Sunday, May 29, 2016

Airline Executives Gather at International Air Transport Association Convention and Look for Answers: Industry seems more stable now but investors worry about signs of trouble ahead

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall and Doug Cameron
Updated May 29, 2016 8:38 p.m. ET


The airline industry has finally shaken off its boom-and-bust past, says the head of the world’s largest carrier, but investors aren’t buying it because familiar signs of trouble loom on the horizon.

Global air fares are falling as carriers add ever more aircraft, and low oil prices, which helped airlines land record profits of $33 billion last year, are inching higher. In addition, terrorism fears are weighing on bookings and, even as more passengers take to the skies, growth is stalling in some regions.

It’s a challenging mix for the 200-plus airline executives gathering in Dublin this week for the industry’s annual jamboree hosted by the International Air Transport Association, a big trade group.

The message they’d like to deliver echoes that of American Airlines Group Inc. Chief Executive Doug Parker in a well-publicized speech in March.

“We have an industry that also can be a real business like other businesses,” said Mr. Parker, who has spearheaded much of the consolidation that’s allowed airlines to become more efficient, and last year earn more than their cost of capital for the first time.

“The airline business has been fundamentally and structurally transformed and the valuations do not reflect such a transformation,” he said. “They’re not even close.”

Investors have shrugged and headed for the exits, dragging an index of global airline stocks down 6.4% since the start of the year. U.S. carriers have been hit hardest, with Mr. Parker’s American shedding a quarter of its value even as it poured profits into stock buybacks.

Demand isn’t the problem. Global passenger numbers rose 7% in the first quarter from a year earlier, driven largely by growth among carriers in Asia and the Middle East. Fliers are paying less, with global fares down an average 4% through April and are particularly weak on trans-Atlantic flights and in the U.S.

Average U.S. domestic fares haven’t risen in more than a year and airlines don’t expect them to stabilize before the end of 2016.

Hunter Keay, airline analyst at Wolfe Research LLC, last week boosted his airline investor sentiment gauge to 4, on a scale of 1 to 10, having pegged it at 1 or 2 for much of the year. “This is the 2016 version of good news, sadly,” he said of the recent raise.

The executives gathered in Dublin have few levers to pull to soothe disgruntled investors or those passengers facing long security lines at airports this summer.

Airlines can cut flights to gain more control over fares. Such U.S. carriers as Delta Air Lines Inc. have recently announced plans to trim capacity after the Labor Day holiday in September. In Europe, British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA and Deutsche Lufthansa AG have also scaled back.

Executives have to be careful in Dublin. Antitrust laws bar them from discussing or coordinating fares in most markets. Comments made at last year’s IATA meeting in Miami form part of a class-action lawsuit lodged against four U.S. carriers, which all deny the charges.

Cheaper jet fuel has been the biggest driver of higher profits, but prices have been rising since January. Still, the airline industry should deliver strong earnings this year, said Peter Morris, chief economist at aviation consultant Ascend Worldwide Ltd. Many carriers in Europe and Asia are only starting to see the benefit from cheaper fuel as costly fuel hedges, made before crude tumbled, are replaced by ones made at more favorable rates.

“There have been a number of negative developments that have come up, but they don’t override the underlying achievement for profitability,” Mr. Morris said.

Also on the Dublin agenda is the prospect of a new cost headwind as regulators consider making carriers pay for carbon dioxide emissions.

Airlines are exempt from the global climate change deal struck in Paris last December, but pressure has been mounting on politicians and regulators to curtail the CO2 output from commercial flights. Environmental groups fret that the airline industry’s rapid growth could undermine other climate change initiatives unless limits are imposed.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, an arm of the United Nations, is trying to secure agreement on a mechanism to limit the industry’s C02 output without curtailing growth.

ICAO members pledged to improve the fuel efficiency of commercial aircraft by 2% a year and to see that any industry growth beyond 2020 won’t increase pollution. ICAO representatives convened this month to help bridge differences between member states about what the system might look like.

Exactly how much of an airline’s carbon emissions will need to be offset is still being negotiated. IATA estimates that the airline industry’s annual bill would be around $2.8 billion compared to projected profits this year of $36 billion, a forecast expected to be updated this week.

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

Devils Lake Regional Airport (KDVL) on track to have biggest year for passenger boardings

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com

DEVILS LAKE -- After dropping an unreliable airline and switching to an air service with direct flights to Denver, Devils Lake Regional Airport is on track to have its biggest year for boardings.

For the last five months, the airport has outpaced itself in boardings. As of the end of April, Devils Lake had boarded 1,965 passengers, a 55 percent increase from last year at that time.

The May count isn't official yet, but it should come in around 500, airport manager John Nord said.

"Right now we are ahead of schedule," he said. "The month of May, while we don't have all of the final numbers in, it will be a record month for May."

The boardings are a stark comparison to its 2012 and 2013 numbers when the airport had a contract with Great Lakes Airlines, which suspended its contract in early 2014. The airport boarded a total of 2,998 passengers in 2012, dropping off from the nearly 5,500 passengers that used the airport in 2011 before Great Lakes replaced Delta Airlines and Airlines. Great Lakes boarded even fewer passengers--2,667--in 2013.

SkyWest Airlines, which has direct flights to Denver, beat out Great Lakes for an Essential Air Service bid at Devils Lake, but it couldn't take over air service until June 2014, leaving the airport without service from February to May after Great Lakes left the airport, Nord said.

But even without those months, the airport saw a jump in boardings. Devils Lake served 2,889 passengers in 2014. Last year, that number almost doubled to 5,104 passengers.

Devils Lake is kicking a trend plaguing other airports in the state: a dramatic drop in boardings. Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport, which saw its boardings triple by the end of April 2014 compared to the previous year, lost 69 percent of its April passengers compared to the April 2015 count, the largest dip among airports in North Dakota.

The decrease is likely due to an oil slowdown amid low oil prices. At the heart of an oil boom, which boosted air traffic to the point of airports adding flights and planning for expansions, Sloulin Field International Airport in Williston boarded 10,150 passengers in April 2015, a record for that month.

But that airport also took a hit to its count, shedding almost half of its April boardings passengers in one year.

Even airports in eastern North Dakota haven't been immune to decreasing passenger numbers. Hector International Airport in Fargo boarded 133,807 passengers this year as of April, a decrease by more than 11 percent of its boardings by the end of April 2015. Grand Forks International Airport, with 48,136 boardings, lost about 3,000 passengers, or about 6 percent, in the same timeframe.

As of April, North Dakota airports have boarded 57,095 fewer passengers than last year at that time, a 14 percent decrease.

