Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Blue Grass Airport (KLEX) runway reopens after outage

A technical problem has been resolved after a runway light outage at Blue Grass Airport delayed and diverted flights Wednesday night.

Two flights out of Lexington were delayed, while two incoming flights were diverted, airport spokeswoman Amy Caudill said.

The edge lights on the main runway were scheduled to turn on at 6 p.m. and did not, Caudill said. She said the lighting issue might have been related to ongoing construction at the airport as part of its Taxiway Safety Enhancement Program, which started in 2014.

The airport announced on social media at 9:13 p.m. Wednesday that the outage was resolved and advised travelers to check their flight status Thursday morning.

A smaller runway at the airport, which is only for private use, was operational during the outage.


San Luis Obispo-based aviation company ACI Jet fuels expansion

Top executives at ACI Jet of San Luis Obispo, front to back, are Andrew Robillard, vice president of flight-based operations and facilities; Kellee Valentine, vice president of flight operations; and Dave Jensen, vice president of aircraft maintenance. Behind them is the former American Eagle facility that ACI has remodeled.

ACI Jet is climbing higher than ever before.

The San Luis Obispo-based company, founded by pilot and entrepreneur William “Bill” Borgsmiller almost two decades ago, continues to grow and expand — attracting new customers, hiring more employees and making significant investments in the business.

The benefits extend to the greater community as well, given its impact on San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, which is undergoing an expansion.

“You know, we grew up to a certain point, and achieved a lot of the goals we set out for ourselves,” Borgsmiller said. “In the last year or two, we started to think about what’s next and what we want to do.”

Borgsmiller and Andrew Robillard, vice president of flight-based operations and facilities, recently answered questions about the future of ACI Jet and the reasons for its present success. The following are excerpts from interviews with both men.

Q: There’s so much happening at ACI Jet. Can you give us an update?

A: (Robillard) We recently completed a remodel of the old Wings West/American Eagle facility, renamed Clark Station, an ode to San Luis Obispo’s first airport, Clark Field. The facility features over 17,000 square feet of hangar space and 12,000 square feet of commercial office space. In addition, the first floor and 8,500 square feet of hangar has been leased out to a local flight school, aircraft maintenance and aircraft charter business.

Borgsmiller: There are a couple of things that the building does … it gives general aviation a quality location at the airport. We took something that was basically just rotting and not being used and now it’s a productive asset.

We also just started an employee flying program last year. Anyone who wants to fly will have access to an airplane (the employee flying club operates a Beechcraft Bonanza A36, but it recently obtained a Cessna 172). We’ve spent some time over the last year or two figuring out what’s at our core, and what we’re all about. We’re passionate about aviation, and we’re attracting people passionate about aviation. We have to let them fly.

Steven Hill, left, and Eric Engen work on seats at ACI Jet in San Luis Obispo.

Q: What’s fueling ACI Jet’s recent growth?

A: (Borgsmiller) We’re attracting more customers to bring airplanes here for service. We’re going to invest in expanding our facility next year, which will improve maintenance capability and lead to hiring in the next few years. We will be hiring in 2017 and more aggressively in 2018.

We’re feeling a little bit more positive about where things are going economically. Compared to 2009 and 2010, it feels a lot better. We’re looking at locations beyond San Luis Obispo County right now, with the goal of leveraging them to bring more maintenance and flight operations business to our planes and maintenance business here.

The unique thing about our business is that we bring a lot of revenue home to this county. Our planes go out and fly people out to other cities to all parts of the world. We’re attracting people who live in other locations, people who bring in their plane to be inspected. That brings $100,000 here that would have gone to somewhere else. It’s new money to the community, so we’re not just recycling what’s here already.

William “Bill” Borgsmiller is the founder, president and CEO of ACI Jet, which provides corporate aircraft management, charter, maintenance and ground support services worldwide from a base at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.

Q: What impact have you seen from the changes and improvements at SLO County Regional Airport?

A: (Robillard) The expansion of SLO County Regional Airport has been positive for ACI Jet. The added flights to Seattle by Alaska Airlines (in April) will provide us with better transportation options for the crew to reposition for European flights. The expansion of the terminal will provide an opportunity to attract more airlines, which benefits our company and community.

In addition, growth and improvements at the Paso Robles Airport have helped to attract several fly-ins and community events.

Carl Ford creates custom carpet and seats at ACI Jet. This not a garden variety upholstery shop; all work must meet FAA standards, including testing for flammability.

Q: Where are some of the places that your planes have flown in the past year? In your spare time, how much do you get to fly these days?

A: (Borgsmiller) In the last year, we’ve had a nonstop from SLO to Italy. We’ve been to France, New Zealand, Australia, Western and Easter Europe, Canada and Mexico. We’ve been to North Africa, South Africa and the Caribbean.

I probably fly two to three times a month. But I’m usually going to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Santa Barbara. I’m not getting to go to France or all the cool places that we do go.

ACI Jet, based in San Luis Obispo, has remodeled the former American Eagle building with 17,625 square feet of hangar space and 12,000 square feet of office space. The first floor is currently leased to SunWest Aviation.


Address: 945 Airport Drive

Web address:

Founded: 1998 by William “Bill” Borgsmiller

Other key executives: Kellee Valentine, vice president of flight operations; David Jensen, vice president of aircraft maintenance; and Andrew Robillard, vice president of flight-based operations and facilities.

Number of employees: 94 full-time and 14 part-time. The number of employees has grown by about 20 percent in the last few years, with maintenance seeing the most hires.

Fleet aircraft: Twelve aircraft based in San Luis Obispo. ACI operates Bombardier Challenger 604, Gulfstream G450, Gulfstream G650 and Cessna Citation XLS type aircraft.

Company financials: The company declined to release annual revenue or profits but said it has invested $3.3 million over the last 12 months in facility expansion at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. This year, it will spend an additional $16 million on construction of a hangar and building expansion at the airport. The company’s aircraft fleet also generates a significant amount of tax revenue for the county, Robillard said.

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New air-traffic control system unlikely to increase noise around Hollywood Burbank Airport, Federal Aviation Administration official says

The Federal Aviation Administration has slowly been implementing its new satellite-based Next Generation Air Transportation System, known as NextGen, at airports across the country, and soon the air-traffic control system will be put into place in Southern California.

The first phase of the project, in what the FAA calls the Southern California Metroplex, started last November with airports updating their systems so they could transfer to NextGen. By next month, the aircraft flying into and out of the 21 airports in the region will be equipped with the new technology.

NextGen is designed to make flight paths more time and fuel efficient, as well as make plane arrivals and departures safer, said Elizabeth Cory, a spokeswoman for the FAA, during a community outreach event at the Burbank Community Services Building Monday night.

"You know about the congestion on your highways, and of course, we have congestion in the skies," she said. "So what we're doing is we're remapping, creating a more efficient flow that we hope will improve on-time performance in all types of weather and get people in and out of the airspace more quickly."

Cory said the switch from a radar-based to a satellite-based system was implemented to make routes more direct.

Currently, planes navigate the skies via waypoints established many years ago. With the new system, the aircraft can be given better routes, Cory said.

"You can also accommodate a greater level of safety because you have more control and more visuals of who's in the airspace," she said. "You have a better control of your air traffic in terms of knowing who's where and knowing where they are at all times."

Though the new system is geared toward better flight paths and efficiency, there have been instances throughout the country when residents are upset with the new routes, claiming that NextGen has increased noise around airports.

In Northern California, for example, thousands of Palo Alto residents filed noise complaints with the San Francisco International Airport in 2015 after the new system was implemented.

Rob Henry, a project manager for the Southern California Metroplex project, said that was due to routes being shifted over an area where there were no flights in the past.

Henry said that will not be the case for Burbank because most of the routes will remain the same after NextGen is operational.

"We're staying within historical flight tracks," he said.

In October, several Burbank residents voiced concerns about NextGen, mainly fearing that the system would increase the number of flights to and from Hollywood Burbank Airport.

Cory and Henry both said that the system is not intended to increase the number of flights at any airport and that more flights are dictated by the economy and airlines.

Burbank resident Oscar Merlo had those concerns early on, but said that he is relieved a bit after hearing about the project from FAA officials and not the city or Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority.

Burbank resident Kevin Muldoon concurred with Merlo, adding he still has his guard up in terms of what the airport authority members will do at Hollywood Burbank and the number of gates a planned 14-gate terminal will have in the future.

"It's still going to be a wait-and-see," Muldoon said. "You can never say never."


Growth takes off at Camarillo Airport (KCMA)

A construction crew is busy putting the final touches on a building that will soon house about a dozen, much-needed hangars at Camarillo Airport.

Construction of the building, being erected on the east side of the 650-acre airport, is expected to be finished within weeks, Nicholas Martino, airport operations supervisor, said on Wednesday morning as he toured the area.

For many pilots, the hangars can't come soon enough.

"There's about a five-year waiting list right now," Todd McNamee, Ventura County's director of airports, said this week, noting there are more than 150 names on that list.

To help satisfy at least some of this pent-up demand, more hangars are in the works to be built along the airport's east end during the coming months, Martino said. Under the current plan, the construction will eventually bring the number of hangars to about 450.

The new hangars are coming online as more pilots, along with corporate executives and other well-heeled commuters, are choosing to land at Camarillo Airport instead of other places, including Van Nuys Airport, which ranks as one of the busiest general aviation airports in the nation, according to officials there.

As many as 140 new hangars have either been built or are planned for construction at the Camarillo Airport, McNamee said.

The airport also is seeing increased interest from pilots looking for an alternative to Santa Monica Airport. The growth in interest is being spurred in part by a recent announcement from the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing the city of Santa Monica to shorten the runway there from about 5,000 to 3,500 feet within a year. The FAA also announced the airport's permanent closure at the end of 2028.

Camarillo Airport now has about 300 hangars, McNamee said, with about 170 of them privately owned. The others are county owned, he said. Private hangar owners pay 12 ½ cents a month per square foot to the county since the land on which the hangar sits is publicly owned, McNamee said.

Those in county-owned hangars pay 33 cents per square foot per month, he said.

The Camarillo Airport also will be closed for a time in 2021 as workers repave the runway. It's been about 25 years since the 6,000-foot-long runway was last repaved, Martino said. The runway project is expected to cost about $14 million.

McNamee told the Camarillo City Council in 2016 that the Camarillo Airport will likely be closed for about three months as the runway undergoes reconstruction. The Oxnard Airport will be shut down for about the same period in 2019, he said, as its runway also undergoes reconstruction. Officials are staggering the projects in part to accommodate those who use the Camarillo or Oxnard airports allwoing them to use the other one while work is being done.

Meanwhile, Camarillo Airport officials have been steadily reducing the number of cars stored there to make room for construction projects. Hyundai and Kia had been using about 35 acres of land at the airport to store new vehicles after running out of space on land leased near the Port of Hueneme.

The Camarillo Airport is completely self-sustaining, generating enough money to pay for the costs of running it, McNamee said. The airport also is a big contributor to the area economy, he said, noting a 2008 study that found that it contributed $163 million a year.

"That amount is substantially more now," he said. Included in this amount, are the 2,500 or so jobs that are generated by the Camarillo and Oxnard airports, he said.


Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee, Drag 'N' Fly Banners, N4519Y: Accident occurred May 05, 2014 in Northglenn, Colorado

Aviation Accident Final Report  -   National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary  -    National Transportation Safety Board: 

Docket And Docket Items  -    National Transportation Safety Board:

Registered to Airspeed Enterprises LLC and operated by Drag 'N' Fly Banners: 

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

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA230
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 05, 2014 in Northglenn, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA 25-235, registration: N4519Y
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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.

The pilot reported that the purpose of the banner-tow flight was to tow an advertisement billboard over a ballpark. He stated that, despite the engine operating normally, the airplane had little to no climb performance as he flew southbound toward the ballpark; therefore, he decided to make a 180-degree turn and return to the departure airport. He released the banner after the airplane developed an excessive descent rate during the turn. The pilot reported that he was unable to recover sufficient airspeed after releasing the banner and that the airplane encountered an aerodynamic stall/spin at a low altitude. The airplane then descended, inverted, into a house where a postimpact fire ensued. A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. At the time of the accident, the low-level surface winds were from the south between 5 and 10 knots with gusts reaching 20 to 30 knots.

A review of radar track data confirmed that the accident airplane flew over a congested area at altitudes below 1,000 ft above ground level (agl). The final portion of the accident flight included an S-turn maneuver below 500 ft agl. According to radar data, during the S-turn, the airplane flew within 1,000 ft laterally and 200 ft vertically of the pilot’s personal residence. Additionally, radar data revealed that the pilot made a tight 360-degree turn near his residence, between 600 and 700 ft agl, during another recent banner-tow flight. 

Based on the available radar evidence, the pilot, on at least two occasions, flew below the minimum safe altitude required by federal regulation 91.119(b), which prohibited operating an airplane, over a congested area, at an altitude below 1,000 ft above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 ft. The pilot’s intentional flight below the required minimum safe altitude likely limited his ability to recover from a potential loss of airspeed due to a gusting wind condition during the banner-tow flight. Additionally, his delayed decision to release the banner allowed the airplane to exceed its critical angle-of-attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall/spin from which he was unable to recover.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's decision to operate the banner-tow flight below the minimum safe altitude specified by federal regulation, which likely limited his ability to recover from a potential loss of airspeed due to a gusting wind condition. Also causal was the pilot’s delayed decision to release the banner, which allowed the airplane to exceed its critical angle-of-attack and resulted in an aerodynamic stall/spin from which he was unable to recover.


On May 5, 2014, at 1543 mountain daylight time (MDT), a Piper model PA-25-235 airplane, N4519Y, was destroyed when it collided with a residential structure and caught fire in Northglenn, Colorado. The commercial pilot was not injured. The banner-tow airplane, registered to Airspeed Enterprises LLC and operated by Drag 'N' Fly Banners, was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight that departed from Platte Valley Airpark (18V), Hudson, Colorado, about 1500.

The pilot reported that the purpose of the banner-tow flight was to orbit Coors Field, located in downtown Denver, Colorado, with an advertisement billboard that measured about 55 ft long by 30 ft tall. He stated that there were no anomalies identified with the airplane during his preflight inspection and that he held a briefing with his ground support team before departing. After takeoff, he entered the traffic pattern and retrieved the banner at 1505. After retrieving the banner, he proceeded west, staying below the Class B airspace, toward Interstate I-25 where he turned southbound toward downtown Denver and Coors Field. The pilot reported that while en route the airplane did not perform as expected, with little to no climb performance, but the engine appeared to be operating without any anomalies. He stated that the airplane was at 6,100 ft mean sea level (msl), about 700 ft above ground level (agl), when he decided to enter a right 180-degree turn and return to the departure airport. He subsequently released the banner after the airplane developed an excessive descent rate during the turn. The pilot reported that the airplane accelerated slightly after he released the banner; however, it remained near the aerodynamic stall and, about 10-15 seconds after he released the banner, the airplane encountered a stall/spin at a low altitude. The airplane descended, inverted, into a house located within a residential area. Following the accident, the pilot was able to release his restraints and exit the airplane uninjured. A postaccident fire destroyed the airplane and significantly damaged the house. There were no reports of ground injuries.

According to available air traffic control (ATC) data, radar contact was established with the accident airplane at 1515:10 (hhmm:ss) about 6.6 nautical miles (nm) west of the departure airport at 5,500 ft msl (600 ft agl). The airplane proceeded on a westerly course while it climbed to 5,700 ft msl (700 ft agl). At 1522:23, as the airplane approached Interstate I-25, the airplane entered a left 90-degree turn toward south. The airplane descended to 5,400 ft msl (300 ft agl) during the left turn toward south.

The airplane continued south for about 1.5 nm before it began a climbing 360-degree left turn. At 1526:18, the airplane had climbed to 5,700 ft msl (600 ft agl) and continued southbound toward downtown Denver while maintaining a course parallel to and about 1/3 nm west of Interstate I-25. At 1531:09, about a mile north of 168th Avenue, the airplane was at 6,100 ft msl (900 ft agl). At 1534:14, the airplane flew over the Northwest Parkway Toll Road as it continued southbound toward downtown Denver.

Based on available radar data, the pilot flew the remainder of the accident flight over heavily populated or congested areas. Between 1535:46 and 1536:23, the airplane flew over the Orchard Town Center shopping mall, located in Westminster, Colorado, at 5,800 ft msl (600 ft agl). As the airplane continued south, it began to climb and, at 1537:37, crossed 136th Avenue at 6,100 ft (900 ft agl). However, after crossing 136th Avenue, the airplane began to descend and, at 1540:23, crossed 120th Avenue at 5,800 ft (450 ft agl).

