Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Offensive word spotted on sign: G. O. Carlson Airport (KMQS), Coatesville, Chester County, Pennsylvania



Coatesville, Pennsylvania -   An offensive word was spotted on a sign outside of a local airport. 

Police in Valley Township say a sign is most likely the work of vandals rather than an organized group. According to police, on April 22 vandals rearranged the removable letters on the sign leading up to the Chester County G. O. Carlson Airport near Coatesville. FOX 29 has decided to blur the photos of the offensive message.

A passerby noticed and alerted the manager of the airport restaurant that owns the sign before it was removed.

Gary Hudson, a longtime airport manager, who is African American could not comment on the investigation but tells us he doesn't think he was the target of the sign. 

"This shouldn't be happening in 2016. But you have ignorant people out there so what you going to do?" said Coatesville resident Jackie Green.

Police tell FOX 29 they have identified three men as persons of interest in the case but so far no arrests. They are stopping short of calling this a hate crime saying they think the criminal mischief is more vandalism than racism.

James Jackson, 57,  a lifelong resident of Valley Township, says he remembers a time as a kid where African Americans wouldn’t be welcome in this part of town. After seeing the racist message on the sign he says he's disappointed to say the least.

“I think it just sets us back as a community when we call strive to work hard together" says Jackson.

Valley Township police say investigators know the names of the suspects but haven’t been able to contact them. If you know any information, please call Valley Township Police at (610) 384-8133.

Story and video:   http://www.fox29.com

Air ambulance charges can reach $100,000




Emergency response in rural areas raises the question: How much is a life worth?

The Interstate 90 corridor from Superior to Haugan is reportedly higher in car accidents than any other stretch of the highway in Montana, according to the Montana Traffic and Safety Bureau.

In 2014, the Montana Highway Patrol reported 326 incidents in Mineral County resulting in 1 death, 88 injuries, and 237 crashes involving property damage.

Emergencies like car accidents and a multitude of other health issues, may require air ambulance services.

Life-saving resources can be costly, especially in rural areas like Mineral County where driving a patient to a Missoula hospital can take up to an hour.

“I’m told that many insurance companies don’t, or won’t, cover expenses and costs can run over $8,000 to a Missoula facility,” said Mineral Community Hospital representative, Monte Turner.

Reducing excessive air ambulance charges is a goal of Sen. Jon Tester’s. He is proposing legislation which would give states the authority to establish some rules for how much healthcare companies can charge their customers.

He states that “too many air ambulance companies are taking advantage of families in crisis by charging an exorbitant amount of money for critical medical service. In some cases, air ambulance bills are totaling $100,000. As a result, Montana families are being forced to consider cashing out their savings, selling their homes, or declaring bankruptcy just to pay the bill.”

Tester also says that many of these families have health insurance, and so they think they are covered. But some of these ‘for-profit, out-of-state companies, aren’t affiliated with local hospitals, and they don’t have contracts with insurance companies. Leaving families with few options when dealing with the charges.

The effort Sen. Tester along with Republican Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota sought was to amend the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization legislation to allow states to decide if they want to create rules governing air ambulance rates and services.

That effort failed, but the Montana Legislature’s economic affairs interim committee is studying the issue and intends to introduce a bill during its 2017 session. However according to chief counsel for the Montana Auditor and Insurance Commissioner’s Office, Jesse Laslovich, state legislation will likely be limited in its effectiveness.

“We can teeter around the edges, but in dealing with the substance of the problem, we’re going to need an act of Congress to say air ambulances don’t fall under the aviation deregulation act,” he said in a recent interview.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently issued a statement on the subject and advised people to make sure they understand what, if any, air ambulance coverage they have.

Some private air ambulance companies are offering annual memberships for their services. For example, in April, Northwest MedStar became the preferred provider of critical care transport for Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center in Missoula.

Life Flight air ambulance was serving Missoula Hospitals. On April 1, 2016, Northwest MedStar joined the Life Flight Network in order to expand their network.

Northwest MedStar provides care and transport services to over 3,700 patients each year from bases in Missoula, Spokane, TriCities, Moses Lake, Pullman, as well as Seattle and other facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada. With two new helicopter bases slated for Colville and Walla Walla, Washington. A MedStar membership costs $60 per year.

But there is still no guarantee the company, like MedStar, will be the one that actually transports the covered patient. Sometimes patients don’t realize they should ask or might not be capable of asking, whether their transportation is in network or how much their insurance will cover. This can result in large medical bills for patients.

The Montana Senate and House of Representatives are to have studies on this subject concluded by September 15, 2016 and final results will be reported at the next Legislative session.

Original article can be found here:  http://vp-mi.com

County purchasing property for Washington County Airport (KAFJ), Washington, Pennsylvania



Washington County Redevelopment Authority, which operates Washington County Airport, has asked the Washington County commissioners to approve the purchase of one acre from the Lutes estate, 826 Mounts Road, at a price not to exceed $66,000.

Last month, the county purchased about one adjacent acre, which included a mobile home, at 806 Mounts Road from John and Linda Murr for a sum not to exceed $71,000 plus closing costs, also for eventual runway expansion within the area of the airport master plan.

William McGowen, executive director of the redevelopment authority, said the runway project is “years away,” but property acquisition is part of the initial phase.

