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: Accident occurred January 11, 2017 in Carthage, Smith County, Tennessee

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N3156K

FAA Flight Standards District Office: Nashville

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

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

National Transportation Safety Board Issues Warning For Type Of Small Plane Involved In Crash: Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II, Cal-Ore Life Flight, N661TC, fatal accident occurred July 29, 2016 in McKinleyville, Humboldt County, California

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.