During the final 2.5 minutes of radar track data, the airplane continued southbound as it completed an S-turn maneuver over Huron Street between 120th Avenue and Kennedy Drive. The first half of the S-turn, was completed west of Huron Street and between 118th and 114th Avenues. At 1542:32, the airplane completed the second half of the S-turn as it crossed over Huron Street on a west heading. At that time, the airplane had descended to 5,600 ft msl (150 ft agl). The airplane continued to fly west during the final 20 seconds of recorded radar data. At 1542:37, the airplane was at 5,500 ft msl (likely less than 100 ft agl). At 1542:50, the airplane then descended below radar coverage, about 0.2 miles south-southwest of the accident site, at 5,600 ft msl (150 ft agl).

Numerous witnesses reported seeing the airplane flying at a low altitude before it released its banner and descended into a residential area. One witness reported that the airplane was flying at a slow groundspeed in a nose-up flight attitude before it descended into the residential area. Several witnesses remarked that the banner barely cleared the power lines as the airplane crossed over Huron Street.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot, age 52, held a commercial pilot certificate with single engine land airplane and helicopter ratings. The pilot did not possess an instrument rating and, as such, his pilot certificate prohibited the carriage of passengers for hire in airplanes on cross-country flights in excess of 50 nm or at night. His last aviation medical examination was completed on April 16, 2014, when he was issued a second-class medical certificate with a limitation for corrective lenses. A search of FAA records showed no previous accidents, incidents, or enforcement proceedings. His last flight review, as required by FAA regulation 61.56, was completed upon the issuance of his commercial helicopter rating dated December 30, 2013. The pilot's flight logbook contained an endorsement, dated August 13, 2013, following banner-tow training in a Piper PA-25-235 airplane. According to the endorsement, the pilot had demonstrated the ability to tow banners and billboards approved for the Piper PA-250-235 airplane after completing 25 practice banner pickup-and-drops.

The pilot's flight history was reconstructed using logbook documentation. The most recent logbook entry was for the accident flight. The pilot had accumulated 462 hours total flight time, of which 374.2 hours as pilot-in-command. He had accumulated 318.6 hours in single engine airplanes and 142.4 hours in helicopters, and 1 hour in a glider. He had logged 127.2 hours of flight time in Piper PA-25-235 airplanes. The pilot reported having accumulated 85.4 hours during banner-tow operations.

According to the flight logbook, he had flown 207.9 hours during the prior 12 months, 97.3 hours in the previous 6 months, 52.3 hours during prior 90 days, 48.9 hours in the previous 60 days, and 36.8 hours in the 30 days before the accident flight. The pilot reported that the accident occurred during his first flight of the day.


The accident airplane was a 1966 Piper model PA-25-235, serial number (s/n) 25-4069. A 250-horsepower Lycoming model O-540-B2CD-A1D5 reciprocating engine, s/n L-7299-40, powered the airplane through a fixed-pitch, two blade, McCauley model 1A200/FA8452 propeller, s/n 99524. The airframe incorporated a steel-tube-truss design with fabric covering. It was equipped with externally braced wings, wing flaps, and a fixed conventional landing gear. The airplane seated a single occupant and had a maximum takeoff weight of 2,900 lbs. The airplane had a useful load of 1,332.7 lbs. The pilot reported the airplane had 36 gallons (216 lbs) of aviation fuel at the time of departure. The pilot weighed 160 lbs, according to his aviation medical certificate dated April 16, 2014. The fabric banner measured 55 ft by 29 ft and entire assembly (banner, tow bar, ropes and banner pole) weighed about 47 lbs. A postaccident calculation determined that the airplane was within the permitted weight-and-balance envelope at the time of the accident.

The airplane was issued a restricted airworthiness certificate on March 24, 2014. The airplane's recording tachometer was destroyed during the postimpact fire. According to pilot documentation located in the wreckage, the recording tachometer hour meter indicated 2,164 hours before the accident flight. The airframe had accumulated a total service time of 6,509 hours. The engine had accumulated a total service time of 5,609.2 hours since new. The engine had accumulated 1,461.2 hours since a field-overhaul on February 11, 1992. The last annual inspection of the airplane was completed on March 15, 2014, at 6,496 total airframe hours. A postaccident review of the maintenance records found no history of unresolved airworthiness issues.


At 1536 MDT, the automated surface observing system (ASOS) located at Erie Municipal Airport (EIK), about 8 miles north-northwest of the accident site, reported: wind from 170 degrees at 10 knots, gusting 20 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear sky, temperature 27 degrees Celsius, dew point -10 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.78 inches of mercury.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Surface Analysis Chart for 1500 MDT, depicted a low pressure system at 1000-hectopascals (hPa) over Wyoming along a frontal wave with a stationary front extending south-southeast across eastern Colorado into the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, where a second low pressure system was located at 1001-hPa. Another high pressure system at 1011-hPa was over southwest Colorado. The resultant pressure systems resulted in a general southerly wind flow over eastern Colorado. The NWS regional radar mosaic indicated no significant weather echoes over the Denver metropolitan area. The Denver upper air sounding for 1800 MDT had a wind profile that supported mountain wave activity near 10,000 ft msl with the potential for strong up/downdrafts and moderate and greater turbulence. According to a survey of nearby weather observation stations, the low-level surface winds were from the south between 5 and 10 knots with gusts reaching 20 to 30 knots. The density altitude was about 8,500 ft, based on the weather conditions reported near the accident site.


After departure, at 1514:30, the pilot established radio communications with Denver Terminal Radar Approach Control and requested visual flight rules flight following for a several hour banner-tow flight over Coors Field. At 15:14:54, the approach controller issued a transponder identification code to the pilot. At 15:17:06, the approach controller acknowledged radar contact with the accident airplane. At that time, the accident flight was located about 15 nm northwest of Denver International Airport (DEN) at 5,600 ft msl. There were no additional communications with the accident flight.


