Thursday, February 11, 2016

10Investigates runway noise violations at Tampa International Airport (KTPA), Hillsborough County, Florida

Tampa, Florida -- It's an emergency that happens over and over and over again -- and homeowners say they are fed up. Airplanes are supposed to land only on a noise-sensitive runway at a Tampa International Airport in emergency or bad weather conditions. But, it is happening every day.

10Investigates WTSP has discovered the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates the airlines, says it is powerless to do anything.

Plane, after plane, after  plane fly over houses in South Tampa  on their way to land at Tampa International.

David Epstein says, “They have gotten much worse, over the past two years, the air traffic coming over these neighborhoods, and  have increased multiplied tremendously  and it has gotten extremely aggravating all times of the day and the night.”

Epstein has lived in the landing pattern for more than 16 years.  He says airlines are not living up to a noise abatement  agreement. The agreement limited use of  the noise-sensitive runways except when wind, traffic, field conditions at the airport or an emergency require the use

“And we have a real  difficult time with that,” Epstein said as a jet drown out our conversation as he shouted, "As you can hear right now.”

Epstein adds, “This is  this is definitely what we hear all day long.”

Janet Zink, spokesperson for the Aviation Authority, admits, “There is increased noise in these neighborhoods, but it is well within the FAA  guideline.”

Zink  says part of the increased noise is because of construction at the airport, however, because the  FAA  averages  the quiet  times when planes aren't flying over the homes, it says there is no impact to the people who live there.

At a meeting with neighbors and  the FAA at Tampa International, homeowner Chris Taylor shouted, “So if could have something really loud over my house,” and then he whispered, “ then could have times of quiet underneath and so that doesn't impact my house.”

Hundreds are telling the FAA it is a major problem. Homeowner John Few turned to the crowd and asked, “Who in here is experiencing significant noise over your home?” Everyone in the packed room of at least 100 homeowners raised their hand.

But the FAA's Dennis Roberts says the agency can't even question why the airlines are using the runway.

We asked Roberts, “You have no stick, no hammer that can regulate the airplanes that land on that noise sensitive runway?”

He told us the noise abatement agreement was a voluntary compromise with the airlines and the homeowners, and added, “There is no regulation that specifies that can’t use that."

That leaves people living in some homes built before the airport was open living with deafening noise

Epstein says as plane, the second in five minutes, flies overhead, ”And it's like this everyday, seven days a week and there is no reason for it.”

There is a new study out that says there is no scientific basis for the FAA threshold for noise intrusion and the agency admits it might be true and is doing its own study.

Meantime, the airport told the FAA the construction would not have any added noise impact on the neighborhoods in the area. Clearly that is not true.


House Republicans move ahead with plan to shift 38,000 Federal Aviation Administration workers

House Republicans moved ahead with their plan to spin 38,000 federal workers into a private nonprofit corporation, beating back an effort by Democrats that would have preserved the Federal Aviation Administration.

The transfer of about 80 percent of the FAA’s workforce to a private company is the centerpiece of a six-year reauthorization bill for the agency. The bill would create a federally chartered corporation to oversee the movement of aircraft in flight and take over a $40 billion modernization of the air-traffic-control system.

An amendment that would have derailed creation of the corporation was defeated in the House Transportation Committee Thursday on a straight party-line vote, with 34 Republicans prevailing over 25 Democrats.

The bill also would prohibit in-flight cellphone calls, require the FAA to move more rapidly in regulating drones, require airlines to refund baggage fees if bags are overdue by more than 24 hours, give flight attendants an additional hour of rest between flights and ban the use of electronic cigarettes on airplanes.

The committee rejected an amendment that would have allowed the FAA to regulate the shrinking size of seats aboard airplanes.

It also voted against a proposal to allow the FAA to regulate shipment of lithium-ion batteries, seen as a fire hazard and blamed for the 2010 crash of a cargo plane that was carrying 80,000 of them.

Two years after that crash, Congress prohibited the FAA from imposing restrictions on transporting lithium-ion batteries that ­exceeded the standards of the ­International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The National Transportation Safety Board proposed this year that their shipment be regulated on all passenger planes.

While it is barred from regulating battery shipments, the FAA warned last month that they pose a “potential risk for a catastrophic hull.”

“Lithium batteries are a disaster waiting to happen,” said Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.), ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee. “Why should we hobble the FAA? I would hate to think we’re going to tie the hands of the FAA to regulate these batteries.”

As the bill emerges from committee, it will fall to Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) to smooth its passage on the House floor, a daunting prospect during a presidential election year. Though most of the bill won bipartisan support, Democrats said the attempt to move 14,000 air-traffic controllers and 24,000 other FAA workers to a private entity was a “poison pill.”

“I fear these bipartisan proposals are going to be jeopardized because of this effort to spin off the air-traffic controllers,” said Rick Larsen (Wash.), ranking Democrat of the aviation subcommittee. “I don’t think that experimenting with the most complicated airspace in the world comes without a lot of risk.”

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has supported the plan to move its members to a private entity, as have all the major airlines except Delta.

The business of directing air traffic and modernizing the system with which it is done has been transferred to private hands in several other Western nations.

“The FAA’s failing to modernize its infrastructure,” Shuster said. “If we don’t act, we’re going to fall farther behind.”

The FAA has been criticized for delays and cost overruns as it struggles to elevate its operations from a radar-based system to one that relies on GPS.

The project, known as NextGen, has been estimated to cost $40 billion, but an inspector general’s report said the price tag may double or triple by the time the full system is installed. The FAA has spent $6 billion on it so far.

The FAA’s failure to make sufficient progress was reflected in a harshly critical report last year by the National Research Council.

The council said that “the original vision for NextGen is not what is being implemented today” and that “not all parts of the original vision will be achieved in the foreseeable future.”

An inspector general’s report last month said that the cost of NextGen had increased by $3.8 billion over original estimates.

Citing the success of the Canadian model, Shuster and House Republicans say that the NextGen modernization program will move faster if it is placed in the hands of a private board appointed by the airlines, airplane owners and the unions. The corporation would be empowered to collect charges and fees from any air-traffic users, but operators of small private planes would be exempted.

The issue of just how far airplanes should be allowed to fly from Reagan National Airport arose briefly at the hearing, as Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) offered up an amendment that would increase the minimum allowable distance from 1,250 miles to 1,425 miles.

It has been a hot-button issue in Congress for many years. National Airport is five miles from the Capitol dome. By contrast, Dulles International Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport are 30 miles away from Capitol Hill, and it can take three or four times longer to get there.

Desiring to be thoroughly transparent, Farenthold acknowledged that the expansion he proposed would allow for direct flights to his home town: Corpus Christi, Tex., 1,384 miles from National Airport. He withdrew the amendment, however, after bipartisan opposition from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.).

“This has been a perennial problem for this region,” said Norton, who also has wrestled with issues of noise created by jets flying in and out of National.

Comstock, who represents a Northern Virginia district, pointed out that “Reagan National is small and doesn’t really have room to expand” to accommodate more flights.

Farenthold was gracious in defeat, but he cautioned that “this is an issue about which we’ll hear again.”

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Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation wants to investigate public ownership for Carlisle Airport (N94), Cumberland County, Pennsylvania

The Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) presented a proposal to the South Middleton Board of Supervisors Thursday exploring the possibility of shifting the Carlisle Airport from private to public ownership.

According to CAEDC Business Attraction Manager Mary Kuna, CAEDC plans to ask for a representative from South Middleton Township to serve on a working group employed to investigate what public ownership would look like for the airport. The group would consist of representatives from regional municipalities as well as regional public entities. Kuna said that part of this group’s discussion would likely entail the matter of liability, which would be transferred to the new owning entity.

CAEDC originally approached seven shareholders of the airport in 2013 about transitioning the facility to public ownership.

Kuna said that the airport cannot currently receive federal aviation funds because it is privately owned. However, the airport would become eligible for federal funding if it became publicly owned.

“A lot of airports in the country have transitioned to public ownership,” Kuna said. “Private ones are few and far between anymore. That’s why we are looking at (public ownership for the Carlisle Airport) as an option.”

Kuna said that as the working group considers all possible avenues to public ownership, the airport’s current ownership would be tasked with preparing the airport for sale. Both sides would then meet to negotiate how much the airport would be sold for and how much funding would be available.

Then, once an owning public entity is finalized, the airport would be able to transfer ownership. This entity would need to gain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and PennDOT’s Bureau of Aviation

The current annual economic impact of the airport, based on a PennDOT economic impact study, is $7 million. That number includes spending by those flying in and out of the airport, employee wages and employee spending.

Airport activity alone generates about $3.8 million annually, and visitors flying in spend roughly $235,700 in the community, the study said.

Jimmy Kingsborough, along with his six partners, bought the airport — which has served that function since 1963 when it originally opened — in the mid-1990s. For its first five years, the airport utilized a grass runway, common for very small, low-volume facilities, until a paved runway was built in 1968.

The airport features a 4,000-feet long runway that sits 60 feet wide. Its hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


British Virgin Islands airport runway extension on the horizon

ROAD TOWN, BVI -- The government of the British Virgin Islands will soon sign a contract for the extension of the runway of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport.

