Saturday, July 15, 2017

Airline grounds its fleet, owes Little Rock airport thousands

Officials at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field want GLO Airlines to succeed, but at the same time they look askance at the nearly $100,000 in unpaid bills the startup New Orleans-based airline has left at the airport.

The concern comes as the airline indefinitely suspends service today at Clinton National and several Gulf Coast airports while it says it will try to find another company to provide crew and maintenance services for the fleet of three Saab twin-engine commuter aircraft the airline leases.

GLO offers direct flights between Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and other locations in the region, including the Little Rock airport. It also offers seasonal flights between Little Rock and Fort Walton Beach/Destin, Fla.

Clinton National took precautions when GLO began service in 2015, primarily requiring GLO to pay a deposit equal to two or three months of operation, which at the time airport officials estimated at $44,000.

That whittles the airline's outstanding bills to just under $50,000, but about $38,000 of that amount is controlled by a bankruptcy petition the airline filed in April. The total amount outstanding and not protected by the bankruptcy petition is $11,650.

If the airline resumes service, Clinton National will require it to pay down those bills first and replace the deposit, said Ron Mathieu, the airport's executive director.

"For now, we continue to work with them and to encourage them to do all they can because they had a successful operation here," he said. "But at the same time, we tell them, 'Oh, by the way, there is this money there that belongs to us and can you make a deposit today.' This is the business end of it. This is how we keep our lights on."

Mathieu spoke at a meeting Friday of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission's finance committee.

He and other airport officials say they will have little recourse in collecting about $38,000 of the balance GLO owes because it was outstanding before the airline filed for bankruptcy in April. Past experience shows that the airport may collect no more than 15 percent of that amount.

GLO filed for bankruptcy protection amid a contractual dispute between the airline and a Tennessee company, Corporate Flight Management, which provides pilots and other services to the airline. An emergency hearing allowed the airline to continue flying.

But problems have continued with "an excessive number" of flight cancellations because of staffing and maintenance problems, GLO said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Corporate Flight Management, for its part, said it has followed the emergency court order in operating GLO's flights, and the airline had no one to blame but itself for its financial woes, "the result of an unproven business plan in an unforgiving industry."

Clinton National and other small airports have been banking on the success of startups like GLO and Allegiant Air, which try to serve markets the bigger commercial carriers ignore.

To save money, their flights typically are on smaller aircraft like the propeller-driven planes GLO flies or, in the case of both airlines, offered only on a seasonal basis at times when they are the most popular.

Though GLO and Allegiant are a small slice of the overall passenger pie at Clinton National, they have helped propel its passenger traffic higher, appearing to halt a yearslong decline.

Passenger traffic through June 30 rose 2.1 percent compared with the first six months of 2016, to 991,620.

GLO carried a total of 7,968 passengers through June 30, but compared with the same period last year, it represented a 25.5 percent increase, according to airport figures.

"I have to say we hope they figure out some way to recover, that they are able to fly," said Jim Dailey, the airport commission chairman. "They fill a niche that we all hope is going to continue and expand. I am really saddened more than anything that we're having to face this situation."

GLO and other airlines typically are assessed landing fees based on weight every time one of their aircraft lands at an airport. They also are charged rental fees for any space they use in an airport terminal, whether it is space at the ticket counter, a gate or an office or storage space.

Airlines also are required to collect federally mandated fees called passenger facility charges.

Airports use the money to pay for safety, security or capacity improvements. They also can steer the money toward noise-reduction programs or toward increasing air carrier competition.

Almost every passenger flying out of the Little Rock airport pays the $4.50 facility charge, which is set by Congress. Airlines collect the fees and can keep 11 cents for administrative costs but must remit the balance to the airport.

The most recent figures Clinton National officials have compiled show that GLO owes $8,977.55 in passenger facility charges.

Airlines come and go. Vision Airlines, an airline with a similar operating model as GLO, began service at Clinton National and other airports in the southeast United States in 2011, offering seasonal service to Destin in the summer and to Orlando in the winter.

That same year, Mathieu terminated the airline's permit to operate at Clinton National after it tallied $53,565.08 in past-due fees, past-due passenger facility charges and a security deposit replacement.

Flooding from thunderstorm in Ottawa knocks out Nav Canada flight plan system

OTTAWA — The company that operates Canada’s civil air navigation service says flooding from a severe thunderstorm in Ottawa brought down its automated flight planning system early Saturday.

Nav Canada says there were delays, mainly affecting international flights, but the safety of the travelling public was not compromised.

CEO Neil Wilson said in a statement Saturday night that when water affected Nav Canada’s network that handles flight plans, staff were quickly moved to a facility where backup systems are located.

Wilson says there was no impact on air traffic control or communications with aircraft during the outage.

Wilson says the system was restored on Saturday afternoon, but there could be some delays as staff process backlogs. It’s not known how many flights were affected.

He says Nav Canada worked closely with its counterparts — the FAA in the U.S. and NATS in the United Kingdom — to adjust traffic flows during the outage.

“Delays occurred due to problems reinstating connectivity of the system with neighbouring air navigation service providers,” Wilson said in the statement.

“Nav Canada apologizes to customers and all members of the travelling public for any inconvenience arising from this unforeseen incident,” he said.

Mooney M20R Ovation, N57GX, William M. Powell Inc: Incident occurred April 03, 2016 in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida -and- Accident occurred July 14, 2017 at Venice Municipal Airport (KVNC), Sarasota County, Florida

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

Aviation Incident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Jacksonville, FL
Incident Number: OPS16IA010
Date & Time: 04/03/2016, 1345 UTC
Aircraft: MOONEY M20R
Injuries: N/A
Flight Conducted Under: 

On April 3, 2016, at about 0945 EDT, N57GX a Mooney M20P executed an evasive maneuver while climbing through 7,500' for 9,000' in response to N758PK, a Cessna C172G, at 8,000 feet. N57GX turned left and crossed below and in front of N758PK; the closest proximity was estimated to be 0.85 NM and 200'. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and instrument flight plans for both aircraft were filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flights. There was no damage to either aircraft, and there were no reported injuries. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: MOONEY

Model/Series: M20R NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: 
Operator: Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: 

Condition of Light: 
Observation Facility, Elevation: 
Observation Time: 
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point: 
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 
Lowest Ceiling: 
Altimeter Setting: 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: 
Departure Point: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: N/A

Aircraft Damage: None
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: N/A
Latitude, Longitude:

Accident occurred July 14, 2017 at  Venice Municipal Airport  (KVNC),  Sarasota County, Florida

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Investigation Docket  - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

William M. Powell Inc:

Location: Venice, FL
Accident Number: ERA17CA244
Date & Time: 07/14/2017, 1030 EDT
Registration: N57GX
Aircraft: MOONEY M20R
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional


The pilot of the single-engine airplane reported that, during landing to the southeast, a wind gust contacted the airplane's tail from the left side, which caused the airplane to veer left. The airplane departed the runway, crossed a taxiway, and impacted a ditch.

The pilot reported there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the nose landing gear collapsed and that the propeller was bent aft. The engine firewall was wrinkled below the left engine mount. The recorded weather at the airport, about the time of the accident, included wind from 080° at 10 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 directional control during landing in gusting crosswind conditions. 


Directional control - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Gusts - Response/compensation (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing-landing roll
Loss of control on ground (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)
Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 37, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/04/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 11/30/2016
Flight Time:  119 hours (Total, all aircraft), 4 hours (Total, this make and model), 54 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 27 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 7 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor
Age: 42, Female
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/01/2012
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/22/2016
Flight Time:  7000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 200 hours (Total, this make and model), 6500 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 75 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 20 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: MOONEY
Registration: N57GX
Model/Series: M20R
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2005
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 29-0357
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/09/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3369 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 46 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 987 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-550 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 280 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KVNC, 19 ft msl
Observation Time: 1435 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 123°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 26°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots, 80°
Visibility (RVR): 
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV): 
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: FORT MYERS, FL (FMY)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Venice, FL (VNC)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0900 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class E

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 17 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 13
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 4999 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Touch and Go

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude:  27.073611, -82.442778 (est) 

Preventing Similar Accidents 

Stay Centered: Preventing Loss of Control During Landing

Loss of control during landing is one of the leading causes of general aviation accidents and is often attributed to operational issues. Although most loss of control during landing accidents do not result in serious injuries, they typically require extensive airplane repairs and may involve potential damage to nearby objects such as fences, signs, and lighting.

