $10.7 million appropriation for the Vance tower project was inserted by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., into the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act passed by Congress in 2009. The tower was originally scheduled to be completed in May of 2012, but ground wasn’t even broken on the project until later that summer. Then the completion date was pushed back to early 2013, then to July of that same year. Then the projected opening was delayed to February 2014, then to July. In fact, in late 2013, then-wing commander Col. Darren James guaranteed that the new tower would open in 2014.

“I can tell you that, yes, in 2014, it will be open,” James said at the time.

It wasn’t of course, and the new projected opening was bumped to the spring of this year. Today the new tower looms 32 feet over the old one in the sky adjacent to the Vance flightline, but still has yet to open. It is hoped operations will begin in the new tower before 2015 ends, but guarantees are no longer being made. According to the latest military construction report issued by the office of the deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, the completion date is listed as Jan. 25.

The project’s lead contractor, California-based Gilbane Federal, finished its work and turned the tower over to the Air Force in September. Now, the finishing touches are being wrapped up by members of the 85th Engineering Installation Squadron from Keesler AFB, Miss., who are hooking up the equipment that will aid Vance’s mission of training not only future military pilots, but air traffic controllers, as well. Once the new tower becomes operational, Vance personnel will have 60 days to move all equipment and furnishings out of the old tower before it is demolished.

Charlie Thurman, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resident engineer, who has been involved with the project since the beginning, said he heaved a “big sigh of relief when we actually turned the tower over to the Air Force. That was a big day and a long time coming.”

Reasons for the delay are many and varied, said Cooper.

“Anything that could go wrong did go wrong,” he said.

The initial design for the tower had to be redone because it was discovered the elevator and stairwell would not accommodate medical personnel and a gurney in case of an emergency. The elevator and stairwell had to be large enough that a victim could be safely transported from the tower cab to the ground, and the initial design didn’t meet the government’s requirement.

“The contractor had to start over with the design,” said Thurman. “That’s what started the long process.”

“It was, no kidding, a show-stopper,” said Master Sgt. Patrick Colclasure, Vance’s chief controller. “They stopped everything. They were getting ready to break ground. They went back to the drawing board.”

That, according to another source with the Corps of Engineers, caused the Vance tower to lose its “place in line,” with the firm in Tulsa that manufactures the pre-cast concrete pieces that make up much of the tower. A parking garage project in Stillwater moved ahead of it, further delaying the project.

There were other issues as well, Cooper said. There were problems with the fire suppression system’s pressurization in the stairwell, which delayed construction for about a year according to Colclasure. The system is designed to give controllers a two-hour window in which to escape in case of a fire.

“It’s all state of the art stuff and they needed to get it right, and they did,” he said, “and that’s what took the longest.”

Then the newly installed glass in the tower’s cab failed and had to be removed and replaced.

“Every phase had an issue,” said Cooper.

The Army Corps of Engineers represented the Air Force and the government throughout the construction, Thurman said. The Corps hired the contractor and oversaw the project.

“We strive to obtain a quality product for a warfighter,” Thurman said. “It took the contractor an inordinately long time to achieve that.”

Thurman said “We expect a quality product from our contractor and sometimes they have to redo a few things,” but then singled out Gilbane Federal for its “inability to timely progress the work. There were periods of time when they should have had people out on the job working and those people just weren’t working. From our perspective, the contractor just did not timely progress the work.”

Wesley Cotter, director of corporate communications for Gilbane Building Co., parent of Gilbane Federal, said the company would not directly respond to Thurman’s comments, but did point out the contractor completed its work and turned the tower over to the Air Force earlier this fall, and that while the project did not come in on time, it did come in under budget.

“While the schedule changed, the budget did not,” Cotter said.

Construction of the tower originally was projected to cost $9.2 million, but because of “a few modifications during the course of the project,” Thurman said, the total had risen to $9.6 million. The project’s total price tag will be higher than that, he said, because of other associated costs, and could approach the $10.7 million originally appropriated.

Colclasure was in on the original design build for the tower, then spent some time serving in Portugal before returning to Vance.

“I came back and it’s still having issues,” he said. “I’m glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I see the finish line, we’re almost there.”

Original article can be found here:  http://newsok.com

SpiceJet to choose between Airbus and Boeing for plane order

SpiceJet is in talks with Boeing and Airbus to buy more than 150 planes, the airline’s chairman said on Sunday, predicting he would decide which manufacturer to place the order with by the end of March 2016.

