Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Clayton County to delegates: Stop Federal Aviation Administration from diverting fuel tax revenue

Clayton County must stop much-needed tax dollars from being diverted from the county due to changes in a federal aviation policy, officials from the county’s seven cities told the county’s legislative delegation Wednesday night.

The delegation heard a variety of wish lists items from officials representing county government, education and courts as well as civic, political and ministers’ groups. But the overriding theme of the evening centered around a Federal Aviation Administration ruling that mandates changes the way taxes from aviation fuel will be used in the future. The new ruling calls for any taxes collected on aviation fuel to be used for aviation-related projects only and not be dispersed to cities and counties as is the current situation. The policy, which affects airports nationwide, is slated to take effect Dec. 8.

If the policy take effect, Clayton could wind up losing close to $20 million in revenue that is now doled out to the county, its seven cities and the school district, representatives from several cities in the county said.

“(Losing) that fuel tax could be devastating not only to this county but the cities,” Lake City City Manager Chris Leighty told the delegation and an audience of about 70 people gathered at Clayton State University.

With just over a month left in the legislature, the clock is ticking for the Clayton delegation to address the matter.

Clayton is in an unique situation, Rep. Valencia Stovall, chairwoman of the Clayton Delegation, said. Hartsfield Jackson International Airport is in Clayton but it is owned and run by Atlanta.

“The largest losers will be students,” Clayton school board member Jesse Goree said of the FAA ruling.

Stovall said the delegation is planning to meeting with the attorney general, the Georgia Department of Revenue and the Georgia Department of Transportation about the FAA ruling.

The delegation learned of the FAA changes in November.

“We were very upset about it,” Stovall said in an interview after the meeting.

“We’re going to have to take an aggressive approach to coming up with solutions that will be best for Georgia and Clayton,” Stovall said. “It’s going to be a very hard uphill battle to see what other options we’ll have.”

Wednesday’s meeting was the first of two the delegation is using to help finetune its priorities during this legislative session. The next meeting will be Tuesday from at Hearts to Nourish Hope in Riverdale.

The meeting was the first of two the delegation is using to help tweak its priorities during the legislative session. The next meeting will be Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Hearts to Nourish Hope, 640 Ga. Hwy 138 in Riverdale. Hearts to Nourish is a community resource organization.

Source:   http://www.ajc.com

Council approves upgrades for Danville Regional Airport (KDAN)



Taxiway improvements at Danville Regional Airport and funding for a storm sewer project on Pine Street were among items green-lighted by Danville City Council on Tuesday night.

The work to revamp the taxiway is expected begin in March, said the city’s director of transportation services last week.

About $3.1 million in grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Virginia Department of Aviation will pay for upgrades at Taxiway A at the airport off U.S. 58.

Taxiway A provides airplane access to the primary runway at the airport.

The work will include milling, resurfacing, narrowing the taxiway from 50 feet to 35 feet in width and replacing the taxiway lights. About 5,500 feet —slightly more than a mile — of the taxiway will be rehabilitated.

A portion of the project paid for by the state will entail taxiway intersection maintenance in the south end of the field to support turning movement requirements for large corporate jets.

It has been about two decades since the taxiway has been rehabilitated.

Work should be complete by the fall. Apac-Atlantic Inc. in Greensboro, North Carolina, will be the contractor for the project. About $2.77 million from the FAA and $340,000 from the Virginia Department of Aviation will pay for the project, for a total of about $3.1 million. Danville will pay a local match of $86,152 for the rehabilitation.

Councilmen voted 5-0 to approve the budget appropriation for the project, as well as funding for a storm sewer project on Pine Street. Councilmen Fred Shanks and James Buckner were absent.

Read more here:   http://www.godanriver.com

Davis-Monthan to host Heritage Flight certification program



TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -  There will be some unusual aircraft flying in the skies above Tucson this February, as the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course will take place at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. 

According to a recent D-M release, the event takes place Feb. 9 - 12, with aircraft and personnel arriving Feb. 7 and 8.  



HFTCC is attended by civilian pilots (in historic aircraft) and Air Force pilots in current fighter aircraft. The two groups practice flying in formation together to receive their certification to participate in Heritage Flight events. Heritage flights, at airshows across the U.S., help raise public awareness of the Air Force mission and to commemorate its history.  

Historic aircraft expected to participate in the 2017 program are: P-51 Mustang, the P-47 Thunderbolt, the P-38 Lightning and the F-86 Sabre. (This could change as the number and types of historic aircraft are still being finalized). The modern aircraft to participate are the F-35 Lightning II, the F-22 Raptor, the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the A-10C Thunderbolt II. 

Source:  http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com

Internal memo details runway snow removal dysfunction at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (KCLE)

 

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A new complaint filed with the Federal Aviation Administration against Cleveland Hopkins International Airport includes an internal memo, detailing widespread dysfunction among airfield maintenance and snow removal teams and raising questions about whether recent runway shutdowns could have been avoided.

The complaint also questions whether the city and airport have violated the terms of a recent settlement with the FAA in which Hopkins pledged to improve its snow and ice removal operations after the FAA found the airport had failed to adequately staff its crews and de-ice runways. 

City and airport officials said in an interview Wednesday that the FAA assured them that there is no open investigation involving the new complaint.

Officials went on to say that circumstances that gave rise to the critical memo are under review. But they emphasized that at no time during the incident in question were aircraft or the traveling public imperiled, because airport personnel made the right call to close the runway when the results of surface friction tests warranted it.

Attorney Subodh Chandra filed the latest complaint Wednesday on behalf of airport employee Abdul-Malik Ali, who contends that he was demoted and relegated to a "mop closet" office after he drew the FAA's attention to the snow removal problems in 2015.

The FAA eventually determined that Ali's allegations regarding snow removal failures were substantiated. His demotion is the subject of an investigation pending before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

At the heart of the new complaint is a Jan. 4 memo from field maintenance manager Robert Henderson to members of his crew, asking for their input in solving a litany of problems that arose when a snowstorm hit Dec. 30, during the second shift. 

Here were the problems, as Henderson enumerated them:


Radio communication (Radios were on the wrong channel, not working, or missing all together.)

Situational awareness off (We had 3 trucks run off the runway into the safety area.)

Employees not following instructions (Members of the Ramp and Runway teams were not following instructions from foreman)

Members of leadership still not taking ownership of their full responsibilities (Not properly directing team members during operations)

Leadership losing focus in mid task (Fuel pump incident)

The airport had to temporarily close due to poor runway conditions (Could we have prevented this from happening?)

When situations happen, the manager and superintendents have to respond or report to the airport to help in the mitigation of the problem.

Proper placement of experience to non-experience personnel in our snow operations is a must at all times.

Proper application of chemicals is a must at all times.

Henderson closed his memo by calling upon the crew to respond with at least two solutions to each problem.

It's unclear whether the deficiencies described in the memo contributed to the decision to close the runway on Dec. 30 or how long it was closed.

Newly appointed Airport Director Robert Kennedy, who was sworn in last week, told cleveland.com Wednesday that he has spoken with Henderson to gain a better understanding of the problems described in the memo and that he's committed to fully investigating the matter.

Kennedy said the airfield maintenance crews have been subject to months of accredited training. But for some reason, the training "didn't stick" on Dec. 30 -- and he wants to know why.

"I don't know yet the good, the bad and the ugly," Kennedy said. "But I do know this -- I am going to get knee deep in this, and we will look at all the aspects."

He said he will personally review the manner in which the airport's FAA-approved snow and ice control plan is being executed and the qualifications of the people responsible for it. He also said he would consider inviting experts from another major airport to conduct a "peer review" of operations at Hopkins with an eye toward improvement.

And from now on, Kennedy said, any decision to close the runways must be approved by him.

The FAA complaint and release of the memo comes on the heels of airport officials' decision earlier this month to hold off on treating the airfield with de-icing chemicals in anticipation of an ice storm - a decision that caused the airport to shut down for nearly two hours, delaying flights throughout the day.

In the aftermath of that incident, Assistant Airport Director Fred Szabo told cleveland.com that high winds would have scattered the chemicals before they could be effective.

Crews at Akron-Canton Airport, however, faced similar wind conditions and did pretreat the runway and taxiways. That airport did not shut down when freezing rain hit.

