Saturday, March 4, 2017

Van's RV-9A, N8080S: Fatal accident occurred January 11, 2015 at Prineville Airport (S39), Crook County, Oregon

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA084
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 11, 2015 in Prineville, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/01/2017
Aircraft: BRUCT J MYERS RV-9A, registration: N8080S
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

A witness observed the private pilot departing in his experimental, amateur-built airplane. He stated that, after rotation, the airplane climbed in a nose-high attitude and drifted left of the runway centerline. Upon reaching an altitude about 1,000 ft above ground level, the airplane’s right wing dipped, and the airplane descended in a right spin and impacted a parallel taxiway. The airplane was mostly consumed by a postcrash fire. Subsequent examination revealed that the canopy had been ejected clear of the airframe on impact, and the canopy lock appeared in the open position. The elevator trim tab was found in the nose-up trim position; however, due to the severity of the fire and impact damage, the reason for or relevance of these findings could not be determined. Although the pilot was being treated for several medical conditions that he had not reported to the Federal Aviation Administration, it is unlikely that the conditions or their treatment contributed to the circumstances of this accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed and his exceedance of the airplane's critical angle of attack during the climb, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall/spin.

Bruce J. Myers 

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Hillsboro, Oregon

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Bruce J. Myers:

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA084
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 11, 2015 in Prineville, OR
Aircraft: BRUCT J MYERS RV-9A, registration: N8080S
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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


On January 11, 2015, about 1427 Pacific standard time, an experimental amateur-built Bruce J Myers (Vans) RV-9A, N8080S, collided with terrain at Prineville Airport, Prineville, Oregon. The owner/pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed during the accident sequence. The cross-country personal flight was departing with a planned destination of Bend, Oregon. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The Assistant Manager of the Prineville Airport, who held a private pilot certificate, stated that the pilot arrived in the airplane about 0930 on the morning of the accident, after being unable to land at his intended destination of Madras, Oregon, due to bad weather. Upon landing, the pilot noticed that the nosewheel tire was flat. He borrowed the airport's loaner car, and returned to his home base airport in Bend, Oregon, to retrieve tools and a replacement inner tube. He repaired the tire, and prior to departure, he discussed the deteriorating weather conditions with the airport manager. The pilot then loaded his tools into the airplane, and taxied to the run-up area.

The manager reported that he was seated at the window of his office. He had a clear view of the entire length of runway 33 during the accident sequence. He observed the pilot perform an engine run-up, then a standard takeoff roll. He saw no other traffic in the air or on the ground, and after rotation the airplane climbed in a nose-high attitude, and drifted left of the runway centerline. After reaching about 1,000 ft agl, the right wing dipped, and it descended in a right spin, impacting the parallel taxiway to runway 28. He noticed an airplane make one pass over the crash site after approaching the airport from the northwest. That airplane did not make a radio call, and left the area after the pass.

Another pilot on the airport noted that the weather was marginal, with a ceiling of about 1,500 feet above ground level. It was raining, and the winds were calm.


No personal flight records were located for the 73-year-old pilot. The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) obtained the aeronautical experience listed in this report from a review of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airmen medical records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center. The pilot reported on his medical application in June 2013 that he had a total time of 960 hours, with 40 hours logged in the previous 6 months.


FAA records indicated that the experimental amateur-built, low-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number 90836, was built by the pilot, and issued a special airworthiness certificate in January 2007; the airplane was powered by an Eggenfellner Subaru H-6 converted automobile engine. No maintenance logbooks were recovered.


An aviation routine weather report (METAR) for Prineville, was issued at 1415 PDT, it stated: wind calm; visibility 6 miles; light unknown precipitation; sky 2,900 feet scattered, 3,400 feet scattered, 3,900 feet scattered; temperature 5/41 degrees C/F; dew point 3/37 degrees C/F; and altimeter 30.09 inches of mercury.

Similar conditions including a confirmation of light rain were reported at Roberts Field Airport, Redmond, Oregon, 12 miles west, with further deterioration throughout the day.


The airplane came to rest on the north taxiway parallel to runway 10/28, 4,500 ft north-northwest of where the airplane initiated the takeoff roll. Fire had consumed the entire cabin and fuselage structure forward of the empennage, along with both fuel tanks and the underside of both wings. The upper wing surfaces were heavily charred and remained partially attached to the wing spar. The elevator control push-pull tube remained attached to its control arm on the elevator torque tube, and both rudder cables remained attached to their respective rudder horns. The remaining flight controls had been consumed by fire. The airplane was equipped with an electrically driven electrical elevator trim system. The elevator trim tab was observed in the tab down (nose-up) position. The steel frame of the sliding canopy was located separate from the main wreckage; its rear locking tangs were undamaged, and the forward lower canopy latch handle was found a position 45 degrees relative to the airframe centerline, corresponding to the "open" position. The canopy skirt and associated fuselage canopy track hardware was consumed by fire.


The Oregon State Police Medical Examiner Division completed an autopsy. They determined that the cause of death was blunt force head trauma. No significant natural disease was identified.

The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot.

The report contained the following findings for tested drugs: Desmethylsertraline detected in liver, 2.723 (ug/ml, ug/g) Desmethylsertraline detected in blood (heart), Sertraline detected in liver; and 0.531 (ug/ml, ug/g) Sertraline detected in blood (heart). There were no findings for ethanol.

The NTSB's medical officer reviewed the pilot's certified medical records on file with the FAA, the autopsy report, and personal medical records. The medical officer prepared a factual report, which is part of the public docket for this accident. The review revealed that the pilot had reported no chronic medical conditions and no chronic medication use to the FAA. However, toxicology testing identified sertraline in liver and heart blood. According to personal medical records, the pilot had longstanding asthma, impaired glucose metabolism (prediabetes), gastroesophageal reflux disease, mild hypertension, depression, and generalized anxiety disorder. His doctor had prescribed Fluticasone Propionate and Sertraline for many years, and both a burnt Fluticasone Propionate, and undamaged Albuterol Sulfate, inhaler canisters were located at the accident site. At his last primary care visit, in March 2014, his conditions were stable.

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA084 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 11, 2015 in Prineville, OR
Aircraft: MYERS BRUCE J RV 9A, registration: N8080S
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

On January 11, 2015, about 1427 Pacific standard time, an experimental amateur-built Myers - Vans RV 9A, N8080S, collided with terrain at Prineville, Oregon. The owner/pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence, and all of the airframe except the tail section was consumed by post impact fire. The cross-country personal flight was departing with a planned destination of Bend, Oregon. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

According to witnesses, the airplane's nose continued to pitch up during the takeoff initial climb. The airplane appeared to be at a slow speed when a wing dropped, and the airplane went vertically into the ground.

McDonnell Douglas MD-88, Delta Air Lines, N909DL: Accident occurred March 05, 2015 at La Guardia Airport (KLGA), New York

Aviation Accident Final Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

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

Delta Air Lines Inc:

NTSB Identification: DCA15FA085
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of Delta Air Lines
Accident occurred Thursday, March 05, 2015 in New York, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/03/2017
Aircraft: MCDONNELL DOUGLAS AIRCRAFT CO MD 88, registration: N909DL
Injuries: 132 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.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The Safety Board's full report is available at The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-16/02.

On March 5, 2015, at 1102 eastern standard time, Delta Air Lines flight 1086, a Boeing MD-88, N909DL, was landing on runway 13 at LaGuardia Airport, New York, New York, when it departed the left side of the runway, contacted the airport perimeter fence, and came to rest with the airplane's nose on an embankment next to Flushing Bay. The 2 pilots, 3 flight attendants, and 98 of the 127 passengers were not injured; the other 29 passengers received minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. Flight 1086 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121. An instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
the captain's inability to maintain directional control of the airplane due to his application of excessive reverse thrust, which degraded the effectiveness of the rudder in controlling the airplane's heading. Contributing to the accident were the captain's (1) situational stress resulting from his concerns about stopping performance and (2) attentional limitations due to the high workload during the landing, which prevented him from immediately recognizing the use of excessive reverse thrust.

Five (5) Things To Know About Jetliners Leaving Runways While Landing

The Wall Street Journal
March 05, 2015 5:06pm
By Andy Pasztor

A Delta Air Lines jet with 125 passengers and five crew members on board skidded off the runway and hit a chain-link fence while landing at New York’s La Guardia Airport on Thursday morning. There were about two-dozen injuries, most of which were minor, authorities said. Here’s what you need to know about jetliners leaving the runway while landing:

1.)   How Frequently Do Such Accidents Occur?

Rolling or sliding off the side or the end of a runway during landing is the most frequent type of airliner accident world-wide, with more than three dozen commercial flights on average trundling off snowy or wet strips each year. So-called runway excursions have climbed sharply in recent years to become the primary cause of major damage to airliners world-wide. But they rank relatively low on the list of causes of fatalities. According to some accident data bases, runway excursions have accounted for nearly half of all major crashes globally since the 1990s but less than one-sixth of fatalities. Historically, that still has meant an average of 80 or more fatalities annually.

2.)   Why Are There Fewer Fatalities Versus Other Crash Categories?

Runway overruns typically happen when aircraft already are braking or otherwise trying to slow down, so the impact forces tend to be less than accidents during approach or takeoff. In addition, enhanced regulations over the years have strengthened seats to better protect passengers, prevent seats from breaking loose and changed internal cabin materials to reduce the likelihood of fires if planes do rupture or landing gear are ripped off at impact. Improved emergency-response training also has helped produce fewer fatalities. U.S. authorities also have committed some $3 billion as part of a mandatory a policy of enlarging buffer zones at the ends of certain runways, or installing a special crushable surfaces designed to safely stop aircraft if they end up off strips.  According to the FAA, since 1999 such material has successfully stopped eight aircraft, preventing more serious incidents at U.S. airports.

3.)   What Pilot Training Improvements Are Underway to Reduce Dangers?

Regulators, pilot unions and safety experts have been striving for years on various fronts to prevent runway crashes. Airlines increasingly have stressed strict cockpit discipline to ensure that pilots don’t touch down if their aircraft is flying too fast or approaching the runway at an excessively steep rate of descent. Such missteps can lead to landing too far down the strip, which is the primary cause of runway overruns. So-called stabilized approaches–requiring planes to be at precisely the right speed and altitude–are supposed to be followed during the last 500 or 1,000 feet of every landing approach. International air-safety officials and industry-sponsored groups have distributed thousands of training packages and related materials stressing those principles to airlines and pilots around the world.

4.)   Is There New Technology Available to Prevent Runway Overruns?

Modern aircraft are equipped with antiskid brakes, designed to automatically adjust pressure depending on aircraft weight, weather and other factors. European plane maker Airbus has been among those leading the way with additional onboard equipment to prevent runway excursions. The technology, which provides pilots with real-time data about braking distance, also issues explicit warnings when computers determine that an approaching aircraft won’t be able to safely stop after touchdown under given weather and runway conditions. Moreover, a number of companies and airlines have tested cutting-edge technology to provide more accurate and timely information to pilots about detailed conditions on the tarmac, particularly during bad weather. The updates aim to replace subjective reports pilots now provide to air-traffic controllers in radio transmissions, information which is then passed on to other crews preparing to land.

5.)    What Are Some Other Runway Accidents That Avoided Fatalities?

Runway overruns in previous years may have amounted to as much as 45% of the overall safety risk facing airlines globally, according to leaders of the International Air Transport Association, the largest industry trade group. In 2009, an American Airlines Boeing 737 skidded off the runway and broke into three sections while landing in stormy weather in Kingston, Jamaica. Dozens of passengers received minor injuries in the crash, which raised questions about how well some jetliner braking systems perform on various runway surfaces in rainy conditions. Four years earlier, an Air France A340 landing in Toronto amid stormy weather was unable to stop on the runway, careened to the left down a slope and caught fire. The aircraft was destroyed, yet all of the 309 people onboard were evacuated without a fatality.

Original article can be found at:

Virgin Orbit seen as boost for Long Beach after aircraft plants close

Long Beach may still be a place where flying machines and other high-tech products are built, even if factories where thousands of workers assemble big jets are a relic of the past.

That’s the prospect after Thursday’s announcement that a new company called Virgin Orbit would be formed to build rockets that officials hope will transform space launches into a relatively inexpensive venture.

The company, however, is new in name only. The team, part of billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, had already been active in Long Beach for about two years.

Virgin Group now has three companies focused on different aspects of private spaceflight, an industry where high-profile billionaires such as Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are furthering the cause of space travel as being something private enterprises, not just superpower governments, can do.

Long Beach had been home to assembly plants for such aircraft as the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military transport jet and the Boeing 717 and Douglas DC-8 passenger jets. Earlier, Douglas Co. workers built B-17 bombers and the DC-3 passenger aircraft in Long Beach.

Boeing’s C-17 plant closed in late 2015 after the assembly of its 279th and final Globemaster III. Months prior to the plant’s closure, a Wall Street Journal headline declared to the nation that Boeing’s phase out of C-17 production signified the “end of Southern California’s jet age.”

Reacting to Virgin Orbit’s announcement last week, Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Randy Gordon said the company’s doing business in Long Beach helps to fulfill former Mayor Beverly O’Neill’s dream of the city becoming a place for trade, tourism and technology.

“It will certainly bring new technology and prestigious names to Long Beach,” Gordon said.

Gordon pointed to document imagery company Laserfiche and Epson America as previous examples of tech companies settling in Long Beach.

Virgin Orbit’s headquarters is in Douglas Park, the northeast Long Beach cluster of new industrial and commercial developments on former Boeing Co. property.

Mercedes-Benz USA opened its West Coast headquarters there in late 2015. And Shimadzu Precision Instruments moved its U.S. headquarters and assembly plant from Torrance to Douglas Park in the same year. Shimadzu Precision Instruments produces aircraft equipment and is the subsidiary of a Japanese firm.

“I think it’s really exciting that we’re doing this in Long Beach, on top of an area that used to produce commercial aircraft,” Galactic Ventures Chief Executive George T. Whitesides said.

California Employment Development Department data show Los Angeles County manufacturers employed an estimated 116,000 people in aerospace parts and product manufacturing in December 1991, the final month of the Soviet Union’s existence.

As of this past January, aerospace employment in the county was nowhere near the levels of the Cold War. Some 36,200 people working in Los Angeles County had jobs in the field.

Nonetheless, Virgin Orbit vice president of special projects Will Pomerantz said the local availability of talent with aerospace expertise motivated company leaders to set up shop in Long Beach.

At present, Virgin Orbit has about 250 people, mostly engineers and technicians, working in Long Beach.

Virgin Orbit announced its existence two years and one day after Virgin Galactic moved into a 180,000-square-foot assembly plant in eastern Long Beach. Almost all of the new company’s floor space is devoted to giving engineers and technicians a place to design, manufacture and assemble a new rocket that Virgin Orbit executives say has the potential to deliver a small payload into space at a relatively low price.

“We’re not trying to fly the biggest rockets,” Pomerantz said while providing a tour of Virgin Orbit’s facility. “We’re trying to fly the most rockets, or the most affordable rockets.”

Virgin Orbit’s rocket, LauncherOne, is designed to attach below the wing of a specially modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet named Cosmic Girl and to be fired like a missile into outer space while the jet is in midair at an altitude of roughly 35,000 feet.

The rocket itself measures to nearly 70 feet long and can weigh some 55,000 pounds when carrying fuel and its satellite payload. Virgin Orbit’s rocket designs for LauncherOne call for two-stage rockets to be assembled from carbon composite materials. Each stage has a single engine, and Pomerantz said the launchers need to be built to withstand the stresses occurring at velocities as fast as 25 times the speed of sound.

LauncherOne’s first launch into outer space may take place by year’s end, Pomerantz said. If all goes according to plan, Virgin Orbit would eventually become capable of producing 24 launch vehicles annually. The cost for a customer who wants to hire Virgin Orbit to send a small satellite into space may be about $10 million to $12 million.

That’s why Pomerantz said Virgin Orbit engineers are employing proven technologies like RP-1 fuel — “it’s got a fancy name, but it’s kerosene and oxygen” — and cutting edge equipment such as a DMG Mori Lasertec 4300 3D, a machine that Pomerantz said can print 3-D rocket components that are themselves composed of various types of metal.

“We are not counting on this for our first flight,” he said. “This is a science project.”

Among Southern California’s spaceflight companies, there’s a lot of difference between what SpaceX and Virgin Orbit are seeking to do. Space X flies larger rockets than what Virgin Galactic aims to do with LauncherOne and has already delivered supplies to the International Space Station and made significant advances toward the development of reusable heavy rocket stages.

Space X advertises a $62 million price for a customer who wants to hire a Falcon 9 to send a payload all the way into geosynchronous transfer orbit, a path through space from where it’s possible for a satellite to enter a high-earth geosynchronous orbit.

A geosynchronous orbit, according to NASA, is roughly 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface and sufficiently far enough into outer space that a communications or weather satellite can stick to a single line of longitude. In other words, the satellite’s orbit is in sync with the Earth’s rotation.

Space X’s Falcon 9 has nine first-stage engines and a single-second stage engine in order to carry 18,300 pounds of payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit

Virgin Orbit’s Launcher- One, by way of contrast, is designed to send a payload on the order of 1,100 pounds (and, per Pomerantz, about the size of a dishwasher or washing machine) about 124 miles above the planet’s surface, into low-Earth orbit.

Satellites in low-Earth orbit are moving relative to the Earth, but can still be employed to capture images of what’s occurring on the planet’s surface, Dan Hart, the newly named company’s president, said.

A large of number of satellites gathering scientific and weather data, such as the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite, are in low-Earth orbit, according to NASA.

Virgin Orbit is privately held, Pomerantz said. Virgin Group and Aabar Investments, of the United Arab Emirates, have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the company’s development.

Private spaceflight companies such as Virgin Orbit and SpaceX are in a situation that’s analogous to aviation pioneers doing business in the first years of powered flight, said Forouzan Golshani, dean of the College of Engineering at Cal State Long Beach.

“What these companies are doing is very important,” he said. “These are the brave leaders of industry that will pave the way for spaceflight being like flying from L.A. to New York,” he said.

Cal State Long Beach has already established a relationship with Virgin Orbit.

At least 25 graduates of the Long Beach campus work for Virgin, according to information provided by the campus. Three students interned with Virgin in summer 2016.

Propulsion development engineer Nicole Lewis is among the young engineers working for Virgin Orbit. Lewis, a self-described “space nerd,” said she obtained her employment after earning a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, where she studied mechanical engineering.

She said she interned with United Launch Alliance, Boeing and Virgin before being hired in August 2015. A major aspect of her job working on the LauncherOne is helping engineers working in the propulsion, launch operations and structure groups solve design problems that require people with different areas of expertise to work together.

The job involves a lot of pressure, but not in a way that gets people down, she said.

“Yes, but in a way that people are able to respond to it and do a lot of good work,” Lewis said.


U.S. airport pat-downs are about to get more invasive

The new pat-down procedure will involve what the federal agency describes as a more “comprehensive” physical screening. 

While few have noticed, U.S. airport security workers long had the option of using five different types of physical pat-downs for the screening line. Those have been eliminated, replaced instead with one universal approach. This time, you will notice.

The new touching — for those selected to have a pat-down — will be more invasive in what the federal agency describes as a more “comprehensive” physical screening, according to a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesman.

Denver International Airport, for example, notified employees and flight crews Thursday that the “more rigorous” searches “will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”

“I would say people who in the past would have gotten a pat-down that wasn’t involved will notice that the [new] pat-down is more involved,” TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson said Friday. The shift from the previous, risk-based assessment about which pat-down procedure an officer should use was phased in over the past two weeks after tests at smaller airports, he said.

The TSA screens about 2 million people daily at U.S. airports. The agency doesn’t track how many passengers are subject to pat-down searches after they pass through an imaging scanner. People who decline to use this screening technology are automatically subject to physical searches.

While passengers may find the process more intrusive than before, the new procedure isn’t expected to increase overall airport-security delays. However, “for the person who gets the pat-down, it will slow them down,” Anderson said.

The change is partly the result of the agency’s study of a 2015 report that criticized aspects of TSA screening procedures. That audit, by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General, drew headlines because airport officers had failed to detect handguns and other weapons. Another change prompted by the report was the TSA decision to end its “managed inclusion” program by which some everyday travelers were allowed to use PreCheck lanes to speed things up at peak times.

Physical screening has long been one of the traveling public’s strongest dislikes related to airport-security protocols. The TSA conducts all pat-downs with an officer of the same sex, and allows for a passenger to request a private area for the screening and to have a witness. Likewise, the traveler can request that the pat-down occur in public view.

The new policy also applies to airline pilots and flight attendants, classified as “known crew members,” who generally receive less scrutiny at checkpoints. The TSA conducts random searches of these employees, and airlines this week had inquired about whether their employees would be subject to more frequent pat-downs. The number of random searches for airline crews isn’t changing, Anderson said, although airport employees may face more random checks.

“Sometimes it’s random, sometimes they’re consistent based on the door you enter,” he said of the searches of workers with airport ID badges. “Sometimes those measures call for a pat-down.”

In their notice, Denver airport officials said employees are subject to search at random locations. “If a pat down is required as part of the operation, badged employees will be required to comply with a TSA officer’s request to conduct a full body pat down.”

In December, a CNN political commentator, Angela Rye, posted an article online describing her “humiliation” during a TSA agent’s search. Rye wrote in graphic detail about the pat-down of her genitals during a search at the Detroit Metro Airport before a flight to New York.

TSA officials didn’t immediately address whether the new universal pat-down protocol will mandate touching of passenger genitals.


Job illusions that turned out to be an airline fraud

Some of the statements of job seekers whom Baracuda Aviation CEO John Majiwa is accused of conning out of Sh9.7 million reveal a well-laid plot to rip-off unsuspecting Kenyans.

Mr Majiwa has been released on a cash bail as police carry out investigations into his alleged con game.

Mr Majiwa was charged on February 27 alongside three of his employees, namely Elizabeth Wanjiku Kinyanjui, Stella Ivy Amaya and Barbara Modani Alwena, at the Milimani law court on February 27.

The CEO of Baracuda was released on a Sh100,000 cash bail as investigations continue, having been arrested by plain- clothes police at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on February 23 as he allegedly attempted to flee the country.

According to police statements Nation has been able to obtain, the recruitment and training of the staff by Baracuda started in early December last year.

According to a statement by Gabriel Wekesa (OB number 02/22/2/2017), for instance, Baracuda hired Duma Works which is a recruitment agency to advertise job vacancies. Duma Works has offices in Adams Arcade, Nairobi.

Word had already spread that a senior politician was behind the airline. “A few months before the interview rumour went round that a new airline belonging to ... (name withheld) is coming up,” the victim says in the statements.


Reportedly, Duma Works advertised for the positions online. “Duma Works advertised First Officer positions in December,” states the victim’s statements.

About three days later, the applicants were invited by Duma Works staff for interviews at its offices. Many of the applicants were former flight crew and some still are though on a freelance basis.

“We got interviewed by John Majiwa, Boddie Kimeria, Barbara Modani and Stella Ivy Amaya among others,” the statement reads.

“After the interviews, we got messages that same evening from Duma Works saying we have passed the interview and we were to go to Weston Hotel the following day (Saturday) for company orientation.”

According to the statement, when the successful applicants arrived at the hotel on Lang'ata Road, they were received by the “management.”

“They congratulated us and told us more about Baracuda. Majiwa introduced himself as the group managing director. He said Baracuda Hotel, Blue Sea Petroleum and Baracuda Airways are under him (and) the CEOs of those companies report to him and they want to build four four star hotels in Kenya. He said Baracuda has shareholders in Spain, Finland and UAE.”

Mr Wekesa states that even though rumours had started flying around that Baracuda was a scam, the fact that it had a licence from KCAA (KCAA/ASL/1668) and had trained the first group of four pilots in South Africa was enough to convince them otherwise. Some of the four who were trained are yet to get jobs and the Nation was informed by airport operators they have been hanging around the airports for freelance jobs.

The statement also claims the board members were well known people. The board chairman was introduced as Charles Kimeria, who was the chairman of 2007 Kibaki Tena resource mobilisation group.


Other board members were James Wachira who also sits in the LAPSSET Corridor Programme, Ms Faith King’ori who was previously a senior staff at the Kenya Revenue Authority and a Mr James Lwanya who is a businessman in the construction industry.  

During the orientation, the candidates were told that for their training for Boeing 737, they would pay Sh1.75 million each while Baracuda would also contribute the same amount for First Officer training.

During the orientation, the cabin crew candidates with experience were to pay Sh100,000 while those without cabin crew training had to part with Sh250,000.

It was during the orientation that the candidates were given offer letters. In the offer letters, pilots salary would be Sh450,000 a month, while flight pursers would earn Sh120,000 a month.

In addition, cabin crew were offered Sh90,000 a month while the sales and ticketing staff would be earning Sh60,000 every month.

“He (Mr Majiwa) said the Arab investors had ordered two aircraft from Bombadier Canada the latest model CS300 series. In Africa, only two airlines have ordered those aircraft – Air Tanzania and Rwandair.”

According to the statements, the company was also to buy a (Bombardier) CRJ700, Boeing 737-300 and 737-800. Besides, the candidates were shown the Baracuda prospectus showing company routes as well as employee handbook.

The orientation lasted four days though candidates were not accommodated at the hotel and instead were reporting daily at 9 am.

According to the statements, Baracuda had hired the services of Diamond Media which designed the staff uniform, aircraft livery which is a set of comprehensive insignia comprising colour, graphic and typographical identifiers which operators apply to their aircraft.


After the Christmas break, candidates resumed on January 4 for actual training. A senior foreign captain with several hours of flight time who has flown Ethiopian, Jetlink and Rwandair was brought after the Christmas break and was not amused that Baracuda was doing orientation and training at Weston Hotel and not their premises as is often the norm before going to the simulator.

He was also not amused that candidates were told that they would go to the Emirates Flight Training Academy, Al Maktoum International Dubai for ground school for 30 days and thereafter head to Spain for nine days on the simulator.

“This is not normal because everything is often done at one place, mainly the ground training school and Emirates Flight Training Academy is a world class training facility which offers both ground and the simulator,” the victims state in the statements.

Information on the Emirates Flight Training Academy website states that it has a capacity of 600 cadet pilots, four state-of-the-art flight simulators and eight training devices, an 1,800 metres length runway with air traffic control (ATC) tower and has had over 300 hours of flying experience.

“Designed to be the most advanced flight training academy in the world, its primary focus will be to attract and train airline cadets from across the globe. By incorporating basic flight training with airline-specific requirements, students at the Emirates Flight Training Academy will have the unique advantage of being introduced to airline operations from the very beginning of the course. Multi-Crew Cooperation, Advanced Jet Orientation and Line Oriented Flight Training all form part of this comprehensive approach to training. Emirates Flight Training Academy will equip cadets with all the required skills and knowledge and prepare them to transition to and serve as First Officers with international airlines,” the facility which also has state-of-the-art accommodation states on its website.  

Meanwhile, the cabin crew were to be trained at East African School of Aviation in Embakasi. The cadet pilots and first officers refused to go to East African School of Aviation “to be taught how to dress and serve passengers.”

This second batch did not go to the ground school neither were they introduced to a simulator as promised. By then many of them had paid up to Sh1.75 million to a Standard Chartered Bank account which the court has now frozen and then Mr Majiwa reportedly went underground.

The case will be mentioned on March 16. 

Read more here:

Allegiant Air flight aborts takeoff at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (KPIE)

A runway at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport was closed for an hour Saturday morning after an Allegiant Air flight aborted takeoff because of a mechanical problem that left behind debris from the aircraft.

The pilot of Flight 890 bound for Fort Wayne, Ind., initially reported to the tower that he thought he had blown a tire during takeoff shortly after 8 a.m., according to a recording of tower communications reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times. But rescue personnel called out to inspect the aircraft said the plane's tires were fine.

Allegiant Air confirmed the aborted takeoff and said the debris may have been related to an "internal failure" of one of the plane's engines.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 "experienced a maintenance issue during pre-takeoff roll," Allegiant said in a statement emailed to the Times. "The pilot aborted the takeoff and the aircraft returned to the gate where passengers deplaned. ... Our maintenance team is inspecting the aircraft to determine the cause."

The flight was delayed about four hours before passengers were able to depart, apparently on a different aircraft. Passengers were given a meal voucher and provided a $100 voucher for future travel on the airline.

Yvette Aehle, a spokeswoman for the airport, said it was unclear what kind of debris was left on the runway. But she said an hour's runway closure does not necessarily indicate a lot of debris on a runway that is over a mile long.

"It takes a long time to inspect it," she said.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant, which is responsible for 95 percent of passenger traffic at the Pinellas County airport, has been moving aggressively to replace and retire its fleet of aging MD-80 series aircraft. While the airline says the MD-80s are absolutely safe with proper maintenance, it has acknowledged they are prone to more mechanical difficulties that cause schedule delays.

The airline is in the process of buying 12 new Airbus aircraft in a deal that could be worth close to $1 billion as it addresses the reliability of its fleet of about 85 aircraft. Allegiant had previously always bought used aircraft at bargain prices, a key part of the low-cost airline business model.

But the carrier has suffered a series of public relations bruises in the past two years related to emergency landings and questions about its maintenance practices.

A Times analysis published in November found that Allegiant's planes were four times as likely to fail during flight as those operated by other major U.S. airlines in 2015.

Allegiant did not dispute the findings, though the airline said it had made strong improvements to address the reliability of its fleet.

Among the steps it took was replacing its management at the St. Pete-Clearwater airport after the airline's CEO, Maurice Gallagher Jr., said the company suffered a "bad summer" of 2015 with emergency landings and operational issues there.


Beechcraft 60 Duke, N39AG: Fatal accident occurred March 04, 2017 in Duette, Manatee County, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Tampa, Florida 
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Textron; Wichita, Kansas 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA119
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 04, 2017 in Duette, FL
Aircraft: BEECH B 60, registration: N39AG
Injuries: 2 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 March 4, 2017, about 1330 eastern standard time, a Beech B-60, N39AG, was destroyed by impact and a postcrash fire following an uncontrolled descent in Duette, Florida. The private pilot/owner and the flight instructor were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the instructional flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to friends and representatives of the pilot's family, the pilot recently purchased the airplane, and the purpose of the flight was to complete ground and flight training in the airplane to meet insurance requirements.

According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) and radar data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane departed Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) about 1240, and cancelled flight following services with ATC about 10 minutes later.

For about the next 30 minutes, radar data depicted an overlapping track of left and right 360-degree, and figure-eight turns consistent with airwork performed during a training or evaluation flight. The track was over a rural area northeast of SRQ and in the immediate vicinity of the accident site.

A family, whose farm was less than 1 mile from the accident site, witnessed the accident from their property, and was interviewed at their home; their statements were consistent throughout. The witnesses were familiar with airplanes and their engine sounds, and airplanes frequently flew and maneuvered over their property.

The witnesses said their attention was drawn to the airplane by its sound. The airplane sounded loud as if it was at "low" altitude, but the engine sound was smooth. They went outside and watched the airplane's flight, and its subsequent descent.

With a model of an airplane in his hand, one witness demonstrated an airplane in straight and level flight, going "kind of slow," as the nose gradually pitched up. He then demonstrated the airplane suddenly banking to one side, and entering a spiraling descent. He said the engine sound was smooth and continuous throughout, and the engine sound increased throughout the airplane's descent, until it disappeared from his view and he heard the sounds of impact. The witness added that as the airplane disappeared behind the trees and out of view, he "heard him give it gas," and described an engine sound increasing to very high rpm.

Two other members of the family provided nearly identical statements, and a fourth family member said he heard the airplane approach and all the way to ground contact, but did not see it. The witness, an engine mechanic, said the engine sounds were smooth and continuous throughout.

A group of motorcyclists were travelling on the state highway adjacent to the crash site when their attention was drawn to the airplane. They could not hear it over the sound of their motorcycles, but watched as the airplane departed straight and level flight in a near vertical, spiraling descent.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and multiengine land. He did not possess an instrument rating. The pilot's most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on April 4, 2016, and he reported 800 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The flight instructor held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for single engine, multiengine, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued October 6, 2014. The flight instructor reported 20,569 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The six-seat, twin-engine, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane was manufactured in 1977 and was equipped with two Lycoming 310-horsepower reciprocating engines. According to the airplane's maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was completed on March 2, 2017, at 3,271.6 total aircraft hours.

The 1350 automated weather observation at Lakeland Regional Airport (LAL), located 23 nautical miles north of the accident site, included clear skies, 10 statute miles visibility, and wind from 005° at 10 knots gusting to 20 knots. The temperature was 24° C, the dew point was 8° C, and the altimeter setting was 30.39 inches of mercury.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. Angularly-cut tree branches were observed in the trees above, as well as scattered on the ground. The airplane came to rest immediately adjacent to three craters which were each about 3 feet deep. The craters were spaced at a distance consistent with the nose, and both engines of the airplane. The postimpact fire consumed a majority of the airplane, including the cockpit instruments and switches. Seat belt use could not be confirmed, though a latched buckle was found in the area of the right seat. Flight control cable continuity was confirmed from the flight controls to the cockpit area. The flaps and landing gear were retracted. The trim actuators were within normal operating range.

The fuel selector handle panel in the cockpit was separated from its mounting structure. The left fuel selector handle was near the ON position. The left fuel selector valve cable was pulled out of the valve and the valve was in a non-operating position. The right fuel selector was in the ON position.

Both engines were partially separated from the airframe. The three propeller blades from each engine were found separated from their respective hubs in the impact craters. One of the left propeller blades exhibited a large impact to its leading edge and all blades exhibited similar bending and cambered side polishing.

The engines were examined at a recovery facility in Jacksonville, Florida. Both engines displayed significant impact and fire damage, and neither could be rotated by hand. The engine accessories were destroyed by impact and fire, and could not be tested. The fuel servos of each engine contained a small amount of fuel. Both engine oil sumps were consumed by fire.

The compressor housings of both the left and right engine turbochargers displayed radial scuff marks adjacent to their respective impellers. The nose of each engine starter displayed rotational scoring adjacent to the engine crankshaft starter gear.

Visual inspection of the engine drive trains, valve trains, and individual cylinders revealed signatures consistent with normal wear and lubrication.

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

UPDATE:  The Manatee County Sheriff's office has released the names of the victims of Saturday's Plane Crash in Duette in Northeastern Manatee county.

Detectives have tentatively identified the victims of plane crash as David B. Muchler, DOB 12/6/1958 and Robert “Bob” Redfern, DOB 12/2/1926. Muchler was from Raleigh N.C. while Redfern recently moved to Manatee County from Melbourne, FL.

DUETTE, Fla. -- Federal officials are investigating a deadly plane crash in east Manatee County.

"There was nothing left. The plane was completely melted down," says Duette resident David Hayman.

Hayman was outside his home near the intersection of SR-62 and FL-37 Saturday afternoon around 1:30pm when he says he saw a small plane flying just 1,000 feet in the air. The sounds caught his attention: a pop, crash, and an explosion. The plane crashed just hundreds of feet from his home.

"We were all sitting outside," explains Hayman. "We turned around the saw the plane just nose diving; just going straight down."

Hayman says he rushed over to the scene to help the two passengers, who both died in the crash.

"I ran in to help, but there was nothing left of the wreckage."

"It's a pretty burned out site," says Manatee County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Randy Warren. "It's the remains of a twin engine Beechcraft."

Deputies arrived to find land burning on both sides of SR-37 making it difficult to find the crashed plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration was on site investigating, but still hasn't identified the victims. The sheriff's office says even though the plane took off from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, the pilot and passenger may not be locals.

"We've also learned the plane was registered out of California," explains Warren. "It's possibly a leased aircraft from a company in California."

Officials with the Florida Fire Service struggled to put out about 30-acres of brush fires caused by the explosion

"It's a beautiful day out here today, and that's what makes it bad," says Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Patrick Mahoney. "The low humidity, the high winds."

Fire officials have since contained the affected areas.

Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board will be on scene on Sunday investigating what may have caused this crash.

Story and video:

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A small, twin engine plane crashed just off of State Road 37 in a wooded area of eastern Manatee County on Saturday.

A witness said he saw the plane “nosediving” to the ground, and by the time people made it to the wreckage, the area was on fire and there was little left of the aircraft.

Investigators tentatively identified the victims of the crash as David Muchler, 58, of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Robert Redfern, 90, of Manatee County, on Monday.

The plane took off from Dolphin Aviation on Saturday. A manager said he is aware two people used his facilities, but said they aren’t from the area and no one knew who they are.

Coming up with the name of the second victim and identifying the remains proved difficult for investigators.

“Well, this was a pretty gruesome crash scene, and that goes for the bodies, and so when you have a scene like this, you don’t have some of the things that you normally have to work with,” said Bristow.

Story and video:

DUETTE, Fla. (WFLA) —  Two people are dead after a twin-engine plane crashed into a wooded area in eastern Manatee County Saturday afternoon. The aircraft exploded on impact and caused a brush fire that damaged 30 acres.

According to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report the Beechcraft 60 Duke went down just before 1:30 pm near the intersection of Bradley Rd. and State Road 37.

David Hayman witnessed the fatal crash and called 9-1-1.

“We were all sitting outside and we just turned around and saw the plane just nosediving,” Hayman explained. “[It was] just going straight down; we heard an explosion right after and then I ran in there to [where it went down] to try and help but there was nothing left but wreckage.”

MCSO Public Information Officer Randy Warren said the aircraft departed from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport just after 1pm. Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration will try to determine what caused the plane to go down. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board will also be involved in the probe.

Approximately 25 first responders were dispatched to the scene to contain the fire. The identities of the deceased has not yet been released pending notification of next of kin.

“It was scary, you know,” Hayman said. “Everything was destroyed.”


DUETTE  --   Two people have been killed after a plane crashed Saturday afternoon in a wooded area of eastern Manatee County, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

At about 1:30 p.m., deputies were called to a report of a plane crash near State Road 37, just north of State Road 62.

The plane was destroyed, and there were no survivors of the crash, said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow. Two people are confirmed dead — the pilot and a passenger — but their identities have not been released.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be leading the investigation, and federal investigators have arrived at the scene, authorities said.

As a result of the plane crash, a wildfire erupted in the area, and S.R. 37 near S.R. 62 was closed.

Authorities said the Beechcraft 60 Duke took off from Sarasota Bradenton International Airport at about 1 p.m., but no flight plan had been filed.

At the height of the response, there were 25 to 30 first responders at the scene, according to Manatee County Public Safety Director Bob Smith

“Initially there was fire on both sides of the road that responders were working to put out to get to the wreckage,” Smith said.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to the scene of the crash moments after a witness who lives near the crash called 911.

David Hayman said he was taking a stroll in his backyard when he heard the plane and looked up to see that it nose-diving toward the ground.

“Next thing I knew, I just heard that explosion,” Hayman said.

Hayman said he ran toward the scene intending to help victims, but the wreckage instantly became engulfed in flames.

“But there was nothing left,” Hayman said. “The whole plane was melted down.”

He said he looked for the tail number, but there was nothing left.

Shortly before 6 p.m., state forestry officials said the wildfire had been 100 percent contained to 30 affected acres.


MANATEE Co., Fla. (WWSB) - A small plane crashed just north of State Road 62 in Duette on Saturday. There are no survivors, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The pilot and one passenger died in the crash at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Their identities have not been released. The plane departed from the Sarasota Bradenton Airport around 1:15 p.m.

The plane was found off State Route 37 just north of State Route 62 in a wooded area. The wreckage ignited a wildfire. SR 37 was closed most of the day as a result.

The NTSB has been notified and will be investigating the crash.

David Hayman saw the plane go down. "We just turned around and we saw the plane just nose diving, going straight down," he said. Next thing we knew, we heard that explosion right after. And I ran in to help, but there was nothing left of the wreckage."


DUETTE — At least two people are dead after a Beechcraft 60 Duke plane crash in Manatee County caused a major wildfire to break out Saturday afternoon.

The plane took off from Sarasota just before it crashed near State Road 37 north of State Road 62, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. Emergency responders found two bodies in the wreckage after the plane landed in a wooded area. They did not release the identities of the two people found dead.

A witness called 911 after seeing the crash around 1:30 p.m. 

Witnesses told detectives they saw the plane flying at low altitude before it crashed and burst into flames. It's unclear what caused the plane to go down.

The National Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive at the scene by 6 p.m., according to the Sheriff's Office. NTSB will lead the investigation.

By 5 p.m., fire officials said the 10-acre fire was about 70 percent contained.


A Beechcraft 60 Duke plane crashed Saturday afternoon off State Road 37 just north of State Road 62 in Manatee County, killing both occupants, according to authorities.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., deputies responded the crash and found the plane badly damaged. They were not certain how many passengers were on board. The plane reportedly had departed from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Its intended destination was not immediately clear.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified and is investigating the crash.

The crash caused a wildfire in the area and State Road 37 near State Road 62 is closed.

10News reporter Jonathan Petramala was on the scene as a witness described the crash.


MANATEE COUNTY, Fla - A Beechcraft 60 Duke plane has crashed in Manatee County. It happened at around 1:30 p.m. near State Road 36 north of State Road 62.

The twin-engine plane was badly damaged according to a release from the Manatee County Sheriff’s office.   It is unknown how many passengers were on the plane.

The crash caused a wildfire in the area.  State Road 37 near State Road 62 is now closed. Florida Forest Service says that the wildfire is now 70 percent contained at 10 acres.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is responding to the crash to investigate.