Thursday, March 30, 2017

Series Of Small Plane Crashes Prompt Senator Chuck Schumer To Arrange Safety Seminar

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — After a string of small plane crashes in the New York area, the NTSB is hosting a small plane safety seminar — the first on Long Island.

Every day, dozens of small planes lift off from Republic Airport in Farmingdale. As CBS2’s Alice Gainer explained, the airport is surrounded on all sides by neighborhoods, hotels, and a busy mall where shoppers worry about the planes just hundreds of yards away.

“There are a lot of lives around here, and like any plane crash it would be a disaster,” one shopper said.

The fears are not unfounded. Pilots in both of the last two small plane crashes last month took off from Republic Airport. One was badly hurt after crashing his malfunctioning plane on the streets of Bayonne, New Jersey after just missing homes and businesses.

The other pilot and a passenger were killed when they crashed into trees at Gabresky Airport in Westhampton Beach.

The threat to the public prompted Senator Chuck Schumer to arrange a small pilot training seminar — run by the NTSB — later this year.

Teachers at SUNY Farmingdale’s flight training school based at Republic Airport believe the extra training could help the recreational flyer.

“The most important part of being a proficient, good pilot is recurrent training. You have to stay current, you have to fly,” Dr. Michael Canders said.

Student pilots said they’re always conscious of the threat to neighbors when practicing their flights near the airport.

“It is an issue and a threat, especially because on Long Island there are congested areas,” John Pelosa said.

Recreational pilot Paul Delmore said pilots are already well trained, and the threat is being overblown.

“There’s a threat from everyone. There’s a threat from walking across the parking lot,” he said.

A spokesman for Senator Schumer told CBS2 that any pilots who sign up for the seminar will qualify for a discount on insurance.

Story and video:

Press Release


Following Two Small Plane Crashes Already This Year & 18 Others Last Year, Schumer Urged the NTSB To Determine Steps Necessary to Ensure Safer Skies

As a Result, NTSB Will Host Aviation Safety Seminar for Pilots On LI; NTSB Says 156 NY Crashes Have Occurred in NY Over Past 5 Years

Schumer: NTSB’s First-Ever Aviation Safety Seminar On LI Could Help Prevent Future Tragedies Across The Region 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced, today, that after his push asking the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to undergo a comprehensive safety review in response to a string of small plane crashes on Long Island, the agency has agreed to host a first-ever plane safety seminar on Long Island. Seminars like the one committed to Long Island have been extremely popular and helpful in other parts of the country. These seminars are well attended, make the skies safer, and even allow pilots educational credits they can use to lower their insurance costs. 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that’s why it’s good news that the National Transportation Safety Board is heeding the call and taking smart steps to address small plane crashes and pilot safety on Long Island,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The aviation safety seminar that will land on Long Island will help pilots from across the region prevent a leading cause of aviation accidents, loss of control, and will touch on issues of upkeep and other safety topics that have contributed to Long Island crashes. I am pleased that the NTSB continues to be committed to making local aviation safety issue a top priority and working to ensure safer skies above.”

Earlier this year, Schumer urged the NTSB to look into the alarming spate of crashes and determine whether additional steps are necessary to ensure safer skies. Schumer’s renewed call came when two small plane crashes occurred just days apart; one plane crashed smack in the middle of a neighborhood in New Jersey and nearly hit a home after taking off from Long Island, and the other crashed on Long Island. However, Schumer said that at least 18 other small plane crashes occurred in New York State last year, including 10 on Long Island alone. Schumer said that the NTSB’s decision to hold a seminar on Long Island will help prevent future tragedies.

Schumer added, “Safety must be our number one priority because these crashes have unfortunately resulted in death, injuries and even downright frightened neighbors. That’s why I have been pushing to see what more can be done, because if we can improve safety in the air, we can help prevent these kinds of crashes and inevitably save lives, too”

According to the NTSB, since 2012, there have been 156 aviation accidents in New York and one-third of the accidents were due loss of control in-flight or on the ground. The NTSB says preventing loss of control in-flight within the aviation community is on its “Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.” According to the NTSB,  other causes of aviation accidents include loss of engine power, controlled flight into terrain, and hard landings. 

In response to Schumer’s push, the NTSB has said they will host an aviation safety seminar on Long Island this year and invite members of New York’s aviation community to attend. According to the NTSB, possible topics to be addressed may include: in-flight loss of control, and other issues that pilots believe to be important to air safety, like, mechanics or up-keep.

