Thursday, October 27, 2016

Helicopter pilots file suit against Florence County sheriff's office

Dusan Fridl (center) and Hemming Hemmingsen (left) on the first day of trial January 25, 2016. The two were charged with unlawfully flying a helicopter allegedly owned by the Florence County Sheriff's Department. They were cleared of these charges. 

FLORENCE, SC  --   The two pilots previously indicted and cleared of felony charges have filed a lawsuit against the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.

Dusan Fridl and Hemming Hemmingsen have accused the sheriff’s office of defamation, civil conspiracy, abuse of process, malicious prosecution and false arrest and imprisonment and are seeking compensatory damages.

Maj. Mike Nunn of the Florence County Sheriff’s Office said the matter had been forwarded to the department’s attorneys but declined to comment further.

“We do not comment on pending litigation,” Nunn said.

Fridl and Hemmingsen were arrested and charged with unlawful entry of an aircraft by the Florence County Sheriff’s Office after flying the Bell OH58A helicopter in April 2015.

The pilots took the helicopter for a preventative maintenance flight on April 6, prior to it being transferred into the possession of the sheriff’s office from Lake City. The sheriff’s office picked up the helicopter the following day and both Fridl and Hemmingsen were arrested shortly afterward.

The sheriff’s office claimed it had ownership of the helicopter at the time of the flight and had not given Fridl or Hemmingsen permission to fly the aircraft.

Following a three-day trial in Florence County General Session Court, the jury rendered acquitted both pilots.

In the 10-month period between their arrest and their acquittal, the pilots say, the sheriff’s office committed multiple libelous acts and Fridl and Hemmingsen “have suffered actual and consequential damages.”

According to the complaint filed by the pilots’ attorney, Patrick McLaughlin, the sheriff’s office arrested and imprisoned the pilots “without probable cause” and on warrants that falsely claimed the sheriff’s office owned the aircraft on April 6. The suit also claims the sheriff’s office attempted “to use the threat of criminal prosecution and conviction to secure a release/waiver of civil liability.”

The suit claims that on or about Sept. 28, offers were made to Fridl and Hemmingsen that their charges would be dismissed if “they would agree to a resolution which would shield FCSO from any civil liability” and state there was a probable cause for their arrest. Fridl and Hemmingsen refused those offers.

The suit says the sheriff’s office made false and defamatory statements against the pilots “accusing them of a crime and, inherently, of being unfit in their business or profession.”

According to the lawsuit, the case is subject to mediation.

Read more here:

Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair, XB-MBC: Fatal accident occurred July 09, 2015 in Matamoros, Mexico

Attorney Jason Webster Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Deadly Plane Crash

Houston, TX (PRWEB) October 27, 2016

Jason Webster, principal attorney of The Webster Law Firm, recently filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas, 93rd Judicial District (Case No. C-2917-16-B) on behalf of the relatives of three men who died in a plane crash due to the aircraft’s engine and/or its component parts being allegedly defective and unreasonably dangerous.

According to court documents, on July 9, 2015, after leaving the McAllen, Texas, airport, the aircraft piloted by Abraham Garcia and co-piloted by Luis Rogelio Puente Villela crashed in Matamoros, Mexico. The third occupant was Aureliano Barajas. Upon impact with the ground, it burst into flames, killing all three occupants. Court documents further state that the plane which caused the deaths of the three men was manufactured by Cessna (defendant) and had a Lycoming (defendant) engine. Furthermore, McCreery Aviation Co., Inc. (defendant) is a Lycoming-authorized service center that allegedly performed maintenance on the aircraft that is the subject of the lawsuit.

According to court documents, Cessna was required to establish and maintain a quality control system to ensure that each component of the plane supplied by an outside vendor or contractor was in a condition for safe operation. Court documents further state that the aforesaid airplane and/or its related component parts used therein were then in a defective condition, unreasonably dangerous when put to their reasonably anticipated uses, and the airplane was used in a manner reasonably anticipated by this defendant and others.

According to court documents, the defendants allegedly had actual subjective awareness of the unreasonably dangerous risk of injury and death posed by its activities, but nevertheless proceeded with conscious indifference to the rights, safety and welfare of Abraham Garcia, Luis Rogelio Puente Villela, Aureliano Barajas, Plaintiffs, and others. Court documents further state that the defendants’ alleged gross negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries and damages.

Read more here:

Wittman W-10 Tailwind, N557CL: Fatal accident occurred October 26, 2016 near Pearland Regional Airport (KLVJ), Brazoria County, Texas

Jared Baxter Ryan

Jared Baxter Ryan, beloved son, brother, and uncle, went home to be with his Lord on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, at the age of 36.  

All who knew Jared were aware of his love of classic cars and airplanes, which he first developed as a child. His passion grew from models and RC planes to getting his pilot’s license in 2011. A week before his death, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of owning his own airplane, a yellow Wittman Tailwind which he loved perhaps even more than his classic 1984 Chevy El Camino.

In addition to flying, Jared enjoyed talking sports, talking politics, talking computers and sometimes just talking. He leaves behind a void that will be felt by his coworkers at C-Panel, his fellow members of the EAA Flight Club, but mostly by those who loved him most – his close family.

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas
Lycoming Engines; Dallas, Texas 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Pearland, TX
Accident Number: CEN17FA026
Date & Time: 10/26/2016, 1730 CDT
Registration: N557CL
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 26, 2016, about 1730 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Wittman Tailwind W-10 airplane, N557CL, was destroyed when it impacted terrain on the eastern edge of Pearland Regional Airport (LVJ), Pearland, Texas. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, and no flight plan had been filed. The airplane departed on runway 14 at LVJ just before the accident.

One witness at the airport stated that he saw the airplane climb out in a "nose high" attitude. Another witness at the airport stated that the airplane's flight "was uncoordinated to the point that it did not look right." Both witnesses reported seeing the airplane enter an uncoordinated turn, then enter a stall/spin. These witnesses as well as a third witness said that the airplane's engine was at full power.

Video captured on an airport surveillance camera showed the airplane departing runway 14 in a nose-high attitude. During climbout, the wings were rocking left and right. At an altitude about 500 ft above ground level, near midfield, the airplane entered a left turn. The airplane then leveled to straight and level flight for a brief period before entering a steep left turn with a nose-high attitude. The left wing dropped, and the airplane entered a nose-down spin to the left and completed one full rotation before impacting the ground.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 36, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/21/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/06/2016
Flight Time: 243.2 hours (Total, all aircraft), 22.3 hours (Total, this make and model)

The pilot, age 36, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. His Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class airman medical certificate was issued on April 21, 2016, with no limitations. The pilot's logbook indicated that he had 243.2 hours of flight experience as of October 20, 2016, with 1.3 hours in the accident airplane. The pilot's last flight review was completed on February 6, 2016.

