Thursday, September 01, 2016

Lodi Parachute Center Facing Investigation; Instructor Certifications Revoked, Others Under Review

The United States Parachute Association has announced at least 10 tandem skydiving instructor certifications have been revoked following a fatal tandem skydiving accident in Lodi.

Those 10 tandem skydiving instructors have had their certifications suspended and must undergo new training, 107 are being required to undergo refresher training within the next 30 days, and another 15 are being required to go through the refresher training and send in proof of original course completion, according to Ed Scott, executive director of USPA.

A number of these instructors attended courses at the Lodi Parachute Center.

USPA officials say some courses may have been abbreviated or incomplete and post-course ratings may have been submitted with forged signatures.

The re-examination comes after a recent fatal tandem skydiving accident in Lodi, in which it was revealed an instructor lacked the proper certification required by the Federal Aviation Administration.


‘We’ll get you there’: New carrier strives to be region’s hometown airline

Plans are on course for a smooth takeoff next month when Southern Airways Express begins operating Johnstown commuter flights. 

With six flights a day from Johnstown, four from Altoona and six from DuBois, travelers from the west-central Pennsylvania area will have many options to connect with larger carriers and low-rate airlines at three major airports, Executive Vice President Mark Cestari said.

Three daily round-trip flights from John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport will go to Pittsburgh International Airport and the other three will continue the connection with Dulles International Airport outside Washington.

Fares will range from $29 to $59 a seat for every Pittsburgh flight and $39 to $89 for Dulles.

“The $29 is not a sale price,” Cestari said. “We will control availability of fares based on peak times, but there will be $29 seats on every flight.”

Southern flights from Altoona and DuBois will go to Pittsburgh and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

“We are offering all of our markets two hub airports,” Cestari said. “We’ll have service to three airports from the market area. That’s the way to do business.”

Earlier this week, the federal Department of Transportation announced Southern Airways Express had been selected to serve Johnstown, Altoona and Johnstown airports under the federally subsidized Essential Air Service program. Within days, the three airports were informed they were being dropped from the EAS program because of low ridership or high costs. 

“Instructions on how to apply for a waiver were included in the order,” Johnstown airport Manager RaNell Fenchak said. “I’ve already begun the process.”

Airport officials said they are confident the local airports will receive a waiver because the current carrier, Silver Airways has been unreliable. 

“We are very excited about (Southern),” Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority Chairman David Kalina said. “We have an additional destination with Pittsburgh and they do have a track record of service and reliability.”

Southern will operate nine-passenger Cessna Caravan aircraft, Cestari said, adding that the smaller planes allow the low-cost regional airline to offer more options from each airport. 

“It was developed for Federal Express,” Cestari said. “They fly to hundreds of airports. It is a nine-passenger plane with large baggage pods. We are not going to have any trouble carrying large suitcases, golf bags or fishing poles.”

Southern does not charge a baggage fee, he added. 

The Cessna Caravan’s dependability has been proven not only by FedEx, but also by its service connecting remote areas of Alaska, Cestari said. 

Johnstown’s airport authority agreed to allow Southern to operate the single-engine Cessna because of its proven dependability, Kalina said. 

“I have no concerns with that at all,” said Kalina, who is a pilot. “Worldwide, the Cessna Caravan has, arguably, the best single-engine aircraft reputation out there.”

As an independent air carrier, Southern’s passengers will have a few more steps in transferring to other airlines. Although most take their baggage to the connecting gate, Cestari said, most checked bags won’t require a baggage fee on the other airline. 

Transferring passengers will get priority check-in, he added. 

Southern’s business plan focuses on getting travelers to the greatest number connecting flights and options. Some travelers prefer the major airlines’ service and are willing to pay for the amenities, Cestari said. Others are looking for low cost airlines.

“You decide what you want; either way, we’ll get you there,” he said. “We are the hometown airline.”

Dulles is home to a United Airlines hub, offering connections worldwide. Pittsburgh features a selection of low-cost airlines. 

“Those two airports really represent the best of both worlds,” Kalina said. “It really opens up opportunities.”