Earlier this year, two New York-area and Long Island-related crashes occurred in the span of just days:

February 19, 2017- a single-engine Piper PA-28 took off from Republic Airport and crashed into a residential area of Bayonne, N.J. Only the pilot suffered minor injuries, but the plane crashed in a neighborhood and nearly hit a home.

February 26, 2017- a Nation F. being used for practice at the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach crashed feet away from the runway causing two fatalities and leaving one passenger with minor injuries.  

And in 2016, at least 18 crashes occurred in New York, many in the LI-region:

On February 12th, a Cessna 152 taking off from Long Island MacArthur Airport caught fire after landing at Calabro Airport in Shirley. The NTSB has determined the probable cause to be the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate terrain clearance while landing, resulting in a collision with a snow berm, nose gear collapse and post impact fire. 

On February 20th, a Piper Archer flying from Fitchburg Municipal Airport in Massachusetts crashed into Setauket Harbor; one passenger was tragically killed. 

On March 5th, a Cirrus SR22 flying from Rhode Island crash landed in Hauppauge industrial park. 

On March 11th, a Cessna 152 flying from Republic Airport made an emergency landing on a Kings Park beach.  

On April 10th, a Piper Cherokee flying from the Bayport Aerodrome crashed and caught fire on a Bayport residential street. The pilot and passenger were injured.  

On April 18th, a Cessna 172C, N1863Y collided with trees and terrain during takeoff from Westmoreland, New York. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured and one passenger sustained minor injuries.  

On April 30th, a 1947 Stinson made an emergency landing in Riverhead. No injuries were reported. 

On May 3rd, a  Beechcraft V35B Bonanza flying from North Myrtle Beach to Connecticut broke up midair and crashed in Syosset; all three passengers on board were tragically killed.

On May 19th, a Piper PA-28-180, N7781W, experienced a loss of control during a touch and go landing and collided with airport signage at Genesee County Airport. The pilot was not injured. 

May 27: The pilot was killed when a World War II-era single-seat P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane crashed into the Hudson River during a promotional flight for the American Airpower Museum. 

June 20: A twin-engine plane was badly damaged when it crash-landed at Republic Airport. The pilot, who said the plane’s landing gear and a warning system failed, and a second occupant were not injured. The aircraft was owned by Ponderosa Air.  

On July 2, a Fleet 16B biplane, N666J, was damaged during landing at Old Rhinebeck Airport. The pilot and passenger were not injured.  

On July 16, a Piper PA-28R-201, N2241Q, was destroyed by collision with terrain and a post-crash fire after takeoff from Hogan Airport. The pilot was seriously injured and three passengers were fatally injured.   

On August 8, a Cessna 177, N30923 was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain while maneuvering near McDonough, New York. The pilot and three passengers incurred minor injuries.  

On August 20, an experimental, amateur built Kitfox 4-1200, N51TM, was substantially damaged while landing at Canandaigua Airport. The pilot was not injured.  

On September 25, a Cessna 120, N3580V and a Piper PA-28-140, N612FL, collided in midair while flying over North Collins, New York. The Cessna was destroyed and the pilot was fatally injured. The Piper was destroyed and the pilot and its passenger were fatally injured.  

On October 31, a Cessna TR192, N4657S was substantially damaged when the main landing gear collapsed while landing at Watertown International Airport. The pilot was not injured.  

Dec. 11: Two men were rescued from frigid waters off Shoreham when their single-engine aircraft crashed into the Long Island Sound. The men swam from the plane to a large boulder, which they clung to until rescuers arrived. 

A copy of Schumer’s March letter to the NTSB is below:

Dear Chairman Hart: 

I write to request the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) undertake a comprehensive safety review of the recent string of small plane accidents on Long Island and across the country in order to help develop recommendations that could prevent future incidents. As the independent and objective federal agency charged by Congress with conducting thorough safety investigations, I call on your expertise and authority to immediately begin a comprehensive review of these repeated incidents. I strongly urge you not just to conduct yet another investigation following the recent crash in Southampton, NY, but to also undertake a comprehensive and system-wide review to understand why these accidents are happening and what can be done in order to decrease the occurrences. The number of airplane crashes across the system must be reduced.