According to the logbook, the pilot had a total of 22.3 hours in Wittman Tailwind airplanes, 3.2 hours of which were training. He received 2.2 hours of transition training in a Wittman Tailwind W-8 a few weeks before purchasing the accident airplane, and 1.0 hours of training in the accident airplane on October 20, 2016, when he purchased the airplane. All of the training was provided by the same flight instructor. The flight in the accident airplane consisted of 5 takeoffs and landings with the instructor, followed by 2 solo takeoffs and landings. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: ROE CLEO
Registration: N557CL
Aircraft Category: Unknown
Year of Manufacture: 1992
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 557
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/02/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 642.7 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91  installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320-E2D
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 150 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The airplane's experimental airworthiness Certificate was issued on November 11, 1992. The airplane was a two-seat, high-wing, tailwheel airplane, and it was powered by a 150-horsepower Lycoming O-320-E2D engine driving a glass-composite, 2-blade, fixed-pitch Catto propeller. The most recent condition inspection was completed on October 2, 2016, at 642.7 hours total time.

The airplane was equipped with a header fuel tank that held 33.1 gallons. Refueling records revealed that the airplane had been most recently refueled at 1705 the day of the accident with 8.1 gallons of 100 low lead aviation fuel at LVJ. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLVJ, 44 ft msl
Observation Time: 2153 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 203°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 17°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots, 110°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Pearland, TX (LVJ)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Pearland, TX (LVJ)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  CST
Type of Airspace: Class G

At 1653, the automated surface observing system at LVJ reported wind from 110° at 8 knots, visibility 10 miles, temperature 29° Celsius (C); dew point 17°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.10 inches of mercury.

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Concrete
Airport Elevation: 43 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 14
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 4313 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Traffic Pattern 

LVJ is a non-towered airport. The airport is equipped with one runway, runway 14/32 measuring 4,313-ft in length and 75-feet in width. The reported field elevation of the airport is 43.9 ft mean sea level. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  29.525278, -95.238889 

The main wreckage was located in a grassy area on the east side of LVJ. The aircraft came to rest at a magnetic heading of 315ยบ at an elevation of 54 ft. The airplane sustained aft crushing of the nose and forward fuselage section, as well as impact damage to the leading edge of the right wing from the wingtip to the wing strut. The damage appeared to be consistent with a nose and right wing-low impact with the ground. Fuel blight was observed on the grass surrounding the wreckage of the aircraft.

Flight control continuity was established for all flight control surfaces up to the cockpit. Continuity to the controls inside the cockpit could not be established due to impact damage.

The propeller was embedded about 10 inches into the ground, and both blades were broken off consistent with impact forces. The propeller hub and remnants of the propeller spinner remained attached to the crankshaft flange. The propeller spinner displayed damage signatures that were consistent with engine power at the time of impact.

The engine was rotated by hand from the vacuum pump pad, and thumb compression was observed at all cylinders except for the No.1 cylinder. Valve train and crankshaft continuity were confirmed by observation of normal rocker and valve movement and rotation of all accessory gears.

The No. 1 cylinder was removed and examined. The cylinder barrel was leak checked using water, and there was no drainage through the valves. The cylinder walls were unremarkable. The piston and rings were intact and unremarkable. The loss of compression on the No. 1 cylinder was consistent with an extended wear pattern and loss of ring tension on the piston rings.

The carburetor was destroyed by impact, and no fuel was observed in the carburetor components. The engine-driven diaphragm fuel pump was removed and actuated by hand; thumb compression was obtained. The fuel gascolator screen was removed and found to be unremarkable.

The left magneto was found broken from the accessory housing. It was rotated by hand, and a spark was obtained from all outlet points. The electronic Plasma ignition located in the right magneto position was secure; it was removed and examined but was unable to be tested due to impact damage.

The top spark plugs were Denso automotive plugs. An automotive spark plug wiring harness had been installed to the top spark plugs. The harness was observed undamaged but was not tested. The bottom spark plugs were Tempest Urem 38E massive electrode plugs. The Bendix ignition leads attached to the bottom spark plugs were destroyed by impact.

The starter and alternator were attached to their respective mounts but were destroyed by impact. The oil system was destroyed by impact. The oil suction screen and the oil pressure screen were observed free of contaminants. Some of the oil carrying lines were broken during impact.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The County of Galveston, Medical Examiner's Office, Texas City, Texas, conducted an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to "blunt force injuries."

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The toxicology results were negative for carbon monoxide, ethanol, and drugs. 

Additional Information

Airplane Transition Training Guidance

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 90-109A, "Transition to Unfamiliar Aircraft," recommends training for pilots transitioning to any unfamiliar fixed-wing airplane, including type-certificated or experimental airplanes. The AC states that "accident analysis indicates that subsequent owners and/or pilots of experimental and/or unfamiliar airplanes have a higher accident rate during initial flight time than did the original owner. Therefore, the recommendation is that the subsequent owners/pilots of experimental airplanes receive airplane-specific training before operating the airplane." The AC provides training guidance for flight instructors who teach in these airplanes. It recommends that training cover stall characteristics, including the airplane's slow flight behavior and response to control inputs at slow speeds. According to the AC, most of the pilot's total flight time was in airplanes with flight characteristics that could be defined as "Low-Inertia and/or High-drag." The Wittman Tailwind airplane has flight characteristics that are considered "High-Inertia and/or Low Drag" with "Light control Forces and/or Rapid Airplane Response."

During an interview conducted by an FAA inspector, the flight instructor who provided training to the pilot in the accident airplane stated that she did not provide training on stall characteristics as recommended in the AC. The instructor pilot was asked if the pilot had difficulty keeping the airplane in coordinated flight, to which she replied, "he was having an issue with that and did better on his last few flights."

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA026
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 26, 2016 in Pearland, TX
Aircraft: ROE CLEO WITTMAN TAILWIND W10, registration: N557CL
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

On October 26, 2016 about 1730 central daylight time (CDT), a Wittman Tailwind W-10, N557CL, was destroyed when it impacted terrain on the eastern edge of Pearland Regional Airport (LVJ), Pearland, Texas. The airplane had just departed from runway 14 on a local flight. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was privately registered and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan had been filed.