The state Bureau of Aviation approved both purchases, to be funded 90 percent by federal taxpayers, 5 percent by state taxpayers and 5 percent by county taxpayers.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.observer-reporter.com

Wheels UP Offers Uber-Like Air Travel Service



For many people, the days of air travel are about to become as simple as requesting an Uber. Private aviation firm Wheels Up looks to capitalize on the increasing growth in private air travel.

During an interview on the FOX Business Network Mornings with Maria, Wheels Up Founder and CEO Kenny Dichter told Maria Bartiromo the company has seen the number of its members double in the last year due to an increase in access to private travel.

“The key for us is to democratize the space. You need a bigger addressable market and with our King Air 350i offering, we really broaden the space and we’ve taken to a much larger customer base,” Dichter said.

Dichter described the King Air 350i as a “flying SUV” with seating for eight passengers and eight golf bags, making it significantly more economical than comparable jet aircraft.

Wheels Up offers a variety of new products through its membership tier including a ridesharing program through its app that allows its members to fill up any unused seats available by other Wheels Up members from your smartphone.

“You are [flying] with like-minded folks that are already members of the club. They been vetted and verified because they are members already,” Dichter said. “And again, in less than a two hour flight, you might meet somebody and do some business.”

Dichter credits its membership business model to the likes of Costco (COST), Amazon Prime (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX), where membership retention rates continue to grow in a shared economy.

The Wheels Up CEO discussed his vision for the next three to five years and how he plans to expand the business.

“We see ourselves doubling the whole private aviation pyramid,” Dichter said.

Story and video: http://www.foxbusiness.com

Hundreds of pilots poised to leave Allegiant Air

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - Allegiant Air has been rocked by a new scandal.

Pilots poised to flee in search of safer skies and a better work environment.

Contact 13's Darcy Spears has been investigating Allegiant for nearly a year. She tells us why hundreds of pilots say they're looking to leave.

Overworked and underpaid. Flying for an airline with a bare minimum approach to maintenance and safety, which leads to avoidable emergencies. 

That's what the majority of Allegiant pilots say is forcing them out.

Teamsters Local 1224 President Daniel Wells said, "At an operation like Allegiant with all these many problems, the one last line of defense preventing a tragedy has been the incredible skill of the Allegiant pilots."

But hundreds of Allegiant pilots say they've had enough. 

This pilot satisfaction survey released Wednesday polled more than 500 captains and first officers ranging from new hires to veterans. 

More than half say Allegiant's scheduling system creates confusion and fatigue. They say their pay and benefits fall below industry standards. 

And they're fed up with the airline's failure to negotiate a contract with the Teamsters. 

On top of that, Wells says, "They lack what we would say is a safety culture."

The survey release comes just days after Allegiant's latest incident -- this time in Phoenix. 

"They had what was ostensibly a new airplane, an Airbus, have a catastrophic engine failure in the process of a go-around in Phoenix," Wells says. "Extraordinarily rare event. Something that as a professional crew member you hope you never come across in the entirety of your career."

The plane landed safely a short time later, but Wells says it's part of a culture of cutting corners on maintenance that makes pilots afraid.

"Almost half of the pilots said they will not allow their own families to fly on the aircraft. That is a stunning repudiation of the operations at Allegiant. I have never heard that before at a carrier. And that is not sour grapes. That is not to make publicity. That is a real fear that these pilots have. And the reason is because they're on the front lines and observe day in and day out the way Allegiant skimps on maintenance, pushes their aircraft."

Allegiant has experienced high pilot turnover in recent years. Citing an internal newsletter, the union says Allegiant's pilot resignation rate increased 600 percent between 2011 and 2014. 

Earlier this year, Chief Operations Officer Steve Harfst abruptly resigned. 

And Contact 13 obtained an internal announcement that Director of Maintenance Jesse Peek is retiring later this month.

"And I think that it's not coincidence that it's in the midst of this ongoing FAA investigation into their maintenance practices," Wells says

The Federal Aviation Administration is auditing Allegiant two years ahead of schedule. The agency says it wants to ensure Allegiant is making improvements and addressing internal issue. The FAA expects to complete their evaluation in June. 

We asked Allegiant for comment, but they refused.

Instead, they sent a statement saying, "As the safety of our passengers and crew is of the utmost importance to every single person in our company, we will not engage with a member of the media who distorts the facts and lacks objectivity."

Story and video: http://www.ktnv.com

MD Helicopters 500E (369E), registered to Padgett Ag Air LLC / operated by Rotor Blade LLC, N629JK: Fatal accident occurred May 04, 2016 in Reedsville, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA171
14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 04, 2016 in Reedsville, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/20/2017
Aircraft: MCDONNELL DOUGLAS HELICOPTER 369E, registration: N629JK
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The helicopter was being used to transport personnel and equipment in support of a power line construction project. The helicopter departed the landing zone (LZ) and transported two linemen from one power line tower to another using a 50 ft long line. When the linemen detached from the long line, the helicopter proceeded to the east where it hovered for 2 to 3 minutes. The linemen requested that the helicopter return to the tower to pick up equipment and then return to the LZ. The helicopter approached the tower, and, when the long line was nearing their reach, the linemen noticed the helicopter's sound change, and it descended suddenly. The helicopter veered to the right away from the tower, and the main rotor blades slowed noticeably as the helicopter descended into the trees and impacted terrain. The linemen climbed down from the tower and heard the helicopter's engine still producing noise, so one of them pulled the emergency fuel shutoff valve and turned the battery off. 

A postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed damage to the main rotor blades and main rotor hub consistent with sudden stoppage at low rotor rpm. The tail rotor exhibited damage consistent with no rotation during impact. The engine was removed from the airframe and connected to an engine test stand for a functional test, but it would not start after several attempts. The power turbine governor (PTG) was removed, and its main drive shaft was found fractured. The original PTG was replaced with a new PTG. With the new PTG installed, the engine started normally, produced rated horsepower, and met production test specifications with no anomalies noted. 

Examination of the PTG revealed that a portion of the drive shaft remained embedded in the spindle of the spool bearing assembly. The fracture surface features of the shaft were consistent with overstress. The internal elements of the spool bearing assembly were seized and would not rotate. The ball bearings and spacers were found coated with voluminous, powdery, black particulate consistent with oxidized metallic wear debris, and no grease was observed. The ball retainers were fragmented, the inner surfaces were found coated with a powdery, black particulate consistent with oxidized metallic wear debris, and no grease was observed. The inner bearing surfaces were rough and frosted, consistent with three-body abrasive wear. The examination indicated that the fractured PTG drive shaft was the result of a spool bearing that seized due to a lack of lubrication. 

In 2008, a service bulletin (SB) and commercial engine bulletin (CEB) were issued by PTG and engine manufacturers, respectively, that called for replacement of the dual-spool bearing, the type installed in the accident PTG, with a single-spool bearing. The dual-spool bearing had experienced 23 previous failures that had led to either engine oscillations, uncommanded engine acceleration, or a loss of engine power. Although the SB and CEB called for replacement of the accident PTG's dual-spool bearing not later than 750 hours after the PTG was installed new, the accident PTG had accumulated 1,048.7 hours since new when the accident occurred, and the SB and CEB had not been completed. As stated in the operator's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved operations specifications, the operator was required to comply with FAA Airworthiness Directives but was not required to comply with manufacturer's service bulletins. It is likely that had the SB and CEB been completed, the PTG would not have failed and the engine would not have lost power.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The failure of the power turbine governor's dual-spool bearing due to a lack of lubrication, which resulted in a complete loss of engine power and subsequent impact with terrain.

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Rolls-Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana 
MD Helicopters; Mesa, Arizona 
Boeing; Mesa, Arizona
Rotor Blade LLC; Georgetown, South Carolina

Aviation Accident Factual Report  -  National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N629JK

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA171
14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 04, 2016 in Reedsville, WI
Aircraft: MCDONNELL DOUGLAS HELICOPTER 369E, registration: N629JK
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 4, 2016, at 1002 central daylight time, an MD Helicopters 369E helicopter, N629JK, impacted trees and terrain near Reedsville, Wisconsin. The commercial-rated pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to Padgett Ag Air, LLC, Pawleys Island, South Carolina, and operated by Rotor Blade, LLC Georgetown, South Carolina, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 133 as an external load operation. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed from the Manitowoc County Airport (MTW), Manitowoc, Wisconsin, about 0730.

The helicopter was being used to transport personnel and equipment in support of a power line construction project to replace a shield wire with a fiber optic cable. The project began on March 10, 2016, with a basic helicopter and landing zone (LZ) safety course provided by Rotor Blade for the construction employees. The project had continued without interruption except for weather delays. On the morning of the accident, the helicopter arrived at the LZ about 0800. Two job briefings were conducted, and the helicopter was to transport linemen, equipment, and materials to various power line tower structures that were about 125 ft tall using a 50 ft long line attached to the cargo hook. The helicopter flew from 0842 to 0906 and then returned to the LZ. 

At 0949, the helicopter departed the LZ and transported two linemen from tower 9903 to the neighboring tower, 9904 (figure 1). When the linemen detached from the long line, the helicopter proceeded to the east and hovered for 2 to 3 minutes. The linemen requested that the helicopter come back to tower 9904 to pick up equipment and return to the LZ. The helicopter approached the tower from the southwest and faced northeast into the wind as the linemen presented hand signals to the pilot. The linemen stated that the end of the long line was about 20 ft laterally and 15 ft vertically from their reach when they noticed the helicopter's sound change and it descended suddenly. The helicopter veered to the right away from the tower, and the main rotor blades slowed noticeably. The helicopter continued into the trees and terrain south of the tower. The linemen climbed down from the tower and heard the helicopter's engine still producing noise. One lineman pulled the emergency fuel shutoff valve and turned off the battery.

Two other project employees were about 150 yards north of tower 9904 (figure 2); they stated that, as the helicopter approached tower 9904 for the final time, the main rotor blades slowed down, the engine sound decreased, and the helicopter veered right toward the ground.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot's logbooks were not found during the course of the investigation. Company flight log reports revealed that the pilot flew the accident helicopter from March 8 to May 3, 2016, for a total of 67 hours. The pilot also flew the accident helicopter for an estimated 2.5 hours on the morning of the accident.

HELICOPTER INFORMATION

The MD 369E features a fully articulated five-bladed main rotor system with anti-torque provided by a four-bladed semi-rigid tail rotor. The helicopter was configured to be flown from the left pilot seat (figure 3).The helicopter had accumulated 7,688.4 hours total time (TT) at the time of the accident. A review of the maintenance records revealed an annual inspection was completed on December 4, 2015, at 7,522.6 hours TT. At the time of the accident, the engine, a Roll-Royce 250-C20B, had accumulated 1,048.7 hours TT since new. On April 3, 2016, at 987.4 hours engine TT, a 150-hour engine inspection was completed, and a fuel control tube was replaced. Also replaced during the maintenance work were the engine combustion case, combustion liner, and engine bleed valve due to a power transient over-temperature of 850°C for 2 seconds.

