Monday, May 30, 2016

Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N739ZE, registered to Libra Air Inc and operated by Encore Flight Academy: Fatal accident occurred May 28, 2016 in Avalon, California

The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Long Beach, California 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Registered to Libra Air Inc 
Operated by Encore Flight Academy

NTSB Identification: WPR16FAMS1
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Avalon, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N739ZE
Injuries: 2 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.

On May 28, 2016, about 1257 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172 airplane, N739ZE, is presumed to have crashed in the Pacific Ocean about 5 miles north of Avalon, California. The airplane was registered to Libra Air Inc. and operated by Encore Flight Academy as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. The certified flight instructor and student pilot have not been located and the airplane is missing; presumed to be destroyed. Both pilots are presumed to be fatally injured. Both instrument and visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, and no flight plan had been filed. The airplane departed Catalina Airport (AVX), Avalon, California about 1254 and was destined for Van Nuys Airport (VNY), Van Nuys, California.

On May 29, 2016, a concerned family member of the student pilot contacted the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) to report their family member missing. They reported that the student pilot went flying with an instructor the day prior, and they have not heard from him since. The LASD contacted Encore Flight Academy, who reported that the accident airplane was not at their facility, nor do they have record of it returning the day prior.

The NTSB attempted to contact the operator numerous times, but to no avail; nor did the operator submit a Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report, NTSB Form 6120.1. 

Review of radar data for the area revealed that the airplane took off from VNY and landed safely at AVX at 1209. At 1254, the airplane took off from AVX with its transponder in the off position and flew north. At 1257 the track ends over the water 5 miles north of AVX. An oil slick consistent with drift models was present in this area. 

A weather study revealed that at the time of takeoff from VNY, the weather at AVX reported 4 miles visibility, mist, and an overcast ceiling of 300 feet agl. When the airplane arrived at AVX weather indicated 8 miles of visibility and an overcast ceiling of 500 feet agl. Four minutes prior to the airplane departing AVX, weather reported 9 miles of visibility and a broken ceiling at 800 feet agl, however, in the remarks section it reported the ceiling varied between 600 feet agl and 1000 feet agl. In addition, satellite imagery indicated a thick marine layer was just north of AVX, and in the vicinity of the presumed accident location. 

The U.S. Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and private entities conducted a search for the missing airplane along the apparent route of flight; however, no wreckage was found. The pilots and airplane remain missing. 

Air Rescue 5 continues coastal search Tuesday morning for signs of missing Cessna 172N Skyhawk last seen at Catalina Island.

A person arrives at the Encore Flight Academy at the Van Nuys Airport in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles, on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said a Cessna 172N Skyhawk carrying two people departed from Catalina Airport Saturday and was reported overdue when it failed to arrive on time at Van Nuys Airport. An official with Encore Flight Academy said the plane was carrying a student pilot and an experienced instructor.

LOS ANGELES — A small plane carrying a student pilot and veteran instructor remained missing Tuesday after a weekend flight to Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California.

Aerial searches covering hundreds of square miles of ocean found no signs of the Cessna 172N Skyhawk, which flew to the resort island’s airport on Saturday. It vanished after taking off from Catalina Airport en route to Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles later that afternoon.

“The whole situation is kind of a mystery,” said Alex Abbassi, operations director for the student pilot’s school, Encore Flight Academy at Van Nuys Airport.

The student, Edmond Haronian, is 90 percent of the way toward earning his private pilot’s license and has become a close friend since starting training a year ago, Abbassi said.

“He was very close to taking his final test to get his pilot’s license,” Abbassi said. He identified the instructor as Jason Glazier, who has some 30 years of flight instruction experience.

The flight was arranged between the student and the instructor, Abbassi said.

The airplane they took was in excellent condition after undergoing a complete inspection in March, Abbassi said. It had flown only 60 hours since then.

On Catalina, Haronian posted some pictures on Facebook and then around 1 p.m. the two took off, Abbassi said, describing the weather as good for the trip.

The two fliers and their plane were not known to be missing until a Haronian family member contacted the flight school Sunday afternoon with concerns.

Abbassi said the Federal Aviation Administration was notified, and calls were placed to the men’s cellphones and to airports. The Coast Guard also sent aircraft to aid in the search effort.

Abbassi noted it would not have automatically been a concern that they did not return Saturday because they could have decided to stay on the island. He said it remained a possibility — but a “very, very unlikely” one — that the two had decided to go somewhere else.

“Our prayers go with the family,” he said.


Authorities Monday were in search of a missing Cessna 172N Skyhawk that departed from Catalina Island over the weekend and never made it to its Van Nuys destination.

A pilot-in-training and flight instructor went missing in a single-engine Cessna 172 after departing from Catalina Island airport over the weekend, launching a coordinated search Monday.

The Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration launched a search Monday after the four-seater plane did not land at the Van Nuys Airport as scheduled.

The small plane took off from Catalina Island and was expected at Van Nuys Airport Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. 

The FAA said in preliminary reports that two people were aboard.

The training pilot's family identified him as Edmond Haronian. They said he was to arrive at Van Nuys Airport with his flight instructor from Encore Flight Academy.

Haronian posted pictures to social media on Saturday, the day the plane went missing. 

"Since Saturday, which is May 28, we have not had any news from him. We have not heard from him — no calls, no texts. We are very worried," Saeed Majdipour, the pilot's brother-in-law, said.

Haronian's brother-in-law said the family became worried when Sunday came, and no one had heard from the pilot.

They contacted the flight academy, and employees confirmed that Haronian and his instructor were missing. 

The family was upset as the academy did not contact them right away.

Haronian's Mercedes remained in the parking lot over the weekend.

Encore Flight Academy did not immediately return calls for comment. 

The U.S. Coast Guard released photos as the team searched Monday evening. The team spent 10 hours searching around Catalina Island, and didn't find any signs of wreckage or debris.

Haronian's last call was to his sons shortly before 1 p.m. when he told them he would be taking off.

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The family of a pilot in training said he and his flight instructor went missing in a Cessna 172N Skyhawk over the weekend, leaving them incredibly worried.

AVALON, Calif. (KABC) -- Authorities Monday were in search of a missing single-engine plane that departed from Catalina Island over the weekend and never made it to its Van Nuys destination.

The Cessna 172, carrying two passengers, departed from Catalina Island Airport at about 1 p.m. Saturday and was reported overdue when it failed to arrive at Van Nuys Airport between 3 and 4 p.m. Sunday, according to officials from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The aircraft was only described as having the tail number: N739ZE.

The family of pilot Edmond Haronian notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the missing plane on Monday morning, and both FAA and Coast Guard officials began a search by air. The family of the Woodland Hills resident said he is a father of two.

Eddie Bardi, Haronian's step son, said the family became concerned on Sunday when no one could reach him.

According to Alex Abbassi, director of operations at Encore Flight Academy, Haronian was a high-valued customer who was free to go where he wanted in the rented plane, as long as an instructor was with him.

The flight instructor was also said to be very experienced, with more than 30 years flying.

"He was doing very well...he's soloed by himself, flown by himself, under his instructor's supervision...and he's done very well. He's capable...," Bardi added.

Abbassi initiated the call to the Flight Service Station for a search-and-rescue team after he spoke with Haronian's family. He explained the aircraft was in good shape and passed a complete maintenance evaluation in March. Ambassi added the plane had only flown 60 hours since then.

Along with the help of the Coast Guard, the family chartered three helicopters to help scour the water for any signs of debris.

"It's just too much ocean to cover, really, and I believe the Coast Guard is on it, the FAA is on it...," Bardi said. "...The entire family is worried. He has many people that love him, many that adore him."

Authorities said the name of the flight instructor on the plane was not yet available, and the search was expected to resume Tuesday morning.

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