Saturday, April 16, 2016

Encroachment near Navy airfield causing closure concerns in Norfolk

Earlier this year, the Navy warned Norfolk that a banquet hall seeking to open in Ocean View was in a part of the city where planes taking off from and landing at Norfolk Naval Station were most likely to crash if something went wrong.

The message was clear: Don’t let the hall open there.

The City Council scoffed, approved Elegant Occasions’ location anyway and drew the ire of a state official who is warning there could be major consequences.

The conflict is nothing new. Virginia Beach for decades approved housing developments and businesses over Navy objections that they were under the flight paths of fighter jets from Oceana Naval Air Station. From 1975 to mid-2004, the City Council ignored Navy pleas in nearly three out of every four votes.

That came to a screeching halt in 2005 when Oceana was placed on a list of bases the Navy wanted to close because of such encroachment.

“It would have been absolutely devastating,” Virginia Beach Deputy City Attorney Rebecca Kubin said.

The Navy planned to move Oceana’s jets to Florida, but stopped after the city agreed to a series of changes.

Virginia Beach rewrote its zoning ordinances and spent $129 million buying up 2,347 acres near Oceana. The efforts were hailed as a national model, and last year the city declared the program a success that helped save one of the region’s economic engines.

Similar efforts have been made in Chesapeake near Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field, where since 2014 city officials have spent $3.8 million buying 106 acres. The city also has started backing off when the Navy complains about permitting new developments near the airfield where fighter jets simulate landing on an aircraft carrier.

Hampton has spent $4.3 million since 2013 buying 17 properties near Langley Air Force Base.

But Norfolk hasn’t spent any money buying properties near the naval base’s Chambers Field, where some nearby homes have been around since the 1920s.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Defense Department determined that specific zones within about 7,000 feet of a runway were where crashes were most likely to occur, and began issuing guidelines about what types of land uses near airfields were compatible with military operations. By then, the 1,300 acres of mostly residential land in Chambers Field’s crash zones were built out.

Following the scare at Oceana, Norfolk in 2005 approved a plan to limit development by essentially not allowing new land uses near the base that would increase the number of people on particular parcels. A 2009 Navy study noted there are “major existing compatibility concerns” around the Norfolk airfield and the “Navy and the city of Norfolk should continue to place high priority on these as encroachment concerns in the future.”

Yet in February the City Council permitted the banquet hall to open in a building in a crash zone that used to house a bicycle shop and take-out cafe. The approval came over objections by the Navy and city staff, the City Planning Commission and Mayor Paul Fraim.

“This one incident may seem insignificant in the development of things at Ocean View,” Fraim warned during a city workshop. “But if the Navy starts to discern a pattern of development that appears to be a creeping encroachment toward their naval installation – that’s what happened at Oceana.”

Norfolk council members who supported Elegant Occasions’ application said they did so because they believe there’s an inconsistency with what is allowed where and why, and noted that city staff didn’t tell the owner her business was incompatible until she was months into the process.

“This is something that may have a meeting on a Tuesday night and not have anything else until a Saturday,” Councilman Andy Protogyrou, who voted in favor of the application, said at the February workshop. “That’s how I see this as a being different.”

City spokeswoman Lori Crouch said in an email that the city has worked to scale back or move two proposed apartment projects out of crash zones, including a potential development at the former Ramada Inn near the Ocean View Golf Course.

But Norfolk’s most recent decision quickly set off alarm bells for retired Adm. John Harvey, the former commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Commandwho is now Virginia’s secretary of veterans and defense affairs. Harvey was part of a state commission in 2013 that recommended Virginia advocate for another round of base closures because the state was in a good position to gain personnel through that process.

But Harvey said the council’s recent vote now puts Norfolk at risk. Even if Congress doesn’t authorize more base realignments and closures – referred to as BRAC – Harvey said the Navy could still move its planes and helicopters out of Norfolk if it needs to cut costs and doesn’t like the way the city does business.

“The Navy could exist without Chambers Field,” Harvey said in an interview. “All the Navy’s Growlers are homeported at Whidbey in Washington, so we’ve broken the model that you have to have some of those squadrons on the East Coast. You could easily do the same thing with the E-2 squadrons.”

Chambers Field is home to squadrons of the E-2C Hawkeye, recognizable by the large radar disc attached to the upper fuselage. The airfield also is home to another turboprop, the cargo-carrying C-2A Greyhound, as well as MH-53 Sea Dragon and MH-60S Seahawk helicopter squadrons.

Harvey said the planes could move to Washington state or California, and the helicopters could go to an air station in Jacksonville, Fla.

“If we do it right, Virginia is going to be absolutely unassailable whatever process comes up in the future,” Harvey said. “The only wounds we’ll have will be self-inflicted.”

The Navy declined to respond to Harvey’s comments or say whether it has contingency plans to move aircraft. While the Navy has plenty of its own infrastructure underneath flight paths, it also has taken steps to lessen risks.

The Navy in 2011 said Fleet Park Little League no longer could use a base field because it was under the planes’ flight path. The league had played there for more than 50 years and its removal drew a heavy outcry from the community.