Szabo, last week, cautioned against comparing airports, especially of such dramatically different scales. He said he had asked his team of experienced field maintenance foremen and operations supervisors if, in hindsight, they would have handled the situation differently. He said they told him, "most likely not."

But the newly filed FAA complaint questions how experienced members and leaders of the field maintenance team really are.

The complaint asserts that at least four foremen at Hopkins had never before worked at an airport leading crews, and that Henderson has no relevant experience qualifying him to lead the airport's field maintenance division.

The complaint also says that Deputy Commissioner Eric Turner was the custodial manager before he was promoted to oversee field maintenance. Before coming to Hopkins, Turner worked at a Staples office supply store, the complaint states.

In the fall of 2015, cleveland.com requested the personnel files of Henderson, Turner and other airport personnel, but has not received them.

The complaint suggests that the hiring of unqualified staff and deficient training violate FAA requirements. And it calls for constant FAA oversight of the day-to-day operations at Hopkins, a review of training and qualifications of airfield maintenance personnel, and for the FAA to re-impose the full civil penalty assessed against the city in 2015.

The FAA initially had sought to levy a $735,000 penalty, which would have been the heftiest fine ever imposed against an airport. But the parties settled the matter in May, when the city agreed to pay a $200,000 fine.

"The FAA's agreement with Hopkins reducing by $535,000 the civil penalty for the previous violations Mr. Ali reported was, in retrospect, unwise," Chandra wrote. "Simply put, the FAA got snookered by Hopkins management's empty promises and lack of candor."

In September 2015, the FAA slapped Hopkins with four letters listing dozens of dates when staffing at the airport fell far short of requirements, leaving inches of snow and ice uncleared from the taxiways and runways.

Some of the most egregious infractions stemmed from March 1, 2015, when the airport's field maintenance crew was understaffed on all shifts -- with only four out of the required 18 maintenance operators working third shift -- despite a forecast calling for several inches of snow.

As a result, snow and ice accumulated on runways, pilots refused to land, reporting poor braking conditions, and one taxiway went without anti-icing chemicals until well after midnight, the FAA found.

The airport also failed to alert air carriers of the poor conditions and to deter planes from taxiing or landing on slick, hazardous surfaces, according to the FAA letters.

Since then, Hopkins officials have assured the FAA and the traveling public that the airport is ready for snow, with an expanded staff that had been training since May and 19 new snow removal vehicles purchased in the past two years.

Read more here:   http://www.cleveland.com

Doug Ferguson represents all of Eastern Oregon on State Aviation Board: Rural air enhancements funded through 2015 aviation tax increase

Doug Ferguson, who was appointed to a four-year term representing all of Eastern Oregon on the State Aviation Board, shows off his Cessna 182B Skylane.


Local pilot Doug Ferguson may fly a small, two-seat plane, but he carries a massive load in terms of the area he represents on the Oregon State Aviation Board.

The engineer from Mt. Vernon was appointed to the board for a four-year term in July, replacing Larry Dalrymple of Pendleton, as the sole voice from Eastern Oregon.

“I represent everything east of the Cascades, and that’s what they want me to do,” he said. “We need some representation out here.”






After attending two meetings, Ferguson said the Oregon Department of Aviation staff are “go-getters” and he enjoys working with the other board members. He said his goal is to promote general aviation and services in rural areas.

A 2-cent aviation fuel tax increase approved in 2015, with the funds earmarked for aviation improvements, may help rural air projects get off the ground. Ferguson said the tax is expected to generate $3.5-4 million each year, with about 25 percent slated for rural air service enhancements, 25 percent for maintaining state airports and 50 percent for critical airport relief grants for improvements, such as helicopter landing pads at the Grant County Regional Airport in John Day.

Ferguson said a feasibility study for establishing commercial flights in rural Oregon has been planned, and he looks forward to seeing the results, though he admitted establishing commercial services in places such as Grant County would be “a big order.” Discussion of rural air service is planned at the next board meeting scheduled Thursday, Jan. 19.






Ferguson said he hopes a plan can be developed to provide more services in Eastern Oregon. He said Grant County has no flight instructor or aviation mechanic, which makes hobby flying more difficult.

Flying his 1959 model Cessna 182 to backcountry airstrips is what Ferguson loves. He and his wife, Charlene, loaded into the 1,000-pound craft that travels about 150 mph in October to meet other backcountry enthusiasts who flew in to the Owyhee Reservoir state landing strip in Malheur County to rehabilitate the deteriorating dirt and grass runway.

Ferguson said he has more than 30 years of backcountry flying experience. After obtaining his pilot’s license in 1972, Ferguson worked as a charter pilot in John Day, flew on game counts for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and was a fire spotter for the Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry. After a 15-year hiatus, Ferguson recently decided to return to the air and was soon selected to serve on the aviation board.

“I’m just trying to give back to something I love,” he said.

Story and photo gallery:   http://www.bluemountaineagle.com

Council faces time crunch with Dixon Municipal Airport (C73) future

DIXON – The Dixon Municipal Airport is in a holding pattern on what direction to take, but the city will need to decide soon whether it will be able to continue to receive federal funding.

The airport is part of a Federal Aviation Administration grant program that provides $150,000 a year toward improvement projects, but City Manager Cole O’Donnell said the airport could lose its spot if it doesn’t move forward with any work.

Airports need to undergo an improvement project at least once every 3 years to keep the entitlement funds rolling, and if the airport is booted out of the program, he said it might not be able to get back in.

“Because we have not used that grant program for the last several years, basically we’ve been put on notice that if we don’t do a project this year, we’ll be taken out of the program, so the money is lost forever,” O’Donnell said Tuesday.

Moving forward with the improvements is up to the City Council, which has been hesitant to act, given the 20-year obligation the funds carry. If the airport closed before the 20 years, the city would be responsible for paying back a portion of those funds.

Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said being tied into the fund obligations could “slam the door” to other options for the airport, such as consolidating with the Whiteside County Airport to improve its facility and focus more on regional economic development or to turn the Dixon property into an industrial park in the longterm.

“The Dixon Airport is never going to be big enough for sizable economic development,” he said.

Both options would take time to plan and assess, but Arellano said time is limited on whether the city wants to restart the 20-year timer on the FAA funds.

O’Donnell said the decision has to be made no later than July, and project plans will be submitted to the FAA in October.

“There is a deadline on this, so the council has to make a decision if they want to move forward with the grant-funded projects or not,” he said. 

Airport Board member Mark Applequist told the council the airport has been making strides to improve itself and make it less costly to the city, and the board wants to continue moving forward.

“It’s a big chunk of change, and we’d like to keep the ball rolling,” he said.

O’Donnell drafted a list of capital improvements for the airport during the next 5 years – including improving perimeter fencing and runway lighting – but they would be based on receiving FAA funding.

The list also includes updating the Airport Layout Plan with the FAA, with the goal of having a section of land labeled as excess so it could be leased to house a solar farm. The cost of updating the plan is yet to be determined.

Councilman Kevin Marx suggested the council work more closely with the Airport Board and have work sessions to determine what direction to take.

The council plans to discuss the matter at its next meeting.

NEXT MEETING

The City Council next meets at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at City Hall, 121 W. Second St.

Go to discoverdixon.org for an agenda or more information.

Source:  http://www.saukvalley.com

Wausau Downtown Airport (KAUW) skating video goes viral



WAUSAU - They looked at the pristine sheet of ice covering the runway and said to each other, "Wow, we probably could skate on this."

This was Tuesday morning at the Wausau Downtown Airport after an overnight storm left a coating of ice on the runways, and airport workers Steve Gering and Steve Rasmussen had just finished up laying down high-quality de-icer around some of the hangar areas. It just so happened that Gering, 24, had a pair hockey skates with him because he was scheduled to be a referee at a high school hockey game Tuesday night.

Next thing you know, he had them on and was gingerly gliding along the apron of the runway, doing gentle crossovers, accelerations and glides while Rasmussen, airport manager John Chmiel and others recorded the session with their smartphones. Chmiel posted the video on the airport's Facebook page.

Technically, Gering was skating on the apron of the runway, not on the runway itself, "but I don't bother to correct people about that," Gering said.

By 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Gering was a kind of an internet star. The clip had been seen 123,000 times, shared about 1,300 times and had attracted attention from folks at The Weather Channel and other news agencies as far away as Florida. It caught Gering, who was a goalie for the Wausau East High School Lumberjacks in his high school days, by surprise.

"I thought a couple of hundred people would see it. You know, the regulars on our Facebook page," Gering said.

There was something about the whimsical 38-second clip that appealed to internet users. Gering said he thinks it might be because it was an airport, "and people always think about airports as always being so serious."

Chmiel said he thinks the clip blew up because it starkly shows the impact of the storm that walloped central Wisconsin.

"I mean, you could hardly walk out there," Chmiel said.

But Rasmussen said he thinks it might be because it shows someone just having fun.

"That's part of what we're about here," he said.

"Yeah," Gering said. "We were making lemonade out of lemons."

Story and video:  http://www.sheboyganpress.com


Steve Gering


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- As the Downtown Wausau Aiport crew mopped up it's slick runway after Monday's ice storm, one employee embraced the ice by lacing up his skates.

The airport is reserved for private planes, but Monday it became flight instructor Steve Gering's private arena. He put on his hockey skates and glided up and down the ice-covered runway, while his boss took a video on his phone.

"I gave it a shot and it worked way better than I thought it was going to," Gering said. He just happened to bring his skates to work with him Monday, and by Tuesday night, the video had more than 13,000 views.

"It got way more attention than I thought it would," Gering said. "Someone ic skating on an airport. That's different."

Different for some, but not for a Wausau native. "I see bad weather and I'm like, 'huh! Maybe I can have a little fun with this."

Gering said he played hockey most of his life. He had the skates on hand at work that day so he could referee a high school game.

Story and video:  http://www.wsaw.com

Robinson R22 Beta, Summerskyz Inc., N8042B: Accident occurred January 18, 2017 at University of Illinois Willard Airport (KCMI), Savoy, Champaign County, Illinois

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

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA112
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 18, 2017 in Champaign, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/04/2017
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22, registration: N8042B
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

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

The student pilot reported that, while practicing 180° autorotations about 500 ft above ground level, the flight instructor reduced the throttle, and the student pilot lowered the collective while simultaneously applying aft cyclic and right pedal. He added that the helicopter began to “dive,” and the flight instructor took control of the helicopter. 

The flight instructor reported that he initiated a go-around by applying aft cyclic and raising the collective, but they “continued in a rapid descent.” The flight instructor added that at “roughly fifty feet, [he] flared harder to attempt a next-to-final arrest.” The helicopter landed hard, the skids collapsed, and the main rotor blades severed the tailboom. The helicopter slid about 300 ft down the runway toward the right; the right skid stuck into the grass, and the helicopter rotated clockwise about the right skid, tipped onto the nose, and rolled to the left.

The flight instructor reported that he and the student pilot had performed about 10 to 12 practice autorotations before the accident.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage.

The flight instructor reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.
Robinson Helicopter Company published Safety Notice, SN-38, dated July 2003 and revised in October 2004, which addressed training accidents caused by practice autorotations and stated, in part:

A high percentage of training accidents occur after many consecutive autorotations. To maintain instructor focus and minimize student fatigue, limit practice to no more than 3 or 4 consecutive autorotations.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Helicopter Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-21A, dated 2012, addressed tailboom strikes during autorotations and stated, in part: 

A power recovery can be made during training in lieu of a full touchdown landing. Refer to the section on power recovery for the correct technique. After the helicopter has come to a complete stop after touchdown, lower the collective pitch to the full-down position. Do not try to stop the forward ground run with aft cyclic, as the main rotor blades can strike the tail boom. Rather, by lowering the collective slightly during the ground run, more weight is placed on the undercarriage, slowing the helicopter. One common error is holding the helicopter off the surface versus cushioning the helicopter on to the surface during an autorotation. Holding the helicopter in the air by using all of the rotor rpm potential energy usually causes the helicopter to have a hard landing, which results in the blades flexing down and contacting the tail boom. The rotor rpm should be used to cushion the helicopter on to the surface for a controlled, smooth landing instead of allowing the helicopter to drop the last few inches.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The flight instructor’s failure to arrest the descent rate during the practice autorotation, which resulted in a hard landing.

The student pilot reported that while practicing 180 degree autorotations, about 500 feet above ground level (agl), the flight instructor reduced the throttle and the student pilot lowered the collective while simultaneously applying aft cyclic and right peddle. He further reported that the helicopter began to "dive" and the flight instructor took control of the helicopter. 

The flight instructor reported that he initiated a go-around by applying aft cyclic and raising the collective, but they "continued in a rapid descent." The flight instructor further reported that "roughly fifty feet [he] flared harder to attempt a next-to-final arrest". The helicopter landed hard, the skids collapsed, and the main rotor blades severed the tailboom. The helicopter slid about 300 feet down the runway toward the right; the right skid stuck into the grass and the helicopter rotated clockwise about the right skid, tipped onto the nose, and rolled to the left.

The flight instructor reported that he and the student pilot had performed about 10-12 practice autorotations prior to the accident.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage.

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

Robinson Helicopter Company published a safety notice, SN-38, dated July 2003, and revised in October 2004, addresses training accidents caused by practice autorotations. It states, in part:

A high percentage of training accidents occur after many consecutive autorotations. To maintain instructor focus and minimize student fatigue, limit practice to no more than 3 or 4 consecutive autorotations.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published the Helicopter Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-21A, dated 2012, addresses tailboom strikes during autorotations. The handbook states, in part: 

A power recovery can be made during training in lieu of a full touchdown landing. Refer to the section on power recovery for the correct technique. After the helicopter has come to a complete stop after touchdown, lower the collective pitch to the full-down position. Do not try to stop the forward ground run with aft cyclic, as the main rotor blades can strike the tail boom. Rather, by lowering the collective slightly during the ground run, more weight is placed on the undercarriage, slowing the helicopter.


One common error is holding the helicopter off the surface versus cushioning the helicopter on to the surface during an autorotation. Holding the helicopter in the air by using all of the rotor rpm potential energy usually causes the helicopter to have a hard landing, which results in the blades flexing down and contacting the tail boom. The rotor rpm should be used to cushion the helicopter on to the surface for a controlled, smooth landing instead of allowing the helicopter to drop the last few inches.

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

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

Additional Participating Entity: Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Springfield, Illinois

Summerskyz Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N8042B

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA112
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 18, 2017 in Champaign, IL
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22, registration: N8042B
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

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

The student pilot reported that while practicing 180 degree autorotations, about 500 feet above ground level (agl), the flight instructor reduced the throttle and the student pilot lowered the collective while simultaneously applying aft cyclic and right peddle. He further reported that the helicopter began to "dive" and the flight instructor took control of the helicopter.

The flight instructor reported that he initiated a go-around by applying aft cyclic and raising the collective, but they "continued in a rapid descent." The flight instructor further reported that "roughly fifty feet [he] flared harder to attempt a next-to-final arrest". The helicopter landed hard, the skids collapsed, and the main rotor blades severed the tailboom. The helicopter slid about 300 feet down the runway toward the right; the right skid stuck into the grass and the helicopter rotated clockwise about the right skid, tipped onto the nose, and rolled to the left.

The flight instructor reported that he and the student pilot had performed about 10-12 practice autorotations prior to the accident.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage.

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

Robinson Helicopter Company published a safety notice, SN-38, dated July 2003, and revised in October 2004, addresses training accidents caused by practice autorotations. It states, in part:

A high percentage of training accidents occur after many consecutive autorotations. To maintain instructor focus and minimize student fatigue, limit practice to no more than 3 or 4 consecutive autorotations.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published the Helicopter Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-21A, dated 2012, addresses tailboom strikes during autorotations. The handbook states, in part: 

A power recovery can be made during training in lieu of a full touchdown landing. Refer to the section on power recovery for the correct technique. After the helicopter has come to a complete stop after touchdown, lower the collective pitch to the full-down position. Do not try to stop the forward ground run with aft cyclic, as the main rotor blades can strike the tail boom. Rather, by lowering the collective slightly during the ground run, more weight is placed on the undercarriage, slowing the helicopter.

One common error is holding the helicopter off the surface versus cushioning the helicopter on to the surface during an autorotation. Holding the helicopter in the air by using all of the rotor rpm potential energy usually causes the helicopter to have a hard landing, which results in the blades flexing down and contacting the tail boom. The rotor rpm should be used to cushion the helicopter on to the surface for a controlled, smooth landing instead of allowing the helicopter to drop the last few inches.
 

