Thursday, January 5, 2017

Airport manager position needs to be filled at the Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport

SALISBURY, Md. - The Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport is looking for the airport manager position to be filled.

Airport manager Bob Bryant left for another job opportunity after 23 years.

And for now, the operating deputy director is in charge of the day-to-day management of the airport.

But they are currently looking for someone who has knowledge on the rules and regulations of the FAA, as well as someone who can make the airport even better.

Wicomico County's County Executive, Bob Culver tells 47 ABC whoever takes over the position will continue on with every future plan implemented, as they will continue to stay on course.

Culver says they are going to leave the applications open until they fill the job. They have about 7 applications in now and they start interviewing tomorrow, January 6th, 2017.

Culver states, "We're anxious to get started and start a new year with the airport."


Columbia LC41-550FG, JMK3 Lands LLC, N972JK: Fatal accident occurred January 05, 2017 near Gurdon Lowe Field Airport (5M8), Gurdon, Clark County, Arkansas


FAA Flight Standards District Office:  LITTLE ROCK


Date: 05-JAN-17
Time: 18:50:00Z
Regis#: N972JK
Aircraft Make: COLUMBIA
Aircraft Model: LC41
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

CLARK COUNTY (KATV) —  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirms two people have died in a plane crash in Clark County.

The single engine plane was reported missing Thursday afternoon. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management confirms the wreckage was located just after 3 p.m., six miles southeast of Gurdon at Red Springs and Overby roads.

The Columbia LC41-550FG aircraft took off from McKinney, Texas, at approximately 11:45 a.m. and was headed to Franklin, North Carolina.

During the flight, the FAA has advised they last heard communication from the plane as the pilot reported engine trouble. 

Approximately 30 to 40 people from multiple agencies searched to find the plane wreckage. Many had to use ATVs to navigate the swampy area.

"It was just right in the middle of the swamp," says Michael Dillard. "It was just terrible."

The names of the victims have not yet been released.

The NTSB will have a team at the wreckage on Friday to investigate the crash.

CLARK CO., Ark. (KTHV) - The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management says two people are dead after an aircraft registered to a Charlotte corporation crashed in Arkansas.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) reported that a plane went missing Thursday afternoon east of Gurdon, Arkansas. 

Emergency management officials say two people are confirmed dead after the plane crashed in a field near the Gurdon Airport. 

The pilot of the plane reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the aircraft had engine trouble. The plane began to descend and FAA reported the signal was lost.

Officials with the AFRCC say the plane had the tail number of N972JK was last seen at the coordinates of 3354.2 N, 09303.3 W. The FAA registry site reports that the plane was a 10-year-old fixed wing single-engine plane.

The registered owner of the plane is JMK3 Lands LLC out of Charlotte, North Carolina. The business is listed as being owned by James M. Kent, III, though it's not clear who was on board the aircraft at the time of the crash.

Reports say the aircraft was traveling from Dallas, Texas to Franklin, North Carolina.


Two people were killed Thursday when a single-engine aircraft crashed near an airport in southwest Arkansas, according to the state Department of Emergency Management.

Authorities say the Columbia LC41-550FG plane bound for Franklin, N.C., crashed west of the Gurdon Lowe Field Airport and about 4 miles east of Gurdon in Clark County.

The aircraft, which departed from McKinney, Texas, had been confirmed missing Thursday afternoon.

Melody Daniel, an Emergency Management department spokesman, said her agency received a report from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at 1:23 p.m. of an aircraft that had reported engine trouble.

The plane reportedly then began descending, and soon after, the Federal Aviation Administration lost contact with the pilot, Daniel said.

In a statement, the FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said the two people killed were the only people inside the plane at the time.

"The FAA will send a team to the crash site to begin an investigation in coordination with the National Transportation Safety Board," Molinaro said.

The identities of the victims were not released as of Thursday afternoon.

Requests for additional information were directed to the Clark County sheriff's office, which said it would release details regarding the crash later in the day.


Newark Liberty International Airport workers' suit says pay was docked for lunch breaks not taken

NEWARK -- Aircraft cabin cleaners at Newark Liberty International Airport have filed a class action lawsuit against the United Airlines contractor that employs them, asserting they've been docked pay for lunch breaks they never took and otherwise cheated out of wages.

The suit seeks class status for 340 employees of PrimeFlight Aviation Services, a Nashville-based company with more than 4,000 employees nationwide. PrimeFlight contracts with United to clean the carrier's jets and perform other ground-support work at Newark Liberty, where United accounts for three quarters of all flights.