The passenger numbers for North Dakota airports may have dropped dramatically, but they are still above pre-oil boom counts, said Kyle Wanner, director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.

"Each community has it's own set of challenges," he said, adding farm commodities and a low Canadian dollar is also impacting travel to North Dakota. "Today, they may have less passengers than their peak years in '14 and '13, but historically, they have incredible air service still. You kind of have to put it into perspective."

It's hard to tell if airports are losing passengers to surrounding cities, Wanner said. Some markets leak customers to others, but it's a two-way street--Grand Forks customers may drive to Devils Lake and vice versa. Customers are free to choose which airport they feel has the best deal.

"We're still very healthy as far as our passenger numbers go," he added.

Like Devils Lake, Jamestown Regional Airport has seen large increases, which Nord also attributed to SkyWest taking over for Great Lakes' Jamestown EAS contract. That airport, which flew only 2,672 passengers in 2013 when Great Lakes was its primary air service, has surpassed that yearly total in March. So far this year, the airport has boarded 3,378 passengers, up 39 percent from 2015 year-to-date numbers in April.

"Our boardings aren't based on the oil boom," Nord said. "Our boardings are based on the normal folks that finding us and realizing there is value in flying out of the Devils Lake area."

He also said free parking does attract customers, especially when most airports in the state charge for parking.

"That's a big deal for people," he said, adding many passengers are surprised when he tells them there is no charge for parking. "There isn't much left in life that is free."

The Devils Lake passenger market has increased quite a bit over the past several years, Nord said. SkyWest signed a two-year contract that will begin in July. The contract also adds another flight to the airports already 11 roundtrips.

The jump in numbers also prompted the airport to install a fueling tank for SkyWest so it can handle heavier loads, Nord said. Instead of filling up in Jamestown, SkyWest will be able to fuel in Devils Lake sometime in June.

"We're a small airport and people are still finding out about us," he said. "Once they start coming here ... I see a lot repeat passengers coming here."

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

Cessna 177 Cardinal, N29601: Accident occurred May 29, 2016 at Pine Bluff Regional Airport / Grider Field (KPBF), Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas

http://registry.faa.gov/N29601 

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Little Rock FSDO-11


NTSB Identification: GAA16CA266 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, May 29, 2016 in Pine Bluff, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 177, registration: N29601
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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

According to the pilot, during a flour bomb competition at a local airport, she was making a bomb run parallel to runway 18 and slowed the airplane to 80 knots, with zero flaps, mixture was rich, throttle was about 75 percent, and carburetor heat was used. About 300 feet above the ground she dropped the bag of flour. She reported that after dropping the flour, she immediately advanced the throttle to full, ensured the mixture was full rich, zero flaps, and carburetor heat was placed in the cold position, but the engine hesitated when full throttle was applied. She reported that she lowered the nose in order to increase the airspeed and made a left turn to re-enter the pattern before establishing a positive rate of climb. She recalled that when she lowered the nose, the airspeed increased to about 100 knots indicated, she turned to the left, and the airplane did not climb. She recalled that the airplane continued to descend into a cornfield, bounced, and when the airplane settled back to the ground, the left main landing gear wheel became stuck in the mud and the airplane nosed over. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, both wings, and the empennage.

Per the Pilot’s Aircraft Accident Report in the (NTSB Form 6120.1 rev. 2013), the pilot reported that when full throttle was applied, the heading of 180 degrees should have been maintained until adequate airspeed was attained before turning crosswind. She asserted that, if the heading of 180 degrees was maintained when full power was not achieved, the plane could have landed on the runway.

The Federal Aviation Administration Aviation Safety Inspector that traveled to the accident site, interviewed witnesses and inspected the airplane. The Inspector reported that per the witness statements, the airplane was below the flour bomb designated minimum altitude of 200 feet above the ground and very slow. He reported that according to witnesses the aircraft stalled, lost altitude and landed in a corn field just off the airport property.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed and her exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle-of-attack during a low-altitude turn, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

According to the pilot, during a flour bomb competition at a local airport, she was making a bomb run parallel to runway 18 and slowed the airplane to 80 knots, with zero flaps, mixture was rich, throttle was about 75 percent, and carburetor heat was used. About 300 feet above the ground she dropped the bag of flour. She reported that after dropping the flour, she immediately advanced the throttle to full, ensured the mixture was full rich, zero flaps, and carburetor heat was placed in the cold position, but the engine hesitated when full throttle was applied. She reported that she lowered the nose in order to increase the airspeed and made a left turn to re-enter the pattern before establishing a positive rate of climb. She recalled that when she lowered the nose, the airspeed increased to about 100 knots indicated, she turned to the left, and the airplane did not climb. She recalled that the airplane continued to descend into a cornfield, bounced, and when the airplane settled back to the ground, the left main landing gear wheel became stuck in the mud and the airplane nosed over. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, both wings, and the empennage.

Per the Pilot's Aircraft Accident Report in the (NTSB Form 6120.1 rev. 2013), the pilot reported that when full throttle was applied, the heading of 180 degrees should have been maintained until adequate airspeed was attained before turning crosswind. She asserted that, if the heading of 180 degrees was maintained when full power was not achieved, the plane could have landed on the runway.

The Federal Aviation Administration Aviation Safety Inspector that traveled to the accident site, interviewed witnesses and inspected the airplane. The Inspector reported that per the witness statements, the airplane was below the flour bomb designated minimum altitude of 200 feet above the ground and very slow. He reported that according to witnesses the aircraft stalled, lost altitude and landed in a corn field just off the airport property.


A small plane containing a mother and daughter from Georgia crashed Sunday while participating in the Black Pilots of America fly-in at Pine Bluff Regional Airport.

Airport manager Doug Hale said the plane was not carrying children but was involved in one of the weekend’s activities held every year as part of Operation Skyhook.

“They’re OK,” Hale said Monday. “They got out and walked away. They went to the hospital to get checked out and were released and in fact they flew out this morning.”

Names of the two were not immediately available.

The crash occurred at about 10 a.m. east of the runway, Hale said.

“How and why it occurred I am not going to speculate, and the FAA has been called in to investigate,” he said.

This was the 20th anniversary of the Black Pilots event in Pine Bluff, and Hale said this was the first crash that has occurred.

“That’s a pretty good safety record,” Hale said. “Our fire department responded in a timely manner and got out to where the crash was, and in fact, it’s sitting in a corn field.”

Despite the weather, Hale said the weekend was a “good one” for the annual event.

“Of course Friday was a total washout but Saturday they were able to get in most of their flying events,” he said. “On Sunday, when the rain storm hit, we were able to get 30 airplanes that were participating in the event into hangars in 30 minutes and I was really proud of the staff out here.