Basing two planes in Johnstown will also improve dependability,    

“Our flights are all nonstop.” Cestari said. “Our pilots are based in the city they serve. Our pilots will live in Johnstown. Our planes will sleep in Johnstown.”

A spare crew and plane based in Pittsburgh will available if there are problems.

“Those are the reasons we think our service level is going to be exceptional,” he said. 

Although there have been no discussions with current Silver Airlines employees at the airport, Cestari said Southern would prefer to hire those with experience in the market.


Allegiant Air, with ultra-low fares, draws Federal Aviation Administration attention over safety concerns

Just over a year ago, Allegiant Air pilot Jason Kinzer was sitting in the cockpit of a 24-year-old McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft bound for Hagerstown, Md., having just taken off from St. Petersburg, Fla.

As the plane climbed through 2,500 feet, a cabin attendant alerted Kinzer to a strong burning smell. Alarmed, Kinzer turned Allegiant Air Flight 864 back toward the airport. Fire and rescue crews met the plane on the runway as smoke wafted from an engine. Kinzer told the 144 passengers to disembark. He then helped a flight attendant carry a paraplegic passenger to the exit.

It seemed to be model behavior. But Allegiant Air did not praise Kinzer. It fired him.

In a dismissal letter, the airline called the evacuation of the plane “unwarranted” and faulted Kinzer as not “striving to preserve the Company’s assets, aircraft, ground equipment, fuel and the personal time of our employees and customers.” Later, the company’s attorneys would call Kinzer’s account an “inaccurate and self-serving recitation of events.”

Kinzer’s saga, now the subject of a court case in Nevada, involves one of dozens of incidents that have prompted scrutiny of the safety and maintenance practices at Allegiant Air, a low-cost carrier that has found a profitable niche in serving airports in small-to-midsize cities.

In an industry that has habitually struggled to make money, Allegiant’s soaring earnings stand out. Last year, its profits jumped 154 percent, to $220.4 million, as the carrier — relying heavily on cheaper, previously used planes — flew more than 300 routes. In June, Allegiant announced a dozen new routes and three new cities, for the first time competing with major carriers at airports in Newark and Denver.

But observers with various interests and viewpoints are asking whether Allegiant has pursued fast growth and financial success at the expense of other considerations.

Unwanted attention has come from federal regulators worried about safety, investors betting against the stock, a pilots union concerned about maintenance, and corporate governance experts who fault the airline’s cozy board of directors as not doing more to head off problems.

About 300 pages of Federal Aviation Administration records for Allegiant show a pattern of safety problems that triggered a relatively large number of aborted takeoffs, emergency descents and emergency landings from Jan. 1, 2015, through this March. The Allegiant records were obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Robert MacArthur, owner of Alternative Research Services, a consultancy that caters to short sellers — investors who benefit when company share prices drop.

Allegiant had about nine times as many serious incidents over that period as Delta Air Lines had with similar types of planes of similar vintage — even though Delta was flying about three times as many such planes, according to a Washington Post analysis of FAA documents relating to both companies.

“I don’t think there’s a safety problem,” Allegiant’s chief operating officer, Jude Bricker, said in an interview. “Our unscheduled landings in particular are a result primarily of an abundance of caution, and our pilots are entitled to put their planes into landing anytime they feel unsafe.”

But leading experts said Allegiant needs to pay closer attention to its aging aircraft.

“They just have a lot of problems with leaks, doors not closing properly, things not working properly,” said Mary F. Schiavo, an aviation lawyer who served as inspector general for the Department of Transportation from 1990 to 1996. “They have electrical smells every day, which means they’ve got old wiring. It’s just kind of a poorly maintained fleet.”

Allegiant said that its “safety protocols emphasize putting the safety of passengers foremost.” And in July, the company said it had agreed to depart from customary practice and buy 12 new Airbus A320s for delivery by 2018.

A swift ascent

The chief executive of Allegiant Air is Maurice “Maury” J. Gallagher Jr., who ran ValuJet until one of its planes plunged into the Florida Everglades in 1996, killing all 110 people aboard. In 1999, after ValuJet was merged into AirTran, Gallagher started building a new carrier, Allegiant Air, which now has about 80 planes serving about 113 airports.