Such an investment would cap a remarkable turnaround for India's second-biggest budget airline by market share, which came close to collapse late last year after running out of cash.

Co-founder Ajay Singh subsequently bought back into the airline, acquiring a controlling stake. SpiceJet has reported profits in the past three quarters, having made losses in the five preceding quarters.

Singh now wants to more than quadruple the carrier’s fleet from 41 aircraft at present.

"We are in the process of placing a large aircraft order; the airline will order in excess of 150 planes - we hope to do that in this financial year," SpiceJet’s chairman and managing director Singh told a news conference in Dubai. Its financial year will end in March.

"We're looking at both Airbus and Boeing. The (Boeing 737) Max aircraft as well as the (Airbus A320) Neo. We have received offers from both of them,” Singh told Reuters.

He said the order would be with a single manufacturer, declining to estimate the likely value of the deal because negotiations were ongoing.

The airline is generating enough money to pay for the order, but may also use “various forms of credit financing” should there be any shortfall, he said, ruling out diluting its equity to help buy the planes.

SpiceJet also has what Singh described as a "regional aircraft business" servicing India's smaller cities through a fleet of 14 Bombardier planes.

The airline is in talks with Toronto-listed Bombardier, France's ATR - a joint venture between Airbus and Finmeccanica - and Brazil’s Embraer to potentially buy a further 50 planes to service this sector, said Singh.

Earlier this month, SpiceJet reported a small net profit for the July-September period, helped by sliding fuel costs. 

"The company is looking in healthy shape,” Sigh added. “It's generating cash, it's profitable. If oil prices remain moderate, (there is) no reason why this profitability shouldn't continue for the coming quarters.”

Source:   http://www.reuters.com

Safety at a price: Firefighting readiness scoped at Worcester Regional Airport (KORH), Worcester County, Massachusetts



WORCESTER - Nearly a year ago, a top official in the Massachusetts Port Authority urged its board to scrap the current staffing system that has security officers also acting as firefighters.

The head of aviation recommended reorganizing firefighting and public safety personnel, but it has not happened.

The move would have resulted in changes here, and at the Massport-owned L.G. Hanscom Field in Bedford, placing firefighting under the control of Logan's Fire Rescue Department. Only after a fatal plane crash at Hanscom was the model adopted there.

In a memo obtained by the Telegram & Gazette to Thomas Glynn, CEO and executive director of Massport, Edward Freni, director of aviation, explained the reorganization would, in his opinion, improve public safety.

"One organizational model for safety and security enhances the respective public safety services through consistent staffing levels, training requirements, resulting in enhanced accountability, oversight, and expertise," Mr. Freni said in the memo.

The newspaper requested the memo from Massport under the state's Public Records Law, but the agency said the document was exempt because it was discussed in an executive session about collective bargaining.

The new model for safety was adopted at Hanscom after a fatal crash in October 2014 that killed seven people. The May 31, 2014, National Transportation Safety Board investigation into that crash found that "the impact forces from the accident were survivable, but the cabin and cockpit environment quickly deteriorated due to the postcrash fire, which erupted immediately, spread rapidly, and prevented the occupants from escaping."

Further, the NTSB noted, "although it did not affect the survivability of this accident, had a resupply hose been placed at the fire hydrant in the vicinity of the accident site before the aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles exhausted their water supply, the 14-minute delay in resuming firefighting activities could have been avoided."

Although the firefighting model has been changed at Hanscom, Worcester is still without full-time firefighters and instead relies on safety officers who have multiple duties.

The Freni memo, dated Oct. 28, 2014, said the "enhancement at Worcester and Hanscom will align Massport with other public agencies that own and operate multiple airports (eg. New York, Chicago, Miami, and Detroit) and who have moved to a standard public safety model across their airports."

The memo noted that in Worcester a "public safety staff of thirteen covers both security and aircraft fire response capabilities," supported by state police when jetBlue flights operate. There are two jetBlue fights a day at Worcester.

The aviation director proposed reorganizing Worcester's public safety operation effective March 1, 2015. The move would have resulted in the creation of a separate fire rescue unit at Worcester that would be under the control of Logan's Fire Rescue Department.

The new staffing model proposed by Freni would require 24/7 ARFF (Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting) coverage. The model calls for two fire engines with two firefighters on each. New staffing would require 10 firefighters and five captains.

"This coverage meets the FAA regulations and aviation industry standards," the memo said.

