Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chicago O'Hare International Airport night runway plan to end on Christmas, despite pleas

City aviation officials said Wednesday that O’Hare Airport will end a six-month test of a new night runway rotation plan on Christmas morning, as originally scheduled, despite pleas by Schiller Park and Harwood Heights to extend it.

Mayors of both suburban towns east of the airport said the temporary plan to better distribute night jet noise has lessened the heavy overnight air traffic their communities shouldered after a dramatic change in O’Hare flight plans in 2013.

As a result, they said, they would like to see it continue while test results are being analyzed. The plan, launched July 6, rotates night runways every week, on a 12-week schedule, and alternates between diagonal “cross wind” runways and parallel “east-west” runways.

“Schiller Park got some relief from this and I hate to see it end,” Schiller Park Mayor Barbara Piltaver told fellow members of the Ad Hoc Fly Quiet committee of the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

The plan has reduced the night burden on Schiller Park, Harwood Heights and portions of Chicago to the east of O’Hare, as well as Bensenville and Wood Dale to the west. All are affected by O’Hare’s growing stable of east-west parallel runways. However, other suburbs, like Des Plaines, have been howling about the plan’s increased night use of diagonal runways.

Aaron Frame, of the Chicago Department of Aviation, said “chances are” running the test longer than the six months planned would trigger an environmental analysis that could last anywhere from months to a year. He cited a July 1, 2016, letter from the Federal Aviation Administration stating that “continuing the rotation plan beyond the test would be subject to future environmental review.”

FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday that the FAA “would consider” any city request for an extension but could not speculate on what its response would be.

Even so, Frame said the Aviation Department will end the test early Christmas morning, as planned, take the month of January to analyze the results, and then present its findings to the the Fly Quiet Committee and the Noise Commission for discussion and possible tweaking, approval or rejection.

Karen Robles of Schaumburg, a community affected by heavier night use of a diagonal runway due for demolition in 2018, favored that idea. She said there are some “tweaks many of us would like to evaluate” after the test ends and its results are thoroughly analyzed.

Mayor Craig Johnson of Elk Grove Village said later he also favors ending the plan on schedule, going back to pre-rotation night flights temporarily, and then coming up with a new six-month plan that uses the diagonal runway aimed at his village and Schaumburg less frequently.

Currently, Johnson said, Elk Grove Village carries a “disproportionate share” of night traffic and is affected in nine out of 12 weeks in the rotation.

“You shouldn’t have nine out of 12 weeks, flights going over some communities,” Johnson said.

Wednesday’s discussion indicated the Chicago area could see many changes in night flights as officials wrestle with how to proceed. But in addition, even daytime flight paths could well change again in 2019, after a diagonal runway closes; in 2020, after a new east-west parallel runway opens in the north airfield; and in 2021, when an existing parallel runway in the north airfield is due to be lengthened.


ViaAir Now Flying Out of Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport

WEYERS CAVE, Va. (WVIR) -  The first daily regional jet service is taking off from the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD).

Passengers waited Wednesday morning for the inaugural ViaAir flight to Charlotte, North Carolina. The plane had to divert to a different airport Tuesday night due to fog.

The 50-seat jet flew into Weyers Cave in the morning to board 21 passengers bound for Charlotte or beyond.

ViaAir is scheduled to fly out of SHD twice daily on weekdays and once a day on weekends.

“It's only about 3 miles from home and you don't have to fight the traffic and the parking and other headaches associated with going to a big airport,” said Kevin Craun, traveling to Florida.

“I like the idea of a jet. It gets to Charlotte faster and allows me to get to my final destination much faster than either going through Dulles or going to Charlottesville,” said Sue Garney.

The airport’s executive director says ticket sales have been brisk since SHD announced the new jet service late last month.

Story and video:

WEYERS CAVE — Kevin Craun and his family were among the happy passengers sitting in Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Wednesday morning.

The Craun family of Weyers Cave was headed to Florida. The family was among the first passengers to board the airport’s initial flight on ViaAir to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. Previously, Craun said he would have driven to Roanoke or Northern Virginia for a flight to the Sunshine State via Charlotte.

“The worst part was driving to the airport,’’ said Craun.

Now with ViaAir providing flights to both Charlotte and Orlando, Craun said he can drive three miles from his home and park for free. “Fifteen minutes after we get off the plane we’re home,” he said of the return.

Twenty one passengers boarded ViaAir Wednesday morning. Fog overnight delayed the arrival of the 50-seat jet. Airport Executive Director Greg Campbell said Tuesday night’s fog caused the plane to divert to a West Virginia location. And he said thunderstorms in West Virginia delayed the departure from 8  a.m. to  11 a.m. on Wednesday.