The main wreckage consisted of the entire airplane, which was found inverted and nose down in a house. The engine, firewall, and propeller were located within the house. The remaining steel-tube fuselage structure, both wings, and the empennage were located outside the residence. The postimpact fire destroyed a majority of the airplane, including the cockpit, instrument panel, interior, pilot seat and fuselage/wing fabric covering. The empennage surfaces were relatively undamaged. A postaccident examination of the airplane confirmed flight control cable continuity from the cockpit controls to their respective flight control surfaces. The flight control trim position could not be determined due to fire damage. The flap control handle and its ratchet mechanism were in an extended position; however, the actual position of the flaps at the time of impact could not be determined due to impact damage. The postaccident examination revealed no evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal airplane operation.

The engine remained attached to the firewall by its mounts. The engine exterior exhibited damage from the postimpact fire. An engine control continuity check was not possible due to the extent of damage; however, all observed separations were consistent with impact related damage. Internal engine and valve train continuity was confirmed as the engine crankshaft was rotated. Compression and suction were noted on all cylinders in conjunction with crankshaft rotation. No anomalies were identified with the accessory drive gears. Both magnetos exhibited extensive thermal damage and would not rotate by hand. Further examination revealed the internal components of both magnetos had melted during the postimpact fire. The spark plugs exhibited features consistent with normal engine operation. A borescope inspection revealed no anomalies with the cylinders, valves, or pistons. A disassembly of the carburetor did not reveal any anomalies with the metal floats, needle valve, or inlet fuel screen. The two-blade propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft flange. One blade appeared straight with leading edge damage. The other blade exhibited an aft bend about midspan, leading edge damage, and chordwise scratching. The postaccident examination revealed no evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal engine operation.


A Garmin GPSMAP 96C, a JPI Engine Data Monitor, an Apple iPad, and a SatLoc device were located at the accident site and submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington D.C. for potential non-volatile memory (NVM) data recovery. An internal examination of the JPI Engine Monitor, Apple iPad, and SatLoc devices revealed extensive fire-related damage that precluded the recovery of any data. An external examination of the Garmin GPSMAP 96, s/n 98831422, revealed the postaccident fire had damaged the molded exterior case; however, the internal circuit board containing the NVM memory chip was relatively undamaged. The NVM data was extracted from the memory chip using forensic equipment. The extracted data included two flights, one completed on May 3, 2014, and the other, the accident flight, on May 5, 2014. The GPS device recorded position data every 3 minutes; including the date, time, latitude, longitude, and GPS altitude. Course and groundspeed parameters were derived from the recorded parameters. The extracted position data did not yield useful aircraft performance data because of the limited data-sampling rate (once every three minutes).

A postaccident review of the pilot's flight logbook established that he had flown a similar banner-tow flight over Coors Field on May 3, 2014. A review of radar track data for the May 3, 2014, flight established that the airplane paralleled Interstate I-25 while en route to/from downtown Denver. According to plotted radar data, while returning northbound, the airplane completed a single 360-degree left turn about 0.7 nm east of where the airplane crashed on May 5, 2014. The 360-degree turn was centered over a residential area located immediately west of Interstate I-25 and between Kennedy Drive and Community Center Drive. The radius of the turn was about 0.2 nm. The 360-degree turn took about 1 minute 23 seconds to complete and the airplane's altitude varied between 6,000-6,100 ft msl (600-700 ft agl) during the turn.

The pilot's personal residence was located about 1/2 nm east-southeast of where the airplane crashed on May 5, 2014. A radar plot for the May 3, 2014, flight confirmed that the pilot flew over his residence at 600 ft agl during the 360-degree left turn. Further review of radar data for the May 5, 2014, accident flight established that the pilot flew within 1,000 ft laterally and 200 ft vertically of his residence during the second half of the S-turn.


Federal regulation 14 CFR Part 91.119(b), stipulates that no person may operate an aircraft over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, at an altitude below 1,000 ft above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 ft of the aircraft.

On May 18, 2012, the FAA Denver Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) issued the operator, Drag 'N' Fly Banners, a Certificate of Waiver to conduct airplane banner-tow operations. One of the waiver's provisions was that the operator must maintain compliance with the conditions of Federal regulation 14 CFR Part 91.119, including the minimum safe altitudes and distances from obstacles.

On August 5, 2013, the operator added the accident pilot to the waiver's list of approved pilots. On February 14, 2014, the operator added the accident airplane (N4519Y) to the waiver's list of approved airplanes. On March 24, 2014, a FAA inspection identified no discrepancies with the banner-tow equipment.

Federal investigators say a pilot’s decisions and lack of aircraft control caused him to crash in May 2014 into a Northglenn home he had coincidentally lived in a decade earlier.

The pilot, Brian Veatch, was not seriously hurt, and neither was anyone on the ground. He was flying on behalf of Drag N’ Fly Banners, an aerial banner advertisement company.

Tom Mace, the business’ owner, said Wednesday that he wasn’t surprised by the National Transportation Safety Board findings, but believes the agency is wrong.

“I’m 100 percent convinced it was a mechanical failure,” Mace said. “But because the aircraft was burned and cut up it was impossible to determine what really happened. History is with the National Transportation Safety Board (that) when they have no definitive proof they blame the pilot.”

He said that Veatch’s decision to wait to release his banner likely protected people on the ground.

“When you’ve got no power, you’ve got no option but to land,” Mace added. “They’re not taking any credence to the fact that something broke in that airplane.”

Efforts to reach Veatch on Wednesday were not successful.

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Trans States Airlines pilots among highest paid in the regional airline industry

A new signing and retention bonus program will make Trans States Airlines pilots among the highest paid in the regional airline industry, the airline said.

In addition to having a competitive hourly pay scale (USD 36.35 per flight hour), new hire First Officers are now eligible for a USD 30,000 signing and retention bonus, to be paid in three increments over two years of service.

Under an agreement brokered by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), Trans States First Officers already on property will receive USD 10,000 in retention bonuses, and another USD 10,000 in bonuses if the company reaches pilot hiring targets. Current Captains will also receive a retention bonus, as well as an additional bonus if hiring targets are met.

Salary and bonuses alone for a first year First Officer should reach at least USD 55,000. Total pay, per diem, and all benefits can now reach USD 75,000 for a first year First Officer, and USD 82,000 a year for a first year Captain.

Additionally, Trans States pilots can earn USD 1,500 for every successful pilot they refer to the company.

The aforementioned programs are effective immediately.

Trans States serves over 4.5 million passengers a year, with approximately 237 daily flights providing service to over 70 cities in North America. Trans States operates the Embraer 145 on behalf of American Airlines (as American Eagle) and United Airlines (as United Express). Headquartered in St. Louis, Trans States has crew domiciles in Chicago (ORD), Denver (DEN), St. Louis (STL), Raleigh- Durham (RDU), and Washington D.C.


Trans States Airlines is offering bonuses of up to $30,000 to newly hired pilots, and up to $20,000 to current pilots who stay with the commuter airline.

Trans States, based in Bridgeton, operates as American Eagle and United Express.

Newly hired first officers, often called co-pilots, would receive $30,000 in bonuses, paid in increments over two years. Current first officers will receive $10,000, and another $10,000 if the airline meets its hiring targets.

Salary and bonus should reach at least $55,000 for a first officer, the airline said. First officers are paid $36.35 for every hour spent actually flying a plane.


Lafayette Regional Airport (KLFT) wants your input on design

Lafayette, LA -

After nearly two years of planning the new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport it is closer to becoming a reality.

Back in 2014 voters approved a temporary sales tax to fund the terminal, which will be twice the size of the current facility. That tax raised more than 30 million dollars. Construction could start as early as the end of this year.

Now the airport wants your help to determine what the terminal should look like. In just a few years flyers passing through Lafayette Regional Airport will get to enjoy a brand new terminal. That terminal will feature one of two designs by architect Frank Gratton.

Steven Picou the executive director of Lafayette Regional Airport says "The Journey is based on information derived and it's supposed to be based on the Acadian flag waving. It also get's inspiration from oak trees. The Cathedral Oak Trees that are located throughout the area."

And the other choice, "Spirit is based off a wing or an aircraft. it's supposed to look like the leading edge of a wing or an aircraft and it has some aspects from retro and the early part of Americana," he says.

Before construction begins the airport wants you to choose the final design in an online poll. Airport director Steven Picou says the new designs take into account not only passenger comfort but also passenger safety.

"There are some new safety issues we need to address. With new FAA standards with the new building, we'll be allowed to taxi in front of the building without wing-tip restrictions," says Picou

For some frequent flyers, the new terminal can't come fast enough.

"It will be great to have another option where airlines come in and out of here to make it better for competition and better ticket prices, better ticket prices for businesses," says Gabriel Torres

"It shows that we're expanding and we're putting our money back where it belongs in the city and back in the infrastructure. It's a beautiful thing," says Ledo Pitre.

To rate the designs click here

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Residents sue county over Willis airport: Plaintiffs claim Camas County commissioners illegally amended zoning ordinance

Several Fairfield-area residents are suing Camas County for allowing an airport to be built on agricultural-zoned land owned by actor Bruce Willis, contending that county commissioners illegally amended language in the county’s zoning ordinance.

Filed January 25th by Ketchum attorney Ben Worst, the lawsuit seeks an injunction against enforcement of the new ordinance language and an order halting further construction of the airport.

Willis caused a stir among Camas Prairie residents in September as locals questioned his intentions in building Soldier Field Airport with an 8,500-foot dirt runway—1,000 feet longer than the paved runway at Friedman Memorial Airport—east of Fairfield.

During a public meeting December 19th, then-County Commissioners Barb Cutler, Kenneth Backstrom and Ron Chapman voted to allow private airports as a permitted use in AG-80, Agriculture-zoned, county lands, a move they said would bring nine existing private airstrips, including Willis’, into compliance.

During the same meeting, the commissioners amended the zoning ordinance to allow commercial airports only on land zoned Industrial.

The commissioners also added language requiring property owners to obtain a conditional-use permit if they want to build a private airport in that zone, as well as in the Agriculture Transition and Agriculture-40 zones.

Under the previous Camas County zoning ordinance, only feedlots, employee housing, stockyards, nurseries and roadside stands could be built on land zoned for agricultural use.

Camas County Planning and Zoning Administrator Dwight Butlin said in an interview in mid-September that the county “does not regulate private airstrips under the current zoning ordinance.”

But on September 21st, at Worst’s request, Butlin issued a stop-work order at the site, located about 10 miles east of Fairfield, writing in the order that “airports are not listed in the zoning ordinance as an approved use in the Agriculture District.”

In the lawsuit’s complaint, Worst stated that work at the site did not cease when the stop-work order was issued.

“For weeks after September 21st, 2016, the owners continued to grade the runway and install culverts underneath it for drainage,” he wrote. “The County approved of this work stating that while airports are not a permitted use, the County has no power to stop a landowner from grading its land and installing culverts.”

Butlin knew about Soldier Field Airport as far back as May, Worst wrote, citing email correspondence between a building contractor and Butlin dated May 9 in which FAA approval and EPA permits are mentioned in regard to the “Bruce Willis Private Runway.”

Worst wrote that the Planning and Zoning Commission and county commissioners violated the Idaho Local Land Use Planning Act by failing to zone for the airport in accordance with the county’s comprehensive plan.

“Even though they were required to do so, they made no factual inquiry regarding how the amendments to the Zoning Ordinance might be in accordance with the policies set forth in the Comprehensive Plan,” he states. “Comprehensive Plan policies that the County should have considered include the preservation of ag land, ag activities, quality of life, public safety, wildlife migration corridors and water quality.”

Worst alleges that the county failed to consider the effects of the airport on local emergency responders, who will need to be “adequately staffed, trained and equipped to respond to a plane crash.”

“This is particularly important in the case at hand as an accident at the Soldier Field Airport will almost certainly involve fire and bodily injury, possibly on a large scale and possibly at locations well beyond the property lines of the Soldier Field Airport,” the complaint states.

Worst wrote that the P&Z did not recommend that the county commissioners adopt a draft amended ordinance, a requirement under Idaho law, but rather recommended that amendments be “considered.”

He argued that the county commissioners also failed to seek legally required public comment when considering amending the zoning ordinance.
The complaint states that the language in the new zoning ordinance does not restrict commercial activity at private airports, limit the size or number of hangers that could be built, define the size of an airport or the types of planes that land there, restrict when planes can land or take off, or place restrictions on noise and lights.

“At present, the only restriction on airports in the AG-80 zone in Camas County is that they must be ‘private’ defined only as required by the owner’s permission to land,” Worst wrote. “… As soon as it is finished, Soldier Field Airport and any other airport in Camas County could be used as a cargo airport, a drone airport, an airport for R&D and experimental aircraft or a heli base.”

The draft ordinance presented to the commissioners in December would have made airports on all Agriculture-zoned land a conditional use requiring a permit, Worst wrote. Instead, by making airports a permitted use in the AG-80 zone, the commissioners “provided for unlimited numbers of aircraft hangers and unlimited size as an accessory use to an airport.”

Listed as plaintiffs in the suit are Camas County residents Dave Konrad, Chad Blincoe, Chris Tuttle and Fred and Misty Cook.

All reside, farm or ranch near the airport site and contend that their property values will decrease by as much as 50 percent “as a result of the negative impacts of Soldier Field Airport and amended Zoning Ordinance allowing for airports.”

Worst wrote that the plaintiffs will be “threatened by the possibility of aircraft crashing” on their properties and by the wildfires that could be ignited by a potential crash.

He wrote that the “noise, lights, fumes, dust and vibrations” from the airport will detract from the plaintiffs’ enjoyment of their properties and that their animals will be harmed, as well.

Butlin declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday, as did Camas County Commissioner Barb Cutler. Both cited the litigation.

Current Camas County Commissioners Marshall Ralph and Travis Kramer could not be reached for comment by press deadline Tuesday, nor could Willis spokesman Mike Grbic.

Willis has not identified the intended use of the airport.

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Hernando County says Transformation Aviation Services breached incentives contract

BROOKSVILLE — In July 2015, when David Tidwell made his pitch before the Hernando County Commission seeking financial incentives and promising to bring 125 jobs to Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, his Transformation Aviation Services airline refurbishing business was expected to be one of the year's best economic development successes.

A year later, social media was buzzing with claims that Tidwell was not meeting his obligations under the incentive program approved by the commission. It was one of a series of criticisms leveled during the election season against Len Sossamon, who juggles the jobs of county administrator and economic development director.

Only July 12, 2016, Tidwell reassured commissioners that all was well with his business, presenting them a slideshow of his facility and repeating his commitment to the airport. When then-commission Chairman Jim Adkins asked Tidwell if he was in compliance with his contract with the county, Tidwell responded, "Yes, sir.''

The county staff agreed, saying Tidwell had met his minimum employment requirements.

But just 15 days later, the county sent the company formal notice that it was not keeping up with the requirements in the agreement. Another notice demanding a response followed in September.

Last month, the county filed a legal complaint against the company, alleging that Transformation Aviation Services breached its contract. The suit states that the company failed to provide a sworn statement testifying to the number of qualifying jobs it created and failed to provide proof of insurance. In addition, the county sought payment for $115,203 from August 2015 through June 2016 for leasing airport space without fulfilling the requirements to qualify for free rent.

The county also sent the company another invoice for rent due from July until November 2016, totaling $60,446.94.

According to the complaint, the company surrendered the property in early December.

Tidwell's business at 15421 Technology Drive was on the same site as the failed Brooksville Air Center and the shuttered Corporate Jet Solutions. Both of those previous tenants ended up with financial issues, and Corporate Jet Solutions is still in litigation with the county.

Tidwell could not be reached for comment.

Deputy county attorney Jon Jouben declined to comment on the pending litigation.


Beech 35-33 Debonair, N879R: Incident occurred February 01, 2017 at Davis Field Airport (KMKO), Muskogee County, Oklahoma 

The Beech 35-33 Debonair landed with its landing gear retracted shortly after 3 p.m. on Wednesday, February 1st. 

Story and photo:

Albertus Airport (KFEP) to receive $1.7M runway resurfacing

FREEPORT - A $1.7 million state grant will help keep Albertus Airport a viable airport in the years to come.

This spring, workers from Civil Constructors, a local firm, will begin resurfacing the airport runway. The project will be paid for by a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics.

"All that work stays local, which is really great for the community," Darrell Janssen, airport manager, said.

Cracks have emerged in the hard-surface runway, but Janssen said the resurfacing is not extraordinary.

"This is just another maintenance thing along the way," he said.

The airport, which has been in operation since 1945, features one hard-surface runway and multiple grass runways. Business such as Newell, Honeywell and Titan Tire use the facility, as do financial firms and other smaller businesses. Agricultural aircraft also use the airport. There are currently 63 aircraft based at Albertus Airport, Janssen said.

Mayor Jim Gitz sees the airport as a chance to boost the local economy. Airports such as the one in Rockford are beginning to move away from general aviation and focusing more on freight, leaving some small businesses in a bind. Gitz said Freeport should seek to capture their business.

"There's a growth opportunity there, and the question is whether Freeport is going to seize it," he said.

Gitz compared Albertus to Highland Community College. When the college was being built in 1962, many questioned why people would need an associate's degree and why Freeport needed a community college, he said. Now, more than 50 years later, Highland is widely regarded as one of the best community colleges in northwest Illinois, he added.

"I think Albertus Airport is somewhat in the same category," Gitz said. "It may not be clear today how important it is, but once people start seeing everything in motion, I believe they will start to catch on."


Thieves targeting Rotax engines

The fixed-wing microlight, which had its engine stolen in a raid near Needham last month.

One of the microlights with its engine stolen following the raid on Friday.

A gang of thieves targeting aircraft engines across the region have struck again - this time causing more than £100,000 worth of damage.

Criminals bypassed CCTV cameras and alarms before making off with six Rotax engines from microlights at an airfield near Norfolk on Friday night.

It comes just days after an aircraft belonging to a hobby pilot from Sprowston, near Norwich, was stripped apart by thieves.

The latest raid, at Sutton Meadows Airfield, near Ely in Cambridgeshire, targeted six aircraft and has affected two flight schools operating there.

A number of tools and spare parts were also stolen in what has been described as a “fairly professional” hit.

David Broom, who runs Airplay Aviation at the airfield, said his business had to be put on hold after his microlight’s engine was taken.

He added: “They obviously knew exactly what they wanted, where to cut and what bits were important, so it was a fairly professional operation.

“As a flight instructor this time of year is tough anyway, but to now have no income stream is very difficult.”

Five flex-wing microlights and one fixed-wing aircraft were targeted.

As with the raid at a hangar near Needham on Sunday 22, thieves stole six Rotax 912 engines.

Cambridgeshire Police, which is now investigating, said it was also looking at other similar crimes across the region.

According to the British Microlight Aircraft Association, there had been at least 10 known cases in the past year, with the majority taking place in the East of England.

Steve Slater, chief executive of the Light Aircraft Association, said criminals were very “clinical” in their approach.

In regard to security, he added: “We are working with police, and they say don’t just have CCTV pointing towards your plane, but also have CCTV on the access roads. We will contact aircraft owners to make sure they are vigilante and to enhance their security systems.”

It is believed the engines are taken overseas by criminal gangs for use on other aircraft.

A police spokesman said the theft took place overnight between Friday, January 27 and Saturday 28.


Sprowston pilot left devastated after becoming the latest victim of gang targeting aircraft in East Anglia

Nick Harper

Inside the cockpit with the instruments removed 

The hunt is on today for a prolific gang that is stealing aircraft engines from hobby pilots across the region.

In the latest case, a Norfolk man had his plane taken apart by the thieves, who caused £40,000 of damage.

Nick Harper said the engine, propeller and instruments were stolen from his microlight on Sunday night while it was stored in a remote hangar, near Needham.

The 57-year-old, from Sprowston, said £40,000 was the likely bill for replacement of parts and a refit.

According to the British Microlight Aircraft Association, it is the latest in a string of thefts across the country targeting aircraft engines.

The organization said there had been at least 10 known cases in the past year, with the majority taking place in the East of England.

Mr. Harper, who works as a self-employed mechanic in Norwich, is now warning other aircraft owners to ensure their hangars are secure.

He said: “I was devastated when I saw what they had done to be quite honest. I work hard for this hobby and now someone has taken it all away.

“It is all insured, so in the long run it won’t cost me, but there is a mental cost, because you know what these people have done.”

The thieves stole a Rotax 912 four-stroke engine and propeller from the front of Mr. Harper’s Pegasus CTSW ultralight aircraft.

Mr. Harper, who has held a pilot’s license for 17 years, said he bought it in 2009 and flew it almost every weekend.

He had been at the airstrip earlier on the Sunday to carry out some work, and had put the aircraft back in its hangar before leaving.

But on Monday he was contacted to say that someone had got into the hangar overnight by removing some of the building’s metal sheeting.

Mr. Harper said the thieves must have “jemmied” open the door to the cockpit, before unbolting the instruments.

The father-of-three believed it would have taken them another hour to remove the engine and propeller.

He added: “People need to be vigilant, because these people don’t give a damn.”

A police spokesman said the force was investigating the incident, which happened between 3pm on January 22 and 4pm on January 23.

Other thefts

There has been at least 13 other thefts reported to the British Microlight Aircraft Association since 2009.

Incidents reported last year include:

February 18, 2016 – Newnham, Hertfordshire.

May 8, 2016 – Hunsdon Airfield, Hertfordshire.

July 8, 2016 – Boughton south, near Downham Market.

August 15, 2016 – Holmbeck Farm Airfield, Leighton Buzzard.

August 16, 2016 – twice from Holmbeck Farm Airfield, Leighton Buzzard.

September 30, 2016 – Fenland Airfield, Lincolnshire.

September 19 to 23, 2016 – Benwick Airfield, Cambridgeshire.

September 26 to 27, 2016 – Audley End Airfield, Essex.

September 29 to 30, 2016 – Fenland Airfield, Lincolnshire.

According to the organization’s chief executive, Geoff Weighell, the majority involved the theft of four-stroke Rotax engines. It is believed they are taken over to Europe.