This announcement was made by Premier Dr Orlando Smith during the delivery of the 2016 Budget Address on Monday.

Smith viewed this extension as “good news” and said this is a project which has been high on the government’s agenda since taking office in 2011.

Smith said, “This initiative will no doubt open the doors for larger aircraft such as 737-800 and Airbus 320; both aircraft types are the workhorses of the major air carriers serving the Caribbean from the continental United States. An improvement such as this one, will pave the way to greater investment in our tourism industry.”

The government of the BVI recently announced the introduction of direct flights between the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport and Miami International Airport through the services of BVI Airways. This new service is themed ‘A Game Changer’: BVI Direct.


New air ambulance arrives in Port Vila

Vanuatu will soon have in operation an aircraft that will focus mainly on medical evacuation.

The aircraft arrived at Bauerfield Airport Wednesday this week and will be based in Port Vila.

The aircraft is owned by Air Leasing and will be operated in Vanuatu by Air Taxi Vanuatu.

The Merlin Fairchild IVA Turboprop aircraft will be an on-the-ground dedicated medical evacuation aircraft owned by Air Leasing, operated by Air Taxi and maintained by Airworx Ltd - a locally owned business.

The aircraft has a cruise speed of 260 knots with a range of over 1,500 nautical miles, fitted with state of the art aeromed unit from Med-Pac USA.

The owners of the aircraft say cabin crew will be from Promedical Vanuatu that will include one medic/nurse and one doctor.

This aircraft has a large ‘cargo’ door for ease of patient loading and unloading, has more cabin volume than jet powered Air Ambulances.

The company that owns this aircraft also owns two Cessna 206 and two BN2 Islanders operated by Air Taxi.

They currently offer charters, tours, coffin and medevac flights.

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The government should get out of the air traffic control business

By Editorial Board February 11 at 7:29 PM 

ADOPTING PROGRESSIVE practices from Europe and Canada is all the rage, from Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign to Michael Moore’s new documentary, “Where to Invade Next,” in which Mr. Moore marvels at Europe’s generous social programs. And we agree: The United States can and should learn from the experience of other Western democracies, whether that implies a bigger government or, as is sometimes the case abroad, a smaller one.

Take the prosaic but crucial function of air traffic control. In the United States, that is still a job for big government: specifically, the Federal Aviation Administration. Overseas, however, countries are turning away from this statist model. Canada spun off its system, Nav Canada, in 1996, to a private entity funded by user fees. Britain privatized in 2000. Australia and New Zealand are also part of the movement; ditto Germany and Switzerland, lest anyone think it’s English-speaking nations only.

In all of these countries, safety and innovation have stayed the same or improved, which is not surprising, as the new model separates regulation from operation. The U.S. approach, by contrast, keeps those conflicting roles within the same authority. Also, the FAA remains subject to the vagaries of congressional politics, with all the micromanaging and stopgap funding that implies. As a result, a $40 billion FAA modernization program is woefully behind schedule.

Now comes House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) with a bill to adapt successful European and Canadian models to the United States. On Thursday, the committee moved his proposal ahead with the hope of passing legislation by March 31, when the current FAA authorization statute expires. A new corporation, funded by charges on the system’s various users, would manage flights and implement the long-stalled modernization. The FAA would still ensure safety, a regulatory job it already does remarkably well and might do even better if it were free to focus on that exclusively. Major players in the industry would share governance of the new entity, working out their differences within its boardroom rather than through the costlier and more conflictual method of lobbying Congress, as they do now.

These groups support Mr. Shuster’s plan, including not only commercial airlines but also the air-traffic controllers union, which had objected to similar plans in the past. This is by no means a panacea: Once upon a time, Congress turned over passenger rail and mail delivery to corporations known as Amtrak and the Postal Service. Much will depend on ensuring the new air traffic entity avoids the governance flaws that left those agencies still unduly dependent on Congress. Still, the stronger demand for air travel, as opposed to train rides and first-class letters, gives reason to hope Mr. Shuster’s proposed entity will at least be financially solvent.

Objections, so far, come from a single commercial carrier (Delta), the business aviation lobby and certain congressional Democrats who resist transferring Congress’s power to a nonprofit corporation — to the point that they’re making common cause with a profit-making corporation and the private-jet set. These strange bedfellows should not have veto power over a promising reform, even if it wasn’t made in the USA.


Cessna C208 Caravan, Castle Aviation "Castle": Incident occurred February 10, 2016 at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport (KCLE), Ohio

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Pilot error and poor visibility were to blame for a small private plane veering off the runway Wednesday night at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, an airport spokeswoman said Thursday.

The incident, which caused five aircraft to divert to other airports, occurred just before 10 p.m., when the pilot of a Castle Caravan C-208 was taxiing and turned too soon, riding off the paved surface, spokeswoman Michele Dynia said in a written statement.

Pavement conditions were within "acceptable" limits, Dynia said, but heavy snow throughout the evening reduced visibility. The stranded aircraft forced the runway to shut down, leaving only one runway open. The other planes were diverted while snow removal crews worked to keep that runway clear, she said. All five aircraft later returned to Hopkins.


CLEVELAND, Ohio — A small private plane went off the runway Wednesday night at Hopkins International Airport, closing a runway.

The pilot was the only person on the plane and was uninjured, airport spokeswoman Michele Dynia said.

The incident happened just before 10 p.m. Dynia did not have information on what type of plane was involved.

Heavy snow was falling at the time and there was low visibility, Dynia said, although she added that the runway's surface condition was "within acceptable limits." The airport was fined $735,000 last year by the Federal Aviation Administration, which said Hopkins did not have adequate staffing for snow removal and de-icing of runways.

The airport denied the FAA's accusations that low staffing created runway hazards but pledged to create a new plan for snow removal and to hire more snowplow operators.

The poor weather Wednesday night resulted in several commercial flights being diverted or delayed, according to the airport's website. Nearly 4 inches of snow fell at Hopkins on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

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Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport (KCLE), Ohio

Cessna 182Q Skylane, N182SD: Accident occurred February 11, 2016 near Parker County Airport (KWEA), Weatherford, Texas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:


NTSB Identification: GAA16CA130
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, February 11, 2016 in Hudson Oaks, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/03/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 182, registration: N182SD
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot, during approach, his altitude was too high on final. He reported that he decided to land and that the landing flare lasted longer than he expected. The airplane touched down beyond mid-field and bounced twice. The pilot reported that as he approached the end of the runway, he attempted a right turn in order to turn off of the runway and on to the taxiway; however his speed was too fast to complete the turn. The airplane exited the runway turn off and traveled down an embankment where it nosed over just short of the highway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the both wings, fuselage, the rudder and vertical stabilizer. 

The pilot reported that there were no mechanical failures or anomalies with the airplane prior to or during the flight that would have prevented normal flight operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's decision to continue the high approach, resulting in excessive speed during the landing roll, a loss of directional control, runway excursion, and nose over.

WILLOW PARK – No one was hurt when a plane, attempting land at the Parker County Airport, overturned Thursday afternoon on the south frontage road to Interstate Highway 20 in Willow Park.

A 66-year-old Weatherford man was landing the aircraft, a Cessna 182 Skylane, when it overturned around 3 p.m., said Trooper Ricky Hunter, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman.

The man, whose name was not released, was not hurt, Hunter said in a release. He was the only person in the four-seater plane.

DPS troopers investigated the downed aircraft, the release states.

According to the release, the plane was traveling from south to north, attempting to land at the airport. The aircraft skidded off the runway and overturned in the grassy median off the south frontage road.


PARKER COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – A Cessna 182Q Skylane crashed just north of the runway at Parker County Airport Thursday around 3:00 p.m. on Highway 180E about 30 miles west of Fort Worth.

The DPS says the pilot was not hurt.  He  was the only one on board.

Story, images and video:

A pilot whose plane left the runway and overturned shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday at the Parker County Airport was reported uninjured in the crash.

The pilot was attempting to land a Cessna 182 Skylane, traveling from south to north, when the airplane skidded off the north end of the runway and overturned on the grassy hill south of the Interstate 20 frontage road, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Ricky Hunter said.

The small aircraft came to rest upside down.  DPS did not release the name of the pilot though he was identified as a 66-year-old Weatherford man.  The Cessna was registered to William Sunkel of Weatherford, according to FAA records. 

The pilot was the sole occupant of the four-seat aircraft, Hunter said.  The frontage road was shut down and traffic diverted as DPS, firefighters and police worked the crash.   A trooper told the Democrat that fuel was leaking from the plane. 


PARKER COUNTY -- The pilot of a small plane walked away uninjured Thursday after the plane skidded off the runway of the Parker County Airport and overturned, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported.

The plane stopped in a grassy median on the south frontage road of Interstate 20 in Willow Park north of the runway, DPS Trooper Richard Hunter wrote in an email.

The pilot, identified as a 66-year-old Weatherford man, was trying to land at the airport about 3 p.m. He was the only occupant of the four-seat Cessna 182 Skylane, Hunter said.