ViaAir will provide 12 flights weekly to and from Charlotte. And starting on Dec. 11, the airline will offer twice-weekly service to and from Orlando on Wednesdays and Sundays. SVRA announced the new agreement and service with ViaAir in October.

Airport Commission member Jeff Ward represents Waynesboro. He said offering flights to a southern hub such as Charlotte has come up often in his conversations with people.

“Everybody I’ve talked to mentioned Charlotte,’’ Ward said. “And the connections to Florida will be a big help.”

Frequent business travelers also spoke of the convenience the new flights would offer.  Sue Ganey of Harrisonburg travels by air at least once a month to Texas or Ohio.

Previously, Ganey said she would have to fly to a northeastern destination before being routed on another flight to Texas. Now, she can fly to Charlotte and head south.

“This is really nice,’’ said Ganey, who also likes the free parking at SVRA.


It was a big day for the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, as the first flight from SHD to Charlotte, North Carolina took off.

A dozen people lined up to be on the first ViaAir flight to Charlotte, ND today. The flight is a quick 50 minutes, and then you are in a southeastern hub, and can go pretty much anywhere.

While this is convenient for many families, some took the flight because of the experience.

"I am very excited! I have been waiting on this day since I learned I would be going on the Inaugural flight. I have been very, very, very excited, " said Jamison McCarty.

SHD will offer flight to Orlando, Florida beginning on December 11, 2016.

Story and video:

Aero Commander 690, Air West Inc., N9175N: Accident occurred November 30, 2016 at Scottsdale Airport (KSDL), Maricopa County, Arizona

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Scottsdale FSDO-07

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA030
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 30, 2016 in Scottsdale, AZ
Aircraft: AERO COMMANDER 690, registration: N9175N
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 November 30, 2016, about 1730 mountain standard time, an Aero Commander 690, N9175N, was substantially damaged during a runway excursion after landing at the Scottsdale Airport (SDL), Scottsdale, Arizona. The airplane was registered to and operated by Air West Inc., and was on a maintenance relocation flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airline transport pilot was the sole occupant, and was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight. The flight originated from Safford Regional Airport, Safford, Arizona, about 1700.

According to the pilot, the landing on runway 21 was normal and he intended to exit to a taxiway left of the runway; however, shortly after applying reverse thrust, the airplane veered to the right. The pilot applied corrective actions (rudder and brake) to compensate for the veer, but subsequently made a decision to enter the runway safety area (RSA) near taxiway A11, to avoid hitting a runway sign. He also stated that as the airplane entered the RSA, the landing gear sunk deep into the sand and rock. As the airplane came to a stop, about 30 feet into RSA, both propeller blades contacted sand and rocks. The left propeller blades impacted fist sized river rocks sending shards into the left side of the fuselage. The RSA material in this area consisted of about 6 inches of sand and rock covering a layer of fist sized river rock.

The airplane was removed from the RSA, and towed to a non-movement area on the airport.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the left side of the fuselage had impact damage. Several rocks had entered the fuselage through the skin and side windows from the pilot seat rearward to below the wing. Several structural members were compromised from the damage.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Scottsdale Airport is currently closed after a twin-engine plane veered off the runway Wednesday evening.

Sarah Ferrara, spokesperson for the airport, said the plane left the runway and went about 30 feet into some rocks.

One person was aboard the plane and "appears to be fine," she said in an email to ABC15. The airport's runway was not damaged, she said.

Crews were working to remove the aircraft so the airport could reopen.

Air15 video showed the plane just off the runway with emergency crews nearby.

The airport is located near Scottsdale Road and Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.

National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration Hurricane Hunters moving staff, fleet of planes to Lakeland Linder Regional Airport

LAKELAND — Scientific sorties into tropical cyclones will launch from Lakeland Linder Regional Airport starting next year.

The National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration Hurricane Hunters weather squadron will be moving its staff of about 100 and fleet of nine aircraft — including its modified P-3 Orions "Kermit" and "Miss Piggy" — to Lakeland Linder after May 1, the city announced Wednesday.

For NOAA, the deal supplies a nearby base of operations after the Air Force chose not to continue its current arrangement at MacDill Air Force Base after next year.

In exchange, Lakeland Linder gains a high-profile tenant — and a major boost to its annual revenues that will help it fund and market its bid to become a major center for high-skill and high-wage jobs in the county.

"This is probably one of our most significant wins over the last ten to twenty years," Airport Manager Gene Conrad said. St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport also bid for the contract.

NOAA will pay Lakeland Linder about $6.8 million to lease the Airside Center at 3450 Flightline Drive — roughly 105,000 square feet of space — for five years. The contract includes an optional extension that would yield $5.8 million through the second five-year term.

This is roughly three times what the airport was earning per square foot from the previous lease, which ended when the company was evicted for not paying rent. It's also about a 15 percent jump for the airport's total annual revenues. The airport sustains itself from its own business revenues, not taxes.