Often, wind plays a role in these accidents. Landing in a crosswind presents challenges for pilots of all experience levels. Other wind conditions, such as gusting wind, tailwind, variable wind, or wind shifts, can also interfere with pilots’ abilities to land the airplane and maintain directional control.

What can pilots do?

Evaluate your mental and physical fitness before each flight using the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) “I'M SAFE Checklist." Being emotionally and physically ready will help you stay alert and potentially avoid common and preventable loss of control during landing accidents.

Check wind conditions and forecasts often. Take time during every approach briefing to fully understand the wind conditions. Use simple rules of thumb to help (for example, if the wind direction is 30 degrees off the runway heading, the crosswind component will be half of the total wind velocity).

Know your limitations and those of the airplane you are flying. Stay current and practice landings on different runways and during various wind conditions. If possible, practice with a flight instructor on board who can provide useful feedback and techniques for maintaining and improving your landing procedures.

Prepare early to perform a go around if the approach is not stabilized and does not go as planned or if you do not feel comfortable with the landing. Once you are airborne and stable again, you can decide to attempt to land again, reassess your landing runway, or land at an alternate airport. Incorporate go-around procedures into your recurrent training.

During landing, stay aligned with the centerline. Any misalignment reduces the time available to react if an unexpected event such as a wind gust or a tire blowout occurs.

Do not allow the airplane to touch down in a drift or in a crab. For airplanes with tricycle landing gear, do not allow the nosewheel to touch down first.
Maintain positive control of the airplane throughout the landing and be alert for directional control difficulties immediately upon and after touchdown. A loss of directional control can lead to a nose-over or ground loop, which can cause the airplane to tip or lean enough for the wing tip to contact the ground.
Stay mentally focused throughout the landing roll and taxi. During landing, avoid distractions, such as conversations with passengers or setting radio frequencies.
Interested in More Information?

The FAA’s “Airplane Flying Handbook” (FAA-H-8083-3B), chapter 8, “Approaches and Landings,” provides guidance about how to conduct crosswind approaches and landings and discusses maximum safe crosswind velocities. The handbook can be accessed from the FAA’s website (

The FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) provides access to online training courses, seminars, and webinars as part of the FAA’s “WINGS—Pilot Proficiency Program.” This program includes targeted flight training designed to help pilots develop the knowledge and skills needed to achieve flight proficiency and to assess and mitigate the risks associated with the most common causes of accidents, including loss of directional control. The courses listed below can be accessed from the FAASTeam website (

Avoiding Loss of Control

Maneuvering: Approach and Landing

Normal Approach and Landing

Takeoffs, Landings, and Aircraft Control

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Institute offers several interactive courses, presentations, publications, and other safety resources that can be accessed from its website (

The NTSB’s Aviation Information Resources web page,, provides convenient access to NTSB aviation safety products.

The NTSB presents this information to prevent recurrence of similar accidents. Note that this should not be considered guidance from the regulator, nor does this supersede existing FAA Regulations (FARs).

VENICE — The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident involving a small airplane Friday morning at Venice Municipal Airport.

Venice Airport Director Mark Cervasio said a male student pilot and a female flight instructor had taken off earlier in the day from Page Field in Fort Myers. As the student attempted to land at around 10:40 a.m., he encountered a crosswind and lost control of the plane, according to the instructor, who then took control of the aircraft.

The airplane, a Mooney Ovation2, ended up in a drainage ditch near midfield with damage to the nose gear and propeller. There were no injuries.

The aircraft is in a secured hangar at the airport until the FAA’s Flight Standards District Office out of Tampa completes its investigation.

Story and photo:

Bird dog orchestrates aerial wildfire battle

Conair pilot John Grech at the controls of the twin-engine bird-dog plane he flies to help guide the aircraft that are attacking wildfires.

As a bird-dog pilot, John Grech’s role in helping orchestrate the mid-air ballet of the aerial fire attack teams is a critical component of success — but more importantly, safety.

He, along with the B.C. Wildfire Service air attack officer beside him, work as the command and control plane for the multi-aircraft battle of wildfires in B.C.

“I have to assess all the hazards— they’re [airtankers] big, they’re heavy and they have a full load of retardant, so there has to be a very precise way to get them in and, just as important, I have to assess how do I get them out of there, what if they lose an engine? Where would they go? How would they be able to climb out of this mountainous terrain without killing themselves?” said Grech, who is in his first year on the job with Conair Aerial Firefighting.

“But there is still an element of danger.We can’t move the mountains. I’ve flown in many different elements of aviation in my career, but I’ve found this to be the most challenging and the most rewarding.”

That experience includes military and similar bird-dog work in Ontario and operating his own air service in Malta.

At the controls of the powerful, twin-engine plane, Grech must first fly the route the tankers will take to drop the retardant. He will also sometimes lead them in through the smoke or follow as the need dictates.

“We may have five tankers coming in and we have to provide air traffic control for them, find them different altitudes,” Grech said. “I have to manage the air space to make sure there is no conflict or to cause an air-to-air collision. It’s being an air traffic controller while you’re flying the airplane. It’s a lot of pressure, lots of adrenaline, but it’s just part of the job and I love it.”

Veteran Conair pilot Grahame Wilson, who now flies the airtankers, spent five years as a bird-dog pilot himself and knows how critical it is to have someone like Grech doing the job.

“I am looking out at what’s going on, but I need his guidance to point out things that I might not see,” he said. “We are a two-pilot airplane and on the fire my attention is mostly outside, watching what the bird-dog is doing and listening and understanding what he’s telling me.”

STOL CH 701, N422ES: Accident occurred July 15, 2017 in Kenwood, Sonoma County, California

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

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA156
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 15, 2017 in Kenwood, CA
Aircraft: SIMMONS GARY F STOL CH 701, registration: N422ES
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 July 15, 2017, at 1140 Pacific daylight time, an experimental kit-built Simmons STOL CH 701, N422ES, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a small field following a loss of engine power near Kenwood, California. The pilot/owner, the sole occupant, was not injured. The pilot operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed Cloverdale Municipal Airport (O60), Cloverdale, California, and was destined for Sonoma Skypark Airport (0Q9), Sonoma, California. No flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported while in cruise flight there was a "severe vibration" that emanated from the engine and he was able to see cooling fluid leaking from the engine. Within 30 seconds the engine lost power. The pilot set up to land in a small narrow field surround by grape vineyards. He stated that during the approach, he could not line up with the field properly, and during the landing roll, the airplane slipped into a ditch, coming to rest nose down.

The pilot of a small, private plane was uninjured Saturday afternoon after making an emergency landing in a field south of Kenwood, authorities said.

The plane landed in the field just off Highway 12 and west of Dunbar Road at 12:20 p.m., said Kenwood Fire District Chief Daren Bellach.

The pilot, whose name was not available, told emergency personnel that he had engine trouble, Bellach said. “He nosed (the plane) right into a ditch,” he said.

The FAA identified the aircraft as a homebuilt STOL 701, which stands for “short takeoff and landing,” said spokesman Ian Gregor. The agency will investigate the incident, Gregor said.

Bellach said the plane was heading toward Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport. The FAA registry listed the plane’s owner out of Petaluma.

The incident comes after a Sonoma Valley plane crash Thursday that killed a University of San Francisco history professor and injured his two children and caretaker.

British company sues Burlington, North Carolina, landing-gear business

A British aircraft parts distributor is suing a Burlington landing gear facility, claiming it failed to deliver landing gear and to reimburse funds due because of the failure to deliver the landing gear.

In the suit, filed June 29, Jenko Aviation Ltd., located near London’s Heathrow Airport, claims it has suffered damages because Royal Technical Group Inc. of Burlington failed to deliver gear and payment.

In January, Jenko ordered three sets of landing gear at a cost of $35,000 each. In February, Jenko ordered an additional set for an additional $35,000. Both parties agreed that Jenko would pay a 50 percent deposit and the balance on collection of the goods.

Jenko says it has paid $120,000 of the overall $140,000. RTG estimated delivery of five to six weeks from Feb. 23, according to the suit, then delayed delivery further to May 17.

On June 2, RTG promised partial delivery of one nose gear, the suit says, and on June 7 notified Jenko’s shipping agents to pick up one nose gear by June 9 as well as pay them an additional $6,500. This payment was made, but the defendant failed to deliver the gear June 9 as promised, the suit says.

Since June 9, Jenko says, it hasn’t received landing gear or requested refunds. Jenko further claims RTG has refused all calls and requests.

Jenko says it’s been damaged through lost goods, lost payments and loss of business, and seeks $10,000.

Royal Technical Group was incorporated in 2013, according to the N.C. Office of the Secretary of State, and repairs and overhauls landing gear for a variety of Boeing aircraft and other manufacturers, according to the company website. Its facility is near the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport on McGrew Drive in Burlington. No one from the company was available for comment.

Sikorsky aims high with experimental aircraft

It was a lofty moment just over two weeks ago for Sikorsky Aircraft after a pilot took off to fly the new King Stallion helicopter cross-country for the first time — the biggest ever built for the U.S. military and the first of three major new programs nearing full production.

It is the coming maiden flight of an experimental aircraft, however, that will determine the heights Stratford-based Sikorsky can hit later this century — if Pentagon planners climb on board.

Archrival Bell Helicopter plans to begin flight tests by September of its entry in a Department of Defense competition to determine the base design parameters DOD will use for rotorcraft — ranging from heavy-lift models like today’s CH-53K King Stallion to all-purpose workhorses like the Sikorsky Black Hawk — to combat aircraft like the Boeing Apache.

Against the Bell V-280 Valor tilt-rotor prototype in the Pentagon’s Future Vertical Lift fly-off, Sikorsky and Boeing are teaming up on the SB>1 Defiant. The companies have yet to make public any flight test schedule for the aircraft, but they’re not expected to begin until next year, according to the FlightGlobal aviation trade publication.

If running behind Bell’s schedule, Sikorsky has already test-flown a similar prototype in its S-97 Raider, which, like the SB>1 Defiant, features a “pusher prop” on the tail boom mounted in the same orientation as a propeller on an airplane wing. On top, stacked sets of rotors whirl in opposite directions, a concept familiar to model helicopter enthusiasts and with which Sikorsky itself had experimented at scale in the 1970s with its S-69 prototype aircraft.

Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin is counting on continued Black Hawk sales and the CH-53K program to maintain its Sikorsky subsidiary in the coming decade, with the U.S. Marine Corps wanting more than 200 King Stallions. Two more programs are on the taxiway pending final federal approvals and funding: a fleet of new presidential helicopters for the White House and one for the U.S. Air Force to conduct search-and-rescue operations for downed pilots and other operations over hostile territory.

But on beyond, Lockheed Martin is hoping the Future Vertical Lift program can accelerate Sikorsky similar to how did the Black Hawk and its variations, which sustained the Stratford manufacturer over four decades as the military’s base utility helicopter in the post-Vietnam era.

The vision is a new category of rotor aircraft that can blow by the Black Hawk for speed, range and payload capacity, with the ability to operate in extreme conditions and to be controlled remotely with no pilot on board. The Department of Defense wants aircraft that will be cheaper to operate and maintain over the 40 to 60 years it expects to field them, and wants to be able to use the winning platform in the design of everything from truck-toting beasts akin to the CH-53K to nimble aerial scouts.

In the digital flight simulator, the SB>1 Defiant exhibits revolutionary flight characteristics, according to Frank Conway, a Boeing experimental pilot who spoke last October at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army, while showcasing an SB>1 flight simulator to the trade publication IHS Janes.

“What that pusher prop ... allows us to do is both rapid acceleration and deceleration with a level body,” Frank Conway said. “Another unique thing I can do is actually decelerate with the nose pointing down, which is not a typical, helicopter-type profile. ... We’re basically hanging on the prop from behind.”

That pusher prop can also drive SB>1 into a steep, accelerating climb, Conway added — particularly valuable in combat zones to get out of range in a hurry from any hostile fighters. And he said the SB>1 promises stable and expansive fields of vision to give pilots the ability and willingness “to get down in the field of terrain,” in his words, at high speeds.

A subsidiary of Providence, Rhode Island-based Textron, Bell Helicopter is going it alone with an update of its pioneering V-22 Osprey aircraft as its candidate for the Future Vertical Lift program, also designing a smaller drone that similarly swivels its wing-mounted rotor sets to fly like an airplane after takeoff.