PEARLAND, Texas - A Houston pilot is dead tonight after his plane crashed down at Pearland Regional Airport.

The accident happened around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday off County Road 124 and County Road 127 near the airport.

Preliminary information from the Texas Department of Public Safety and Federal Aviation Administration indicates that an experimental category Wittman Tailwind aircraft crashed upon take-off.

Officials identified the pilot as 36-year old Jared Baxter Ryan of Houston. 

Culver City and Newport Beach to sue Federal Aviation Administration over new flight paths

Culver City and Newport Beach plan to go to court to block the Federal Aviation Administration's effort to remap the routes jets use to get in and out of LAX and 20 other Southern California airports.

The two municipalities' city councils voted this week to sue the FAA in federal court. The complaints will challenge the adequacy and accuracy of the federal agency's environmental assessment of the new flight paths' impacts.

The FAA has been working for several years to remap the airspace around the 21 airports  from San Diego to Santa Barbara collectively known as the Southern California Metroplex. The project is part of a nationwide effort known as NextGen to improve operations throughout U.S. airspace.

Much of the local opposition stems from the FAA's plan to switch from radar to satellite navigation to guide takeoffs and landings.

Planes using satellite guidance can follow more precise routes, which concentrates air traffic along much narrower paths. Airlines support the project because it's expected to make flights more fuel efficient and enable airports to potentially accommodate more flights per day.

Officials in Culver City, Newport Beach, Monterey Park, Santa Monica and other cities have expressed concern that concentrating the flights into narrower channels could focus more aircraft noise over their communities.

The FAA gave final approval last month to an environmental assessment of the new flight paths, concluding that they would have no significant impact on residents. It can start using new routes in some areas as early as next month.

The Culver City council voted Monday to oppose the FAA plan on the grounds that the environmental assessment appeared to have been lifted from one prepared for East Coast cities, without taking Southern California's specific air pollution and noise issues into account, Mayor Jim Clarke said.

"They used a model that is used apparently back on the East Coast and we have a different standard here in California that they are required to follow," he said. "It almost appeared as if they cut and pasted the information from a report from a Metroplex on the East Coast and just put it into our report."

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said Clarke is mistaken. "The environmental analysis we did for the Southern California Metroplex project is specific to the Southern California area," said Gregor.

Newport Beach will sue the FAA over the potential for increased noise and greenhouse gas pollution, said City Manager Dave Kiff.

"We believe the environmental assessment could open the door later on towards a flight pattern that could move a significant number of planes over our residential areas," Kiff said.

The Newport Beach city council voted unanimously in closed session Tuesday to sue, he said.

The FAA hopes to start using the new flight paths over Culver City next March, but Clarke said it appears some jets are already using the new routes. He said the city had obtained data from LAX that showed lower altitude flights following different routes had increased in number over the past few years.

Gregor said the FAA has not implemented the new routes, and that the increase in lower altitude passes over Culver City involves a very small number of flights.

Cities closest to LAX, such as Inglewood, have voiced less concern over the proposed route changes because they don't face an increase in noise. They are already inundated with aircraft noise and many homes have been soundproofed over the years.

Under the terms of the environmental assessment review process, Culver City and Newport Beach must file their legal challenges by Friday.


Police delay ends pilot DUI case

A criminal intoxication charge against a pilot who was about to fly a commercial aircraft out of Rapid City last month has been dismissed in part because the Rapid City Police Department failed to test the pilot’s blood for several hours.

Police officers handling the case apparently did not know the legal blood-alcohol limit for operating a plane, which led them to initially forgo a blood test even after the pilot asked for one. By the time police realized the mistake and obtained a blood sample, four hours had passed.

The delayed test did not detect a measurable amount of alcohol, despite an earlier police breath test that indicated a blood-alcohol content of 0.046 percent. The legal limit for operating an aircraft in South Dakota is 0.04, which is lower than the better-known driving limit of 0.08.

On Monday, at the request of the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office, a judge dismissed a charge of operating an aircraft while intoxicated that had been filed against pilot Russell Duszak, 39, of Salt Lake City. No explanation for the dismissal was provided during the brief court proceeding at the Pennington County Courthouse in Rapid City.

Afterward, Deputy State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel told the Journal that the delayed blood test thwarted her prosecution.

“His blood was drawn four hours after the initial detection of alcohol in the cockpit of the plane,” Roetzel said of Duszak, who police said smelled of alcohol and had reddened eyes prior to his arrest. “And due to the way that blood dissipates, it ended up reducing it to an amount that was not measurable.”

A breath test, Roetzel added, is not admissible in court. When asked why the blood test was delayed four hours, Roetzel deferred the question to police. Police spokesman Brendyn Medina responded with a lengthy email to the Journal.

Medina wrote that the incident “posed a set of highly unusual circumstances for our officers.”

“Four hours is a long span of time to lapse between the initial PBT (preliminary breath test) of an individual suspected of being under the influence, and the subsequent blood draw,” Medina’s email said, in part. “But, our officers worked diligently in this incident to ensure it was handled in the most proper and professional manner possible under the law, while protecting the safety of the plane’s passengers, and the rights of the pilot.”

Further details of the police department’s actions are contained in their own written reports, which are part of the public court file.

The reports say that a Transportation Security Administration worker noticed the smell of alcohol on Duszak about 8 a.m. Oct. 26 as Duszak passed through a metal detector at Rapid City Regional Airport. The TSA worker reported her observation up the chain of command, and another TSA worker notified Rapid City police Officer Paul Hinzman.

When Hinzman arrived at Duszak’s departure gate, passengers were still waiting to board the 50-seat SkyWest Airlines jet with a passenger list of 45. Duszak, the flight’s co-pilot, was in the cockpit conducting pre-flight procedures.

Hinzman noticed that Duszak’s eyes were slightly red and his breath smelled slightly of alcohol. Additional officers who later came in contact with Duszak reported similar observations.

Hinzman took Duszak to the airport office of Delta Air Lines, which is a SkyWest partner. There, at about 8:30 a.m., Rapid City police Officer Jerred Younie administered a breath test on Duszak and recorded a blood-alcohol content of 0.046 percent.

Rapid City Police Lt. Mark Eisenbraun arrived about 8:45 a.m. and spoke to Duszak.

“I told him it was not our intention to proceed with any state charges however I warned him there would likely be consequences from the airline authorities,” Eisenbraun wrote in his report. “He told me he wanted a blood test. I told him that since we were not charging him with a crime, I had no reason to take a blood sample. I did offer him the use of the local on-call blood technician but I advised him he would be responsible for the testing and storage of the sample. At his request I called dispatch and asked for the blood technician to respond to the airport.”