Officials say the pilot of a small plane was not injured when the aircraft traveled off the end of a runway and flipped upside-down Thursday in Parker County.

The single-engine Cessna 182 Skylane was attempting to land at the Parker County Airport at about 3 p.m. when it skidded and overturned in the grassy median off the south Interstate 20 Frontage Road, east of Weatherford, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The 66-year-old pilot, a Weatherford resident, was the only occupant in the plane and was not injured, DPS troopers said.


Cessna 182: Incident occurred February 11, 2016 in Corvallis, Benton County, Oregon

EUGENE, Ore. - A pilot of a small plane reported seeing a drone flying within a few feet of the aircraft over the Corvallis area Thursday.

The private pilot in a Cessna 182 was flying at 2,500 when he told the Eugene control tower that he saw the drone, the FAA confirmed.

FAA rules limit private drones to 500 feet and below.

The incident is under investigation.


Congressman Young Squares Off Before House Committee Over Essential Air Service, Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization • Demands Fixes for Alaska:“Mr. Chairmen, I will say again if this bill is not fixed, I’m not going to support it. It better be fixed”

Congressman Young Discussing H.R. 4441, the AIRR Act, Before the House T&I Committee. 

Washington, D.C. – Standing up for Alaska’s unique aviation interests, today Congressman Don Young squared off before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on proposed legislation to reform the aviation system in the United States – H.R. 4441, the Aviation Innovation Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act. The bill proposes major structural changes for the nation’s air-traffic control system, removing it from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and turning it into a non-profit corporation controlled by a private board.

 “I am personally involved in this legislation, if any one state is affected by this legislation it’s Alaska,” Congressman Young stated. “You take all the land east of the Mississippi, from the tip of Maine to the tip of Florida, that’s Alaska… And in this bill, we eliminate – they say that we do not – but we eliminate Essential Air Service, in the sense that I have to take and fight each year to get appropriations to fund it. That’s wrong. I told the Chairman this. Essential Air Service is crucial to my state.”

Under H.R. 4441, mandatory funding for Essential Air Service (EAS) – a program serving more than 49 remote communities in Alaska – would be eliminated, leaving EAS funds entirely subject to the annual appropriations process. Considering the current fiscal climate, the elimination of mandatory EAS spending – generated from fees paid by airlines crossing U.S. airspace but never landing – could lead to a 40% reduction in EAS funding.

“The second part, they say we’re not exempting Part 135 from user fees or taxes,” Young argued. “That’s what serves my communities. I don’t have highways. I don’t have streets. I’ve got air.”

H.R. 4441 works to exempt certain General Aviation from future user fees, but fails to exempt Part 135 operators – air charters and taxis providing transportation services, critical goods and supplies, to nearly every remote town and village in Alaska.

“A lot of this bill is good, I’ll admit that,” Young said. “I’ve gone through it. The FAA has gotten too big… getting involved in some silly ass things that have nothing to do with safety. That has to be changed, but the idea that we’re going to penalize a state – and I’ve asked you to exempt Alaska – is wrong…Mr. Chairmen, I will say again if this bill is not fixed, I’m not going to support it. It better be fixed.”

A former Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and current member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, Congressman Young has consistently worked to build an aviation system in Alaska driven by innovation and safety. Along with Senator Ted Stevens and the Alaska Delegation, Young has worked to develop wind shear detection equipment, computer assisted approach technology, voluntary safety improvement systems like the Medallion Program, and the Capstone Project to use satellites when monitoring air traffic instead of radar.

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American Airlines, Airbus A319-100, N763US: Incident occurred February 11, 2016 at Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX), California

LOS ANGELES -- Authorities say an American Airlines plane has landed safely after declaring an emergency and diverting to Los Angeles International Airport.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey says the plane landed and taxied normally late Thursday morning and firefighters were not needed.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says Flight 564 declared the emergency while flying from San Jose, California, to Phoenix.

Airport spokeswoman Katherine Alvarado says a mechanical problem was reported aboard the plane, which had 137 people aboard.

A reporter with the FOX LA station said on Twitter that all the passengers on the flight had been put on oxygen. That could not be immediately confirmed by CBS News.

American Airlines released a statement regarding the incident.

"American Airlines Flight 564 from San Jose, Calif., to Phoenix diverted to Los Angeles due to a mechanical issue. The aircraft, an Airbus A319 with 125 passengers and a crew of five, landed safely and taxied to the gate. Our maintenance team is currently evaluating the aircraft," the statement read. "We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience, and are working to get them to Arizona as soon as possible."


Cessna 150F, N6960F: Accident occurred February 01, 2016 in Lapeer, Michigan


NTSB Identification: GAA16CA123

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, February 01, 2016 in Lapeer, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/14/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 150, registration: N6960F
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The owner of the airplane reported that the solo student pilot told him that the airplane "bounced upon touchdown." He further reported that the solo student pilot executed a "go-around," and "determined the climb out rate was insufficient to clear the trees and the airspeed and altitude were insufficient to permit a safe course adjustment to avoid the tree line." The airplane touched down on a field with "plowed soft soil," the nose wheel collapsed, and the airplane nosed over. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing, the vertical stabilizer, and the rudder.

The owner did not report any preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The student pilot's failure to achieve an adequate climb rate while turning to avoid obstacles during an aborted landing, resulting in an uncontrolled descent, collision with terrain, and a nose over.

OneJet expanding service at Pittsburgh International Airport (KPIT), Pennsylvania: Airline will hire local flight crews, maintenance workers

OneJet names Pittsburgh its 'focus city,' adds non-stop to Hartford

A young and growing airline specializing in corporate jet travel chose Pittsburgh International Airport as its new market for expansion, pledging to bring four more nonstop destinations and about 40 jobs to the airport this year.

OneJet will offer nonstop service to Hartford, Conn., beginning May 9, and announce four more new markets later this year. OneJet caters to business travelers flying between small and medium-sized markets, operating with seven-seater Hawker 400 jet aircraft.

CEO Matt Maguire said expanding in Pittsburgh is a result of the success of flights to Milwaukee and Indianapolis last May.

“What's been so encouraging here in Pittsburgh is the response we've seen from very large corporations coming to us in being a new brand with a different product saying, ‘This is something we value and we will use,' ” Maguire said.

Airport officials announced the new flight and future expansion at a press conference at the airport on Thursday attended by local and state lawmakers, as well as OneJet. Maguire said the expansion represents “the largest investment we've made to date in a community.”

Former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a senior adviser to OneJet, said he urged the company to consider Pittsburgh in its plans to develop nonstop service between small and medium-sized markets, given how much service the airport lost when U.S. Air moved its hub.

“It's perfect for a place like Pittsburgh because of what happened with U.S. Air,” LaHood said. “This is no small investment. ... It also says to the people of this region we think this is a real opportunity.”

Future destinations are likely to be markets that are 300 miles to 700 miles away, previously had nonstop service and see 30 to 80 passengers a day, Maguire said. One possibility is Memphis, one of four cities OneJet serves that lost a nonstop from Pittsburgh on Delta last year. Maguire said Memphis-based FedEx, which has a contract with OneJet, is interested in the route.

Each new route brings four to five pilots, two mechanics and at least one other employee to the airport, Maguire said.

The Hartford flight fills a nonstop route previously vacated by American, and represents the 54th nonstop destination from Pittsburgh.

About 80 passengers a day currently fly to Hartford using connecting flights, a trip that can take about five hours, as opposed to the one-hour direct flight.

Engineering firm Michael Baker International is a likely customer for the route, said vice president of business development Steve Hammel, as it has an office in Rocky Hill, Conn. The company has offices worldwide and spends $7.5 million a year on travel, including $1 million out of Pittsburgh, Hammel said.

“It's a great asset to us,” Hammel said.


OneJet Selects Pittsburgh as Next Focus City: Air Transportation Network Announces Widely Expanded Service and Investment in Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- OneJet (, the air transportation network that provides increased access to nonstop travel in small and medium size markets, today announced the selection of Pittsburgh as its new focus city, significantly expanding nonstop regional air service from Pittsburgh International Airport.  The expansion will include the addition of five new nonstop destinations from Pittsburgh over the course of 2016, as well as a paralleled investment in Pittsburgh domiciled aircraft and employees.

Beginning on May 9th, OneJet will add weekday nonstop service between Pittsburgh and Hartford, Connecticut, with seats available for sale beginning April 1st, subject to customary Department of Transportation approvals.  OneJet, which already serves Indianapolis and Milwaukee from Pittsburgh, will announce additional destinations from the new focus city during the second quarter of this year.

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a senior advisor to OneJet, stated: "Through the use of right sized aircraft and smart capacity optimization, OneJet is innovatively leveraging our nation's existing air transportation capabilities to create highly accessible nonstop travel options in the U.S. Today's announcement reflects a steadfast and cooperative effort by OneJet and Pennsylvania leadership to ensure Pittsburgh is positioned to enjoy continued and increasing access to nonstop service and convenient regional connectivity."