Paul Evans, president of the Northside Civic League that encompasses neighborhoods where a crash most likely would occur, said he’s never heard anyone in the community complain about the risk. Chambers Field was commissioned in 1918.

“We realize we’re in that zone, and it’s just something that we live with,” he said.

When asked by Councilman Paul Riddick how approving the banquet hall would affect the Navy’s view of the city, Norfolk Naval Station’s commanding officer didn’t directly address it.

Instead, Capt. Doug Beaver said only that he viewed the council with “the utmost respect.”

“Your due diligence tonight is encouraging,” Beaver said. “I think all the issues are on the table.”

After Elegant Occasions’ application was approved, city staff said they would work with the business owner about the possibility of moving with city assistance. City spokeswoman Crouch said in an email this week that staff recently met with the owner and “it went well.”

Craig Quigley, the executive director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance, said it’s important the issue is addressed so the wrong message isn’t sent to the Navy.

“It plants a question in the mind of the Navy in this instance: ‘Well, gee, I thought we had an agreement here,’ “ said Quigley, who works to attract, retain and grow federal facilities.

“If every day you tried the very best that you can if you’re the commonwealth or Virginia Beach or Norfolk or Quantico — every day you do what you can and needs to be done to eliminate any obstacle, barrier, anything that sub-optimizes the effective use of what that installation was there to do in the first place — if you can make that a regular pattern of behavior, then when the day comes there is a BRAC, you are completely ready for it.”

Original article can be found here:

America at risk

Military budget cuts have put America’s defense and her well being in harm’s way.

In an editorial “Readiness at risk” March 18, we quoted Gen. John Paxton, assistant Marine Corps Commandant telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that components of the Corps might be unable to respond to an unexpected crisis because of budget cuts.

Friday, Fox News said the majority of Marne Corps aircraft can’t fly. Reasons given by dozens of Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., and at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., are the toll of long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fight against ISIS and budget cuts precluding the purchase of parts needed to fix an aging fleet.

The report said out of 276 F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters in the Marine Corps inventory, only 30% are ready to fly and out of 147 heavy-lift CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters only 42 can fly.

While a budget agreement last year ended sequestration, finding the money to rebuild the Marines’ infrastructure is a challenge. Military spending was cut $131 million between 2010 and 2015, from $691 million to $560 million, as planes were returning from 15 years of war, said the story, “suffering from overuse and extreme wear and tear.” And many highly trained aviation mechanics left the Corps for jobs in the private sector. 

Lack of funds have forced Marines to go outside the normal supply chain to get desperately needed parts. Cannibalization, taking parts from one multi-million dollar aircraft to get other multi-million aircraft airborne, is the norm.

As an example, to get one Hornet flying again, Marines at Beaufort stripped a landing gear door off a mothballed museum jet. “The door, found on the flight deck of the World War II era USS Yorktown, was last manufactured over a decade ago.

“We are an operational squadron. We are supposed to be flying jets, not building them,” said Lt. Col. Harry Thomas, commanding officer of VMFA-312, a Marine Corps F/A-18 squadron based at Beaufort.

Saying he deployed to the Pacific with 10 jets last year, he said only seven made it. A fuel leak in his F/A-18 caused a fire over Guam, but he landed safely, saving taxpayers $29 million.

Having deployed eight times, six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said right now only two of his 14 Hornets can fly. And his squadron is due to deploy in three months.

Sometimes it takes 18 months to get parts for early model F-18 jets whose production was halted in 2001.

Because of the aircraft shortage, Lt. Col. Thomas said the average flight time for pilots over the last month was only four hours. Ten years ago pilots averaged 25-30 hours each month.

With a shelf life of 6,000 hours, F/A-18 Hornets are being rebuilt to extend their life to 8,000 hours. That might be extended to 10,000 hours because the Marine Corps is waiting on the Joint Strike Fighter, the problem-plagued F-35, which is supposed to replace the F-18.

Telling the Senate Armed Services Committee last month that approximately 80% of Marine aviation units don’t have the number of aircraft they need for training and operations, Gen. Paxton said a number of accidents involving Marine Corp aircraft may be connected to budget cuts which have forced non-deploying units to spend less time in the air and made training more dangerous.

Stretching the Marine Corps to the breaking point bodes ill for the Corps and for America. Congress must correct this because the president won’t.

Original article can be found here:

Palm Coast native keeps Navy helicopters flying

Petty Officer 1st Class Lloyd Goodison, a Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate and Palm Coast native, is serving with a U.S. Navy helicopter squadron that flies the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced helicopter. 

MAYPORT — A 2001 Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate and Palm Coast native is serving with a U.S. Navy helicopter squadron that flies the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced helicopter, according to a release from the U.S. Navy Office of Communications. 

Petty Officer 1st Class Lloyd Goodison is a naval air crewman with the “Air Wolves” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 40, a Mayport-based squadron that operates the Navy’s next generation submarine hunter and Anti-Surface Warfare helicopter, the MH-60R Seahawk. Each helicopter is nearly 65 feet long, may weigh up to 23,500 lbs. (max gross) and can travel over 120 miles per hour for nearly 320 miles on a tank of gas.