On April 16, 2016, an inoperative power turbine speed (N2) dual tachometer was replaced. On April 26, 2016, a video was taken of the dual tachometer as the helicopter was in flight, and it showed that the dual tachometer indicated about 475 rotor rpm and about 60% N2 rpm. The Rotor Blade ground crewman who took the video stated that the pilot wanted him to send the video to a Rotor Blade mechanic to show him that there was still an issue with the dual tachometer. The Rotor Blade mechanic stated that he watched the video, but it was not sent directly to him. He stated that he told the pilot not to fly the helicopter if there was a problem. The mechanic and the pilot discussed that it was likely only an indicating issue.

The engine was installed new on the helicopter on November 21, 2007. The engine's accessories, including power turbine governor (PTG) model AL-AA2, part number 2549170-1, serial number HR48214, were installed new with 0.0 hours TT. No records indicated any maintenance completed on the PTG after initial installation. The records revealed that all applicable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airworthiness Directives had been completed.

Weight and balance calculations for the helicopter revealed that the center of gravity was within limits, the gross weight at the time of the accident was 2,097 lbs, and the maximum gross weight was 3,550 lbs.

The operator was authorized by the FAA to conduct class A, B, and C external load operations. The helicopter was equipped with an Onboard Systems hydraulic hook kit and Rotor Blade, LLC, H500 side hook assembly.

On May 3, 2016, the company fuel truck was fueled with 211.3 gallons of Jet-A at MTW. The fuel logs revealed that, before the 0800 departure from the LZ, the helicopter was refueled at the fuel truck and departed with 260 lbs of fuel. Before the final departure at 0949, the helicopter was refueled and departed with 240 lbs (35.29 gallons) of fuel, which was estimated to provide 1 hour 10 minutes of flight time.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The helicopter came to rest in a wooded area about 125 ft south of tower 9904 (figure 4/5). The surrounding trees were 50 to 75 ft tall, and several of them were broken or showed signs of recent scaring and damage, consistent with the helicopter's impact sequence. All of the major components of the helicopter were found at the accident site. The long line remained attached to the cargo hook and trailed north toward the tower. There was an odor of Jet-A fuel around the main wreckage, and fuel was observed leaking from the helicopter. On-scene documentation was completed, and the wreckage was recovered to a secure examination facility.

On May 5, 2016, a postaccident examination of the wreckage was completed by the investigation team. The main transmission and its mounting revealed no exterior impact damage. The transmission fluid level was verified full using the sight glass. The upper and lower transmission chip detectors were removed and were clear of debris. The gearbox was rotated by hand and exhibited movement to indicate that the transmission internal gearing and the main rotor drive shaft were continuous. The engine drive shaft remained connected at both ends and appeared undamaged. Drive continuity from the engine to the main rotor and tail rotor output pinion was verified. The overrunning clutch was found to be functional. 

All five main rotor blades remained attached to the hub and were cut or removed during the examination. The blades exhibited impact damage with minimal signatures of preimpact rotation.

The aft section of the tail boom was fractured and remained attached by the electrical conduit and wiring. The forward section of the tail boom remained attached to the fuselage. There was no evidence of a main rotor blade strike to the tail boom. The tail rotor gearbox and tail rotor swashplate operated smoothly when rotated by hand. The tail rotor gearbox chip detector was clear of debris. The tail rotor blades were manipulated by hand, and the control linkages and mechanisms responded appropriately. The right horizontal stabilizer was crushed inward.

Lateral cyclic control continuity was established through the main rotor head. Longitudinal cyclic control continuity was established to the fractures in the interconnecting torque tube and one-way lock attachment. Beyond the fractures, control continuity was established to the rotor head. The trim actuators were near center position. The actuators could not be electrically tested due to circuit breaker damage. The trim actuators were removed, and the actuators measured between mounting centers. Collective control continuity was established through the main rotor head. Anti-torque control continuity was established from the upper control column bellcrank to the control mechanism fractures under the cockpit floor and back to the fracture in the tail rotor control tube. All breaks in control continuity were consistent with impact damage.

The instrument console and slant panel were still in place but sustained damage primarily on the right side of the slant panel that housed the circuit breaker panel. Although several circuit breaker housings were cracked and some circuit breakers did not appear to reset properly, battery power was applied to evaluate the caution/warning panel lights. The caution/warning lights were functionally tested and illuminated when the push-to-test button was depressed. The engine out warning functioned normally. The trim motors and N2 beep did not function due to impact damage.

An engine fuel vacuum check was performed and revealed a slow leak on the engine side; the system held vacuum on the airframe side. No vacuum check isolation procedure was performed on the engine side since the engine was removed for additional examination. The fuel start pump inlets and the fuel tank sump area were found clean and unobstructed. Fuel was noted within the fuel pump inlet port and at the fuel nozzle. The fuel sender electrical wire was verified to be wrapped around the fuel line preventing interference with the fuel gauge sending unit. About 6 gallons of fuel were drained from the fuel tank sump. The fuel appeared clean with no contaminants observed. The low fuel warning light was functional.