The police reports do not say whether Duszak actually obtained his own blood-test result. Nor do the reports specifically explain why Eisenbraun declined to order an official blood test, or why Eisenbraun decided against pursuing a criminal charge at that time.

It appears, however, that Eisenbraun may have thought no crime had been committed because he might not have been aware that the legal blood-alcohol limit for operating an aircraft is 0.04 percent, which is lower than the legal limit of 0.08 for driving a vehicle.

Eisenbraun’s written report says that after he spoke to Duszak, Eisenbraun left the airport, which is about eight miles east of Rapid City, and returned to the police station downtown. There, Eisenbraun spoke to Lt. Elias Diaz.

“Lt. Diaz and I consulted additional resources and found the statute SDCL 50-13-17,” Eisenbraun wrote in his report. “This statute prohibits the operation of an airplane with a BAC over .04.”

Eisenbraun contacted Officer Hinzman and told him not to release Duszak. Eisenbraun also sent Officer Younie back to the airport to renew the investigation into Duszak.

Younie received the call from Eisenbraun at 9:46 a.m. Younie found Duszak, who was still at the airport, and asked him to answer more questions and submit to a blood test. Duszak declined to do either, on the advice of a lawyer he’d spoken with by phone.

Meanwhile, Officers Eisenbraun and Diaz had spoken with Roetzel of the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office, and they determined there was probable cause to arrest Duszak for operating an aircraft while intoxicated.

Officer Younie arrested Duszak, took him to the Pennington County Jail in Rapid City, and filed paperwork asking for a search warrant to force Duszak’s submission to a blood test. A magistrate judge granted the warrant.

Finally, at 12:38 p.m. — four hours and 38 minutes after the TSA worker smelled alcohol on Duszak’s breath — a blood test was administered.

Duszak posted a $300 bond and left jail sometime that day. SkyWest, which is based in St. George, Utah, placed him on unpaid leave. He remained on unpaid leave as of Monday afternoon, a SkyWest spokeswoman said. The Oct. 26 flight that Duszak was intended to co-pilot from Rapid City to Salt Lake City was delayed two hours until a new crew arrived.

Then, on Monday, during what was supposed to have been Duszak’s initial court appearance, the charge was dismissed because the blood test did not detect a measurable amount of alcohol.

Roetzel, in her interview with the Journal, said an earlier blood test might have produced a measurable amount of alcohol. Even if that amount had been below the 0.04 percent limit, Roetzel said, she could have extrapolated backward to establish Duszak’s likely blood-alcohol content at the time he was sitting in the cockpit. But because the blood test was so delayed and did not detect a measurable amount of alcohol, Roetzel said, there was nothing to extrapolate from.

An additional factor that hindered the prosecution is a quirk in the law. Roetzel said the state’s legal definition of driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol allows evidence other than a blood test. But the separate state law defining the operation of a plane while intoxicated allows only blood-alcohol evidence.

Since breath tests are inadmissible in court, Roetzel said, the only way to prove a charge of operating an aircraft while intoxicated is with a blood test. She suggested that state legislators should consider amending the law to allow other evidence in similar future cases.

When the Journal reached Duszak by phone Monday, he declined to comment. Duszak had an attorney, Jay Shultz, of Rapid City, who had barely gotten up from his chair at Monday’s court proceeding before the prosecution moved for dismissal and the judge agreed. In a brief interview outside the courtroom, Shultz said the blood test had indicated a blood-alcohol content of less than 0.015 percent. He declined further comment about the case.

A SkyWest spokeswoman said the company is conducting its own investigation into the matter. Duszak also faces a pending review of his pilot’s certificate by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory.

Timeline of pilot investigation

A timeline of the Oct. 26 investigation into a pilot at the Rapid City Regional airport, according to information in written police reports.

8 a.m.: A Transportation Safety Administration worker notices alcohol on the breath of pilot Russell Duszak and reports it up the TSA chain of command. Another TSA worker notifies Rapid City Police Officer Paul Hinzman, who takes Duszak out of the cockpit during his pre-flight routine.

8:30 a.m.: Rapid City Police Officer Jerred Younie administers a breath test to Duszak, which indicates a blood-alcohol content of 0.046 percent.

8:45 a.m.: Rapid City Police Lt. Mark Eisenbraun arrives at the airport and speaks to Duszak, who asks for a blood test. Eisenbraun tells Duszak he is not being charged with a crime and a blood test is not necessary. Eisenbraun returns to the police station, confers with Lt. Elias Diaz, and they find a state law that says the blood-alcohol limit for operating an aircraft is 0.04 percent.

9:46 a.m.: Eisenbraun sends Officer Younie back to the airport to renew the investigation. Duszak, saying he has since spoken to a lawyer by phone, acts on the advice of that lawyer and declines to answer Younie’s questions or submit to a blood test. Eisenbraun and Diaz inform Younie they have spoken with Deputy State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel and have determined there is probable cause to arrest Duszak. Younie makes the arrest and takes Duszak to the Pennington County Jail. Duszak files paperwork seeking a judge’s warrant to force Duszak to submit to a blood test, and a judge grants the warrant.

12:38 p.m.: Blood is drawn from Duszak. Roetzel later says the test did not detect a measurable amount of alcohol, because the alcohol in Duszak’s blood likely dissipated significantly in the four hours between the breath test and the blood test.


A SkyWest Airlines pilot was arrested Wednesday morning for operating an aircraft while intoxicated, Rapid City Police say.

Rapid City Police were notified that a pilot smelled of alcohol shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday, said public information officer Brendyn Medina. To be arrested for operating an aircraft while intoxicated, the blood alcohol level has to be above .04.

"The system worked the way it is designed to ensure passengers' safety was not compromised," Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris said in a tweet.

SkyWest flies out of Rapid City as a Delta Air Lines connection, according to KOTA TV. The blane was bound for Salt Lake City.

"SkyWest holds its employees to the highest standards of professionalism and the safety and security of our customers and people are our top priority," the airline said in a statement. " We apologize to our passengers for the delay of SkyWest flight #4574. ... The crewmember has been placed on administrative leave and removed from flying duties as we investigate this situation. We are cooperating fully with law enforcement’s investigation into this matter."


A replacement pilot arrives late Wednesday morning on SkyWest Flight 4574 at Rapid City, S.D., Regional Airport.