As you know, on February 26, it was reported that a single-engine plane crashed in Southampton, NY, killing two people and injuring a third on the aircraft. Last May, a single-engine plane crashed in Syosset, New York killing three people on board and showering debris over a two-mile heavily populated area, close to two public schools. In the months before that incident, a small plane crashed in a Bayport neighborhood when the pilot lost power shortly after takeoff from a nearby airport and a Cessna flying from Republic Airport had to make an emergency landing on a Kings Park beach. Fortunately, in both incidents the passengers survived and neither incident harmed anyone on the ground. There is considerable and well-founded concern on Long Island about the frequency of these accidents, their lethalness to those involved, and their potential to induce catastrophe to residents on the ground. Thus far, horrible collateral damage has been avoided, but the potential for this kind of devastating harm remains all-too-possible, and your agencies’ recommendations on how to reduce this risk is sorely needed.

The NTSB has a long history of strong and independent safety advocacy. In that light, we ask that, as you examine the most recent accident in Southampton, you broaden your scope. We strongly urge you to not look at this accident just as an isolated incident, but rather to take a thorough examination of all related safety issues both in New York and across the country. Last May, I wrote to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Huerta expressing my concern about a recent uptick in aviation accidents on Long Island and asked the FAA to examine if this is a trend. I also wrote to the FAA last June over my concern about continued reports of drops in RAMP inspections – critical safety checks that occur before flights take off. With both the reduction in inspections and the continued instances of small plane crashes on Long Island, I believe strongly that the time has come for NTSB to conduct a top to bottom review of this issue.   

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to your response and to reviewing the findings of the examination to reduce the number of accidents. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.


Charles E. Schumer


Original article can be found here:

William "Mike" Grubbs: American Airlines, Boeing 737-800, flight AA-1353, N951AA

WASHINGTON -- Audio posted online reveals the tense moment in the cockpit when a pilot died during a flight. 

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker released a statement to employees saying one of its pilots died in flight, CBS News learned Thursday.

William “Mike” Grubbs, a 58-year-old Dallas-based pilot, died Wednesday while American Airlines Flight 1353 was on approach to Albuquerque, New Mexico from Dallas-Forth Worth.

The Boeing 737 had 136 passengers and six crew members aboard; it arrived in New Mexico shortly after 3:30 p.m. local time. The plane taxied normally to a gate and was met by paramedics. posted an audio exchange between the pilot and air traffic control:

Pilot: Tower, American 1353, we’ve got an issue with one of the pilots, I’ve declared an emergency, I’d like to have the emergency crew on landing. 

Tower: Ok. Which gate are you going too? 

Pilot: We’re going to Bravo 1. Thank you. 

Pilot: The copilot has passed out.

“We are deeply saddened over the loss of one of our American Airlines family,” Parker wrote in the statement. “Despite heroic efforts to revive him, Mike passed away.”

Grubbs had been with the airline since 2010 after working for American’s regional subsidiary Envoy.

“Our hearts are with Mike’s wife, Helen, and their entire family,” the statement read. “They lost a husband and a father and many of our colleagues lost a personal friend. Our team is fully focused on taking care of Mike’s family at this time. Please join us in keeping Mike’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”

Deaths like this are “extremely rare,” according to an FAA spokesperson. At least seven commercial pilots have now died during flight in the last 23 years.

The most recent incident occurred in Oct. 2015, as previously reported by CBS News.

Commercial airline pilots under 40 have a physical once a year, and those over 40 have to pass stringent physicals every 6 months. EKGs start at age 35.

There is no word yet from the coroner on the cause of death.

Story and video:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An American Airlines first officer died after becoming ill just before his plane landed in Albuquerque.

During the flight from Dallas-Fort Worth, the captain declared an emergency and landed the plane at Albuquerque International Sunport on Wednesday night.

The plane taxied to a gate and was met by paramedics, who were unable to save William "Mike" Grubbs, 58, a Dallas-based pilot.

Passengers were apparently unaware of the gravity of the incident during the last minutes of the flight but said the captain told them after landing that they would not be able to exit the plane immediately because of a medical emergency.

As of midday Thursday, there was no word on the cause of death.

Grubbs joined American in 2010 as a pilot of Boeing 737s after flying smaller planes for American Eagle.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker expressed his sadness and gratitude to the crew of Flight 1353 in a letter to employees.

The pilots' union said Grubbs lived in Lebanon, Tennessee, and said it was offering help to his family. He was married and was the father of a son, who will graduate from college in May, according to the airline.

Pilot deaths during flights are rare. In most cases, the other pilot in the cockpit has been able to land the plane without further incident.

In 2015, the captain of an American Airlines jet became ill and died during a late-night flight from Phoenix. The co-pilot of the Boston-bound plane made an emergency landing in Syracuse, New York.

A United Airlines pilot suffered a heart attack during a flight from Houston to Seattle that made an emergency landing in Boise, Idaho. He died several hours later at a hospital.

Pilots must pass regular medical exams. In 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration raised the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots from 60 to 65, and some have suggested raising it again to help deal with a shortage of pilots.

Original article can be found here:

Homeless Man Knocked Out Radar, Landing Light at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (KPHX) After Release From Jail

Michael Preston, sporting a clean-shaven look in his latest mugshot.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

Preston's February mugshot.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

UPDATE: Officials with the airport and Federal Aviation Administration dispute the police account, saying a landing light was never turned off. Backup radar covered the radar tower that was turned off, they say. Officials still haven’t commented on how Preston accessed the secure area. 

Michael Preston's most recent alleged vandalism could have caused an airplane crash, records indicate.

As New Times reported on Wednesday, the 41-year-old homeless man was arrested on suspicion of vandalism at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport that shut off a radar tower and an airport landing light on February 20.

Five days earlier, Preston had been arrested in a similar case involving transmission-tower equipment on South Mountain, but he was released from jail without bail.

Police said that sometime between about 10 p.m. on February 19 and 5 a.m. on February 20, Preston entered a secured area on a Sky Harbor airfield without authorization.

He shut off breaker switches for climate-control units that cool airport radar, according to a police booking sheet.

The subsequent overheating caused wire damage that knocked out a radar tower and a radio transmitter. He removed batteries and wires to an airport gate, damaging the gate electronics. And he opened an electrical panel and shut off breakers at the end of runway 25L, "causing the landing light to turn off."

"These lights are critical for the safe landing of aircraft on this runway at a major and very busy airport," police said.

Officials didn't say how long the equipment remained disabled.

Preston also reportedly damaged a power box and antenna for National Weather Service equipment.

The equipment is owned and maintained by the city of Phoenix for Sky Harbor, police said.

New Times asked the city of Phoenix Aviation Department about the incident; officials said they would look into the matter and possibly release a statement.

The Sky Harbor incident wouldn't have happened if Preston had been held on bail following the alleged vandalism at South Mountain.

In that case, police said that about 7 a.m. on February 15, Preston crawled under a security fence on the summit of South Mountain and damaged transmission-tower equipment, knocking out several local TV and radio signals for about an hour.

Police wanted him charged with felony trespassing, criminal damage, and burglary. Early the next day, Maricopa County Court Commissioner Sigmund Popko released Preston on his own recognizance. The move follows a trend in the Arizona court system, to be made official in April, that calls for the release of crime suspects who can't afford to post bail if they're not deemed a flight risk.

Police considered Preston an investigative lead in a third case, though it's not clear whether Popko had received that information.

A few hours before the early-morning South Mountain incident, police believe that Preston damaged radio and TV towers on Shaw Butte in North Phoenix, about 20 miles from South Mountain.

Armed with a court order, police found Preston on March 15 and obtained his DNA and fingerprints. He was released pending the results. A few days later, the crime lab matched Preston's fingerprints to those found at the Sky Harbor crime scene.

Late Saturday night, police located Preston again. He tried to flee from officers, records state, but was arrested.

Police, again, are asking for felony charges of trespassing, criminal damage and burglary. As of Thursday, Preston still hasn't been charged with any crime, records show.

This time, Preston's being held on a $5,000 cash bond. Court paperwork states that Preston "poses a danger to the community based on the alleged facts in this case."

Heather Lissner, a city of Phoenix spokeswoman, said that Preston's actions did not affect airport operations.

"No runway or taxiway lighting was turned off," she said. "One obstruction light on a radar tower was damaged and had to be replaced. There was some FAA navigational lighting which was not in use at the time turned off for up to two hours."

Ian Gregor, spokesman for the FAA, agreed that airport operations were unaffected.

However, officials still have not answered how Preston was able to access the secure area, or what is being done to prevent someone else from doing it.

Original article can be found here:

Mooney M20K 231, Corporate Transport LLC, N1147G: Incident occurred March 29, 2017 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Corporate Transport LLC:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Engine failure and forced landing in field.

Date: 29-MAR-17
Time: 16:00:00Z
Regis#: 1147G
Aircraft Make: MOONEY
Aircraft Model: M20
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91

BAKER – Two people were uninjured when the small plane they were in went down in a field northeast of the airport Wednesday morning.

According to sources, the plane experienced oil pressure problems and the pilot landed in a field off Carey Road. Video from WBRZ's news crew first on the scene showed the plane sitting in the field with no apparent damage.

The Mooney M20K 231 is registered to Corporate Transport LLC in St. Augustine, Florida.

Flight tracking data showed the plane left Austin and originally charted a course for New Orleans' smaller Lakefront Airport but diverted to Baton Rouge. The plane took off from Texas around 8:45 and was scheduled in Louisiana around 11:15. Emergency officials were dispatched to the landing between 11:15 and 11:30. 

The flight path shows the plane had to fly north and around a line of severe weather that is moving from Texas to Louisiana.

Numerous law enforcement and emergency responders were called to the field where the plane landed as a precaution. According to Central Fire Department officials, the plane will be removed from the field on Thursday. 

Story and video:

Cessna 152, Wayman Aviation, N908WA: Incident occurred March 29, 2017 in Weston, Broward County, Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Florida  

Aircraft landed on Highway I-75.

Date: 29-MAR-17
Time: 21:25:00Z
Regis#: 908WA
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 152
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - A small plane made an emergency landing Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 75 in western Broward County.

Sky 10 was above the southbound lanes at 5:45 p.m. as the plane was stopped on the side on the highway near mile marker 33.

Traffic was getting by in the left lane and vehicles were able to move back to the right lane immediately after passing the airplane.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said two people were aboard the Cessna 152 that landed west of U.S. Highway 27.

The plane belongs to Wayman Aviation, a company that works with Miami Dade College. 

A spokesman for Wayman told Local 10 News that in an emergency situation instructors will take over and, in this case, made a "great, safe landing."

It's unclear what forced the pilot to land on the highway.

No injuries were reported.

The FAA is investigating the crash.

Story and video:

Piper PA-28RT-201 Arrow IV, Washington International Flight Academy LLC, N528FT: Incident occurred March 29, 2017 in Westminster, Carroll County, Maryland

Washington International Flight Academy LLC:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baltimore, Maryland 

Gear up landing.  

Date: 29-MAR-17
Time: 19:22:00Z
Regis#: 528FT
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

Cessna TR182 Turbo Skylane RG, N757FS: Incident occurred March 29, 2017 at Seligman Airport (P23), Yavapai County, Arizona (and) Accident occurred January 23, 2016 at Ernest A. Love Field Airport (KPRC), Prescott, Arizona

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Arizona

Gear up landing.  

Date: 29-MAR-17
Time: 23:34:00Z
Regis#: 757FS
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 182
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

March 29, 2017, around 4:30 PM, YCSO deputies were dispatched to a plane crash at the Seligman airport. Upon arrival, deputies found a damaged Cessna TR182 Turbo Skylane RG aircraft grounded in between the taxiway and runway. The pilot told deputies he was practicing takeoff and landing exercises and forgot to put the landing gear down. The pilot was not injured and walked away from the crash. Seligman fire personnel arrived and were able to stop a small fuel leak.   NTSB and FAA were advised and will be handling the follow-up investigation.   

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: 

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA113
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, January 23, 2016 in Prescott, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/05/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA TR182, registration: N757FS
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 reported that he became distracted while looking for other traffic during the final approach and "failed to lower the gear." The airplane skidded about 330 feet to a stop on the runway. The pilot reported that the landing gear configuration warning horn did not sound, but also reported that he was aware that the horn was inoperative. The fuselage sustained substantial damage. 

The pilot reported there were no other mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

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

The pilot's failure to extend the landing gear prior to landing, which resulted in substantial damage to the fuselage during landing.

Southwest Airlines, Boeing 737-7H4, N458WN: Incident occurred March 29, 2017 at Baltimore–Washington International Airport (KBWI), Maryland

Southwest Airlines Co:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baltimore, Maryland

Left main gear smoking.  Hydraulic leaks on both right and left main landing gear.  Right main landing gear tire flat.

Date: 29-MAR-17
Time: 19:41:00Z
Regis#: 458WN
Aircraft Make: BOEING
Aircraft Model: 737
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 121
Flight Number: 330

Cirrus SR20, Purdue University, N580PU: Accident occurred March 29, 2017 at Fort Wayne International Airport (KFWA), Allen County, Indiana

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Indianapolis, Indiana 
Cirrus Aircraft; Duluth, Minnesota
Purdue University; Lafayette, Indiana 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Trustees of Purdue University:

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA144
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, March 29, 2017 in Fort Wayne, IN
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR20, registration: N580PU
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

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 March 29, 2017, about 2156 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus SR-20, N580PU, was destroyed when it impacted the ground following a loss of control while landing on runway 5 at the Fort Wayne International Airport, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The certified flight instructor received minor injuries and the student pilot received serious injuries. The student pilot held a private pilot certificate. The airplane received extensive damage to the forward fuselage and both wings. The aircraft was registered to the Trustees of Purdue University and operated by the University under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Purdue University Airport, Lafayette, Indiana about 2100.

In a late Wednesday night press briefing, Fort Wayne International Airport Executive Director Scott Hinderman confirms two people were hospitalized, after their Cirrus SR20 aircraft had a rough landing.

Hinderman says the small aircraft belonged to the Purdue flight school, and that it had permission to land at the airport tonight. Officials say the pilot did not call an emergency landing.

At least one of the two passengers suffered broken bones. Their have not yet been released. 

Hinderman says due to the crash, the airport closed the runway for a short time - redirecting incoming flights to nearby airport - but as of 11 p.m. the runway is back open.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A small, single-engine plane crashed while landing at Fort Wayne Intenational Airport Wednesday night, according to airport officials.

Executive Director Scott Hinderman told Newschannel 15 the airplane was from a Purdue flight school. It is uncertain if students were on the plane or if instructors were flying

Two people were injured in the crash. They were taken by ambulance to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Emergency crews at Fort Wayne International Airport surround a small plane that crashed on Mar. 29, 2017.

The crash was reported shortly after 10 p.m.

Hinderman said a Cirrus SR20 plane was was approaching runway 5 when it crashed for an unknown reason. Henderman said the pilot did not declare an emergency before landing.

The National Weather Service (Northern Indiana) in North Webster reported the following conditions at 10 p.m. at FWA: Cloudy skies but unlimited visibility. The temperature was 48°F with a dew point of 31°F and a relative humidity of 51 percent. The winds were reported out of the east at 23 miles per hour with gusts to 30 miles per hour.

It’s unclear if weather was a factor in the crash.

Emergency workers at FWA have been authorized to move the aircraft to a secure location. Hinderman said FAA investigators are expected to arrive sometime Thursday morning.

The crash forced the closure of both runways at FWA and a brief groundstop for around 30 minutes, according to Hinderman.

Two late night flights were diverted, United 4253 from Newark was diverted to Indianapolis and Delta 3565 from Minneapolis was diverted to South Bend. Both planes eventually landed at FWA only slightly behind schedule.

Hinderman said the airport is back to full operation and does not expect any operational delays Thursday.

Attempts to reach Purdue University officials overnight were not successful.

Story and video:

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Two Purdue University flight school students were injured in a plane crash about 10 p.m. Wednesday at Fort Wayne International Airport.

The students — one who was a pilot and the other an instructor — were practicing take-offs and landings in a Cirrus SR20 when they caught a strong crosswind while landing, causing the plane to crash, according to a statement from Jim Bush, a spokesperson for Purdue.

They were transported to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne with non-life threatening injuries.

Both students were enrolled in Purdue's School of Aviation and Transportation Technology.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Piper PA-31-310 Navajo, C-GNAV: 300 pounds of cocaine found after plane's unauthorized landing at Ohio University Airport (KUNI), Athens County, Ohio

Here's where the cocaine had been hidden.
 From the Athens County Sheriff.

David Ayotte (left) & Sylvain Desjardins (right)

Federal court documents show United States Customs and Border Protection investigators found 132 bundles, each weighing about 1 kilogram, of suspected cocaine “secreted in the tail of the aircraft.”

Investigators opened three packages to find a “white powdery substance.”

“A review of various database revealed that both Desjardins and Ayotte have prior convictions for drug offenses in Canada,” a complaint filed Thursday in the United States District Court for the Southern District, Eastern Division of Ohio.

The investigation began when Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations Center in Riverside, California, detected an aircraft north of Grand Bahama International Airport. Investigators identified the plain on a flight plan from Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

“The aircraft was observed diverting to Ohio University, Ohio, Gordon K. Bush Airport, which is not a Port of Entry,” court documents stated.

The pilot told investigators he was having mechanical issues, causing his landing in Albany.

Two men have been arrested on federal drug charges after landing a plane full of suspected drugs at Ohio University’s airport on Wednesday.

Sylvain Desjardins and David Ayotte, both Canadian nationals, are in the custody of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after being found carrying nearly 300 lbs. of suspected cocaine on a Piper Navajo twin-engine aircraft, according to a release by ICE.

Both men have appeared in federal court in Columbus on charges of possession with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.

The arrests were made after the plane landed at the Gordon K. Bush Airport on Wednesday afternoon.  The Athens County Sheriff and OU Police Department were called by U.S. Customs and Border Protection “to assist with an aircraft about to land illegally in the United States,” the ICE release stated.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said deputies detained the pilot and passenger until Homeland Security investigators could arrive, according to previous WOUB reporting.

As Customs and Border Protection Air Interdiction and Homeland Security Interdiction agents were interviewing the plane occupants, a canine unit “alerted to the aircraft which resulted in the discovery of nearly 300 lbs. of a powdery substance which was field-tested positive as cocaine,” the release stated.

Homeland Security is continuing to investigate the “drug-smuggling scheme,” ICE stated in the release.

“The agency is working the case jointly with (Customs and Border Protection), the Ohio University Police Department and the Athens County Sheriff’s Office,” according to the release.

Canadian authorities have also been contacted to assist.


Sylvain Desjardins, of Mirabel, 47, and David Ayotte, also of Mirabel were arrested in Ohio and face charges of possession of 300 pounds of cocaine with intent to distribute.

The two Canadians who made an emergency landing at Ohio University's airport Wednesday face up to life in prison if convicted of intent to distribute the more than 290 pounds of cocaine concealed in the aircraft's tail section.

The amount likely is the largest cocaine seizure in southern Ohio, said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman said.

The charges were read to Sylvain Desjardins, 47, and David Ayotte, 45, both of Mirabel, a suburb of Montreal, by U.S. District Court Magistrate Norah McCann King during a hearing in Columbus on Thursday.

A background search showed that both men had prior convictions for drug offenses, according to an affidavit filed by a Homeland Security Investigations agent.

The only records that could be found Thursday in Canadian courts was for Desjardins, who has a criminal record in Quebec that includes convictions for drug trafficking. In 1998, he was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to possession with intent to trafficking heroin.

In 2002, he was charged in connection with a marijuana-growing operation. Two years later, he pleaded guilty to producing marijuana and to a possession charge. He was sentenced in 2005 to 14 months in prison.

Both men are being held in the Franklin County jail pending a detention hearing on Monday. A preliminary hearing to determine whether there's enough evidence to proceed with the prosecution is scheduled for April 13.

The discussion on Thursday was translated into French for Ayotte. Dejardins understands English. Both are Canadian citizens.

Desjardins is the owner of the Piper PA-31 Navajo and was flying the plane from the Bahamas to Windsor, Canada, when it was detected north of the islands by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations Center, based in Riverside, California.

The center noticed the plane diverted to Gordon K. Bush Ohio University Airport because of mechanical issues. Because the airport is not a port of entry with a customs station, the center notified the Athens County sheriff's office. It also contacted Desjardins of its intent to search his plane.

Desjardins consented and agents discovered 132 bundles, each weighing 1 kilogram. The contents tested positive for cocaine.

Glassman applauded the quick cooperation of the federal agencies with local authorities that led to the seizure and the arrest.

In court Thursday, Desjardin and Ayotte answered yes and no questions, including wanting the court to notify Canadian authorities of their arrests.


Two men from Mirabel were charged Thursday in a U.S. federal court after authorities in Ohio discovered more than 90 kilograms of cocaine inside their small airplane when it was forced to make an emergency landing in the United States.

The plane landed at Ohio University Airport, in Albany, Ohio, Wednesday afternoon. According to Canadian aviation records, the plane is based in Lachute and is registered to Sylvain Desjardins, of Mirabel. 