The Las Vegas-based company became the darling of Wall Street. It was the subject of a glowing article in Fast Company. It made Fortune’s list of fastest-growing companies. Aviation Week in 2013 named it the top-performing small carrier in the world. Although the stock has lost nearly half its value since its peak of $234 a share last year, it has increased more than fivefold in the past decade.

Analysts hailed Gallagher’s strategy of buying older MD-80s, often for a tenth of the $40 million to $50 million its competitors were paying for new aircraft. The average age of Allegiant’s MD-80 fleet is 26.49 years; recently added Airbus planes also are used, with an average age of 14.2 years.

But Allegiant Air has run into trouble.

Allegiant aircraft this year made unscheduled landings on Feb. 28; on March 2, 3 and 14; and twice on March 13, according to FAA documents.

On March 5, a crew aborted a takeoff after a loud bang, warning signs from the right engine and smoke in the cabin. One flight attendant was treated by emergency medical technicians for smoke inhalation.

All airlines must file reports about safety and maintenance incidents with the FAA. After Allegiant’s spate of midair incidents, the agency moved up a periodic evaluation of the airline that had been scheduled for 2018.

“The purpose of these reviews is to verify a company is complying with the applicable regulations; determine whether it is operating at the highest possible degree of safety; and identify and address any operational/safety issues,” the FAA said, although it would not comment on Allegiant.

Later, in a July 18 letter to Allegiant, the FAA said it had “identified several element design and element performance deficiencies” — such as software that did not meet FAA specifications and a failure to notice fractures in a right-engine pylon — and ordered the airline to come up with a “mitigation plan” by Sept. 30. The FAA said two findings “revealed possible regulatory issues” but did not describe them.

Schiavo — author of “Flying Blind, Flying Safe,” a book critical of the FAA — said the agency needs to take a tougher stance.

“I think that the FAA bears some responsibility for this horrible track record,” said Schiavo, who works at the law firm Motley Rice, which specializes in class-action lawsuits but has not been involved in any cases involving Allegiant. “The FAA sees its job as promoting the airlines and keeping them flying. They really try to keep just about any hunk of junk” flying.

The FAA documents suggest that the agency had expressed concerns before. When Allegiant Air sought FAA approval of a new safety chief, the agency in a Feb. 1, 2016, report described qualifications for the position — “the education” and “vast experience” needed to “help lead the airline in providing the public with the safest means of commercial travel” — and then said it approved the appointment “with concern and trepidation.”

An Allegiant spokesman, Hilarie Grey, referred The Post to the FAA for comment. The FAA did not elaborate.

Gallagher said the findings of this year’s FAA inspection were “minor or less than minor.”

“So when you send 30 people around for 90 days in any organization, they’re going to find stuff, as well they should. And we’ll respond and adjust it,” Gallagher said in a July 29 conference call with securities analysts. But he said “there’s nothing that operationally we’re going to do substantially different.”

The FAA said it “will closely monitor” the carrier’s efforts.

Operational incidents

The FAA’s Service Difficulty Reports cover issues ranging from a burned-out light bulb on a cabin exit sign to an engine failure.

The Post examined FAA reports from Allegiant for 15 months ending in March and focused on the three types of operational incidents that aviation experts deem most significant: emergency descents, unscheduled landings and aborted takeoffs.

The Post then compared Allegiant’s record with Delta’s by obtaining and reviewing reports filed by Delta for the same aircraft models for the same period. Delta flies more than twice as many MD-80s and MD-88s and more than four times as many of the Airbus models, but Allegiant had many more serious incidents.

Allegiant told the FAA that its 50 McDonnell Douglas planes — including DC-9s and MD-80s — had 50 unscheduled landings, five emergency descents and eight aborted takeoffs. From Jan. 1, 2015, through the end of March 2016, Delta reported that its 117 MD-88 aircraft had six unscheduled landings, one emergency descent and no aborted takeoffs.

