Thursday, June 22, 2017

Commercial jet service returning to Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport (KSBY)

Piedmont Airlines is bringing back commercial jet service to the Salisbury airport, a milestone the carrier's president hopes will mark the first of several upgrades at the 73-year-old facility.

The American Airlines subsidiary expects to begin transitioning from Dash 8-100 and 8-300 turboprop airplanes to Embraer-145 jets in August at the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport, Lyle Hogg said.

Initially, Piedmont's schedule will include just one jet flight out of Salisbury per day, likely the early morning service to Philadelphia, he said. The remaining flights should be given over to the faster, smoother jets by the end of 2018.

Piedmont is about at the halfway point with replacing its overall fleet of 46 aircraft from turboprops to jets. Many of the airplanes needed to be replaced because they were reaching the end of their life cycle, but another major motivation for the switch was improving the flyer experience, Hogg said.

"They seem to like the jet aircraft better," he said. "They vibrate less and they're quieter inside. They just equate it with a newer technology."

Commercial jet service was last available at the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport in January 2013, when Allegiant Air halted its weekly flights to Orlando. That service had lasted just less than a year.

Hogg announced the return of jet service at a gathering Thursday of local industry executives and political leaders. He also used the event, sponsored by Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development, to call on officials to modernize the airport that has served as Piedmont's headquarters since 1975.

The airport has "tremendous potential" to attract and retain employers, he said, but a "lack of investment" through the years has impeded the region's growth. He ticked off a list of what he sees as the facility's top three priorities: extending the main runway, obtaining city water service and handing off the responsibility for providing emergency services to the county.

“Now is the time we need to move on some of these initiatives," Hogg said.

Piedmont operates 270 flights a day to 58 airports, mostly along the East Coast.

Story and video:

Aircraft Owner Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion in Marshall County, Tennessee

NASHVILLE - The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to Wednesday’s guilty plea of Robert Johnston to tax evasion, a Class E felony.

Circuit Court Judge Forrest Durard, Jr. accepted Johnston’s guilty plea to one count of tax evasion. Judge Durard placed Johnston on one and a half years of probation and suspended his sentencing until December 21, 2018. A Marshall County Grand Jury previously indicted Johnston for tax evasion after he filed a false document with the Department when he registered his airplane.

“The Department of Revenue promotes voluntary taxpayer compliance by educating taxpayers, aggressively pursuing criminal sanctions and demanding accountability when taxpayers engage in fraudulent activity," Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano said. "This indictment underscores the Department's ongoing efforts to enforce Tennessee's tax laws."

The Department pursued this criminal case in cooperation with District Attorney Robert Carter’s office.  Citizens who suspect violations of Tennessee's revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hot line at (800) FRAUDTX (372-8389).

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department collects about 87 percent of total state revenue. During the 2016 fiscal year, it collected $13.5 billion in state taxes and fees and more than $2.6 billion in taxes and fees for local governments.  To learn more about the Department, visit

Five myths about air travel: Actually, flying is cheaper than ever — and it’s more fuel-efficient than driving

Airlines don’t just defy gravity; they also defy business norms. From the way they treat customers to the way ticket prices are determined to the blistering pace of change (the way we fly today is vastly different than even 10 years ago), the industry is shrouded in misunderstandings. As the summer travel season begins, here are five of the most notable.

Myth No. 1
Bigger planes mean lower fares.

It stands to reason that a greater supply of seats would help meet demand and lower prices. A 500-seat plane requires just as many pilots, gates, landings, air traffic controllers and dispatchers as a 50-seat plane, so the per-passenger cost should be lower. A 2009 Telegraph story about the first Airbus A380 to hold 850 people said that “low-cost mass transit” of this sort would be “reducing fare prices to passengers.” The New York Times has explained that tickets on smaller planes are more costly because “the higher cost of fuel and other expenses gets split among fewer passengers.”

The difficulty is that economies of scale don’t always work for airlines, because planes generally don’t increase in per-passenger efficiency as they grow larger. In fact, many of the most efficient planes of today are the smallest ones. At a transatlantic distance, a 525-seat Airbus A380 has an efficiency of 74 miles per gallon (mpg) per passenger, while the brand-new 168-seat Boeing 737 MAX 8 reaches 110 mpg per passenger.

Smaller, more efficient planes allow airlines to operate less expensive nonstop routes. Airport fees can account for hundreds of dollars of a long-haul fare, because these flights often operate between the busiest, highest-demand airports. Most travelers living outside the largest cities are forced to connect through bigger, more expensive airports despite having originated at the least expensive airports. This routing drives up their fares. With newer, long-range small planes, however, airlines can operate nonstop long-haul flights from smaller markets. The new Boeing 737 MAX 8, which began flying in May, allows a company such as Norwegian Airlines to fly profitably from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Hartford, Conn., or between Cork, Ireland, and Providence, R.I.

Myth No. 2
Flying is expensive.

Flying is certainly costly in absolute terms. A round-trip ticket to Europe during midsummer can easily be priced at more than $1,500, nearly 3 percent of the salary of someone considered middle class. Citing pressure from consumer advocacy groups, the Justice Department even began a probe in 2015 into whether U.S. airlines colluded to keep airfares high, an investigation it has since dropped.

But while flying might still be reserved for the middle and upper classes, it’s never been less expensive. In 1979, the average round-trip airfare in the United States was $617 (in 2016 dollars); today it’s down to $367. In 1974, the minimum legal price an airline could charge for a one-way ticket between New York and Los Angeles was $1,442 (in 2017 dollars), while today tickets between the two cities go for as little as $149.

Meanwhile, according to AAA, the average cost to drive per mile in 2016 was 60 cents, while flying typically sets us back between 10 and 15 cents per mile. In a 25 mpg car, driving from Washington to Chicago would cost $66 in gas alone, while airfares are available on the route for as little as $47. Flying might seem expensive when you’re paying $50 to $100 an hour to sit in a 17-inch-wide seat, but for what you’re actually buying — transportation from Point A to Point B — flying is competitive with the car, bus and train, especially on longer routes.

Myth No. 3
Flying is worse for the environment than driving.

Airplanes are undoubtedly gas guzzlers. An A380 burns a gallon of fuel for every 1.5 seconds in the air. Flying this plane from Dubai to Sydney requires more than 65,000 gallons of fuel — more than the average American uses in his or her lifetime. Jet fuel emits more carbon dioxide per gallon than car fuel, and contrails are believed to have a short-term negative impact on the environment. FiveThirtyEight argued that “every time you fly, you trash the planet,” but its analysis relied on statistics from a company that sells carbon offsets for flights — numbers that assume cars can reach 44 mpg, which is absurd. ThinkProgress went further: A piece that assumed two or three people are riding in every car on long journeys concluded that “flying is not greener than driving.”

What many statistics don’t account for, however, is just how many people airlines can pack into their planes. Lufthansa’s 747-8 seats 364 passengers. On a per-passenger basis, its flight from Frankfurt to Washington requires 65 gallons of fuel — not enough to get an SUV from D.C. to Denver. That plane averages 89 mpg per passenger, far higher than even the most efficient hybrid cars. If you have to choose between driving and flying, the plane is almost always the greener option. And to save money on gas, planes are becoming more energy efficient with each iteration while carriers work to implement the use of biofuels to further reduce emissions.

Myth No. 4
Merger mania is bad news for travelers.

Before the turn of the century, the big three U.S. airlines — United, Delta and American — were eight separate carriers. In the past few decades, we’ve seen an intense consolidation of the industry, most recently with the merger of US Airways and American Airlines. The result is an oligopoly. Time magazine has argued that mergers are unquestionably bad for consumers, while the Daily Beast even blamed the recent United Airlines “dragging” incident on this consolidation.

Yet this unfortunate situation is also a result of something positive: aggressive competition. After Southwest, the first low-cost carrier, found success, copycats took note. Virgin America, Allegiant Air, JetBlue and Frontier Airlines were all founded as low-cost carriers since 1990, and others such as Spirit Airlines have restructured into a low-cost model. Abroad, Norwegian Airlines, Wow Air and Eurowings have launched cheap trans-Atlantic operations , and AirAsia X will start crossing the Pacific to Honolulu late this month. The traditional U.S. airlines had trouble competing against these price-conscious companies.

The competitive advantage today of the big three U.S. airlines is their route networks, which allow them to serve smaller cities. Delta, for instance, flies to more than 200 airports in the United States — in places like Billings, Mont. The mergers let a traveler in Key West, Fla., fly to Anchorage, Alaska, with just one connection. With prices as low as ever, this ability to traverse the country, from places big and small, surely is not bad for consumers.

Myth No. 5
The best flight path is the shortest distance.

If you’ve flown overseas, you’ve seen the maps that show your plane’s route arcing dramatically north or south of the destination. This is actually a direct route in disguise. When a curved image such as a globe is fitted onto a flat plane such as a map, it creates a distortion; the shortest route between two points far north of the equator visually curves north. People explaining this phenomenon often say the plane’s route follows the shortest distance. “Flight-paths such as Berlin-Reykjavik-Boston are reasonably direct,” argued the Economist. As the Independent put it, “The shortest path between two points on the surface of the planet” is what steers a Copenhagen-to-Los Angeles flight “west-north-west, not west-south-west.”

That’s not quite right. What truly determines a flight path is cost: Every minute of additional flight time on a large jet costs an airline hundreds of dollars, so routes generally correspond with the shortest overall flight time, which is not always the shortest distance. Air India’s flight from Delhi to San Francisco used to fly a direct route, taking it north over Russia, above Norway, across Greenland, then down over Canada to its destination. This route clocked in at roughly 8,600 miles. However, wind on Earth flows from west to east, so westbound flights take longer. Last fall, Air India started using a new route for this flight. While adding 900 miles of distance by traveling eastbound across China and the Pacific Ocean rather than westbound, Air India now saves more than $10,000 in fuel and two hours of flight time. Most examples of wind affecting flight paths aren’t nearly as drastic, but every route deviates at least slightly from direct to minimize costs because of wind.

Organizers Tackle Quiet Skies: Citizens Plan Strategies to Change Flight Path

Ray Wojnar, a retired airline pilot, displays attention-grabbing homemade signs designed to encourage mountain residents to sign petitions objecting to the new Federal Aviation Administration flight paths above Lake Arrowhead.

To effectively and efficiently work toward changes in the airplane flight path over Lake Arrowhead, 15 notable community leaders gathered on June 20 to coordinate their efforts.

The first priority on the list is to obtain signatures on petitions that will be delivered to elected officials. Dubbed the National Quiet Skies Petition, it represents individuals requesting that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other agencies take appropriate action to change the flight patterns.

At the time of Tuesday’s meeting, a few individuals had gathered 402 signatures. Glenn Thompson attended two meetings — Rotary and the Board of Realtors — Wednesday morning, spoke about the issues and gained another 78 signatures, bringing the total to 480. That is nearly halfway to the goal of obtaining at least 1,000 signatures to deliver to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. Having more signatures should prove to be more effective and influential, the group agreed.

A number of individuals will be circulating the petitions via friends, neighbors, door-to-door and through home owners associations. With approval from John Wick, general manager of Lake Arrowhead Village, willing businesses may participate by having petitions on hand in shops and offices.

For example, the Board of Realtors accepted a banner to place outside the office on the second level of Lake Arrowhead Village Building O. Office staff will provide petitions and will gather signatures at that location. ReMax offices are doing likewise.

Hugh Bialecki recommended that other volunteers can establish tables at concerts and various other events for collecting signatures. David Caine, who has been researching the issues extensively, reminded people to write legibly. E-mail addresses that are furnished will be used to provide updated information to interested signers. The addresses will be respected and not given to anyone other than the legislators who receive copies of the petitions.

All petitions will be retained for documentation if requested by a government agency.

The second priority identified by this Quiet Skies Group is education of the community. To that end, James Sutton has created a website, which is currently live at The site will be updated and changed continually to improve it along the way. This is where residents can examine several maps that show flight path alternatives, along with FAA information that is relevant.

Caine emphasized that this is a non-partisan issue. “It is not a Republican or Democrat issue; it is a quality-of-life issue.”

It also is not an issue of Lake Arrowhead versus Running Springs, Caine explained. The objective is not to push the flight path away from Lake Arrowhead in a manner that will create noise and nuisance for Running Springs residents. The preferred flight path should run between the “back yards” of both communities, over Heaps Peak and land owned by the Bureau of Land Management that is not occupied.

In fact, Caine cited an example of another community that lost its case in court because the plaintiffs were just trying to shift the flight path from their town to another community.

Another approach to fighting the issue is writing letters to many of the communities’ elected officials. Bialecki sent nine letters, starting with a basic one that Caine drafted, and then personalizing it with his background and motivations for desiring to keep Lake Arrowhead a place of relaxation, enjoyment and quiet away from the every-day noise of the greater Los Angeles area.

Ray Wojnar, a retired pilot, briefed the group on his experience flying into Ontario International Airport. He covered topics such as the Ontario landing schedules, planes coming from the north, comparing the old route with the new route, and procedures whereby pilots can ask for shortcuts, by-passing corners and saving mileage and time, with safety as the primary motive.

Other attendees at Tuesday’s meeting contributed their knowledge and experience generously with the group, and accepted various responsibilities toward attaining goals by reaching out to the public. One additional message they will convey: It won’t be paradise if you’re running planes through it.

Woodstock Airport (FL86) rezoning public meeting Tuesday on Pine Island

A public meeting will be held about Woodstock Airport rezoning for Mosquito Control Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. at the Pine Island Fire Control District Station #1, 5700 Pine Island Road, Bokeelia, to provide a general overview of the proposed Rezoning Application to document the existing private aircraft landing facility known as the Woodstock Airport FL86 and ancillary uses.

The public meeting will be held by Morris-Depew Associates and the Lee County Mosquito Control District to generally discuss the proposed rezoning.

American Airlines CEO ‘Not Happy’ About Qatar Airways Plan to Buy 10% Stake: Gulf airline intends to buy shares on the open market—an approach American Airlines CEO calls ‘puzzling and strange’

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall and  Susan Carey
Updated June 22, 2017 1:30 p.m. ET

Government-owned Qatar Airways said it aims to buy as much as 10% of American Airlines Group Inc.  —a brash attempt by the fast-growing Middle East carrier to push its way into the U.S. amid political upheaval back home.

American said Qatar Airways informed it of an intention to buy at least $808 million of its stock on the open market, or roughly 16.7 million shares at Wednesday’s closing price. American, the world’s largest airline by traffic and revenue, has a market value of roughly $24 billion.

American Chief Executive Doug Parker, in an interview Thursday, said Qatar Airways approached the airline in early June about the investment. He said he was “not happy” about the prospect and found the approach “puzzling and strange.”