Desjardins, 47, and the other man who was on board, David Ayotte, also of Mirabel, were arrested and face charges of possession of more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute. According to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in southern Ohio on Thursday, the aircraft, a Piper PA-31, was detected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday 18 miles north of an airport in the Bahamas. It had a flight plan to land in Windsor, Ont., but diverted to the airport in Ohio during the flight, and Desjardins was the pilot. Both men will be detained for a bail hearing on Monday. 

The cocaine was seized after the plane made the unplanned landing. Found were “132 bundles (each weighing approximately 1 kilogram (each),” according to the criminal complaint. 

“Once on the ground, the pilot of the aircraft advised he was travelling through U.S. airspace when a mechanical problem forced him to land unexpectedly,” Lt. Tim Ryan of the Ohio University Police Department wrote in a statement released about the incident. “Since the Ohio University airport is a port of entry, Customs and Border Protection requested the occupants of the aircraft be detained until federal agents could respond.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security took over after the plane landed.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that aviation records, based on the tail number of the aircraft, indicate it “has recently made flights over U.S. airspace while travelling between Canada and the Bahamas.”

Desjardins has a criminal record in Quebec that includes convictions for drug trafficking. In 1998, he was sentenced to a two-year prison term after having pleaded guilty, at the Montreal courthouse, to two counts related to possession with the intent to traffic in heroin. In 2002, he was arrested, following an investigation by the RCMP detachment based in St-Jérôme, and was charged in connection with a marijuana grow-operation. Two years later, on Nov. 30, 2004, he pleaded guilty to producing marijuana and to a related possession charge. He was sentenced in 2005 to a 14-month prison term.

According to the complaint: “A review of various database revealed that both Desjardins and Ayotte have prior convictions for drug offences in Canada.”

ALBANY, Ohio - UPDATE: Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) says investigators recovered about 132 kilos, nearly 300 pounds, of cocaine from an unauthorized plane that landed at the Ohio University airport Wednesday.

Court documents show the suspects, identified as Sylvain Desjardins and David Ayotte, were traveling from the Bahamas to Canada when a mechanical issued forced them to land at Ohio University Airport.

Original story:

Ohio University Police said drugs have been seized from an unauthorized aircraft that landed at the Ohio University airport Wednesday afternoon.

According to Ohio University Police, they were notified by Homeland Security that an international aircraft was landing at the airport without proper authorization around 2:30 p.m.

Police said the pilot of the aircraft told officials he was traveling through United States airspace when a mechanical problem forced him to land.

Because Ohio University airport is not a port of entry, Customs and Border Protection requested those on the plane to be detained until federal agents could respond.

Through a joint investigation, authorities located a ‘significant quantity’ of suspected cocaine concealed in the aircraft, according to Ohio University Police.

The two suspects and the contraband were taken into custody by Homeland Security.

Story and video:

ALBANY, Ohio – Authorities found illegal drugs on board a plane that landed at Ohio University's airport on Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security notified Ohio University police and the Athens County Sheriff's Office that an international plane was landing at Gordon K. Bush Ohio University Airport without authorization Wednesday afternoon.

OU police said the pilot reported a mechanical problem, which forced him to land unexpectedly. Officers detained the two people on board until U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents arrived since the airport is not a place of entry into the United States.

Homeland Security said investigators recovered 132 kilos, or 291 pounds, of cocaine from the plane, according to WBNS in Columbus.

Agents took the two suspects into custody.

Homeland Security is now in charge of the investigation.


ATHENS, OH (WCMH) – The Department of Homeland Security, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Athens County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Ohio University Airport after an ‘unauthorized plane’ landed.

It happened Wednesday afternoon at Gordon K. Bush Airport in Albany, Ohio.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said his office detained the plane after it landed until Homeland Security and the Highway Patrol could respond.

Ohio University police issued the following statement regarding the incident.

At about 2:30 p.m. today (March 29, 2017) the Ohio University police department was notified by the Department of Homeland Security that an international aircraft was landing at the Ohio University airport without proper authorization. Once on the ground, the pilot of the aircraft advised he was traveling through U.S. airspace when a mechanical problem forced him to land unexpectedly. Since the Ohio University airport is not a port of entry, Customs and Border Protection requested the occupants of the aircraft be detained until federal agents could respond.

As of 4:30 p.m. today, officers from the Ohio University police department remain at the airport where they are assisting federal agents as they investigate the matter.

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