"OneJet's decision to expand service in Pennsylvania is critical to the growth of the commonwealth's economy and the thriving Pittsburgh business community," said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. "Additionally, travelers will have easier access to enjoy Pennsylvania's tourism assets throughout the greater Pittsburgh region and beyond."

OneJet, which launched operations from Pittsburgh last May, now services over ten Fortune 500 companies, including FedEx, with inventory available through all traditional corporate and retail points of sale, including Expedia, Carlson Wagonlit, and BCD Travel.  OneJet service includes TSA Pre access for eligible travelers, expedited boarding, and complimentary on board amenities. 

"OneJet is proud to serve the Pittsburgh community and its corporate citizens. Our decision to expand operations in there, was due to the overwhelming response we've seen from Pittsburgh's largest corporations and the business travel community in the region," commented Matthew Maguire, OneJet's Chief Executive Officer.  "We're extremely excited to now offer our Pittsburgh customers a new set of nonstop destinations, while providing the highest levels of safety, security, and convenience.

"OneJet's decision to declare Pittsburgh International Airport a base of operations and to add flights to key business destinations shows that our region is growing and that our business demand for flights is strong," said Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive. "The permanent jobs and flights connected to this base are indicative of the positive momentum we've seen at Pittsburgh International in the past 13 months. We're excited for the future of OneJet as it continues to grow into the future, and we'd like to thank them for this investment in Pittsburgh International and our region."

"We're thrilled that OneJet chose to capitalize on the demand for more nonstop flights from Pittsburgh International Airport. We'd like to thank them for working with us to make today's announcement a reality," Christina Cassotis, Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO continued. "This is truly an example of our continuing partnership with airlines and our ability to leverage the continuing renaissance of Pittsburgh. OneJet's growth will mark 21 new routes launched from Pittsburgh International in the last 13 months."

For additional information, please visit For customer inquiries or travel assistance, please call 1-844-ONEJET1 (663-5381).

About OneJet 
OneJet is an air transportation network that provides consumers increased access to nonstop travel in small to mid-size markets, at relatively low cost. Flights operate from main commercial terminals and airports in markets served, currently including Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Memphis, and Nashville, providing weekday service on Hawker 400 light jet aircraft. All flights are operated by regionally based operating partners featuring ARG/US Platinum Safety-rated and TSA-certified operations. The company incorporates former senior leadership from the U.S. major airlines, the U.S. Department of Transportation, leading U.S. aircraft manufacturers, and TSA. 


Cessna 150, N5945E: Accident occurred February 10, 2016 in Sturgis, Meade County, South Dakota

Date: 10-FEB-16
Time: 16:40:00Z
Regis#: N5945E
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 150
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Substantial
Flight Phase: TAXI (TXI)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Rapid City FSDO-27
State: South Dakota


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Officials hone in on Walla Walla Regional Airport (KALW) master plan: Federal Aviation Administration required plan will identify ways the regional airport will evolve over the next 20 years

A more than yearlong master planning process for the Walla Walla Regional Airport has taken off.

Consulting firm Mead & Hunt has embarked on a more than half-million dollar planning process that identifies strengths and weaknesses to ultimately create a guiding document for the airport for the next two decades.

During a Port of Walla Walla meeting Thursday, representatives will present the three commissioners with an update on what they’ve gathered so far and what’s ahead.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Port’s administrative office, 310 A St.

Mead & Hunt’s presentation is one of several expected to take place in the next year and a half as work unfolds. It will also follow a two-hour meeting earlier in the day with a Planning Advisory Committee identified to help provide input. That committee is made up of local representatives of general aviation, tourism, planning, business and the Port.

The “Airport Forecast” focuses on the future of commercial and general aviation operations and how they will affect infrastructure requirements. That piece is one of two components in the master plan that requires approval by the FAA, said Walla Walla Regional Airport Manager Jennifer Skoglund.

The agency requires plan updates every 10 to 15 years; Walla Walla’s last one was in 2002.

The plan enables airport officials to identify projects for 20 years into the future. It also identifies undertakings for which the airport would be eligible for FAA funds.

The cost of the master planning at this point is $565,418. A majority of that — about 92 percent — is covered by the FAA. The remaining more than 8 percent is divided by the Port and a Washington State Department of Transportation grant. Each of those sides pays $22,956.

A first meeting in November identified what Mead & Hunt refers to as SWOTs — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Among the strengths: the abundance of World War II-era  facilities and infrastructure, ease of access, developable property, free parking, development-friendly zoning, growing economy and airline passenger growth.

The weaknesses include a lack of airline competition and single destination service; responsiveness to aircraft fuel availability; not being a full-service fixed based operator; the Port’s focus on return on investment; winter fog and its impact on flights; and full T-hangars.

The opportunities include a chance to attract aviation businesses, develop a fee structure that differentiates between aviation and non-aviation operations, a desire for a California commercial flight destination, and air traffic control tower services.

Identified threats include a need for more than one aircraft mechanic, a need for new business buildings at the business park, the ability for operators to build or own buildings versus leaseholds, and lack of private investment into new hangar development, among other things.


Alaska Rep. Don Young: Federal Aviation Administration privatization bill harms Alaska air travel

A U.S. House committee is considering a bill that would make the nation’s air traffic controllers employees of a non-profit corporation, and shift financial responsibility for safe air travel away from taxpayers. Alaska Congressman Don Young argued against it this morning, but the air traffic controllers’ union supports the bill.

The prime supporter of the FAA remodel is Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Penn, who has the job Congressman Young used to have: chairman of House Transportation. In a video promoting the concept, Shuster says the FAA has spent billions trying to modernize but can’t keep pace with growth in air travel.

“And unless we head in a bold new direction, the system will become crippled with delays. American manufacturing jobs could move overseas, and our country could lose its lead in aviation,” the video says.

That’s why we need the Aviation Innovation Reform and Reauthorization Act, the AIRR Act.”

The bill would create a new Air Traffic Control Corporation, while the FAA would remain the safety regulator. Shuster says the government won’t be responsible for any debt the corporation takes on.

Young objects on several counts. For one, the Alaska Congressman says the airline industry would be over-represented on the board of the air traffic control corporation. These days, Young says, that means giving the reins to four major airlines.

“Four! And if they’re going to run this FAA, I don’t think the consumer is going to get the right representation on that board,” he said.

And, Young says, the new system would put Congress in the back seat, while giving the  president power to appoint two board members.

“Why should we let a president appoint them?” he asked. “This is our job as legislators! If we’re going to change the system, then let’s change it with us having some control over it, financially, and the board members should be appointed from the Congress. I’m not going to give any president any more authority! … We might as well have a king!”

Also, Young says the bill would undermine Essential Air Service by taking away its dedicated funding. The program subsidizes air travel to dozens of Alaska villages, and Young says it’s crucial to the state.

“That’s what serves my community,” he said. “I don’t have highways. I don’t have streets. I’ve got air.”

In Alaska, the proposal has alarmed aviation interests, including the Alaska Airmen Association, which represents private pilots and general aviation.  The bill would exempt non-commercial pilots from new user fees. But Adam White, who works on government affairs issues for the Alaska Airmen, says he doubts the exemption would hold. Eventually, White says, small-plane pilots could be subject to fees for contacting Air Traffic control.

“Our concern is that’s a huge safety issue, because a lot of folks simply won’t avail themselves to the services that would be there, and could be making decisions to fly into bad weather without the help of ATC.” :

White also questions the new model, as he reads it in the bill.

“Handing over all the FAA’s assets, with the navigation aids, the radio communication outlets,” White says, “all those things handed over to a private corporation, that if it fails, the way it’s currently written, our understanding is that the FAA would have to buy all that infrastructure back at market value.”

Air traffic controllers have objected to many past calls to privatize the FAA. But union president Paul Rinaldi testified in favor of this plan, as long as compensation and benefits remain unchanged. Rinaldi, head of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, says controllers have been devastated by budget uncertainty and hiring freezes. Rinaldi says the bill will help controllers get the modern equipment they need.

“And most importantly, better staffing,” he says. “We are crucially, crucially at this point with our staffing where controllers are having tough times to get breaks, take time off, to make sure that they have an appropriate amount of fatigue mitigation going on. Our staffing. We must address the staffing of our facilities.”

The bill will be up before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Thursday where member will have a chance to amend it.


Flight Design CTLS, N911TS, County of Tulare Sheriffs Office: Fatal accident occurred February 10, 2016 near Visalia Municipal Airport (KVIS), Tulare County, California

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA067 
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Springville, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2017
Aircraft: FLIGHT DESIGN GMBH CTLS, registration: N911TS
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.

The airplane, which was owned and operated by the local county sheriff's department, was on a low-altitude observation flight. According to GPS data recovered from the airplane, about 1 minute before the accident, the airplane was flying westbound (heading 242°) over a highway, about 500 feet above ground level (agl), and at a groundspeed of 52 knots. The GPS data and witness observations indicated that the airplane entered a left turn. According to the witnesses, the airplane's wings then dipped left and right, and the airplane descended to ground impact. The witnesses heard the engine operating in a steady tone until ground impact. A postcrash fire ensued, which destroyed the airplane. 

Examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The airplane's estimated weight at the time of the accident was about 152 lbs over the airplane's maximum gross weight. Because of the higher gross weight, the airplane's stall speed in a 30° banked turn was 3 knots higher than it would have been at the airplane's maximum gross weight. This resulted in a stall speed of about 48 knots calibrated airspeed, which was near the airplane's recorded groundspeed of 52 knots.

The sun position at the time of the accident was on a bearing of 241° and was 13° above the horizon, indicating that the pilot was looking directly into the sun before the left turn began. Another pilot who flew in the vicinity shortly after the accident reported that when flying westbound over the highway, he was looking straight into the sun, there was a lot of haze, and he could not distinguish the tops of the hills to the left of the highway from the sky. It is likely that the accident pilot was partially blinded by sun glare and did not see the hills rising above him on his left. After he entered the left turn moving away from the sun line, it is likely that the rising terrain suddenly came into view, and he increased the airplane's bank angle in order to avoid the terrain and exceeded the wing's critical angle-of-attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. The altitude the airplane was operating at was too low to allow for a recovery.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering at low altitude in hilly terrain, which resulted in the airplane's wing exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and a subsequent aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident were the pilot's inability to recognize the rising terrain due to the sun glare and the pilot's operation of the airplane in excess of its gross weight.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Aviation Accident Factual Report  -   National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items -   National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA067
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Springville, CA
Aircraft: FLIGHT DESIGN GMBH CTLS, registration: N911TS
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 February 10, 2016, at 1617 Pacific standard time, a Flight Design CTLS airplane, N911TS, flying at low altitude entered a hard left turn and descended into terrain 4 miles southwest of Springville, California. The airline transport pilot and single passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the Tulare County Sheriff as a public aircraft under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on visual flight rules company flight plan. The flight originated from Visalia Municipal Airport, Visalia, California, approximately 1446 as a local flight.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane circling a nearby area at a low altitude, then depart to the southwest. While flying in a westerly direction the airplane made a left turn, the wings dipped left and right, then the airplane descended into the ground in a sideways wing down orientation. The engine was heard operating in a steady tone until ground impact. A post-crash fire ensured, destroying the airplane.


The pilot, age 45, held an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, issued on October 11, 2007, with ratings for airplane multiengine land, and commercial privileges for airplane single-engine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument helicopter, and private pilot privileges for gliders. He held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land issued on June 29, 2014. He held a first-class medical certificate issued on April 2, 2014, with no limitations. Examination of the pilot's civilian logbook revealed that he had 3,675 total civilian flight hours, 3,526.4 hours in single engine airplanes, 1,002.6 hours in the Flight Design CTLS, and his most recent flight review was conducted on December 8, 2015.

The passenger was a Sheriff Deputy who had been employed by the Tulare County Sheriff for about 27 years and had been assigned to the air unit for about a year. His duties as a crew member onboard the airplane was to act as an observer and operate the video camera equipment.


The two-seat, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number F-11-02-05, was manufactured in 2011. It was powered by a Rotax 912ULS normally aspirated 100-hp engine and equipped with a Sensenich ground adjustable 3-bladed composite propeller. Review of the maintenance logbooks showed that the most recent 100-hour inspection was performed on February 3, 2016, at a total aircraft time of 3,103.9 hours, and a total engine time of 1,103.9 hours.

The basic aircraft was configured as an aerial observation aircraft with the following additional equipment. In the luggage compartment a FM transceiver, mini PC, video interface system, GNSS (global navigation satellite system) receiver, Airlink wireless modem, and a 12V to 28V DC converter. Located on the cabin roof was the GNSS antenna. Located in the cabin was an ARS mapping system, 15-inch LCD monitor, and camera control joy stick. On the bottom of the airplane was a spotlight. Located on the right wing was the video camera pod. Maintenance records showed that the most recent weight & balance performed on August 27, 2015, documented an empty weight plus 90 kg of fuel of 511 kg. Two crewmembers plus 4.5 kg personal gear for each, and a 2.3 kg survival kit added an additional 175.5 kgs. The total weight of the airplane at takeoff was 686.5 kgs. The maximum gross weight as stated in the manufacturers pilot operating handbook is 600 kgs. The center of gravity (cg) was calculated to be 0.448 m (meters) which was within the forward limit of 0.282 m and the aft limit 0.478 m. The airplane had been airborne for 90 minutes before the accident and would have burned about 6 gal of fuel (16.4 kg) which would equate to an aircraft weight at the time of the accident of 669.6 kg.

The Flight Design Pilot Operating Handbook states the following concerning aerodynamic stalls:

"Stalling speed for the CTLS with a weight of 600 kg (1320 lbs) is 72 km/h (39 kcas)with the flaps set at 35°, 77 km/h (42 kcas) with the flaps set at 0° and 90 km/h (44 kcas) with flaps set at -12°. Approaching stall is indicated by a sluggishness around the vertical axis. The controls become "soft" about 5 km/h (3 kts) above stall speed. Release the aft pressure on the stick to increase airspeed. Close to stall the aircraft can only be controlled by rudder and stabilizer. In a stall, the effectiveness of the ailerons is greatly reduced.

When the nose drops during a stall, the aircraft will lose approx. 50 m (165 ft)
altitude. Thus, near the ground a safety minimum speed of approx. 115 km/h (62 kts) should be maintained."

Aviation Circular 23-8C Flight Test Guide states that the following formula can be used to calculate the stall airspeed when the airplane's weight is different than the specified weight, Vs=Vstv(Ws/Wt) where Vs= new stall airspeed, Vst= standard stall airspeed, Ws= new weight, Wt = standard weight. Since the weight of the airplane at the time of the accident is known to be 669.6 kg, the standard weight is 600 kg, and the stall speed with zero flaps of 42 kcas (knots calibrated airspeed), results in a corrected stall speed of 44.4 kcas.

Flight Design provided additional aerodynamic stall information in the form of a stall speed, bank angle, and gross weight table. At a weight of 600 kg and 0° flaps the calculated stall airspeed while in a 15° angle of bank turn is 43 kcas. The stall airspeed in the same configuration at 30° angle of bank is 45 kcas. Using the formula in AC 28-8C to determine stall speeds for the airplane's higher weight of 669.6 kg results in a zero flap stall airspeed at 15° angle of bank of 45.3 kcas, at 30° angle of bank the value is 47.6 kcas, and at 45° angle of bank value is 52.7 kcas.


The Porterville Municipal Airport automated weather observation system-3 (AWOS-3), located 11 miles southwest of the accident site, at an elevation of 443 feet mean sea level, recorded at 1556, wind from 300° at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, and altimeter setting of 30.18 inHg. A visual inspection of radial velocity observations close to Hanford, CA, located 45 miles west-north-west from the accident site, for altitudes near 1000' msl revealed a wide variety of wind magnitudes, generally below about 7 knots, coming from the northwest or north-northwest. North American Mesoscale model sounding was obtained for the accident area valid at 1600 PST, which identified a wind from about 290° true at 3-4 knots applicable for an altitude of about 1600' msl.

Sun position at the time of the accident was determined by using the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Solar Calculator. The Sun's position on February 10, 2016, at 1617, as viewed from the accident location was on an azimuth of 241° true and elevation of 13° above the horizon.

A pilot who had flown over the accident site shortly after the accident occurred stated that he was flying out of Springville around 2,000 feet, towards Lake Success, and that the angle the road (Highway 190) was lined up on was straight into the sun and there was a lot of haze. He could not distinguish the tops of the hills from the sky because of the (sun) visibility.


A Garmin GPSMAP 496 portable GPS receiver was recovered from the wreckage. The device was sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory and the data contained within the unit was recovered. The data contained 10 tracklogs from February 4, 2016, through February 10, 2016. The accident flight was recorded starting 1446:36 Pacific standard time (PST) and ending 1614:11 on February 10, 2016. The aircraft departed Visalia Municipal Airport to the northwest at 1456 and turned northeastward. The aircraft briefly orbited a location in the vicinity of Ivanhoe, CA, at 1504, at an altitude of about 550 feet above ground level (agl) and continued eastward. The aircraft proceeded to make a touch and go at Woodlake Airport at 1515. The aircraft continued generally northward following the Friant Kern Canal until reaching a point east of East Orosi, CA, at 1530. The aircraft proceeded southward, briefly orbiting a location approximately 2.5 nautical miles northeast of Farmersville, CA, before continuing southeast. At 1601, the aircraft orbited a location on the northwest corner of Lake Success before continuing eastward. The aircraft maneuvered over a location northeast of Lake Success. At 1613:47 the aircraft was heading 249° true, at 1613:49 heading was 231°, at 1613:59 heading was 230°, and at 1614:00 heading was 242°. The track made a left turn and the last recorded position was at 1614:11 while the aircraft tracked 114.8° true at a GPS altitude of 1,096 feet (400 feet agl) and groundspeed of 52 knots.