An airline pilot was arrested Wednesday morning in Rapid City, S.D., and charged with attempting to fly while drunk, police said.

Police were called to Rapid City Regional Airport after Russell Joseph Duszak, 38, showed up smelling of alcohol — at 8 a.m. — Rapid City police said. Duszak, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was supposed to have flown SkyWest Flight 4574 to Salt Lake City, but instead, he was hauled off the plane and arrested on a charge of operating an aircraft under the influence of alcohol.

The flight was delayed for more than two hours, finally taking off about 10:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. ET) after a replacement pilot was rounded up, NBC station KNBN reported.

Passengers learned more about what was happening from police than they did from the airline, which issued a short statement apologizing for what it described only as "a crewmember issue." The pilot is barred from flying pending an investigation, it said.

Duszak, who federal records show has been a licensed commercial pilot since 2001, was released from the Pennington County Jail on $300 bail. If he's convicted of the misdemeanor charge, he could spend up to a year in jail and face a $2,000 fine.

Read more here:


The Rapid City Police Department says they have arrested a SkyWest pilot for allegedly being intoxicated on duty.

Officers responded to the Wednesday morning for a report of a pilot smelling of alcohol. Police determined that 38-year-old Russel Duszak of Salt Lake City was in violation of SDCL 50-13-17, which prohibits the operation of an aircraft with a blood alcohol level above .04.

Duszak was arrested for Operating an Aircraft Under the Influence of Alcohol. SkyWest issued a statement Wednesday, stating that the pilot is on administrative leave during the investigation process

SkyWest flies out of Rapid City as Delta Connection. Delta Flight 4574 was scheduled to take off for Salt Lake City at 8:30 a.m. but was delayed until 10:30 a.m.

RCPD Chief Karl Jegeris issued the following tweet after saying that airport management and airline officials helped to ensure passenger safety.

Read more here:

Beechcraft B200 Super King Air, Gilleland Aviation, N52SZ: Fatal accident occurred October 30, 2014 in Wichita, Kansas

FlightSafety files lawsuit over 2014 King Air crash 

WICHITA, Kan. FlightSafety International has filed a lawsuit, naming more than 12 companies (19 defendants total) it says contributed to the October 2014 fatal crash of a Beechcraft King Air near Wichita's Mid Continent Airport, now known as Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport.

On Oct. 30, 2014, a Beechcraft B200 Super King Air crashed into a flight safety training center building near the airport, killing the pilot and three people inside the training center.

Among the defendants in the lawsuit are Textron Aviation, Yingling Aircraft, Beechcraft Corporation, Hartzell Propeller, Inc., Pratt and Whitney Engine Services, Inc. and the plane's previous owner.

Investigators say the pilot failed to maintain control of the King Air after a reduction in power to its left engine.


Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office: FAA Wichita FSDO-64

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA034 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 30, 2014 in Wichita, KS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/01/2016
Aircraft: RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT COMPANY B200, registration: N52SZ
Injuries: 4 Fatal, 2 Serious, 4 Minor.

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

The airline transport pilot was departing for a repositioning flight. During the initial climb, the pilot declared an emergency and stated that the airplane "lost the left engine." The airplane climbed to about 120 ft above ground level, and witnesses reported seeing it in a left turn with the landing gear extended. The airplane continued turning left and descended into a building on the airfield. A postimpact fired ensued and consumed a majority of the airplane. 

Postaccident examinations of the airplane, engines, and propellers did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Neither propeller was feathered before impact. Both engines exhibited multiple internal damage signatures consistent with engine operation at impact. Engine performance calculations using the preimpact propeller blade angles (derived from witness marks on the preload plates) and sound spectrum analysis revealed that the left engine was likely producing low to moderate power and that the right engine was likely producing moderate to high power when the airplane struck the building. A sudden, uncommanded engine power loss without flameout can result from a fuel control unit failure or a loose compressor discharge pressure (P3) line; thermal damage prevented a full assessment of the fuel control units and P3 lines. Although the left engine was producing some power at the time of the accident, the investigation could not rule out the possibility that a sudden left engine power loss, consistent with the pilot's report, occurred.

A sideslip thrust and rudder study determined that, during the last second of the flight, the airplane had a nose-left sideslip angle of 29°. It is likely that the pilot applied substantial left rudder input at the end of the flight. Because the airplane's rudder boost system was destroyed, the investigation could not determine if the system was on or working properly during the accident flight. Based on the available evidence, it is likely that the pilot failed to maintain lateral control of the airplane after he reported a problem with the left engine. The evidence also indicates that the pilot did not follow the emergency procedures for an engine failure during takeoff, which included retracting the landing gear and feathering the propeller.

Although the pilot had a history of anxiety and depression, which he was treating with medication that he had not reported to the Federal Aviation Administration, analysis of the pilot's autopsy and medical records found no evidence suggesting that either his medical conditions or the drugs he was taking to treat them contributed to his inability to safely control the airplane in an emergency situation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain lateral control of the airplane after a reduction in left engine power and his application of inappropriate rudder input. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to follow the emergency procedures for an engine failure during takeoff. Also contributing to the accident was the left engine power reduction for reasons that could not be determined because a postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation and thermal damage precluded a complete examination.


On October 30, 2014, at 0948 central daylight time, a Raytheon Aircraft Company King Air B200 airplane, N52SZ, impacted the FlightSafety International (FSI) building located on the airport infield during initial climb from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (ICT), Wichita, Kansas. The airline transport pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. Three building occupants were fatally injured, two occupants sustained serious injuries, and four occupants sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by Gilleland Aviation, Inc., Georgetown, Texas, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a ferry flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The flight was originating from ICT at the time of the accident and was en route to Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport (MEZ), Mena, Arkansas. 

The ICT air traffic controllers stated that the accident flight was cleared for takeoff on runway 1R and instructed to fly the runway heading. After becoming airborne, the pilot declared an emergency and stated that the airplane "lost the left engine." The airplane then entered a shallow left turn, continued turning left, and then descended into a building. A controller called aircraft rescue and firefighting on the "crash phone" just before impact. The controllers observed flames and then black smoke coming from the accident site. 

Witnesses in the Cessna Service Center building on the east side of runway 1R also observed the airplane departing runway 1R. They indicated that the airplane then porpoised several times before making a left turn. The airplane continued the left turn, barely cleared the top of a hangar on the west side of runway 1R, and then descended into a building. The witnesses reported that the landing gear was extended and that they could not clearly hear the sound of the engines. The airplane's altitude appeared to be less than 150 ft above ground level (agl).