In early afternoon trading, American Airlines shares were trading up 54 cents, or 1.1%, at $48.97.

In a filing early Thursday, American said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker told it of the plan to acquire up to a 10% stake. In a separate statement, Qatar Airways said it would seek to build a 4.75% stake initially, then add to that after approval from American’s board and U.S. regulators. It said it sees American as a “strong investment opportunity” and intends its investment to be a “passive position.”

Foreign ownership stakes in U.S. airlines are relatively rare but not unprecedented. U.S. law allows foreigners to hold up to 25% of voting shares and 49% economic interest in a U.S airline. British Airways once held a 25% stake in US Airways. British entrepreneur Richard Branson owned a large minority stake in Virgin America.

Qatar’s proposed investment in American would be more unusual: The two have been on opposite sides of a bitter air-industry fight. U.S. and European carriers have accused Qatar Airways and two other Gulf airlines, Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways, of benefiting from government ownership and subsidies. The fast-growing Gulf carriers have denied that.

The deal could potentially face review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., according to a former government official that had responsibilities with it. CFIUS is a secretive, multi-agency body led by the Treasury Department that can recommend the president block foreign deals on national security grounds.

If the shareholder agreement backs up Qatar Airways’ statement that it intends to be a passive investor, then the deal probably wouldn’t come under CFIUS review, the former official said. But if the 10% stake is tied to more shareholder rights than a passive agreement, then CFIUS would probably look at it, the person said. A spokesman for the Treasury declined to comment.

American, based in Fort Worth, Texas, said it hadn’t sought the investment and that the proposed move wouldn’t affect its management or strategic direction. American said it also wouldn’t stop the airline from pursuing its subsidy claim against the Persian Gulf carriers.

American’s incorporation rules prohibit anyone from acquiring 4.75% or higher in the airline without board approval. American said Qatar has filed for separate antitrust approval with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.

On the surface, the move echoes Qatar Airways’ investment in British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA. Qatar Airways initially acquired 9.9% in IAG in 2015, before raising its stake to about 20% in several share purchases. While it hasn’t interfered with running the airline or taken a board seat, cooperation between Qatar Airways and British Airways has blossomed.

At 20 years old, Qatar Airways is one of the world’s fastest-growing air carriers. Mr. Al Baker has raised Qatar Airways’ profile with sponsorship deals, including with soccer club FC Barcelona and the 2018 and 2022 soccer World Cups. It prides itself on lavishing amenities on passengers, and for its position in the elite club of 5-star-rated airlines, the top level in the Skytrax ranking system.

Qatar Airways has taken stakes in other airlines including South America’s LATAM Airlines Group. It also is taking a stake in Italy’s Meridiana and has said it wanted to set up a carrier in India.

“It’s a strategic investment” in the U.S. market, said Daniel McKenzie, an analyst at Buckingham Research Group. The U.S. is Qatar’s top destination and accounts for 8% of its total flying, he said.

The disclosure comes as the nation of Qatar, a crucial U.S. ally in the Middle East and host to a major overseas military base, is coping with an economic blockade levied earlier this month by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

Those countries cut diplomatic and transport links to Qatar, accusing it of supporting Islamist groups and extremists in the region. Doha denies that it supports extremists. President Donald Trump seemed to support the blockade on Twitter, though the State Department has since asked Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. to provide evidence of its charges. Mr. Al Baker criticized Mr. Trump for seeming to take sides in the dispute.

The blockade has hit Qatar Airways hard. It relies heavily on Persian Gulf passengers traveling through its hub in Doha, Qatar. After the imposition of the blockade, Mr. Al Baker said traffic would suffer but he saw it as an opportunity to push growth in other markets.

The move on American Airlines could have broader strategic benefits for the tiny Persian Gulf emirate amid the standoff. It has long aligned itself against its much bigger neighbor, Saudi Arabia, in many of the region’s economic, political and military conflicts. But it has balanced that with an outsize global diplomacy role, advertising itself to the U.S. and others as an honest broker in some regional crises. It also hosts the U.S. military at the sprawling Al Udeid Air Base, outside Doha, home to the biggest U.S. military presence in the region.

Amid Qatar’s worsening tensions with Saudi Arabia, a big U.S. investment could help solidify its alliance with the U.S., said Hunter Keay, an analyst at Wolfe Research. Shortly after the blockade went into effect, Qatar agreed to buy about $12 billion of combat planes from Boeing Co.

A minority stake in American “intertwines Qatar with U.S. interests a bit more,” Mr. Keay said.

American’s Mr. Parker said Mr. Al Baker approached him at an airline industry meeting in Cancun, Mexico, earlier this month. That meeting was held between June 4 and June 6. Saudi Arabia and its allies unveiled its blockade on Qatar on June 5. Mr. Parker called the meeting a “short, private conversation.”

The investment could drive a wedge between Qatar and its other big Persian Gulf antagonist, the U.A.E. So far, Qatar Airways has moved in lockstep with two big carriers based in the U.A.E., Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways, in the tussle over subsidies.

American Airlines, as of April filings, had five shareholders above the 4.75% threshold, including Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which has a 10% stake. American has had a run of strong profits in recent years and successfully managed its 2013 merger with US Airways Group Inc. Mr. Buffett recently rewarded the U.S. industry’s improving fortunes, also taking stakes in Delta, United and Southwest Airlines Co.

American’s Mr. Parker said he is “always excited to hear that people believe American is a great investment.” American continues to be dead set on convincing the U.S. government that state support for Qatar Airways and the two other large Gulf airlines is hurting the U.S. industry and American jobs, he said.

The proposed investment “is confusing to our team and we don’t like that,” Mr. Parker said.

—Doug Cameron, Imani Moise and Nico Parasie contributed to this article.

Original article can be found here:

Letter: Current Teterboro Airport (KTEB) flight path still dangerous

A recent article about the noise, pollution and public safety issues involving Teterboro Airport omitted some important facts. Although the story accurately stated that a large crowd of area residents attended a Federal Aviation Administration recent hearing in Hackensack, it failed to hold FAA officials accountable for scrapping the trial of a much better and safer Alternative Flight Path than the current system in place.

The story left many readers believing that the alternate path had been given a fair trial by the FAA. This is completely false. Many residents believe the exact opposite – that it was set up to fail. Here’s why.

The vast majority of the jets that use Teterboro land with the help of a Flight Management System that guides them along the current flight path following a charted course. But pilots using the new alternate flight path had a much more difficult challenge. They couldn’t use their FMS without manually entering longitude/latitude coordinates because the FAA didn’t provide them. So these pilots had to land “on their own” without using their automated FMS equipment.

With an obstacle like that, no one should be surprised that just one quarter of one percent of the 90,000 flights in and out of Teterboro during this six-month “trial” actually tried the new alternate path. This is why many people believe this entire process was essentially a smokescreen to protect the status quo.

We do not accept the FAA explanation, nor the noise, pollution and flat out danger of the current flight path that brings about 500 planes dangerously close to high-rise buildings on Prospect Avenue and the ever-expanding Hackensack University Medical Center every single day. Imagine the carnage and loss of life that would result if a plane crashed into one of these tall buildings, just as one crashed into an empty smaller building a few weeks ago. We know there is a better, safer way and it deserves a fair trial by the FAA.

John Labrosse

Hackensack, June 19

Kathy Canestrino

Hackensack, June 19

The writers are the mayor and deputy mayor of the City of Hackensack.

Think Your Flight Is Late Now? Wait Until There's No Pilot; It could become an existential crisis if someone doesn't quickly find a solution

From the viral stories about disasters in airline customer relations, it can be hard to find good news about the industry. There has been some, like the coming return of supersonic flights that could cut travel time by half, or the development of comfortable middle seats.

Now we have news out of this week's Paris Air Show that is neither about PR disasters, mistreatment of customers, or good. Instead, a study from CAE, a Canadian firm that trains airline personnel around the world, says the industry faces an oncoming pilot shortage. The only people who are capable of controlling a plane to your destination may not be available when you need them.

The problem is the long-range -- 10 year -- lack of a sufficient development funnel. There aren't enough people getting trained now to replace all the pilots who will be retiring. Specifically, CAE estimates that the industry will need 255,000 airline pilots, or 70 new pilots a day and will also need to turn 180,000 first officers into captains.

Increased demand will drive the need. The report estimates that the number of annual passenger trips will grow from the current 3.2 billion to 4.8 billion. The number of commercial aircraft will rise from 25,000 today to 37,000 in the next decade. As planes become larger and run longer routes, there's a need for additional relief pilots. And given a mandatory retirement age of 65, about 105,000 pilots will have retired over the next ten years (with North America particularly hard hit because the last big recruitment binge here ended in the 1990s).

Pilots have come from three traditional sources, according to CAE: universities, military, and business aviation; regional flight clubs and schools; and airline-focused training academies. But, the number of potential pilots coming from the first two categories declined by 10 percent over the last four years. Then there's a much higher attenuation, with few people moving into pilot positions.

Granted, CAE is in the business of training people, including pilots, for the airlines, so they do have an interest in stating the problem and suggesting a particular solution. But the numbers do suggest a real looming problem.

There may be additional indirect issues for those of us in the passenger cabins. The airlines will have to convince people to become pilots, which could mean more pressure on pay levels and benefits, eventually translating into more expensive tickets.

The good news is that if you've wanted a change in careers, you may have an option you'd never before considered. Clear sailing, my friends.

Original article can be found here:

American Airlines, Airbus A320: Incident occurred June 21, 2017 at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (KCLT), North Carolina

An American Airlines flight circled the Davidson County area for more than three hours Wednesday night after the flight crew discovered a mechanical problem.

The Federal Aviation Administration sent FOX8 the following statement:

“American Airlines Flight 730, an Airbus 330, departed Charlotte Douglas International Airport for London Heathrow Airport tonight at about 7 p.m. The crew reported a possible issue with the airplane’s flaps and the flight is returning to Charlotte. It is currently burning off fuel and is scheduled to land at approximately 11 p.m. The FAA will investigate.”

FlightAware showed that the plane flew into southeastern Virginia, turned around, came back into North Carolina and began circling the Davidson County area. As of 10:55 p.m., FlightAware shows the plane as still circling.

Kent Powell, with American Airlines, said there are 258 passengers and 16 crew members on board.

An American Airlines flight from Charlotte to London was forced to circle the Winston-Salem area for three hours Wednesday night after a mechanical problem.

The flight later re-landed safely at Charlotte Douglas International Airport after burning off fuel on the loops that area residents noticed.

An American Airlines spokesman said the problem was discovered after takeoff of Flight 730, which carried 258 passengers and 16 crew members. The Federal Aviation Administration told TV station WGHP the issue was with the airplane’s flaps.

The Airbus A330 left Charlotte bound for London’s Heathrow Airport at about 7 p.m. Wednesday and was scheduled to return to Charlotte Douglas at about 11 p.m.

“The A330 aircraft had to burn off fuel as to not land overweight when they returned to CLT,” American spokeswoman Katie Cody said by email Thursday. “It landed safely but did cancel. We accommodated passengers in hotels and rebooked them as quickly as possible.”

Capt. Lester Powell retires same day Air Labrador declared to be no more

'I went down with the ship': Labrador pilot hangs up headset after 44-year career

Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster greeted her father, Lester Powell, at the Air Labrador hangar with balloons and champagne to celebrate his 44-year career as a pilot. 

Capt. Lester Powell flew his last run June 16, after logging more than 45,000 hours as a pilot. 

The Labrador pilot ended a 44-year long career with Air Labrador the same day the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies, Innu Development Limited Partnership and PAL Airlines announced a new airline, Air Borealis, is taking over flights to coastal Labrador.

Powell's daughter, Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster, greeted him at the Air Labrador hangar with balloons and a bottle of champagne to celebrate the milestone.

"He is leaving a tremendous, tremendous legacy on what he has done for the people of Labrador, all the way from Nain down to the Quebec border," Dempster said in an interview with CBC's Labrador Morning.

Sad to see Air Labrador go

Powell admitted leaving his career of 44 years as a pilot is bittersweet, adding it's sad to see Air Labrador go.

"I went down with the ship, as they say, with this company that I worked with for 44 years," he said.

"So I said, 'I might as well call it off.'"

Dempster said her father always dreamed of flying the mail, which had been delivered by marine coastal boat when he was growing up in Charlottetown on Labrador's south coast.

After training to be a pilot, Powell worked for Labrador Airways, a predecessor to Air Labrador. He flew a Cessna 180 to deliver first-class mail from Nain to all points south to Henley Harbour.

As an aviation family, Dempster said six of her seven brothers became pilots thanks to their father being such an icon.

He's flown more than 36,000 hours with the Twin Otter alone and completed more than a thousand medevac flights during his 44-year career.

Dempster said it wasn't unusual to see three planes out on the ice in the Charlottetown harbour being flown by her brothers in the 1970s.


Flying into remote communities

While many of Powell's colleagues moved onto flying bigger planes, Dempster said her father was happy to be "scanning the horizons of the sky of the Big Land."

In the early days, Powell says, flying could be rough without having navigational equipment, like GPS, that newer airplanes have.

"When you've flown in as much weather — and often without [instrument flight rules and] things like that — and you're able to hang up your headset and still be here and be safe, it's worth celebrating," Dempster said.

Before gravel airstrips were built, Powell used to fly into remote communities by using floats on water or skis on ice, remembering how torches were used to light up ice airstrips at night so he could land.

Dempster said her father pushed the limits to get into communities where "people's lives were hung in the balance" if there was an accident or someone was about to have a baby.

"Someone was watching out for my dad over the four decades because many times he was called out in extremely bad weather and delivered a patient, saved a life, maybe put his own at risk a lot," she said.

A good run

Before leaving the tarmac at the Goose Bay airport, a fire truck doused Powell and another pilot, Romain Butler, who also retired from Air Labrador.

"We've had a lot of good years, a real good run," Powell said. "We've had rough times up and down, but it was a good airline."

Dripping wet, and wiping his glasses, Powell said he didn't expect to get the celebratory spray-down while he received heartfelt handshakes and hugs on the occasion of his retirement.

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, PT-CHT, Aeroclube de Campinas: Fatal accident occurred April 28, 2017 in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Piloto Bruno Henrique morreu no acidente em Itapira
Flight Instructor

O aluno Thiago Zvolanek
Pilot Under Instruction

NTSB Identification: ERA17WA179
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Friday, April 28, 2017 in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Aircraft: PIPER PA30, registration:
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On April 28, 2017, about 1930 coordinated universal time, a Piper PA30, Brazilian registration PT-CHT, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during an instructional flight near Sao Paulo, Brazil. The pilot and copilot were fatally injured. The flight departed Amaris, Brazil, and was conducted under Brazilian flight regulations.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Aeronautical Accident Prevention and Investigation Center of Brazil.

Further information can be obtained from:

Aeronautical Accident Prevention and Investigation Center

Investigation Division
Brasilia-DF, Brazil 71.615-600
Tel: (55-61) 3364-8812

This report is for informational purposes, and only contains information released by the Brazilian Government.

A Polícia Civil de Itapira (SP) confirmou, nesta terça-feira (2), que instaurou um inquérito para apurar as causas do acidente com um avião bimotor no último sábado (29). O voo era de instrução e tinha decolado do Aeroclube de Campinas (SP), na sexta (28). Instrutor e aluno morreram.

O inquerito policial foi aberto no 2º Distrito Policial de Itapira. O delegado Anderson Lima, titular da Delegacia de Polícia da cidade, informou ao G1 que as pessoas que prestaram os primeiros socorros no local foram intimadas a prestar depoimento.

Segundo Lima, o Aeroclube de Campinas foi oficiado para apresentar toda a documentação pertinente ao voo, ao treinamento, à manutenção e ao registro de segurança da aeronave.

Em nota, a Secretaria de Segurança Pública (SSP) do estado informou que o local do acidente foi periciado e a polícia aguarda o resultado dos laudos.

O responsável pela comunicação do aeroclube, Márcio Doná, disse ao G1, nesta terça, que ainda não recebeu o ofício da Polícia Civil. No entanto, por protocolo, as documentações necessárias para a investigação já foram separadas, segundo ele.

"É de interesse nosso que seja apurado absolutamente tudo, inclusive em termos de responsabilidades. Por cautela, [o aeroclube] já guardou a aeronave, já pediu perícia em combustível, dentro do protocolo de segurança", afirma Doná, que ressaltou que também está sendo feita uma apuração interna sobre o ocorrido.

Queda na mata

O avião saiu na sexta do Aeroclube de Campinas, no Aeroporto dos Amarais, e os destroços foram encontrados quase 16 horas depois em uma área de mata na zona rural de Itapira, no sábado. O bimotor modelo PA-30 perdeu contato com a base na tarde de sexta, por volta das 16h.

Após um aviso da aeronáutica sobre um alerta de impacto no avião, iniciaram-se as buscas. Segundo o Corpo de Bombeiros, por volta das 9h foram localizados os corpos das vítimas no local.

Estavam na aeronave o piloto Bruno Henrique, de 28 anos, morador de Cosmópolis (SP) e instrutor com pelo menos duas mil horas de voo; e o aluno Thiago Zvolanek, 22 anos, de Campinas, que fez uma postagem em rede social quando ainda estava no aeroporto, antes do acidente.

Cenipa apura

O Centro de Investigação e Prevenção de Acidentes Aeronáuticos (Cenipa) iniciou, no sábado, as apurações sobre o que provocou a queda. Segundo a assessoria do Cenipa, houve recolhimento de destroços e avaliação da área onde houve o acidente ainda no sábado.

O Aeroclube de Campinas havia informado no fim da manhã desta terça que não recebeu um ofício do Cenipa sobre a investigação. À tarde, no entanto, a associação civil disse que recebeu representantes do Cenipa e entregou a documentação referente à aeronave, ao piloto instrutor e ao aluno, que morreram.

O Cenipa informou ao G1, nesta terça, que a investigação é feita de maneira reservada. O setor de imprensa ressaltou, ainda, que essa investigação não tem a finalidade de indiciar e apresentar culpados, mas de encontrar os fatores que contribuíram para o acidente e, assim, elaborar recomendações de segurança para evitar ocorrências semelhantes no futuro.

Não há prazo para a conclusão das investigações, mas, quando o processo for finalizado, o relatório final será divulgado no site do Cenipa.

A Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (Anac) informou à EPTV, afiliada da TV Globo, que a situação para voo e a manutenção da aeronave estavam dia, uma vez que o certificado de aeronavegabilidade só venceria em novembro de 2020. Já a inspeção anual de manutenção teria validade até outubro.

Beech Beechjet 400, N109NS: Incident occurred June 20, 2017 at Bradley International Airport (KBDL), Windsor Locks, Hartford County, Connecticut

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Windsor Locks, Connecticut

Aircraft on startup, engine caught fire.

Date: 20-JUN-17
Time: 16:00:00Z
Regis#: N109NS
Aircraft Make: RAYTHEON
Aircraft Model: 400
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: STANDING (STD)

Globe GC-1B Swift, N3357K: Incident occurred June 21, 2017 at Scappoose Industrial Airpark (KSPB), Columbia County, Oregon

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Oregon

Aircraft landed gear up.

Date: 21-JUN-17
Time: 16:30:00Z
Regis#: N3357K
Aircraft Make: GLOBE
Aircraft Model: GC1B
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

Robinson R22 BETA, N901KC, Nelson Flyers Inc: Accident occurred June 21, 2017 in Matagorda, Texas

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Matagorda, TX
Accident Number: GAA17CA356
Date & Time: 06/21/2017, 1130 CDT
Registration: N901KC
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural


The pilot of the helicopter reported that, while flying downwind during rice field pollination operations, he "lost control" of the helicopter. The helicopter impacted the ground and rolled onto its right side.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tail boom.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

The automated weather observation station located about 12 miles west of the accident site reported that, about 37 minutes before the accident, the wind was from 360° at 19 knots, gusting 26 knots. The same weather observation station reported that, about 23 minutes after the accident, the wind was from 360° at 18 knots, gusting 26 knots.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain helicopter control during an agricultural flight in gusting wind conditions. 


Performance/control parameters - Not attained/maintained (Cause)
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Gusts - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying

Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 57, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/08/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/20/2017
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 283.2 hours (Total, all aircraft), 217.9 hours (Total, this make and model), 219.1 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 24.7 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 21.9 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1.2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: ROBINSON HELICOPTER
Registration: N901KC
Model/Series: R22
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1990
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 1450
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/14/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1370 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3477 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: O-320-B2C
Registered Owner: NELSON FLYERS INC
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPSX, 15 ft msl
Observation Time: 1653 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 268°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 21°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 18 knots/ 26 knots, 360°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.73 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Nelson Flyers, TX
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Matagorda, TX
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1015 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries:1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 28.733056, -96.031111 (est)

Eurocopter EC-130B-4 (AS-350B-4), N153GC: Accident occurred May 25, 2017 in Peach Springs, Mohave County, Arizona

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA344 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, May 25, 2017 in Peach Springs, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/22/2017
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER EC130, registration: N153GC
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot of the helicopter reported that, after fueling the helicopter with the engine running, the ground crewman opened the front passenger door on the opposite side from the pilot. Upon unlatching the door, the ground crewman released the door, and it was blown open. The door separated from the door strut and struck the main rotor, damaging the blades.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor blades.
The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The ground crewman’s failure to hold onto the passenger door while the main rotor was still rotating, which resulted in the door separating from the helicopter and damaging the main rotor.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Registered Owner: XEBEC LLC

Operator Does Business As: Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA344

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, May 25, 2017 in Peach Springs, AZ
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER EC130, registration: N153GC
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot of the helicopter reported that, after fueling the helicopter with the engine running, the ground crewman opened the front passenger door on the opposite side from the pilot. Upon unlatching the door, the ground crewman released the door, and it was blown open. The door separated from the door strut, and struck the main rotor damaging the blades.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor blades.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

Aviation Industry Seeks to Strengthen Cybersecurity Defenses: Boeing, Airbus support drive to provide real-time warnings to pilots when hackers may be active

The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor
Updated June 22, 2017 3:19 a.m. ET

LE BOURGET, France—Escalating concerns about cyberthreats are prompting the aviation industry to devise an unlikely new safeguard: real-time warnings to pilots about potential hacking attempts.

Work to develop such systems, which have prompted disagreements between some in the industry, are part of separate efforts by France’s Thales SA,  Raytheon Co. and other companies to expand cyber protections for aircraft. Airbus SE and Boeing Co. support the pilot-alerting goal, reflecting a desire to try new things as global threats intensify and evolve.

But interviews at the Paris Air Show showed there isn’t an industrywide consensus on the concept, a version of which is under development and could start to be tested on some commercial aircraft by late 2018. Large suppliers such as Honeywell International Inc. and Rockwell Collins Inc. —which provide cockpit equipment for many airliners—are skeptical about the need for such proposed capabilities.

The debate isn’t likely to affect cybersecurity systems on today’s airliners or even those built in the next few years, though it could impact how the digital cores of future models will be protected.

Proponents of alerting see advanced systems on aircraft as being able to identify attempted or successful cyberintrusions, with the data feeding into artificial intelligence features powerful and adaptable enough to automatically respond to the hazard.

“The conventional ways by which we’ve protected ourselves in cyber may need to change” as threats evolve, said Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s chief technology officer.

Allan McArtor, chairman of the Airbus unit that operates in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, also sees a need for greater industry sophistication in battling potential cyberthreats. “We haven’t been able to make a very convincing argument” to the public about why aircraft are safe from outside intrusion, he said. What is missing, he added, is “a convincing cyberthreat architecture that allows us to be aware of attacks” when they take place, including warnings going directly to the cockpit.

The push for new approaches generally tracks recommendations from an earlier U.S. government-backed study group. The group of experts also concluded that airline vulnerabilities extend to maintenance operations that can allow outsiders to gain unauthorized access to aircraft systems.

In September, the Federal Aviation Administration’s top technical advisory group adopted language seeking to ensure that cybersecurity protections would be incorporated into all future industry standards—affecting everything from aircraft design to flight operations to maintenance practices.

Thales decided years ago that it wasn’t sufficient to merely devise elaborate protections. “We must have some real-time capabilities to detect and respond” if an intrusion is under way, said Thomas Hutin, one of the company’s top cybersecurity officials. He wouldn’t reveal which airline signed up to participate in the testing phase, but the goal is to send a real-time alert and have crew members react based on “a very detailed set of procedures” that they were trained to use.

Carl Esposito, president of Honeywell’s Electronics Solutions Business unit, sees no need for such drills, pointing to the extraordinary rigor and care avionics suppliers use in writing code. Existing safety systems are effectively impenetrable from the outside, he said, because of “encryption, security keys and end-to-end verification” of users already embedded in the software. Flight-control applications are separated from cabin-entertainment data with a physical gap between their respective power grids. In the event a warning comes to the cockpit, he maintained, aviators aren’t cybersecurity experts so “what could the pilots do about it anyway?”

These different assessments of the industry’s cyber vulnerabilities—and what leaders should do combat future attacks—partly reflects the uncertain nature of threats. Industry officials agree there hasn’t been a single verified instance of safety systems being breached on a large commercial jetliner. But at the same time, experts’ warnings are getting louder about the dangers of hackers finding a vulnerability in aviation protections.

Raytheon, which over the past decade has bulked up its cybersecurity business to more than $1 billion a year in revenue, hopes to start designing what could be a cyber warning system intended for cockpits in both commercial jets and military aircraft. The challenge is “how do you remediate existing systems and build in that resiliency going forward,” according to David Wajsgras, president of the company’s intelligence, information and services unit.

Raytheon, a major global provider of air-traffic control hardware and applications, is starting with the more modest goal of establishing a detection system intended to identify false or spoofed sensor readings from engines, flight computers or other operating elements. But ultimately, it envisions sending some type of automated message to warn pilots if their aircraft is believed to be under cyberattack, an option that doesn’t exist for any airliner at present.

Compared with Thales, Raytheon is earlier in the process of analyzing the technical challenges, and it hasn’t identified or signed an aircraft operator or maintenance organization to serve as a partner for field testing.

Warning systems could also be used for other purposes. Under some scenarios, air carriers want the option of quickly being able to turn off all in-flight entertainment data to a specific seat, row or even the entire cabin.

Original article can be found here:

Bell UH-1B, N6180A, Jones Aviation Inc: Accident occurred June 21, 2017 in Williams, Colusa County, California

Additional Participating Entity: Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Sacramento, California

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Jones Aviation Inc: 

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA355
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in Williams, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/22/2017
Aircraft: BELL UH1B, registration: N6180A
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The helicopter pilot reported that, while maneuvering at a low altitude during an agricultural application flight, he “forgot to duck” for some nearby transmission wires. The tail rotor struck the transmission wires, and the helicopter impacted terrain.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tailboom.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from transmission wires while maneuvering at a low altitude during an agricultural application flight.

Columbia LC41-550FG, N1058S: Fatal accident occurred October 09, 2015 on Buffalo Mountain, Johnson City, Washington County, Tennessee

William "Bill" Gibbons with his daughter Abbey

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Nashville, Tennessee
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
CMI; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

William S. Gibbons, Jr: 

Bill Gibbons, vice president of engineering at Cook Medical.

Abbey Hardison Gibbons

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA006
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 09, 2015 in Erwin, TN
Aircraft: COLUMBIA AIRCRAFT MFG LC41 550FG, registration: N1058S
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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 October 9, 2015, about 1919 eastern daylight time, a Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing LC41-550FG, N1058S, impacted the ground in an uncontrolled descent after encountering a thunderstorm near Erwin, Tennessee. The private pilot and the passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from the Tyson Airport (TYS) Knoxville, Tennessee, about 1830 and had an intended destination of Monroe County Airport (BMG), Bloomington, Indiana. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed. 

The flight originated earlier in the day from the Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM), Orlando, Florida. Prior to departing ISM, the pilot's login credentials were used to access weather information via DUAT (Direct User Access Terminal). The information provided included weather along the planned route of flight in textual form The terminal area forecasts along the route of flight predicted showers and thunderstorms in the TYS area and north beginning about 1700. The weather report also included a "Severe Weather Outlook," which stated in part "There is a marginal risk of severe thunderstorm from southern New England to the Tennessee Valley. Scattered thunderstorms should occur today in a corridor from New York and parts of New England Southwestward to the Tennessee Valley region. A few of these storms may produce damaging gusts near severe limits and a tornado cannot be ruled out over the northeast." 

While en route, the pilot diverted to TYS as he wanted to "check the weather." The flight landed at TYS about 1745. DUAT records indicated that about 1750 the pilot's login credentials were used to access the system and obtain a weather briefing. The weather briefing included a textual description of weather reports along the intended route of flight, and spanning as far as Florida and the New England area. About 1830, the airplane departed TYS and was observed on radar climbing to 15,000 ft mean sea level (msl) on an easterly heading, paralleling an east-west line of convective weather to the north. During the flight, the pilot was in communication with air traffic control (ATC) personnel.

At 1836:02 the TYS controller contacted an air carrier flight descending into TYS and stated in part, "…i got a Columbia that's trying to get towards uh Bloomington Indiana uh would you say going up to like sixteen thousand uh would be a good idea through that area or should i take him somewhere else." 

At 1836:13 the air carrier flight stated "absolutely no he needs to go somewhere else."

At 1836:21 the accident flight acknowledged the transmission.

At 1836:21 the controller stated in part "…if i take you to the north i got some areas of uh some lighter precipitation off to the north uh i can get you that way you might be able to cut through that way would you want to try that."

At 1836:37 the controller then stated "that's gonna be my lightest areas i have a few areas of heavy precipitation but it's more scattered and not as uh well us interconnect as the stuff down here towards the uh southwest…"

For the next approximate 9 minutes the controller provided clearances for the accident pilot to deviate and turn left and/or right as necessary.

At 1845:10 the controller, in communication with another ATC facility stated in part "…he's trying to get through this line that we told him he really shouldn't even have departed cause he can't get through the line."

For the next approximate 9 minutes the controller provided deviation clearances and radio frequency change for the accident flight.

At 1854:28 the controller stated "…based on the weather i'm showing um do you have any uh nexrad or anything on board."

At 1854:36 the pilot replied "i do have nexrad on board"

At 1854:41 the controller stated "…just trying to come up with a plan for you here looks like ah right around well let me see here about your ah eleven o'clock position and about forty miles forty one forty two miles um there's an area if you kinda cut north from there looks like you may be able to hang back towards the northwest its (unintelligible) precip that i'm showing but ah just keep me advised as to what youd like to do."

At 1855:08 the pilot replied "yeah i think we're looking at the same spot i was looking at either just west or just east of ah is it Greenville."

At 1911:09 the pilot requested and received clearance to turn 15° to the left.

At 1913:46 the pilot was given permission and acknowledged the clearance to climb from 15,000 ft msl to 17,000 ft msl.

At 1918:29 the pilot stated "five eight sierra", which was the last recorded transmission from the accident flight.

After the last radio transmission, radar data showed the airplane descending from approximately 17,500 ft to ground level, in approximately one minute, in the vicinity of the accident location.

Multiple witnesses observed the airplane descending, turning to the right, and then exploding on ground impact. One witness reported that, at the time of the accident, the area was receiving a "hard rain." 


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot, age 45, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings, which was issued December 28, 2013. He held an FAA third-class medical certificate, issued April 18, 2014, with a limitation that he "must wear corrective lenses." At the time of the medical examination, the pilot reported 279 total hours of flight experience with 73.9 hours in the previous 6 months. At the time of this writing, no pilot logbooks were provided to the.


According to FAA records, the airplane was issued an airworthiness certificate in 2007 and registered to the pilot in January 2015. The most recent recorded annual inspection was on April 15, 2015, and, at that time, the airplane had 1,098.7 total flight hours. The most recent maintenance was recorded on June 24, 2015, and, at that time, the airplane had 1,113.1 total flight hours. 

The airplane was powered by a Continental Motors TSIO-550-C20B engine that, at the time of the airplane's most recent annual inspection, had accrued 37.5 flight hours since major overhaul. The most recent engine maintenance occurred on August 17, 2015, which was an oil change; at that time the engine had accrued 76.3 hours since major overhaul. 

The airplane was not equipped with on-board weather radar; however, it was equipped to receive XM Satellite Weather. The airplane was also equipped with a Garmin G1000 avionics suite, which was capable of displaying the aviation weather data provided through Sirius XM Satellite Weather services. According to information provided by Sirius XM Satellite Radio, the pilot had established an account for aviator pro aviation weather and Sirius XM Select audio services on July 6, 2011, and the account was current at the time of the accident.

According to Sirius' website the aviator pro service provided the following products: High-Resolution NEXRAD Radar, High-Resolution Radar, Severe Weather Storm Tracks, Lightning, Winds Aloft (at Altitude) SPC Aviation Weather Watches, PIREPs, METARs, TAFs, Turbulence, Satellite Mosaic, AIRMETs, SIGMETS, as well as various other aviation weather services.


The 1937 special recorded weather observation at Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI), Bristol, Tennessee, located about 13 miles to the northwest of the accident location, included variable wind at 3 knots, visibility 6 miles due to thunderstorms and rain, scattered cumulonimbus clouds at 2,300 ft above ground level (agl), broken at 6,000 feet agl, overcast at 11,000 feet agl, temperature 19°C, dew point 17°C, and barometric altimeter 30.05 inches of mercury. The remarks section of the special weather observation stated that a thunderstorm began at 1931 with occasional lighting in cloud and cloud to ground at the airport. The thunderstorms in the vicinity were moving east.

The 1915 recorded weather observation at Elizabethton Airport (0A9), Elizabethton, Tennessee, located about 10 miles to the northeast of the accident location, included calm winds, 10 miles visibility, few clouds at 6,000 feet agl, scattered clouds at 7,500 feet agl, broken clouds at 9,000 feet agl, and barometric altimeter 30.03 inches of mercury.

Weather radar data indicated that the line of convectively contained cells from 5 dBZ (decibels of equivalent reflectivity) to greater than 55dBZ, and the weather cell around the time and vicinity of the accident indicated greater than 55 dBZ.

At 1855, a convective SIGMET was issued advising of a line of thunderstorms 50 miles wide along a line that went through the accident region. The line was reported to be moving from 260° at 30 knots, with cloud tops to FL440 (44,000 feet msl).

Lightning data between 1900 and the time of the accident for the area surrounding the accident location showed lightning activity in the area; however, there was no lightning activity associated with the cell that coincided with the location of the airplane at the time of the accident.

Figure 1: KRMX Reflectivity Product initiated at 1915, White Line was Accident Flight Path at 1917

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-13 infrared cloud-top temperatures varied between about -20°C and -53°C in the accident region, corresponding to heights of about 22,600 ft msl and greater than 35,000 ft msl, respectively.

According to the United States Naval Observatory, official sunset was at 1902, and the end of civil twilight was at 1923. Moonset occurred at 1725, and 10% of the moon disc would have been visible had the moon been above the horizon.


The airplane wreckage was found in the Cherokee National Forest, in the vicinity of the accident flight's last radar return, at an elevation of 2,825 ft msl. The slope around the accident site varied between 20° and 30°. The airplane impacted two 27-ft-tall trees. The debris path was fairly compact, and a considerable amount of debris was located within an impact crater that was about the length of the airplane's wingspan. The airframe was impact-damaged, segmented, and thermally destroyed. The engine was found in a 4-ft-deep crater and remained attached to the firewall. The engine mounts were impact-separated and were located with the main wreckage. The propeller was impact-separated at the crankshaft propeller flange. 

The attitude indicator was located within the debris field; it exhibited impact damage and displayed a nose-down, inverted right-wing-low attitude. No other instruments were readable. The nose landing gear wheel was impact-separated and located about 45 ft downhill from the main wreckage. The nose landing gear strut was impacted-separated and was located in the impact crater. The main wing spar was located in the impact crater. It was composed of composite material, was thermally destroyed, and exhibited some impact splintering. 

Left Wing

The left wing was thermally destroyed. The left wing navigation light was located at one end of the impact crater. The left wing speed brake was found in the stowed position. The left main wheel assembly was impact-separated. The aileron and flap were thermally destroyed, and an accurate flap position could not be conclusively determined.

Right Wing

The right wing was thermally destroyed. The right wing navigation light was located at the opposite end of the impact crater from the left wing navigation light. The right wing speed brake was found in the stowed position. The right main wheel assembly was thermally destroyed. The aileron and flap were thermally destroyed, and an accurate flap position could not be conclusively determined.


The empennage assembly, which included the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, was thermally damaged. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer but exhibited thermal damage on its leading edge. The rudder cables remained attached to their respective rudder horns. 


The engine remained attached to the firewall, which had become impact separated from the airframe. The engine was an TSIO-550- C, 310-hp. The propeller was separated at the propeller flange. The No. 6 cylinder was impact separated from the engine. The oil pan was thermally damaged. The camshaft was visible, and all of the connecting rods were visible and remained attached to the crankshaft. The crankshaft exhibited torsional twist, 45° lip faces, and radial cracking.

The fuel pump was thermally destroyed. The fuel manifold valve was impact separated; it was disassembled and found to contain soot and debris but was otherwise unremarkable. The magnetos were impact separated, fragmented, and thermally destroyed. The oil pump was impact damaged.


The Hartzell 3-bladed propeller was impact separated at the propeller crankshaft flange. The spinner was located within the impact crater, exhibited extensive torsional twisting, and was fragmented. All three blades remained attached. Two of the blade tips were impact separated, one about 31 inches from the hub and the other about 31 1/8 inches from the hub. The third blade was intact. All 3 propeller blades were bent aft and formed around the hub. All 3 blades also exhibited leading edge gouging and slight twisting, and the outboard edge of 2 of the blades exhibited forward bending. The damage to the propeller assembly was consistent with it being under power at the time of impact. 


The Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Division of Forensic Pathology, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The report listed the cause of death as "multiple blunt force injuries."

Toxicological testing on the pilot's muscle tissue was performed at the FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

TheFAA Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory toxicology testing was limited by the absence of available blood or body fluids; only muscle tissue was available. Testing detected 0.01 g/dl of ethanol as well as citalopram and its metabolite N-desmethylcitalopram in muscle. 

According to the FAA, ethanol is a powerful central nervous system depressant that distributes evenly throughout tissues based on the water content of that tissue. In the United States, a blood level of 0.08 g/dl is considered impairing, and current laws prohibit operating a motor vehicle at this level but impairment has been documented at levels as low as 0.02 g/dl. Ethanol may also be produced in the body after death by microbial activity.

Citalopram is a prescription antidepressant also named Celexa. The pilot's medical records documented that the pilot's depression had improved significantly on citalopram, and his personal physician noted on the last visit on July 14, 2015, the pilot was doing well on medication, had no significant depressive symptoms, no difficulty concentrating, and no suicidal thoughts or wishes. According to the FAA's Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners, pilots treated for depression with citalopram may be considered for special issuance of a medical certificate if the pilot has been clinically stable as well as on a stable dose of medication without any aeromedically significant side effects and/or an increase in symptoms. For further information, reference the NTSB Medical Officer's Factual Report in the public docket for with this investigation.


The FAA publication "General Aviation Pilot's Guide to Preflight Weather Planning, Weather Self-Briefings, and Weather Decision Making" states, in part: "Datalink does not provide real-time information. Although weather and other navigation displays can give pilots an unprecedented quantity of high quality weather data, their use is safe and appropriate only for strategic decision making (attempting to avoid the hazard altogether). Datalink is not accurate enough or current enough to be safely used for tactical decision making (negotiating a path through a weather hazard area, such as a broken line of thunderstorms). Be aware that onboard weather equipment can inappropriately influence your decision to continue a flight. No matter how "thin" a line of storms appears to be, or how many "holes" you think you see on the display, it is not safe to fly through them."

The FAA's Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, Chapter 10, "Weather Theory" states, in part: "…if an aircraft enters a thunderstorm, the aircraft could experience updraft and downdraft that exceed 3,000 feet per minute…a good rule of thumb is to circumnavigate thunderstorms by at least 5 nautical miles…if flying around a thunderstorm is not an option, stay on the ground until it passes."

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 00-24, "Thunderstorms," dated February 19, 2013, Section 8, "Ground-Based Weather Radar" states the following with regard to "Echo Intensity (Reflectivity);"

The colors on radar images represent different echo intensities (also called reflectivity) measured in decibels of Z (dBZ) (equivalent reflectivity). The dBZ values increase based on the strength of the return signal from targets in the atmosphere. Each image includes a color scale that represents a correlation between intensity value and color on the radar image…Reflectivity is correlated to intensity of precipitation. When the dBZ value reaches 15, light precipitation is present. The higher the reflectivity value, the higher the rainfall rate. Reflectivity is also correlated with intensity terminology (phraseology) for air traffic control purposes…" Figure 2 shows the correlation between reflectivity and ATC terminology.

Figure 2: ATC Phraseology Chart

Radar dBZ Scale

Review of WSR-88D Level-II weather radar imagery from Knoxville, Tennessee, showed that the color scale used by that system used 16 various colors and shades of colors. The color scale is shown in Figure 3:

Figure 3: WSR-88D Level II Color Scale

Review of the XM satellite reflectivity color bar showed that XM used 7 different colors to display weather radar echo intensities. The color scale was coded from "light" to "heavy" as shown in Figure 4:

Figure 4: XM Satellite Reflectivity Color Scale

Review of the color bar used in the Garmin G1000 for display of XM weather radar imagery showed that it used 6 different colors to display weather radar echo intensities. The color scale was coded as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Garmin G1000 Reflectivity Color Scale

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA006
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 09, 2015 in Erwin, TN
Aircraft: COLUMBIA AIRCRAFT MFG LC41 550FG, registration: N1058S
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 October 9, 2015, about 1919 eastern daylight time, a Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing LC41-550FG, N1058S, was destroyed following a collision with terrain near Erwin, Tennessee. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated from the McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Knoxville, Tennessee, about 1832, and was destined for Monroe County Airport (BMG), Bloomington, Indiana. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed. The airplane was owned and operated by a private individual. The personal flight was conducted under the provision of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The flight initially departed earlier in the day from the Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM), Orlando, Florida, at 1306, with an intended destination of BMG. While enroute, the pilot requested to divert to TYS due to a "significant amount of thunderstorms." That flight landed at 1558.

Preliminary radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, indicated that the accident flight departed TYS about 1832, on a ground track of about 080 degrees. About 18 minutes later, the flight leveled off about 15,000 feet above mean sea level (msl). Then, about 16 minutes later, the airplane turned left to a ground track of about 330 degrees, and began a climb to about 17,000 feet. About 3 minutes after leveling off at 17,000 feet, the flight began descending. The last radar return, recorded at 1919, was in the vicinity of the accident location, at an altitude of 3,400 feet msl.

Several eyewitnesses reported seeing the lights of the airplane as it descended downward. Some of the witnesses also reported seeing lightning and heavy rain in the vicinity about the time of the accident.

The airplane impacted trees and terrain located within the Cherokee National Forest, at an approximate elevation of 2,880 feet. The debris path was compact and the ground and tree scars were consistent with a near vertical descent, and a nose down impact angle. The wreckage was fragmented and thermally destroyed.

The 1853 recorded weather at the Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI), Blountville, Tennessee, located 16 miles to the north of the accident location, included light rain and wind from 250 degrees at 6 knots. A special recorded weather observation, at 1937, included thunderstorms with occasional lighting in the cloud as well as cloud to ground lighting. The observation further indicated that thunderstorms were in the vicinity of the airport and moving to the east.