The suit, filed Oct. 31 in state Superior Court in Newark, was announced this week by Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, which has been waging a campaign to organize workers at Newark Liberty while pushing for higher wages.

It asserts that PrimeFlight falsely claimed that its low-wage workers had taken lunch breaks and then deducted the break time from their pay. The suit also charges that workers were denied overtime when they worked beyond the normal end of their shifts. The suit, filed by  seeks wages that workers say they are owed. 

"I work hard cleaning United Airlines planes for PrimeFlight," Nicolas Molina, a Newark cabin cleaner and one of three named plaintiffs in the suit, was quoted as saying in the union's announcement. "Despite working full-time, I make so little money I can barely feed my family. That's why it's especially distressing when I am not paid for all of the hours I have worked."

A PrimeFlight spokesman in Nashville, Jim Burnett, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Molina, a Newark resident and father of one who has worked at the airport for 11 years, makes $10.10 an hour, the minimum under a wage policy imposed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on its tenants and their contractors at Newark Liberty.

Prior to adoption of the wage policy in 2014, dozens of low-wage airport workers shepherded by 32BJ turned out month after month at the agency's board meetings to press for the policy, which was first support by commissioners appointed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and, later, by those of his Republican counterpart from New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie.


Stewart Airport international official asks Port Authority to restore $20M allocation for federal inspection station

NEW YORK >> The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has removed a $20 million line item from its 2017-26 Capital Plan that had been earmarked for construction of a federal inspection station in the Stewart Airport passenger terminal.

Stewart Airport Commission Chairman Louis Heimbach wants the authority’s board to restore the funding.

Heimbach, addressing the board at its monthly meeting in Manhattan on Thursday, said that when the allotment was pulled, there was no international passenger service in place or on the drawing board at Stewart. But since then, he noted, Norwegian Airlines has announced it will start flights between the New Windsor, N.Y., airport and European cities by mid-2017. The airline plans to base two jets at Stewart.

The federal inspection station would process passengers arriving at Stewart from outside the United States.

Heimbach told the Port Authority board that $20 million is a small amount compared to the $31.6 billion that makes up the capital plan, and he said the money it is essential for Stewart’s international service to be successful.

Stewart will be added to Norwegian Airlines’ route schedule with initial service to Ireland and, eventually, other destinations, Norwegian spokesman Anders Lindstrom said last month.

Lindstrom said Norwegian currently operates 45 daily routes from the United States and is the fastest growing airline in Europe.

The Port Authority has operated Stewart for just over nine years. It also operates John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty airports in the New York City area.

The Port Authority’s 10-year Capital Plan contains more than $5.4 billion for work at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, as well as AirTrain service that will provide rail access to LaGuardia, according to a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

In all, the Capital Plan contains $9.8 billion for New York projects, $9.8 billion for New Jersey projects and $12 billion for interstate projects, Cuomo’s office said.

The statement from Cuomo’s office praised the capital priorities of the Port Authority but made no mention of Stewart Airport.


Airlines cancel flights in Colorado Springs, Denver amidst winter storm

Some local travelers were in for a rude awakening Thursday morning, when several airlines axed flights from the Colorado Springs and Denver airports due to wet, wintry weather conditions.

As of about 10 a.m., 142 flights departing from the Denver International Airport had been canceled, and three cancellations had been reported at the Colorado Springs Airport, officials said.

Most of the flights leaving from Denver that were canceled were scheduled for small commuter aircraft that serve mountain towns. Many were on regional airlines, such as SkyWest and Trans States, said Heath Montgomery, a spokesman for the Denver Airport.

“The bulk of the cancellations are the aircraft that just can’t fly in these conditions,” he said. “They are not equipped for the poor visibility.”

Canceled departures from Colorado Springs included three United Airlines flights headed for Denver Thursday morning, said Nate Lavin, a spokesman for the city’s airport. All other flights were running on time at about 10 a.m.

Airlines including United, Southwest, American and Frontier have offered to waive the fee typically paid to change flights for passengers who are scheduled to depart from the Denver or Colorado Springs airports Thursday. Travelers can contact their airline directly to learn more.

At both airports, snow and ice removal operations were in full swing. The Denver Airport has more than 250 pieces of equipment—including blowers, brooms, blades, plows and runway sanders — for clearing snow from runways and another 120 units for parking lots and roadways. Winter weather conditions were expected to let up around noon, according to a tweet from the airport.