For its 30 Airbus jetliners, Allegiant reported five unscheduled landings, two aborted takeoffs and one emergency descent. Delta reported that its 126 Airbus planes had one unscheduled landing, no aborted takeoffs and no emergency descents.

Allegiant’s Bricker said that “the reporting criteria [to the FAA] is open to interpretation and therefore is vastly different from fleet to fleet.”

In less than a year, a single Allegiant MD-88 had almost as many incidents as the entire Delta fleet of MD-88s, FAA records show. In August 2015, that plane took off from Memphis and was at 16,000 feet, climbing to cruising altitude, when one of its two engines shut down. The crew declared an emergency and landed the plane.

In November, the same plane made an unscheduled landing after flight attendants said the air in the cabin had grown hazy and they smelled something burning.

Three weeks later, the plane’s pilot made another unscheduled landing after a gray haze filled the cabin.

During a flight 12 days after that, the plane had reached cruising altitude when the cockpit crew noticed the “odor of evaporating oil,” which led to the replacement of the left engine before the plane was flown again.

Repeated problems with other Allegiant MD-88s were common. One aircraft made three unscheduled landings. Another was met by firetrucks this year after an engine failed in flight. Six months earlier, the same plane made an emergency descent and an unscheduled landing after its instrument panel started to smoke. That incident occurred 10 days after the same plane made an unscheduled landing when the tail compartment next to the plane’s engines overheated.

“I just don’t like the look, feel or smell of their track record,” Schiavo said.

A caller to the FAA’s hotline said that an Allegiant DC-9-83 suffered engine failures twice, on July 31 and Aug. 3, 2015, both times en route to Richmond from St. Petersburg. On one of those flights, the crew reported the smell of burning rubber and a grinding noise followed by the failure of an engine. A maintenance crew later found a compressor “severely damaged,” and the engine was replaced, the FAA said.

Bricker said that Allegiant takes “older airplanes to isolated areas, where we don’t have our own mechanics” and therefore they are more likely to turn back if there’s trouble.

Clashes with union

Allegiant says the controversy about its safety record is due in large part to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The airline’s pilots voted to join the Teamsters in 2012 and, after prolonged negotiations, reached an agreement with the company on June 21.

A company spokesman said the union had made a “significant effort” to create “negative media coverage” of Allegiant. The company said that “one of those tactics” was to issue safety reports about the fleet.

“There’s never been any denial or doubt or rebuttal by the company to refute the number of engine failures, aborted takeoffs or near crashes,” said Daniel C. Wells, president of Teamsters Local 1224. “No one ever said those were false reports.”

The union has issued safety reports on Allegiant for the past three years that are based on what its members have reported. Wells said the contract would “not lessen our concern about getting the safety issues fixed with Allegiant, first for our members and, of course, the flying public.”

The company said in a statement: “Allegiant is a very safe airline. We have robust internal and external auditing programs and are investing heavily in new training programs and technologies that are industry leading.”

Allegiant says it will spend more on maintenance this year. According to the MIT Airline Data Project, Allegiant’s maintenance spending hit $72.7 million in 2011, then fell to $33.6 million and $38.7 million the next two years, less than in any other year since 2008, when it was a much smaller company. Maintenance spending climbed again, to $62.3 million, in 2014.

Allegiant spokeswoman Wheeler said the fluctuations were “largely driven by scheduled maintenance events.” She said that in 2011, the airline “underwent a large-scale engine overhaul project.”

The company said that it is in regular contact with the FAA and that its maintenance programs are “in accordance with all standards of the airline industry.” On Aug. 5, it cut the ribbon on a new training center in Florida for pilots, flight attendants and mechanics.

Higher maintenance spending could cut into profits — and the company’s stock price.

The fortunes of chief executive Gallagher are tied to that performance. Although he does not take a base salary, he owns about 20 percent of the company and received more than $4 million in dividends last year. On March 9, he sold shares of Allegiant worth $47.8 million.

Despite the string of safety incidents in 2015, the company’s board also gave him a nearly $3 million bonus, putting his total compensation for that year at the same level as his counterpart’s at low-cost rival JetBlue, which is about four times larger.