“We got some of them into general aviation hangars and the rest into other hangars that the owners gave us permission to use,” he said. “We’ve received many complements from the pilots today who said they were impressed with what we were able to do.”

- See more at: http://pbcommercial.com

PINE BLUFF (KATV) — At least one person was injured in a small plane crash at the Pine Bluff Regional Airport Sunday morning.

The plane was part of a Memorial Day fly-in with the Black Pilots of America Organization.

Arkansas State Police officials say two people, a woman and child, were in the plane when the crash happened.

The child was taken to an area hospital. The condition of those involved have not been released.

The FAA has been called in to investigate.

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

MD Helicopters 369E, City of Houston, N8375F: Incident occurred May 29, 2016 in West Houston, Texas

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com

Date: 29-MAY-16
Time: 17:00:00Z
Regis#: N8375F
Aircraft Make: MD HELICOPTER
Aircraft Model: 369
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Substantial
Activity: Public Use
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Houston FSDO-09
City: HOUSTON
State: Texas

N8375F, HPD75F, MD 369E ROTORCRAFT, POST FLIGHT INSPECTION REVEALED SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE WHEN STRUCK BY RIFLE ROUNDS, WEST HOUSTON, TEXAS.

CITY OF HOUSTON: http://registry.faa.gov/N8375F


HOUSTON, Texas -- Two people are dead and six others have been injured in a shooting in west Houston, according to the Houston Police Department, CBS affiliate KHOU reported.

One of the deceased is a suspect who was shot by a SWAT officer. The other is a citizen who was shot and killed inside a vehicle, police said.

According to authorities, the deceased civilian was in his 50s and was a customer at an auto detail shop where the suspect shot him.

Acting Police Chief Martha Montalvo said a police helicopter was also shot at with a "high-powered" weapon. KHOU reported the suspects are believed to have had high-powered weapons, AR-15s.

The HPD helicopter had five bullet strikes. Police believe the deceased suspect shot at HPD's helicopter, KHOU reported.

Read more here:  http://www.cbsnews.com

Caribbean Airlines Flight Bound For John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK) Returns To Norman Manley International Airport Unexpectedly, Passengers Disgruntled

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com

Scores of Caribbean Airlines passengers are now disgruntled after a flight, which departed Kingston's Norman Manley airport, was reportedly forced to return about half-hour following take-off.

The Gleaner-Power-106 news center understands that the Caribbean Airlines flight, which was bound for the John F. Kennedy International (KJFK) Airport in New York this morning, returned to Kingston due to what has been described as 'maintenance' issues.

Disgruntled passengers at the JFK airport who spoke to our news center say they were told by ground staff at the airport that the flight, BW015 which departed Kingston at 7:05 this morning, was returned due to maintenance issues.

Sophia Lewis, a relative of one of the passengers who spoke to our news center,  said passengers travelling from JFK to Norman Manley have since been told by Caribbean Airlines staff that the flight would be rescheduled for departure at 2 a.m. tomorrow. 

Attempts to reach representatives from Caribbean Airlines for comment were not successful.

Original article can be found here:  http://jamaica-gleaner.com

Boeing mulls larger engine for biggest 737 MAX-sources

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com

PARIS/NEW YORK, May 29 --   Boeing is considering a plan to put a larger engine on its biggest narrowbody airliner in an effort to blunt the runaway success of a rival Airbus jet that outsells it by four to one, industry sources said.

The U.S. planemaker would substitute a modified version of the larger and more powerful LEAP-1A engine used on Airbus's A321neo rather than the LEAP-1B used on the 737 MAX 9, they said.

That would enable Boeing to add range while lengthening the 178-seat jet to fit 12 or more extra passengers and gain a capacity advantage over the 185-seat A321neo, the sources said.

Boeing disputes its rival's claims about the strength of demand in this particular section of the market where Airbus has the most advantage. But leapfrogging Airbus's A321neo offering with more seats would hedge Boeing's position as many airlines opt for bigger planes.

However, the new plane, nicknamed 737 MAX 10 by some in the industry, would bring significant headaches.

Adding the larger engine would mean raising and possibly repositioning the landing gear and recertifying parts, costing an estimated $1-2 billion, according to industry experts.

Boeing's 737 MAX family uses the smaller LEAP engine because the plane's fuselage sits lower to the ground and must therefore have a smaller engine fan.

Having a different engine on the largest 737 could weaken the advantage of commonality with the smaller LEAP engine used on the rest of the 737 MAX fleet, but reflects a growing pragmatism in the face of lost sales.

"It doesn't matter if they are not consistent," said Adam Pilarski, senior vice president at U.S. consultancy Avitas. "They are getting killed."

The maker of the LEAP engines, CFM, which is co-owned by General Electric and France's Safran, declined to comment. A GE spokesman said there was no contractual impediment to using a larger engine for Boeing planes.

"The LEAP engine was designed to have growth capability," he said.

BRUTAL COMPETITION

Recent orders by Vietnam start-up airline VietJet illustrate the Airbus-Boeing fight for narrowbody sales. At last November's Dubai Airshow, Airbus celebrated the sale of 30 A321s to VietJet, while Boeing officials watched from the sidelines.

But last week Boeing pulled off what industry observers saw as a coup by signing an $11 billion order for 100 737 MAXs with the same airline in the presence of President Barack Obama.

Boeing's plans to boost the size of the largest MAX are one option being considered to defend its 737 franchise as it also tries to carve out a space in the middle of the market between the workhorse narrowbody 737 and big wide-body jets like the 787 Dreamliner.

Stung by Airbus's gains in orders, Boeing is pondering a mixed bag of tactical and strategic moves that, if fully made, could give it a head start in the development of the next generation of jets for production from about 2030.

Narrowbody medium-haul jets like the 737 and A320 family dominate the market by volume, with Airbus forecasting 22,900 deliveries worth $2.2 trillion over the next 20 years.

While both have sold thousands of the jets to airlines eager to cut fuel costs, Boeing's share of the market for such jets has fallen to 40 percent compared with a usual 50-50 split.

Market sources say Boeing has shown increasing willingness to compete aggressively for Airbus customers in order to claw back market share, as was evident in the VietJet deal.

"We expect to see lower pricing from Boeing on the MAX," Stuart Hatcher of valuation firm IBA told a briefing.

Boeing's tactical tinkering with the 737 also includes tweaking a smaller model to suit two key buyers. And the company's aim extends to a strategic 'middle of the market' jet, partly to replace its popular 757.