The Colorado Springs Airport’s collection includes three front-mount plows, three front-end brooms, two 4,000-gallon chemical dump trucks and four snow blowers, capable of blasting upwards of 4 tons of snow per hour. All of the equipment was on the road Thursday morning, Lavin said.  

“We have two twelve-hour teams that are working around the clock to keep our runways open,” he said.

Travelers should check the status of their flights before heading to either airport and allow for extra time to navigate icy roads. Information about cancellations and delays is available at for the Colorado Springs Airport and for the Denver Airport.

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Delta issues waivers for flights traveling in the Southeast due to weather

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN/WATE) – With winter weather coming this weekend to Middle Tennessee and other parts of the Southeast, Delta Air Lines is helping passengers by issuing travel waivers.

The airline announced that it is issuing waivers for passengers who have flights going to, from or through several airports, including Nashville International Airport.

The waivers only impact passengers traveling Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

The company said tickets must be reissued on or before, and rebooked by Jan. 10.

Passengers can receive a refund for an unused portion of their ticket if their flight was cancelled or had at least a 90 minute delay. Passengers can make a one-time change to their ticket without a fee even if the flight was not canceled.

Affected Cities:

Asheville, NC (AVL)
Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Birmingham, AL (BHM)
Charlotte, NC (CLT)
Chattanooga, TN (CHA)
Columbia, SC (CAE)
Fayetteville, NC (FAY)
Greensboro, NC (GSO)
Greenville Spartanburg, SC (GSP)
Huntsville, AL (HSV)
Jacksonville, NC (OAJ)
Knoxville, TN (TYS)
Nashville, TN (BNA)
New Bern, NC (EWN)
Newport News, VA (PHF)
Norfolk, VA (ORF)
Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU)
Tri-Cities, TN (TRI)
Wilmington, NC (ILM)

For more information, visit Delta’s website.


Air Canada employee files lawsuit over lost wages due to psychological injury developed after terrifying flight

An Air Canada employee has filed a lawsuit against the airline and the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal over a scary incident aboard a May 2012 flight from Tokyo to Vancouver.

Kelly Zechel, a flight attendant for 22 years, and others on the plane noticed an acrid smell, like burning wiring, in the aircraft cabin when the plane was about two hours away from Vancouver International Airport.

Searching for the source of the smell as it became stronger, Zechel and a relief pilot pried off one of the panels in the interior cabin. They found no flames, just an acrid smell that irritated Zechel’s throat and respiratory system.

The pilots aboard the plane sought a priority landing and picked up the aircraft’s speed to ensure faster arrival.

One of the pilots told Zechel that F18 fighter jets might be deployed to escort the plane into Vancouver, according to Zechel’s petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

When the aircraft landed, fire rescue officials entered the plane and found a visible haze in the cabin.

Zechel and the other crew members were told that the cause of the smell was an overheated entertainment system.

She was also told by one of her colleagues that the reason for calling other planes to escort a plane is to, if necessary, “shoot down” the plane to ensure that it does not crash in a populated area, says the petition.

“Although no escort planes were involved that day, Ms. Zechel was distressed that the situation could have warranted such a response.”

Zechel says she saw a doctor to deal with symptoms she suffered arising from the incident, was diagnosed with a psychological injury from the stress as well as lung irritation, and was off work for more than a week.

Her claim for lost wages for time off work caused by the injuries was initially accepted in September 2012 by the Workers’ Compensation Board, operating as WorkSafeBC.

The airline appealed the decision to the review division of the board, the beginning of a dispute that has been played out over more than four years.

In March 2014, after being ordered by the review division to further investigate the circumstances, the board again accepted Zechel’s claims.

A second appeal to the review board by the airline was denied in February 2015 but a year later, the company filed another appeal, this time to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal.

In November, the Tribunal found that the board lacked the jurisdiction to extend compensation coverage to Zechel because she didn’t meet the legal requirements and was not a resident of B.C.

Zechel was a resident of B.C. until 2009 and moved to Manitoba where she began commuting to and from Vancouver International Airport for work, not being paid for her commute.

Such a circumstance is not unusual for Air Canada employees, with a sizable portion of the company’s workers residing in a province other than the province of primary employment, according to the petition.

Zechel, who had compensation claims rejected in Manitoba as well, alleges that the tribunal’s handling of the jurisdictional question, including its approach to identifying the location of her injury while in the air, could not have been contemplated by the legislation for reason of the “absurd” results it would cause.

“For example, an Alberta-based flight attendant that is based at the Vancouver airport would have access to the board if injured while flying over Kelowna but would lose access to workers’ compensation benefits once the plane crossed the border into the United States,” says the petition.