The engine and accessories exhibited minimal external damage, and the engine mounts appeared undamaged. All pneumatic, oil, and fuel lines displayed no damage or evidence of leakage, and all "B" nut connectors were at least finger tight. The compressor inlet and visible stages of blades and vanes revealed no evidence of foreign object debris damage. Upon removal of the engine from the airframe, manual rotation of the gas generator drive train revealed that it was rotationally free and continuous from the starter generator pad to the compressor. Manual rotation of the power turbine drive train revealed that it to be free and continuous from the power take off gear to the stage four turbine wheel. The upper and lower engine chip detectors were clear of debris.



MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Manitowoc County Coroner's Office, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, completed an autopsy on the pilot, and the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and chest. The pilot was wearing an MSA LH250 flight helmet during the accident. The Bioaeronautical Research Laboratory at the FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute conducted toxicology testing, which revealed the presence of amlodipine and atorvastatin and was negative for other substances.

Amlodipine (brand name Norvasc) is a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure. Atorvastatin (brand name Lipitor) is a prescription medication used for lowering high blood cholesterol. The pilot had previously reported these medications to the FAA. 

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The engine was shipped to a Rolls-Royce facility and connected to an engine test stand for a functional test. Several attempts to start the engine were made, but the engine did not start. The fuel system was checked, and fuel was noted throughout the system, up to and including the fuel nozzle where normal spray patterns and pressures were observed. The fuel control unit was removed and replaced with a new fuel control unit; subsequent engine start attempts were unsuccessful. The governor servo pressure (Py) line between the PTG and fuel control unit was removed, and its fittings were capped off to test operation of the PTG. A successful engine start was made in this condition. The PTG was removed, and its main drive shaft was found fractured. The original PTG was replaced with a new PTG, and the original fuel control was reinstalled on the engine. With the new PTG installed, the engine started normally, produced rated horsepower, and met production test specifications with no anomalies noted.

On August 9, 2016, the PTG, which was designed and manufactured by Honeywell, was disassembled and examined at a Honeywell facility under the auspices of the NTSB. A functional performance test could not be performed due to the internal damage. The examination revealed that the governor pressure (Pg) lever clevis fork was bent, and the spool bearing assembly was loose within the drive body cavity (figure 6). The drive shaft guide post was fractured and trapped within the spool bearing bushing. Metallic debris was found within the interior of both the drive body and the drive body cover. The internal bearing elements of the spool bearing assembly were seized and would not rotate. One flyweight was bent and did not pivot freely. The drive shaft was found fractured at the guide post and at the drive spline. The PTG was sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory, Washington, DC, for further examination.


On September 16, 2016, the NTSB examination of the PTG revealed that a portion of the fractured drive shaft remained embedded in the spindle of the spool bearing assembly. The fracture surface features of the shaft were consistent with overstress. The outer cap of the spool bearing assembly was removed, and the ball bearings and spacers were found coated with voluminous, powdery, black particulate. Much of the powder fell from the assembly upon removal of the cap. No grease was observed. Disassembly of the bearings revealed that the ball retainers were fragmented, the inner surfaces were found coated with a powdery, black particulate, and no grease was observed. The inner bearing surfaces were rough and frosted. Figure 7 shows the disassembled pieces of the spool bearing. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

14 CFR Part 133 Operations Specifications
The Operations Specifications for Rotor Blade, LLC, as approved by the FAA, states:
The owner or operator of the aircraft identified in the certificate holder or operator' s aircraft listing is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition as required by 14 CFR 91.403(a) and Part 39. 

PTG Information

According to the component maintenance manual, the model AL-AA2 PTG is an element of the engine fuel controlling system. The function of the governor is to maintain the speed of the power turbine (N2) by resetting the main fuel control; the PTG supplements the main fuel control. This resetting establishes the gas producer speed (N1) required to supply N2. The PTG is mounted on the accessory case and senses N2 speed through reduction gearing. When an N2 off-speed condition is sensed by the PTG, it supplies a signal to the fuel control to change N1 speed to eliminate the off-speed condition. A complete description of the PTG is available in the public docket for this accident.

In 2003, Honeywell introduced a dual-spool bearing for the PTG to lower cost of ownership and commonize the design. The bearing installed in the accident PTG was the dual-spool bearing. The dual-spool bearing replaced the legacy design single-spool bearing; the legacy design had no previous service issues. Honeywell reported that the dual-spool bearing had experienced a total of 23 field failures before this accident. The spool bearing failures led to either engine oscillations, uncommanded engine acceleration, or a loss of engine power.

Honeywell Service Bulletin (SB) GT-73-344

Honeywell issued SB GT-73-344, Revision 2, on October 30, 2008, to replace the bearing assembly on PTGs used on Rolls-Royce 250 series engines in order to increase PTG reliability. The SB applied to several PTG models including the AL-AA2 model on the accident engine. Revision 1 was issued March 7, 2008.

Rolls-Royce Commercial Engine Bulletin (CEB) 1402

Rolls-Royce issued CEB 1402 on April 21, 2008, to increase PTG reliability by incorporating a new bearing assembly. The CEB referenced Honeywell SB GT-73-344 and specified compliance times. The SB and CEB were issued after the accident PTG was installed new, and the SB and CEB were applicable to it. According to the CEB compliance times, the accident PTG's dual-spool bearing should have been replaced with a single-spool bearing no later than 750 hours TT since new.