A University of Illinois Willard Airport official said a helicopter was severely damaged during a minor crash at the airport Wednesday afternoon. But he said both people onboard escaped without any injuries.

Airport executive director Gene Cossey said a private independent company, which he declined to name, leases space from the airport for training purposes. Cossey said an instructor and student pilot were in the helicopter at the time of the accident.

Cossey said there was never a danger of the helicopter catching on fire. But he said there was a small fuel leak which crews cleaned up. Cossey estimated that the helicopter was about 500 to 800 feet off the ground, but he had not been able to confirm that as of Wednesday afternoon.

Cossey said all of the other aircraft leaving and arriving at the airport were able to mostly stay on schedule with only slight delays. He said the crash is under investigation, but he said it will be a minor one since no one was injured and because it is a small aircraft.

Several emergency crews and ambulances responded to the scene.

Story and audio:   http://www.news-gazette.com



SAVOY, Illinois -   A small helicopter made a big landing. It crashed at Willard Airport Wednesday afternoon. No one was hurt.

Both the flight instructor and student pilot got out okay. It's not clear who was flying at the time of the crash.

Airport officials say a small training helicopter was preparing to land on a training runway. As it was landing, they lost control, the tail rotator struck the ground, the helicopter skilled and flipped.

Officials say, in a situation like this, a quick response is crucial. Authorities say the craft was never in danger of catching fire.

The helicopter is owned by a private company, separate from Willard, UI or Parkland. The name is not currently being released.

Officials say the Flight Standards District Office is gathering information to conduct and investigation. No word how long it will take.

Source:   http://www.illinoishomepage.net

Savoy - A helicopter crash is under investigation at the Willard Airport in Savoy, just outside Champaign.

Airport officials tell WAND News, no one was injured.

The helicopter is a Robinson R22 and was being used for training when it crashed at the airport, just after 1:30 p.m.  An instructor and student were in the plane but made it out safely. The name of the training company is not being released.

The helicopter is considered a complete loss.

Officials were documenting the crash and an investigation was underway.

No flights were delayed or canceled following the crash.

Story and video:   http://www.wandtv.com

Pensacola International Airport (KPNS) adds routes to Austin, St. Louis

Southwest Airlines is adding two additional nonstop routes during the summer at Pensacola International Airport.

Southwest Airlines will offer seasonal Saturday service from Pensacola to Austin, Texas through Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and St. Louis, Missouri through Lambert – St. Louis International Airport (STL). The seasonal service will run from June 10 through Aug. 12. Passengers can begin booking these new routes immediately.


Southwest Airlines already offers daily nonstop service to Houston and Nashville; seasonal daily service to Kansas City; seasonal service to Dallas and Denver on Saturdays and Sundays; and seasonal service to Chicago on Saturdays. With the addition of Austin and St. Louis, Southwest now serves eight markets with 36 flights per week from Pensacola.


Source: http://www.pnj.com

Chelan Seaplanes wants lease at Three Fingers

CHELAN - Shane Carlson from Chelan Seaplanes announced this past week that he is in talks with Goodfellow Bros. Inc. of Wenatchee, to accept a two year lease to operate on the easternmost Finger of the Three Fingers on the South Shore of Lake Chelan. The agreement comes a month after Carlson announced the suspension of the service following a lease termination at its current location.

Shortly after the announcement in December, a petition to "Save Chelan Seaplanes" swirled around the community and garnered over 1,500 signatures.

Mayor Mike Cooney then called a Special Meeting at Chelan City Hall on Dec. 8, with Carlson, Sunset Marina owner Scott McKellar, representatives from the Port of Chelan County and other community leaders to address the lease termination and try to find a viable solution.

Various locations were thrown out at the meeting by the city and community members, but Shane had reservations on all of them, except the location on the infamous Fingers, which wasn't discussed at much length because of on-going litigation.

"I got to meet with Steve (Goodfellow) over the holiday and we talked about the litigation and future plans they had there, and we agreed to move forward with their offer," Carlson said. "Now we are pursuing it and trying to get with the city to get set up. Nothing is for sure at the moment, it's all verbal and we still have to figure out if the city will allow it and what the Chelan Basin Conservancy (CBC) will say. There are also permitting hurdles that are a challenge as well."

If Carlson moves to the new location he will have to incur other additional costs to operate.

"I'll have to get an above ground fuel storage, and we intend on building a temporary structure that is somewhat portable for an office. Parking is another issue because of the requirements and can be a significant expense that we can't afford," Carlson stated. "To lay down blacktop for two years and then possibly tear it up with the uncertainty with the lawsuit of the property. So it is not prudent to do anything permanent."

Aside from parking and additional development cost, the main concern for Shane is the arduous permitting process that could hinder and delay the opening date for summer 2017 service.

"That is the main issue at the moment," Carlson said. "There will be significant investment involved because if we can't get permits until July or August and be able to get out to the public that is a huge issue to us. It will be a significant expense for us to set up shop for two years and not use the full season. We would have to pass on this year and then only have one more year to operate."

As far as Chelan Seaplanes operating after the two year lease, that is still up in the air.

"We're still waiting on the Port of Chelan to see if they have any ideas for a future move. There is a potential chance for the lease at the Three Fingers to be extended or it could be the end of it, we don't know. We'll first have to see if the CBC will buy off on it or if they will oppose us temporarily occupying the property."

Source:   http://lakechelanmirror.com

Mooney M20J, N6201N: Fatal accident occurred January 12, 2017 near Lake Hughes Very High Frequency Omnirange navigation beacon (LHS VOR), Los Angeles County, California

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

Additional Participating Entities: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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


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


Frederick M. Espiau: http://registry.faa.gov/N6201N 

Analysis 

The instrument-rated private pilot/owner regularly used the airplane to commute for work between his home airport and an airport located about 80 miles to the south. On the day of the accident, the pilot departed his home airport and, about 5 minutes after takeoff, established the airplane on a direct course towards an aeronautical navigation beacon that was located on a mountain peak about 28 nautical miles south of the airport, at an elevation of 5,793 ft mean sea level (msl). After takeoff, the airplane initially climbed to about 7,300 ft msl, then descended to about 6,500 ft msl, before ultimately descending to about 5,750 ft msl, where it remained for the last several minutes of the flight.

The pilot was not in radio communication with any air traffic control (ATC) facility during the flight, and had not filed a flight plan, but the airplane had been tracked by ground-based ATC radar. The ATC radar track data ended near the accident site. Both radar and the data from the pilot's onboard GPS device showed that the airplane remained in about straight and level flight for at least 8 minutes before the impact. The wreckage was located about 70 ft below the mountain peak. Ground scars and airplane damage indicated that the airplane was in level flight, with significant engine power, at the time of impact. Examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any evidence of pre-impact mechanical deficiencies or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Available medical information revealed no evidence of pilot incapacitation.

Meteorological conditions at an airport near the accident location suggested that an overcast ceiling of about 4,750 ft msl was present near the accident site. That ceiling would have obscured the peak, and would have been about 1,000 ft lower than the impact point elevation. It is likely that the pilot flew into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), which obscured the peak from his view as he attempted to cross the mountain range. The investigation was unable to determine whether the pilot entered IMC intentionally or unintentionally, or how long the airplane was operating in IMC before impact.

The investigation was unable to determine why the pilot was operating on a track at an altitude that did not provide terrain clearance, even if he did intentionally enter IMC without operating under instrument flight rules. Because the ATC radar and GPS altitudes for the flight were congruent, altimetry malfunctions and errors can be eliminated as causal factors. The pilot's GPS unit was capable of providing both visual and aural terrain/obstacle alerts, but the terrain and alert configuration settings of the GPS were not able to be determined. It is possible that the pilot either ignored or deactivated those features, and thereby deprived himself of those protection capabilities. Such a deactivation could have been the result of the pilot's comfort level with flying in that region, or it could have been inadvertent. Although the investigation could not determine what assumptions, tools, or methods the pilot used to ensure adequate terrain clearance for the accident flight, the pilot had sufficient and accurate information available, or potentially available, to enable him to avoid terrain.

All elements of this accident are consistent with a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) event. Although the specific underlying reasons for the CFIT event could not be determined, it is likely that the pilot's comfort with the route, combined with his determination to complete the flight to reach work, caused him to enter IMC. That entry into IMC, coupled with an improper route and altitude combination, resulted in the collision with the peak. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's controlled flight into mountainous terrain while attempting to operate under visual flight rules in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). 

Findings

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Clouds - Decision related to condition (Cause)
Below VFR minima - Decision related to condition (Cause)
Mountainous/hilly terrain - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute-cruise
VFR encounter with IMC (Defining event)
Loss of visual reference

Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)


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

Additional Participating Entities: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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


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


Frederick M. Espiau: http://registry.faa.gov/N6201N 

Location: Lake Hughes, CA
Accident Number: WPR17FA055
Date & Time: 01/12/2017, 0905 PST
Registration: N6201N
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 12, 2017, about 0905 Pacific standard time (PST), a Mooney M20J, N6201N, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during cruise flight near the Lake Hughes Very High Frequency Omnirange (LHS VOR) navigation beacon. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was owned by the pilot and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions were likely present at the accident site about the time of the accident; no flight plan was filed. The personal flight departed Tehachapi Municipal Airport (TSP), Tehachapi, California, about 0849, and was destined for Zamperini Field Airport (TOA), Torrance, California.

The airplane was the subject of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Alert Notice (ALNOT), issued on January 17, indicating that the airplane was missing. In response to the ALNOT, members of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) and the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) began a telephonic search for information about the pilot and his possible whereabouts. That search yielded a conclusion that the pilot's last known flight date was January 12, which then resulted in detailed examination of air traffic control (ATC) radar data for that day and geographic locale. A radar track with a transponder code of 1200, originating southeast of TSP and terminating at the LHS VOR, was identified as likely being that of the missing airplane. On the morning of January 18, an aerial search by the CAP located the wreckage of the airplane a few hundred feet from the LHS VOR.

The pilot based the airplane at TSP and lived in the local area. According to several people who knew the pilot, he worked three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) in Torrance and used the airplane to commute on each of those days between TSP and TOA. One of the pilot's coworkers typically picked him up at TOA on those workday mornings and dropped him off there after work. According to that coworker, the pilot rarely canceled any of those flights for weather-related reasons. On the morning of the accident, which was a Thursday, the coworker did not hear from the pilot but was not concerned. About January 16, a friend of the pilot realized that the pilot's truck was parked at the airport but that no one had seen the pilot for several days; his and others' actions determined that the pilot and airplane were missing, which led to the issuance of the ALNOT. 

Pilot Information


Certificate: Private
Age: 56, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; 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): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/01/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 2500 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single- and multi-engine land, and instrument ratings. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued in February 2016. The pilot's personal flight logs were not located. However, in his report to the NTSB regarding a June 16, 2016 landing accident in a different airplane make and model, the pilot reported that he had 2,500 total hours of flight experience, including 2,300 hours in single-engine airplanes, and 100 hours of "actual" instrument flight time.

In addition to the accident airplane, the pilot concurrently owned another airplane, a Grumman AA-1 "Yankee," which he also based at TSP. The pilot held an FAA mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings. That certificate was issued in March 2012. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information


Aircraft Manufacturer: MOONEY
Registration: N6201N
Model/Series: M20J NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1978
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 24-0590
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2899 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO360 SER
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 0 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The four-seat, low-wing, retractable landing gear airplane was manufactured in 1978. It was equipped with a Lycoming IO-360-series engine and a constant speed propeller.
The pilot purchased the airplane in July 2005, and the engine was overhauled in December 2016.

NTSB-requested searches of the pilot's home and hangar for the airplane maintenance records were unsuccessful. Two acquaintances of the pilot reported that the recent engine overhaul was due to the presence of "metal" in the oil and/or oil filter. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Unknown
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: WJF, 2351 ft msl
Observation Time: 0856 PST
Distance from Accident Site: 23 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 65°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Temperature/Dew Point:  9°C / 7°C
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 2400 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots, 240°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: Light - Rain
Departure Point: Tehachapi, CA (TSP)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Torrance, CA (TOA)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0848 PST
Type of Airspace: 

The 0835 TSP automated weather observation included calm wind, visibility 10 miles, broken cloud layer at 7,500 ft, overcast layer at 8,000 ft, temperature 5°C, dew point 2°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.90 inches of mercury. The 0855 observation included calm wind, visibility 10 miles, overcast layer at 6,000 ft, temperature 6°C, dew point 2°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.91 inches of mercury.

General William J. Fox Airfield (WJF), Lancaster, California, was located in the Mojave desert, about 15 miles east of the accident flight track at an elevation of 2,351 ft. The 0856 WJF automated weather observation included winds from 240o at 10 knots, visibility 10 miles in light rain, overcast layer at 2,400 ft, temperature 9°C, dew point 7°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  34.683889, -118.576389 (est) 

LHS VOR is on a leveled-off peak in the aforementioned southern mountain range at an elevation of 5,793 ft. The wreckage was located on the north slope of that peak, about 70 ft below, and 380 ft from, the VOR antenna. Review of topographic data and the airplane flight track revealed that the impacted mountain was the highest topographical feature along the flight track, and that the underlying terrain rose rapidly as the airplane flew beyond the Mojave Desert to cross the mountain range that forms the desert flatlands' southern boundary.

The airplane first struck low (up to about 10 ft high) scrub vegetation, then grassy earth, before impacting the heavy scrub vegetation where it came to rest. Vegetation and ground scars were consistent with the airplane striking the ground in a wings-level, right-side-up attitude on a horizontal flight path.

The forward fuselage exhibited severe crush and fracture damage. The single (right side) cabin door, pilot seat, and some other cabin items were found about 20 ft ahead of the wreckage. Portions of the cabin sidewalls, floor, and roof were found strewn among the vegetation forward of the main wreckage. The instrument panel was severely disrupted, and only about half of the instruments remained attached to the panel. Damage precluded obtaining any relevant information regarding instrument or control positions at impact. The main landing gear condition and position was consistent with the gear being retracted at the time of impact

The engine was partially separated from the airframe and came to rest on its left side. The engine exhibited significant damage to its forward and lower sides, but all cylinders remained attached and intact. Some engine accessories and components were fracture-separated from the engine. No evidence of any pre-impact catastrophic failures was evident. The three-blade propeller and hub assembly was fracture-separated from the engine. Two full-length blades remained in the hub, and these blades exhibited moderate twisting and/or bending deformation. The other blade was fracture-separated at its root. The stub of that blade, about 3 inches long, remained in the hub.

Both wings were found swept aft about 75°, and exhibited extensive, full-span crush damage to their leading edges. The right wing was rotated leading edge down. Both flaps remained attached to their respective wings. The left flap appeared to be retracted, but the right flap was free to travel through its entire range, consistent with a fractured link in the system. Both ailerons remained attached to their respective outboard wing sections, and both retained their balance weights. The ailerons were only moveable through a small range of their normal travel, consistent with postaccident deformation and resultant system binding.

The aft fuselage came to rest upright with the empennage nearly intact. The left and right horizontal stabilizers remained attached to the empennage. The left and right elevators remained attached to their respective stabilizers and to one another. The vertical stabilizer remained attached to the empennage. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer. The balance weights for the rudder and the two elevators remained attached to their respective control surfaces. Fuselage disruption forward of the aft cabin wall precluded any determination of control continuity.

There was no fire. No evidence of any pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions of the propeller, engine, or airframe was observed. 

Communications

No records of any communications between the airplane and air traffic control facilities for the accident flight were located.

Airport Information

TSP is a non-towered airport; TOA has an air traffic control tower. TOA is located about 80 miles south of TSP, but the flight routing between the two is complicated by topography, weather patterns, and multiple airspace restrictions.

TSP is situated north of the Mojave Desert at an elevation of about 4,000 ft, and TOA is situated in the Los Angeles Basin, near the Pacific Ocean, about sea level. A large mountain range, with some peaks near 8,000 ft, extends southeast to northwest and bounds the south edge of the Mojave Desert flatlands. This mountain range also tends to generate or be obscured by clouds, even when the areas to the north and south are clear. Edwards Air Force Base (EDW, but referred to in other investigation documents as EAFB) and Palmdale airport (PMD) are located in the Mojave Desert and result in airspace restrictions. The Burbank Class C and Los Angeles Class B airspaces are situated several miles south of the Mojave Desert, and TOA is under the Class B airspace. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Los Angeles County (California) Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner autopsy report indicated that the cause of death was "multiple blunt force traumatic injuries." Forensic toxicology examinations on blood from the pilot indicated that no ethanol or any screened drugs were detected.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, also conducted forensic toxicology examinations on specimens from the pilot, and reported that no carbon monoxide, ethanol, or any screened drugs were detected. 

Additional Information

Witness Observations


According to a pilot/mechanic based at TSP, the pilot performed his own maintenance on the two airplanes he owned. That person also witnessed the accident flight departure, and reported that the weather at the time was "not good," with mist, light snow, and a low ceiling.

Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) Information

No ELT signals were received from the accident airplane. However, about 3 weeks after the accident, two FAA inspectors returned to the site to retrieve the ELT, and, upon removal from the wreckage, the ELT began to transmit. The inspectors noted that the ELT would transmit when the switch was placed in the "ON" position but would not transmit while in the "ARM" position. They also noted that a sticker on the front of the ELT indicated that the ELT batteries were due for replacement by "3/2015," about 19 months before the accident.

The ELT was an AMERI-KING CORP Model AK-450, which is listed as an FAA Unapproved Part per FAA Document No. 2016-2013NM460018 (dated March 1, 2016).

Onboard GPS Devices

A Garmin GPSMap 496 device was recovered intact, and the remnants of what appeared to be another Garmin portable GPS were also located in the wreckage. Both devices were sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory for possible data downloads. The data extracted from the GPSMap 496 included 60 recording sessions from September 2012 through February 2013. The accident flight was not recorded on that device.

The other unit, a Garmin Aera 796, contained the accident flight as well as multiple previous recent flights.

The Aera 796 GPS device incorporated a "Terrain" function that, when active, displays terrain and obstruction altitudes relative to the aircraft position and altitude using an integral terrain and obstacle database. According to the device's Pilot's Guide, it "provides the horizontal position and altitude of the aircraft. Aircraft GPS altitude is derived from satellite position. GPS altitude is then converted to a mean sea level (MSL)-based altitude (GPS-MSL altitude) and is used to determine terrain and obstacle proximity. GPS-MSL altitude accuracy is affected by satellite geometry, but is not subject to variations in pressure and temperature that normally affect pressure altitude sensors. GPS-MSL altitude does not require local altimeter settings to determine MSL altitude."

The guide continued with, "Terrain and obstacle databases are referenced to MSL. Using the GPS position and altitude, the Terrain feature portrays a 2-D picture of the surrounding terrain and obstacles relative to the position and altitude of the aircraft. GPS position and GPS-MSL altitude are used to calculate and predict the aircraft's flight path in relation to the surrounding terrain and obstacles. In this way, the pilot can view predicted dangerous terrain and obstacle conditions." Display of terrain information was user-selectable, both in terms of format, and whether the information was presented or not.

The GPS was equipped to provide both visual and aural terrain/obstacle alerts. These alerts were user-selectable in terms of mode and clearance thresholds. In addition, like the terrain display itself, the device could be configured by the user so that no alerts were provided.

The Pilot's Guide contained multiple explicit warnings about the limitations of the altitude information and alerts, including:

Terrain and obstacle information should be used as an aid to situational awareness. They should never be used to navigate or maneuver around terrain.

Navigation and terrain separation must NOT be predicated upon the use of the terrain function. The aera 795/796 Terrain Proximity feature is NOT intended to be used as a primary reference for terrain avoidance and does not relieve the pilot from the responsibility of being aware of surroundings during flight.

The displayed minimum safe altitudes (MSAs) are only advisory in nature and should not be relied upon as the sole source of obstacle and terrain avoidance information. Always refer to current aeronautical charts for appropriate minimum clearance altitudes.

The altitude calculated by aera 795/796 GPS receivers is geometric height above Mean Sea Level and could vary significantly from the altitude displayed by pressure altimeters. Always use pressure altitude displayed by the aircraft altimeter when determining or selecting aircraft altitude.

The GPS "data session" for the accident flight began as the airplane taxied for departure. However, the investigation was unable to determine where the GPS was situated in the cockpit or how the pilot used it during the flight. The investigation did not determine the terrain display or alert setting configurations for the device for the accident flight.

Air Traffic Control Radar Track

The majority of the accident flight was captured by FAA ATC ground-based tracking radar, even though the flight was not being controlled by, or in communication with, ATC.

The first radar return from the airplane was acquired at 0851:36. At that time, the airplane was about 2 miles south of TSP, on an approximate track of 128° true, and in a climb at an indicated altitude of 5,675 ft. About 0854, when it was climbing through 7,200 ft, the airplane began a turn to a track of 210° true, a track it maintained for the remainder of the flight. The climb continued until 0856:00, when the airplane reached a maximum altitude of 7,675 ft. The airplane then began descending, and about 0857:24, it leveled off at an approximate altitude of 6,600 ft. About 0858:36, the airplane began a slight climb, and then descended and leveled off about 5,800 ft. About 90 seconds before the end of the radar data, the airplane began a slight, irregular climb to about 6,000 ft. The final radar return was received at 0904:59, with an indicated altitude of 6,000 ft. The last return was about 0.3 miles north-northeast of LHS VOR.

Aera 796 Flight Tracks

The recovered Aera 796 data contained 17 trips (not including the accident flight) between TSP and TOA from December 20, 2016, to January 11, 2017 (the day before the accident).

Eight of the 17 flights (some with intermediate stops) between TSP and TOA (either direction) depicted track deviations or circling. One trip departed from TSP, flew south to the mountain range, and then returned to TSP.

The recovered data contained 8 non-stop flights from TSP to TOA, and 6 from TOA to TSP. Virtually all of those 14 flights were along different ground tracks, sometimes differing by several miles. None of the flight tracks appeared to be aligned with any charted navigation facilities or waypoints.

Further, the flights all crossed east of the LHS VOR, and cleared the underlying terrain by at least 1,000 ft.

Aera 796 Accident Flight Track

The Aera 796 GPS data session for the accident flight began at 0845:31 PST on January 12, 2017, and the last session data point had a time tag of 0903:26. The airplane began its takeoff roll from runway 29 about 0848:50. About 0849:44, at an altitude about 400 ft above ground level (agl) and about 0.4 nautical miles (nm) beyond the runway 11 threshold, the airplane began an approximate 100° left turn to the southwest. About 50 seconds later, the airplane began a 90° left turn to the southeast (approximating the downwind leg of an airport traffic pattern), while continuing its climb. The airplane maintained that downwind leg track for about 4 nm before beginning a slow arcing turn to the right (south). About 0854:20, when the airplane was climbing through about 7,300 ft msl, it began a 45° (track) normal-rate right turn to its final on-course track of about 210° true, on which it remained until it struck the mountainside about 10 minutes later. As the airplane entered the 45° turn, it ceased climbing, and began a descent to about 6,500 ft msl where it leveled off.

The 6,500 ft altitude was consistent with the FAA 'hemispheric rule' for visual flight rules (VFR) flight altitudes. About 2 minutes later, the airplane began a 600 to 700 ft per minute descent to about 5,750 ft, where it leveled off and remained for the rest of the recovered GPS dataset. The 5,750 ft altitude was not consistent with the hemispheric rule for that segment of the flight.

The GPS flight track ended 3.2 miles before the accident/impact location. This is likely due to the user-defined data capture settings and the non-volatile memory buffering characteristics of the GPS device. Straight-line extrapolation of the ground track led directly to the impact site.

Controlled Flight into Terrain

FAA Advisory Circular 61-134 states that controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) occurs when an airworthy aircraft is flown, under the control of a qualified pilot, into terrain with inadequate awareness on the part of the pilot of the impending collision. The advisory circular also states:

Some pilots, including some with instrument ratings, continue to fly VFR in conditions less than that specified for VFR. The result is often a CFIT accident when the pilot tries to continue flying or maneuvering beneath a lowering ceiling and hits an obstacle or terrain or impacts water.

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA055
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, January 12, 2017 in Lake Hughes, CA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J, registration: N6201N
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

On January 12, 2017, about 0905 Pacific Standard time, a Mooney M20J, N6201N, was destroyed when it impacted terrain near the Lake Hughes Very High Frequency Omnirange navigation beacon (LHS VOR) during a flight from Tehachapi Municipal Airport (TSP), Tehachapi, California to Zamperini Field Airport (TOA), Torrance, California. The airplane was the subject of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Alert Notice (ALNOT), indicating that the airplane was missing. The ALNOT was issued on January 17, and the wreckage was discovered the following day during an aerial search. The private pilot/owner was fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Weather conditions at the accident site at the time of the accident have not been determined, and no flight plan was filed for the flight.

The pilot based the airplane at TSP, and lived in the local area. According to several persons who knew the pilot, he worked three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) in Torrance, and used the airplane to commute on each of those days between TSP and TOA. One of the pilot's co-workers typically picked him up at TOA on those workday mornings, and dropped him off there again after work. According to that co-worker, the pilot rarely canceled any of those flights for weather-related reasons. On the morning of the accident, which was a Thursday, the co-worker did not hear from the pilot but was not concerned. About January 16, a friend of the pilot realized that the pilot's Jeep was parked at the airport, but that no-one had seen the pilot for several days; his and others' actions determined that the pilot and airplane were missing, which led to the issuance of the ALNOT.

In response to the ALNOT, members of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) and the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) began a telephonic search for the information about the pilot and his possible whereabouts. That search yielded a determination that the pilot's last known flight date was January 12, which then resulted in detailed examination of Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar data for that day and geographic locale. A radar track with a transponder code of 1200, originating southeast of TSP, and terminating at the LHS VOR, was identified as likely being that of the missing airplane. On the morning January 18, an aerial search by the CAP located the wreckage of the airplane.

LHS VOR is situated on a leveled-off mountaintop; its elevation is 5,793 feet. The wreckage was situated on the north slope of that peak, about 70 feet below, and 380 feet from, the LHS VOR antenna. The aft fuselage came to rest upright, with the empennage nearly intact. Both wings were rotated aft about 75 degrees, and exhibited extensive, full-span crush damage to their leading edges. The forward fuselage exhibited severe crush and fracture damage. The engine was partially separated from the airframe, and the three-blade propeller and its hub was fracture-separated from the engine. One blade was fracture-separated at its root. There was no fire. A Garmin GPSMap 496 device was recovered intact, and the remnants of what appeared to be another Garmin portable GPS was also located in the wreckage. Both devices were sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory for possible data downloads.

The preliminary ATC radar track that was associated with the airplane was provided to the investigation. The first radar return from the airplane was acquired at 0851:13. At that time, the airplane was 1.77 miles south of the departure end of TSP runway 29, on an approximate track of 126 degrees True, and in a climb at an indicated altitude of 5,259 feet. At 0853:13, when it was at an altitude of 7,259 feet, the airplane began a turn to a track of 209 degrees True. The climb continued until 0855:37, when the airplane reached a maximum altitude of 7,559 feet. The airplane then began descending, and at 0900:25, it leveled off at an altitude of 5,791 feet, all the while maintaining the 209 degree track. About 0903:52, the radar data indicated that the airplane was still on a track of 209 degrees, when it began a slight climb. The last radar return was received at 0904:52, with an indicated altitude of 5,991 feet. That last return was about 0.3 miles north-northeast of LHS VOR.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane land single-engine, multi-engine, and instrument ratings. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued in February 2016. The pilot's personal flight logs have not been located. However, in his report to the NTSB about his June 5, 2016 accident, the pilot reported that he had 2,500 total hours of flight experience, including 2,300 hours in single-engine airplanes, and 100 hours of "actual" instrument flight time.

FAA information indicated that the airplane was manufactured in 1978, and was equipped with a Lycoming IO-360 series engine. The pilot purchased the airplane in July 2005, and the engine was overhauled in December 2016.

The 0835 TSP automated weather observation included calm winds, visibility 10 miles, broken cloud layer at 7,500 feet, overcast layer at 8,000 feet, temperature 5 degrees C, dew point 2 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.90 inches of mercury. The 0855 observation included calm winds, visibility 10 miles, overcast layer at 6,000 feet, temperature 6 degrees C, dew point 2 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.91 inches of mercury.

General William J Fox Airfield (WJF), Lancaster, California, was located about 20 miles to the east of the airplane's radar track, at an elevation of 2,351 feet. The 0856 WJF automated weather observation included winds from 240 degrees at 10 knots, visibility 10 miles in light rain, overcast layer at 2,400 feet, temperature 9 degrees C, dew point 7 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury.

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


TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Members of the California wing of the Civil Air Patrol found the wreckage of a single engine plane Wednesday morning that was last seen on Jan. 12.

Friends identified the pilot as Frederick “Matt” Espiau, a former Army helicopter pilot who lived in Bear Valley Springs. He did not survive.

Fellow pilot and friend Ken Hetge said Espiau would commute by plane from the Tehachapi airport to the L.A. area on weekdays.

Hetge said they would talk over the radio most mornings as Espiau was taking off.

“It was more or less just a common good morning courtesy. He’d tell me how the airplane was running and I’d tell him what we had on plan for the day and I would see him on his way,” said Hetge.

They last spoke on Thursday morning as rain swept through the region.

“It was barely good enough to fly,” remembered Hetge.

But he wasn’t worried when he didn’t hear from Espiau the next morning, saying it was not unusual for him to be gone for several days at a time.

“Matt was single and lived up here. When he decided to go somewhere, he loaded up his airplane and went,” said Hetge.

But after 5 days, friends started getting suspicious. Hetge says another pilot had gone looking for Espiau at his home and found his dog locked inside. Espiau’s Jeep remained parked near his hangar.

Hetge called in a missing person report to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.

That night, a Civil Air Patrol crew initiated a search between Tehachapi and the Whiteman Airport in Pacoima where Espiau would sometimes travel. Using special detection equipment, they searched for the plane’s electronic beacon but heard no pings from the emergency locator transmitter.

The search resumed Wednesday morning over the mountainous area between Castaic and Lake Hughes in the Angeles National Forest. Aiding the search, local pilots Inigo Markle-Allen and Andrew Angellotti flew over the mountain region south of Tehachapi to look for wreckage.

The Mooney M20J was found around 7:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to the CAP.

“I’m proud of the professionalism demonstrated by members of Civil Air Patrol’s California Wing, who worked tirelessly through the night to plan and prepare for the visual search phase. Their training and hard work brought swift resolution to an unfortunate situation,” said Civil Air Patrol incident commander Capt. Charles Christian in a statement.

Hetge said the death has shaken the small piloting community in Tehachapi.

“We all know each other. We all call each other friends,” said Hetge. “It’s a surprise to all of us that it was Matt, because of how much he flew and how much experience he had.”

It’s unclear exactly when the plane went down. The cause of the crash is under investigation.


Story and video:   http://bakersfieldnow.com




The missing pilot was a longtime daily commuter between Tehachapi Airprot and his employment in Torrance. His Jeep was parked at the airport.

Tehachapi pilots aid in the search for a missing Mooney M20J. Tehachapi pilots including Inigo Markle-Allen, Andrew Angellotti and Joe Schoolcraft flew search patterns over the southern mountain range between Tehachapi and Antelope Valley. The pilots were aided by Ken Hetge's High Wing Cessna 175.



Matt Espiau flew just about every day from Tehachapi Airport to his job in Torrance, no matter the weather.

Espiau took to the cloudy skies on Jan. 12, but unfortunately did not return to his home base. The wreckage of his Mooney M20J plane was found in Angeles National Forest a few days later on Jan. 18.

His body was identified as the pilot of the plane.

Local pilot Ken Hetge said no one initially missed Espiau because he lived alone in Bear Valley Springs.

“I spoke with Matt earlier that day,” Hetge said. “It was a just a good morning and we talked about how his plane was running. Just a routine conversation.”

Hetge said he was alerted that Espiau was missing by Lee Dodd, who was helping Espiau with some maintenance in his hangar. Dodd said he hadn't heard from Espiau in a few days, but his Jeep was still in the airport parking lot.

“I started calling all of the places I knew Matt flew and came up with no quality information,” Hetge said. “Mr. Dodd visited Matt's house in Bear Valley and verified his dog was locked in and it was heard barking. We then discussed the issue and decided to file the missing person report with the Kern County Sheriff and a search was begun.”

Hetge said Espiau's plane was last listed on radar over the San Fernando Valley on Jan. 12.

After making the notifications, local Tehachapi pilots formed their own search for their comrade. Inigo Markle-Allen, Andrew Angellotti and Joe Schoolcraft proceeded to fly search patterns over the southern mountain range between Tehachapi and Antelope Valley. Hetge loaned one of the pilots his High Wing Cessna 175 for the search.

Members of Civil Air Patrol’s California Wing finally located the wreckage on Jan. 18 near near Pine Canyon, in the Lake Hughes area.

The patrol was activated Tuesday evening, Jan. 17, by the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center to initiate a search for the missing aircraft.

According to reports, the crew flew an electronic route search that Tuesday night between Tehachapi and Whiteman Airport in Pacoima, but heard no pings from the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter. The CAP National Radar Analysis Team narrowed the search area and a second aircrew was launched from Whiteman on Wednesday morning, Jan. 18.

The downed aircraft was found at about 7:45 a.m. that morning, and reported finding one fatality at the site. Hetge, who also serves on the Tehachapi City Council, said as soon as he saw pictures of the wreckage, he recognized it as Espiau's plane.

Civil Air Patrol incident commander Capt. Charles Christian reported, that while the mission was not what they had hoped for, “we were thankful we were able to provide closure to the pilot’s family members and friends.”

Christian also said a total of 43 CAP professional volunteers, two CAP aircraft and two CAP vehicles were used in the search.

Espiau, also known as “Mooney Matt” by his fellow pilots, was an electrical engineering consultant who began flying out of Tehachapi about two years ago. He also had been a helicopter pilot in the military.

Hetge said many of the folks at the airport are still shocked by the incident.

“Matt was such a regular and it will be very hard not having him around,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. The two departments reported they didn't know if bad weather was the cause of the accident.

No memorial service has been scheduled as yet.

Source:  http://www.tehachapinews.com




The detailed probe of a deadly small plane crash in rugged terrain of the Angeles National Forest got under way Thursday as authorities publicly identified the pilot who was killed on his regular commute to the Los Angeles area.

Frederick “Matt” Espiau, 56, of Tehachapi died at the scene of the crash on Wednesday, said Craig Harvey of the coroner’s office. Espiau was the pilot and owner of the airplane, Harvey said.

A Bakersfield television station reported that Espiau’s friends in Tehachapi became worried when he did not return from his normal commute flight from his hometown in the Kern County mountains to the Los Angeles area. It wasn’t clear what Espiau’s profession was.

KBAK-TV reported that fellow pilot and friend Ken Hetge said he would talk over aircraft radio with Espiau. “It was more or less just a common good morning courtesy,” Hetge said. “He’d tell me how the airplane was running and I’d tell him what we had on plan for the day and I would see him on his way.”

The two last spoke the day of Espiau’s last flight during a heavy rainstorm at the time Espiau’s plane took off.

“It was barely good enough to fly,” Hetge said.

There was no word from federal investigators if weather had anything to do with the fatal crash, as the probe was just getting under way.

The airplane had been reported missing last Thursday while en route from Tehachapi to Torrance. The sheriff’s Santa Clarita Station was notified about 10 a.m. Wednesday of the discovery of the wreckage near Pine Canyon, in the Lake Hughes area, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

Source:   http://mynewsla.com

Authorities today publicly identified the pilot killed when his small plane crashed in the Angeles National Forest near Lake Hughes.

Frederick Espiau, 56, of Tehachapi died at the scene of the crash on Wednesday, said Craig Harvey of the coroner’s office. Espiau was the pilot and owner of the airplane, Harvey said.

A Bakersfield television station reported that Espiau’s friends in Tehachapi became worried when he did not return from his normal commute flight from his hometown in the Kern County mountains to the Los Angeles area.

The airplane had been reported missing last Thursday while en route from Tehachapi to Torrance. The sheriff’s Santa Clarita Station was notified about 10 a.m. Wednesday of the discovery of the wreckage near Pine Canyon, in the Lake Hughes area, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.




Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau officials are reporting plane crash wreckage found in the mountains near Lake Hughes.

The crash was found in a “pretty desolate area,” said Lt. James Duran of the
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

Another plane flying over the area reportedly spotted the crash and contacted Kern County Sheriff’s officials, who then contacted the LASD Aero Bureau, Duran said. An LASD helicopter was sent out to the area and found the crash.

Duran said there appears to be a fatality.

Photos of the crash were posted to the LASD SEB Twitter page Wednesday around 11 a.m.

Press Release from the Civil Air Patrol:

Members of Civil Air Patrol’s California Wing located the wreckage of a missing Mooney aircraft with a single pilot on board Wednesday morning in the mountainous terrain near Lake Hughes in Los Angeles County. There were no survivors.

The aircraft was reported overdue Tuesday after the pilot’s neighbors alerted Kern County Sheriff’s Department to barking dogs at the pilot’s home. Sheriff’s officials determined the pilot, who routinely flew between Tehachapi Municipal Airport (KTSP), where the plane was based, and the Los Angeles area, was last seen at the Tehachapi airport around 9 a.m. Thursday morning, Jan. 12. No flight plan was filed and the plane’s intended destination was unclear.

The California Wing of the Civil Air Patrol was activated Tuesday evening by the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, located at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, to initiate a search for the missing aircraft. A CAP aircrew flew an electronic route search Tuesday night between Tehachapi and Whiteman Airport in Pacoima, but heard no pings from the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter.

Overnight efforts by the CAP National Radar Analysis Team narrowed down the initial search area. A second aircrew and a CAP ground team launched from Whiteman Airport (KWHP) in Pacoima just after sunrise Wednesday morning to conduct a visual search in the mountainous area between the communities of Castaic and Lake Hughes, within the Angeles National Forest.

The downed aircraft was located about an hour into the air search, at approximately 7:45 a.m.

A CAP ground team of eight search and rescue volunteers confirmed the wreckage on a steep hillside as that of the missing Mooney at 8:15 a.m., and the team reported what appeared to be one fatality at the site.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LACSO) helicopter was dispatched to the site and the coroner’s office notified. CAP ground team members were requested by LACSO to remain at the wreckage until the coroner’s office arrived on scene.

“While the outcome of this mission was not what we hoped for, I’m thankful we were able to provide closure to the pilot’s family members and friends,” said Civil Air Patrol incident commander Capt. Charles Christian.

“I’m proud of the professionalism demonstrated by members of Civil Air Patrol’s California Wing, who worked tirelessly through the night to plan and prepare for the visual search phase. Their training and hard work brought swift resolution to an unfortunate situation,” Christian said.

A total of 43 CAP professional volunteers, two CAP aircraft and two CAP vehicles were used in the search mission.


Source:   http://scvnews.com



The wreckage of a small plane was found Wednesday in the Angeles National Forest near Lake Hughes, and a man — apparently the pilot — was found dead at the crash scene.

It’s believed to be the aircraft that was reported missing last Thursday while en route from Tehachapi to Torrance, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.

The dead man was about 40-50 years old, according to the coroner’s office. His name was withheld pending notification of his relatives.

The sheriff’s Santa Clarita Station was notified about 10 a.m. of the discovery of the wreckage near Pine Canyon Road and Forest Route.

“A Mooney M20J, which was the subject of a search … was traveling from Tehachapi to Torrance,” said Allen Kenitzer of the FAA. “This appears to be the missing aircraft from (Thursday). Local authorities say that only the pilot was onboard.”

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

Source:   http://mynewsla.com

LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) - Authorities say the wreckage of a small plane found in foothills of the Angeles National Forest is an aircraft reported missing last week.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials were notified of the wreckage spotted Wednesday morning near Lake Hughes.

There was no immediate information about the plane's occupants.

Allen Kenitzer of the Federal Aviation Administration says the plane is a Mooney M20J that went missing January 12 during a flight from Tehachapi to Torrance.


The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

Wreckage from a plane crash has been found in the mountains near Lake Hughes, according to LA County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau officials.

The crash was found in a “pretty desolate area,” said Lt. James Duran of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

Another plane flying over the area reportedly spotted the crash and contacted Kern County Sheriff’s officials, who then contacted the LASD Aero Bureau, Duran said. An LASD helicopter was sent out to the area and found the crash.

Duran said there appears to be a fatality.