Waiting for a resolution

Kinzer isn’t flying these days. Broke and unable to get a job in aviation, he is trying to start a photography business and is waiting for the court case to begin.

Bricker and Wheeler declined to comment on the litigation. Allegiant’s attorneys in Nevada moved in federal court to have the case dismissed. A judge rejected the motion and sent the case back to state court.

On July 18, Kinzer’s attorneys filed depositions, including one by Capt. Cameron Graff, a witness for Allegiant, who in reply to a question said: “It’s my opinion that Capt. Kinzer was terminated to quell the pilot group, to silence the pilot group, to in a way ‘take one out’ to keep the pilots from reporting safety events, emergencies, those types of events.”


Rockwell International 114, N5814N: Accident occurred Sunday, June 12, 2016 at Munday Municipal Airport (37F), Knox County, Texas

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA385
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 12, 2016 in Munday, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/31/2016
Aircraft: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL 114, registration: N5814N
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

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

The pilot reported that during the takeoff rotation the airplane started to drift left and he immediately applied more right rudder, the left wing dipped, and the stall warning horn sounded. The pilot further reported that he decided to abort the takeoff and pulled the mixture to idle cutoff. The airplane collided with a fence, and sustained substantial damage to the firewall and left aileron.

The pilot reported that there were no pre impact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain directional control during takeoff, which resulted in an aborted takeoff, runway excursion, collision with a fence, and substantial damage.

American Airlines, Airbus A321: Incident occurred August 31, 2016 in Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Boston FSDO-61


Date: 01-SEP-16
Time: 01:17:00Z
Regis#: AAL1806
Aircraft Make: AIRBUS
Aircraft Model: A321
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: Unknown
Damage: None
Activity: Commercial
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Aircraft Operator: AAL-American Airlines
Flight Number: AAL1806
State: Massachusetts

Cessna 150L, N19492: Incident occurred August 31, 2016 in Rotan, Fisher County, Texas

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Lubbock FSDO-13


Date: 31-AUG-16
Time: 23:20:00Z
Regis#: N19492
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 150
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Texas

De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver Mk.1 (L20A), Rustair Inc., N121KT: Incident occurred August 31, 2016 in Cantwell, Alaska


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fairbanks FSDO-01


Date: 01-SEP-16
Time: 04:15:00Z
Regis#: N121KT
Aircraft Make: DE HAVILLAND
Aircraft Model: DHC5
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: None
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Alaska

Loss of Control in Flight: Cessna 170, N1726D; accident occurred August 31, 2016 at Range Regional Airport (KHIB), Hibbing, Saint Louis County, Minnesota

Wreckage Overview (Right Side)

Wreckage Overview (Front) 

Wreckage Overview (Aft) 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Hibbing, MN
Accident Number: CEN16LA343
Date & Time: 08/31/2016, 1130 CDT
Registration: N1726D
Aircraft: CESSNA 170A
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 31, 2016, about 1130 central daylight time, a Cessna 170A airplane, N1726D, was substantially damaged while landing on runway 31 at Range Regional Airport (HIB), Hibbing, Minnesota. The pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that he arrived at HIB about 0800 to preflight the airplane before he departed about 0900 on a pleasure flight to Anderson Field, a private airstrip, located about 25 miles north of HIB near Bear River, Minnesota. The pilot stated that he made 8 uneventful landings at the private airstrip before taking a half hour break on the ground. He noted that the winds were "picking up" when departed the private airstrip about 1100 for the return flight to HIB. The pilot stated that the air was "turbulent" during the return flight to HIB. The pilot stated that his last recollection of the flight was when he entered the traffic pattern for runway 31 at HIB. The pilot was unsure if he "had a bad landing or tried to go around" when the accident occurred. The pilot stated that although he has a brief memory of a first responder speaking to him after the accident, his first substantive memory was after he woke up in the hospital a week after the accident.

According to the Hibbing Police Department, an individual called 911 around 1256 to report the accident. There were no witnesses to the final portion of flight.