As a result of this investigation, Rolls-Royce issued a Commercial Service Letter (CSL), revision 1, on November 11, 2016, to remind customers that there are engines operating in the field that have not complied with CEB 1402 and other CEBs. The CSL recommends that customers should review the referenced CEBs to determine if they are applicable to their engine. The CSL also states: "Rolls--Royce has been involved in investigations where failure of the user to comply with the identified bulletins resulted in an uncommanded engine power reduction. It is the owner/operator's sole responsibility to comply with the identified bulletins within the specified timeframe or risk a potential for loss of aircraft or loss of life. Rolls-Royce is not responsible for an owner/operator's failure to comply."

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA171
14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 04, 2016 in Reedsville, WI
Aircraft: MCDONNELL DOUGLAS HELICOPTER 369E, registration: N629JK
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

On May 4, 2016, about 1000 central daylight time, an MD Helicopters 369E helicopter, N629JK, impacted trees and terrain near Reedsville, Wisconsin. The commercial rated pilot was fatally injured and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to Padgett Ag Air LLC, Pawleys Island, South Carolina, and operated by Rotor Blade LLC, Georgetown, South Carolina, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133 as an external load operation. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed from the Manitowoc County Airport (MTW), Manitowoc, Wisconsin, about 0730. 

According to the operator, the helicopter was being used to transport personnel and equipment in support of power line maintenance. The helicopter arrived at a predetermined landing zone (LZ) about 0800 where 25 gallons of fuel were added. 

There were two witnesses were personnel atop the nearest powerline structure and another witness located in a vehicle about 170 yards to the north. They reported that the helicopter approached the powerline structure from the east and then made a right turn to point the nose of the helicopter into the wind. When the helicopter approached the powerline structure the witnesses noticed change in the helicopter's sound and then it made a sudden descent. The helicopter veered to the right and the main rotor blades appeared to decrease in speed. The helicopter impacted trees and terrain and came to rest on its right side. One witness climbed down from the structure, arrived at the main wreckage, and reported that the engine was still operating. In order to shut down the engine, he pulled the emergency fuel shutoff valve and then rendered assistance to the pilot. 

At 0956, the weather observation at MTW, located 13 nautical miles east-southeast, reported wind from 340° at 22 knots gusting to 32 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, overcast ceiling at 2,600 ft, temperature 46° F, dew point 36° F, and altimeter setting 29.77 inches of mercury. 

A Garmin 496 GPS was found in the wreckage and was sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory for examination and download. 

The helicopter was retained for further examination.



Paul Ruppert
        
Sept. 12, 1954-May 4, 2016

MADISON, Wis. - Paul Ray Ruppert was born on Sept. 12, 1954, and grew up on his family's farm near Currie, the oldest of six children. He attended Immaculate Heart of Mary school in Currie for grades K-8 and Tracy High School in Tracy for grades 9-12. After graduating in 1972, he attended Mankato State University in Mankato, then served in the U.S. Army as a medic, stationed in Germany. Following his discharge, Paul returned to Currie to farm, and it was during that time he learned that helicopters were being used for chemical application to crops. His father helped him buy his first helicopter, and for 21 years Paul worked as a helicopter pilot in aerial application.

Never one to resist a new challenge, Paul transitioned to the power line construction industry, where helicopters were being used for completion of numerous tasks. He worked for 15 years in that industry - one in which he was well-known and respected, not only for his precision flying skills but also for his strong commitment to safety and his ability to successfully train power line helicopter pilots and linemen how to work safely as a team.

Paul had a tough exterior, befitting a man whose job required him to hold others' lives in his hands. But those who knew him best appreciated him for his kind heart, humility, sense of humor, and generosity toward friends and strangers alike. In addition to flying helicopters, he loved music, reading, art, motorcycling, hiking, bicycling, dining out, and exploring small towns. Additional interests included woodworking, photography, stained glass, cooking, gardening, and spending time with friends.

On Wednesday, May 4, 2016, Paul passed away as the result of a helicopter crash and will be sadly missed by all those who loved him and whose lives he touched.

He is survived by his beloved mother Dorothy Ruppert of Currie; his life partner Linda Linssen of Madison, Wis.; daughters Eryn Ruppert of Vista, Calif. and Anna Ruppert of Colorado Springs, Colo.; grandchildren Plato Ruppert of Vista, Calif., and Luna Barreras of Colorado Springs, Colo.; siblings Karl (Kim) Ruppert of Currie; Rebecca (Francis) Biesanz of Sleepy Eye; Matt (Tammy) of Mound; Ramona Ruppert (Rebecca) of Minneapolis; and Jody (Kent) Shaw of Colorado Springs, Colo.; dozens of nieces, nephews, and cousins; and his aviation family and friends from around the world.

Paul was preceded in death by his father, Raymond Ruppert, his lifelong hero and role model. At the time of his death, Paul lived in Madison, Wis., with Linda.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials in Paul's name to the charity of your choice or to one of the following:

American Diabetes Organization in honor of Paul's daughter Anna, who lives with Type 1 diabetes.

Hogs for Heroes, a nonprofit organization dedicated to healing the mental and physical wounds suffered by veterans during the course of active duty through the therapeutic benefits of owning and riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which provides financial assistance to career musicians struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related issues.