As a naval air crewman, Goodison is responsible for monitoring and using strategic defense systems aboard the MH-60R helicopter. “Being able to go out and fly as a part of my job is awesome,” said Goodison in the release. "Getting to go out and see everything from a bird's eye view is pretty cool."

According to Navy officials, the MH-60R is the most capable multi-mission helicopter available in the world today. It is used for a variety of missions, including hunting and tracking enemy submarines, attacking enemy ships, search and rescue, drug interdiction, delivering supplies and supporting the Navy’s special operations forces. 

“The thing I love about serving at this command is I get the opportunity to train the guys first-hand who are replacing me,” said Goodison in the release. "I like to see the excitement in their eyes when they learn something they didn't know before." 

Approximately 297 Navy men and women are assigned and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly.  This includes everything from maintaining helicopter airframes and engines, to processing paperwork, handling weapons and flying the aircraft, the release states. 

Serving in the Navy, Goodison is learning about being a more respectable leader, sailor and person through handling numerous responsibilities. 

"The Navy has taught me the importance of taking care of your people,” said Goodison. "It's important to provide the guidance to the younger guys so they know the ways to be successful without finding out the harder way."

Original article can be found here:

Accident occurred April 16, 2016 in Wedowee, Randolph County, Alabama

Saturday morning started out with excitement in the Chambers County Sheriff’s department as investigators from the department spent the early parts of the morning searching rural areas of Chambers County near the Randolph County line just north of LaFayette for a downed aircraft that was believed to have made and emergency landing in the County.

The Chambers County Sheriff’s department received notification from the Federal Aviation Administration early Saturday morning in reference to a plane making an emergency landing in rural Chambers County. Authorities quickly began to search for the aircraft and its missing pilot. The aircraft was described as a small airplane.

Authorities with the Chambers County Sheriff’s department, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Civil Air Patrol, and Chambers County Emergency Management Agency all conducted the search for the missing aircraft. The Chambers County Sheriff’s department also took to social media in the search posting public input on their Facebook page for citizens who may have witnessed a low flying aircraft in Chambers County.

The social media request for info began to pour in as many on the site noted seeing or hearing an aircraft in area’s stretching from Lanett to Five Points. Shortly after the search began authorities were able to locate the plane in an area near Wedowee in nearby Randolph County. Upon locating the aircraft authorities were also able to locate the pilot of the aircraft and he was uninjured from the downed plane.

Original article can be found here:

Financial Audit Finds Deficiencies at Martha's Vineyard Airport (KMVY) from Past Year

Airport commission tackles busy business agenda at its monthly meeting.

With a new manager on deck and a financial audit that flagged numerous deficiencies from the past year, the Martha’s Vineyard airport commission looked forward and also back at their monthly meeting this week.

Chairman Myron Garfinkle said Thursday that the commission is close to completing contract negotiations with Ann Crook, who was chosen two weeks ago to be the new manager at the Island’s only commercial airport. Ms. Crook currently manages an airport in Elmira, N.Y. She is expected to begin work on May 6.

Mr. Garfinkle said he sees no major stumbling blocks in the negotiations. “We are in agreement on all major points,” he said. “We are very, very close.”

Also Thursday, the commission voted to promote Geoffrey Freeman to assistant airport manager.

Mr. Freeman is currently a supervisor and began work at the airport as a ramp agent in 1987.

He will be paid $95,000 annually, and was guaranteed the option to return to his supervisor job, if he or the commission decide not to continue after a probationary period.

Commission vice chairman Robert Rosenbaum reported the preliminary results of a forensic audit of airport financial transactions for the fiscal year 2015. Mr. Rosenbaum said the audit found multiple errors for vacation time, sick time and earned time.

“That should come as no surprise,” Mr. Rosenbaum said. “The way they were tracked was very loose.”

Former manager Sean Flynn resigned his post in December after a prolonged period of internal turmoil at the airport.

Mr. Rosenbaum said the audit flagged questions about whether airport management followed proper public procurement rules with 13 vendors.

The auditors made a series of recommendations, including streamlining computer financial systems and segregating responsibilities for payment and procurement. Mr. Rosenbaum said the auditors recommended the commission assume responsibility for payment authorization.

“The commission should take actual responsibility for that, rather than just the financial liability for it,” Mr. Rosenbaum said.

In other business, interim manager Rod Dinger said painting and repairs have begun on the terminal building. The commission issued a request for proposals for construction of a new rescue and firefighting facility, and plans to issue RFPs in the near future for an automated paid parking system and collection of a facility fee of $4.50 per passenger, to help fund capital projects.

Bids were awarded for rental car counter space at the airport terminal. Hertz was the highest bidder and will pay $85,000 in annual rent. Budget and Avis followed, with bids of $65,105 and $64,209 respectively. The contracts are for three years.

The commission also awarded bids for summer counter space to Jet Blue ($18,842), American Airlines ($16,600), and Delta Airlines ($16,824).

Jet Blue is scheduled to begin summer service to Martha’s Vineyard on May 12. American and Delta begin their summer service on June 1.

Cape Air is the only year-round commercial airline that services the Island.

Airport commission meetings are held on the second Thursday of every month at 2 p.m. at the West Tisbury Library. The meetings are open to the public.