"This type of lease opportunity is rare and the long term significance of being awarded the contract is far greater than just the rental revenue that LLRA will receive," the city's staff wrote to commissioners in a memo, encouraging them to accept the deal.

City Manager Tony Delgado, who started his career in the live entertainment business, said landing the NOAA Hurricane Hunters is the equivalent of a "prestige account," the kind of act with a reputation that will draw more interest to the facility.

The Air Force declining to keep NOAA on its base created the opportunity, but Lakeland Linder was prepared when it arose, Conrad said.

"A lot had to occur to make this happen."

Without Lakeland Linder's long runway, a new air traffic control tower and an aircraft rescue and firefighting facility on its edge, "NOAA wouldn't be here," he said.

Grants from state and federal transportation authorities — and a willingness by the City Commission to support ambitious projects — have enabled about $100 million in improvements at the airport since 2010.

"We've finally turned the corner in people's minds," Delgado said, and they are now seeing Lakeland Linder as an "economic driver."

About 1,000 are employed in high-skill, high-wage jobs in businesses on the airport property, Conrad said. Roughly half of those work in the aviation sector. The NOAA contract will add another 100 aviation-sector jobs, plus the city expects contractors and suppliers that work with the squadron may eventually look to relocate as well.

And outside that supply chain, "growth will always attract growth," said John Von Preysing, the airport's business manager.

The aviation education pipeline on the south side of the airport, with Polk State College and the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, also makes a strong argument for aviation companies to move to Lakeland, Von Preysing added.

Pursuing the NOAA contract was somewhat of a gamble for the airport.

When NOAA announced its need for a new airbase, the city took funds it had appropriated for the MRO facility and poured them into its Airside Center in the hopes of landing the federal contract.

"By investing in an existing facility, it allowed us to accelerate growth," Von Preysing said.

"It was just one of those risks you had to take," Delgado added.

With the contract secured, Lakeland Linder will use the profits to continue developing a new, large maintenance facility on the north side of the airport. The planned "MRO facility," for maintenance, repair and overhaul, will accommodate mainline commercial passenger jets.

If built out as initially planned, the MRO facility could add another 300 to 400 technical jobs to the airport. Conrad and airport executives have been actively courting suitable businesses, but have remained quiet about the details of those conversations.

Story and photo gallery:

Close Calls on United States Airport Runways Rise Sharply: Hazardous incidents substantially surpassed federal safety standards in five months of latest year

The Wall Street Journal
Nov. 30, 2016 2:23 p.m. ET

Hazardous runway incidents at U.S. airports in fiscal 2016 increased for the third year in a row, significantly exceeding federal safety targets in five of those months and climbing 25% overall from a year earlier.

Both the raw numbers and frequency of the most dangerous types of close calls on the ground rose significantly in the federal fiscal year ended Sept. 30, according to preliminary government data that hasn’t yet been widely distributed. The jump came despite stepped-up federal and industry efforts to reverse the trend.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said in total, there were more than 1,560 instances nationwide when planes came closer than permitted to each other, or to vehicles, on the tarmac. That’s up from about 1,450 in fiscal 2015 and roughly 1,250 in 2013 and 2014.

For the latest year as a whole, the rate of the highest-risk incidents, adjusted for monthly fluctuations in air traffic, barely met the agency’s internal, long-established limit of about four such “runway incursions” per 10 million flights; they substantially exceeded the limit in five of the 12 months. The FAA’s strategic plan calls for compliance with that cap through at least September 2017.

The comparable rate for fiscal 2015 came in at roughly three serious events per 10 million flights, and hovered well below the rate stretching back to 2013.

Despite years of initiatives to combat such threats—including a high-profile campaign rolled out earlier this year—the most dangerous categories of runway incursions continued to increase in fiscal 2016. According to the FAA, there were 19 close calls resulting in significant chances of accidents or collisions that were narrowly avoided, versus 15 the year before.

The statistics cover airliners, business jets and private aircraft at airports with towers across the country. With some 700 million passengers getting on U.S. carriers every year and roughly 30,000 commercial flights in the air each day, runway errors amount to a tiny sliver of that total.

The FAA recorded nearly 50 million flights of all aircraft nationwide in fiscal 2016, while there hasn’t been a major runway collision of big planes on a U.S. strip in recent memory.

Still, annual runway incursion statistics are considered an important benchmark of aviation safety. They are closely watched by experts inside and outside the FAA as harbingers of hazardous trends and impending threats.

That’s partly because commercial aviation has become so safe there hasn’t been a single passenger fatality from the crash of a scheduled U.S. airliner in seven years. Statistically, experts say the most dangerous portion of any airliner flight is the time spent taxiing on the ground.

Runway safety is equally daunting in Europe. In the past decade, nearly one out of five fatal accidents involved runway incursions, according to the European Aviation Safety Agency’s 2016 statistical review.

Runway incidents depend on a host of factors, from the level of traffic to airport layouts to lighting and signs on the tarmac. Variations among local controller procedures also have an impact. In fiscal 2016, pilot mistakes were roughly three times more likely to cause incursions than air-traffic controller errors, based on FAA numbers.

Federal officials and industry safety experts have had a roller-coaster history combating close calls between planes on the ground. In fiscal 2008, with the number of runway incursions climbing to a five-year high, FAA leaders invoked a nationwide “call to action” to deal with the problem. Rates for the most serious incidents dropped sharply in the next two years, spiked in 2012 and then went down again.

Earlier this year however, both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates aviation accidents and incidents, became concerned again about the stubborn upward trend. Renewing focus on the hazards, the FAA boosted efforts to analyze incident patterns, enhance pilot education and help airport operators mitigate specific risks.

Across the U.S., busy airports already have installed special lights designed to alert crews before planes mistakenly taxi onto an active runway. Similarly, plane manufacturers and cockpit-equipment suppliers have devised various systems intended to warn pilots if they line up to land or take off on an incorrect strip.

Nonetheless, the latest numbers highlight the challenges of reducing the most pressing runway risks, even if the total number of incursions starts to go down. During several months of 2016 when overall incursion numbers stayed basically flat, the rate for the highest-risk incidents nevertheless exceeded maximum FAA targets by double-digit margins.

Original article can be found here:

Cessna 560, N22AF, Bill Massa Company Incorporated: Accident occurred November 29, 2016 at Salinas Municipal Airport (KSNS), Monterey County, California

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

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Jose, California

Aviation Incident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Bill Massa Company Incorporated:

NTSB Identification: GAA17IA083 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Incident occurred Monday, November 28, 2016 in Salinas, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 560, registration: N22AF
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

On November 28, 2016, at 2030 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 560 airplane, N22AF, struck a helicopter that was parked in designated transient parking area at Salinas Municipal Airport, Salinas, California. The airplane sustained minor damage to the right wing and the pilot was not injured, but the helicopter required major repair. The airplane was registered to Bill Massa Company Incorporated, Salinas, and operated under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a visual flight rules flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight. The flight originated from Salinas, California and had returned to Salinas, California.

During the incident investigation the pilot reported that he turned to the right to avoid an airplane that was too close to the taxi lane centerline. There is a specific distance from the taxi lane centerline that obstacles must remain clear of. The area is defined as the Taxiway/Taxi lane Object Free Area (TOFA). The airplane that the pilot attempted to avoid and the helicopter that was struck, occupied the TOFA. The dimensions of the TOFA do not appear to meet Federal Aviation Administration Airport Design standards, specifically Airport Certification requirements specified per Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 139. 

The investigation is continuing.

Vans RV-8, EXA LLC, N880KM: Accident occurred November 22, 2016 in Roopville, Carroll County, Georgia

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Docket And Docket Items -   National Transportation Safety Board:


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Atlanta FSDO-11

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA085
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 22, 2016 in Roopville, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/06/2017
Aircraft: HUNDLEY MICHAEL J VANS RV8, registration: N880KM
Injuries: 2 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 of the tailwheel equipped airplane reported that during the 3-point landing, the airplane drifted to the left and he applied right correction. He further reported that he “obviously over corrected” because the airplane went to the right and he was unable to correct with left rudder and brake. The airplane exited the runway and impacted trees. 

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage.
The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot reported as a safety recommendation that he should have conducted a wheel landing to provide more directional control during the landing roll.

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

The pilot’s overcorrection with the right rudder during the landing roll, which resulted in a loss of directional control and a runway excursion.

For Some, Property Assessment Reductions Do Little To Ease Tax Concerns: Des Plaines Alderman Wants More Information On Chicago O'Hare International Airport Noise Study

Even with an Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) reduction from Cook County, most Des Plaines residents plagued with loud overnight airport noise saw an increase in their overall property taxes this year.

According to Ald. Malcolm Chester (6th), the Cook County Assessor’s Office has been conducting a study for two years to lower the EAV of homes in portions of the county that experience heavy air traffic. EAV is a value placed on property for tax purposes, determined by an equalization factor that allows all properties in the region to be uniformly assessed, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

This year, Chester’s home in the city’s south side 6th ward received a 7% decrease in EAV as a result of its location under an O’Hare Airport noise path. However, this decrease was surpassed by the overall 9% increase in EAV for the property since its last assessment, so Chester actually saw his EAV rise approximately 2%.

“This is Cook County’s version of tax relief,” said Chester in a newsletter to his constituents.

“Market values went down with the recession,” he said of the EAV increase on Wednesday, Nov. 16, “and of course, now they are going back up.”

Others in the ward have come to Chester with similar complaints of rising EAV, despite the decrease for noise from Cook County. Additionally, the rate of decrease for airplane noise was not consistent in the area. While Chester received a 7% decrease, some of his neighbors received 4% and others received none.

“We’ve asked to see the study and asked to have it explained to us,” Chester said. He added that O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) Chair and Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek has requested details of the study from Cook County.

“The assessor has not yet told any of us on the commission what the criteria are for granting this reduction in assessed value,” said Chester in his newsletter.

Another issue for Des Plaines residents who live under the hull of O’Hare flights is the proposed “Fly Quiet Rotation,” which is currently being tested. The final round of the six-month testing cycle is scheduled to end on Christmas. During this 12-week cycle, jets will fly over Des Plaines’ 6th, 2nd and 1st ward homes at night to land at Runway 22-R for three weeks.

Although Des Plaines residents have adapted to flights landing and taking off from Runway 22-R for years, Chester said that night noise is “a whole different ball game.”

After data from the rotation test has been collected by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a decision will be made, most likely by the end of the year, on making the Fly Quiet rotation permanent. Although Chester intends to fight for a return to the old flight schedule, he admits that there are a variety of factors working against Des Plaines.

“We don’t really have a lot of allies,” he said. According to Chester, other areas affected by the Fly Quiet Rotation, such as Park Ridge and Glenview, will most likely benefit from the change. “It’s an isolating position to be in.”

At this point, one of the only things that could protect the former rotation schedule would be safety issues regarding Runway 22-R. As one of the airport’s oldest runways, 22-R is relatively short at 7,500 ft., which makes landing planes on the strip at night, or during winter weather conditions, a dangerous prospect. Chester noted that the recent incident where an American Airlines flight caught fire may have faced dire consequences on a short runway.

If the Fly Quiet Rotation is eventually approved by the FAA, Chester hopes that residents will have access to federal funding for noise insulation measures.

“We’ll have to wait it out and watch it carefully,” Chester said.


Evolution Revo, Sport Aviation Center LLC, N31PH: Accident occurred October 20, 2016 in Carson City, Nevada

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:


NTSB Identification: GAA17CA039
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 20, 2016 in Carson City, NV
Aircraft: EVOLUTION AIRCRAFT INC REVO, registration: N31PH
Injuries: 2 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 flight instructor in the weight shift aircraft, which was equipped with a floor mounted, foot operated throttle, reported that upon startup, the pilot receiving instruction inadvertently applied full throttle while putting his right foot on the pedal power control unit. Subsequently, the weight shift aircraft started to move towards a parked jet, so the flight instructor turned the aircraft sharply and the aircraft tipped onto its side.

The weight shift aircraft sustained substantial damage to both wings.

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

PZL Bielsko SZD-51-1, G-CSFT and Cessna 150L, G-CSFC: Accident occurred December 04, 2016 in Husbands Bosworth, United Kingdom

NTSB Identification: CEN17WA052A 
Accident occurred Sunday, December 04, 2016 in Husbands Bosworth, United Kingdom
Aircraft: PZL BIELSKO SZD51, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB Identification: CEN17WA052B
Accident occurred Sunday, December 04, 2016 in Husbands Bosworth, United Kingdom
Aircraft: CESSNA 150, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Uninjured.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On December 4, 2016, about 1230 coordinated universal time, a PZL Bielsko SZD-51-1 glider, G-CSFT, and a Cessna 150L airplane, G-CSFC, collided in midair near Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, United Kingdom. The glider impacted terrain and the pilot was fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage and landed at a nearby airport.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the government of the United Kingdom. This report is for information purposes only and contains only information released by or obtained from the United Kingdom. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Farnborough House

Berkshire Copse Road
Aldershot, Hampshire
GU11 2HH, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1252 510300
Fax: +44 (0)1252 376999 

The pilot who died after his glider crashed following a suspected mid-air collision with a light aircraft has been named as John Christopher Armstrong.

The Leicester and South Leicestershire coroner's office said an inquest into the death of the 70-year-old is to be opened tomorrow.

Mr Armstrong, known as Chris, from Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, was pronounced dead at the scene after his glider crashed into a field between the villages of Mowsley and Lubenham, near Market Harborough, on Sunday.

The glider crashed landed in a field off Laughton Road at about 12.40pm.

Officers for Leicestershire Police and the Air accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) are carrying out a joint inquiry.

A spokeswoman for Leicestershire Police said: "Emergency services were called out to an area off Laughton Road, in Lubenham, at about 1pm, following reports of a glider having landed in the field.

"Officers from Leicestershire Police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch are conducting an investigation to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the incident.