Airport surveillance video cameras captured the last 9 seconds of the flight. The videos showed that the airplane was turning left and in a nose-left sideslip as it overflew a hangar. The cameras showed that the airplane was about 120 ft agl when it impacted the FSI building, and a postimpact explosion and fire ensued.


The pilot, age 53, held an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and multiengine land. On August 4, 2014, he was issued a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses. 

The pilot's flight time logbook was not located during the investigation. At the time of his August 2014 medical examination, he reported a total flight time of 3,067 hours with 200 hours in the preceding 6 months. A review of the pilot's flight training records from FSI, dated September 18, 2014, revealed that he had accumulated 3,139 total flight hours, 2,843 hours of which were in multiengine airplanes. The King Air B200 did not require a type rating.

From September 4 to 19, 2014, the pilot received Beechcraft King Air 300 series initial training at FSI, Wichita, Kansas. The training was specifically for the King Air 350 Proline 21 model and included 58.5 ground training hours, 12 briefing hours, 14 pilot-flying simulator hours, and 12 pilot-not-flying hours. During the course, the pilot reviewed and completed the required emergency procedures. The pilot satisfactorily completed the course with an examination that included 2.5 hours written/oral examination time and 2.2 simulator flying hours. 

On September 19, 2014, the pilot was issued an FAA ATP temporary airman certificate with the following ratings and limitations: airplane multiengine land ratings for Beechcraft (BE)-300, BE-400, Cessna (CE)-525, Dassault Falcon (DA)-10, Learjet (LR)-45, LR-60, LR-JET, Mitsubishi (MU)-300 airplanes; second-in-command privileges only for BE-400, CE-525, DA-10, LR-45, LR-60, LR-JET, and MU-300 airplanes; and private pilot privileges for airplane single-engine land.


The accident airplane was bought by Gilleland Aviation, Inc., Georgetown, Texas, on October 28, 2014. The King Air B200 was a six-seat, low-wing, multiengine airplane manufactured in 2000. The airplane was powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42 turboprop engines that each drove a Hartzell four-bladed, hydraulically operated, constant-speed propeller with full feathering and reversing capabilities. The propeller blade angle settings for this installation were -11.0° ± 0.5° reverse, 18.2° ± 0.1° low, and 85.8° ± 0.5° feather.

On October 30, 2014, at 0740, the airplane was refueled at ICT by Signature Flight Support. The two outboard fuel tanks (usable 193-gallon capacity each) were reported to have been filled to capacity. The two auxiliary fuel tanks (usable 79-gallon capacity each) were reported to be empty. The fueling receipt noted that 57 gallons of Jet A fuel were added to the left main tank and that 53 gallons of Jet A fuel were added to the right main tank.

A review of the airplane maintenance records found that major scheduled maintenance was completed at Hawker Beechcraft Services, Wichita, Kansas, on October 22, 2014. The maintenance included left and right engine hot-section inspections and an overhaul of the right propeller. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated 1.4 hours and 2 cycles since it was released to service on October 22, 2014. The review found no maintenance record discrepancies that would have affected the operation or performance of the airplane.

Postmaintenance Test Flights 

During the October 22, 2014, Hawker Beechcraft postmaintenance test flight, the following discrepancies were noted: 

• The left throttle lever was ahead of the right by about 1/4 of the lever knob. • The cabin environmental system pressurization leak rate was high. All other systems functioned normally. The engine interturbine temperature (ITT) gauge indications were split, indicating that one of the engines was operating more efficiently than the other; however, both engines were able to achieve maximum power per the pilot's operating handbook (POH) performance charts with no temperature ITT exceedance.

Maintenance was performed to address the throttle matching and cabin environmental system discrepancies, and a second maintenance test flight was conducted on October 27, 2014. During the flight, it was noted that the throttle lever mismatch was corrected. The environmental system bleed air valves (flow packs) pressurization leak rates were acceptable, although one was weaker than the other when tested independently. No other anomalies were noted. 

Following the flight, maintenance personnel confirmed that the left flow pack output was higher than the right. Both sides of the system passed maintenance manual and ground operational checks. To better understand these findings, the airplane owner agreed that the left and right environmental system flow packs, electronic controllers, and thermistors should be swapped. 

Rudder Boost System

The airplane was equipped with a rudder boost system to aid the pilot in maintaining directional control in the event of an engine failure or a large variation of power between the engines. The rudder cable system incorporated two pneumatic rudder-boosting servos that would actuate the cables to provide rudder pressure to help compensate for asymmetrical thrust. During operation, a differential pressure valve would accept bleed air pressure from each engine. When the pressure varied between the bleed air systems, the shuttle in the differential pressure valve would move toward the low pressure side. As the pressure differential reached a preset tolerance, a switch on the low pressure side would close, activating the rudder boost system. The system was designed only to help compensate for asymmetrical thrust; the pilot was to accomplish appropriate trimming. 

The system was controlled by a toggle switch, placarded "RUDDER BOOST – OFF" and located on the pedestal below the rudder trim wheel. The switch was to be turned on before flight. A preflight check of the system could be performed during the run-up by retarding the power on one engine to idle and advancing power on the opposite engine until the power difference between the engines was great enough to close the switch that activates the rudder boost system. Movement of the appropriate rudder pedal (left engine idling, right rudder pedal would move forward) would be noted when the switch closed, indicating that the system was functioning properly for low engine power on that side. The check was to be repeated with opposite power settings to check for movement of the opposite rudder pedal. Moving either or both of the bleed air valve switches in the copilot's subpanel to the "INSTR & ENVIR OFF" position would disengage the rudder boost system.

Autofeathering System

The airplane was equipped with an autofeathering system that provided a means of automatically feathering the propeller in the event of an engine failure. The system was armed using a switch on the pilot's subpanel placarded "AUTOFEATHER – ARM – OFF – TEST." With the switch in the "ARM" position and both power levers above about 90 percent N1, the green L and R AUTOFEATHER annunciators located on the caution/advisory panel would illuminate, indicating that the system was armed. If either power lever was not above about 90 percent N1, the system would be disarmed, and neither annunciator would be illuminated. When the system was armed and the torque on a failing engine dropped below about 410 ft-lbs, the operative engine's autofeather system would be disarmed. When the torque on the failing engine dropped below about 260 ft-lbs, the oil was dumped from the servo, and the feathering spring and counterweights feathered the propeller. 