Industry sources say that project involves not one jet but two. They would have twin aisles and carry 220 and 260 people respectively, equating to what analysts see as two distinct slices of potential demand.

The smaller base model would have a range of about 4,500 nautical miles, dropping to about 3,500 for the larger variant.

Airbus has dismissed the idea, which would partially overlap with its A321neo. It argues that the history of the market is littered with small twin-aisle jets that sold poorly, including its own A310.

But it is holding in reserve a plan to retaliate with another A321 makeover, using new wings to boost performance.

Boeing declined comment on either tactical plans to defend the 737 or the longer-term mid-market studies. At $15 billion or more, it has said the latter is a difficult business case.

"We're in continuous discussions with our customers about the market. We'll make the right decisions at the right time," a spokesman said.

While Boeing's mid-market study is grabbing most industry attention, behind it lies a longer-term bid to turn the tables on Airbus in the broader market for smaller jets where both make most cash, according to industry analysts.

Although differing in size and appearance, a mid-market jet would spawn new technology and production methods that could be transferred to whatever comes after the 737, they said. 

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

Port Columbus International Airport (KCMH) faces new hurdles to keeping passengers, planes moving this summer

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com

With the kickoff of summer travel season this week, Port Columbus officials have to juggle more variables than usual to ensure that travelers make their flights and that those flights take off on time.

The issues: Long security lines. A maintenance program that has left only one runway open. Drone incursions and bird strikes.

The federal Transportation Security Administration's staffing and performance have come under fire as hours-long waits to go through security checkpoints have plagued airports across the country, particularly the major hubs.

That kind of problem hasn't occurred at Port Columbus. Columbus Regional Airport Authority CEO Elaine Roberts said last week that the longest security wait time at Port Columbus was 53 minutes; that was early on a recent, especially busy Monday morning.

That wait was out of the ordinary for the airport. TSA regional spokesman Mark Howell said waits at Port Columbus checkpoints rarely exceed 20 minutes.

But with Port Columbus passenger traffic up more than 7 percent this year and a new airline — Frontier — beginning service this week, Roberts said Port Columbus officials are evaluating whether workers should be added from the airport's budget. They wouldn't be TSA workers, but additional airport employees could help with crowd control and other matters that could help speed lines.

Some large airports have done this to help reduce wait times, but Roberts said there is debate among airport executives nationwide about whether it is good to help "take pressure off" the feds to devote more resources to TSA staffing.

TSA officials have promised to hire an additional 768 agents across the country by mid-June. Howell said those agents, who will actually begin working over the next couple of months, probably will be allocated mostly to the big airports where delays are worst.

On another front, a few surprises also have occurred since Port Columbus closed one of its two runways April 4 for 180 days of planned heavy maintenance. Since then, mishaps have closed the remaining runway twice. Even Mother Nature played a little joke when it snowed on April 9, resulting in a brief closing while snowplows cleared the remaining runway.

"We had a lot of discussion about when to close the runway" for maintenance, said Rod Borden, chief operating officer of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. "We thought April would be pretty safe weather-wise. You just never know."

Five days after the April snow, a Southwest Airlines jet landing at Port Columbus struck a hawk, breaking a landing light. Four flights were diverted to the Dayton and Indianapolis airports while glass and other debris were cleared from the runway, which took 45 minutes.

And one week ago, a tire blowout on a small private plane ended up causing a two-hour closing of the runway, leading to a dozen diversions to other airports and several delayed departures. The longest delay was about three hours for a Delta Air Lines flight from Columbus to Atlanta.

"We expect to have a handful" of such unforeseen closures this summer, Borden told airport board members at a meeting last week.

Borden and Roberts emphasized, though, that planning and quick response to unexpected events should minimize delays. Roberts said, for example, that crews are mowing around and sweeping the runway at night rather than during the day to avoid even brief delays in takeoffs and landings.

Port Columbus also is grappling with surprises on a fairly new front. A pilot recently reported a close call with a small remote-control aircraft, also known as a drone. The incident didn't lead to an injury or flight delay, but it's being investigated by federal officials, who could levy a fine against the drone's owner.

Although travelers can't do anything to avoid delays resulting from accidents or mechanical issues, TSA and airport officials offer tips to help avoid security delays:
  • Review TSA guidelines on topics such as prohibited items, carry-on limits and rules on liquids. This information can be found at www.tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips.
  • Pack correctly, observing rules on liquids and prohibited items, and don't try to sneak through a bag that's too big to carry on. Many travelers have been doing this to try to avoid bag-check fees, but Roberts says the TSA might start cracking down on too-large bags at security checkpoints.
  • Arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes — and preferably two hours — before the flight's scheduled departure time.
  • Consider applying for TSA Pre-check, the program that gives those who are approved the ability to sail through a designated "trusted traveler" security lane. Some premium credit cards will even reimburse the $85 annual fee. See www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck.
Original article can be found here: http://www.dispatch.com

EDITORIAL: The summertime joy of flying Colorado Springs

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com

As the Memorial Day weekend kicks off a record summer of travel, think about those hourslong waits at the country's biggest airports. Contemplate the time, in security lines, that cannot be used for business, recreation or visits with family and friends. Then plan your summer flights to begin and end at the Colorado Springs Airport.

As headlines swirl about delays and other headaches at the country's largest airports, including DIA, our city's airport is increasingly known as a hub of sanity amid commotion.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday how recent three-hour TSA waits throughout the country "caused thousands of travelers to miss flights and led to hearings in Congress this week on the agency's woes." Lines have increased as recent TSA staff reductions paralleled a 9 percent increase in air travel. And that was before the summer rush began. Federal transportation officials expect air travel to climb 4 percent above normal this season, to a record of 231.1 million passengers. It all adds up to looming airport nightmares.

U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., introduced legislation to shorten airport waits with a bill title long enough to rival a TSA line. The "Safe Convenient Reliable Efficient Effective Next-Generation Functional and Secure TSA or SCREENFAST Act," breathe, gives the country's 29 largest airports responsibility to resolve security delays. It funds new equipment, including devices to speed baggage inspection, and gives airports more latitude to resolve problems with existing federal funds. If successful, this bill could take months or years to net palpable results.

"My bill addresses TSA's growing security lines and aims to find an innovative solution to streamline the security screening process so that it is more efficient, while also preserving the critical security function that must be incorporated into any legislative fix to TSA's problem," Gardner said, as quoted by Bloomberg.

As the sixth busiest airport in the country, Denver International Airport offers no relief from hourslong waits. But just a hop and skip to the south, travelers can avoid screening marathons in Colorado Springs. The airport's passenger traffic has been rising steadily for five of the past six months, but times spent waiting in lines are famously short.

"This is why some people fly out of Colorado Springs," said a headline this week in CompleteColorado.com, a statewide web portal.

The headline links to a Gazette story about airport plans to make lines even shorter, as Frontier Airlines adds flights. The airport will begin tweeting morning wait times so passengers will know what to expect, and will strive for no waits to exceed 15 minutes.

The increasingly user-friendly nature of our local airport should come as no surprise. It all began back in 2013, when then-Mayor Steve Bach and other city leaders decided the airport should stop getting crushed by DIA. Bach appointed an all-star panel of local business leaders, which included: El Pomar Foundation CEO Bill Hybl; Broadmoor Chairman Steve Bartolin; retired Air Force Gen. Victor Renuart; and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak.

The panel advised refinancing and other measures to lower overhead, so the airport could afford better prices and improved customer service. The result has been more airlines offering more flights at lower prices.

Local officials, given their new competitive business plan, are seizing a prime opportunity to capitalize on a problem their giant competitors cannot quickly solve. Wise Colorado travelers will take notice, saving themselves hours by flying in and out of the Springs.

Original article can be found here: http://gazette.com/editorial

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (KRDU) seeks feedback on plans for future growth

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com

Raleigh-Durham International Airport will hold two public meetings this week to get the public’s feedback on conceptual plans that will guide the airport’s development over the next 25 years.

The Airport Authority and its consultant, Ricondo and Associates, will present nine conceptual layouts for the airport that include improvements to runways and taxiways, terminals, parking, roads, ground transportation, general aviation and other facilities.

The meetings will take place Wednesday in the Wake County Commons Building, 4011 Carya Dr. in Raleigh, and Thursday at the Durham Armory, 220 Foster St. Both meetings begin at 6 p.m.

The 18-month master planning process, called Vision2040, began last summer and is expected to be completed late this year. Feedback can be shared either in person at the meetings or afterward on the master plan website, vision2040.rdu.com.

Original article can be found heree: http://www.newsobserver.com

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Luscombe 8A N72087: Accident occurred May 28, 2016 at Midland International Air and Space Port (KMAF), Midland County, Texas

http://registry.faa.gov/N72087

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Lubbock FSDO-13

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA269
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Midland, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/25/2016
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8, registration: N72087
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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

The pilot of a tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that during the landing roll, a gust of wind lifted the right wing "straight up into the air." The pilot further reported that she attempted to regain control, but the airplane continued to the left and impacted terrain next to the runway in a side load configuration, which resulted in a main landing gear collapse. The fuselage and both wings were substantially damaged.

The airport's automated weather observing system, about the time of the accident, reported the wind at 180 degrees true at 10 knots, gusting to 21 knots, for the landing on runway 28.

The pilot did not report any mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot's failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll in gusty crosswind conditions, which resulted in a ground-loop, main landing gear collapse and collision with terrain.

A single-engine airplane crashed Saturday at Midland International Air & Space Port, according to a report from the Department of Public Safety.

The DPS reported that one woman was injured with “non-incapacitating injuries” after a single-engine Luscombe rolled over after landing at Midland International. 


According to the DPS, Patricia Ann Reakes-Collins, 53, of Midland was the pilot of the Luscombe that was traveling north when it landed on runway 28 at about 12:15 p.m. 


A high wind gust lifted the airplane back into the air and forced it to fly on its left side. 


The airplane, according to DPS, crashed on its propeller and then rolled over partially onto the runway. 


The airplane came to rest upright, facing southwest.


The National Weather Service, in its 11:53 p.m. report, shows winds out of the southwest at 5 mph. However in its 12:53 p.m. report, the NWS said winds were out of the south at 12 mph, gusting to 24 mph.


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

Privatizing the air traffic control system: Bag the union sweeteners

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com

Legislation to remove the nation's air traffic control from the federal government is the right prescription for an antiquated system. But that doesn't require union sweeteners to make the medicine go down.

The Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act separates the air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration, creating a federally chartered nonprofit corporation. In other countries such as Canada, these entities have effectively embraced changes in technologies that enhance safety.

But those advantages shouldn't be diluted by buying union appeasement, which sets a bad precedent, says James Sherk, The Heritage Foundation's labor policy expert.

Among concerns is a provision that allows for binding arbitration. Under existing law, the FAA can impose a contract if union negotiations reach an impasse, which the Bush administration did in 2006. But binding arbitration too often directly benefits government unions at a steep cost to the public.

Additionally, the new nonprofit agency would be released from the federal salary cap ($185,100). And a “quasi-private corporation would mean the president no longer could intervene to end a strike by firing the strikers,” Mr. Sherk points out.

These issues should be fixed by Congress in finalizing the legislation. And considering that the median air traffic controller earns $123,000 annually, there's no reason to artificially sweeten the union's pot.

Original article can be found here: http://triblive.com/opinion/editorials

Alamosa's Commercial Airline Service Is On The Chopping Block: San Luis Valley Regional Airport (KALS)

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com

Southern Colorado's remote San Luis Valley could soon lose commercial airline service.

The Federal Aviation Administration sent the San Luis Valley Regional Airport, just outside of Alamosa, a letter last week indicating their intent to terminate Essential Air Service for the area.

The EAS program was started after the federal government deregulated the airline industry in the late 1970s. It subsidizes flights to smaller markets that airlines would otherwise not serve.

But the FAA says too few passengers are using the service to warrant continuing Alamosa's subsidy.

The FAA's letter shows Great Lakes received a subsidy of $1.6 million in the 12 months ending last September to provide service to Alamosa. The FAA says 6,119 passengers used the service in that time period, equating to a subsidy of $268 per passenger. 

The FAA has a $200 "subsidy cap" for communities located fewer than 210 miles to the nearest hub airport of at least medium size -- Albuquerque is 198 miles away. 

Airport manager Francis Song said the airport is working on a letter of objection in an effort to keep its subsidy. Without that, he said, it would be "extremely difficult" to keep service.

"It's extremely important," he said. "We don't have a lot of methods of public ... transportation in or out of the valley."

Song said Great Lakes Airlines offers four flights on weekdays, two on Saturdays and three on Sundays from Alamosa to Denver. There are occasional flights to Farmington, N.M. as well.

But because of the number of passengers has slipped and a new FAA pilot certification rule, Song said Great Lakes often cancels flights and has reduced the size of its aircraft to just a nine-passenger plane. 

Still, he said, the service is vital to the impoverished area.

"If it gets cut, it's going to be a severe detriment to our valley's capabilities to attract and maintain businesses in the area," Song said.