Source: http://www.marshallindependent.com




The pilot of the helicopter that crashed in Manitowoc County Wednesday is identified as 61-year-old Paul Ruppert of Madison.

Ruppert sustained trauma including his head, neck, chest and right leg as a result of the crash.

He was removed from the aircraft prior to the arrival of EMS and other rescue personnel by ground personnel and co-workers present when the aircraft crashed. They attempted CPR at the scene.


He was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Curtis Green at 11:40 a.m. Wednesday. All family has been notified. Funeral arrangements are being made.

Statement regarding helicopter crash in Manitowoc County, Wis.

DEPERE, Wis. –  American Transmission Co. has received word of a helicopter crash near the intersection of Marquette Road and Sandy Road near Reedsville, Wis. The helicopter was involved in stringing wire along an ATC transmission line between the Point Beach Nuclear Plant and the Forest Junction Substation.

The helicopter is owned by Rotor Blade,LLC, which is a subcontractor for Henkels & McCoy. Rotor Blade is a South Carolina-based company that provides helicopter services to the utilities industry.

An internal team has been assembled to respond to the emergency at the scene and to investigate the accident.

Source:   http://www.atcllc.com



A pilot helping with the installation of transmission lines was killed when the helicopter crashed in Manitowoc County Wednesday morning. Tonight, investigators are trying to learn why the helicopter went down.

At about 10 a.m., the chopper went down in a “remote and swampy area” at 19420 Marquette Road in Maple Grove, near Reedsville, the sheriff’s office said.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the MD 500E (369E) helicopter “crashed under unknown circumstances.” It came to rest on its side in trees just feet from the tower the crew was working on.

The pilot was the only person on-board. So far the person hasn’t been publicly identified.

Video provided by local viewer Jesse Jossart taken shortly before the crash shows the helicopter hovering above a crew installing a communication line between the Point Beach nuclear plant and Forest Junction substation. The work was part of a project by the American Transmission Company. The video does not show the crash.

Neighbors say they’ve been watching this pilot and his crew for the past couple weeks and admiring the pilot’s skill as crews worked to install wires on transmission towers.

Steve Sorenson, who lives down the road, told us, “The helicopter pilot was able to hover in one spot and be able to drive guys in there and hold that helicopter steady, and then I saw him trimming the lines back and forth with a big pole trimmer, and he was able to go on both sides of that, and he was a very skilled pilot in my mind.”

“I’ve been watching the guy for a month working around here, and I was pretty impressed with his skills. It’s pretty sad news.”

Sorenson said the last time he saw the helicopter it had dropped off the crew and was hovering over a neighbor’s shed. He didn’t see it crash. “The next thing I know, the ambulances were showing up.”

American Transmission Company released a statement to Action 2 News, saying the helicopter is owned by Rotor Blade, a South Carolina-based company. Rotor Blade, a subcontractor for Henkels & McCoy, provides services to utilities.

“An internal team has been assembled to respond to the emergency at the scene and to investigate the accident,” reads a statement from ATC.

The FAA is responding to the scene to begin an investigation, which will be led by the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB says an investigator is en route from Denver and will be here by Thursday morning to start their investigation.

ATC says it’s assisting both agencies during this investigation.

“It’s a tragedy,” ATC spokesperson Jackie Olson said. “We take pride in our safety record at American Transmission Company. Even our office meetings begin with a safety briefing, so it’s a very high priority, and it’s a very sad day when something like this happens.”

Officials say the NTSB’s report will be made public within 10 days.

The Manitowoc County coroner was on the scene.

The Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office received help at the scene from Reedsville Fire Department and First Responders, Collins Fire Department, Kellnersville Fire Department, Wayside Fire Department, and Valders Ambulance.

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





Authorities report that a pilot was killed when a helicopter owned by a Georgetown County-based business crashed while performing maintenance work in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.

A release from the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office indicates the helicopter crashed in an area near 19420 Marquette Road in the town of Maple Grove at about 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 4.

In the release, Sheriff Robert C. Hermann said deputies were dispatched at 10:02 a.m. after receiving a call reporting the crash. When deputies arrived, Hermann said, they saw the crash occurred in a “remote and swampy area” near the aforementioned residence.

“They were stringing power lines from our nuclear plant ... over to Forest Junction,” Hermann said, in an interview with the Georgetown Times staff. “The helicopter company was subcontracted to assist.”

Hermann added there was no indication as to what may have caused the fatal crash.

“That’s still under investigation,” he said. “There were some witnesses, and it doesn’t look like he hit anything. But I can’t say for sure what it was.”

Representatives with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Travel Safety Board were en route to Manitowoc County to investigate the crash site. Although his department handled the initial investigation, Hermann said he thought it would continue through NTSB.

The pilot was identified only as a man. Hermann said his identity would be withheld pending notification of his next-of-kin.

Times staff left a message with Rotor Blade staff asking for a statement on Wednesday’s crash. That message was not immediately returned.

Original article can be found here: http://www.southstrandnews.com














MAPLE GROVE - A pilot is dead after the helicopter he was operating crashed in rural Manitowoc County just after 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The crash occurred in a swampy area at 19420 Marquette Road in the town of Maple Grove, according to the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Office. The pilot's identity has not been released, but he was the only occupant of the MD 369E helicopter.

The cause of the crash has not been determined. The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.

According to the American Transmission Co., the pilot was stringing wire along an ATC transmission line between the Point Beach Nuclear Plant and the Forest Junction Substation.