The airplane was examined by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airworthiness Inspector. The FAA inspector stated that he did not observe any tire skid marks that could be associated with a loss of directional control after the airplane touched down. The initial point-of-impact was where the left wingtip hit the ground about 30 ft from the left edge of the runway. The airplane came to rest in the grass area along the left side of runway 31, about 1,375 ft from the approach end of runway 31 and about 65 ft off the left edge of the runway. The airplane was upright at the accident site and facing southeast. The forward fuselage was crushed aft, which was consistent with a nose-down impact. The wings exhibited upward bending near both wing tips and buckling along both wing roots. The upper wing surfaces were buckled along their entire span. There was no evidence of leading edge wing damage. The aft fuselage and empennage appeared undamaged. Flight control cable continuity was confirmed from the cockpit controls to the ailerons, elevator, rudder, and flaps. Both flaps were found fully retracted, which was consistent with the position of the cockpit flap control lever. Both the pitch trim tab and the associated pitch trim indicator were in a mid-range position. The fuel selector had been turned off by a first responder; however, the first responder noted that there was fuel draining from a fuel line leading to the engine before the fuel selector was turned off. The left main landing gear leg was bent slightly forward. The right main landing gear leg appeared to be undamaged. The right brake system operated normally when tested. The left brake system could not be tested due to a damaged master cylinder; however, the remaining components of the left brake system did not exhibit any anomalies. The tailwheel assembly had fractured where it attached to the tailwheel spring; however, the observed fracture features were consistent with impact related damage. The tail wheel rotated freely and there was no evidence of a malfunction of the tailwheel steering components. The postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal airplane operation during the flight.

The engine remained partially attached to the firewall, and the propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange. Engine control cable continuity could not be verified due to impact related damage. The propeller blades exhibited minor chordwise scratches and leading edge damage. Both propeller blades exhibited aft bends. Compression and suction were noted on all six cylinders in conjunction with crankshaft rotation. The lower spark plugs were removed and exhibited features consistent with normal engine operation. The magnetos remained attached to their respective installation point and provided spark on all posts while the engine crankshaft was rotated. The carburetor had separated from the engine during impact. The postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal engine operation during the flight.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine land and sea airplanes. The pilot reported having about 160 hours of total flight experience, of which 21.5 hours were flown in the accident airplane. The pilot received his tailwheel endorsement the day before the accident.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 66, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied:Left 
Other Aircraft Rating(s):None 
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/13/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/29/2016
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 160 hours (Total, all aircraft), 21.5 hours (Total, this make and model), 36.5 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 20 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N1726D
Model/Series: 170A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1951
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 20169
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/07/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2200 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 7 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2816.4 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: C145-2
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 145 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: HIB, 1354 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1153 CDT
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 340°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.23 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Bear River, MN (PVT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Hibbing, MN (HIB)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1100 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class E

Airport Information

Airport: Range Regional Airport (HIB)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 1354 ft
Runway Surface Condition:Dry 
Runway Used: 31
IFR Approach:None 
Runway Length/Width: 6758 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Unknown

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 47.380833, -92.831111 (est)

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA343
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 31, 2016 in Hibbing, MN
Aircraft: CESSNA 170A, registration: N1726D
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 31, 2016, about 1300 central daylight time, a Cessna model 170A single-engine airplane, N1726D, was substantially damaged while landing on runway 31 at Range Regional Airport (HIB), Hibbing, Minnesota. The private pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight. The accident flight's departure airport and time are currently unconfirmed.

HIBBING — The investigation into what caused a small plane to crash at Range Regional Airport (RRA) Wednesday afternoon has begun.

Barrett Ziemer, assistant director of the Chisholm-Hibbing Airport Authority (CHAA), confirmed Thursday that a safety inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) office in Minneapolis had arrived and began digging into the incident.

“The investigation is underway,” he said, adding he had spent part of the day with the inspector. “… It’s pretty much a routine investigation.”

Ziemer noted the inspector is acting on behalf of both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The investigation thus far included looking over the aircraft, visiting where it went off the runway, looking through pilot logbooks and speaking with Hibbing police, who documented and photographed the site. Some additional information is still being sought, Ziemer said.