"From initial inquiries carried out at the scene, officers believe the glider had been in collision with a light aircraft prior to coming down in the fields.

"It has been confirmed that the light aircraft went on to land safely. The man on board the glider was pronounced dead at the scene."

A glider which crashed into a field after a mid-air collision with a light aircraft "fell like a leaf" said an eyewitness.

The crash happened yesterday in a field off Laughton Road, in Lubenham, near Market Harborough, at about 12.40pm.

The man on board the glider was pronounced dead at the scene.

Melvyn Forman, 64, of Husbands Bosworth, was spending a day boating on the canal when he spotted planes in the sky.

He said: "I had seen several light aircraft buzzing about overhead.

"I thought they were models - I know there is a club near Gumley. I did not take much notice.

"That was what threw me, having so many aircrafts in the air at the same time flying low - they don't tend to do that, unless they are models."

He said he had seen three or four flying above.

"I happened to see one at the corner of my eye fall from the sky.

"It fell like a leaf.

"It was spiralling down, certainly not in control.

"If I had realised it was an aircraft I would have taken more notice.

"It is difficult to judge the size of these models, because they are quite big. I was a good quarter of a mile away from it.

"It went down behind the trees. and high hedges."

Melvyn was on the Grand Union Canal, Leicester line, heading towards Foxton from Husbands Bosworth at the time.

He said he suddenly realised it was serious when he saw an air ambulance not long afterwards.

"When you realise someone must have been in it, it shakes you up."

He then continued along the canal and came upon the crash site 10 or 15 minutes later.

"Then I got around the corner and there it was at the side of the canal in the field.

"By that time, the air ambulance had arrived, and the paramedics were gathered around the crash site.

"The plane was in a crumpled heap. The tail was up in the air and the wings were all broken. It had obviously come straight down.

"As soon as I saw it, I knew it was a glider and assumed whoever was in it had not got out.

"I felt helpless."

An investigation into the crash is being carried out by both Leicestershire Police and The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said yesterday: "Officers from Leicestershire Police is conducting an investigation into the incident. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is also conducting an independent investigation to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the incident. From initial inquiries carried out at the scene, officers believe the glider had been in collision with a light aircraft prior to coming down in the fields. It has been confirmed that the light aircraft went on to land safely."

The Laughton Road was closed, from its junction with the A4304 to Bunkers Hill after the crash yesterday, and it was opened overnight. The same stretch of road was closed again from 7am this morning, so further inquiries can be conducted.

A spokesman from the AAIB said they have a full team on-site investigating and the wreckage is likely to be there for another two or three days, while inquiries continue.

"It will take two or three days of our investigations on site, before we move it.

"Then we would move it to our hanger in Farnborough.

"That may be tomorrow, or possibly Wednesday."

France says United States must comply fast with World Trade Organization Boeing ruling

France said on Wednesday that the United States must comply with a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling this week against U.S. tax breaks for Boeing, and that failure to do so would give the EU legal basis for retaliatory measures.

The WTO said this week that a tax break from Washington state to help Boeing develop its new 777X jetliner was a prohibited subsidy, in a setback for the U.S. planemaker as it eyes victory in a parallel case against Airbus.

"The United States must quickly comply with the decision and put an end to these illegal measures," the French finance ministry said in a statement.

"If not, the European Union will have the legal grounds to adopt retaliatory measures concerning goods coming in from the United States," it added.


Editorial: Give privatizing air traffic control much more thought

By The Herald Editorial Board

Those of us who traveled by air or picked up family at Sea-Tac for Thanksgiving likely didn’t give much thought to how take-offs and landings are managed at airports or how pilots are guided in flight.

We leave that task to the folks in the air traffic control towers.

But two recent government reports have renewed discussions in Congress about modernizing air traffic control and who will be responsible for the job in the future.

Nearly everyone supports work to modernize air traffic control. Those improvements, dubbed NextGen, already are underway. The project intends over the next several years to transform the nation’s National Airspace System from ground-based control to a satellite-based system. GPS, the same technology you use in your car, will be used to shorten routes, save time and fuel, reduce carbon emissions, cut wait times on the tarmac and allow controllers — who will remain an important part of the process — to manage flights and airspace with a greater degree of safety.

The Federal Aviation Administration, responsible for air safety regulations and air traffic control operations at the nation’s airports and throughout its airspace, is also in charge of rolling out NextGen. Already, the parts of the modernized system that are in operation have saved airlines and the traveling public $1.6 billion, with another $11.4 billion in savings expected over the next 15 years, according to the FAA.

At the same time, some have been critical of the pace of the FAA’s roll-out of NextGen. Most recently, a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general cast doubt on the FAA’s management of the modernization effort. As the FAA prepares to spend $5.7 billion on the project between now and 2020, the report said that partners in the modernization are skeptical of the agency’s ability to complete the project and deliver the benefits promised.