The wreckage was located on a steep 20° slope covered with green grass, flowering yellow mustard plants, and uneven rock-boulders underneath the vegetation. The wreckage area was 80 feet in length on a bearing of 010° magnetic. The airplane wreckage was inverted pointing from tail to nose on a bearing of 190° magnetic. The airplane structure had been subjected to a post-crash fire that completely consumed the airplane leaving only the black carbon fiber cloth remnants of the airframe. The wings and tail remained attached to the fuselage. The initial point of ground impact consisted of the indentation of the left main landing gear tire and the left wing tip. Immediately forward of the tire indentation was a 4 foot by 4 foot area of disturbed earth containing fragments from the fiberglass nose cowling. The initial impact was consistent with a high vertical energy component and very little forward velocity energy component.

The horizontal stabilator was partially fire damaged, leaving the outboard sections of the stabilator structure minimally damaged. The vertical stabilizer and rudder were consumed by fire. Both left and right flaps were attached to their respective hinge fixtures. The flap position could not be determined. Both ailerons were in place on each wing and balance weights present. The aluminum push rods connecting the ailerons through the wing to the cockpit were mostly destroyed, however the bell cranks in the wing and hinge points on the aileron were present with the control rod ends attached at each location. The aileron control mixer located in the aft cabin area was located and all attaching hardware was present and fixed in place. The aluminum push rods between the aileron mixer and bell cranks in the wing root were not located (presumed destroyed by fire). The rudder cable ends were located in the cockpit area and the attached turnbuckles were present with rudder bar attaching hardware present and cotter keyed. The cables were traced back to the tail where they remained attached to the rudder horn. The elevator push-pull cable turnbuckle in the cockpit area was separated from the rod end on the control stick torsion tube angle joint. The fractured end of the rod was bent, the fracture surface was angled at 45° and rough, consistent with overload. The push-pull cable was traced to the tail and remained attached to the stabilator bell crank. The balance weight remained attached to the bell crank.

The engine was a Rotax 912ULS, SN: 6783279. External examination revealed extreme heat damage. Fire sleeves that covered the fuel lines and oil lines were fragile and crumbled when touched. Scat tubes disintegrated when touched. All 4 cylinders were attached to the engine case. The reduction gear box remained mounted to the front of the engine. No holes or evidence of uncontained failure was observed. The 3-bladed ICH model propeller hub was attached to the propeller flange. One blade remained attached to the hub. Both carburetors were present and heat damaged. Both throttle and mixture cables remained attached to each carburetor. The accessory section on the back of the engine was destroyed by fire. The oil-air separator was detached from the engine. The oil tank was not attached to the engine. The oil cap was on the oil tank. The top spark plugs of each cylinder were removed and exhibited very light wear, light gray in color, with no mechanical damage observed. The ignition control box was mostly destroyed by extreme heat. The valve covers were removed. All valve arms, push rods, valve springs, were movable when pushed on. The engine crankshaft could not be rotated by hand. No unusual damage or wear was observed.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot February 11, 2016, by a Microcorre Diagnostic Laboratory pathologist who had been retained by the Tulare County Coroner. The listed cause of death was "blunt force injuries."

The Federal Aviation Administration Forensic Toxicology Research Team, at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot with negative results for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and listed drugs.


Some witnesses reported seeing a yellow single engine airplane in the vicinity at the time of the accident. The Tulare County Sheriff investigated and identified the pilot of a yellow Howard DGA15 airplane based out of Bakerfield, CA, who said that he had flown over the accident site sometime after the accident and observed first responders on-scene. He had not witnessed the accident.

Accelerated Stall Information

The Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A) states the following concerning accelerated stalls.
"At the same gross weight, airplane configuration, and power setting, a given airplane will consistently stall at the same indicated airspeed if no acceleration is involved. The airplane will, however, stall at a higher indicated airspeed when excessive maneuvering loads are imposed by steep turns, pull-ups, or other abrupt changes in its flightpath. Stalls entered from such flight situations are called "accelerated maneuver stalls," a term, which has no reference to the airspeeds involved.

Stalls which result from abrupt maneuvers tend to be more rapid, or severe, than the unaccelerated stalls, and because they occur at higher-than-normal airspeeds, and/or may occur at lower than anticipated pitch attitudes, they may be unexpected by an inexperienced pilot. Failure to take immediate steps toward recovery when an accelerated stall occurs may result in a complete loss of flight control, notably, power-on spins."


NTSB Identification: WPR16FA067 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Springville, CA
Aircraft: FLIGHT DESIGN GMBH CTLS, registration: N911TS
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On February 10, 2016, at 1617 Pacific standard time, a Flight Design CTLS airplane, N911TS, while flying at low altitude entered a hard left turn and descended into terrain 4 miles southwest of Springville, California. The airline transport pilot and single passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the Tulare County Sheriff as a public aircraft under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules company flight plan. The flight originated from Visalia Municipal Airport, Visalia, California, approximately 1440 as a local flight.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane circling a nearby area then depart to the southwest. The airplane made a left turn, the wings dipped left and right, then the airplane descended into the ground in a sideways wing down orientation. The engine was heard operating in a steady tone until ground impact. A post-crash fire ensured, destroying the airplane.

The Porterville Municipal Airport automated weather observation system-3 (AWOS-3), located 11 miles southwest of the accident site, at an elevation of 443 feet mean sea level, recorded at 1556, wind from 300 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, and altimeter setting of 30.18 inHg.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fresno FSDO-17

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

Following the fatal crash of a Tulare County Sheriff’s Office airplane, the Kings County Sheriff’s Office has grounded its recently acquired plane.

Sheriff One, a Flight Design Composite Technology Law Enforcement (CTLE) aircraft, crashed around 4:15 p.m. Wednesday along Highway 190 near Lake Success, just west of Porterville. The crash killed the pilot, 45-year-old Hanford resident James Chavez, and Deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, of Visalia.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said the plane had assisted in catching a man brandishing a weapon prior to the crash. There was no distress call and the plane’s parachute was not deployed prior to the crash, the department said.

The plane logged more than 3,000 hours of flight time since it went into operation in mid-2011.

The Kings County Sheriff’s Office bought a Flight Design CTLEi aircraft in 2014 for about $471,000. Sheriff David Robinson said the plane, known as Sky King 1, is a newer, fuel-injected version of the one that crashed Wednesday.

Like the Tulare County plane, Sky King 1 features a parachute system that allows for safe landing in the event of engine failure.

For the safety of his pilots, Robinson said Sky King 1 has been grounded until more is known about the crash. He said he hopes to get the plane back into operation quickly.

Megan Rapozo, public relations officer for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, said the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash. She said there is no set timeline to determine the cause.

“We’ll be waiting for their results along with everyone else,” Rapozo said.

As of Thursday, the FAA’s preliminary accident and incident report website said the aircraft “crashed under unknown circumstances and caught fire.”

Robinson said the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the research and the purchase of Sky King 1. Chavez was one of two pilots who helped train pilots for Kings County’s air program.

“He knew all of our pilots and worked with every single one of them,” Robinson said.

Chavez was hired as a pilot for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office in 2014 and had volunteered for more than a year prior. The sheriff’s office said he was hired for his extensive aviation experience and exceptional piloting skills. He had previously served in the California National Guard, Navy Reserve and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Aerosquadron.

Robinson said Chavez was “truly an expert” with the CTLE aircraft.

Ballantyne started with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office in 1989. He became a deputy observer for Sheriff One, using high-tech equipment to guide deputies on the ground during pursuits.

“It’s just tragic,” Robinson said.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Thursday that flags at the state Capitol would be flown at half-staff in honor of Ballantyne and Chavez.

“We are grateful for these men, who made the ultimate sacrifice doing what they did everyday – serving and protecting their community,” Brown said in a statement.


NTSB Identification: WPR16FA067 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Springville, CA
Aircraft: FLIGHT DESIGN GMBH CTLS, registration: N911TS
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On February 10, 2016, at 1617 Pacific standard time, a Flight Design CTLS airplane, N911TS, while flying at low altitude entered a hard left turn and descended into terrain 4 miles southwest of Springville, California. The airline transport pilot and single passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the Tulare County Sheriff as a public aircraft under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules company flight plan. The flight originated from Visalia Municipal Airport, Visalia, California, approximately 1440 as a local flight.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane circling a nearby area then depart to the southwest. The airplane made a left turn, the wings dipped left and right, then the airplane descended into the ground in a sideways wing down orientation. The engine was heard operating in a steady tone until ground impact. A post-crash fire ensured, destroying the airplane.

The Porterville Municipal Airport automated weather observation system-3 (AWOS-3), located 11 miles southwest of the accident site, at an elevation of 443 feet mean sea level, recorded at 1556, wind from 300 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, and altimeter setting of 30.18 inHg.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fresno FSDO-17

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

Hanford police officers wore a black strip across their badge during the start of the funeral for Tulare County Sheriff's pilot James Chavez in Hanford

James Chavez, 45, left, and Tulare County sheriff's Deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, were killed Wednesday in a plane crash. 

Josiah James Chavez looks at the casket holding his father, Pilot James Chavez, at Grangeville Cemetery in Armona.