The new staffing, however, would be more costly. The proposed upgrade for commercial service would require eight hours of overtime per day. The additional fiscal 2015 costs, including overtime and training for 15 fire rescue staff, was set at $1.6 million. Annual operating costs of the new unit would be $2.5 million, the memo said.

As for security, the current budget has funding for state troopers during commercial flight times. Under the Freni proposal, a full-time sergeant and 12-hour coverage would be implemented. Additional state police costs were set at $462,000 for fiscal 2015. Annual operating costs were set at $825,000 in fiscal 2016.

The existing ARFF jobs would be reorganized as "a security-only function." Those jobs would have specific and limited roles: "dispatch, exit lane, vehicle access gate, vehicle inspections, wildlife control and overnight airport security." The annual cost of the new unit was set at $1.2 million.

But the Massport board, chaired by Worcester lawyer Michael P. Angelini, decided in a December 2014 executive session not to use full-time firefighters at Worcester, according to minutes of the Jan. 15, 2015, board meeting. In the December executive session, the board reportedly voted to hire new firefighters only for Hanscom. A public records request for minutes for the December meeting was denied. The authority cited collective bargaining as the reason for the executive session.

Asked about the Freni proposal, Massport spokesman Matt Brelis said, "This is a topic that was discussed in executive session so I am limited in what I can say. It is important to keep in mind that all Massport airports meet or exceed the FAA part 139 ARFF requirements. There is a vast difference between our three airports," he said.

He noted that "Hanscom has more than four times the number of operations of Worcester; Logan has more than 11 times the number. Furthermore, there are many more types of aircraft at Logan and Hanscom than there are at Worcester, and aircraft familiarization is a key component of ARFF training. For example, there is no reason for a Worcester fire officer to be trained on any wide-bodied aircraft, such as Boeing 747 or Airbus A 330."
He explained that firefighters at Boston and Hanscom are interchangeable.

"So if a firefighter is at Hanscom one day, she could be at Logan the next. For that reason, they are trained to Logan’s standard," Mr. Brelis said.

At the board's January meeting, three union leaders spoke about staffing concerns at the Worcester Regional Airport. Arthur Miner, president of Massport Fire Fighters Local S-2; Jay Colbert, secretary-treasurer of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts; and A. Michael Mullane, district vice president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, told the board they should reconsider a December vote "to defer action on utilizing full-time firefighters at Worcester."

The minutes say the three indicated the decision "contradicts a commitment to safety and security."

The union leaders also noted the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is transitioning from dual-role employees, such as those in Worcester, to full-time firefighters.

They added their concern that the "City of Worcester Fire Department might not be able to provide timely mutual aid to the airport."

The minutes said that "Mr. Angelini noted in response that the ultimate responsibility for all Authority matters rests with the Members of the Massport Board, and that the Board takes that responsibility very seriously and will continue to do so."

As Mr. Mullane of the IAFF noted in his comments to the board, "Use of 'public safety officer,' dual role between police and fire is on the decline. This role was created primarily for small airports without commercial air travel, and without resources to staff a dedicated ARFF department."

Mr. Mullane drew the board's attention to the July 2013 San Francisco International Airport crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214. Three passengers died when the jet struck a seawall. Forty passengers, eight flight attendants and one of the flight crew were seriously injured. The other 255 people on board had minor or no injuries.

The NTSB found the San Francisco ARFF equipment and staffing levels exceeded the FAA-required minimum requirements.

"Because of the amount of available ARFF vehicles and personnel, the airport firefighters were able to perform exterior firefighting and send firefighters into the airplane who rescued five passengers who were unable to self-evacuate amid rapidly deteriorating cabin conditions. Due to the lack of an FAA required minimum staffing level, passengers involved in an aviation accident at a smaller airport may not be afforded the same level of protection that the passengers of flight 214 had," said the NTSB report.

Mr. Freni, the Massport aviation director, also noted the Asiana crash in his memo to the board in advocating for a better trained crew at Worcester.

"This extra coverage is consistent with best practices and lessons learned from the Asiana aircraft incident at SFO (San Francisco International Airport)," Mr. Freni said in the memo to Mr. Glynn.

A request to Massport to interview Mr. Glynn about the memo was not granted.

Mr. Mullane also told the board, "Massport's commitment to excellence at Logan is well known. The ARFF safety plan far exceed the minimums required by the FAA. It doesn't make sense to me, that this board is satisfied with simply meeting the minimums at Worcester Regional Airport, rather than striving for excellence as at other Massport facilities."

Mr. Mullane said the board should follow the recommendations of its experts "to ensure that those flying into or out of Worcester Regional Airport benefit from the same level of protection, access to the same well-trained full-time dedicated ARFF personnel in Worcester, as we enjoy at Logan."

In the same January meeting, Mr. Colbert, of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, told the board that it appeared to him the reason the board voted not to have full-time professional fire fighters at Worcester was the cost.

Mr. Colbert noted Massport had a strong fiscal 2014 with expenses 1.5 percent, or $9 million, below projections. Revenues, he said, were above projections by 4.7 percent, or $35 million.

While noting Massport's investment in the Worcester airport, and the CAT III landing system under construction, "the picture being painted is one of fiscal success notwithstanding the Authority's commitment to safety and security," Mr. Colbert said.

However, he emphasized, "the decision to defer action to send full-time professional ARFF personnel in Worcester contradicts this Board's stated mission and commitment to the Worcester community."

He suggested the board's decision not to have professional firefighters at Worcester "may have a much greater cost, the personal safety of passengers flying in and out of Worcester, should this Board continue deferring a decision."

Also in the meeting, Massport firefighter president Miner told the board the Worcester "public safety officers" receive very limited training and noted that in an emergency fire situation "they need to change uniforms, lock up their guns, and respond to the fire."

"They are not full-time professional ARFF firefighters and lack the extensive training specific to ARFF that is required of all firefighters assigned to Logan."

However, Mr. Miner noted, "they do satisfy the FAA's minimum requirement."

He reminded the board that since the purchase of the Worcester Airport by Massport, the Local S-2 union has raised safety concerns about the use of safety officers, and not firefighters. Discussions intensified when jetBlue started commercial service. Mr. Miner told the board that "effective Jan. 1, 2015, Massport and the Teamsters Local 25 had agreed that Massport had the option of transferring ARFF responsibilities to a full-time dedicated fire department" at Worcester. The Worcester ARFF employees are members of the Teamsters local.

In September 2014, it appeared as if Massport was on track to standardize firefighting at all three of its properties.

The authority created a new position, deputy fire chief, "to help Massport enhance its emergency response and operations by working to standardize operations and unified command across the Agency's airports," according to a Massport press release dated Sept. 8, 2014.

Paul Smith was named to the job effective Sept. 1, 2014. He declined to comment for this story.

In an Oct. 24 interview with the T&G following a fatal single-engine plane crash at Worcester Regional Airport that day, Mr. Angelini said the Worcester Airport meets FAA firefighting regulations and expressed hope that the former city-owned airport would increase commercial traffic. If that happened, Mr. Angelini said, "we would increase our safety resources, fire and otherwise."

When asked by the T&G what is the practice for positioning of ARFF personnel when jetBlue flights land and takeoff, Mr. Brelis said, "Personnel are positioned at the airport and in the ARFF building to ensure the airport meets or exceeds the FAA airfield incident response standards. These crews would not normally be in trucks on the ARFF apron unless, for example, they are requested to be in position by a flight crew."

A local pilot, with an experienced eye on safety, Jack Keenan, of Shrewsbury, has high standards for aviation safety.

A commercial pilot, Mr. Keenan flew corporate jets in his career and piloted helicopters in the U.S. military in Vietnam. For 13 years, he was an FAA aviation safety inspector. Asked about what he thought the expectations would be of commercial airline pilots flying into an airport such as Worcester, he said, "Professional airline pilots would expect a full-time firefighting team."

Worcester Regional Airport Director Andrew Davis did not agree to meet a reporter who went to his airport office recently.

A call to jetBlue asking for comment was not returned.

Source:  http://www.telegram.com



Piper PA-31-350 Navajo, Fly 4 You Inc., N46FA, accident occurred November 18, 2015 • Cessna 180F Skywagon, N4611U, accident occurred November 04, 2015

NTSB Identification: ANC16LA005
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 04, 2015 in Haines, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 180, registration: N4611U
Injuries: 1 Serious, 3 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 4, 2015, about 1345 Alaska standard time, a wheel-equipped Cessna 180 airplane, N4611U, is presumed to have sustained substantial damage during impact with ocean waters, about 23 miles southeast of Haines, Alaska, following a reported loss of engine power. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, when the accident occurred. Of the three occupants on board, the certificated private pilot and two passengers sustained minor injuries, and one passenger sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed along the route of flight, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight departed the Juneau Airport, Juneau, Alaska, at 1313, en route to the Haines Airport, Haines. 