The report renewed efforts earlier proposed by some in Congress to split off air traffic control responsibilities from the FAA and turn over those duties and the NextGen roll-out to a quasi-private corporation.

The FAA’s pace and efficiency in implementing NextGen are open to debate, but we’re tiring of the automatic assumption that privatization is the fail-proof answer to bureaucracy.

And there are concerns about turning over the nation’s airspace safety to a private company, as identified by a recent Government Accountability Office report and Northwest members of Congress, Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Washington, and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, ranking members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Noting that other countries have similarly restructured air traffic control services, including New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada, the GAO report found significant challenges in privatization, including national security, collaboration between the safety regulator and the corporation, funding the services, mitigating financial risks and the time necessary for such a transition.

It would be a complex process, one that Republicans in the committee devoted only one hearing to before passing on legislation to the full House, Larsen and DeFazio said in a recent joint statement.

Larsen and DeFazio said the GAO report shows disagreement among aviation experts on whether a private control system would be able to collaborate effectively with the Department of Defense, which controls about 15 percent of the nation’s airspace. Privatization could effectively reduce the influence of the Department of Defense to that of an adviser, rather than the partnership Defense now has with the FAA.

Nor are there guarantees that a private corporation would be able to deliver NextGen any quicker than the FAA will, considering that it could take up to seven years to transfer air traffic control responsibilities.

There are other concerns, Larsen and DeFazio say, including service to small and rural airports, potential higher costs tacked on to ticket prices by a private corporation, compensation for the $50 billion taxpayers have invested in more than 66,000 air traffic control facilities and the costs to taxpayers to bail out a private company if it fails.

While other countries have made this transition, none manage the airspace and air traffic control system with the size and complexity of the U.S. system.

It’s something to think about as you pass by the air traffic control tower on your way to departures and arrivals.


Bell 206L-1 LongRanger 1, Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, N206LW: Accident occurred July 30, 2016 at Modesto City–County Airport (KMOD), Stanislaus County, California

Sheriff’s helicopter ran out of fuel before hard landing at Modesto Airport, report says

The Stanislaus County sheriff’s helicopter takes part in a search-and-rescue mission at Modesto Reservoir in June. The helicopter sustained $400,000 in damage during a hard landing July 30 and has been out of service for the past four months. 

An investigation concluded that a Stanislaus County sheriff’s helicopter ran out of fuel before the pilot made a hard landing at Modesto Airport in July, causing substantial damage to a workhorse of the sheriff’s Air Support Unit.

The July 30 accident was attributed to pilot error and a low fuel level in the Bell 206 helicopter, according to the accident report of the National Transportation Safety Board. The federal agency, which determines the causes of civil aviation accidents, investigated the Modesto incident.

The sheriff’s helicopter sustained $400,000 in damage and has been out of service for the past four months. The hard landing damaged the tail boom, skids, main rotor and tail rotor system, Sheriff Adam Christianson said. The aircraft is being repaired. The two crew members in the helicopter were not injured.

The pilot, Sgt. Robert Latapie, 48, took an early retirement Oct. 29 after 21 years with the Sheriff’s Department. Christianson said that running out of fuel is considered pilot error, but he would not discuss if any disciplinary action was taken. He said Latapie’s previous service record was exemplary.

“It’s inappropriate for me to discuss personnel issues,” the sheriff wrote in an email. Latapie did not return a phone message left with a family member.

According to the NTSB’s final report, the helicopter was heading back to Modesto Airport, following a mission in Tuolumne County, when the “low fuel” light came on in the cockpit, a signal that about 10 minutes of fuel remained.

As the helicopter approached the airport to land, the pilot made a right turn and the engine lost power. The pilot performed an emergency maneuver called an “autorotation,” causing the aircraft to land hard on the ground, the NTSB report says. Along with the damage to the tail boom and landing skids, serious damage was caused when the helicopter’s main rotor made contact with the tail boom, the report indicates.

The investigation concluded that Latapie failed to maintain pitch control during the emergency maneuver. The low fuel level, which resulted in “loss of engine power,” was a factor in the accident, the NTSB said.

Kathryn Benhoff, air safety investigator for the NTSB, said the agency sometimes issues safety recommendations to prevent future accidents. No safety recommendations were issued for the Modesto incident.

“It’s the pilot’s responsibility to monitor the fuel level, and if it gets low, to refuel,” Benhoff said. “Sometimes running out of fuel can’t be avoided.”

According to the Sheriff’s Department, the helicopter was returning from a search-and-rescue mission in Tuolumne County. The Air Support Unit crew assisted with finding a lost hiker in the Red Hills area and transported the man and search team members back to their vehicles, Christianson said.