“The decision has left a sizable percentage of the employer’s employees, who reside in provinces other than their primary place of employment, without recourse to workers’ compensation should their injury occur somewhere other than while working in or over the province.”

No response has been filed to the petition. The Tribunal and Air Canada could not be reached.


Complaints about masturbating Delta Airlines 'mentor' got two women fired, suit claims

Two young women who worked for Delta Airlines and a cargo firm at Kennedy Airport say in a lawsuit filed Thursday their bosses spurned their complaints about a male supervisor who masturbated at his desk in their presence and fired them for complaining about it.

Kayla Jenkins, who worked for Delta, and Lauren Heffernan, who worked for a Delta affiliate, Alliance Ground International, were both hired in 2015 as back office cargo agents to deal with freight shipments. The companies assigned a 25-year veteran employee, Mike Keve, to serve as their "mentor" to train them.

Their lawyer Brian Heller says in court papers that in February of last year, Jenkins was sitting next to Keve at her computer when she noticed that he had stopped typing.

When she "turned her head slightly to see what Keve was doing... (she) saw Keve sitting at his desk with his penis out." "Horrified," she turned back to her desk and didn't look at him again that day.

"Fearful of reporting Keve's repulsive conduct to management," Jenkins, 19, texted a female coworker, Heffernan, 29, who also thought she had seen Jeve do the same thing, according to court papers.

The next day, when Heffernan reported the incidents to a boss, she was told that Delta "was already aware that Keve had been masturbating in the office" and didn't intend to do anything about it for fear that Keve, 56, of Massapequa, would lose his job, court papers say.

Another boss told her that he couldn't do anything about it because Jenkins had not complained to him directly.

Heller said that it's "unthinkable" that something like this could happen at Delta today.

"This is something you'd think was a relic of things that used to be," he said.

Heller, a labor lawyer, said his clients' experience is more shocking because an intermediate supervisor confirmed in a text that management was aware of Keve's actions and would take no action.

"This was a group of men who all knew each other for a long time. At a certain point, their loyalty to each other trumped their obligations under the Human Rights Law. It was more important to protect a friend than to protect the women," he said.

In fact, court papers say, managers even joked about Keve's behavior in front of the women, who both come from Queens.

Court papers say Jenkins started to report the sexual harassment in March 2016, but was advised to keep quiet. She was abruptly fired in May when her bosses complained that her schoolwork was preventing her from working enough hours.

A week later, court papers say, Keve masturbated again at his desk in front of Heffernan. Her second complaint triggered an internal investigation that resulted in Heffernan's dismissal after she was late returning to work after lunch because her car broke down.

Each woman is asking for $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Delta did not immediately answer a request for comment. Keve could not be reached.


Westfield Airport Commission leaves no stone unturned in managerial search

Eric Billowitz interviews with the Westfield Airport Commission 

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – For the Westfield Airport Commission, the first choice may not have been the best choice but that’s OK.

The Westfield Airport Commission yesterday announced that their first choice for the vacant airport manager position, Marcelo F. Lima of Birmingham, Alabama, had declined the offer for the position made by the city. He reportedly declined for personal reasons.

However, the commission also interviewed a new candidate yesterday and decided to offer him the position.

The commission interviewed Eric J. Billowitz of Florida, New York, in a special meeting last night after he passed the initial stages put forth by the screening committee earlier in the day. After the interview, the commission discussed briefly and decided unanimously to allow the personnel department to proceed with contract negotiations with Billowitz. In a related move, the commission also decided that the other finalist, Robert N. Snuck of Pittsfield, would not be offered a contract if Billowitz declines.

Billowitz faced the same process as the other candidates and was one of the seven candidates originally chosen to be interviewed, but due to prior commitments to his previous employer he was unable to visit and participate in the initial phase of interviews. However, since the process extended, Billowitz was able to interview for the position and the results were highly positive.

“He has an excellent background, has great experience with a range of problems and has resolved them all, and he works well with different entities” Don Nicoletti, commission member, said.

“It was a positive surprise because he wasn’t in the original round but he is a great choice for the city,” commission member William Gonet, said.

Billowitz’s prior experience is based in the realm of business, which is what the commission has desired, but he has a lengthy history in airport management in general.

While still in college, Billowitz began with AvPORTS—the airport management company that is currently providing temporary managerial services for the airport—in 1984 and was with the company until 2016, where he worked at multiple airports in multiple positions. Afterward, he provided airport consultancy with Steven Baldwin Associates, based out of Albany, New York, from 2016 to now, and in 2016 he also provided research and advisory services for Delta Airlines regarding a terminal in LaGuardia Airport.

Among Billowitz’s accomplishments was one that kept him from interviewing for the position during the first round. While with Baldwin Associates, Billowitz’s first assignment had him overseeing a grant application process for a Rochester, New York, airport for $40 million.

“Rochester called to get everyone together,” Billowitz said. “We had six weeks to put together the entire application.”

Billowitz said that they were successful in getting the application in on time and receiving the grant.


Cozy Mark IV, N4518S: Accident occurred January 04, 2017 at Napa County Airport ( KAPC), California

The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: SACRAMENTO

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report   -  National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA048
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 04, 2017 in Napa, CA
Aircraft: SCHOSANSKI JOHN H COZY MK IV R, registration: N4518S
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 January 4, 2017, about 1430 Pacific standard time, an experimental amateur-built Schosanski, Cozy MK IV R airplane, N4518S, experienced a total loss of engine power after an attempted go-around during a touch-and-go landing at Napa County Airport (APC), Napa, California. The pilot subsequently made a forced landing on the remaining runway and the airplane overran the runway. The airplane was registered and operated by the owner/pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot was not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing. The local personal flight departed Napa, California, about 1400 PST. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.

The pilot reported that he was in the traffic pattern performing touch-and-go landings on runway 24. During approach, the pilot noted that the airplane would have landed further down the runway than desired and he initiated a go-around. As he advanced the throttle, the engine responded normally, but then rolled back to idle. The pilot attempted to land on the remaining runway, but the airplane overran the end of the runway and came to rest in a marsh area.

The airplane was powered by an automotive Mazda rotary engine, which was modified by the owner. The airplane was recovered for further examination.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating Wednesday's plane crash at the Napa County Airport that left the plane damaged but the pilot uninjured.

“I don’t even think he has a scratch on him,” said Winona Boyer, airport administrative assistant.

The pilot, whom Boyer described as an “older gentleman,” is a licensed pilot and tenant at the airport. He flies frequently and has flown the plane that crashed – a Cozy Mark IV – for several years, Boyer said.

The owner said his engine "just kicked off,” Boyer said. The pilot landed in the nearby creek because he thought it would be easier than the runway, she said.

The landing was reported as “possible plane crash” along a departure runway at 2:26 p.m.

Cal Fire, Napa County Fire, California Highway Patrol, Napa County Sheriff’s Office, American Canyon Fire and American Medical Response all responded to the scene.
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“It really made a mess,” Boyer said. “I think it probably totaled his aircraft but he was fine.”

The pilot was the only occupant.

Landings like this are not typical at the airport, Boyer said. The four-seat, single engine, homebuilt light aircraft, like other small planes, goes through annual maintenance, she said.

The NTSB investigates all civil aviation accidents in the U.S. The lead investigator on the case, Patrick Jones, did not respond to Register inquiries Friday morning.


NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – A pilot escaped injury in a Wednesday afternoon small plane crash at the Napa County Airport.

The crash, which involved only one plane, occurred just before 2:30 p.m. at the airport, located in Napa, according to Cal Fire Capt. Leah Simmons-Davis.

Simmons-Davis said Cal Fire/Napa County Fire responded with three engine companies, one volunteer company, a helicopter and a total of 14 personnel. Medical and law enforcement personnel also were on scene.

The aircraft was a small personal use airplane that crashed in an apparent attempt to take off from the airport, Simmons-Davis said.

The plane landed into a levee adjacent to the airport, with part of the landing gear submerged in water, Simmons-Davis said. The aircraft suffered major damage.

Simmons-Davis said the pilot was the only occupant, and there were no injuries.

She said the crash will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.


A pilot was uninjured Wednesday afternoon after crashing an airplane while attempting to take off from the Napa County Airport, authorities said.

Emergency crews responded to the call at 2:26 p.m. as the pilot failed to take off and crashed into a levee next to the airport, according to Cal Fire. The pilot was flying solo.

The aircraft suffered major damage, Cal Fire said. The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.


The pilot of a small personal airplane was not injured after crashing the plane into a levee while attempting a takeoff at Napa County Airport on Wednesday afternoon, according to Cal Fire.

The aircraft hazard was reported as a “possible plane crash” along a departure runway at 2:26 p.m. Instead of taking off into the air, the aircraft headed into the water. Although no fuel was leaking from the plane, the aircraft had major damage, Cal Fire said.


Piper PA-31-350 Chieftain, N42076: Incident occurred January 04, 2017 in Roseburg, Douglas County, Oregon


FAA Flight Standards District Office: PORTLAND, OREGON


Date: 04-JAN-17
Time: 17:17:00Z
Regis#: N42076
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA31
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 135
Aircraft Operator: AMERIFLIGHT
Flight Number: 1926

Robinson R22 BETA, JJ Helicopters Inc, N702JJ: Fatal accident occurred January 04, 2017 in San Pedro, California

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report  -  National Transportation Safety Board:


FAA Flight Standards District Office: LONG BEACH

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA047
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 04, 2017 in San Pedro, CA
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N702JJ
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On January 4, 2017, about 1735 Pacific standard time, a Robinson R22, N702JJ, collided with the water near San Pedro, California. JJ Helicopters was operating the helicopter under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence. The local photography flight departed Torrance Municipal Airport, Torrance, California, about 1635 PST. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The operator reported that the purpose of the flight was to take aerial photos of several cruise ships in a nearby harbor. The helicopter departed from the operator's ramp area, and proceeded to the harbor. It made several orbits around a ship, and then witnesses reported that the helicopter began spinning as it went straight down into the water.

When the helicopter was 2 hours overdue, the operator reported it to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and an alert notice (ALNOT) was issued.

Several local agencies initiated a search, and the wreckage was located about 1015 on January 5, 2017.

The local agencies reported that the helicopter came to rest upright in about 18 feet of water. All major components of the helicopter were recovered except the outboard section of a main rotor blade. The fracture surface at the separation point was jagged and angular.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

The passenger of a helicopter that crashed into the Port of Los Angeles on Wednesday night was a veteran freelance photographer on assignment to capture photos of a rare trio of cruise ships inside the harbor.

Michael Justice, 61, of San Pedro, and pilot Christopher Reed, 41, of Hermosa Beach, were aboard the Robinson R22 Beta when it crashed near the breakwater that juts out from Cabrillo Beach, killing them. Their bodies were recovered from the aircraft’s wreckage Thursday morning.

Justice was a port photographer and had commissioned a flight on Wednesday after three cruise ships made a rare stopover at the harbor, said port spokesman Phillip Sanfield. The port, he said, doesn’t usually get a visit from three cruises at one time.

He wanted to capture the vessels in the fading sunlight, Sanfield said.

Reed and Justice took off from Zamperini Field in Torrance in one of the copters registered to JJ Helicopters Inc. and flew over the harbor.

Several passengers aboard a cruise ship told authorities that the helicopter circled one of the ships three times before it went down about 5:45 p.m., Sanfield said.

Several other people in the area called 911 notifying dispatchers of the aircraft, which was believed to have crashed near the Angels Gate Lighthouse. The lighthouse sits at the end of the breakwater.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Los Angeles Port Police searched for the wreckage of the helicopter, but did not find it.

Justice and Reed never reported back to the Torrance airbase, Sanfield said.

Then on Thursday, police used sonar equipment to locate the aircraft.

Justice worked with the port since 2010 and has shot for several publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, National Geographic Adventurer and Time magazine. He photographed Mother Teresa in Calcutta.

“He was really an extended member of the harbor family,” Sanfield said. “He lived and breathed on the docks.”

Former Daily Breeze newspaper photojournalist Branimir Kvartuc said he often worked with the freelance photographer in the Torrance area.

“He had a million stories to tell, but never forced them on you,” Kvartuc said.

When Kvartuc left the newspaper for a job at Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino’s office, he knew he would see Justice again.

Kvartuc often ran into Justice at the harbor, an area that Buscaino represents. During a recent conversation, the friends talked about their separate trip’s next month to Cuba and how they planned to meet up.

“It’s almost in a way ... an accomplishment as a photographer to go out doing your job,” he said.

Reed was an accomplished pilot, Los Angeles Port Police Chief Thomas Gazsi said at a news conference Thursday, adding that he “will be greatly missed.”

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash.

Story and video:

SAN PEDRO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) --  Two bodies were pulled from the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed off the coast of San Pedro, according to officials.

Authorities stated during a press conference Thursday afternoon that the bodies were presumed to be that of photographer Michael Justice and pilot Christopher Reed.

There was no official confirmation of the identities, Port Police stated.

Officials said crews located the wreckage just inside the break wall Thursday morning. The helicopter was attempting to take photographs of a cruise ship when it reportedly crashed in the ocean.

Eyewitness News learned that an R-22 Beta helicopter left the Torrance Airport around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The helicopter belongs to JJ Helicopters, a Torrance-based company.

The Port Police said a pilot and one passenger were on board the helicopter. Officials said passengers on a cruise ship reported seeing a helicopter go down in the port area.

Casey Warren told Eyewitness News Justice was in the helicopter and was going to photograph the cruise ship.

"A sunset shot, we booked it for an hour," Warren explained. "I was supposed to be on the craft with him and I got booted because the R-44 that we wanted wasn't available so he went up in a 22. It only seats one."

Warren said he went to JJ Helicopters after Justice didn't return home Wednesday night.

"He never came home. I got worried so I started calling and I figured I'd come down here to see if his car is still here and that's his car," Warren said pointing to a white vehicle in the parking lot.

Friends and family described Justice as a renowned photographer who traveled the world for his work. Some of his highlights included contributing to National Geographic, flying with the Blue Angels and photographing Mother Theresa.

The U.S. Coast Guard, who came to assist in the search, closed the Los Angeles Harbor entrance as efforts to find something continued. Officials announced the port had re-opened.

Cmdr. Romulus Matthews with the Coast Guard said searchers were scoured an area of roughly 3-5 nautical square miles near Cabrillo Beach.

The search was called off Wednesday evening amid wet weather, which created low visibility. The search resumed Thursday morning when the wreckage was located.

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SAN PEDRO, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS) - Searchers found a helicopter that crashed in the Los Angeles Harbor area near San Pedro, along with the remains of two people aboard on Thursday.

The helicopter was operated by J. J. Helicopters, which reported that the aircraft left Torrance Municipal Airport around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday but failed to return, said Phillip Sanfield of the Port of Los Angeles.
The crash of Robinson R22 Beta triggered a multi-agency search after it was reported at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday near the harbor breakwater. The search was focused on an area near the Angels Gate lighthouse, one of two entrance to the Port of Los Angeles, Sanfield said.

About 11 this morning, authorities found the wreckage of the helicopter in the water, with the remains of two people aboard, Sanfield said.

Authorities have not positively identified either victim, but one of them was believed to be Michael Justice, a former news photographer who was on assignment for the Port of Los Angeles. He was taking aerial shots of three cruise ships in port on Thursday, Sanfield told the Daily Breeze.

In a Facebook posting, Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said Justice "was one of the nicest and most talented photographers I had ever met. My deepest sympathies go out to all of his family, friends and colleagues. He will be missed.''

Justice's godson, Casey Warren, told ABC7 that the helicopter had been booked for an hour.

"I was supposed to be on the rotorcraft with him, and I got booted because the Robinson R22 BETA we wanted wasn't available, so he went up in a 22 and it only seats one," Warren said.

"He never came home. I got worried so I started calling," Warren said.

"I figured I'd come down here and see if his car is still here; that's his car."

Justice traveled the world for his work and took photos for National Geographic. He also flew with the Blue Angels, and took photos of Mother Teresa.

The U.S. Coast Guard and crews from the Los Angeles city and county fire departments mounted a search along with boat crews from the Long Beach Fire Department, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class SondraKay Kneen.

Multiple witnesses aboard a cruise ship reported seeing the helicopter go down. The aircraft was described by the witnesses as a small black helicopter that hit the water near the harbor breakwall, according to the Coast Guard.

The Angels Gate entrance to the port was closed while the search was conducted, but the other entrance to the port -- about two miles away, toward the entrance to the Port of Long Beach -- remained open, and Port of Los Angeles operations were continuing, Sanfield said.

Underwater sound-detecting devices were deployed in an effort to find the rotorcraft, Sanfield said.

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Search efforts will continue Thursday in the water around the Port of Los Angeles after a tour helicopter was seen crashing near the breakwater the prior evening. 

Los Angeles Port Police used sonar equipment and U.S. Coast Guard boats searched through the night in an attempt to locate the missing aircraft, port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. The black Robinson R22 Beta helicopter and the two people aboard are still unaccounted for, he said.

“We are pretty confident there is a chopper in the water,” he said.

The helicopter was reported down about 5:45 p.m. by a passenger aboard a cruise ship that was departing the harbor, according to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Anderson.

Several other people in the area called 911 notifying dispatchers of the aircraft, which was believed to have crashed near the Angels Gate Lighthouse. The lighthouse sits at the end of the breakwater that juts out from Cabrillo Beach.

The helicopter is registered to JJ Helicopters Inc. and took off from Zamperini Field in Torrance for an aerial photo shoot, Anderson said. The Torrance-based company provides tours.

The pilot and passenger did not report back to Torrance airbase, Sanfield said.

The Federal Aviation Administration does not have any confirmation of an aircraft down, according to the agency’s spokesman Ian Gregor.

The Coast Guard says it is trying to determine if any distress calls were made.

Port police planned to use sonar equipment again on Thursday during the search. Authorities have not found debris or passengers in the water.

“As soon as sonar detects something, L.A. Port Police has a dive team and will deploy them,” Sanfield said.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Harbor entrance near the Angels Gate Lighthouse was closed for search efforts, and a 1,000-foot safety zone was in effect. Cruises and cargo ships were rerouted to the Long Beach entrance, so operations could continue at the Port of L.A., Sanfield said.

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Authorities late Wednesday were searching the waters off the Port of Los Angeles for a helicopter that reportedly ditched into the water near the Angels Gate Lighthouse with two aboard, officials said.

Several passengers on an outbound cruise ship, the Star Princess, called 911 about 5:45 p.m. to report seeing “a small black helicopter approach the water and crash,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Anderson.

She said searchers believe the helicopter was a Robinson R-22 that took off from Torrance Municipal Airport with two people on board.

The Coast Guard has not been able to make contact with the helicopter, which bears a tail number of N702JJ.

Federal Aviation Administration records show a Robinson R-22 with the number is registered to JJ Helicopters Inc., a Torrance-based company that offers helicopter tours of Los Angeles and aerial photo flights.

The aircraft was manufactured in 2005, according to the registry.

The helicopter was seen near the lighthouse just outside the 2.1-mile-long breakwater that jets out from Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield said reports put the helicopter around Buoy 3.

Assisting in the search were a Coast Guard helicopter from Point Mugu and Coast Guard boat crews, Los Angeles Port Police and Los Angeles County Fire Department, Anderson said.

No signs of the helicopter or its occupants had been found, Anderson said, but he added that rescuers planned to continue their search late into the night.

The helicopter reportedly circled the cruise ship before crashing, according to a Facebook comment from a woman who said her parents witnessed the impact.

“My parents are on the cruise liner that the helicopter crashed near. It is so shocking and sad!!” Karah Street Ludington wrote. “They said it flew around them a few times and then went into a spin and crashed. Disappeared into the water fast. They haven’t seen anyone surface.”

Last week, three people were injured when a Robinson R-44 helicopter made a “hard landing” on Mount Baldy.

Robinson R-22 helicopters have been involved in 160 fatal crashes, with 239 deaths, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Torrance-based manufacturer came under scrutiny from a New Zealand aviation agency last year, which suspended the use of Robinson helicopters after a series of crashes.


SAN PEDRO ( — Crews from multiple agencies were scouring the waters off the coast of San Pedro Wednesday evening for a missing helicopter carrying two people.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, a Robinson R22 took off from Zamperini Field in Torrance this afternoon and did not return. Based on radar logs, the helicopter lifted off at around 4:35 p.m. and made its way to Terminal Island. It disappeared off the radar at 5:37 p.m. There were no distress calls sent from the helicopter. In a late evening news conference, Port Police Chief Tom Gazsi said two people were believed to be aboard the helicopter, a pilot and a passenger.

Gazsi said several people aboard a cruise ship reported seeing the helicopter crash.

“Pretty much, they got really close and it looked like it tilted sideways, and it looked like it went under,” witness Steven Nocon told KCAL9.

Gazsi said the search was focused on an area with about a one-mile radius near Cabrillo Beach and Angels Gate Park, inside the breakwater. As of 9:30 p.m., no helicopter or debris had been found. Crews were scanning the water with sonar. The search would continue into the night, Gazsi said.

Los Angeles Harbor was closed off to vessel traffic.

Los Angeles police and Los Angeles County Fire were assisting in the search.

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Delta offering chance to change, or cancel flights from regional airports

Tri-Cities, Tennessee  – Delta is now offering waivers for those flying on Friday and Saturday through airports in our region.

Delta says due to winter weather in the Southeast that if customers want to cancel their trip as a result of a flight cancellation or a significant delay they will be able to get a refund.

Delta also says customers can also make a one time change to their ticket free of charge because of the winter weather moving through the Southeast.

Customers traveling through the Tri-cities, Knoxville, Atlanta, Asheville, and Charlotte are all eligible for the refunds and one time changes.

If you are rescheduling your flight from one of those days you must book it no later than one day after January 10th.

Right now all flights in and out of Tri-cities are on time, but make sure you check your flight before you head to the airport.