“At this point, the aircraft has been released back to its owner,” he said.

The pilot, identified as Side Lake resident Randy Beissel, was the plane's only occupant and is still recovering at a Duluth hospital. Extent of his injuries in unknown.

The Cessna 170 flew off the runway while trying to land and landed in the grass just before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Beissel had appeared to be “doing touch and go practices” when the plane took a nosedive.

Wind is believed to be a factor, according to CHAA Executive Director Shaun Germolus. The plane landed about 75 feet off the edge of the pavement.

Beissel was conscious and later flown by Lifelink III to Duluth.

Response by emergency services was quick, Germolus said, and included airport personnel, Hibbing Fire Department, Hibbing Police Department and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

There was no fire in the incident, but fuel leaked from the plane, according to fire officials.

Operations at RRA were back to normal by late afternoon Wednesday, said Germolus.

“We’re back to business as usual,” he said Thursday.

Germolus anticipates calling a briefing session of emergency responders to review the incident in the near future.

“We’ll take a look at how it went, and see if we can learn a couple of things,” he added.


HIBBING, Minn. -  The Hibbing Fire Department responded at 12:57 p.m. to the report of a small general aviation plane crash.

The department responded with two engines, a battalion Chief vehicle and one medic unit.

The plane was reported to have crashed while landing and was confirmed to have one occupant, the pilot.

There was no fire, but there was fuel leaking from the plane. The Range Regional Airport ARFF fire truck responded and applied a blanket of foam to keep the fuels from igniting.

The male was flown by Life Link 3 helicopter to Duluth for injuries sustained during the crash. Airport staff says wind might have played a factor in the accident.

"This is the first time in 10 years we've experienced an aircraft accident here at this airport," said Airport Executive Director Shawn Germolus. "We're happy with the quick response today."

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Hibbing, MN ( - A small plane crashed on a runway shortly before 1:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at Hibbing's Range Regional Airport, injuring the pilot, according to police.

The pilot was the only person in the plane at the time, and is from the Iron Range area.

The extent of the pilot's injuries are unknown, however, the man was flown by Life Link 3 to a Duluth hospital for precautionary purposes.

Airport Executive Director Shaun Germolus says the pilot has facial injuries, and was conscious throughout the event.

According to the Hibbing Fire Department, the plane crashed near the runway before landing in grass just south of the runway.

Germolus says the crash likely happened after a wing got caught on the grass because of the wind.

The plane did not burn, however fuel was leaking from the plane after the crash, and fire crews applied a foam blanket to keep fuels from burning.

Authorities have documented the scene, and have removed the Cessna aircraft from the site and brought it to an aircraft hangar before being investigated by the NTSB on Thursday.

The runway at the airport was temporarily closed, but reopened at 4:30 p.m. when the scene was cleared.

Germolus says this is the first crash that has happened during his ten years at the airport.

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How a deadly 1986 California midair collision ultimately made air travel safer for all

Gary Schank was piloting an airliner from San Francisco to Memphis when he received an urgent warning over the cockpit alert system that his plane was climbing dangerously close to a twin-engine airplane's altitude.

After the system commanded Schank to descend, he guided the plane downward by 500 feet — and a potential midair collision was averted.

"It was resolved quickly," said Schank, an airline captain and practicing attorney who lives in Coto de Caza.

That life-saving technology, known as a traffic collision avoidance system, was introduced in the U.S. in the late 1980s after an Aeroméxico airliner and a small plane collided over Cerritos.

The crash — which 30 years ago today killed 82 people in the air and in the neighborhood where both planes went into the ground — would become a pivotal moment in aviation safety history.


Blame for the crash was shared equally by the pilot of the smaller plane and the Federal Aviation Administration, a jury found.

Later, the FAA would implement a series of major changes, requiring jetliners to install automatic crash-avoidance systems; mandating the use of transponders operating within certain areas; and consolidating approach spaces for more organized airspace management.