The helicopter had been involved with an unsuccessful search for a 71-year-old woman in Alpine County and refueled in Modesto before responding for the Tuolumne County search, Christianson stated.

Stanislaus County has $841,500 of insurance coverage on the Bell helicopter. Assistant County Executive Officer Jody Hayes said it was premature to know if repairs to the aircraft would have a fiscal impact on the county.

The damaged Long Ranger aircraft is the larger of two helicopters in the sheriff’s Air Support Unit. Its jet engine was upgraded 10 years ago for search-and-rescue missions, in which a deputy is lowered on a line to pluck a person from a mountainside or reservoir. The second helicopter is smaller and mostly used as air support for officers on the ground.

The sheriff said the Air Support Unit is a regional asset that assists other counties.

Christianson said it is cost-effective to repair the Long Ranger. “Repairing the aircraft in essence gives us a ‘brand new’ helicopter with zero time on dynamic components such as the airframe, transmission and rotor system,” the sheriff wrote. He said the engine was not damaged by the accident.

Latapie had more than 6,500 hours of flight time with Sheriff’s Department aircraft, including 3,700 hours in the helicopter. The sergeant, who retired with a $70,600 annual pension, has not been replaced, leaving the Air Support Unit with four pilots.

Before joining the Sheriff’s Department, Latapie had military experience flying helicopters.

Latapie and Modesto police Officer Jerry Ramar were commended for a June 2008 response, in which Ramar dropped from a sheriff’s helicopter to the ground and fatally shot a Turlock man who was kicking his 2-year-old son on a country road. The boy was later pronounced dead at Emanuel Medical Center.

According to Christianson, the costly accident in July was the first in the history of the sheriff’s Air Support Unit. Its safety record has received recognition from the Airborne Law Enforcement Association.


Aviation Accident Final Report  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary -  National Transportation Safety Board:


FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Fresno FSDO-17

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA408
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Saturday, July 30, 2016 in Modesto, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/12/2016
Aircraft: BELL HELICOPTER TEXTRON 206, registration: N206LW
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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

The helicopter pilot reported that after a lengthy search and rescue mission he was headed back to the airport when the low fuel light illuminated, which meant there was about 10 minutes of fuel remaining. The pilot further reported that during the approach to land he made a right turn to final and the engine "flamed out". Subsequently, the pilot performed an emergency autorotation which resulted in abnormal ground contact and main rotor contact with the tail boom.

After the landing, the passenger examined the helicopter and revealed that the tail boom sustained substantial damage.

The pilot reported that prior to the loss of engine power, there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

The loss of engine power reported by the pilot was likely the result of fuel starvation during the right turn to final. The pilot reported that the fuel level was not checked after the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain pitch control during an autorotation, which resulted in abnormal ground contact and main rotor contact with the tail boom. Contributing to the accident was the low fuel level which resulted in fuel starvation and a loss of engine power during the right turn to final.

Navigator takes final flight with 911th before retirement

Lt. Col. Stan George, navigator with the 911th Operations Group, is welcomed by wing members Tuesday after his Fini Flight at the Air Force Reserve Station at Pittsburgh International Airport. Lt. Col. George has been in the Air Force since 1980, when he attended the Air Force Officer Training School. 

Lt. Col. Stanley George’s retirement party was so loud Tuesday afternoon that it prompted some calls to 911.

He and other members of the Air Force Reserve 911th Airlift Wing spent about 20 minutes circling low over Downtown Pittsburgh in a C-130 Hercules so they could see the sights and take some photos.

A handful of people called the county emergency dispatch and reporters called the unit’s base at Pittsburgh International Airport around 1:30 p.m. when they heard the plane fly overhead, said Master Sgt. Mark Winklosky.

“The thing is you get a big plane like that that comes in lower than they usually go, even though it’s still at the safe ceiling, and people are like ‘What’s going on?’” he said with a chuckle.

“We asked air traffic control for permission to fly over the city and they encouraged us,” said Lt. Col. George, 59. He will officially retire Friday after 36 years as a navigator with the Air Force and Air Force Reserve.

“Fini flights” are a tradition when someone retires from the Air Force, Lt. Col. George said, and he got to choose where the crew flew.

The two-hour flight consisted of practice approaches in Morgantown, W.Va., and Johnstown, and sightseeing above the hills of West Virginia and Pennsylvania before circling around the city, he said. When they landed, his wife, Annette, was there to help the crew eat cake and douse him with champagne and ice water.

Lt. Col. George spent 12 years on active duty and has been stationed in Pittsburgh since 2007, when he moved from Milwaukee. He said he and his wife plan to move back closer to family in Wisconsin and spend more time with their four grandchildren.

“It was beautiful out there,” Lt. Col. George said about his last flight with the U.S. Air Force. “The weather cooperated and we got to see good sights and do some good training. It was just a very awesome experience.”