Original article can be found here:

Perry Heath appointed to Carlisle Airport (N94) committee

Perry Heath, Private Pilot

When the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation made a presentation to Carlisle Borough Council centered on investigating the future of the airport via an exploratory committee, Councilman Perry Heath volunteered to represent the borough almost immediately.

His flight knowledge and personal experience at the airport helped spur that decision.

“I've held a private pilot's license for almost 38 years,” Heath said. “I have a working knowledge of airport operations and procedures that may be of some value to the process. I think I understand the economic impact of airport operations from its internal contribution to the contribution made by all those who fly in and out of Carlisle.”

CAEDC is investigating the idea shifting the Carlisle Airport from private to public ownership. Mary Kuna, business attraction manager with CAEDC, told The Sentinel back in February 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.

The way to make that shift is to construct a “task force,” as Heath called it, made up of representatives from the municipalities in the greater Carlisle area to work out and explore all of the options.

“This business plan will be the catalyst for public ownership, demonstrate the value of public ownership and how a public regional airport will serve as a regional economic driver for our county,” Jonathan Bowser, CEO of CAEDC, said.

So far, participating municipalities have assigned the following representatives: Dave Smith for North Middleton Township; Don Geistwhite for Middlesex Township; Perry Heath for Carlisle; Bryan Gembusia for South Middleton Township. Dickinson and Monroe townships have yet to decide who will represent them.

The airport has existed since 1963. Since the 1990s, it has been led by a six-person group of investors helmed by local aviator Jim Kingsborough.

Heath began taking lessons in the 70s, and while there have been gaps of inactivity over the years, he has to date 500 hours of accumulated airtime in a single engine aircraft.

“I am not instrument rated, but (I’m) a fair weather pilot who just enjoys an occasional leisurely flight up and down the Cumberland Valley,” he said.

Bowser said he expects the task force’s first meeting to take place in May, with final recommendation by the committee sometime around the end of the year.

Original article can be found here:

Plenty of Passengers, but Where Are the Pilots? Lots of Planes, but Not Enough Pilots


Kate Murphy is a journalist in Houston who writes frequently for The New York Times, and a commercial pilot.

Delays  or cancellations because of bad weather or mechanical problems are exasperating but common occurrences in air travel, but increasingly, passengers aren’t making it to their destinations for yet another reason: not enough pilots. The gate agent may not tell you that’s why you’re grounded, but a dearth of qualified pilots is disrupting, reducing and even eliminating flights.

“After 35 years analyzing and following this industry, I’ve never seen anything like it — and it’s only going to get worse,” said Dan Akins, an aviation economist and consultant who conducts quarterly surveys of both pilots and airlines to identify staffing trends. “Everyone knows the house is on fire and no one can find the hose.”

In addition to widespread delays and cancellations, at least 29 communities, from Modesto, Calif., to Macon, Ga., have lost air service since 2013, and hundreds more had their number of flights reduced. Meanwhile, airports that haven’t lost service complain they can’t get additional flights to keep up with local economic development. “We’ve had $5 billion of new industry come to our area, and the airlines say they can’t grow us because there aren’t enough pilots,” said Mike Hainsey, executive director of the Golden Triangle Regional Airport, which serves Columbus, Starkville and West Point, Miss.

So what’s causing the shortage? To start, there are just a lot more passengers. According to the Department of Transportation, airlines carried a record 895.5 million passengers in the United States in 2015, up 5 percent from the previous year. To meet global growth over the next 18 years, Boeing forecasts that the industry will need more than a half million new pilots.

Next, you can point to the roughly 18,000 pilots in the United States who will age out by 2022. This is a can Congress kicked down the road in 2007 when it raised the mandatory retirement age to 65 from 60 to delay the exit of all the military pilots who moved to airlines after the Vietnam War.

There is also a bottleneck in the supply of new pilots because of federal legislation passed after the 2009 Colgan Air crash in Buffalo, which was attributed in part to errors by the flight crew. Among other changes, the law mandated that, as of 2013, all entry-level first officers (that is, co-pilots) on commercial carriers have at least 1,500 hours of flight time instead of the previous minimum of 250 hours.

This change translates to years of flight instructing or flying on the often hair-raising fringes of aviation (aerial pipeline inspecting, banner towing, corpse transport and the like) for meager wages and often in poorly maintained equipment, before flying for a regional airline like Republic Airways, ExpressJet and Endeavor Air.

Then you’re looking at several more years of low pay (about $26,000 per year), unpredictable schedules and undesirable routes, giving up nights, weekends and holidays before you have a shot at advancing to a major airline like Delta, United, Southwest or American, where only after many more years can you hope to start making the kind of benefits and money (about $135,000 a year) that might make it all seem vaguely worth it.

So while being a professional pilot once seemed a glamorous profession — all mirrored sunglasses and swagger — now, not so much. Even those pilots living the dream of flying for a mainline carrier say that in reality it’s a highly automated, button-pushing kind of job with advancement based on seniority rather than merit. And then there is the toll on pilots’ families from long absences and the constant threat of furloughs resulting from economic downturns, or terrorist attacks.