Tulare County, Calif.--   As the investigation into the Tulare County Sheriff's Office plane crash continues, funeral arrangements have been made, for the victims in the crash.

Pilot James Chavez's funeral is reportedly set one day later, on February 20, at 10 A.M., at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Hanford.

Deputy Scott Ballantyne's funeral is reportedly set for February 22, at 10 A.M., at the Visalia First Assembly of God.

On Friday morning, crews removed the wreckage, and the wreckage is being sent to Arizona, for further inspection.

A friend on Chavez is remembering the victim.

"I have flown with him many times he is a very good pilot." said Peter Ledford, who is also a commercial airline pilot in his own right.

Ledford said he has flown the plane that crashed. Ledford said the plane has a parachute, and it's surreal knowing an experienced pilot like Chavez went down.

"We are all shocked, and we are all confused," said Ledford. "We do not know what to think."

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said he had pride in the aviation team.

"It was a good use of money, and good use of resources to provide good aerial support at minimal costs." said Boudreaux. Sheriff Boudreaux said there is a plan to grow the aviation program, and that another plane wash puchased, before the crash. That plane, according to Boudreaux, is now being built.

According to Boudreaux, Chavez was slated to oversee the Aviation Department.

"The plan was to hire another pilot with another observer, and James was going to over see the program." said Boudreaux.

According to Chavez's family, a major airline is paying for flights, for people flying in for the funeral.

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The wreckage from the plane crash near Springville was moved from the crash site Friday morning.

A recovery specialist was at the site at seven Friday morning collecting the remains of Sheriff One, the plane that crashed Wednesday night into the side of the hill near Springville.

Sheriff One was assisting deputies on the ground with a chase prior to the crash and was heading back to regular patrol duties when the crash happened.

Deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, who had been with the Tulare County Sheriff's Department for 27 years and Pilot James Chavez who was a former Black Hawk pilot died in the crash. 

Tulare County Sheriff's officials tell 23ABC the wreckage will be transported to Pheonix, Arizona where it will be placed in a storage facility.

NTSB has not commented on the investigation or any preliminary causes for the crash. 

This crash is just the latest in a string of crashes during the last two months. 

In early December a SkyLife helicopter crashed shortly after leaving from the Porterville Airport. The pilot, paramedic, nurse and patient on board were all killed. 

Officials say there was no distress call and so far no cause of the crash has been released. 

Less than two weeks later, a single-engine plane made a mayday call just after four thirty in the afternoon. 

The plane crashed in southwest Bakersfield, killing the family of five on board. 

The FAA has still not released results from the crash. 

Last night in Bakersfield, pilots and others who work directly with the airport listened closely to instructors discussing the importance of communication between air traffic control and pilots. 

One person in the audience asked what happens when a pilots radar is lost. 

"We try to reach you. If we don't reach you we try going through pilots, can you reach them on the frequency? We try to go to other airports around the area and then if we can't find you, we call LA center and we send out search and rescue."

All three crashes remain under investigation. 

NTSB has not commented on Wednesday's crash and it is unclear how long it will be before a preliminary report is released. 

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It was a tough day for Tulare County Sheriff's Office and its deputies.

As the investigation continues into Wednesday's plane crash, the sheriff says it is comforting knowing the victims died doing what they loved. 

"It is heart wrenching." Says Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

The flags in Tulare County waving at half-staff are a reminder of the dangerous jobs those in law enforcement endure everyday. 

"I tear up just a tad, it becomes very emotional, I have two young kids." He says. 

"They meshed and worked well together and became a well oiled machine, they are going to be missed for sure." He adds.

Deputy Scott Ballantyne and the sheriff's office first full-time aviation pilot James Chavez died in a plane crash Wednesday afternoon. 

"Everyone knows everyone else, we knew who the pilot was we knew the patrol officer." Says Boudreaux.

Chavez leaves behind his wife and two young children, Ballantyne leaves behind his mother and sister. The two were the Tulare Sheriff's Office aviation team, the sheriff says both had years of experience and the news of the accident shocked everyone. 

"Obviously we will move forward and we are a strong department and a strong community, and we will be stronger as we get on the other side of this, but right now it is thinking about the families." He adds.

The news also took a toll on the community. 

"It is horrible, it is horrible." Says Lessa Cordova. 

Lessa Cordova grew up next door to Ballantyne on Memory Street in Visalia. She says she will always remember the man who looked over her neighborhood.

"He would tell us that was his job and I am just here to take care of everyone else, he had a lot of pride for what he did." She says.

Like Cordova, the sheriff says it will be difficult moving on, but he knows these two died doing what they loved. 

"They would not want to be doing anything else." Says Boudreaux.

Boudreaux also says they are working with the families on funeral arrangements and no dates have been set yet.

Porterville, California - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued the following statement regarding the deaths of Tulare County Sheriff's Department Deputy Scott Ballantyne and pilot James Chavez:

“Anne and I extend our deepest condolences to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department and the friends and family members of Deputy Ballantyne and pilot Chavez during this difficult time. We are grateful for these men, who made the ultimate sacrifice doing what they did everyday – serving and protecting their community.”

Deputy Ballantyne, 52, of Visalia, and pilot Chavez, 45, of Hanford, were killed yesterday in the crash of a Tulare County Sheriff's Department aircraft along Highway 190 near Lake Success in Porterville. They were assisting a mission to apprehend a suspect prior to the crash.

Deputy Ballantyne was a 27-year veteran of the Tulare County Sheriff's Department. He is survived by his mother and sister.

Pilot Chavez was hired by the Tulare County Sheriff's Department in 2014 and previously served in the California National Guard and Navy Reserve. He is survived by a wife and two children, ages eight and four.

In honor of Deputy Ballantyne and pilot Chavez, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Two Tulare County Sheriff’s Department employees, one a deputy and the other a pilot, died Wednesday afternoon when the Sheriff’s Department’s airplane crashed into the side of a mountain just east of Eagle Feather Trading Post above Success Lake.

Undersheriff Robin Skiles confirmed late Wednesday that Sheriff 1, the small fixed-wing aircraft owned by the department, had crashed killing both men aboard.

Skiles said killed were pilot James Chavez, 45, and Deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, who was the observer in the plane. Skiles said the men were the first two hired to man the aircraft.

“It’s a very sad day for the Sheriff’s Department,” Skiles said. Both he and Sheriff Mike Boudreaux went to the crash site.

The Federal Aviation Administration earlier in the day confirmed a single-engine flight aircraft crashed.

Eyewitness Karen Ramirez of Springville said she saw the plane crash and burst into flames.

“I was coming up (Highway 190) and I saw him by Success Valley,” she said as she waited at the Trading Post to speak with investigators.

She said the plane was flying very close to the hills and was right along the hillside when she saw the wing come off and the plane slam into the ground, exploding on impact.

“It was a clip and boom. It was that fast,” she said.

Omero Bravo, a community service officer with the Tule River Tribal Police, said he heard the explosion.

“It was a like a zip, plow, boom,” he said. “There was a big old fireball and a bunch of black smoke.”

Ramirez, still shaken by what she had seen, said, “It’s so upsetting. Terrible, terrible, terrible. I couldn’t believe it.”

She said she called 9-1-1 at 4:14 p.m. She said she did not hear anything before the crash to indicate the plane was having engine trouble.

Skiles said they learned of the crash almost immediately and within a few minutes learned they no longer had contact with the plane or could not locate it on GPS.

Smoke from the crash site billowed for more than 45 minutes. A Tulare County fire engine could be seen moving down the hill to the crash site and people could be seen at the site. Fire and sheriff’s department personnel kept arriving at the scene for up to an hour after the crash, and a command post was set up at the Trading Post for the department’s search and rescue team.

The department purchased the small Flight Design CTLE aircraft in 2012. It is able to fly at low speeds and hardly makes any noise. Ramirez described the plane as small, almost looking like an ultralight aircraft.

The California Highway Patrol closed Highway 190 at the Trading Post and it appeared the roadway was going to be closed for several hours. It was not known where it was closed farther up the hill, but the plane went down just east of the Trading Post about 1,000 feet off the highway. Scores of people on their way up the hill were turned around and if they needed to get to River Island Country Club or higher, were told to take the Frazier Valley Road out of Strathmore.

The Sheriff’s Department has already purchased a second aircraft, but has not taken delivery of it.

The plane only carries two people — a pilot and an observer — and is equipped with an infrared camera and heat sensor.

The plane is also equipped with a ballistic parachute, but Ramirez said she did not see a parachute deploy.


TULARE COUNTY, Calif.-- Late into the night Wednesday investigators were still on scene near the town of Springville, trying to figure out what caused a plane crash that killed two employees of the Tulare County Sheriff's Office.

The crash happened near Highway 190 and Success Valley Drive in Tulare County around 4 p.m.

On board the plane called "Sheriff One" were deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, and 45-year-old pilot James Chavez.

Karen Ramirez was driving home when she saw the sheriff's plane flying close to the hillside. 

"And I thought, 'oh he's going to hit.' And sure enough he hit and it just exploded," Ramirez says.