For King Air B200 airplanes equipped with Hartzell propellers, the propeller autofeather system must be operable for all flights and be armed for takeoff, climb, approach, and landing. A preflight system test, as described in the King Air POH, Section IV, "NORMAL PROCEDURES," was required. Since an engine would not actually be shut down during a test, the AUTOFEATHER annunciator for the engine being tested would cycle on and off as the torque oscillated above and below the 260 ft-lbs setting.

Emergency Procedure

The King Air B200 POH outlined an Engine Failure During Takeoff (at or above V1) Takeoff Continued procedure, which stated, in part, the following:

1. Power –> maximum allowable

2. Airspeed –> maintain (takeoff speed or above)

3. Landing gear –> up 

Note: If the autofeather system…is being used, do not retard the failed engine power lever until the autofeather system has completely stopped the propeller rotation. To do so will deactivate the autofeather circuit and prevent automatic feathering. 

4. Propeller lever (inoperative engine) –> feather (or verify that propeller is feathered if autofeather is installed)


At 0953, the automated weather observation at ICT reported wind from 350 degrees and 16 knots, visibility of 10 miles, a few clouds at 15,000 ft, temperature 59° F, dew point 37° F, and altimeter setting 30.12 inches of Mercury. 


The following is a chronological summary of the communications between the accident pilot and the ICT air traffic controllers.

0938 The pilot requested an IFR clearance to MEZ. Clearance Delivery read the clearance to the pilot, and the pilot read back the clearance correctly.

0940 The pilot requested taxi clearance with the automatic terminal information service (ATIS). Ground Control issued a taxi clearance to runway 1R at Echo 3 intersection via taxiways Alpha 5, Alpha, Bravo, Echo. The pilot read back the instructions correctly. 

0941 Ground Control reverified that the accident pilot had ATIS Hotel.

0942 The pilot advised he had to perform a quick run-up and asked Ground Control for a location to complete the run-up. Ground Control advised him to proceed to the end of the taxiway or to the Echo 3 intersection. 

0947 The pilot requested and was cleared for takeoff by Local Control on runway heading. The pilot read back the instructions correctly.

0948 The pilot declared an emergency and advised that he "lost the left engine."


Cockpit Voice Recorder

The airplane was equipped with a Fairchild Model A100S cockpit voice recorder (CVR). The unit was removed from the wreckage and sent to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for download. A timeline generated from the CVR recording determined that the time duration from liftoff to building impact was about 26 seconds. 

Nonvolatile Memory

The airplane was equipped with a Sandel ST3400 terrain awareness and warning system and radio magnetic indicator unit. This unit was retained and examined by the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory. The examination revealed that the unit sustained severe thermal damage and that the nonvolatile memory contents were destroyed; therefore, no data were available for recovery. 



The accident site was located at latitude 37° 39.592 N, longitude 97° 25.490 W, at an elevation of 1,363 ft mean sea level. The airplane struck the northeast corner of the FSI building, which housed several flight simulators. A large simulator room on the north end was the point of impact and sustained most of the structural and fire damage. The simulator room was about two stories high, about 198 ft long (east-west), and about 42 ft deep (north-south). Most of the airplane wreckage was distributed from the northeast corner toward the southwest corner of the room and remained on the roof of the simulator room and the attached buildings. 

A postimpact fired ensued and consumed a majority of the airplane. The left engine, propeller, and left main landing gear were found just inside the building on the ground level. A majority of the left outboard wing, flap, and aileron were found at the foot of the building's exterior east wall. The fuselage, tail section, cockpit, right engine, and right main landing gear were located on the conjoined buildings' rooftops. The cockpit, instrument panels, right engine, and right landing gear strut were located about 160 ft from the initial impact point to the south on the roof of the simulator room. The right engine and propeller came to rest next to the cockpit. 

The cabin area of the fuselage and empennage came to rest inverted on the lower, west roof. The cabin area was mostly consumed by the postimpact fire. Portions of the wing center section and all of the tail section were located to the south on the lower roof of the conjoined building. The right wing had separated and came to rest on the roof of another attached building about 120 ft from the initial impact point. A separated portion of a propeller blade was found near the right wing. A separated propeller blade tip was found in a parking lot about 200 ft northeast from the initial impact point. The tail section sustained severe thermal damage, but remained recognizable. The horizontal stabilizers remained attached to the vertical stabilizer with the elevators attached. The elevator trim tabs remained attached to their respective elevator. The vertical stabilizer remained attached to the aft fuselage with the rudder attached. The rudder trim tab remained attached to the rudder. 

The left main landing gear was found extended with the down-lock latched into place. The structure of the right main landing gear was not intact. The strut, wheel, and tire of the nose gear assembly were found in the parking lot on the north side of the building. Witness and video evidence, which is discussed in the "ADDITIONAL INFORMATION" section of this report, confirmed that the landing gear were extended before impact.

One of the four rudder cables in the tail section had the ball swage fitting still attached. The other three cables (one rudder and two elevators) were separated with rusty coloration at the separation point. The three cables were stiff 3 to 9 inches from the fracture surface, consistent with high-temperature oxidation and separation. The rest of the three cables remained flexible, which was typical of a control cable. 

Rudder flight control continuity was established from the rudder to the flight control cables. One cable terminated at the aft fuselage in a thermal separation, and the other cable terminated at a more forward position at a cable end. 

Down elevator control continuity was confirmed from the elevator surface to the aft fuselage. The up elevator aft bell crank segment was separated with the flight control cable attached. Both cables terminated at the aft fuselage in thermal separations. 

A secondary examination of the flight control systems was conducted at a secure storage facility. The primary and secondary flight control cables were all accounted for from the cockpit to each respective flight control surface with cable separations that exhibited signatures consistent with thermal separation, tensile overload, and/or being cut during recovery. 

Flap Actuators

The only flap actuator observed was the outboard left flap actuator, and the position equated to about 10° extended. A secondary examination of the flap switch handle determined that it was in the UP detent.

The flaps had three positions: UP, APPROACH, and DOWN. UP was 0°, APPROACH was 14° (+ or - 1°), and DOWN was 35° (+1°/-2°). According to the POH, the flaps could be set to UP or APPROACH during takeoff. Any of the three flap positions could be selected by moving the flap switch handle up or down to the selected position indicated on the pedestal. The flaps could not be stopped in between any of the three positions. 

Trim Actuators

The rudder trim actuator position equated to greater than 15° tab trailing edge left (rudder right, nose right). The left and right elevator trim actuator positions equated to 0° trim. The right aileron trim actuator position equated to about 9° tab trailing edge up (right wing up). 