“The real problem the industry is facing is young people aren’t making the decision to become an airline pilot,” said Capt. Tim Canoll, a Delta pilot and president of the Air Line Pilots Association. “It takes a very motivated person to meet the physical, emotional and intellectual challenge of becoming a pilot, and that same motivated person does the math looking at what it takes and the return on investment, and it just doesn’t add up,” particularly when training costs alone can reach $150,000.

Thus far, the shortfall is most acute at regional airlines, which are often affiliated with major carriers, using their logos and connecting passengers to mainline hubs. These smaller operators are responsible for around 50 percent of national departures and were able to hire only 50 percent of the pilots they needed last year, according to the Regional Airline Association.

Citing the pilot shortage, two regional operators, Republic Airways and SeaPort Airlines, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February. Other regional carriers have been unable to fulfill their obligations to their mainline partners, resulting in shake-ups; United Airlines, for example, recently transferred 40 jets from ExpressJet to CommutAir in the hopes the latter could better meet its needs.

“Hiring is not a huge problem yet for the major carriers because regional carriers serve as their pilot pipeline,” said Faye Malarkey Black, president of the Regional Airline Association. “But the number of pilots the majors are going to need in the coming years will burn through our entire work force unless there’s some sort of intervention.”

AND it’s not just airlines that are feeling the pinch: flight schools, charter and corporate operations, weather trackers and crop-dusting outfits all say they are struggling to find pilots. Even the military can’t seem to recruit or retain talent, with the Air Force alone short 511 fighter pilots.

The Air Line Pilots Association says the solution is simply to raise wages and improve working conditions to attract people to the profession, a difficult proposition given the unfavorable contracts that regional airlines have with their mainline partners, which leave little to devote to salaries and benefits. And even those regional airlines that have recently raised pilots’ pay still can’t fill positions.

Aviation industry experts suggest that airlines need to start subsidizing and overseeing pilot training as in the so-called ab initio programs common in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Airlines like British Airways, Lufthansa and China Eastern Airlines pay all or part of new cadets’ training, often at flight schools in the United States. Jet Blue recently announced that it would begin a trial ab initio program, but its recruits would have to pay $125,000 for the privilege.

Airlines and airports, among other aviation interests, are lobbying in Washington to reduce the 1,500-hour rule to get aspiring aviators who have met certain training requirements into the cockpit sooner, which is already possible if you’ve flown for the military or attended an accredited aeronautical school.

Researchers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of North Dakota, using training records from 22 regional airlines, found that newly hired pilots with 1,500 or fewer hours tended to need less training and were less likely to drop out than those with hundreds and even thousands more hours.

“The sweet spot is 700 to 800 hours,” said Elizabeth Bjerke, chairwoman of the aviation department of the University of North Dakota and an author of the study. “At that point they have experience but haven’t developed bad habits. It’s not quantity of hours but quality of hours.”

However, in testimony before the Senate last year, Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III said that had he or his co-pilot flown fewer than 1,500 hours (each had more than 20,000 hours), they would not have been able to put down US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River without fatalities after geese were sucked into the plane’s engines on takeoff from La Guardia Airport in 2009.

When a pilot “is in the 14th hour of his or her duty day, flying at night in bad weather into an airport he or she has never seen before, would I want my family on that airplane?” Captain Sullenberger asked. If the pilot had fewer than 1,500 hours, he said, his answer would be an emphatic no.

The aviator and poet John Magee once described commanding an aircraft as “dancing the skies on laughter-silvered wings.” Easing back the yoke and feeling gravity let go is indeed indescribably exquisite. But now, in aeronautical parlance, the drag of the profession threatens to overwhelm its lift, which could mean a hard landing for the industry.

Kate Murphy is a journalist in Houston who writes frequently for The New York Times, and a commercial pilot.

Original article can be found here:

Beechcraft 35 Bonanza, N496B: Aircraft suffered prop strike when gear collapsed during takeoff roll

AIRCRAFT:   1948 Beechcraft 35 Bonanza, N496B, serial number D-1517

ENGINE - M&M, S/N:  Continental E-185 – 11, serial number 22024-D-3-11

PROPELLER – M&M, S/N: Hartzell HC-A2V20-4A1

APPROXIMATE TOTAL HOURS (estimated TT & TSMO from logbooks or other information):

 ENGINE:   As of November 4, 2014 at 100 hour inspection, TTIS: 5587.9 ; TSMOH 670.9

PROPELLER:    As of November 4, 2014 at Annual inspection, TACH; 861.4 , SPOH: 17.8  

AIRFRAME:    As of 9/9/2015, TACH: 866.1; As of Annual on November 4, 2014, TTAF: 5587.90, TACH: 861.4                  

OTHER EQUIPMENT: Narco MK12B TCO; Val Com 760 Digital; GPS Apollo GX55; Narco AT50A Mode C; RST-504 4 place Audio Panel; Marker Beacon Airmac 128H; DME/VOR Narco IDME 891; ADF Narco 841 TSO  

DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT:  Aircraft suffered prop strike when gear collapsed during takeoff roll.

DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES: Prop strike, engine stoppage, left main wheel brake and gear door scraped runway, damage on both undersides of gear wheels, underside of nose, tail empennage underside (may be pre-existing), pitot tube, left wing tip scraped, nose gear linkage could be cracked,  left tire gouged. Flight controls and flaps appear undamaged and the fuselage underside has scrapes.          

LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT:   Tara Field, Hampton, GA. in private hangar         

REMARKS: Aircraft is intact parked on it’s gear. Logbooks in Atlanta with adjuster.     

Read more here:

Wing attachment announced for new Gulfstream plane

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. says it recently joined the wing to the fuselage on the first Gulfstream G600 flight-test plane.

The Gulfstream G500 flight-test program also achieved several milestones, the company said, including the program’s first Type Inspection Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The G500 flight-test program officially began May 18, 2015, when the first G500 flight-test plane, T1, completed its first flight.

Since then, the company said, T1 has reached a maximum speed of Mach 0.995 and a maximum altitude of 53,000 feet and recently completed its 100th flight. The test fleet, which includes four flight-test planes, has accumulated more than 800 hours of flying time.

“Achieving these milestones speaks to the maturity of both programs and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring these aircraft deliver the performance, safety and reliability we promised,” said Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream.

Original article can be found here:

Bell 206B, N326AC: Accident occurred April 16, 2016 near Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (KBWI), Anne Arundel County, Maryland


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Baltimore FSDO-07

NTSB Identification: ERA16CA160
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 16, 2016 in Baltimore, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/01/2016
Aircraft: BELL 206, registration: N326AC
Injuries: 3 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 helicopter began the power line aerial observation flight near its maximum gross weight. As the pilot maneuvered the helicopter into an out-of-ground-effect hover with a 12-knot left crosswind, a nose-right yaw ensued that could not be corrected with a full left pedal application. Despite other remedial actions taken by the pilot, the helicopter descended to ground contact where the occupants egressed, but the helicopter was later destroyed by post-crash fire. The pilot stated there were no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. He said, "It was an aerodynamic issue, not a mechanical issue." 

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 90-95, Unanticipated Right Yaw in Helicopters stated, "Any maneuver which requires the pilot to operate in a high-power, low-airspeed environment with a left crosswind or tailwind creates an environment where unanticipated right yaw may occur."

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's inadequate compensation for the wind while hovering out of ground effect, which resulted in a loss of tail rotor effectiveness.

ANNE ARUNDEL, Md. - No one was seriously injured after a helicopter carrying workers who were inspecting power lines crashed near Baltimore's airport Saturday, authorities said. 

The helicopter went down in a wooded area near a stream by Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Maryland State Police said. 

Police said the cause of the crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

The pilot was identified as Owen J. Garnett of Montrose, Pennsylvania. His passengers were Kevin A. Tennis of Colora, Maryland, and Jordan M. Marsh of Monkton, Maryland. The Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter is owned by Sky River Helicopters of New Jersey. 

None of the people reported serious injuries but were taken to the hospital as a precaution, state police said.

Baltimore Gas and Electric said the workers were checking electric transmission lines for the company when the crash occurred. One of the people is an employee for the company and the other two are contractors, the company said in a statement. 

The crash helicopter caught fire after it went down, causing a brush fire in the area, police said. The crash occurred near the train tracks, leading to delays for some rail passengers. 

Amtrak temporarily halted all service between Baltimore and Washington before resuming it Saturday afternoon. 

Original article can be found here:

LINTHICUM, Md. —Three people on board a helicopter that crashed Saturday near the Amtrak tracks by the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport have been identified.

They are pilot Owen J. Garnett, 42, of Montrose, and two passengers, Kevin A. Tennis, 29, of Colora, and Jordan M. Marsh, 34, of Monkton.

Their injuries are not being reported as being serious, but the victims were taken to a hospital as a precaution.

The crash of the private helicopter, which happened just before 1 p.m. near Aviation Boulevard in Linthicum, also sparked a fire.

State and county police remain at the scene.

Federal authorities at the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were also notified.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The three occupants told officials they were checking power lines in the area when the crash occurred. The helicopter went down in a wooded area near a stream.

Baltimore Gas and Electric released a statement, saying, "The helicopter that crashed this afternoon was a helicopter contractor performing inspections of electric transmission lines for BGE. There was one BGE employee and two contractors on board at the time of the crash. All three individuals are not reporting serious injuries, but were transported as a precaution to a local hospital. No BGE equipment was affected during this incident."

Transportation officials said Amtrak and MARC service in the area may be interrupted and delayed until the investigation is complete and the helicopter is removed.

The helicopter is owned by Sky River Helicopters of Pittstown.

Original article can be found here:

LINTHICUM, Md. (WJZ) — A helicopter crashes near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Police say a helicopter went down in the woods between the BWI MARC station and Old Stoney Run Road. A private contractor was doing land survey work for BGE in the area.

There were no fatalities. All three people on board the helicopter are expected to survive. They were taken to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The helicopter–a Bell 206 JetRanger–was completely destroyed.

The crash also started a large brush fire. Crews were able to contain the situation.

According to BWI, there is no impact on airline operations. There are, however, delays to MARC and Amtrak service.

The NTSB and FAA have been notified of the crash. The investigation is ongoing.

In a statement, BGE said, “The helicopter that crashed this afternoon was a helicopter contractor performing inspections of electric transmission lines for BGE. There was one BGE employee and two contractors on board at the time of the crash. All three individuals are not reporting serious injuries, but were transported as a precaution to a local hospital. No BGE equipment was affected during this incident.”