Pueblo also is part of the EAS program and also exceeded the $200 subsidy cap. But they received a reprieve because of a lapse in service last year.

Original article can be found here: https://www.cpr.org

Robinson R44, N921ES: Accident occurred May 28, 2016 at Kestrel Airpark (1T7), Spring Branch, Comal County, Texas

Flying Helicopters Inc:  http://registry.faa.gov/N921ES

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA San Antonio FSDO-17


NTSB Identification: GAA16CA283
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Spring Branch, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/22/2016
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N921ES
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

According to the pilot, he was hover taxiing the helicopter in a confined area, after refueling. He reported there was a large tree to the southwest of his position and a light pole to northeast of his position. He recalled that he began to taxi to the northwest; away from the light pole, but "a significant left quartering wind" about 9 knots gave him "a hard time controlling the tail". He reported that he did not feel that he could turn the nose into the wind in the confined area and decided to climb vertically to avoid obstacles. He reported that he ascended, encountered a wind gust, and the tailboom yawed to the right and struck the light pole. The helicopter descended, impacted the ground, and came to rest on its left side. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, the main and tail rotor systems.

The pilot reported that there were not any mechanical anomalies or malfunctions with any portion of the helicopter that would have prevented normal flight operations.

The nearest weather reporting station was two miles north-northwest. The meteorological aerodrome report about the time of the accident reported the wind was out of 160 degrees true at 11 knots. 

FAA-8083-21A, Chap. 11-20 para. 2 states:

Weathercock Stability (120–240°)

In this region, the helicopter attempts to weathervane, or weathercock, its nose into the relative wind. Unless a resisting pedal input is made, the helicopter starts a slow, uncommanded turn either to the right or left, depending upon the wind direction. If the pilot allows a right yaw rate to develop and the tail of the helicopter moves into this region, the yaw rate can accelerate rapidly. In order to avoid the onset of LTE in this downwind condition, it is imperative to maintain positive control of the yaw rate and devote full attention to flying the helicopter.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain helicopter control while hovering in gusting tailwind conditions, resulting in the tailboom striking a light pole and impact with terrain.

BULVERDE, Texas - The Comal County Sheriff’s Office has reported that a helicopter crashed at Kestrel Airpark, just north of Bulverde.

The crash happened just after 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The pilot, 69, was trying to land and refuel the aircraft when a tailwind pushed the tail into a light post.   

The man was taken to Stone Oak Methodist Hospital with minor injuries.

The Department of Public Safety is investigating the crash and the Federal Aviation Administration has been notified.

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

Rutan VariEze, N80681, privately owned and operated by the pilot: Fatal accident occurred May 28, 2016 in Santa Paula, Ventura County, California

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

Analysis 

The airline transport pilot and a passenger departed on a local area flight; shortly after takeoff, the engine experienced a total loss of power. To the northwest of the accident site was an open field and a road; both were available to use for landing but presented challenges. The field had been recently plowed and there was auto traffic on the road. It was likely that the pilot was attempting to land on the road but struck power lines during the descent. The airplane came to rest in a lemon orchard and was subsequently consumed by a postcrash fire.

Visual examination of the engine revealed thermal damage. The engine crankcase was disassembled; the main bearings on the left crankcase half were dark in color and exhibited pitting. The camshaft drive gear cluster displayed nine broken teeth, most of which were found in the oil sump.

Metallurgical examination revealed that three of the camshaft drive gear teeth failed in fatigue, which subsequently resulted in the overstress failure of the other six teeth. The fatigue initiated at sharp corners formed during hand-grinding of the forward faces of the teeth while dressing the edges and removing burrs from the teeth during manufacture.

Airplane logbook entries revealed that the engine was assembled by a third party and installed new on the airframe about 13 years before the accident. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: 
A total loss of engine power due to fatigue failure of the camshaft drive gear teeth. 

Findings

Aircraft
Engine (reciprocating) - Fatigue/wear/corrosion (Cause)

Environmental issues
Wire - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering
Loss of engine power (total) (Defining event)

Emergency descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Matthew Robert Boutell
Camarillo, California 
Matthew Robert Boutell, 21, July 15, 1994 - May 28, 2016. He was a kind and gentle person with a diplomatic sense of humor. He inspired the best in everybody and that spirit will remain in our hearts forever. After graduating in 2013 with Honors from Triton Academy in Camarillo, Matt found employment at Implantech in Ventura where he was valued and loved by the employees.
~

Edgar Friederichs, 61, was piloting a Rutan VariEze when it crashed on May 28, 2016.  Bob Hirsch, 62, a pilot who has a hangar next to the one Friederichs used at Santa Paula Airport, said the two had known each other since meeting at a picnic when they were boys. "He was probably as well rounded in aviation as anyone could be," Hirsch said.  Hirsch stayed in touch with Friederichs throughout the years. "We lived parallel lives in many ways," Hirsch said, as he recalled working at Santa Monica Airport as a young man fueling aircraft, a job Friederichs also held there. Friederichs went on to become a licensed aircraft mechanic and later an aeronautical engineer, Hirsch said.  Among the many projects Friederichs worked on, was the development of the MD-80 for McDonnell Douglas, a passenger jet that Hirsch flew when he worked as a commercial pilot. Hirsch is retired from American Airlines. Hirsch eventually bought a hangar at Santa Paula Airport and later rented it to Friederichs. Friederichs ended up buying the hangar from Hirsch, he said, while Hirsch bought an adjacent hangar. "Edgar didn't have to prove anything when it came to aircraft," Hirsch said. "He just knew it."  He said Friederichs quickly developed a reputation at Santa Paula Airport "for his deep knowledge of aircraft and flying."

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California 
Continental Motors Inc.; Mobile, Alabama 

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

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N80681

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Santa Paula, CA
Accident Number: WPR16FA118
Date & Time: 05/28/2016, 1515 PDT
Registration: N80681
Aircraft: MOORE JOSEPH O VARIEZE
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 28, 2016, about 1515 Pacific daylight time, an experimental amateur-built VariEze airplane, N80681, impacted power lines and terrain following a total loss of engine power near Santa Paula, California. The airline transport pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed in the postcrash fire. The airplane was privately owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area flight which departed Santa Paula Airport (SZP), Santa Paula, California, about 1510.

Two witnesses observed the airplane flying overhead about 200-300 ft above ground level (agl), and they heard the engine sputtering. The airplane descended from their view as it passed behind a hill. When the airplane came back into their view, it was in a steep 45° left turn. The airplane struck power lines, and then impacted the ground; the power lines were about 75-ft tall. Witnesses reported hearing an explosion, and then seeing fire erupt from the accident site.

An ear witness to the accident reported that after the airplane took off, the pilot radioed him that his engine had quit. There were no further communications between the pilot and the ear witness.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 61, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Unknown
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/18/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/21/2014
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 3500 hours (Total, all aircraft), 0 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The pilot, age 61, held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multi-engine land. He also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single- and multi- engine, instrument airplane, and a mechanic certificate for airframe and powerplant. The pilot was issued a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate on July 18, 2015, with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses. On that date, he reported 3,500 hours of total flight experience, with 30 hours accrued in the previous six months.

Review of the pilot's personal logbook indicated that he had 2,525.8 total hours of flight experience, with 3.6 hours in the previous six months. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: MOORE JOSEPH O
Registration: N80681
Model/Series: VARIEZE NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1980
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 1424
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats:
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/01/2016, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: O-200X
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 100 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The airplane, serial number 1424, was manufactured in 1980, and equipped with a Continental Motors, Inc., O-200-X (experimental), 100-hosepower reciprocating engine. Review of the airplane's maintenance logbook indicated that a condition inspection was completed on May 1, 2016, with no airframe total time noted. Previous entries indicated a total airframe time of 2,576.0 hours and a total engine time of 324.3 hours as of September 30, 2015. 

Additional aircraft records revealed that that a zero-time engine was installed new in the airplane on March 18, 2003. The engine was assembled from new parts obtained from Continental Motors Inc. (Teledyne Continental Motors) in August of 2002. In December of 2002, a new crankshaft from A.E.R.O., Inc. was shipped to the builder. After the rebuild was completed, the engine was installed in the airplane in May 2003. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSZP, 259 ft msl
Observation Time: 1455 PDT
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 63°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 12°C
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1400 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots/ 18 knots, 220°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.89 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: SANTA PAULA, CA (SZP)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: SANTA PAULA, CA (SZP)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1510 PDT
Type of Airspace: Unknown 

Airport Information

Airport: SANTA PAULA (SZP)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 248 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  34.322778, -119.149167 

The accident area was in a rural part of Santa Paula. To the northwest of the accident site was a road and an open field. The field was unplanted and open but had furrowed rows. Adjacent to the road was the lemon orchard where the airplane came to rest. The initial impact point was identified as powerlines about 162 ft south of the main wreckage. A debris path extended from the powerlines on a magnetic heading of 325°. The airplane came to rest on a magnetic heading of 140° and was consumed by a postcrash fire. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site, and control continuity was established to each of the flight control surfaces. 

Visual examination of the engine revealed varying degrees of thermal damage. The engine was equipped with a Light Speed Engineering, LLC, electronic ignition system. The mounting pads for the magnetos, mechanical fuel pump, electric starter, and vacuum pump were covered by blank plates. The ignition harness was thermally damaged. The throttle cable arm remained secured at the throttle plate shaft. The throttle cable arm and the carburetor mixture arm could not be tested for proper operation due to the thermal damage.

Internal timing of the engine was compromised due to mechanical damage to the crankshaft cluster gear and the camshaft gear. The top spark plugs were removed. The spark plugs from cylinder Nos. 1, 2, and 4 were oil contaminated; cylinder No. 3 was dry and exhibited normal combustion signatures. 

The oil pump was disassembled. The cavity displayed some scratches on the walls. The oil pump gears exhibited pitting of the gear teeth surfaces. The oil filter was disassembled, and the internal paper filter element had turned to ash because of the postcrash fire.

All four cylinders remained intact but sustained thermal damage. The valves were intact with no signs of mechanical damage. The rocker arms were intact and in place. The piston rings and pins showed no visible damage. The Nos. 1, 2, and 4 connecting rods and caps were normal and the rod bearings exhibited normal coloration and wear patterns. The No. 3 connecting rod and cap appeared normal; however, the rod bearings were pitted on the surface material.

The engine was rotated manually; it rotated fully in one direction, but binding was noted during rotation in the opposite direction. The engine crankcase was separated. The engine data plate had sustained thermal damage and was unreadable. The main bearings on the left crankcase half exhibited a dark coloration and some pitting. The main bearings on the right crankcase half, displayed normal coloration and wear patterns. The rear and center main crankshaft bearing journals were dark and discolored. The crankshaft cluster gear and the camshaft gear exhibited mechanical damage. The camshaft appeared normal. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office, Ventura, California, performed a postmortem examination of the pilot. The cause of death was reported as thermal injuries due to an aircraft accident.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, volatiles, and tested-for-drugs. A cyanide screen was not performed. The toxicology report yielded positive results for:

21 (mg/dl) Glucose detected in Vitreous

519 (mg/dl) Glucose detected in Urine

5.6 (%) Hemoglobin A1C detected in Blood (Cardiac) 

Tests And Research

The crankshaft with camshaft drive gear cluster, main bearings, and the camshaft with gear were submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board Materials Laboratory in Washington, DC, for further examination. The crankshaft was intact but discolored at several bearing locations. All three main bearing journals and cylinder Nos. 2 and 3 journals were darkened on the same side; consistent with thermal damage from the postcrash fire.

The camshaft drive gear ring of the crankshaft gear cluster displayed 9 consecutive fractured gear teeth. Large pieces of 8 of the teeth were recovered from the oil sump, along with several smaller pieces. A magnified optical examination of the fractured gear teeth surfaces revealed fatigue progression beach marking on the fracture surfaces of teeth Nos. 1, 2 and 3. The remaining teeth fractures were consistent with overstress. Scanning electron microscope imaging verified that the fatigue initiation location was near the base of each tooth, about 0.025 inches outboard of the root diameters for teeth Nos. 1 and 2.

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA118
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Santa Paula, CA
Aircraft: MOORE JOSEPH O VARIEZE, registration: N80681
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On May 28, 2016, about 1515 Pacific daylight time, an experimental amateur built Moore VariEze airplane, N80681, reported a total loss of engine power and impacted power lines before coming to rest in a lemon orchard in Santa Paula, California. The owner/airline transport pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed in the postcrash fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area flight that departed the Santa Paula Airport (SZP), Santa Paula, California, about 1500. 

Two ground witnesses reported observing the airplane flying overhead, and heard the engine sputtering. The airplane was descending, and dropped out of their view as it passed behind a hill. The airplane came back into view in a steep left turn, which both witnesses estimated to be at least 45 degrees. The airplane struck power lines, and then then impacted the ground. Both witnesses reported hearing an explosion, and then seeing fire erupt from the accident site.

An ear witness to the accident reported that after the airplane took off, the pilot radioed him that his engine had quit. There were no further communications between the pilot and the ear witness.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector responded to the accident site. Examination of the wreckage site revealed that the airplane had struck power lines about 162 feet from the final resting point of the airplane. The debris path was along a magnetic heading of 325 degrees. The airplane came to rest on a magnetic heading of 140 degrees. The entire airplane was located at the accident site.


Two people who were killed in an airplane crash between Santa Paula and Ventura on Saturday have been identified as Edgar Friederichs, 61, and Matthew Boutell, 21.

The Ventura County Medical Examiner said Friederichs lived in Castaic while Boutell was from Thousand Oaks.

Friederichs was piloting a single-engine VariEze aircraft when it crashed in an orchard near the 1600 block of Aliso Canyon Road north of Foothill Road on Saturday afternoon.

The National Safety Transportation Board is leading an investigation into what caused the home-built aircraft to crash.

The coroner's office said the cause of death was undetermined as of Wednesday afternoon. Officials could not say when they would have a cause of death.

The airplane had taken off from Santa Paula Airport before the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Bob Hirsch, 62, a pilot who has a hangar next to the one Friederichs used at Santa Paula Airport, said the two had known each other since meeting at a picnic when they were boys.

"I was 6 years old at the time and our fathers worked for the same aerospace company," said Hirsch, as he fought back tears during at interview at his hangar on Tuesday.

Hirsch said Friederichs "was very meticulous and took extremely good care of his airplanes."

"He was probably as well rounded in aviation as anyone could be," Hirsch said.

Hirsch stayed in touch with Friederichs throughout the years.

"We lived parallel lives in many ways," Hirsch said, as he recalled working at Santa Monica Airport as a young man fueling aircraft, a job Friederichs also held there.

Friederichs went on to become a licensed aircraft mechanic and later an aeronautics engineer, Hirsch said.

Among the many projects Friederichs worked on, was the development of the MD-80 for McDonnell Douglas, a passenger jet that Hirsch flew when he worked as a commercial pilot. Hirsch is retired from American Airlines.

Hirsch eventually bought a hangar at Santa Paula Airport and later rented it to Friederichs. Friederichs ended up buying the hangar from Hirsch, he said, while Hirsch bought an adjacent hangar.

"Edgar didn't have to prove anything when it came to aircraft," Hirsch said. "He just knew it."

He said Friederichs quickly developed a reputation at Santa Paula Airport "for his deep knowledge of aircraft and flying."

Friederichs was flying a VariEze at the time of the crash, a homemade aircraft that takes some skill to pilot, Hirsch said.

Witnesses told investigators that the aircraft was in distress before going down, Kevin Donoghue, a sergeant with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, said Saturday. They also said the aircraft's engine started cutting out and the plane got tangled in power lines before crashing.

"He was looking for a place to land," Hirsch said. "Unfortunately, he didn't make it."

A preliminary report on the crash should be ready within the coming week to two weeks, Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the NTSB in Washington, D.C.

The report will be available online. A more comprehensive investigation also is being conducted. Such investigations take an average of 12 months to complete, Knudson said.


Those first to the crash site on Saturday afternoon said they saw flames and heavy smoke coming from the orchard where the plane went down.




Two people died Saturday afternoon after a small airplane crashed about halfway between Ventura and Santa Paula, officials said.

The Ventura County Fire Department said it responded just after 3:15 p.m. to the report of the downed aircraft near the 1600 block of Aliso Canyon Road, north of Foothill Road. Upon arriving, crews reported flames and heavy smoke rising from the orchard where the plane crashed.

Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said preliminary information indicated the single-engine, home-built VariEze aircraft crashed with two people aboard and then caught fire.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kevin Donoghue said there were reports before the plane crashed that it was in distress. He said that as the engine started cutting out, the plane apparently got tangled in power lines and ultimately crashed.

Information about the two dead people was not available.

Dennis Rosenberg, a game warden with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, is a pilot and was listening to the aircraft frequencies on a portable radio when he heard about the crash as he was driving in the area.

“I heard all the pilots were out this way trying to find it,” Rosenberg said. He continued to listen to the radio traffic, thinking, “If I can find it, maybe I can get out there and help out,” Rosenberg said.

The warden called sheriff’s dispatchers for an accurate location and was able to get to the scene in a black pickup with his agency’s emblem on the side.

But Rosenberg said he didn’t do much of anything because fire crews were already on the scene.

A few hours after the crash, yellow police tape cordoned off part of the lemon orchard that held larger debris. Sheriff’s officials were securing the debris field, estimated at about 100 yards, until officials with the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board arrived to investigate the crash.

As law enforcement officers waited for federal officials and staff from the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office, they were blocking Aliso Canyon Road at Foothill Road, limiting traffic to those who lived in the area or had business there.

Among the vehicles being allowed in were electrical utility repair trucks.

ABOUT THE VARIEZE

The VariEze is a “canard”-style home-built aircraft. The design later evolved into the Long-EZ, the type of aircraft that crashed and killed singer-songwriter John Denver as he flew it in 1997. According to Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, here are some specifications for the VariEze:

• Crew: One

• Capacity: One passenger

• Length: 14 feet 2 inches

• Wingspan: 22.21 feet

• Wing area: 53.6 square feet

• Empty weight: 580 pounds

• Maximum takeoff weight: 1,050 pounds

• Fuel capacity: 24 gallons

• Maximum speed: 195 mph

• Cruise speed: 165 mph

• Stall speed: 55.5 mph

• Range: 850 miles

• Rate of climb: 1,600 feet per minute

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




SANTA PAULA, Calif. (KABC) -- Two people died when an experimental aircraft crashed and burst into flames in an orchard in Santa Paula, officials said.

The crash was reported at 3:17 p.m. in the 1600 block of Aliso Canyon Road, just north of the city of Ventura. Fire officials said the plane was fully involved in flames when they arrived and two people were declared dead at the scene.

The FAA described the plane as a VariEze, am experimental aircraft first designed by Burt Ratan in the 1970s. The agency said the plane caught fire after crashing with two people on board.


Another pilot in the area reported hearing the pilot of the experimental aircraft report engine failure and say he planned to try an emergency landing.

Original article can be found here: http://abc7.com






SANTA PAULA, Calif. (AP) — Two people have been killed in the fiery crash of a small plane in a Southern California orchard.

Ventura County fire Capt. Mike Lindbery says the crash was reported at 3:17 p.m. Saturday and arriving units found it engulfed in flames. 

The victims were deceased at the scene.

The site is in the agricultural Aliso Canyon area between the cities of Ventura and Santa Paula.

There's no immediate information about those who were aboard, the type of plane or its flight.

There are three civilian airfields in the region.