Ramirez pulled over and called 911 after seeing the plane go down. 

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said the plane was in the Springville area helping deputies with an arrest. 

"They were assisting officers in tracking down a suspect wanted for brandeshing a firearm, as I understand they arrested that suspect, the detail was over and the plane was leaving the area."

There is no indication yet as to what caused the crash.

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Sheriff One - the 2 seater plane that crashed. The plane had 3000 hours of flight time with no prior issues.

Two people were killed when a single-engine plane crashed Wednesday near Springville in Tulare County.

Witnesses told authorities they saw the aircraft on fire.

Witness Shawn Winter, a resident of Springville, was driving down the hill to pick up his daughter from school when he saw something on the hillside.

“I saw the black color of smoke. There was a big old ball of flame,” he said.

It’s not clear whether the plane was ablaze in the air, or crashed or landed and began burning, emergency medical services officials say.

The crash occurred about 4:15 p.m. near Eagle Feather Trading Post and Highway 190.

The CHP reports the Highway 190 closure from just west of Pleasant Oak Drive on the east and Eagle Feather Trading Post on the west. The closure is expected to last indefinitely and could extend to Success Valley Drive, the CHP reported.

Lester Lawton, who lives on on Success Valley Drive, said the plane crashed just off the highway on the hill behind Eagle Feather Trading Post.

“I couldn’t even see an airplane. I could see a black spot on the ground on the hill,” he said. “It didn’t look like there was remains left.”

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The Fresno Bee is reporting that two people have been killed in a plane crash in Tulare County on Wednesday.

FAA officials said at around 4:15 p.m., a single-engine plane was crushed under unknown circumstances around 10 miles east of Porterville.

The plane was caught fire after crashing, according to the FAA.

The FAA and NTSB is investigating this crash.

According to CHP's Central Division, SR190 is closed in both sides from East of Success Valley Dr. and Pleasant Oak Dr. No word yet on when it will reopen.

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TULARE COUNTY (KFSN) -- The FAA and NTSB are investigating a plane crash in Tulare County. 

According to authorities, the plane burst into flames after hitting a mountain near Highway 190 and Pleasant Oak.

The FAA said the plane was a single-engine Flight Design. It went down under unknown circumstances around 4:15 p.m.

According to CHP a section of Highway 190 is closed east of Success Valley Drive and Pleasant Oak Drive due to the crash.

The condition of anyone who may have been on board is unknown.

Tulare County Sheriff's Office will be holding a press conference at 8:00 p.m.

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Flight Design, Composite Technology Law Enforcement (CTLE): Supervisors could approve sheriff’s plane purchase

(Photo: Tulare County Sheriff’s Department)

More than three years after buying a new sheriff’s plane, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors could approve a more than $208,000 contract to buy a second one.

The county Sheriff’s Department is asking the county Board of Supervisors to waive the bid and allow a contract to purchase the single-engine Composite Technology Law Enforcement aircraft.

That’s because the manufacturer, Airtime Aviation, is the only company manufacturing a small plane with the built-in camera and searchlight systems sheriff’s officials want.

In addition, the Sheriff’s Department already has a CTLE-model aircraft, delivered in late 2011, and having people fly the same sort of aircraft tends to improve safety, according to as sheriff’s report prepared for the superiors.

This also will help with maintenance, as local maintenance people already are familiar with the aircraft, the report continues.

The cost of the new plane will be $208,530.

That plane has features that include cameras which can remain focused on a single object while the plane circles, a built-in video screen that allows the pilot and a passenger to see what the camera sees and a spotlight with a mile-long range.

It also runs on on automobile fuel, which is less costly than aviation fuel.

The new plane will cost about $50,000 more than the last one, Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Williams said in a written statement.

“The new aircraft will have the fuel injected engine, providing more power and more efficient fuel use as well as less maintenance. It also has more safety features such as wingtip-mounted landing and anti-collision lights and a navigation radio to allow use of the aircraft in times of reduced viability,” he wrote.

It also will include “photo” windows that can be opened so somebody in the plane can stick a camera lens out to take high-resolution photos of objects and people on the ground without the distortion of shooting photos behind plexiglass windows, Williams continued.

In a presentation to the board last year, Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said his department’s current plane — with a call sign of “Sheriff One” — is being flown most days of the week and has been instrumental in search-and-rescue operations, as well as in monitoring criminal activity from the air.

Adding a second plane would enhance those capabilities, he said.

The department is planning to hire a civilian pilot to fly the second plane and handle light maintenance on it.

As part of the purchase agreement, the county would have to put up 50 percent of the new plane’s costs down in advance, and an additional 30 percent when the plane is shipped from Germany — where it will be assembled — with the remainder due once the Sheriff’s Department accepts delivery.

Estimates are that the single-engine plane will be delivered in late February, 2016, and the cost — which includes $17,204 in sales tax for a out-of-state purchase — will come from the Sheriff’s Department’s current budget.

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The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department owns this light sport aircraft, featured on the cover of the California State Sheriffs’ Association magazine in 2012. The Modesto Police Department is interested in buying one of its own as its latest crime-fighting tool. The aircraft has a high-definition camera with night-vision capabilities and a spotlight. Tulare County Sheriff’s Department 

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department owns this light sport aircraft. The Modesto Police Department is interested in buying one of its own as its latest crime-fighting tool. The aircraft has a high-definition camera with night-vision capabilities and a spotlight. Tulare County Sheriff’s Department 

The Modesto Police Department wants its own high-tech crime fighter in the sky.

Police Chief Galen Carroll is expected on Tuesday to ask the City Council to approve spending as much as $660,000 for what is called a light sport aircraft that seats two and is equipped with a spotlight and a high-definition camera with long-range scope and night vision that records what it sees.

Carroll said the aircraft would be flown by volunteer pilots and police officers who are pilots. He envisions the airplane being in the sky five to six hours a day, five days a week, patrolling the city, conducting traffic enforcement, and helping with crimes in progress and special operations.

“I see this as being a force multiplier,” Carroll said. The department’s staffing is at its lowest level in many years, with 219 officers allocated in the current budget year.

The proposed purchase comes after voters last week rejected a sales tax increase the city put on the ballot to pay primarily for more public safety after city officials said the city did not have the money to adequately protect Modesto. Measure G was expected to bring in $14 million annually to the city’s roughly $115 million general fund, which primarily pays for police and fire services.

“I know naysayers will say we are wasting money,” Carroll said. “But we are trying to protect the city with the limited resources we have. This is another way of being smart with the taxpayers’ money. We have been researching this for close to a year. … We did not live or die on Measure G. We still have a department to run and a city to protect.”

Modesto already has air support through the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Adam Christianson said his department’s helicopter is in the air 25 to 30 hours a week, primarily Fridays through Sundays. He said the helicopter covers the county but spends the majority of its time in Modesto. He said his department does not charge Modesto.

The Sheriff’s Department and Police Department talked about expanding the helicopter’s coverage, but Modesto would have to pay for that. Carroll said those costs would be too high. Christianson said it costs $650 an hour to operate his department’s helicopter. Based on that, it would cost the Police Department $845,000 a year for 25 hours of coverage each week. A city report states it will cost about $75,000 a year to operate the aircraft.

Still, Christianson said it appeared Modesto was trying to provide a service his department already provides. “It does seem duplicative to me,” the sheriff said, though Carroll disagreed. “We want a regular air patrol that’s not provided now,” he said. “If we had that service, we would not be looking to duplicate a free service we already have.”

Carroll said his department is not competing with the Sheriff’s Department and said there will be times when his officers need the Sheriff’s Department helicopter. “I’m looking at this more as a patrol car that happens to fly,” he said.

The Police Department wants to purchase a Flight Design CTLEi aircraft from Airtime Aviation in Tulsa, Okla. The city did not seek bids because, according to a city report, Airtime is the only U.S. dealership that sells this type of aircraft equipped with the camera and computer system. Flight Design is based in Germany.

Carroll said the airplane flies at 1,000 feet (the Sheriff’s Department helicopter flies at 500 to 1,000 feet), can circle as slowly as a helicopter and is very quiet.

The report states that the city would pay for the aircraft and its high-tech gear with $194,000 in state asset forfeiture funds; $166,00 from its traffic safety fund; $100,000 in the Supplemental Law Enforcement Services Funds it receives from the state; and $200,000 from the general fund.

The city report states the sheriff’s departments in Kings and Tulare counties have purchased Flight Design CTLEi airplanes. As part of their due diligence, Modesto police met with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.

“Our aviation unit has been a great success, and we feel that the light sport aircraft is a safe and cost-effective platform for law enforcement aviation,” Tulare sheriff’s Lt. Rob Schimpf said in an email. “With the cost being a fraction of that associated with larger aircraft, such as helicopters, we are able to operate our plane in a proactive patrol capacity.”

Schimpf’s department recently purchased a second plane.

Carroll also met with Modesto’s Airport Advisory Committee, the members of which are pilots and/or from the aviation industry, for feedback. Councilman Bill Zoslocki, who serves on the committee and is a longtime pilot, said committee members liked what they heard.

The City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

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