Original article can be found here:

A helicopter crash was reported on Saturday near Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, but no one was seriously injured, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The helicopter was patrolling at low altitude around a power line when it crashed on a train track a mile north of the airport, the agency said.

The crew of the helicopter suffered minor injuries and no one else was hurt, according to the FAA.

The off-site incident had no immediate impact on airline operations, the airport said on Twitter.

Amtrak also said on Twitter that the crash occurred near the BWI Amtrak station, and that it would have no estimate about the length of any delays in service until officials finished an investigation.

Representatives for Amtrak and the Anne Arundel County Police Department could not immediately be reached for comment.

Original article can be found here:

WASHINGTON – A helicopter crashed Saturday afternoon near Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, sparking a brush fire that is impacting Amtrak and MARC service.

There were no apparent injuries according to Anne Arundel County Fire Department Capt. Russ Davies. Three people were on board.

Due to a brush fire that resulted from the crash,  all Amtrak service was temporarily put on hold between Baltimore and D.C., an Amtrak spokeswoman said.

Service on MARC was delayed.

Whitney Kidd, a BWI-Marshall spokeswoman, says the crash was off of airport property and is having no impact on flights to or from the airport.

The crash destroyed the chopper, according to Anne Arundel County Fire Lt. Ariel Jackson. He says the private helicopter was surveying the area around the train tracks when it crashed around 1 p.m.

Jackson says the helicopter was from Sky River Helicopters in New Jersey.

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jonathan Tannenwald, on a southbound Northeast Regional Amtrak Train stopped in Baltimore, says a conductor announced that riders heading to the airport should get off and consider taking a cab. The trains are stopped as first responders handle the helicopter crash and brush fire.

Original article can be found here:

'Quick built' kit plane has room for 1: It cruises at 240 mph and races at 300

For $100,000, you can buy this Sub Sonex jet plane kit. It was on display last week at Sun 'n Fun. 

LAKELAND — If you’ve got a spare $100,000 sitting around, you could buy a BMW convertible or an Audi R8.

Then again, you could buy parts for a jet plane and put it together yourself. You just won’t be able to fly your family or friends in it.

The Sub Sonex is a “quick built” kit plane jet that costs $42,000 for the plane, about $50,000 for the engine and a few thousand dollars more for et cetera.

The Sub Sonic has seating room just 2-foot-wide seat with room for a pilot only.

It is 16.6 feet long with a wingspan of 18 feet and a “Y” tail.

It cruises at 240 mph and races at 300.

It has a range of 480 miles, with a 30-minute reserve just in case you have trouble finding a gas station.

It’s primarily made of aluminum.

“I’d like to buy one, I really would,” said Andrew Johanson, a student from New Jersey visiting the Fly-In. “If I just had the money.”

Mark Schiable, the general manager of Sonex Aircraft, the company that produces the planes, said he’s been selling them the past two years and business has been good.

He said a company in the 1970s and '80s used to sell a small jet plane, but those planes weren’t specifically designed for a jet engine.

The Sub Sonex, he said, is built for a jet engine.

For more information, visit

Original article can be found here:

United Continental Workers in Machinists Union Extend Contracts: Union said accords run through 2021 and provide “industry-best wages, work protections and retirement security”

The Wall Street Journal
By Susan Carey
April 16, 2016 10:36 a.m. ET

Some 30,000 airline customer-service agents and ramp workers at United Continental Holdings Inc. “overwhelmingly” approved extensions to their existing labor contracts, the carrier and the International Association of Machinists union said early Saturday.

The workers, in balloting that concluded Friday, voted for seven labor contracts governing all the classifications of employees in the group. The union said the accords run through 2021 and provide “industry-best wages, work protections and retirement security,” among other improvements. United said the deals also will allow it to add new jobs at Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport, two of its hubs.

United and the union agreed last November to open existing labor agreements early and enter into expedited negotiations for contract extensions. After four months of talks, the two sides earlier this month reached tentative agreements. The contract extensions will supersede current agreements that open for renewal nine months to 2½ years from now.

These contracts “recognize the important work” the Machinists union members do, Oscar Munoz, United’s chief executive officer, said in a statement Saturday. “We remain laser-focused on getting contracts like these for our flight attendants and technicians,” he said, referring to mechanics.

Since the airline was formed following the 2010 merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, both the combined pilot group and the Machinists have now reached their second new joint contracts. The pilots in January approved a two-year contract extension.

But the attendants and mechanics haven’t yet concluded new combined contracts with the airline. The mechanics widely rejected an earlier tentative agreement and the attendants have been in mediated bargaining for years, although people close to the matter say progress is finally being made. Mr. Munoz, who joined the airline last September, has made labor peace and improved morale one of his biggest goals for the nation’s No. 3 airline by traffic.

The Machinists union said Saturday that the two rounds of contract talks for its members have resulted in wage and pension increases of more than 40% and industry-leading job protection. As part of the agreement by the airline and the union to reopen the existing contracts last November, United stopped its practice of outsourcing airport-worker jobs at smaller airports, a cost-cutting exercise that resulted in the loss of more than 2,000 jobs.