Rudder Boost and Autofeathering Systems

The rudder boost system, autofeathering system, and their respective cockpit controls were mostly consumed by the postimpact fire. Due to the extensive thermal damage, an examination of the systems could not be accomplished. 


The engines and propellers were relocated to a secure hangar where airframe components were removed, and the propellers were separated from the engines. 

Engine teardown examinations were performed from November 3 to 5, 2014, at a Pratt & Whitney service center. Although the engine inlet housings, gearbox cases, and the accessory housings and tubing were severely fire-damaged, the core engines were intact and could be fully evaluated. No evidence of preimpact failure was found. Both engine compressors exhibited impact damage characteristic of foreign object damage. Both engines' gas producer and power turbine rotor gas path components displayed circumferential friction, rub, and scoring damage characteristic of damage that occurs when normal operating clearances between rotating and stationary components are momentarily lost as the engine experiences abnormal axial and radial loading during an impact sequence. The left engine power turbine shaft was separated torsionally, consistent with the sudden stoppage of the propeller (blade strike) while the power turbine shaft continued to rotate.

The left engine fuel pump and fuel control housings were thermally destroyed; examination of the remaining (steel) engine fuel system and propeller governor system components and tubing connections recovered from the debris revealed no anomalies. The extensive thermal damage prevented full assessment of the fuel metering system, including the fuel control units and compressor discharge pressure lines (P3) to both engines. The left engine propeller governor and propeller overspeed governor were examined and tested at Woodward, Inc., Rockford, Illinois, with no preimpact anomalies noted. 

The propellers were examined in Wichita from November 1 to 3, 2014, and again at Hartzell Propellers, Inc., Piqua, Ohio, on September 9 and 10, 2015. Fracture features and dimensions of the recovered propeller blade segments identified them as the missing outboard sections of two consecutive left propeller blades. Both blades were separated chordwise and exhibited leading edge tearing signatures. The left propeller blade damage also included other leading edge dents and tearing, aft bending, and moderate twisting. All of the propeller damage was consistent with impact loading or postimpact fire. The right propeller blades were thermally consumed. 

All eight of the propeller preload plates displayed witness marks consistent with abnormal loading (blade strike). Although witness marks can reflect impact blade angles from later stages of the impact sequence, carefully analyzed preload plate witness marks can be a relatively reliable indication of the preimpact blade angle for this propeller design. The angular positions of the witness marks were used to approximate blade position at the time each impact occurred. The preload plate witness marks of the respective propellers indicated that the left propeller was likely at a 17° blade angle upon initial impact, and the right propeller was likely at a 22.5° blade angle upon initial impact.

Engine performance calculations using the derived blade angles and sound spectrum analysis-based findings (see the "CVR Sound Spectrum Analysis" section of this report) indicated that the left engine was likely operating but producing low to moderate power when the airplane struck the building and that the right engine was operating normally and producing moderate to high power when the airplane struck the building.


This 53-year-old pilot had been an air traffic controller for more than 20 years at ICT and retired in 2013. Since his first medical certification in 1980, the pilot had reported thyroid disease, hernias, and recurrent symptomatic kidney stones to the FAA. Beginning in 1997, he had episodes of anxiety and depression, which required intermittent treatment with medication. During the first episode, he was unable to work for a certain time. A second episode began in October 2013 and continued through the accident date. He did not report his recurrent anxiety or his use of buspirone and escitalopram to the FAA. However, he visited his primary care physician about 1 month before the accident and was noted to be stable on the medications. In addition, the pilot had a procedure to treat kidney stones in 2013 that he did not report to the FAA. 

On November 3, 2014, the Regional Forensic Science Center, Sedgwick County, Kansas, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was determined to be thermal injuries and smoke inhalation and the manner of death was determined to be an accident. According to the autopsy report, a thin plastic medical catheter was identified in the pilot's pelvis, but it was not further described in the report. The Regional Forensic Science Center also conducted toxicology testing of the pilot's heart blood, which identified carboxyhemoglobin at 39 percent, but no other tested for substances were found.

Toxicology testing performed by the Bioaeronautical Research Laboratory at the FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute identified buspirone and citalopram and its metabolite n-desmethylcitalopram in the pilot's heart blood and urine. In addition, the carboxyhemoglobin was 35 percent; no ethanol, cyanide, or any other tested for substances were identified. Buspirone, also named BuSpar, is an anxiolytic prescription medication. Buspirone is different from other anxiolytics in that it has little, if any, typical anti-anxiety side effects, such as sedation and physical impairment, but it does carry a warning, "May impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, operating heavy machinery)." Citalopram is a prescription antidepressant, also named Celexa, which carries a warning, "May impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, operating heavy machinery)."


Airport Surveillance Video Data

Airport surveillance videos, which captured the last 9 seconds of the flight, including an image of the airplane within 1 second of impact, was used to estimate the airplane's trajectory and speed. The estimations indicated that the airplane's groundspeed increased from 85 to 92 knots and that the descent rate increased from about 0 to 1,600 ft per minute just before impact. The airplane's altitude reached a maximum of about 120 ft agl before it descended into the building. 

Sideslip Thrust and Rudder Study

The NTSB conducted a sideslip thrust and rudder study based on information from the surveillance videos. This study evaluated the relationships between the airplane's sideslip angle, thrust differential, and rudder deflection. Calculations made using multiple rudder deflection angles showed that full right rudder deflection would have resulted in a sideslip angle near 0°, a neutral rudder would have resulted in an airplane sideslip angle between 14° and 19°, and a full left rudder deflection would have resulted in an airplane sideslip angle between 28° and 35° airplane nose left. Calculation of the airplane's sideslip angle as captured in the image of the airplane during the last second of flight showed that the airplane had a 29° nose-left sideslip, which would have required the application of a substantial left rudder input.

CVR Sound Spectrum Analysis 

A sound spectrum analysis was completed using harmonic signatures recorded on the CVR from the cockpit area microphone and an unconnected microphone jack. A graph of the harmonic signatures from the cockpit area microphone show signatures that likely represent the propeller blade tip sounds and propeller rpm diverging, consistent with one propeller rpm decreasing. 

A graph of harmonic signatures from the unconnected microphone jack revealed electrical noise signatures generated from the engines. At the beginning of the graph, these signatures (two for each engine) increased, corresponding to increasing engine rpm. Later, two of the signatures began to decrease, consistent with one engine's rpm decreasing.