"It highlighted some of the deficiencies that have been corrected ... in areas that technology could help," said George Perry, senior vice president of the Air Safety Institute, part of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Prior to those changes, federal investigators concluded that a few minutes before noon on Aug. 31, 1986, the small plane, a single-engine Piper Archer, entered unauthorized airspace and went undetected.

Ultimately, the Piper collided with Aeroméxico Flight 498, which was starting its descent to Los Angeles International Airport after originating in Mexico City. The Piper then crashed into an empty elementary school playground, but the airliner, a DC-9, crashed into a residential neighborhood in Cerritos. Homes were destroyed or damaged, a fire was started, and 15 people on the ground were killed.

"The sights, sounds, smells, the burning material — the destruction made an impression on me," recalled John Lauber, who surveyed the wreckage as a National Transportation Safety Board member.

Lauber, who is now retired in Seattle, says aviation safety standards and protocols have since "come a long way."

The biggest lesson aviation officials drew from the Cerritos crash, he said, was that traffic in high-density airspace in major metro areas had to be more "actively managed."

"I am ... and was a pilot," Lauber said. "So I understand how air traffic control worked and their shortcomings and limits" at the time.

Perhaps the most significant change prompted by the tragedy was the implementation of traffic collision avoidance systems, which were mandated for all jetliners in a 1989 FAA rule.

The system identifies potential midair crashes based on readings of aircraft transponders and instructs pilots to either climb or descend to avert a collision, said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor in an email to the Register.

"It is not an exaggeration to say this has been one of the most important aviation safety improvements in commercial aviation in recent decades," Gregor added.

What's more, following the Cerritos incident, the FAA required all aircraft flying within 30 miles of major airports to have transponders, which wasn't mandated in 1986. The Piper aircraft was not equipped with a transponder that reports altitude and "was not in radio contact with any air traffic control facility when the accident occurred," the federal investigation concluded.

According to Gregor, other major changes included:

Implementing systems that alert air traffic controllers about potential aircraft conflicts.

Establishing dedicated routes for small-plane pilots who want to fly through the busy airspace around major airports.

The consolidation of several approach operations into one facility in San Diego, which makes it easier for air traffic controllers to track all aircraft.


Since the Cerritos tragedy, there has not been another midair crash between a major commercial air carrier and a general-aviation aircraft — thanks to these aviation reforms, some experts say.

The number of all types of midair crashes in U.S. airspace has fallen from 29 to the single digits over the past three decades, according to data from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Potential midair collisions — where an incident likely would have occurred had neither pilot taken action — have also dramatically decreased. In 2014, there were a little more than 80 such near-misses reported by pilots — down from 420 the year before the Cerritos crash, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Air safety standards have continued to change over the years with better technology, said Schank, the Orange County pilot.

He recently purchased a device that contains a relatively new technology that allows general-aviation pilots to see other aircraft in the sky, up-to-the-minute weather reports and other important flight information.

The satellite-based technology — called automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast — is similar to the crash avoidance technology available to jetliners but is far more affordable. The key difference is that the satellite-based devices do not provide pilots automated resolution advisories.

The average cost of such a system is $2,000, according to Perry, the Air Safety Institute executive.

The new system wasn't developed specifically to address midair collisions, but it certainly has the "capability to mitigate those" types of situations, Perry added.

By 2020, all aircraft, including airliners and general aircraft, that plan to fly in high-density airspace are supposed to be equipped with this technology, according to an FAA rule.

With the technology, "I can see every airplane in the area," Schank said.


NTSB Identification: DCA86AA041A
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 31249.
Accident occurred Sunday, August 31, 1986 in CERRITOS, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/07/1988
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, registration: XAJED

NTSB Identification: DCA86AA041B
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 31249.
Accident occurred Sunday, August 31, 1986 in CERRITOS, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/07/1988
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-181, registration: N4891F

Injuries: 82 Fatal, 8 Minor.

The Safety Board's full report on this investigation is provided as Aviation Accident Report number AAR-87/07. To obtain a copy of this report, or to view the executive summary online, please see the Web site at 


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


Contributing Factors: