Sunday, February 26, 2017

GOP lawmaker doesn't like Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (KLIT)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- With his party now holding all of the levers of power in Arkansas politics, a Republican state lawmaker is pushing to remove the names of the state's most famous Democrats - Bill and Hillary Clinton - from Little Rock's airport.

Sen. Jason Rapert says pilots have complained to him about flying into Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport and that Arkansas shouldn't honor a former president who was impeached over his affair with a White House intern.

"The bill is to prevent any further embarrassment by the airport's name," Rapert said Friday. Other women have accused the ex-president and ex-governor of sexual harassment, and they shouldn't have to be reminded when they travel through Arkansas' busiest hub, he said.

"How would you feel if you had to walk through that airport?" Rapert asked.

Bill Clinton has been dogged by rumors about his relationships with women for much of his political career. He has acknowledged sexual encounters during that time, but has denied accusations of mistreatment.

The sprawling airport complex east of downtown Little Rock had been called Adams Field, picking up the moniker to honor Arkansas National Guard Capt. George Geyer Adams in 1942. Adams was a longtime Little Rock councilman killed in the line of duty in 1937 and the actual air field is still named for him.

"Political friends of the Clintons decided to strip his honor," Rapert said.

Bill Clinton, who was acquitted in his 1999 impeachment trial, served as Arkansas governor nearly 12 years and president for eight. Hillary Clinton was a U.S. senator from New York and a U.S. Secretary of State before running as the Democratic presidential nominee last year.

While Bill Clinton was president, he signed the bill naming Washington National Airport after former President Ronald Reagan, a Republican.

Rapert's bill says Arkansas should not name any publicly funded airport after anyone who received a salary for holding a federal, state, county or municipal office. A state wildlife center in Pine Bluff is named after former Gov. Mike Huckabee, but Rapert said the former Republican presidential candidate should still be honored.

He did not explain the difference.

Little Rock's Airport Commission voted to rename the complex in 2012. At a hearing, members of the public acknowledged the Clintons weren't perfect but said the couple had accomplishments that no other Arkansans had.

"We recognize that the 42nd president of the United States is a singular honor for the city and the state," Mayor Mark Stodola, a Democrat, said Friday.

"I'm disappointed that the legislation was filed," he said, adding that it was "a slap against Little Rock" and that its airport commissioners were best equipped to choose whom to honor.

When the airport was renamed five years ago, Democrats controlled the Legislature and held the governor's office. Republicans completed a takeover of Arkansas state government in 2014.


A look at the newest model of the Black Hawk, built in North Alabama

In a hangar in Meridianville, the U.S. Army's Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center's Prototype Integration Facility is working on the prototypes of the UH-60V or 'Victor Model", the latest model of the famous Black Hawk helicopter.

The Black Hawk is the Army's main helicopter. It can transport an entire 11-man infantry squad, medevac casualties, provide command and control, and various other missions. 

 "What we've done with the Victor Model is take the original "L" models that are analog and upgraded them to a digital configuration," said Danny Featherston, the Prototype Integration Facility Program Manager for the AMRDEC. 

The Army has more than seven hundred UH-60L helicopters in service, of which the design dates to the 1990s. The cockpits use an analog, or non-digital configuration. In the mid to late 2000s, the Army began receiving the UH-60M or "Mike Model" version, which included a digital cockpit, and other improvements. 

The UH-60V basically re-manufactures UH-60Ls to a UH-60M standard, but with some improvements. "We don't want our warfighters to have old technology when they go into a conflict" said Wes Perry, the technical lead.

That also allows pilots to be trained to one, common standard, rather than for both the UH-60L and UH-60M. The cockpit is designed to be based on open architecture and includes digital multifunctional displays which can enhance situational awareness. Another benefit of the Mike and Victor Model versions is that they can be networked, providing additional capabilities.

But why are the first models being built in Meridianville, instead of on Redstone Arsenal? That's because of one of the contractors on the program, Redstone Defense Systems, has a hangar in Meridianville, and because of limited space on Redstone Arsenal. 

The UH-60V program is being managed by the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Aviation, also based on Redstone Arsenal. According to an article published by them, 3 Engineering Development Models (EDMs) will be produced in Meridianville, before being sent to Corpus Christi Army Depot. There, two additional EDMs will be created, with testing set for 2019. 

AMRDEC, their parent command RDECOM, Northrop Grumman and Redstone Defense Systems all are part of the team working on the program. The first prototype flew in January, and will be turned over to Redstone Test Center next month. 

But even though the mass-production of the UH-60V will be done in Texas, the team in Alabama know that the work they've and will continue to do is critical to Army Aviation. 

"We know we're helping with Army readiness, advancing technology and getting this capability into the hands of the warfighter," Featherston said. 

Story and photo gallery:

Cessna 172H, N3712F: Fatal accident occurred February 25, 2017 in Panguitch, Utah

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 
Continental Motors Inc.; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report- National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA065
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, February 25, 2017 in Panguitch, UT
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N3712F
Injuries: 3 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 February 25, 2017, about 2040 mountain standard time (mst), a Cessna 172H, N3712F, was substantially damaged following impact with terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude about 11 nautical miles (nm) north-northwest of Panguitch, Utah. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The cross-country flight was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight departed Page Municipal Airport (PGA), Page, Arizona, at about 1918, with the reported destination as South Valley Regional Airport (U42), Salt Lake City, Utah.

According to a friend of the family, the pilot initially departed the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA), Phoenix, Arizona, during the late afternoon on the day of the accident. The pilot's friend stated that the pilot texted him at 1853, that he had just landed at PGA and was in the process of getting fuel. The friend opined that he and the pilot then discussed cloud conditions along the next leg of the flight from PGA to U42, with the pilot stating the he intended to proceed on a route to Bryce Canyon (BCE), Utah, Richfield (RIF), Utah, and then following the lights of Interstate Highway I15 to his destination. PGA airport personnel who topped the airplane off with aviation fuel stated that the pilot departed at 1918 for U42; the distance of the flight was of about 220 nm.

When the pilot failed to arrive at U42 that evening, a family member contacted local authorities. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) subsequently issued an Alert Notification (ALNOT) the following morning, February 26th, at 0509 mst. That morning search and rescue operations were put into effect, which were suspended later in the day with no sightings of the wreckage reported. During the morning of February 27th, search and rescue operations resumed, with the airplane's wreckage located in mountainous terrain at about 1100 mst.

On the morning of February 28th, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA, assisted by members of the Iron County Sheriff's Department, Cedar City, Utah, surveyed the accident site. The survey revealed that the airplane had initially impacted mountainous terrain in a nose-low attitude on a southwest heading at an elevation of about 7,258 ft msl. The airplane then traveled downslope for about 211 feet before coming to rest after impacting upsloping terrain of a ravine at an elevation of about 7,237 ft msl. The site survey further revealed that all flight control surfaces necessary for flight were accounted for at the accident site.

The wreckage was recovered to a secured salvage facility for further examination.

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

It wasn’t a good day at work Monday for those who are employed at Page Municipal Airport. Talking to some of the people who work there, in various capacities for several different companies, they were feeling somber over the fatal crash in Utah involving a small plane that claimed three lives.

The Cessna 172 was piloted by Sandy, Utah resident Randall Wells. With him, he had his son, 8, and his daughter, 3. They had refueled at Page’s airport Saturday evening just hours before the plane disappeared in the Panguitch, Utah area. It was found Monday morning broken up in a wooded area. There were no survivors.

An employee at the airport, who assisted Mr. Wells, reportedly thought the man looked fatigued. He apparently offered Wells and his two children a place to rest at the airport for the night, but was turned down.

The National Transportation Safety Board is, reportedly, looking at fatigue as a possible cause for the crash, along with a number of other possible causes. It’s also reported that the FAA was planning on sending someone to Page to test the fuel that was used to fill the Wells’ airplane. It’s a common practice following a crash.

A “gofundme” account has been set-up for the Wells family. At last report $115,000 had been raised. Mrs. Wells is 20 weeks pregnant, expecting a little girl soon.

On Tuesday a member of the family sent a Thank You message to the five Utah counties that had their emergency crews searching for the plane on Sunday and Monday, until the plane was found at 11 AM. Those counties were Iron, Garfield, Sevier, Beaver and Piute. Though found near Panguitch, the plane was actually in Iron County, where their Sheriff’s Office is assisting in the investigation.

The thoughts of appreciation from the family read:

“We would like to share our love to all of the volunteers that came out the past two days to help search. And also those who expressed their love on social media. We can’t describe how grateful we are for the closure we received and that we were able to find the plane.”


IRON COUNTY, Utah — A man and his two children have died after their small plane crashed in Iron County over the weekend.

The pilot, Randall Wells, was the bishop of an LDS congregation in Sandy. Wells and his two children, a 3-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son, were all killed in the crash.

The aircraft was reported missing after leaving Phoenix Saturday with a destination of Salt Lake City International Airport, where it was scheduled to arrive Saturday night.

Search crews from five counties searched for the plane Sunday, but discontinued the search around 8 p.m. due to cold weather.

An aerial search crew spotted the plane shortly before 11 a.m. Monday.

Wells' family tells Fox 13 News the last they heard from Randall was a text message that came in around 10 p.m. Saturday saying he was flying in the Bryce Canyon area on his way back to Salt Lake City.

Denise Dastrup, public information officer for Garfield County, said the last signal received from the airplane came in around 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the Sandy Peak area, near Panguitch.

St. George News reported crews from Iron, Piute, Beaver, Garfield and Sevier counties searched for the missing Cessna 172.

Link: GoFundMe account for Kristin Wells


[UPDATE] A Sandy father and his two children were found dead Monday after a plane crash in southern Utah. 

Garfield County officials confirm a plane was found by a search and rescue helicopter in the lower Bear Valley are between Panguitch and I-15 north of Dixie National Forest. 


A family friend has confirmed with ABC4 that the possible downed plane was carrying a father and his two kids.

Randy Wells of Sandy is said to be aboard with his two children. Wells is reportedly a bishop of the Mount Jordan 3rd Ward in Sandy.

[previous story]

PANGUITCH, Utah --   Officials are looking for a possible downed aircraft in a mountainous area near Iron and Garfield Counties Sunday afternoon. 

Dispatchers confirmed that the aircraft was last heard from sometime Saturday night and it is unclear when the plane would have crashed but crews have been out searching all morning. 

The aircraft is believed to have possibly crashed in a very wooded area, making it difficult to search but it was confirmed that a Department of Public Safety helicopter and the Air Force have joined in the search for the missing plane and it's occupants.  

The area being searched is 15-20 miles northeast of Panguitch. The mountainous area there is divided between both Iron and Garfield Counties. 

Dispatch confirmed the family of the occupants of the plane have been notified of the ongoing search. It has not been confirmed how many people were on board. 


PANGUITCH — A search has been launched in a wooded area on the border of Iron and Garfield counties for a missing plane carrying a Sandy father and his two children.

The plane disappeared before 9 a.m. Sunday, roughly 17 miles northwest of Panguitch near Sandy Peak and Little Creek Peak, according to police.

Relatives and friends gathering at the family's home in Sandy confirmed that Randall "Randy" Wells was flying back from a wedding in Phoenix when his plane disappeared Sunday. His two young children, 8-year-old Asher and 3-year-old Sara, were also aboard.

The gathering at the Wells home was emotional as the growing group offered support to one another and hopes of expanding the search effort.

Wells is the bishop of the Mount Jordan 3rd Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Wells was due back at 10 p.m. Saturday, according to Ryan Kitterman, a family friend. Wells' phone last pinged near Panguitch about 11 p.m., Kitterman said.

Kitterman said Wells' plane was equipped with an emergency location transmitter. The family hopes Wells managed to land the plane somewhere and that the father and children are safe, he said.

Searchers from six counties were looking for the plane Sunday, the family said, with additional resources potentially coming from New Mexico if the search continues into Monday.


The bodies of a Mormon bishop from Sandy and his two children were found Monday after their plane crashed in rural southwestern Utah.

Randall Wells, who oversaw the LDS Church's Mount Jordan 3rd Ward — along with his 8-year-old son, Asher, and 3-year-old daughter, Sarah — died when their single-engine Cessna 172 went down over the weekend near Iron County's line with Garfield County, authorities said. They were the only three people on board.

"It's confirmed," said Garfield County sheriff's spokeswoman Denise Dastrup. "No survivors."

Wells leaves behind a wife, Kristin Wells, who, according to a fundraising page, is 20 weeks pregnant and found out last week that she is expecting a baby girl.

Her husband "was an avid outdoorsman who loved laughing and was an amazing father to his two children and a loving husband," the page says. "Randy was a beacon in the community. ... Kristin is now tasked with the heartbreaking job of planning three funerals at once."

Wells' family and friends were among those who helped with the search Monday. Many from the search party returned home and went directly to the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse, where members of the ward he oversaw joined in prayer for his widow about 5 p.m.

Wendy Davis, a member of his ward, said she thought of Wells as "my friend first and my bishop second."

He was a quiet, humble man, she said, who taught powerful lessons. Wells could sense when a person needed to talk, Davis added, sometimes "even before they did."

"I can't emphasize enough what a great guy he was," Davis said, remembering times when he'd stop by her family's home to chat or drop off vegetables from a community garden he kept, or drive around the neighborhood to check on the elderly.

The plane, initially spotted from the air at 11:05 a.m. Monday, was reached at about 11:50 a.m. by search-and-rescue ground crews.

Dastrup did not have details on the aircraft's location, other than it had been spotted in the lower Bear Valley on the Iron County side of the county line with Garfield.

Authorities said the bodies were expected to remain at the scene of the crash until late in the day as the crash site was secured.

The plane had taken off Saturday from a Phoenix airport en route to Salt Lake County, Dastrup said.

The aircraft disappeared about 17 miles northwest of Wilson Peak about 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Ground and air search efforts on Sunday focused on the Little Creek and Little Creek Peak areas, along the Garfield-Iron County line, about 15 miles east of Parowan.

More than 100 searchers — on foot, horseback, ATVs, snowmobiles, and in helicopters and airplanes above — were looking for the plane, Dastrup said, including crews from Garfield, Iron, Sevier and Piute counties.

Bishops in the LDS Church serve as lay leaders of Mormon wards, or congregations, and tend to their members' spiritual and temporal needs. 


Ryan Navion F, N4529K: Fatal accident occurred February 26, 2017 at Francis S. Gabreski Airport (KFOK), Westhampton Beach, Suffolk County, New York

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Farmingdale, New York
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report / National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA115
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 26, 2017 in Westhampton Beach, NY
Aircraft: RYAN NAVION, registration: N4529K
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators 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 February 26, 2017 about 1140 eastern standard time, a Ryan Navion F, N4529K, impacted trees and terrain during the initial climb from the Francis S. Gabreski airport (FOK), Westhampton Beach, New York. The flight instructor and one passenger were fatally injured. The commercial pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was consumed by fire and destroyed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The airplane was owned and operated by the commercial pilot as an instructional flight in accordance with the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The airplane was based at Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York, and departed for a flight to FOK. The commercial pilot was seated in the left seat, receiving a flight review. The flight instructor was seated in the right seat. A friend of the commercial pilot, who was a private pilot, was seated in the rear, right seat.

The pilot contacted the air traffic control tower at FOK and advised that they wanted to perform some practice touch-and-go landings. The tower cleared the airplane to perform touch-and-go landings on runway 33. After the first landing, the airplane took off and according to tower personnel, they saw the airplane bank to the right so much that they saw the bottom of the airplane. They further stated that the airplane seemed to correct itself for a short while and then banked hard to the right again, hitting the tree tops and coming to rest in the trees, approximately 700 feet to the right of the midfield of the runway.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site and a debris path extended approximately 75 ft from the initial tree impact to the wreckage site, on a ground track of 030°. The wreckage site elevation was 66 ft. The airplane came to rest on a track of 157°. The outboard 6 ft of the right wing was fractured and located 75 ft from the main wreckage. Its leading edge had a tree impression approximately 2 ft in depth into the wing. The flaps were retracted and the landing gear was extended. The left main landing gear was folded under the left wing, the right main landing gear was down and locked and the nose gear was folded under the fuselage. The fuel selector was found in the main fuel tank position.

The three-blade McCauley propeller separated from the engine and was located about 30 ft from the main wreckage. The propeller blades exhibited rotational scoring, gouges, and "S" bending. Valve train continuity was observed through the engine by rotating the crankshaft. Thumb compression was attained on cylinder Nos. 2, 4, and 6. Limited thumb compression was noted on cylinder No. 5. The No. 5 cylinder head was impact fractured on the rocker arm side. The intake valve springs were separated and the intake valve was inside the cylinder. Piston movement was confirmed on all six cylinders. The spark plugs were light gray in color and their electrodes were intact. The magnetos were intact and no slipping was noted. The ignition harnesses were intact; however, they were fire damaged on the left side. The magnetos were removed and rotated. Both magnetos generated sparks to the ignition leads. All fuel lines were connected except for the vapor return line, which was fractured off at the pump. The throttle valve was in the full open position. The throttle lever was fractured. The mixture lever was in the full rich position. The throttle-mixture-propeller cables were all intact and attached to the levers. The cockpit controls were melted. The manifold valve was clean and clear of debris. The fuel metering unit had some small debris on the screen. The outlet and return fittings were fractured. The fuel pump drive fitting was intact and rotated smoothly. The oil pan had a small puncture hole in the bottom of the pan. There was no oil in the engine; however, there was oil on the ground under the engine.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He held an FAA second-class medical certificate, issued October 27, 2015. At the time of the medical examination, the pilot reported 857 total hours of flight experience.

According to FAA records, the flight instructor held a commercial pilot certificate and a flight instructor certificate. He held an FAA third-class medical certificate, issued March 29, 2016. At the time of the medical examination, the flight instructor reported 1,000 total hours of flight experience.

The four-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane,, was manufactured in 1951. It was powered by a Continental TSIO-520, 300-horsepower engine, equipped with a three-blade McCauley propeller. Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on August 18, 2016. At that time, the airframe had accumulated about 4,450 total hours of operation and the engine had accumulated 1,257 hours since major overhaul.

The recorded weather at FOK, at 1153 was, wind from 310° at 21 knots, gusting to 27 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 5,000 feet, temperature 5° Celsius (C), dew point temperature -9° C, altimeter 29.97 inches of mercury. Remarks included, peak wind 290° at 28 knots at 1109.

Robert A. Wilkie
Slipping the surly bonds.

Federal investigators say they don’t believe mechanical failure or medical issues are to blame in Sunday morning’s crash of a vintage airplane in the woods just to the south of Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, which killed two men and critically injured the pilot.

Though he stressed that their examination has just begun, Dan Boggs, a chief investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said on Monday that preliminary reports suggest that there were no obvious issues with the Navion-F aircraft that is owned and registered to the pilot, Richard Rosenthal, 61, of Huntington Station.

Mr. Boggs also noted at a press conference held at the airport that Mr. Rosenthal, who was pulled from the burning wreckage by members of a Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew completing routine training exercises near the Westhampton airport, did not issue a “mayday” call to report any medical problems while he was practicing takeoffs and landings on Runway 33 at Gabreski.

Mr. Rosenthal, a licensed pilot, was airlifted by Suffolk County medevac helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he remained in critical condition as of Wednesday.

His two passengers, identified by authorities as Arieh Narkunski, 64, of Brooklyn and Robert A. Wilkie, 65, of Hempstead, were both pronounced dead at the scene. Both men were licensed pilots as well, authorities said.

The crash was reported at 11:43 a.m. on Sunday. Officials said Mr. Rosenthal, who took off earlier that morning from Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, was practicing takeoffs and landings. The plane crashed on airport property but in the woods to the south and east of the airport, near South Country Road.

When asked if “foul play” could have been responsible for the crash, Mr. Boggs said he does not think it was a factor in the crash that destroyed the 66-year-old aircraft, which was finally removed from the scene on Tuesday and trucked away after its wings were cut off. He also said his fellow investigators had only just begun reviewing the Navion model plane’s maintenance and flying records a few hours earlier.

Mr. Boggs later noted that his department should have a preliminary report on the fatal crash within the next 12 to 20 days, though a final report could take between 12 and 18 months to complete.

“I want to take a second here to give on behalf of the National Transportation Safety Board our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the victims of this tragic event,” Mr. Boggs said.

At the same press conference, Mr. Boggs commended the efforts of the Army National Guard unit from Ronkonkoma that happened to be training in the area and immediately came to the aid of the crash victims, saving the pilot’s life. Mr. Rosenthal was pulled from the burning plane by the seven-member crew and stabilized before additional help could arrive.

According to Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Meghan Polis, who was co-piloting the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on Sunday morning, her team was completing training in Westhampton airspace when they were contacted by the tower at Gabreski and asked to get a visual of the downed aircraft. She said that they immediately flew in the direction of a plume of black smoke and spotted the plane crashed in the woods and on fire.

After landing the helicopter, four Army National Guard members worked together to remove the canopy from the burning aircraft and pull Mr. Rosenthal out. They also used fire extinguishers to try to control the flames in what turned out to be a failed attempt to reach the two passengers.

“I cannot stress enough how great those guys did on the ground,” Officer Polis said on Monday. “They did absolutely everything that they could, and I cannot say enough how proud of them I am, of them as a team.”

Captain Salvatore Garcia, company commander for the Ronkonkoma-based unit, also commended his unit members for their quick actions in saving the pilot’s life. “We train every day for these things, but they never happen,” he said on Monday. “They were able to navigate the scene and coordinate with rescue and first responders. I could not be prouder of my soldiers, and I also want to extend my condolences to the families of the victims.”

According to authorities, the three men took off from Republic Airport on Sunday morning and flew to Gabreski to practice landing and takeoff techniques, known among pilots as a “touch-and-go,” in the vintage 1951 plane. The aircraft crashed in the woods shortly after touching the Westhampton airport’s secondary runway.

Members of the Air National Guard’s fire crews, who are based at Gabreski, also responded to the scene to help put out the fire and they were also joined by members of the Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance. One firefighter suffered a minor head injury wand had to be transported to the Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, according to Eric Kehl, the chief of the ambulance company. The extent of the firefighter’s injuries were not clear.

As part of their investigation, Mr. Boggs said his team will look into the airplane’s takeoff angle and also examine the trees where the plane crash-landed.

“I want to thank the State Police and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department for the help they have given in this investigation,” Mr. Boggs said. “Without the help they have given, and the personnel and resources, I wouldn’t be as far along with this investigation as I am today.”

Built by North American Aviation and the Ryan Aeronautical Company starting in the 1940s, Navion-F aircrafts were commonly used as a military training aircraft in the 1950s and 1960s.


Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday afternoon that they have just started their examination of a plane crash that killed two men—passengers Arieh Narkunski, 64, of Brooklyn and Robert A. Wilkie, 65, of Hempstead—and injured their pilot, Richard Rosenthal, after their Ryan Navion F plane crashed while practicing take-offs and landings at Gabreski Airport late Sunday morning.

Dan Boggs, a chief investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board who is handling the case, explained at a press conference at the Westhampton airport that his department only received a detailed history of the Ryan Navion F aircraft maintenance and flying records a few hours earlier.

He explained that he will spend the next few weeks sifting through those records before issuing a preliminary report sometime within the next 12 to 20 days—though he does not believe foul play was a factor in the crash of the 66-year-old aircraft.

At the same press conference, Mr. Boggs commended the efforts of the Army National Guard unit from Ronkonkoma that happened to be flying in the area and immediately came to the aid of the crash victims, saving the pilot’s life. 

Mr. Rosenthal, 61, of Huntington Station, was pulled from the burning plane by the seven-member crew and stabilized before additional help could arrive. The crew also used fire extinguishers to try and control the flames so they could reach the two passengers—though their efforts were unsuccessful. Mr. Rosenthal was flown via Suffolk County medevac helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was still listed in critical condition as of Monday afternoon.

As part of their investigation, Mr. Boggs said his team will look into the airplane’s take-off angle and also examine the trees where the plane crash-landed. He noted that all three men aboard the plane were licensed pilots, adding that a distress call was never issued from the cockpit.

“I want to take a second here to give on behalf of the National Transportation Safety Board our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the victims of this tragic event,” Mr. Boggs said. 

While a preliminary report is expected in the next few weeks, a final investigation report could take up to a year to finalize, he added.

UPDATE: Monday, 12:20 p.m.

New York State Police have identified the two men killed in the crash as flight instructor Arieh Narkunski, 64, of Brooklyn and passenger Robert A. Wilkie, 65, of Hempstead. 

According to a press release issued Monday, the three men crashed in a wooded area at 11:43 a.m. on Sunday. The pilot, Richard Rosenthal, 61, of Huntington Station, was rescued from the burning wreckage and taken to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment. His condition was not immediately known. 

An investigation into the crash is being conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board. 

UPDATE: Monday, 11:25 a.m.

An Air National Guard firefighter had to be treated for a head injury on Sunday suffered while working to extinguish a fire at the site of the plane crash.

According to Eric Kehl, the chief of the Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance, the firefighter was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead for treatment. His condition was unknown Monday morning. 

UPDATE: Sunday 7 p.m.

County officials have said that the owner of the small plane that crashed at Gabreski Airport on Sunday morning was also the sole survivor of the crash, according to Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. 

Mr. Schneiderman said emergency managers at the scene said the man’s name is Richard Rosenthal and that the plane was based in Farmingdale and had taken off from Republic airport Sunday morning. 

The plane crashed about 11:40 a.m., shortly after performing a practice landing and take-off known as a touch-and-go. It crashed into trees just of the airport’s secondary runway, at the southeastern corner of the Gabreski property, near South Country Road. 

The cause of the crash is under investigation by federal aviation officials who arrived in Westhampton on Sunday night. 

Captain Michael O’Hagen of the 106th Rescue Wing said that the Air National Guard’s fire crews responded from the base to the scene of the crash and helped rescue the lone survivor, who was taken by Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance crews to a Suffolk County Police medevac helicopter to Stony Brook University. 

UPDATE: Sunday, 3:15 p.m.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said that he has been told by Suffolk County officials that the plane that crashed at Gabreski Airport on Sunday morning was based out of Farmingdale, and may have taken off from Republic Airport with an flying instructor and at least one student pilot aboard. 

The plane was doing “touch-and-go” landings and take-offs, a common practice drill for pilots in training in which a plane comes in for a landing but does not come to a complete stop before throttling up again to take off. 

The plane crashed into trees on the airport property near one of runways. 

Two of the three people aboard were killed according to officials at the scene. 

“There was a small aircraft crash late this morning, at approximately 11:40, off runway 33 at Gabreski Airport,” Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Chief Michael Sharkey during a brief press conference at the airport on Sunday. “There were three people that were on board. There were two fatalities.” 

A third person was taken by medevac helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital.

The FAA has said the plane was practicing take-offs and landings when it crashed and was privately owned, not a military plane. 

UPDATE: Sunday, 2:45 p.m.

Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators are en-route to the scene of the small plane crash at Gabreski airport in Westhampton. A spokesperson for the FAA said the NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will give updates about the cause. 

Aerial photos show military markings on the plane but the FAA has said the plane is registered to a private individual, not the military. Gabreski airport is home to the 106th Air National Guard Rescue Wing. 

The  Ryan Navion F was built by North American Aviation and Ryan Aeronautical Company starting in the 1940s and was commonly used as a military training aircraft in the 1950s and 1960s. 

ORIGINAL STORY, 2:15 p.m. Sunday

Two people are believed to have been killed and a third injured when a small plane crashed at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton shortly before noon today.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson there were three people aboard the single-engine Navion-F model plane when it crashed into trees near one of the runways. 

The plane’s pilot was practicing take-offs and landings at the airport when the crash occurred, the FAA spokesperson said.


The survivor of a plane crash was recovering Monday, a day after the vintage propeller plane he was in went down at a Hamptons airport and he was rescued by a group of Air National Guardsmen passing by in a helicopter. 

The FAA said the National Transportation Safety Board will be in charge of the investigation and determine probable cause of Sunday's crash, which killed two people aboard the plane. They have not been identified. 

The small plane crashed just before noon at Frances S. Grabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, officials said. The propeller plane had been practicing takeoffs and landings when it crashed, according to the FAA.  

A helicopter with four guardsmen aboard was flying to the Guard's base at the airport for a training exercise with the airport tower told them a small plane had gone down, Newsday first reported. 

The guardsman who was piloting the helicopter, CW3 Joseph McCarthy, told NBC 4 New York that he saw the survivor trying to escape the flaming wreckage. He said he landed the chopper a few hundred feet from the plane and fellow guardsman ran out to help the survivor. 

"He was stuck between what I think was the canopy of the aircraft. They were able to get that canopy open enough for him to get out," McCarthy said. 

The survivor, Richard Rosenthal, was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, officials said.

Chopper 4 video showed the charred wreckage of the plane, a Ryan Navion F, in the woods off runway 33. 

The airport is used by corporations and private plane owners, as well as the 106th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard. It was built by the federal government in 1943.


Analysts predicts all Dreamliners will be built in North Charleston within a decade

The first 787-10 (above) made its debut earlier this month, the same day that President Donald Trump visited Boeing South Carolina. Whether the "Dash 10" will be the only Dreamliner made exclusively in North Charleston is a matter of speculation among Boeing watchers.

While Boeing Co. says it will wait to decide whether to increase production of its 787 Dreamliner, analysts are predicting slow sales of the twin-aisle plane eventually will force a production cut — ultimately leading the aerospace giant to move all final assembly to the North Charleston campus in the next decade.

"It's a very reasonable scenario," said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group in Fairfax, Va. "Consolidation, given the likely falling production rates, makes sense."

Boeing currently assembles a dozen Dreamliners each month, split between plants in North Charleston and Everett, Wash. Greg Smith, Boeing's chief financial officer, told industry analysts last week that the company will make a decision this year on whether to boost 787 output to 14 per month.

"Today, that looks good, but we're monitoring it," Smith said at the Barclays Industrial Select Conference in Miami.

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing's president and CEO, told analysts last month the company doesn't see production dipping below its current levels.

"Our confidence in being able to continue to operate at 12 a month is high," he said. 

More than half of Boeing's 1,207 Dreamliner orders were booked during the program's early years of 2004 to 2008. Sales have topped triple digits just once since then, in 2013, and there were 58 net orders in 2016 — down from 71 a year earlier. So far this year, there have been seven orders. Low fuel prices have airlines delaying purchases of the lightweight wide-bodies that have list prices of $224 million and up.

Meanwhile, the current production rate is cutting into a backlog of about 700 orders. That pace equates to less than five years of work.

Smith is confident sales will pick up when airlines start to replace aging planes in the new decade. There is "a big replacement cycle in wide-bodies coming," he told the analysts, "so we need to get through this transition and these areas of softness."

Boeing executives have repeatedly stated they do not see Dreamliner production rates declining. But some analysts are skeptical.

Buckingham Research Group, in a bearish report released this month, said weak orders will eventually lead Boeing to cut Dreamliner production to seven per month and "consolidate on one production line — likely North Charleston."

Buckingham thinks Boeing will stick with its current 12-per-month rate until the backlog reaches about three years, likely in 2019 or 2020. That's when the group expects production will be cut and a single line established.

Scott Hamilton, an aerospace analyst and editor of Leeham News and Comment, called Buckingham's prediction "eye opening."

"This is the most bearish forecast of any analyst," Hamilton wrote in his newsletter, adding that he sees an eventual rate cut to 10 per month. Hamilton said this month's vote by Boeing workers in North Charleston to reject union representation could influence the company's decision to shift Dreamliner production to South Carolina.

The argument for a single production line is bolstered by speculation that Boeing eventually will scrap production of the 787-8, the oldest and smallest member of the Dreamliner family, in favor of the more popular 787-9 and 787-10 siblings.

Uresh Sheth, a New York investment banker who tracks Dreamliner production on his "All Things 787" website, said he sees 787-8 deliveries dropping to the single digits in future years. Hamilton said ditching the costly 787-8 would boost the program's profit margin.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst for London-based Strategic Aero Research, has predicted for years that Boeing eventually will move all Dreamliner production to North Charleston.

"The 787 rate would have to drop below seven units a month for Boeing to expedite that consolidation," Ahmad said. "In my view, the rate will stay between seven and nine airplanes a month, from the start of the next decade. But any rate decline from the 12-per-month today will be done piecemeal, not in one fell swoop."

That's because suppliers need long lead times to adjust their own production levels, he said, "and there isn't a single 787 supplier making any such inference right now along those lines."

Ahmad points out that Everett also makes Boeing's 767 and 777X models, making North Charleston — which only assembles the Dreamliner — the most practical site for a single production line.

"Boeing would be better off moving the work there because the North Charleston plant isn't geared up to building anything else right now," he said.

Another likely scenario if orders continue to lag and the 787-8 goes away, Ahmad said, is a production split with Everett building the 787-9 model and North Charleston workers focusing on the larger 787-10, which is being built exclusively at the South Carolina site. The first "Dash 10" rolled off the production line last month, with test flights to follow this spring and the first delivery scheduled for 2018.

In the short term, Ahmad said he thinks Boeing will keep the production rate where it is.

"I’m not convinced Boeing will go beyond the 12-per-month rate and burn the backlog further if orders don’t come in big numbers," he said. "All that would do is force a sharper, more costlier rate cut later on."


Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil, United States Department of Homeland Security, N578AE: Accident occurred January 17, 2014 near Houlton International Airport (KHUL), Aroostook County, Maine

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA14TA096
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Friday, January 17, 2014 in Houlton, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/23/2017
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS350B3, registration: N578AE
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

After about 1 hour of flight, the helicopter crew began conducting landing refresher training with the use of night vision goggles. The copilot completed a single approach and three landings to the 5,015-ft runway, with one landing at the beginning, one near the middle, and one near the end. The copilot then lifted the helicopter off the ground once more, hovered, and began a transition to forward flight with forward cyclic and a slight amount of increased collective. Both crewmembers then heard and felt a loud explosion from the vicinity of the engine compartment. Engine sound increased rapidly, and the pilot mentioned a possible low rotor speed condition. He believed that the copilot then lowered the collective slightly in response to his statement, and, while doing so, the noise increased and helicopter oscillations began. The helicopter became almost uncontrollable, the pilot took the controls (which the copilot positively relinquished), and the copilot made two “mayday” calls. The pilot regained sufficient control to land the helicopter beyond the departure end of the runway. As the helicopter cleared the runway, the pilot observed an orange glow on the snow-covered ground, and, after landing, the copilot attempted to put out the engine compartment fire with a small onboard extinguisher, without success. The local fire department arrived about 10 minutes later and extinguished the fire, but much of the engine compartment had been consumed, and the helicopter structure below the engine compartment had been thermally compromised and substantially damaged.

The were no cockpit image or flight data recorders onboard the helicopter; however, there was a vehicle and engine multifunction display (VEMD) unit. As recorded by the VEMD and confirmed by the pilots, about the time of the explosion, a red “GOV” light illuminated in the cockpit, which would have indicated a “stepper motor or resolver failure” in the fuel control.

Subsequent examinations of the engine, components, and wiring did not reveal the source of the explosion, but did note charring and evidence of high heat. The engine’s free turbine blades were also found shed from the turbine disk at a manufactured overspeed notch in the blade roots as designed to prevent a subsequent turbine disk rupture. Of the fuel control items that could be examined, no preexisting anomalies could be found. However, their proximity to extreme heat could have triggered the red GOV light and the loss of automatic fuel metering.

The helicopter’s collective twist grip mechanical stop had been upgraded with one that automatically freed the grip once the red GOV light illuminated. The helicopter did not have an automatic fuel control backup system; thus, fuel flow and, therefore, engine output had to be manually controlled by the pilot once the red GOV light illuminated.

Although not the cause of the accident, the crew’s inability to recognize that they were operating in a manual fuel control regime likely exacerbated the situation. Changes in collective position would have resulted in changes of engine and rotor rpm, and the inflight excursions and later engine overspeed upon landing were the likely result of collective movement without fuel control compensation.

Further examination of the engine also revealed impact deposits on the axial compressor blades and gas generator turbine blades. The material was likely from the engine’s sand filter and cowling, indicating that the engine compartment fire was ongoing while the engine was still rotating, with a flame established in the combustion chamber. The fact that the fire continued after engine shutdown until the fire department arrived and put it out indicates that, regardless of the crew’s actions, the structural damage to the helicopter still would have occurred.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
An engine compartment explosion during takeoff; the origin of the explosion could not be determined during postaccident examination due to extensive fire damage.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Customs and Border Protection; Washington, District of Columbia
Defense Support Services/PAE; Arlington, Virginia 
Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA); Le Bourget, FN
Airbus Helicopters; Grand Prairie, Texas
Turbomeca; Grand Prairie, Texas

Aviation Accident Factual Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board:

United States Department of Homeland Security:

NTSB Identification: ERA14TA096
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Friday, January 17, 2014 in Houlton, ME
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS350B3, registration: N578AE
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.


On January 17, 2014, about 2040 eastern standard time, a Eurocopter AS350B3, N578AE, operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), was substantially damaged following a reported engine compartment explosion at Houlton International Airport (HUL), Houlton, Maine. The two commercial pilots were not injured, and night visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The helicopter was operating on a company flight plan for the local public use flight.

According to the copilot's written statement, the helicopter had just returned to HUL after a search and rescue mission, with the copilot flying. The crew then commenced takeoff and landing practice for night flight and night vision goggle (NVG) recurrency training.

The copilot stated that he had completed a single approach and three landings to runway 23, with one landing at the beginning, one near the middle, and one toward the end. He then took off again, hovered, and began a transition to forward flight with forward cyclic and a slight amount of increased collective. As he was beginning to apply cyclic, he heard and felt a loud explosion from the rear of the helicopter, followed by a severe vertical vibration, and the engine noise became "very loud." The helicopter began to experience cyclic controllability problems along with some yaw instability as well. The pilot in command (PIC) called out the rotor rpm warning horn, but the copilot was unsure whether it was constant or intermittent due to the engine noise. Helicopter control continued to rapidly decay for the next 5 to 10 seconds, at which time the PIC took control.

The copilot also noted that he subsequently made two mayday calls over the radio [per the PIC, via the footswitch], and almost immediately, the helicopter began "severe" pitch and roll oscillations. During some of the oscillations, the left side door came open, but the copilot was able to get it closed again. About that time, he also noticed that the red "GOV" light [manual mode engaged and loss of automatic governing failure] was illuminated. After 10 to 20 seconds, the PIC was able to regain some control of the helicopter, there was a decrease in engine and rotor noise, and the PIC was able to land the helicopter beyond snow banks at the end of the runway. After performing an emergency shutdown, the PIC said he thought the helicopter was on fire, and although the FIRE light was not illuminated, there was an orange glow reflected in the snow. Upon exiting the helicopter, the copilot saw flames coming from the engine compartment; he tried to extinguish the fire with a portable fire extinguisher, but without effect. The local fire company arrived about 10 minutes later and subsequently extinguished the flames.

According to the PIC, after the explosion, the main rotor (NR) overspeed warning sounded and a vertical vibration developed. At that point, the helicopter had not yet begun yaw oscillations, so the PIC felt they still had tail rotor thrust. He could not quite hear if the NR warning was intermittent or continuous (low NR) and told the copilot they could have low rotor rpm. He believed that the copilot then lowered the collective slightly in response to his statement, but the noise increased and the oscillation began. The PIC then took control of the helicopter. As he did, he observed two amber caution lights and what he believed were two red warning lights. Severe vertical vibrations and almost uncontrollable yaw oscillations continued, as did a high NR warning.

The PIC then focused on trying to keep the helicopter's skids level, not hitting the ground, and not flying out of ground effect. He could not ascertain airspeed, and there were three instances when he estimated that the helicopter entered 30- to 40-degree banks.

Throughout the event, the PIC could not adjust collective without inducing "extreme" attitude excursions. He also could not maintain the helicopter in a position where he could roll off the throttle. Then, after about 30 seconds, the attitude excursions began to "calm down," and the pilot was able to land the helicopter beyond the snow bank. As the helicopter touched down, the PIC noted that the red FIRE light was not illuminated, and that the original two red lights he saw were actually an amber ENG CHIP light and the red GOV light. After the event, and reviewing training materials, the PIC was able to estimate that the amber lights he saw were the FUEL P and DOOR lights.

The PIC further stated that the use of NVGs did not hamper his vision in the cockpit.


The 2003 Eurocopter AS350B3 helicopter was powered by a single Turbomeca, Arriel 2B engine driving a three-blade main rotor system which rotated clockwise (viewed from above), and a conventional tail rotor. It had skid-type landing gear and dual flight controls, and had been updated with night vision goggle (NVG)-compatible cockpit lighting.

Engine speed was governed by a "Digital Engine Control Unit" (DECU), a single-channel fuel governor design that performed fuel regulation, engine parameters management and failure recording; a Hydro-Mechanical Unit (HMU) with manual backup system that included a pump/metering unit; and electrical and mechanical links between the helicopter, the DECU and HMU.

The helicopter's collective twist grip had been modified. The mechanical stop of the original twist grip was replaced by one that automatically freed the grip and allowed the pilot to manually modify fuel flow rate when the red GOV light was illuminated. If the red GOV light illuminates, an aural "GONG" is triggered.

Per Eurocopter Letter-Service No. 1702-71-05, "In the event of a total…governor failure detected by the DECU, the engine fuel flow is frozen at its value at the moment of the failure. The engine power is therefore maintained. In stabilized flight, there is no urgency to modify the flight parameters and to adjust the twist grip. On the contrary, rapidly reducing collective pitch, without a synchronized reduction of the twist grip, will create rotor overspeed."

There were no flight or cockpit voice recorders on the helicopter. There were, however, some recorded maintenance parameters within a "Vehicle and Engine Multifunction Display" (VEMD) and the DECU.

The VEMD had a multifunction screen installed on the instrument panel designed to
manage essential and non-essential vehicle and engine data. The VEMD was a dual-channel system that could store flight reports, failure messages with associated parameters, and undated over-limit reports. Recordings would begin when Ng (engine gas generator speed) increased to 10% or when NR (main rotor rotational speed) increased to 70 rpm, and ended, or were "closed out" when Ng decreased to 10% or NR decreased to 70 rpm.

The DECU stored numbered failure blocks.


Runway 23 was 5,015 feet long and 100 feet wide, at an elevation that averaged about 485 feet.


HUL weather, recorded at 2053, included clear skies, wind from 200 degrees true at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, temperature 1° C, dew point 0° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.83 inches Hg.


According to the responding Airbus investigator, although the helicopter had been moved to the hangar before his arrival, observations provided by CBP indicated that the helicopter had initially come to rest about 250 feet beyond the end of runway 23. The pieces of engine cowling that were not consumed by the fire had been removed and were in the hanger with the helicopter.

The majority of the helicopter structure was not burned or damaged from the event. The forces on the airframe at the time of landing were reported to be relatively normal. There were no reported rotor blade strikes. All of the dynamic and static components of the helicopter were accounted for.

Main rotor and tail rotor drive train continuity were confirmed. The emergency fuel handle and the rotor brake handle were observed to be pulled to the rear. The emergency power switch was up and engaged and the twist grip was in the MIN position.

All of the right side belly panel latches were undone except for one latch.

Engine Compartment

The fire damage was mostly confined to the "bathtub" area of the engine; however, there was thermal structural damage below the bathtub which was considered substantial damage to the helicopter per 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 830.


There was no apparent trace of the engine's sand filter. The engine's free turbine blades were separated from the free turbine disk, and the containment shield was distorted and pierced, consistent with the effects of the blade-shedding phenomenon. There was FOD damage to the inlet compressor blades. The intake funnel was partially consumed, the adjusted valve assembly, bleed valve, and exciter box were melted, and the igniter case was melted with holes revealing the internal components.

The engine and some additional components were removed from the helicopter and shipped to Turbomeca USA, where additional examinations occurred with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) participation and NTSB oversight. There, the engine was photographed prior to disassembly, and all external piping, accessories and wire harnesses were removed. A large amount of debris was noted inside the engine; however, it could not be determined whether the debris was ingested or forced into the engine by firefighting efforts.

The HMU was removed and packaged for shipping to France for further examination. The engine was then separated into its various modules and components.

The reduction gearbox (module 5) was removed and examined. The input pinion alignment marks were found to be aligned. Continuity was confirmed through the reduction gear train. No further disassembly of the module was performed.

The free turbine (module 4) was removed. The free turbine blades were found shed from the turbine disk at the over-speed notch in the blade roots. (The design of the blade is such that at an overspeed of 140–150% N2, the turbine blades will liberate at a machined notch to prevent a turbine disk rupture about 170%.) The disk could still be rotated on the bearing with minimal effort. Module 4 could not be disassembled normally due to distortion from the blade shedding.

The gas generator (module 3) was fully disassembled. Foreign object debris (FOD) was observed on several of the centrifugal compressor blades. The compressor cover did not show any signs of contact with the centrifugal compressor. A substantial amount of burnt material was found inside the housing but it was impossible to determine what had been ingested by the engine or had been forced inside by the firefighting efforts.

The axial compressor module (module 2) was removed from module 3. The axial compressor was removed from the housing. FOD was present on each of the 13 compressor blades concentrated mostly on the leading edges near the tips. A substantial amount of burnt material was found inside the housing.

Continuity was confirmed through the accessory gear train and no disassembly of the module 1 was performed.

The "adjusted valve" and the bleed valve were observed to be melted. Similarly, the high energy box exhibited significant thermal damage. The wiring on the right side of the engine was burnt but appeared mostly intact on the left side. The accessories on the left side appeared intact as well, but was covered with a black sooty deposit. No discrepancies (other than deposits due to fire) were found when removing the pipes.

Drops of molten metal, consistent in appearance with aluminum, could be seen in several places on the lower part of the engine.



Onsite, the responding investigators powered up the VEMD, and noted the following codes for Flt # 2791in the unit's "Maintenance Mode." They also noted "Test Reference" numbers, and the screens were photographed.

The VEMD had not been "closed out" for the flight and as such, the Flight Report and over limits were not recovered at that time. The VEMD was ultimately shipped to the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA), where the two internal boards were visually inspected and found to be in "good condition." It was later powered up on an Airbus Helicopters bench, and the screens were photographed. Results, along with Airbus Helicopters explanations included:

Data indicated that the last recorded flight, numbered 2791, lasted almost 1 hour and 10 minutes. Sixteen failures and several over-limits were recorded during the flight. The 16 failures were categorized into 3 groups: The two first failures (no identification label) occurred at the beginning of the flight and were not correlated to the event. The next eight failures were recorded during the flight, and the last six failures correlated to the VEMD having been powered up on the helicopter after the accident flight.

Eight undated over-limits were also recorded:

- A T4 MED (temperature at the exhaust end of the gas generator chamber) over-limit that lasted 19 seconds. The T4 MED temperature threshold would have reached values above 865°C during the starting phase or values between 915°C and 941°C during the flight phase.
- A T4 HI over-limit that lasted 8 seconds and reached values above 941 °C.
- An NG over-limit that lasted 40 seconds and reached a value of 104 %.
- An NF (free turbine rotation speed, computed in rotor rotation speed) over-limit that lasted 25 seconds and reached a value of 510 rpm (510 rpm is the maximum value recorded by the VEMD).
- Four NR (rotor rotation speed) over limits which maximum value reached 496 rpm.

Pertinent Test Reference points included:

Test Ref 9 Time: 0:00:00
Test Ref 129 Time: 1:08:26
Test Ref 131 Time: 1:08:56
Test Ref 133 Time: 1:08:56
Test Ref 44 Time: 1:08:56
Test Ref 53 Time: 1:09:26
Test Ref 126 Time: 1:09:27
Test Ref 55 Time: 1:09:49

Test Ref 129 was a "stepper motor or resolver failure," and a red GOV warning light would have illuminated. It would have been a permanent failure that indicated a frozen stepper motor position for the gas generator. The pilot would have had to manage NR and fuel flow manually through the twist grip, which is automatically unlocked when the red "GOV" occurs.

Test Ref 131 was an NF "B" sensor failure ("B" and "A" sensors were used to govern the free turbine), which would have occurred when NF exceeded 141%. On another VEMD page, NF at the same moment indicated a maximum recorded value of 511 rpm, or an NR of 132% (the maximum value recorded by the VEMD overlimit page). In addition, NG was in exceedance, and T4 and TRQ were also high.

Test Ref 133 was an NF "A" sensor failure, which typically occurs when NF exceeds 141%. As with NF "B", on another VEMD page, NF at the same moment indicated a maximum recorded value of 511rpm, or an NR of 132% (the maximum value recorded by the VEMD overlimt page). In addition, NG was in exceedance, and T4 and TRQ were also high.

Test Ref 44 indicated invalid NF "A" information. The failure was intermittent.

Test Ref 53 reflected an invalidity of TRQ information received. On another VEMD page, NF at the same moment indicated a maximum recorded value of 511 rpm, or an NR of 132%. In addition, NG and T4 were in exceedance, and TRQ was high and NR was 0.

Test Ref 126 indicated a raw torque value failure.

Test Ref 55 indicated an out of range oil pressure.


The DECU was placed on the Turbomeca USA test bench and powered on. The DECU was found to be operational and the faults were then downloaded. Out of the 32-fault capacity, 4 blocks were associated with the accident flight which matched the initial information obtained from the VEMD. A stepper motor failure was recorded, which was linked to the stepper motor or to the stepper motor control and would have triggered the red GOV indication.

The DECU also underwent board inspection with no preexisting anomalies noted.

The DECU's stepper motor function was checked at different temperatures on a specific test rig and found to be within specifications.

- At room temperature (+20°C/+68°F).
- At -40°C (-104°F).
- At +50°C (+122°F).

An additional test was performed on a forced vibration table at room temperature (+20°C/+68°F) for 15 minutes with no anomalies noted.

Acceptance test procedures (ATP) found the unit compliant with all the manufacturer specifications. No fault was found during all the tests, and the stepper motor failure could not be duplicated.


The HMU could not be tested on a test bench due to the external thermal damage; however, electrical and functional checks of the stepper motor, the resolver and the neutral switch were performed which were found to be within specifications.

Testing also indicated that a rod normally connected to the collective pitch lever twist grip was out of the neutral position, consistent with the fuel flow being manually controlled while the HMU was on the helicopter.

A complete disassembly found the components in "very good" condition and did not reveal any anomalies that could have mechanically resulted in the red GOV indication.

Also noted, was soot and coagulated molten aluminum on the casing, consistent with the HMU having been in the vicinity of high heat.


The harness between the DECU, the stepper motor and the resolver was visually inspected with "severe" fire damage observed. The electrical connection between the DECU, the stepper motor and the resolver of the harness was tested using a repair shop test rig, with no fault was found. The cables were also bent and twisted manually without any fault noted.


The axial and centrifugal compressor wheels, gas generator turbine wheel, engine air intake duct, and sand filter pieces were forwarded to the NTSB Materials Laboratory. According to the resultant factual report, upon receipt, the axial compressor, centrifugal compressor, and gas generator turbine wheels were intact, while a large portion of the air intake duct and most of the sand filter were missing.

Compositional analysis was performed on impact deposits found on the axial compressor blades and impact deposits found on the gas generator turbine blades.

The axial compressor was made of a titanium alloy, but the areas of impact showed material transfer with composition of a nickel-base alloy with chromium, cobalt, iron, aluminum and probably molybdenum. The source(s) of the impact areas could not be determined.

Debris, consistent with charred engine cowling, was found throughout the engine components including glass fibers found on the turbine wheel. Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) of the blades from the axial compressor and the gas generator turbine revealed spectra across many areas that included peaks of aluminum, silicon, calcium, antimony, oxygen, and carbon.

While the peaks of aluminum, silicon, calcium, oxygen, and carbon could be from many sources including sand, soil, the sand filter, or the engine cowling, antimony is an element that is only significantly present in the engine cowling and is commonly added to composite materials as a fire retardant.

The bulk of the deposits on the turbine blade generally showed EDS spectra with relatively high peaks of aluminum and oxygen. In comparison, the charred resin from the engine cowling showed relatively high peaks of carbon, oxygen, and phosphorus while the highest peaks for the glass fiber were silicon and oxygen. The relatively high peaks of aluminum and oxygen for deposits on the turbine blade leading edge were consistent with oxidized remnants of the sand filter and/or inlet duct.