Shortly before the accident, the pilot of another airplane flying in the area reported hearing a "Mayday" call from the pilot of N4611U, stating that the engine had failed near Eldred Rock and he was attempting to land on the east side of Lynn Canal. No further communications were received from the accident airplane after the initial distress call. The pilot of the other airplane then immediately relayed the report to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control Tower at the Juneau Airport. 

The area that the airplane descended into was Lynn Canal, which flows into Icy Strait, and then into the Gulf of Alaska. The area consists of remote inland fjords, coastal waterways, and steep mountainous terrain. The water depth in Lynn Canal can reach about 2,000 feet. The water depth at the location of the accident is estimated to be between 600 and 780 feet. 

During an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) and an FAA aviation safety inspector on November 5, a passenger on board the accident airplane stated that after observing the pilot complete what appeared to be a walk around inspection of the airplane, they boarded the airplane and departed Juneau to begin the flight to Haines. She said that while in cruise flight, as the airplane passed the Kensington Mine, they felt a drop similar to turbulence in conjunction with a change in engine noise, and the engine speed began to decrease. The pilot then began pumping the engine fuel primer, which resulted in a momentary increase of engine power, followed by a total loss of power. She said that the pilot searched for a place to land on the beach, but due to the rocks on the beach he elected to ditch in the water near the shoreline. During touchdown on the water, the airplane's main landing gear wheels skipped several times across the water before the airplane nosed over, coming to rest inverted. The passenger stated they were all able to extricate themselves from the airplane and stand on the wing for a short period before the airplane began sinking. All four occupants were able to swim to shore to await rescue. 

During a telephone conversation with the NTSB IIC on November 6, the pilot stated that before departing Haines for the 50-minute flight to Juneau, he added more than 38 gallons of fuel to the airplane, which entirely filled both wing mounted fuel tanks. He estimated his normal fuel burn between 10 and 12 gallons per hour, and the flight to Juneau was uneventful. Prior to departing Juneau for Haines the pilot said he did a walk around inspection of the airplane, and did not notice any anomalies. He noted that when the airplane's engine was started, the fuel gauges read between 3/4 and 7/8 full. 

The pilot said that after departing from Juneau for the return flight to Haines, and just after passing Eagle Beach, which is about 20 miles northwest of Juneau, he noticed both fuel gauges were now indicating zero. He checked to ensure that all of the circuit breakers were closed. The engine continued to run normally, and as the cloud ceilings improved, the pilot elected to climb the airplane to 2,500 feet above mean sea level (msl). During the climb, he tapped on the face of the fuel gauges and the indication on the right gauge increased between 1/4 and 3/8. The pilot said that he was convinced that the erroneous fuel quantity indication was due to an electrical malfunction, so he elected to continue to Haines. As the flight progressed and it neared Haines, the engine lost all power. The pilot said that he tried to restart the engine, but he was unsuccessful. During the restart attempt, the pilot pumped the engine primer in an attempt to inject fuel directly into the cylinders, and the propeller speed would increase, but the engine would not fully start. At no point was an odor consistent with aviation fuel detected in the cabin of the airplane. Unable to find a safe landing area on the beach, he decided to ditch in the water. He said that during touchdown on the water, the airplane nosed over, and all four occupants had to swim for about 10-15 minutes before reaching the shore. 

An alert notice was issued by the FAA Juneau Flight Service Station at 1448, and a search was conducted by personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard and two civilian air carriers.

About 1500, the four occupants were located on a beach on the east side of Lynn Canal by Temsco Helicopters and the U.S. Coast Guard. All four occupants were suffering from hypothermia. Three occupants were taken to Temsco Helicopters, where they were met by an ambulance for transport to the hospital, and one occupant was transported directly to the hospital from the beach.

To date, the airplane has not been recovered; therefore a wreckage examination is not possible. Should the airplane be recovered, a detailed examination will occur.

The closest weather reporting facility is Haines Airport, Haines, about 23 miles northwest of the accident site. At 1254, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) from the Haines Airport was reporting in part: Wind, 290 degrees at 15 knots, gusting to 20 knots; sky condition, clear; visibility, 10 statute miles; temperature 39 degrees F; dewpoint 30 degrees F; altimeter, 29.89 inHg.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

According to the pilot, he departed Haines with full fuel tanks; about 65 gallons total and estimated the fuel consumption during the flight from Haines to Juneau to be about 12 gallons, which would equate to about 53 gallons remaining. Based on a 12 gallon per hour fuel consumption rate, 53 gallons would be equivalent to about 4 hours and 40 minutes of remaining endurance (time for fuel exhaustion).

The distance between Juneau and Haines is about 66 nautical miles, and the estimated flight time was about 1 hour. The estimated fuel remaining once the flight reached its final destination of Haines would have been about 41 gallons.

Federal Aviation Administration technicians briefly stranded on isolated island

JUNEAU EMPIRE - 

A pair of FAA technicians found themselves on the wrong end of an aerial accident earlier this month, as a crash stranded them 80 miles out in the Gulf of Alaska.


According to a report from the Federal Aviation Administration, two FAA technicians and their pilot were marooned on Middleton Island when the landing gear of their Piper PA-31 collapsed and struck the plane’s wing on landing.


Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA’s Pacific Division, said the twin-engine plane was flying from Kenai when it attempted to land on the uninhabited island on the morning of November 18. The island was receiving heavy snow, and the plane set down hard enough to damage its landing gear.


Middleton is seldom visited, due to its distance from the mainland and lack of facilities. The FAA maintains a navigation station on the island, and the National Weather Service has a radar station there, but both are automated and have no on-site staff.


None of the three aboard the plane were injured, but they were stranded on the island until a replacement aircraft arrived.


Gregor said neither of the technicians was available for comment.


- Source:  http://juneauempire.com 


FLY 4 YOU INC: http://registry.faa.gov/N46FA

Date: 18-NOV-15
Time: 20:00:00Z
Regis#: N46FA
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA31
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Substantial
Activity: On Demand
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 135
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Anchorage FSDO-03
City: MIDDLETON
State: Alaska

AIRCRAFT ON LANDING, GEAR COLLAPSED AND STRUCK WING, 75 MILES FROM CORDOVA, GULF OF ALASKA, MIDDLETON ISLAND, ALASKA

NTSB Identification: ANC16LA005
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 04, 2015 in Haines, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 180, registration: N4611U
Injuries: 1 Serious, 3 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 4, 2015, about 1345 Alaska standard time, a wheel-equipped Cessna 180 airplane, N4611U, is presumed to have sustained substantial damage during impact with ocean waters, about 23 miles southeast of Haines, Alaska, following a reported loss of engine power. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, when the accident occurred. The certificated private pilot and two passengers sustained minor injuries, and one passenger sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed along the route of flight. No flight plan was on file. The flight departed the Juneau Airport, Juneau, Alaska, at 1313, en route to the Haines Airport, Haines, Alaska. 

Shortly before the accident, the pilot of another airplane flying in the area reported hearing a Mayday call from the pilot of N4611U, stating that the engine had failed near Eldred Rock and he was attempting to land on the east side of Lynn Canal. No further communications were received from the accident airplane after the initial distress call. The pilot of the other airplane then immediately relayed the report to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control Tower at the Juneau Airport. 

The area that the airplane descended into was Lynn Canal, which flows into Icy Strait and then into the Gulf of Alaska. The area consists of remote inland fjords, coastal waterways, and steep mountainous terrain. The water depth in Lynn Canal can reach about 2,000 feet. The water depth at the location of the accident is estimated between 600 and 780 feet. 

During an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) and an FAA inspector on November 5, a passenger on board the accident airplane stated that after observing the pilot complete what appeared to be a walk around inspection of the airplane, they boarded the airplane and departed Juneau to begin the flight to Haines. She said that while in cruise flight, as the airplane passed the Kensington Mine, they felt a drop similar to turbulence in conjunction with a change in engine noise, and then the engine speed began to decrease. She said that the pilot then began pumping the engine fuel primer, which resulted in a momentary increase of the power, shortly before all engine power was lost. She said that the pilot searched for a place to land on the beach, but due to the rocks on the beach he elected to ditch in the water near the shoreline. During touchdown on the water, the airplane's main landing gear wheels skipped several times across the water before the airplane nosed over, coming to rest inverted. The passenger stated they were all able to extricate themselves from the airplane and stand on the wing for a short period of time before the airplane began sinking. All four occupants were able to swim to shore to await rescue. 

During a telephone conversation with the NTSB IIC on November 6, the accident pilot stated that before departing Haines for the 50-minute flight to Juneau, he added more than 38 gallons of fuel to the airplane, which entirely filled both wing mounted fuel tanks. He estimated his normal fuel burn between 10 and 12 gallons per hour, and the flight to Juneau was uneventful. He stated that prior to departing Juneau for Haines he did a walk around inspection of the airplane and did not notice any anomalies. He said that when the airplane's engine was started, the fuel gauges read between 3/4 and 7/8 full. 

The pilot said that after departing from Juneau for the return flight to Haines, and just after passing Eagle Beach, he noticed both fuel gauges were indicating zero. He added that he checked that all of the circuit breakers were closed and the engine continued to run normally. As the cloud ceilings improved, the pilot climbed the airplane to 2,500 feet above mean sea level (msl). During the climb, he tapped on the face of the fuel gauges and the indication on the right gauge increased between 1/4 and 3/8. Convinced of an electrical malfunction, the flight continued towards Haines. Shortly thereafter, the engine lost all power. The pilot said that he tried to restart the engine, but he was unsuccessful. During the restart attempt, the pilot pumped the engine primer in an attempt to inject fuel directly into the cylinders, and the propeller speed would increase, but the engine would not fully start. Unable to find a safe landing area on the beach, he decided to ditch in the water. He said that during touchdown on the water, the airplane nosed over, and all four occupants had to swim for about 10-15 minutes before reaching the shore. 

An alert notice was issued by the FAA Juneau Flight Service Station at 1448, and a search was conducted by personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard and two civilian air carriers.

About 1500, the four occupants were located on a beach on the east side of Lynn Canal by Temsco Helicopters and the U.S. Coast Guard. All four occupants were suffering from hypothermia. Three occupants were taken to Temsco Helicopters to be transported by ambulance to the hospital and one occupant was transported directly to the hospital.

The closest weather reporting facility is Haines Airport, Haines, about 23 miles northwest of the accident site. At 1254, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) from the Haines Airport was reporting in part: Wind, 290 degrees at 15 knots, gusting to 20 knots; sky condition, clear; visibility, 10 statute miles; temperature 39 degrees F; dewpoint 30 degrees F; altimeter, 29.89 inHg. 

The airplane was equipped with a Continental Motors O-470 series engine.

A detailed wreckage and engine exam is pending recovery of the airplane.

http://registry.faa.gov/N4611U

The four people who swam to shore after their plane crashed in Lynn Canal north of Juneau Wednesday have been identified as Haines residents by Alaska State Troopers.

Tour and charter flight company Temsco Helicopters first reported the Cessna 180’s crash near Eldred Rock, roughly 55 miles north of Juneau, to troopers at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. The U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday the plane’s pilot reported losing engine power and attempted to reach a nearby beach before crashing.

Two Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters, as well as a Temsco crew, landed on a beach near the crash site and picked up all four people, who had swum to shore. 

“(The Coast Guard) later reported it had rescued the pilot, Michael Mackowiak, 56, Martha Mackowiak, 51, and two juvenile passengers, all of Haines,” troopers wrote. “All were transported to the hospital in Juneau by Temsco Helicopter and the (Coast Guard) to be assessed and treated as needed.”

All four occupants of the plane were taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital. Jim Strader, a spokesman for the hospital, said none of them were being treated in Juneau any longer and that one was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for additional care.

“Three of them were able to be treated and released,” Strader said. “The fourth one was obviously in much more serious condition and had to be taken to Harborview.”

Harborview staff identified the transported patient as Martha Mackowiak and said she remained in critical condition at the hospital's intensive care unit Thursday morning.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s lead investigator on the case, Shaun Williams, said Thursday that investigators haven’t yet spoken with anyone on board the aircraft, which was a privately owned plane flying from Juneau to Haines at the time of the crash.

“We have not made contact yet -- we’re giving them some time,” Williams said.

Representatives of the companies that manufactured the plane’s airframe and engine have been contacted, Williams said. As of Thursday they were providing only technical assistance as the NTSB waited for word on whether the plane could be recovered from the deep waters of Lynn Canal, a glacial fjord. 

“The last report from the Coast Guard, the estimate on the water depth is 100 to 130 fathoms,” Williams said, or 600 to 780 feet. “If that holds, the aircraft probably will not be recovered.”

Williams asked any aviators in the area who see wreckage to contact either the NTSB directly at 907-782-4849 or their local trooper posts.