Chicago-based United, which will report its first-quarter results on Wednesday, currently is embroiled in a proxy fight with two hedge funds that own 7.1% of its stock and are pushing a slate of six director nominees to be considered at the airline’s annual meeting later this spring. United has called the investors’ efforts “a hostile action” that will distract from Mr. Munoz’s turnaround plan for the carrier, which has lagged behind its larger rivals in financial performance since the merger. The investors contend that United’s board needs fresh blood and more industry expertise. The day before they pounced, United said it added three directors, two of whom have airline experience, to its board, enlarging the panel to 15.

Original article can be found here:

Mideast Airlines Hit Rare Rough Patch: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways are hurt by sharp decline in corporate travel

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall
April 15, 2016 12:30 p.m. ET

The Mideast’s fast-growing airlines, long a thorn in the side of legacy U.S. and European carriers, are hitting a rare patch of turbulence, thanks to low oil prices.

Today’s energy rout has been great for global airlines, whose fuel bills typically are among their biggest costs. Profits for the global industry nearly doubled in 2015, to a record $33 billion from a year earlier, thanks mostly to lower fuel costs, according to the International Air Transport Association, a global trade body. Delta Air Lines Inc., for example, says it expects to save $3 billion on fuel costs this year alone.

But not every big carrier is as big a winner. Dubai’s Emirates Airline, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways all count on corporate travel in and out of the Mideast for a big chunk of their premium-seat bookings. And those booking are down sharply, executives say, amid today’s oil-price collapse.

Those airlines have posted blistering growth over the past decade, using their airports around the Persian Gulf as transfer hubs for long-haul flights between Asia and Europe. They spent lavishly on new planes, and benefited from infrastructure spending by their oil-rich governments.

Just like the rest of the industry, they are now saving lots of money on fuel. But low oil prices are acting as a “a double-edged sword,” said Tim Clark, president of Emirates, now the world’s largest by international traffic. Speaking to reporters at an aviation conference in Berlin last month, he said bookings from companies involved in the energy sector—Emirates’ most important corporate customers—virtually disappeared with the collapse in crude.

“There is a drop in premium yield because of the conservative budgeting of major multinationals, due to the drop in the oil price,” Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker told reporters at the same conference. “When you have a drop in the oil price, you also have a drop in business travel,” he said.

The government of oil-rich Oman is cutting costs across the board, including curbing premium travel, said Paul Gregorowitsch, the chief executive of state-owned carrier Oman Air. The airline is trying to offset the loss of regional business travel with lower-margin “transfer” traffic, connecting destinations in Europe, Asia and Africa through its hub in Muscat. Etihad didn’t respond to requests for comment.

How hard are lower oil prices hitting the Mideast carriers? It’s difficult to tell since they are all government owned and most disclose few details about costs and revenue. Because they aren’t traded publicly, they also aren’t covered extensively by airline-industry analysts.

Mr. Clark said Emirates’ top-line revenue for the financial year ending March 31 was still likely to be “good,” though he didn’t disclose numbers. IATA figures Mideast airlines racked up overall profit of $1.4 billion, up 55% from the prior year.

As impressive as that sounds, lower oil prices helped U.S. airlines, along with those in Canada, book $19.4 billion in profit, up 73%, in 2015. In Europe, profit doubled, to $6.9 billion.

For Western executives who have long accused the Mideast carriers of benefiting unfairly from what they say are hidden subsidies from their government owners, the shift is a welcome one. As oil revenue plummets in the region, governments have been cutting budgets drastically. That could threaten industry investment, including airports and road links, critical to their growth. Mideast carriers deny benefiting unfairly from government assistance.

“The drop in fuel prices, which is absolutely significant, creates a different economic environment for these states regarding their airlines,” Air France-KLM SA Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac said.

So far, there haven’t been signs of retrenchment. Qatar Air’s Mr. Al Baker said expansion of his airline’s new airport hub in Doha was proceeding as planned to more than double capacity before year-end.

Airlines from outside the region are also feeling some of the same pinch. In the U.S., the pain is principally centered on Houston, where capacity growth has slowed markedly, according to Khalid Usman, a principal at consultancy Oliver Wyman. Capacity in Houston is up just 0.6%, compared with 4.5% growth for U.S. airports overall.

Yield, a measure of ticket revenue, fell 6.3% in the third quarter in the U.S. as airlines passed along some of their fuel-cost savings. But Houston ticket yields fell 11.9%, Mr. Usman said, citing the latest available U.S. government data.

United Continental Holdings Inc., the largest operator in Houston, has suffered a 20% drop in business from energy clients and last week said it would keep capacity flat or even reduce it this year after originally planning to boost flying at the hub by up to 3% in 2016.

European airlines also have had to adjust. British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA last year trimmed capacity on flights to Houston after unit revenues declined sharply. KLM is suspending its Dallas flights this summer from its Amsterdam hub and reducing its Houston service to one flight a day from two.

And Scandinavian airline SAS AB in October stopped flying an all-business-class flight between Stavanger, Norway’s oil hub, and Houston. The flight offered 44 business-class seats on a Boeing Co. 737 single-aisle plane.

Original article can be found here: