Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Export-Import Bank chairman visits Air Tractor

Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, left, tours the Air Tractor aircraft plant in Olney Wednesday with Jim Hirsch, president of the company.  



Fred Hochberg made a promise to Air Tractor Vice President of Finance David Ickert roughly eight years ago when the two met.

The president and chairmen of the Export-Import Bank of the United States was determined to get to Olney and visit the aircraft manufacturing plant in North Texas because he was impressed by what he had heard and wanted to see it for himself. Hochberg made good on that promise Wednesday — one week before his term at the Ex-Im Bank expires — when he and a couple others from the self-sustaining federal agency paid a visit.

He called Air Tractor one of the bank's star exporters of products in the world.

"Here's a company that went from 10-12 percent exports to half their sales are now exports," he said. "We support about half of those sales, so about 25 percent of the sales of the company. And it's an export that people understand.

"Ultimately, at the end of the day, we're about jobs. People understand that this company supports a lot of jobs in Olney, Texas, in a town of about 3,000 people."






Hochberg arrived early Wednesday afternoon and met with Ikert and Air Tractor President Jim Hirsch, who provided an update on how sales have been in areas such as South America, sub-Sahara Africa and China, for example.

But, it's the countries with weaker economies who need assistance with purchasing Air Tractor's products, and the Ex-Im Bank has been the mechanism by which they are able to purchase the airplanes, primarily for agricultural purposes, by underwriting loans. Since fiscal year 2012, Ex-Im Bank estimates it has supported $171.1 million of Air Tractors exports.

Ikert said Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer builds planes for agricultural purposes, and only sells them in Brazil with good financing for their local market.

"So, we're competing with very, very good financing. That's how they sell it; on financing," he said. "But, what y'all do for us gives us enough of a level playing field to let us compete. We're not going to be heads-up, but we've got a better plane and a better product, and with the financing as part of it, we think we can be (compete) there."





Hochberg told the Times Record News that leveling the playing field is one of Ex-Im Bank's responsibilities, as well as help those in some country secure financing when they can't do it locally and purchase goods they need from the United States for their business. He said it's about helping companies like Air Tractor be able to continue building their product, putting people to work and supporting more families .

The chairman said when U.S. manufacturers are making a product, they are assembling components made from other manufacturers in the country. For example, while Air Tractor builds they planes, they aren't making the tires, brakes, propellers and other parts that go on the aircraft. They are buying them from other manufacturers to make the end product.





"We have to remember that when we're exporting, it's not just the jobs here in Olney, it's the supply chain around this country," he said. "It's a deep supply chain and why it's important to keep companies here and keep them exporting from here is because the supply chain is here."

Despite an effort by Congress in 2016 to end the Ex-Im Bank, Hochberg said the agency's charter is good until 2019. President-elect Donald Trump has made it clear that more products need to be manufactured in the United States instead of going oversees, he said, which was also a priority for President Barack Obama. The Ex-Im Bank fits into the manufacturing strategies of the White House and the incoming administration.

Source:  http://www.timesrecordnews.com

Nashville International Airport sees another record-setting year of passengers in 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — Nashville International Airport has set a new passenger record as it saw more than 12.9 million travelers in 2016.

BNA saw 1.3 million more passengers in 2016 than in 2015 which made for a robust 11 percent increase in travelers.

This is the fourth consecutive year the airport has set a new all-time passenger record from the previous year.

“It’s been a whirlwind of a year, and we expect even more good things in 2017,” said Bobby Joslin, chair of MNAA’s Board of Commissioners. “We are all committed to serving Nashville and our neighbors all across Tennessee by keeping BNA a world-class airport and preparing for the continued growth on the horizon.”

Several new nonstop flights were launched in 2016, including (but not limited to) Ft. Lauderdale, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto and Charlotte.

Source:   http://fox17.com

Helicopter gunner will target feral hogs at Ozark National Scenic Riverways park

A conservation agent armed with a semiautomatic.308-caliber rifle will be shooting feral hogs from a helicopter in an area of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways next week.

Both sides of the Current River between the mouth of Big Spring and the park's southern boundary at Gooseneck will be closed to hikers and visitors on Monday and Tuesday. Day-use areas and campgrounds within that aerial hunting footprint also will be closed, according to park officials.

Big Spring and the nearby campground, pavilions, and boat launch will not be affected and will remain open to the public, according to park officials. Big Spring is located south of Van Buren, and the area involved in the aerial shooting is approximately 15 miles long.

It's the first time helicopters will be used to help eradicate feral hogs within the Ozark National Scenic Riverways park, according to park officials.

"Aerial gunning is one of the tools we have available to us, which we don't use often, but is effective in certain situations," said Alan Leary, feral hog coordinator with the conservation department. "It's one shooter and one pilot flying the helicopter. Our goal is to eradicate all of them, as many as we can, 100 percent."

Leary said a helicopter is useful during winter months because trees have shed their leaves and hogs are more easily seen on the ground. He said the conservation department has done some feral hog trapping on ONSR land, but are using the helicopter in conjunction with trapping to remove as many hogs as possible.

"They definitely have some damage from hogs down there, yes," Leary said. "There's damage to agriculture and damage to the natural communities that are within the park."

According to Missouri Department of Conservation, feral hogs and wild boars can spread diseases to livestock, tear up pastures and fields with their rooting behavior and contaminate water sources by wallowing in them. Feral hogs also compete with native Missouri species by eating acorns and other sources of food that native animals rely on.

The two-day eradication effort is a joint project between ONSR, the MDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. All aerial shooting will be conducted over public lands, according to an ONSR news release.

Leary said tissue samples will be taken from some of the hogs to test for various diseases wild pigs can carry. The carcasses will be left to decompose and provide food for other native animals like coyotes, foxes, bobcats and other carnivores.

It's possible this weekend's winter weather and possible ice storm could postpone the aerial shoot, Leary said. Any changes would be announced on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways website or Facebook page.

The conservation department has been trying to eradicate feral hogs from Missouri for years. They are considered a non-native, invasive species and are not considered to be wildlife under the state's wildlife code.

Source:   http://www.news-leader.com

Incident occurred January 11, 2017 at Stewart International Airport (KSWF), New Windsor, Orange County, New York

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s helicopter made an emergency landing at Stewart International Airport in Orange County Wednesday afternoon, sources said.

The helicopter made the emergency landing at Stewart International Airport in New Windsor around 4 p.m., sources told CBS2.

Cuomo was on his way to New York City from Albany for meetings at the time. He delivered a State of the State address at SUNY Albany earlier in the day.

En route to the city, the New York State Police helicopter filled with fumes that smelled like smoke, and thus, the pilot decided to make the landing, Cuomo’s office said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the cause was being investigated and the helicopter was undergoing maintenance, the governor’s office said.

Cuomo was on the helicopter with two aides, along with security and the pilot.

Cuomo released a tweet taking the emergency landing in stride, and touting his tour of the state for multiple addresses this week.

No one was injured in the incident, and Cuomo was safely transported back to the city, the governor’s office said.

Source:  http://newyork.cbslocal.com

Hawaiian Air working to resume flight service to Kapalua Airport

KAHULUI — Hawaiian Airlines is “very, very close” to returning service to the Kapalua Airport in West Maui, which will be outfitted with a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, according to company and state Department of Transportation officials.

Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz said Tuesday that the TSA checkpoint equipment will arrive by the end of this month. He said a contractor will be hired to install the equipment and that the state will build partition walls to secure the checkpoint.

“We’re working with the TSA in having the equipment running by February 20th,” Moniz said noting that Hawaiian can begin service the same day.

Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of the company, said that he expects its commuter airline, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian, to start flying before the end of March. He announced the plans Tuesday during a Maui Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Maui Beach Hotel.

“We’ve got just about everything in place to restart service at Kapalua,” Ingram said.

The airline announced in November its plans to resume service to West Maui beginning Jan. 18. Four daily one-way flights between Kapalua and Honolulu on a 48-seat turboprop aircraft were planned.

Tickets were being sold online, but sales were halted when officials realized a TSA checkpoint would not be ready in time. Under the law, airports with planes carrying more than 19 seats must have a checkpoint.

“It was a bit of an oversight on our part in terms of communication and getting final notification back from the TSA that they were ready,” Ingram said.

Traveling to Kapalua is bit of a homecoming for the airline, which originally built and operated the airport from March 1987 to April 1993 before selling the airstrip and terminal to the state, Ingram said. The airport’s three-letter designation of JHM honors the late John H. Magoon, Hawaiian’s longtime former CEO and chairman.

“When I joined in 2005 and our finances were a little shakier than what they are today, I would remark to people from time to time that I think we may have sold the wrong business,” Ingram joked. “We should’ve kept the airport and sold the airline.

“It turned out, I’m glad we kept the airline.”

The 48-seater ATR 42-500, which travels to Oahu, Lanai and Molokai, will add West Maui to its destinations. The Kapalua Airport has the shortest runway of the group and the airline invested in a lighting system to help guide pilots in for a safe landing, Ingram said.

The Federal Aviation Administration has since tested and approved the system and pilots are in training, he said.

TSA has hired and is training workers at Kahului Airport before transferring them to Kapalua, Moniz said.

The last time the West Maui airport had a checkpoint was in 2013, when Island Air discontinued its service. The equipment remained in place for about two years in hopes of another airline, but was dismantled and shipped about a year ago to another city, Moniz said.

“The good thing is now we get newer equipment,” he said.

Moniz said the service will relieve congestion at Kahului Airport and on Honoapiilani Highway. He said Kahului airport faces gate challenges every day.

“It’s a good thing. It takes a little stress off Kahului and helps us increase operations over there,” he said of Kapalua. “We always get challenges with gate space, so having a few flights in Kapalua will increase some capacity too for planes here.”

Ingram said that Hawaiian is doing well and is benefitting from moderate fuel prices. He said North American markets are doing “particularly well,” but the most growth is coming from international destinations such as China and Korea.

“China is going to be a huge market and I think in the long term we should all be thinking about how we communicate with other parts of the world because they are bound to be an important economic superpower in the years ahead,” he said.

Ingram said Hawaiian’s growth on Maui has been slow due to the transition to its new fleet. He said its new line of A321neo planes will allow them to expand flights as they come into service at the end of the year.

“The fact that we’re not growing as fast in Maui this year is in no way a reflection of a enthusiasm for growth in Maui,” he said. “We’re keen to look for opportunities to grow our service in the future and the A321neo aircraft is going to be part of that growth plan.”

More than 100 people attended the annual Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Guests asked about interisland ticket rates, overhead baggage fees and restarting direct flights from Kahului to Las Vegas.

Ingram said Hawaiian is committed to providing a quality service at an affordable but competitive price. He said there are no plans for overhead baggage fees.

As for restoring a flight from Kahului to Las Vegas, he is hopeful that it will return aboard the A321neo planes. He said the route suffered from being less than daily and the airline struggled with matching the right number of seats with the market capacity.

Ingram recalled announcing the flight several years ago and its later discontinuance.

“I would like to bring that back to restore my slate,” he said.

Source:   http://www.mauinews.com

Alaska Airlines offering four new flights out of Portland airport

Whatcom County residents are getting new Alaska Airlines flight options through the Portland, Ore., airport.

The airline announced that it’s starting seasonal flights from Portland to Baltimore, Milwaukee and Philadelphia this summer, as well as year-round service to Albuquerque. Alaska currently offers daily flights from Bellingham to Portland.

Alaska currently has 55 nonstop destinations through the Portland airport, according to a company news release.

The seasonal flights between Portland and Philadelphia run from May 22 through Aug. 26, while the flights to Milwaukee and Baltimore run from early June to late August. The flights to Albuquerque start Aug. 18.

Source: http://www.bellinghamherald.com

McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport: Passenger numbers continue to soar



McCOOK, Neb. -- The McCook City Council hoped a new airline would turnaround what had been a disastrous two-year stretch for commercial air service at McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport and, so far, they appear to be right. The airport posted a 388 percent annual increase in boarded passengers and finished 2016 with the best fourth quarter stretch in nearly a decade, according to city enplanement reports.

The McCook airport boarded 1627 commercial passengers for the year, up from 333 and 402 passengers in 2015 and 2014, respectively.

During the fourth quarter of 2016, October thru December, the airport boarded 634 passengers. The mark represents a significant spike from the 83 passengers boarded during the same time period the year prior, as well as the most fourth quarter commercial passengers since 758 were boarded in 2007.

Considering Boutique Air didn't assume commercial air service responsibilities until early June, and passenger counts continued to increase as the year progressed, the airport appears to be on pace for one of its busiest years in 2017.

In December of 2015 City Council recommended to the Department of Transportation Boutique Air provide essential air service going forward. At the time, council members advocated for early termination of the Great Lakes contract which ran through June of 2016. City staff initially sought more time to research the contract situation and later indicated they didn't see a premature change on the horizon.

Great Lakes subsequently averaged 62 boarded passengers per month over the first five months of 2016. Boutique boarded 137 passengers in June and averaged 196 per month for the remainder of the year.

Source:  http://www.mccookgazette.com

Maule MX-7-160 Sportplane, N3156K, registered to and operated by the pilot: Accident occurred January 11, 2017 in Carthage, Smith County, Tennessee

Collin McDonald

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

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Nashville, Tennessee 

Aviation Accident Factual Report  -  National Transportation Safety Board:   https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


http://registry.faa.gov/N3156K

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Location: Carthage, TN
Accident Number: ERA17LA083
Date & Time: 01/11/2017, 1540 CST
Registration: N3156K
Aircraft: MAULE MX7
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 11, 2017, at 1540 central standard time, a Maule MX-7-160, N3156K, was substantially damaged during landing at a private, grass airstrip at Carthage, Tennessee. The commercial pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Lebanon Municipal Airport (M54), Lebanon, Tennessee, at 1518.

The pilot reported that the preflight inspection, departure, and cruise portions of the flight were uneventful. He entered the traffic pattern at his property, which consisted of a grass airstrip that was about 1,100 feet in length. He maneuvered the airplane for a landing to the north, which was always the landing direction due to runway slope and obstacles. He checked the wind at the departure airport prior to landing and recalled that it was out of the south at 12 knots. He also checked the wind sock at his airstrip prior to landing. Due to his injuries, he did not recall the events of the landing sequence.

A witness observed the accident and the weather conditions at the scene. He reported that the pilot arrived over the airstrip, and circled around the property. He then set up for a landing to the north. The wind was "really blowing hard" at the time, and he described the wind as strong and gusting, and coming from different directions. Just prior to the airplane touching down, the left wing dropped suddenly, and the right wing came up. The airplane then went nose down and stopped. He stated that the engine was "running great, no misfires or roughness."

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. Structural damage to left wing and fuselage was confirmed. An on-scene examination of the airframe, engine, and fuel system did not reveal evidence of a mechanical malfunction. The initial impact point was about 900 feet north of the approach end of runway 35, and about 200 feet west of the runway. The initial ground impact point matched damage to the left wingtip. The airplane came to rest in a nose low attitude, 30 feet to the west of the initial ground impact point. He also noted that runway 35 sloped uphill, with a total elevation change of 50-70 feet.

Murfreesboro Municipal Airport (MQY), Murfreesboro, Tennessee was located about 30 nautical miles southwest of the accident site. The MQY weather at 1556 included wind from 180 degrees at 12 knots with gusts to 20 knots. Nashville International Airport (BNA), Nashville, Tennessee, was located about 35 nautical miles west-southwest of the accident site. The BNA weather at 1553 included wind from 190 degrees at 16 knots, gusting to 23 knots, with a recorded peak wind from 190 degrees at 29 knots.

After the accident, the pilot reported that there was no mechanical failure or malfunction with the airplane prior to the accident. He also reported that the accident was the result of wind gusts that were not anticipated by him. 

Pilot Information


Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 23, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/11/2014
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 11/25/2015
Flight Time:  695 hours (Total, all aircraft), 478 hours (Total, this make and model), 605 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 17 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: MAULE
Registration: N3156K
Model/Series: MX7 160
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1995
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 19036C
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/28/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2200 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 325 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1057 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-320-B2D
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MQY, 614 ft msl
Observation Time: 1556 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 30 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 220°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 14°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots/ 20 knots, 180°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:  No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Lebanon, TN (M54)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Carthage, TN
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1518 CST
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  36.254444, -85.969167 (est)

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA083 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 11, 2017 in Carthage, TN
Aircraft: MAULE MX7, registration: N3156K
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 11, 2017, at 1540 central standard time, a Maule MX-7-160, N3156K, was substantially damaged during landing at a private, grass airstrip at Carthage, Tennessee. The commercial pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Lebanon Municipal Airport (M54), Lebanon, Tennessee at 1518.

The pilot reported that the preflight inspection, departure, and cruise portions of the flight were uneventful. He entered the traffic pattern at his property, which consisted of a grass airstrip, 1,195 feet in length. He maneuvered the airplane for a landing to the north, which was always the landing direction due to runway slope and obstacles. He checked the wind at the departure airport prior to landing and recalled that it was out of the south at 12 knots. Due to his injuries, he did not recall the events of the landing sequence. Witnesses reported that the airplane nosed down during the landing and the left wing struck the ground. The witnesses also reported that the wind began "swirling and gusting" as the airplane was landing.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. Structural damage to left wing and fuselage was confirmed. A cursory examination of the airframe, engine, and fuel system did not reveal evidence of a mechanical malfunction.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

CARTHAGE, Tenn. (WZTV) — Some say it's a miracle a local pilot is alive after walking away from a nasty plane crash in Smith County.

Next week, Collin McDonald will go to Vanderbilt to begin reconstruction surgery on his face. The fact that's the only major injury he suffered is something both he and his family are thankful for tonight.

“I've got some pretty extensive facial trauma," McDonald said.

Eight facial fractures and a few bumps and bruises later, McDonald believes he's lucky to be dealing with nothing more after walking away from this.

"The Lord blessed me, put his hand in protection around me, I'm very thankful to be here," McDonald said.

McDonald still doesn't remember much about the crash other than it happened after an aborted landing on this strip by his house during heavy winds.

"That was a factor, but it was just one of the factors that add up to the crash I assume," McDonald said.

McDonald's father David immediately rushed over to the scene and helped his son get free of the leaking fuel.

“It was scary looking, I thought it's not as bad as it looks," David McDonald said.

David McDonald considers it a miracle his son survived and he admits he'll be nervous when the day comes for Collin to get back in the cockpit.

The young pilot has been flying for eight years and last summer, even flew across the country.

He says this accident isn't going to stop his dream of flying missionary work to third world countries.

"I'm a Christian and I personally believe God has a purpose for everyone's life and I'm thankful he's not through with me," Collin said.

Collin said he hopes potential pilots aren't scared away from flying because of his accident.


Story, video and photo gallery:   http://fox17.com








CARTHAGE, Tenn. - A pilot has been taken to the hospital following a plane crash in Smith County.

The wreck happened in the 100 block of McCall Street in South Carthage on Wednesday afternoon.


Smith County EMA Director Sonny Carter said the pilot was the only person on board.

The victim was taken by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in unknown condition. No identity had been released.

Reports stated the single-engine plane was trying to land on a runway at a farm and hangar. Strong winds were an issue.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was a Maule MX-7-160 Sportplane. They confirmed the plane made a forced landing in a field.

The exact cause of the crash had not been released as the investigation remained ongoing by the FAA.

Source:  http://www.newschannel5.com

9 investigates unlicensed security company contracted at Orlando, Sanford airports

ORLANDO, Fla. - A company that provided guards at airport rental car lots across the state during the busy holiday travel season is under state investigation after it was discovered that the company wasn’t licensed.

Investigative reporter Karla Ray found out that company has since skipped town, leaving dozens of employees unpaid.

The security guards worked hundreds of hours at the Orlando-Sanford International Airport and Orlando International Airport for a company named GuardNow.

 “Making sure everything is secure, as far as the parking lot for Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty,” former guard Cat Rajnauth said. 

Rajnauth said GuardNow promised $20 an hour to those working through the holidays. Right away, though, checks weren’t being written on time.

 “Nobody wants to work for free in America, period,” Rajnauth said.

Employees showed us checks that were issued, and then bounced.

“Check my account and, boom, it’s bounced back, and now I owe my bank $500,” former employee Dukens Montrose said. “I started paying bills with it.”

State investigators said GuardNow had no license to operate as a security company in Florida. 

Once the Department of Consumer Affairs launched an investigation, and notified the car rental companies who subcontracted GuardNow, the positions and promise of pay disappeared.

“They flew the coop, that was it,” Rajnauth said.

9 Investigates searched state records and found GuardNow filed paperwork to operate as a business in Florida in October. 

9 Investigates went to the company’s last-known address inside an office building off Aloma in Winter Park, where through a letter slot we could see the office was cleaned out.

“I’ve been working in the United States about seven years. I’ve never heard anything like this,” Montrose said.

Workers filed a fraud complaint with the State Attorney General’s office, holding out hope that with the help of a lawyer, and 9 Investigates, they might get paid; but even 9 Investigates’ calls to the company’s California headquarters were sent to voicemail.

 “How do you do that in Florida, in an airport, anywhere in our airports?  Not only that, bamboozle so many employees,” Rajnauth said.

The CEO of the Sanford airport said the contracts for security at car rental locations are handled directly by those companies and are not housed in a secure area.  In this case, officials for the parent company, Hertz, said that a subcontractor handled the hiring of GuardNow.

Story and video:  http://www.wftv.com

Gary/Chicago International Airport general manager leaving after 10 months

GARY — The general manager of the Gary/Chicago International Airport is leaving after less than a year at the airport.

An airport spokesman said Michael Zonsius is moving to a similar position in Florida, after serving at the Gary airport since last spring. Airport Authority Chairman Stephen Mays thanked Zonsius for his service at Monday's airport board meeting.

Zonsius has been in charge of airport operations since March, when he was appointed general manager by the private firm AvPorts, which has a 10-year contract to manage the airport. 

AvPorts was hired as an independent contractor in 2014 in a version of a public-private partnership that also brought in its parent company, Aviation Facilities Co., or AFCO, as property developer at the airport and for surrounding land.

Airport Executive Director Dan Vicari, an employee of the airport authority and liaison between it and AvPorts, along with Assistant Manager Hank Mook, who handles day-to-day operations, continue in management roles at the airport.

Zonsius, who had worked as chief financial officer for the Chicago Department of Aviation and was that department's liaison with the Gary airport before coming to Gary, replaced Delbert Brown, who had filled the general manager position for one year, from August 2014 to August 2015.

Among Zonsius' duties was managing airport operations. At Monday's meeting, he reported that takeoffs and landings at the airport rose about 3 percent in 2016, to 25,967 from 25,229 in 2015.

Fuel flowage was up 4 percent, Zonsius reported. The airport's fixed base operators pumped 2,581,876 gallons of fuel for aircraft in 2016, as compared to 2,482,342 in 2015. The airport authority collects a fee on each gallon pumped into a plane, so the increased fuel flowage should help airport finances.

Source:  http://www.nwitimes.com

Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II, N661TC: Fatal accident occurred July 29, 2016 in McKinleyville, Humboldt County, California

Captain Larry Mills

On July 29th, 2016 at approximately 1 a.m. an experienced Air Ambulance Pilot, Captain Larry Mills employed by Cal-Ore Life Flight, was killed in the line of duty. His medical crew Debra Kroon, Michelle Tarwater and his patient April Rodriguez were also stripped of life.

April Renee Rodriguez
February 08, 1990 - July 29, 2016


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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N661TC


Location: McKinleyville, CA
Accident Number: WPR16FA153
Date & Time: 07/29/2016, 0105 PDT
Registration: N661TC
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31T
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Fire/smoke (non-impact)
Injuries: 4 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled - Air Medical (Medical Emergency) 

Analysis 

About 13 minutes after takeoff for a medical transport flight, while climbing through about 14,900 ft mean sea level (msl), the pilot reported to air traffic control (ATC) that he was smelling smoke in the cockpit and would be returning to the originating airport. The flight was cleared to return with a descent at pilot's discretion to 9,000 ft msl. The pilot replied, "okay," and said that it looked like he was going to lose some power shortly. The pilot then stated that he had smoke in the cockpit, declared an emergency, and requested that ATC contact the fire department. About 1 minute 15 seconds after the initial report of smelling smoke, the pilot made the last radio transmission of the flight stating that he had three people on board.

The wreckage was located about 9 hours later in an area of brush and heavily forested terrain. Portions of the burned and fragmented wreckage were scattered along a debris path that measured about 2,400 ft in length, which is consistent with an inflight breakup. The center fuselage and cockpit areas were largely intact and displayed no evidence of fire; however, there was an area of thermal damage to the forward fuselage consistent with an inflight fire. The thermal damage was primarily limited to the floor area between the two forward seats near the main bus tie circuit breaker panel and extended to the forward edge of the wing spar. All exposed surfaces were heavily sooted. Some localized melting and thermal-related tearing of the aluminum structure was present. The primer paint on the floor panels under the right aft corner of the pilot seat and the left aft corner of the co-pilot seat was discolored dark brown. An aluminum stringer in this location exhibited broomstrawing indicating that the stringer material was heated to near its melting point prior to impact. A single wire located in the area exhibited notching consistent with mechanical rubbing.

The main bus tie circuit breakers were partially missing. The remaining breakers were heavily sooted on their aft ends, and one breaker was thermally discolored. Areas of charring were on the backside of the panel. Examination of the wiring in this area showed evidence of electrical arcing damage. Four hydraulic lines servicing the landing gear system were located in this area, and all the lines exhibited signs of thermal exposure with melting and missing sections of material.

Six exemplar airplanes of the same make and model as the accident airplane were examined, and instances of unsafe conditions in which electrical lines and hydraulic lines in the area of the main bus tie circuit breaker panel were in direct contact were found on all six airplanes. Some of the wires in the exemplar airplanes showed chafing between hydraulic lines and the electrical wires, which, if left uncorrected, could have led to electrical arcing and subsequent fire.

Based on the unsafe conditions found during examination of the exemplar airplanes and the thermal damage to the area near the main bus tie circuit breaker panel on the accident airplane, including broomstrawing of the aluminum structure, electrical arcing damage to the wiring, and melting of the hydraulic lines, it is likely that an electrical wire near the tie bus circuit breakers chafed on a hydraulic line and/or airplane structure, which resulted in arcing and a subsequent in-flight fire that was fed by the hydraulic fluid. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
An inflight fire in the floor area near the main bus tie circuit breaker panel that resulted from chafing between an electrical wire and a hydraulic line and/or airplane structure. 

Findings

Aircraft
Electrical pwr sys wiring - Fatigue/wear/corrosion (Cause)
Electrical pwr sys wiring - Design (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute-climb to cruise
Fire/smoke (non-impact) (Defining event)
Emergency descent initiated
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

On July 29, 2016, about 0105 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II airplane, N661TC, broke up in flight and impacted the ground shortly after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit near Arcata/Eureka Airport (KACV), McKinleyville, California. The airline transport pilot, two medical personnel, and the patient were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was being operated by Cal-Ore Life Flight as an instrument flight rules (IFR) air ambulance flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 when the accident occurred. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight departed Jack Mc Namara Field (KCEC), Crescent City, California, at 0045 destined for Oakland International Airport (KAOK), Oakland, California.

A postaccident review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radar data and voice communication revealed that, the medical transport flight, which was using the call sign Lifeguard November (LN) 661TC, departed KCEC, was radar identified by air traffic control, was instructed to climb to 15,000 ft mean sea level (msl), and was cleared to KAOK as filed. At 0058:13, the pilot contacted the Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZSE) controller working the flight and stated that he was going to turn back to Crescent City and that he was smelling smoke in the cockpit. Radar data indicated that the airplane's altitude about that time was 14,900 ft msl, and the airplane was on a southeast heading.

At 0058:25, the ZSE controller cleared the pilot direct to Crescent City, issued him a descent at pilot's discretion to 9,000 ft msl, and told the pilot to inform her if he needed anything else.

Radar data indicated that the pilot initiated a right turn to a northwest heading about that time, which continued until about 0059:50.

At 0058:42, the pilot said that it looked like he was going to lose some power shortly and that he would keep the controller posted as long as he could.

At 0058:53, the controller issued the pilot the Crescent City altimeter setting of 29.98 and requested the number of souls on board and fuel remaining.

At 0059:07 the pilot stated that he had smoke in the cockpit, declared an emergency, was depressurizing and heading back to Crescent City, and asked the controller to call the fire department.

At 0059:24, the controller replied that she would and asked again how many people were on board the airplane. The airplane's altitude fluctuated between 14,900 ft and 15,400 ft between 0058:14 and 0059:26. About 0059:26, the radar data indicated that the airplane was on a northwest heading at an altitude of 15,200 feet msl when Mode C radar data was lost, and no further altitude information was received.

At 0059:28, the pilot stated that he had three souls on board. There were no further communications from the pilot despite multiple attempts by ATC controller.

From about 0059:38 to 01:00:50, primary radar data returns corresponding to the airplane's position indicated that the airplane continued on a northwest heading, followed by a left turn to a southeast heading. From 01:01:26 to 01:02:02, the airplane continued on a southeast heading. It then began a gradual right turn to a west heading that continued until 01:02:50 when the airplane was lost from radar; the airplane at that time was located at about 53.5 miles south of KCEC and about 6 miles northeast of KACV.

An alert notice was issued by the FAA at 0210, and an extensive search was launched. Search operations were conducted by personnel from the U.S. Air Force Search and Rescue, California Highway Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. About 1011, searchers located portions of the heavily fragmented wreckage that were positively identified as belonging to the airplane at 1029.

During a telephone conversation with an NTSB investigator, a witness located near Cookson Camp, Arcata, California, reported that, in the early morning hours of July 29, she heard an airplane circle overhead before proceeding westward followed by about 15 seconds of silence. While looking out the window of her tent, she saw a large dome-shaped flash to the west, followed by another flash and a loud rumble. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 54, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Helicopter; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/25/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/12/2016
Flight Time: 7300 hours (Total, all aircraft), 125.5 hours (Total, this make and model), 5467 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 109.4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 46.1 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 5.8 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

The pilot, age 54, held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multi-engine land rating. Additionally, he held commercial pilot privileges for airplane single-engine land and rotorcraft-helicopter. He also held a type rating for A/BE-1900 airplanes and a certified flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, instrument airplane, and rotorcraft-helicopter ratings. His most recent second-class medical was issued on July 25, 2016, with the limitation that he must have available glasses for near vision.

According to the operator's training records, the pilot completed training and was assigned for duty as a pilot-in-command in Piper PA-31T aircraft on May 12, 2016. He was hired with 7,300 hours total flight time, 1,378 hours of actual IFR, 179 hours of simulated IFR, 3,178 hours of night time, 5,174 hours of VFR cross country, and 3,100 hours of night cross country. In addition, at the time of the accident, he had accumulated about 125.5 hours in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent airman competency/proficiency check, which was administered by a company check airman, was completed on May 12, 2016.

The pilot's flight and duty records revealed the he was off duty on July 25 and 26. On July 27, his duty day started at 1700 and ended on July 28 at 0500, and he flew 3 hours 40 minutes. On July 28, his duty day started at 1700, and he flew 2 hours 05 minutes before the accident. 



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER 
Registration: N661TC
Model/Series: PA-31T
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1981
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 31T8120022
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 5
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/14/2016,
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 9000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 7309 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: P&W
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: PT6A SER
Registered Owner: BLUE GOOSE AVIATION LLC
Rated Power: 620 hp
Operator: Cal-Ore Life Flight
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  On-demand Air Taxi (135) 

The airplane was manufactured in 1981 and was equipped with retractable landing gear, two Pratt and Whitney PT6A-135A engines, and controllable pitch propellers. It was also equipped with a handheld fire extinguisher, smoke goggles, and a LifePort stretcher system that had been installed in conformance with LifePort supplemental type certificate No. SA00528SE. The modification required additional power requirements, which are discussed below.

The operator maintained the airplane in accordance with Piper Progressive Inspections on a 100-hour cycle per Piper document 761-664, dated October 27, 1994. The most recent inspection was completed on July 14, 2016, when the airplane had accumulated 7,286.6 hours total time in service.

At the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated 7,309 hours total time in service. Both the left (S/N PZ0641) and right (S/N PZ0642) engines had accumulated 3,712 hours since new. Both the left (S/N 27825) and right (S/N 27829) propeller assemblies had accumulated 1,662 hours since overhaul.

Electrical System

The Piper PA-31T is equipped with a 28-volt direct current electrical system powered by a battery and two starter generators. External power provisions are available for ground operational requirements. The typical power distribution system is of split-bus design with individual circuit protection and separate pilot-accessible bus-tie circuit breakers that includes diode protection and provides operational flexibility during single-engine or single-generator operation. The main bus tie circuit breakers are located on a panel in the floor between the pilot and copilot seats. The cockpit floor separates the pressurized area (cabin) and the unpressurized area (below the circuit breaker panel).

The airplane's panel contained, at the time of delivery, twelve circuit breakers (C/Bs) in two rows of six with current ratings ranging from 50 amps (A) to 200 A. The LifePort modification required the addition of two circuit breakers to the main bus tie panel with ratings of 30 A and 50 A. Based on a review of the airplane wreckage and discussions with the owner, the 50 A C/B "EMS INV" was located next to the "Right Generator" C/B on the first row, and the 30 A C/B "EMS PWR" was located next to the "R Main 2" C/B on the second row.

In the structural bay, below the floor where the main bus tie panel was located, additional wiring and components for the left and right starter solenoids were mounted.

Hydraulic System

The Piper PA-31T is equipped with two hydraulic systems: one for the retractable landing gear and landing gear doors and one for the airplane's braking system. The nominal landing gear system operating pressure is 1900 pounds per square inch, and the landing gear system remains pressurized during gear extension and retraction operations. The hydraulic fluid used in the hydraulic system is MIL-H-5606.

A hand pump, located in the cockpit floor just forward of the circuit breaker panel, is installed to serve as an emergency pump in the event of a failure of the engine-driven pumps. The pump is accessed by a door in the cockpit floor, and the handle can be extended to allow pump operation. The pump handle, when in the stowed position, is partially located in the structural bay that contains the electrical circuit breakers.

Four hydraulic lines for the main landing gear travel from the hydraulic reservoir, along the fuselage below the floor, through the main spar, and then to the left and right main landing gear actuators and door actuators. A production break of the hydraulic line sections is located below the circuit breaker panel, where each of the lines are joined using AN-type union fittings. Aft of the main spar, the lines connect to AN-type T-fittings and proceed to the main landing gear bays in the left and right wings.

Fuel System

The Piper PA-31T fuel system consists of independent left and right fuel systems that are connected to each other by a crossfeed system. Each inboard fuel tank contains two submerged fuel boost pumps. One fuel pump must be operating any time its respective engine is in operation in order to supply fuel under pressure to the engine-driven fuel pump. Fuel pump operation for each side is controlled by a three-position switch on the overhead panel.

Each set of wing tanks contains a fuel shutoff valve mounted on the inboard side of its respective wing root. The fuel crossfeed valve is mounted on the inboard side of the left wing root. Each valve is operated by a push-pull control lever that is mounted on the cockpit floor against the main spar housing just aft of the circuit breaker panel.

The crossfeed fuel system line from the right fuel system to the left fuel system is routed underneath the cockpit floor along the forward face of the main spar. A tee is located in the fuel line along the right side of the airplane in the fuselage to provide fuel for the Janitrol heater located in the nose of the aircraft. No portion of the fuel lines are located in the structural bay that contains the circuit breaker panel.

For additional information regarding the airplane's systems refer to the Systems Group Chairman Factual Report located in the public docket for this accident. 



Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: ACV
Observation Time: 0807 UTC
Distance from Accident Site:
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Temperature/Dew Point:  13°C / 12°C
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 200 ft agl
Visibility:  
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:  4 knots, 180°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.85 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: Moderate - Mist
Departure Point: Crescent City, CA
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Oakland, CA
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 0045 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class E 

At 0107, KACV, located about 6 miles southwest of the accident site, was reporting, in part, wind 180° at 4 knots, visibility 1/2 statute mile in mist, runway 32 visual range 4,500 ft variable to greater than 6,000 ft, ceiling 200 ft overcast, temperature 55°F, dew point 54°F, and altimeter 29.85 inches of mercury. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 3 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: In-Flight
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 4 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 41.027222, -124.010278 

The accident site was located in an area of brush and heavily forested terrain. Portions of the burned and fragmented wreckage were scattered along a debris path oriented along a magnetic heading of 354° that measured about 2,400 ft in length. The first identifiable pieces of wreckage were a horizontal stabilizer tip, the nose baggage door, and the vertical stabilizer. The right engine and both wings separated and were near the middle of the debris field. The fuselage followed by the left engine were the last major pieces of debris. There was no evidence of significant postcrash/ground fire to the wreckage except for the inboard sections of both wings, which sustained severe postcrash fire damage.

The fuselage came to rest on its left side and facing the direction of travel. The instrument panel and cockpit exhibited extensive impact damage. The cabin area of the fuselage was largely intact. No sign of postcrash fire was evident. There was an even, lightly adhered coating of light soot over the entire fuselage's exterior skin with several small areas of heavier soot deposits. In addition, evidence of thermal damage was present within the forward section of the fuselage between the pilot and copilot seats.

The right wing separated into two main sections. The inboard section was located about 590 ft south of the fuselage and sustained extensive thermal damage. The right flap was in the up position and sustained extensive thermal damage. The right main landing gear was in the up position with the tire and wheel burned in the wheel well. The outboard section was located about 1,055 ft south of the fuselage and exhibited chordwise tension and compression signatures but was free of any leading-edge impacts. The wingtip fuel tank remained attached to its respective attach points. A 14-inch-section of the right aileron remained attached to the wing. The rest of the aileron separated from its attach points and was not recovered.

The left wing separated into two main sections. The inboard section was located about 195 ft southwest of the fuselage and sustained extensive thermal damage. The wing carry-thru spar remained attached to the left wing structure and sustained extensive thermal damage. The left flap was in the up position and suffered extensive thermal damage. The left main landing gear was in the up position with the tire and wheel burned in the wheel well. The outboard section was located about 1,035 ft south of the fuselage and was free of any leading-edge impacts but exhibited extensive thermal damage, with no evidence of postimpact fire. The left wingtip fuel tank and aileron separated from their respective attach points and were not recovered.

The vertical stabilizer separated from the empennage and was located about 1,260 ft south of the fuselage. It was covered with a light coat of soot but was free of impact damage. The leading-edge section and a portion of the upper skin of the right horizontal stabilizer were recovered and exhibited upward bending near the root and downward bending midspan with a slight leading edge downward twist towards the tip. The remaining portions of the right horizontal stabilizer and right elevator separated from their respective attach points and were not recovered.

The rudder, left horizontal stabilizer, left elevator, and a small section of the left side of the vertical stabilizer were found in the area of the accident site by timber company personnel about 15 months after the original wreckage was recovered. The exact location was not documented. The small section of vertical stabilizer exhibited localized thermal damage, sooting, and blistering of the exterior paint.

The left nacelle separated from the airframe and came to rest on its right side. The left engine remained in the nacelle. The propeller and reduction gearbox forward housing were adjacent to the nacelle. One of the three propeller blades separated from the propeller hub. The engine and nacelle exhibited no signs of thermal damage or postcrash fire. Control continuity could not be established from the engine to the firewall connections due to impact damage.

The right nacelle separated from the airframe and came to rest on its left side. The right engine remained in the nacelle. The propeller remained attached to the propeller drive shaft. One of the three propeller blades separated from the propeller hub. The nacelle exhibited light thermal and fire damage to the firewall area. Control continuity could not be established from the engine to the firewall connections due to impact damage.

Control continuity could not be established due to numerous fractures in the system and missing cabling and flight control surfaces. All the fractures that were identified exhibited features consistent with tension overload.

On August 2 and 3, 2016, the wreckage was examined at the facilities of Plain Parts Enterprises, Pleasant Grove, California. All identified wreckage was visually examined for signatures of an in-flight fire.

Thermal damage to the forward fuselage was primarily limited to the floor area between the two forward seats near the main bus tie circuit breaker panel and extended to the forward edge of the wing spar. All exposed surfaces were heavily sooted. There was some localized melting and thermal-related tearing of aluminum structure. The primer paint on the floor panels under the right aft corner of the pilot seat and left aft corner of the co-pilot seat was discolored dark brown. An aluminum stringer in this location exhibited broomstrawing. A single wire located near the stringer was shiny in appearance and suffered mechanical damage to the conductor ends.

The left and right forward seats exhibited light thermal discoloration and some thermal related shrinking on the inboard edges. The seat frames exhibited thermal discoloration on the rear inboard legs.

The exterior of the aft fuselage was covered in a light coating of soot but was relatively free of thermal damage. The wiring bundles in the floor were intact. One bundle, in the aft fuselage, exhibited thermal damage with insulation missing from the wire conductors. The bare wire conductors were discolored and oxidized.

The combustion heater was removed from the nose of the airplane. The heater exhibited no signs of thermal damage, and no sooting was present in any of the ducting. The fuel line for the heater was intact to the forward edge of the wing spar and exhibited no signs of thermal related damage.

The majority of the LifePort system's electrical service wiring aft of the main bus tie panel exhibited no thermal-related damage. However, two small isolated thermal discoloration patterns were visible on the surface of the insulation of one of the LifePort system's wires.

Both engine external cases exhibited no signs of fire damage or thermal distress. No anomalies, contamination, or evidence of malfunction were found in any of the engine accessories. The examination of the engines revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

A section of the forward fuselage, wiring and associated components were removed and sent to the NTSB's Materials Laboratory in Washington, DC, for further examination.

On November 2 and 3, 2016, the wreckage was reexamined at the facilities of Plain Parts Enterprises. A localized area of thermal damage to a section of wiring was located in a large wire bundle that ran through the center tunnel in the floor of the cockpit. All the insulation was either melted, thermally discolored, or missing. One large gauge wire end was found to have beading, welding and melting on one end. All other wire bundles located in this area were intact and sustained minimal thermal damage.

The main bus tie circuit breakers in the panel on the floor between the pilot and copilot's seats were partially missing. The remaining breakers were heavily sooted on their aft ends, and one breaker was thermally discolored. There were areas of charring on the backside of the panel. A majority of the wiring in the area directly around the circuit breakers and in the structural bay containing the circuit breaker panel was either melted, thermally discolored, or missing.

The four hydraulic lines servicing the landing gear system were located in this area. All the lines exhibited signs of thermal exposure with melting and missing sections of material.

The main bus tie circuit breaker panel, landing gear hydraulic lines, fuel crossfeed lines, and the high voltage wiring that connected to the circuit breaker panel were removed from the airplane and sent to the Materials Laboratory for further examination.

For additional information regarding the examination of the airplane for thermal damage, refer to the Materials Laboratory Fire Factual Report, located in the public docket for this accident.

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy was conducted under the authority of the Humboldt County Coroner, Eureka, California, on August 1, 2016. The examination revealed that the right leg of the pilot's flight suit was partially damaged from heat, and his right boot was melted over the top of its buckles. Both his right hand and right lower leg suffered thermal damage. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to extensive blunt force trauma.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on specimens from the pilot, which were negative for carbon monoxide, alcohol and drugs. 

Tests And Research

Wire Examination

Multiple electrical wires that were connected to the main bus tie circuit breaker panel were removed from the wreckage and sent to the NTSB's Materials Laboratory for further examination.

The wire identified as P3H contained both terminal ends. The entire wire section was missing insulation. A large area of welded conductors/arcing was present about 2 inches and 4.5 inches from the terminal ends. (See figure 1 and figure 2.)


Figure 1 - Photograph of welded area on P3H

Figure 2 - Micrograph of welded area on P3H 


The wire identified as L Main 2 was trapped inside a section of aircraft structure. A portion of the circuit breaker remained attached to the wire. About 11 inches of wire insulation were missing from the fractured end of the wire. The remaining insulation exhibited thermal discoloration and shrinking. Signs of thermal damage were present and decreased in severity moving away from the main bus tie circuit breaker end. The fractured end was frayed, and the exposed conductor exhibited notching. The fractured end was examined using a scanning electron microscope. No obvious signs of arcing on exposed sections of conductor were found. Several areas of the cross diameter on several conductors were flattened and appeared to have missing material. In addition, the fractured end was examined using electron dispersive spectroscopy to look for the presence of foreign materials on the wire conductors. No foreign material was found. (See figure 3 and figure 4.)


Figure 3 - Photograph of fractured end of L Main 2

Figure 4 - Micrograph of notching on conductor surface of L Main 2 


Hydraulic Line Examination

Sections of the gear up, gear down, door open, and door closed hydraulic lines were removed from the airplane and sent to the NTSB's Materials Laboratory for further examination. The hydraulic lines were constructed of 5050-0 aluminum tubing. All the lines displayed visible signs of heat exposure, and several inches of material were missing from each of the lines.

The fractured ends on all the lines were examined and found to exhibit patterns consistent with overstress fracture; some fractures exhibited features consistent with elevated temperature exposure as a contributing factor. On one of the fractured tubes, the gear up line, intergranular fracture features were found. A cross-section of fracture area showed severe grain separation along the grain boundaries, missing grains, and intergranular voids. There were no indications of microstructural features consistent with stress corrosion cracking or embrittlement.

For additional information regarding the components examined for thermal damage and residue transfer, refer to the Materials Laboratory Group Chairman Factual Report, located in the public docket for this accident.

Exemplar Airplane Examinations

NTSB and FAA personnel examined the wiring in the area of the main electrical bus circuit breaker panel on six exemplar Piper PA-31T-series airplanes that were maintained by various individuals/operators. On all six exemplar airplanes, electrical lines and hydraulic lines were found in direct contact. Some of the wires in the exemplar airplanes showed chafing between hydraulic lines and the electrical wires. For additional information regarding the exemplar airplane examinations refer to the Systems-Exemplar Aircraft Factual Report located in the public docket for this accident. 

Organizational And Management Information

Cal-Ore Life Flight is a 14 CFR Part 135 air carrier that holds on-demand operations specifications and is authorized to conduct business exclusively under the business name Cal-Ore Life Flight. The company headquarters are located at KCEC. The Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, and Director of Maintenance at the time of the accident were all based in Crescent City.

At the time of the accident, Cal-Ore Life Flight operated 7 PA-31T airplanes and employed about 12 pilots. The company had 3 bases located in northern California. 

Additional Information

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 43.13-1B, "Acceptable Methods, Techniques, and Practices-Aircraft Inspection and Repair," advises against wires and fluid lines being in contact due to the risk of chafing, which can lead to thermal stress and arcing in an area where flammable liquids are routed. This guidance material specifies a minimum 1/2-inch clearance between the wires and the fluid-carrying lines.

On December 16, 2016, the FAA issued a Special Airworthiness Bulletin (SAIB), CE-17-05, concerning wiring on Piper aircraft including the PA-31T series. The SAIB provided information on wiring conditions in the area below the floor mounted circuit breaker panels that could lead to chafing, thermal stress, or arcing. The SAIB recommended best practices for securing high electrical current wires in the aircraft.

On January 6, 2017, Piper Aircraft, Inc., issued Service Bulletin (SB) 1301. The SB described procedures for visually inspecting the area below the main circuit breaker panel and rerouting and replacing wires and/or parts as necessary.

Based on the SAIB, the SB, and preliminary results from this investigation, on January 10, 2017 the NTSB issued Urgent Safety Recommendation A-17-001 concerning unsafe wiring conditions that may lead to arcing and cause fires on Piper PA-31T series airplanes to the FAA. The urgent recommendation requested that the FAA:

Issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) that requires owners and operators of Piper PA-31T-series airplanes to take the actions recommended in Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin CE-17-05 immediately after the AD is issued.

On February 7, 2017, the FAA issued AD 2017-02-06, requiring repetitive detailed visual inspection of the wiring below the floor mounted circuit breaker panels per the Piper SB 1301. The AD's effective date was February 22, 2017, and the AD required the initial inspection to be accomplished within 30 days after the effective date and then at repetitive intervals not to exceed 12 months.




















NTSB Identification: WPR16FA153
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, July 29, 2016 in McKinleyville, CA
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31T, registration: N661TC
Injuries: 4 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 July 29, 2016, about 0105 Pacific daylight time, a twin-engine, turbine-powered, Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II airplane, N661TC, reported smoke in the cockpit and subsequently sustained an in-flight breakup and collision with tree-covered terrain near Arcata/Eureka Airport, McKinleyville, California. The accident airplane was being operated by Cal-Ore Life Flight as an instrument flight rules (IFR) air transport medical flight under the provisions of Title 14, CFR Part 135. The airline transport pilot, two medical personnel, and one patient were fatally injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Dark night, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight departed Crescent City, California, at 0045, destined for Oakland International Airport, Oakland, California

A preliminary review of archived radar and voice communication data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that at 0058:12, as the airplane reached an altitude of about 15,000 feet msl, the accident pilot contacted Seattle air route traffic control center (ARTCC) and stated that he was going to turn back to Crescent City due to a smell of smoke in the cockpit. 

At 0058:26, the ARTCC specialist on duty cleared the accident airplane direct to the Crescent City Airport, issued him a descent clearance to 9,000 feet, and told him to let her know if he needed anything else.

At 0058:41, the accident pilot said "okay," and he stated that it looked like he was going to lose some power shortly, and said he would keep her posted as long as he could.

At 0058:52, the ARTCC specialist issued the Crescent City altimeter of 29.98, and then requested the total number of occupants on board, and how much fuel was remaining.

At 0059:07, the accident pilot stated that he had smoke in the cockpit, declared an emergency, said he was depressurizing and was heading back to Crescent City.

At 0059:21, the accident pilot asked the ARTCC specialist to call the fire department to have them standing by upon arrival. 

At 0059:25, the ARTCC specialist then acknowledged that crash rescue would be standing by at the Crescent City Airport, and she again asked how many people were on board.

At 0059:27, the accident pilot stated that he had three on board. There were no further communications received from the accident airplane despite multiple attempts by the ARTCC specialist on duty. 

During a telephone conversation with an National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, a witness located near Cookson Camp, Arcata, California, reported that in the early morning hours of July 29, she heard an airplane circling overhead before it eventually flew westward, which was followed by about 15 seconds of silence. While looking out the window of her tent, she saw a large dome shaped flash to the west, followed by another flash and a loud rumble. 

The NTSB IIC, along with another NTSB investigator, two Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors from the Oakland Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), two representatives from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, representatives from Cal-Ore Life Flight, and an Piper Aircraft air safety investigator reached the accident site on the afternoon of July 30. The accident site was located in an area of brush and heavily forested terrain. Large portions of the burned and fragmented airplane were scattered along a debris path oriented along a magnetic heading of 354 degrees, which measured about 2,400 feet in length. The fuselage, inboard and outboard sections of the wings, vertical tail, and portions of one horizontal stabilizer, were located in separate locations and exhibited minimal impact damage. Both inboard sections of the wings exhibited postcrash fire damage.

The fuselage and empennage came to rest on its left side and facing the direction of travel. The instrument panel and cockpit exhibited extensive impact damage. The cabin area of the fuselage was largely intact. Evidence of thermal damage was present in the forward section of the fuselage. A section of the forward fuselage, wiring, and associated components were removed and sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C., for further examination. 

Both engines separated from their respective engine firewalls and sustained impact damage, however; neither engine exhibited any sign of thermal damage. 

Control continuity could not be established due to numerous fractures in the system, missing cabling and flight control surfaces; however, all the fractures that were identified exhibited features consistent with tension overload. 

The closest weather reporting facility is Arcata/Eureka Airport (KACV), McKinleyville, located approximately 6 miles southwest of the accident site. At 0107, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) at KACV, reported wind 180 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 1/2 statute miles, mist; runway 32 visual range 4,500 feet variable to greater than 6,000 feet, overcast clouds 200 feet; temperature 55 degrees F; dew point 54 degrees F; altimeter 29.85 inHg.
Captain Larry Mills

On July 29th, 2016 at approximately 1 a.m. an experienced Air Ambulance Pilot, Captain Larry Mills employed by Cal-Ore Life Flight, was killed in the line of duty. His medical crew Debra Kroon, Michelle Tarwater and his patient April Rodriguez were also stripped of life.

April Renee Rodriguez
February 08, 1990 - July 29, 2016


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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N661TC


Location: McKinleyville, CA
Accident Number: WPR16FA153
Date & Time: 07/29/2016, 0105 PDT
Registration: N661TC
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31T
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Fire/smoke (non-impact)
Injuries: 4 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled - Air Medical (Medical Emergency) 

On July 29, 2016, about 0105 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II airplane, N661TC, broke up in flight and impacted the ground shortly after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit near Arcata/Eureka Airport (KACV), McKinleyville, California. The airline transport pilot, two medical personnel, and the patient were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was being operated by Cal-Ore Life Flight as an instrument flight rules (IFR) air ambulance flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 when the accident occurred. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight departed Jack Mc Namara Field (KCEC), Crescent City, California, at 0045 destined for Oakland International Airport (KAOK), Oakland, California.

A postaccident review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radar data and voice communication revealed that, the medical transport flight, which was using the call sign Lifeguard November (LN) 661TC, departed KCEC, was radar identified by air traffic control, was instructed to climb to 15,000 ft mean sea level (msl), and was cleared to KAOK as filed. At 0058:13, the pilot contacted the Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZSE) controller working the flight and stated that he was going to turn back to Crescent City and that he was smelling smoke in the cockpit. Radar data indicated that the airplane's altitude about that time was 14,900 ft msl, and the airplane was on a southeast heading.

At 0058:25, the ZSE controller cleared the pilot direct to Crescent City, issued him a descent at pilot's discretion to 9,000 ft msl, and told the pilot to inform her if he needed anything else.

Radar data indicated that the pilot initiated a right turn to a northwest heading about that time, which continued until about 0059:50.

At 0058:42, the pilot said that it looked like he was going to lose some power shortly and that he would keep the controller posted as long as he could.

At 0058:53, the controller issued the pilot the Crescent City altimeter setting of 29.98 and requested the number of souls on board and fuel remaining.

At 0059:07 the pilot stated that he had smoke in the cockpit, declared an emergency, was depressurizing and heading back to Crescent City, and asked the controller to call the fire department.

At 0059:24, the controller replied that she would and asked again how many people were on board the airplane. The airplane's altitude fluctuated between 14,900 ft and 15,400 ft between 0058:14 and 0059:26. About 0059:26, the radar data indicated that the airplane was on a northwest heading at an altitude of 15,200 feet msl when Mode C radar data was lost, and no further altitude information was received.

At 0059:28, the pilot stated that he had three souls on board. There were no further communications from the pilot despite multiple attempts by ATC controller.

From about 0059:38 to 01:00:50, primary radar data returns corresponding to the airplane's position indicated that the airplane continued on a northwest heading, followed by a left turn to a southeast heading. From 01:01:26 to 01:02:02, the airplane continued on a southeast heading. It then began a gradual right turn to a west heading that continued until 01:02:50 when the airplane was lost from radar; the airplane at that time was located at about 53.5 miles south of KCEC and about 6 miles northeast of KACV.

An alert notice was issued by the FAA at 0210, and an extensive search was launched. Search operations were conducted by personnel from the U.S. Air Force Search and Rescue, California Highway Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. About 1011, searchers located portions of the heavily fragmented wreckage that were positively identified as belonging to the airplane at 1029.

During a telephone conversation with an NTSB investigator, a witness located near Cookson Camp, Arcata, California, reported that, in the early morning hours of July 29, she heard an airplane circle overhead before proceeding westward followed by about 15 seconds of silence. While looking out the window of her tent, she saw a large dome-shaped flash to the west, followed by another flash and a loud rumble. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 54, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Helicopter; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/25/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/12/2016
Flight Time: 7300 hours (Total, all aircraft), 125.5 hours (Total, this make and model), 5467 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 109.4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 46.1 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 5.8 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

The pilot, age 54, held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multi-engine land rating. Additionally, he held commercial pilot privileges for airplane single-engine land and rotorcraft-helicopter. He also held a type rating for A/BE-1900 airplanes and a certified flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, instrument airplane, and rotorcraft-helicopter ratings. His most recent second-class medical was issued on July 25, 2016, with the limitation that he must have available glasses for near vision.

According to the operator's training records, the pilot completed training and was assigned for duty as a pilot-in-command in Piper PA-31T aircraft on May 12, 2016. He was hired with 7,300 hours total flight time, 1,378 hours of actual IFR, 179 hours of simulated IFR, 3,178 hours of night time, 5,174 hours of VFR cross country, and 3,100 hours of night cross country. In addition, at the time of the accident, he had accumulated about 125.5 hours in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent airman competency/proficiency check, which was administered by a company check airman, was completed on May 12, 2016.

The pilot's flight and duty records revealed the he was off duty on July 25 and 26. On July 27, his duty day started at 1700 and ended on July 28 at 0500, and he flew 3 hours 40 minutes. On July 28, his duty day started at 1700, and he flew 2 hours 05 minutes before the accident. 



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER 
Registration: N661TC
Model/Series: PA-31T
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1981
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 31T8120022
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 5
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/14/2016,
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 9000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 7309 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: P&W
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: PT6A SER
Registered Owner: BLUE GOOSE AVIATION LLC
Rated Power: 620 hp
Operator: Cal-Ore Life Flight
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  On-demand Air Taxi (135) 

The airplane was manufactured in 1981 and was equipped with retractable landing gear, two Pratt and Whitney PT6A-135A engines, and controllable pitch propellers. It was also equipped with a handheld fire extinguisher, smoke goggles, and a LifePort stretcher system that had been installed in conformance with LifePort supplemental type certificate No. SA00528SE. The modification required additional power requirements, which are discussed below.

The operator maintained the airplane in accordance with Piper Progressive Inspections on a 100-hour cycle per Piper document 761-664, dated October 27, 1994. The most recent inspection was completed on July 14, 2016, when the airplane had accumulated 7,286.6 hours total time in service.

At the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated 7,309 hours total time in service. Both the left (S/N PZ0641) and right (S/N PZ0642) engines had accumulated 3,712 hours since new. Both the left (S/N 27825) and right (S/N 27829) propeller assemblies had accumulated 1,662 hours since overhaul.

Electrical System

The Piper PA-31T is equipped with a 28-volt direct current electrical system powered by a battery and two starter generators. External power provisions are available for ground operational requirements. The typical power distribution system is of split-bus design with individual circuit protection and separate pilot-accessible bus-tie circuit breakers that includes diode protection and provides operational flexibility during single-engine or single-generator operation. The main bus tie circuit breakers are located on a panel in the floor between the pilot and copilot seats. The cockpit floor separates the pressurized area (cabin) and the unpressurized area (below the circuit breaker panel).

The airplane's panel contained, at the time of delivery, twelve circuit breakers (C/Bs) in two rows of six with current ratings ranging from 50 amps (A) to 200 A. The LifePort modification required the addition of two circuit breakers to the main bus tie panel with ratings of 30 A and 50 A. Based on a review of the airplane wreckage and discussions with the owner, the 50 A C/B "EMS INV" was located next to the "Right Generator" C/B on the first row, and the 30 A C/B "EMS PWR" was located next to the "R Main 2" C/B on the second row.

In the structural bay, below the floor where the main bus tie panel was located, additional wiring and components for the left and right starter solenoids were mounted.

Hydraulic System

The Piper PA-31T is equipped with two hydraulic systems: one for the retractable landing gear and landing gear doors and one for the airplane's braking system. The nominal landing gear system operating pressure is 1900 pounds per square inch, and the landing gear system remains pressurized during gear extension and retraction operations. The hydraulic fluid used in the hydraulic system is MIL-H-5606.

A hand pump, located in the cockpit floor just forward of the circuit breaker panel, is installed to serve as an emergency pump in the event of a failure of the engine-driven pumps. The pump is accessed by a door in the cockpit floor, and the handle can be extended to allow pump operation. The pump handle, when in the stowed position, is partially located in the structural bay that contains the electrical circuit breakers.

Four hydraulic lines for the main landing gear travel from the hydraulic reservoir, along the fuselage below the floor, through the main spar, and then to the left and right main landing gear actuators and door actuators. A production break of the hydraulic line sections is located below the circuit breaker panel, where each of the lines are joined using AN-type union fittings. Aft of the main spar, the lines connect to AN-type T-fittings and proceed to the main landing gear bays in the left and right wings.

Fuel System

The Piper PA-31T fuel system consists of independent left and right fuel systems that are connected to each other by a crossfeed system. Each inboard fuel tank contains two submerged fuel boost pumps. One fuel pump must be operating any time its respective engine is in operation in order to supply fuel under pressure to the engine-driven fuel pump. Fuel pump operation for each side is controlled by a three-position switch on the overhead panel.

Each set of wing tanks contains a fuel shutoff valve mounted on the inboard side of its respective wing root. The fuel crossfeed valve is mounted on the inboard side of the left wing root. Each valve is operated by a push-pull control lever that is mounted on the cockpit floor against the main spar housing just aft of the circuit breaker panel.

The crossfeed fuel system line from the right fuel system to the left fuel system is routed underneath the cockpit floor along the forward face of the main spar. A tee is located in the fuel line along the right side of the airplane in the fuselage to provide fuel for the Janitrol heater located in the nose of the aircraft. No portion of the fuel lines are located in the structural bay that contains the circuit breaker panel.

For additional information regarding the airplane's systems refer to the Systems Group Chairman Factual Report located in the public docket for this accident. 



Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: ACV
Observation Time: 0807 UTC
Distance from Accident Site:
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Temperature/Dew Point:  13°C / 12°C
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 200 ft agl
Visibility:  
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:  4 knots, 180°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.85 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: Moderate - Mist
Departure Point: Crescent City, CA
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Oakland, CA
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 0045 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class E 

At 0107, KACV, located about 6 miles southwest of the accident site, was reporting, in part, wind 180° at 4 knots, visibility 1/2 statute mile in mist, runway 32 visual range 4,500 ft variable to greater than 6,000 ft, ceiling 200 ft overcast, temperature 55°F, dew point 54°F, and altimeter 29.85 inches of mercury. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 3 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: In-Flight
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 4 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 41.027222, -124.010278 

The accident site was located in an area of brush and heavily forested terrain. Portions of the burned and fragmented wreckage were scattered along a debris path oriented along a magnetic heading of 354° that measured about 2,400 ft in length. The first identifiable pieces of wreckage were a horizontal stabilizer tip, the nose baggage door, and the vertical stabilizer. The right engine and both wings separated and were near the middle of the debris field. The fuselage followed by the left engine were the last major pieces of debris. There was no evidence of significant postcrash/ground fire to the wreckage except for the inboard sections of both wings, which sustained severe postcrash fire damage.

The fuselage came to rest on its left side and facing the direction of travel. The instrument panel and cockpit exhibited extensive impact damage. The cabin area of the fuselage was largely intact. No sign of postcrash fire was evident. There was an even, lightly adhered coating of light soot over the entire fuselage's exterior skin with several small areas of heavier soot deposits. In addition, evidence of thermal damage was present within the forward section of the fuselage between the pilot and copilot seats.

The right wing separated into two main sections. The inboard section was located about 590 ft south of the fuselage and sustained extensive thermal damage. The right flap was in the up position and sustained extensive thermal damage. The right main landing gear was in the up position with the tire and wheel burned in the wheel well. The outboard section was located about 1,055 ft south of the fuselage and exhibited chordwise tension and compression signatures but was free of any leading-edge impacts. The wingtip fuel tank remained attached to its respective attach points. A 14-inch-section of the right aileron remained attached to the wing. The rest of the aileron separated from its attach points and was not recovered.

The left wing separated into two main sections. The inboard section was located about 195 ft southwest of the fuselage and sustained extensive thermal damage. The wing carry-thru spar remained attached to the left wing structure and sustained extensive thermal damage. The left flap was in the up position and suffered extensive thermal damage. The left main landing gear was in the up position with the tire and wheel burned in the wheel well. The outboard section was located about 1,035 ft south of the fuselage and was free of any leading-edge impacts but exhibited extensive thermal damage, with no evidence of postimpact fire. The left wingtip fuel tank and aileron separated from their respective attach points and were not recovered.

The vertical stabilizer separated from the empennage and was located about 1,260 ft south of the fuselage. It was covered with a light coat of soot but was free of impact damage. The leading-edge section and a portion of the upper skin of the right horizontal stabilizer were recovered and exhibited upward bending near the root and downward bending midspan with a slight leading edge downward twist towards the tip. The remaining portions of the right horizontal stabilizer and right elevator separated from their respective attach points and were not recovered.

The rudder, left horizontal stabilizer, left elevator, and a small section of the left side of the vertical stabilizer were found in the area of the accident site by timber company personnel about 15 months after the original wreckage was recovered. The exact location was not documented. The small section of vertical stabilizer exhibited localized thermal damage, sooting, and blistering of the exterior paint.

The left nacelle separated from the airframe and came to rest on its right side. The left engine remained in the nacelle. The propeller and reduction gearbox forward housing were adjacent to the nacelle. One of the three propeller blades separated from the propeller hub. The engine and nacelle exhibited no signs of thermal damage or postcrash fire. Control continuity could not be established from the engine to the firewall connections due to impact damage.

The right nacelle separated from the airframe and came to rest on its left side. The right engine remained in the nacelle. The propeller remained attached to the propeller drive shaft. One of the three propeller blades separated from the propeller hub. The nacelle exhibited light thermal and fire damage to the firewall area. Control continuity could not be established from the engine to the firewall connections due to impact damage.

Control continuity could not be established due to numerous fractures in the system and missing cabling and flight control surfaces. All the fractures that were identified exhibited features consistent with tension overload.

On August 2 and 3, 2016, the wreckage was examined at the facilities of Plain Parts Enterprises, Pleasant Grove, California. All identified wreckage was visually examined for signatures of an in-flight fire.

Thermal damage to the forward fuselage was primarily limited to the floor area between the two forward seats near the main bus tie circuit breaker panel and extended to the forward edge of the wing spar. All exposed surfaces were heavily sooted. There was some localized melting and thermal-related tearing of aluminum structure. The primer paint on the floor panels under the right aft corner of the pilot seat and left aft corner of the co-pilot seat was discolored dark brown. An aluminum stringer in this location exhibited broomstrawing. A single wire located near the stringer was shiny in appearance and suffered mechanical damage to the conductor ends.

The left and right forward seats exhibited light thermal discoloration and some thermal related shrinking on the inboard edges. The seat frames exhibited thermal discoloration on the rear inboard legs.

The exterior of the aft fuselage was covered in a light coating of soot but was relatively free of thermal damage. The wiring bundles in the floor were intact. One bundle, in the aft fuselage, exhibited thermal damage with insulation missing from the wire conductors. The bare wire conductors were discolored and oxidized.

The combustion heater was removed from the nose of the airplane. The heater exhibited no signs of thermal damage, and no sooting was present in any of the ducting. The fuel line for the heater was intact to the forward edge of the wing spar and exhibited no signs of thermal related damage.

The majority of the LifePort system's electrical service wiring aft of the main bus tie panel exhibited no thermal-related damage. However, two small isolated thermal discoloration patterns were visible on the surface of the insulation of one of the LifePort system's wires.

Both engine external cases exhibited no signs of fire damage or thermal distress. No anomalies, contamination, or evidence of malfunction were found in any of the engine accessories. The examination of the engines revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

A section of the forward fuselage, wiring and associated components were removed and sent to the NTSB's Materials Laboratory in Washington, DC, for further examination.

On November 2 and 3, 2016, the wreckage was reexamined at the facilities of Plain Parts Enterprises. A localized area of thermal damage to a section of wiring was located in a large wire bundle that ran through the center tunnel in the floor of the cockpit. All the insulation was either melted, thermally discolored, or missing. One large gauge wire end was found to have beading, welding and melting on one end. All other wire bundles located in this area were intact and sustained minimal thermal damage.

The main bus tie circuit breakers in the panel on the floor between the pilot and copilot's seats were partially missing. The remaining breakers were heavily sooted on their aft ends, and one breaker was thermally discolored. There were areas of charring on the backside of the panel. A majority of the wiring in the area directly around the circuit breakers and in the structural bay containing the circuit breaker panel was either melted, thermally discolored, or missing.

The four hydraulic lines servicing the landing gear system were located in this area. All the lines exhibited signs of thermal exposure with melting and missing sections of material.

The main bus tie circuit breaker panel, landing gear hydraulic lines, fuel crossfeed lines, and the high voltage wiring that connected to the circuit breaker panel were removed from the airplane and sent to the Materials Laboratory for further examination.

For additional information regarding the examination of the airplane for thermal damage, refer to the Materials Laboratory Fire Factual Report, located in the public docket for this accident.

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy was conducted under the authority of the Humboldt County Coroner, Eureka, California, on August 1, 2016. The examination revealed that the right leg of the pilot's flight suit was partially damaged from heat, and his right boot was melted over the top of its buckles. Both his right hand and right lower leg suffered thermal damage. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to extensive blunt force trauma.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on specimens from the pilot, which were negative for carbon monoxide, alcohol and drugs. 

Tests And Research

Wire Examination

Multiple electrical wires that were connected to the main bus tie circuit breaker panel were removed from the wreckage and sent to the NTSB's Materials Laboratory for further examination.

The wire identified as P3H contained both terminal ends. The entire wire section was missing insulation. A large area of welded conductors/arcing was present about 2 inches and 4.5 inches from the terminal ends. (See figure 1 and figure 2.)


Figure 1 - Photograph of welded area on P3H

Figure 2 - Micrograph of welded area on P3H 


The wire identified as L Main 2 was trapped inside a section of aircraft structure. A portion of the circuit breaker remained attached to the wire. About 11 inches of wire insulation were missing from the fractured end of the wire. The remaining insulation exhibited thermal discoloration and shrinking. Signs of thermal damage were present and decreased in severity moving away from the main bus tie circuit breaker end. The fractured end was frayed, and the exposed conductor exhibited notching. The fractured end was examined using a scanning electron microscope. No obvious signs of arcing on exposed sections of conductor were found. Several areas of the cross diameter on several conductors were flattened and appeared to have missing material. In addition, the fractured end was examined using electron dispersive spectroscopy to look for the presence of foreign materials on the wire conductors. No foreign material was found. (See figure 3 and figure 4.)


Figure 3 - Photograph of fractured end of L Main 2

Figure 4 - Micrograph of notching on conductor surface of L Main 2 


Hydraulic Line Examination

Sections of the gear up, gear down, door open, and door closed hydraulic lines were removed from the airplane and sent to the NTSB's Materials Laboratory for further examination. The hydraulic lines were constructed of 5050-0 aluminum tubing. All the lines displayed visible signs of heat exposure, and several inches of material were missing from each of the lines.

The fractured ends on all the lines were examined and found to exhibit patterns consistent with overstress fracture; some fractures exhibited features consistent with elevated temperature exposure as a contributing factor. On one of the fractured tubes, the gear up line, intergranular fracture features were found. A cross-section of fracture area showed severe grain separation along the grain boundaries, missing grains, and intergranular voids. There were no indications of microstructural features consistent with stress corrosion cracking or embrittlement.

For additional information regarding the components examined for thermal damage and residue transfer, refer to the Materials Laboratory Group Chairman Factual Report, located in the public docket for this accident.

Exemplar Airplane Examinations

NTSB and FAA personnel examined the wiring in the area of the main electrical bus circuit breaker panel on six exemplar Piper PA-31T-series airplanes that were maintained by various individuals/operators. On all six exemplar airplanes, electrical lines and hydraulic lines were found in direct contact. Some of the wires in the exemplar airplanes showed chafing between hydraulic lines and the electrical wires. For additional information regarding the exemplar airplane examinations refer to the Systems-Exemplar Aircraft Factual Report located in the public docket for this accident. 

Organizational And Management Information

Cal-Ore Life Flight is a 14 CFR Part 135 air carrier that holds on-demand operations specifications and is authorized to conduct business exclusively under the business name Cal-Ore Life Flight. The company headquarters are located at KCEC. The Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, and Director of Maintenance at the time of the accident were all based in Crescent City.

At the time of the accident, Cal-Ore Life Flight operated 7 PA-31T airplanes and employed about 12 pilots. The company had 3 bases located in northern California. 

Additional Information

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 43.13-1B, "Acceptable Methods, Techniques, and Practices-Aircraft Inspection and Repair," advises against wires and fluid lines being in contact due to the risk of chafing, which can lead to thermal stress and arcing in an area where flammable liquids are routed. This guidance material specifies a minimum 1/2-inch clearance between the wires and the fluid-carrying lines.

On December 16, 2016, the FAA issued a Special Airworthiness Bulletin (SAIB), CE-17-05, concerning wiring on Piper aircraft including the PA-31T series. The SAIB provided information on wiring conditions in the area below the floor mounted circuit breaker panels that could lead to chafing, thermal stress, or arcing. The SAIB recommended best practices for securing high electrical current wires in the aircraft.

On January 6, 2017, Piper Aircraft, Inc., issued Service Bulletin (SB) 1301. The SB described procedures for visually inspecting the area below the main circuit breaker panel and rerouting and replacing wires and/or parts as necessary.

Based on the SAIB, the SB, and preliminary results from this investigation, on January 10, 2017 the NTSB issued Urgent Safety Recommendation A-17-001 concerning unsafe wiring conditions that may lead to arcing and cause fires on Piper PA-31T series airplanes to the FAA. The urgent recommendation requested that the FAA:

Issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) that requires owners and operators of Piper PA-31T-series airplanes to take the actions recommended in Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin CE-17-05 immediately after the AD is issued.

On February 7, 2017, the FAA issued AD 2017-02-06, requiring repetitive detailed visual inspection of the wiring below the floor mounted circuit breaker panels per the Piper SB 1301. The AD's effective date was February 22, 2017, and the AD required the initial inspection to be accomplished within 30 days after the effective date and then at repetitive intervals not to exceed 12 months.




















NTSB Identification: WPR16FA153
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, July 29, 2016 in McKinleyville, CA
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31T, registration: N661TC
Injuries: 4 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 July 29, 2016, about 0105 Pacific daylight time, a twin-engine, turbine-powered, Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II airplane, N661TC, reported smoke in the cockpit and subsequently sustained an in-flight breakup and collision with tree-covered terrain near Arcata/Eureka Airport, McKinleyville, California. The accident airplane was being operated by Cal-Ore Life Flight as an instrument flight rules (IFR) air transport medical flight under the provisions of Title 14, CFR Part 135. The airline transport pilot, two medical personnel, and one patient were fatally injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Dark night, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight departed Crescent City, California, at 0045, destined for Oakland International Airport, Oakland, California

A preliminary review of archived radar and voice communication data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that at 0058:12, as the airplane reached an altitude of about 15,000 feet msl, the accident pilot contacted Seattle air route traffic control center (ARTCC) and stated that he was going to turn back to Crescent City due to a smell of smoke in the cockpit. 

At 0058:26, the ARTCC specialist on duty cleared the accident airplane direct to the Crescent City Airport, issued him a descent clearance to 9,000 feet, and told him to let her know if he needed anything else.

At 0058:41, the accident pilot said "okay," and he stated that it looked like he was going to lose some power shortly, and said he would keep her posted as long as he could.

At 0058:52, the ARTCC specialist issued the Crescent City altimeter of 29.98, and then requested the total number of occupants on board, and how much fuel was remaining.

At 0059:07, the accident pilot stated that he had smoke in the cockpit, declared an emergency, said he was depressurizing and was heading back to Crescent City.

At 0059:21, the accident pilot asked the ARTCC specialist to call the fire department to have them standing by upon arrival. 

At 0059:25, the ARTCC specialist then acknowledged that crash rescue would be standing by at the Crescent City Airport, and she again asked how many people were on board.

At 0059:27, the accident pilot stated that he had three on board. There were no further communications received from the accident airplane despite multiple attempts by the ARTCC specialist on duty. 

During a telephone conversation with an National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, a witness located near Cookson Camp, Arcata, California, reported that in the early morning hours of July 29, she heard an airplane circling overhead before it eventually flew westward, which was followed by about 15 seconds of silence. While looking out the window of her tent, she saw a large dome shaped flash to the west, followed by another flash and a loud rumble. 

The NTSB IIC, along with another NTSB investigator, two Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors from the Oakland Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), two representatives from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, representatives from Cal-Ore Life Flight, and an Piper Aircraft air safety investigator reached the accident site on the afternoon of July 30. The accident site was located in an area of brush and heavily forested terrain. Large portions of the burned and fragmented airplane were scattered along a debris path oriented along a magnetic heading of 354 degrees, which measured about 2,400 feet in length. The fuselage, inboard and outboard sections of the wings, vertical tail, and portions of one horizontal stabilizer, were located in separate locations and exhibited minimal impact damage. Both inboard sections of the wings exhibited postcrash fire damage.

The fuselage and empennage came to rest on its left side and facing the direction of travel. The instrument panel and cockpit exhibited extensive impact damage. The cabin area of the fuselage was largely intact. Evidence of thermal damage was present in the forward section of the fuselage. A section of the forward fuselage, wiring, and associated components were removed and sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C., for further examination. 

Both engines separated from their respective engine firewalls and sustained impact damage, however; neither engine exhibited any sign of thermal damage. 

Control continuity could not be established due to numerous fractures in the system, missing cabling and flight control surfaces; however, all the fractures that were identified exhibited features consistent with tension overload. 

The closest weather reporting facility is Arcata/Eureka Airport (KACV), McKinleyville, located approximately 6 miles southwest of the accident site. At 0107, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) at KACV, reported wind 180 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 1/2 statute miles, mist; runway 32 visual range 4,500 feet variable to greater than 6,000 feet, overcast clouds 200 feet; temperature 55 degrees F; dew point 54 degrees F; altimeter 29.85 inHg. SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board is urging faster action to correct unsafe wiring found in a type of small airplane that crashed in Northern California last summer, killing all four on board the medical transport flight. 

The Piper PA-31T was carrying a flight nurse, transport medic and patient from Crescent City, near the Oregon border, to Oakland on July 29 when the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit and declared an emergency.

The transportation board issued an urgent safety recommendation Monday, asking the Federal Aviation Administration to issue an emergency directive that would require mandatory action and a shorter timeline for addressing the problem.

The transportation board’s recommendation is based on preliminary findings in an ongoing investigation of what caused the transport plane to break apart. Rescue teams found the wreckage in Humboldt County about 280 miles north of San Francisco.

Evidence indicates that an in-flight fire occurred in an area where electrical wires and adjacent hydraulic lines may have been in contact, a press release states. Investigation of six other planes showed electrical lines in direct contact with hydraulic lines, which could chafe and then arc, causing a fire.

“We think it’s a dangerous situation having electrical lines next to hydraulic lines,” said NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss, adding that the investigation is ongoing and no cause has been determined.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said in an email Tuesday that the agency is “actively working with Piper on possible additional safety actions” and that it had issued a “special airworthiness information bulletin” in December, noting the problem.

The special bulletin recommends inspections at the aircraft’s next scheduled maintenance visit.

The July crash came as the Federal Aviation Administration continues its efforts to improve the safety of the aircraft known as air ambulances. It began that effort after a series of deadly crashes. In 2008, there were five accidents that killed 21 people.

Piper Aircraft spokeswoman Jacqueline Carlon said in an email that the company has issued a “mandatory service bulletin” for operators. It is working with both agencies, she said.

There are more than 300 31T-series planes registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Source:   http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com



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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report   -   National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Oakland FSDO-27 

http://registry.faa.gov/N661TC 

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA153
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, July 29, 2016 in McKinleyville, CA
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31T, registration: N661TC
Injuries: 4 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 July 29, 2016, about 0105 Pacific daylight time, a twin-engine, turbine-powered, Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II airplane, N661TC, reported smoke in the cockpit and subsequently sustained an in-flight breakup and collision with tree-covered terrain near Arcata/Eureka Airport, McKinleyville, California. The accident airplane was being operated by Cal-Ore Life Flight as an instrument flight rules (IFR) air transport medical flight under the provisions of Title 14, CFR Part 135. The airline transport pilot, two medical personnel, and one patient were fatally injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Dark night, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight departed Crescent City, California, at 0045, destined for Oakland International Airport, Oakland, California

A preliminary review of archived radar and voice communication data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that at 0058:12, as the airplane reached an altitude of about 15,000 feet msl, the accident pilot contacted Seattle air route traffic control center (ARTCC) and stated that he was going to turn back to Crescent City due to a smell of smoke in the cockpit. 

At 0058:26, the ARTCC specialist on duty cleared the accident airplane direct to the Crescent City Airport, issued him a descent clearance to 9,000 feet, and told him to let her know if he needed anything else.

At 0058:41, the accident pilot said "okay," and he stated that it looked like he was going to lose some power shortly, and said he would keep her posted as long as he could.

At 0058:52, the ARTCC specialist issued the Crescent City altimeter of 29.98, and then requested the total number of occupants on board, and how much fuel was remaining.

At 0059:07, the accident pilot stated that he had smoke in the cockpit, declared an emergency, said he was depressurizing and was heading back to Crescent City.

At 0059:21, the accident pilot asked the ARTCC specialist to call the fire department to have them standing by upon arrival. 

At 0059:25, the ARTCC specialist then acknowledged that crash rescue would be standing by at the Crescent City Airport, and she again asked how many people were on board.

At 0059:27, the accident pilot stated that he had three on board. There were no further communications received from the accident airplane despite multiple attempts by the ARTCC specialist on duty. 

During a telephone conversation with an National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, a witness located near Cookson Camp, Arcata, California, reported that in the early morning hours of July 29, she heard an airplane circling overhead before it eventually flew westward, which was followed by about 15 seconds of silence. While looking out the window of her tent, she saw a large dome shaped flash to the west, followed by another flash and a loud rumble. 

The NTSB IIC, along with another NTSB investigator, two Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors from the Oakland Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), two representatives from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, representatives from Cal-Ore Life Flight, and an Piper Aircraft air safety investigator reached the accident site on the afternoon of July 30. The accident site was located in an area of brush and heavily forested terrain. Large portions of the burned and fragmented airplane were scattered along a debris path oriented along a magnetic heading of 354 degrees, which measured about 2,400 feet in length. The fuselage, inboard and outboard sections of the wings, vertical tail, and portions of one horizontal stabilizer, were located in separate locations and exhibited minimal impact damage. Both inboard sections of the wings exhibited postcrash fire damage.

The fuselage and empennage came to rest on its left side and facing the direction of travel. The instrument panel and cockpit exhibited extensive impact damage. The cabin area of the fuselage was largely intact. Evidence of thermal damage was present in the forward section of the fuselage. A section of the forward fuselage, wiring, and associated components were removed and sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C., for further examination. 

Both engines separated from their respective engine firewalls and sustained impact damage, however; neither engine exhibited any sign of thermal damage. 

Control continuity could not be established due to numerous fractures in the system, missing cabling and flight control surfaces; however, all the fractures that were identified exhibited features consistent with tension overload. 

The closest weather reporting facility is Arcata/Eureka Airport (KACV), McKinleyville, located approximately 6 miles southwest of the accident site. At 0107, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) at KACV, reported wind 180 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 1/2 statute miles, mist; runway 32 visual range 4,500 feet variable to greater than 6,000 feet, overcast clouds 200 feet; temperature 55 degrees F; dew point 54 degrees F; altimeter 29.85 inHg.