The helicopter is owned by Rotor Blade LLC, which is a subcontractor for Henkels & McCoy. Rotor Blade is a South Carolina-based company that provides helicopter services to the utility industry.

The Manitowoc County Sheriff's Office was assisted by Reedsville Fire Department and First Responders, Collins Fire Department, Kellnersville Fire Department, Wayside Fire Department and the Valders Ambulance. Manitowoc County Coroner Curt Green was also on scene assisting.

Initial scanner reports also indicated power lines were down and fuel was leaking from the helicopter.

Original article can be found here: http://www.htrnews.com




MANITOWOC COUNTY (WLUK) -- The pilot has been killed in a helicopter crash near Reedsville, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Manitowoc County Sheriff's Office says the crash happened just after 10 a.m. in a swampy area near 19420 Marquette Rd. in the Town of Maple Grove. The pilot was the only person in the helicopter.

Citing local law enforcement, the FAA says the crash is a fatality.

American Transmission Company says the helicopter was being used to help string wire along an ATC electrical transmission line between the Point Beach nuclear plant and the Forest Junction Substation.

ATC says the helicopter is owned by South Carolina-based Rotor Blade, LLC, which is working as a subcontractor for Henkels & McCoy. According to the FAA, the helicopter was an MD Helicopters model 369E. It's unknown what led to the crash.

The FAA says the National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation, and any further information will come from the NTSB.

Original article can be found here: http://fox11online.com







TOWN OF MAPLE GROVE -- - 

A pilot was killed after crashing his helicopter north of Reedsville in Manitowoc County. The pilot was helping install transmission lines for  American Transmission Co. 

Neighbors reported seeing the helicopter earlier in the day and it's unclear what made the chopper crash "My heart goes out the families that were involved in this. what a terrible loss," said Steve Sorenson.

The NTSB is now leading an investigation into what happened. The helicopter is owned by the South Carolina company. But was contracted to help American Transmission Co. "We pride ourselves on our safety record at American Transmission Co. even our corporate office meetings begin with safety briefings so it's a tragic day," said Jackie Olson with American Transmission Co.

The pilots identity has not been released.

Original article can be found here: http://www.nbc26.com

Smaller, local airports to serve passengers on new ImagineAir flights

Pilot and ImagineAir CEO Ben Hamilton poses with one of the Cirrus SR22 aircraft being used for the new on-demand private flights from closeby airports.
~


Road warriors and others who fly frequently are well aware of the problems and delays that can cause flights to be delayed or canceled.

It’s almost impossible these days to commit to an arrival time by commercial flight.

A one- to two-hour flight can easily consume a half day once the mandates of advance check-in, luggage handling and security checks are balanced along with weather, equipment of other vagaries of the increasingly difficult formula for flying.

That’s where pilot Ben Hamilton steps up to the plate with ImagineAir, a service that puts smaller three-passenger jet aircraft at the disposal of travelers and takes them to their destinations from close-to-home airports.

“We bring the plane to you,” he said. “We can pick you up and drop you off at almost any airport.”

He sees ImagineAir as giving travelers their day back and getting them back home in time for dinner.

Instead of having to deal with a 40-minute drive to Cleveland Hopkins International, his local customers might choose to fly from Lost Nation Airport in Willoughby, Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights or Burke Lakefront Airport near downtown Cleveland.

“In many cases, you can save even more time by driving drive directly to your aircraft,” he said. “You deal with no TSA checkpoints, lost luggage issues or layovers.”

You rent the entire plane and can take two others along, so the arrangements may be ideal for business meetings, golf outings and small group forays. ImagineAir specializes in short hops such as flights to places such as Columbus, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Buffalo, which can be even more problematic than longer journeys. Although those flights may take just an hour or so to complete, passengers still need to accommodate check-in time that’s more time-consuming than the flight itself.

Booking and fares are subject to supply and demand, but flights can often cost close to what they would aboard a commercial flight.

“Fares are dynamic,” Hamilton said.

They’re done online to keep costs low, although the staff can help figure out options that might save even more time and money.

Travelers to New York City, for instance, might get shut out on flights to John F. Kennedy or LaGuardia but can more easily reach the city through smaller nearby airports such an Farmingdale, he said.

“Flights often can be booked just a day or two in advance and cost about $1,500,” Hamilton said. That’s for the entire plane with three passengers

He said 85 percent of travelers live close to a smaller airport, but few are able to factor in and arrival or departure from there.

This is what he is trying to change.

“Our flights are ideal for doctors, lawyers and other professional people as well as for politicians and rock bands,” he said.

They also seemingly would be an viable option for family or business emergencies as well as impromptu beach getaways and concerts.

Frequent travelers can buy in with two different levels of membership and get either a 7 percent discount or 15 percent discount on their flights.

Hamilton likens the experience of flying aboard one of the company’s Cirrus SR22-GTS aircraft as similar to sitting in a midsize luxury sedan but cruising at 200 mph.

He’s a licensed pilot with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master of business administration degree from Emory University in Atlanta.

Prior to his affiliation with ImagineAir, Hamilton was president of Georgia Tech’s 200-member Yellow Jacket Flying Club and served as a flight instructor for students, faculty and alumni. Co-founder of ImagineAir, Hamilton has served as the company’s director of operations and CEO.

Original article can be found here: http://www.morningjournal.com