Bell’s V-280 Valor prototype could begin flight testing by September, only a few months past the original goal articulated by the U.S. Army in 2014. Those tests will be key, with malfunctions and crashes plaguing the Osprey program during early flights in the 1990s and 2000s, including one in 1992 in which congressmen and DOD officials witnessed an Osprey plummeting into the Potomac River during a demonstration, killing seven people on board.

Few have a better idea of what Sikorsky and Boeing are up against then Dan Schultz, whom Lockheed Martin made president of Sikorsky after acquiring the manufacturer in November 2015. While serving in the Marine Corps, Schultz was the program manager for managing the V-22 Osprey program across military branches.

As Sikorsky and Boeing rev up for SB>1 flight tests, Sikorsky is putting its vision to the test against not only Bell but its own corporate parent. Lockheed Martin itself had an existing “skunk works” project with Pennsylvania-based Piasecki Aircraft developing “ducted fan” aircraft — think the futuristic helicopters in Avatar that angle their rotor sets to maximize maneuverability — that continues to this day with an eye on hitting on a revolutionary breakthrough that could elicit future U.S. interest.

And Bell is continuing its own research work with the FCX-001, configured like a conventional helicopter in some respects but with rear rotors embedded inside the tail boom to provide pilots with superior control, among other advances.

Mooney M20C, N9303V, Badger Flyers Inc: Accident occurred July 15, 2017 at Washington Island Airport (2P2), Wisconsin

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Badger Flyers Inc:

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA412
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 15, 2017 in Washington Island, WI
Aircraft: MOONEY M20C, registration: N9303V

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

Aircraft on approach, struck the treetops and force landed short of the runway.

Date: 15-JUL-17
Time: 16:00:00Z
Regis#: N9303V
Aircraft Make: MOONEY
Aircraft Model: M20
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: APPROACH (APR)

WASHINGTON ISLAND (WLUK) -- Two people were able to walk away from a plane this morning on Washington Island, according to a former fire chief with the Washington Island Fire Department.

Officials say a 4-seater Mooney airplane came in low and slow into the airport around 11 Saturday morning. That's when it caught an air pocket and crashed just beyond the runway behind a row of trees.

Authorities say there were only 2 people on board and they received minor injuries and were treated on scene.

The plane is a total loss.

The Door County Sheriff’s Office says it will not be releasing any further information until Monday.

WASHINGTON ISLAND - A single-engine plane crashed at 11:35 a.m. Saturday during the 64th Annual Washington Island Lions Club Fly-in Fish Boil. 

There were no injuries but the plane "is a total loss" after it clipped a tree as the pilot was approaching the runway to land at the Washington Island Airport, said Fire Chief Paul Swanson.

There were two people in the plane and their identities were not available.

About 100 planes were at the airport with hundreds of people gathered for the annual fly-in, Swanson said.

"Door County EMS and a fire department crew were on site when it happened," Swanson said. The Washington Island Police Department also was stationed at the airport for the event.

Every year, first responders and medical personnel are stationed at the airport for the fly-in event, he said. 

The annual fly-in fish boil raises funds for the Lions Club that sponsors several community service projects on Washington Island.

WASHINGTON ISLAND, Wis. (WBAY) -- A small plane crashed on Washington Island late Saturday morning.

According to the Washington Island Fire Chief, the single engine Mooney was attempting to land around 11:30 a.m when it came in low, clipping some trees which caused the plane to crash.

The pilot and one passenger were in the plane at the time and suffered minor injuries. Officials say they refused medical help.

The plane is a total loss.

The fire chief said the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crash on Sunday.

The two people were flying into Washington Island for the annual Fly-In-Fish Boil.

Between 100 and 150 planes are expected on the island for the weekend event.

Drone crashes into Latter-day Saints temple in Utah; raises questions of airspace rules

SALT LAKE CITY — A drone stuck near the top of the LDS temple in Draper has put a tiny spotlight on the intersection of drone pilots, private entities, cities and the federal government.

Drew Armstrong often flies drones — or unmanned aerial vehicles — on the outskirts of temple grounds to photograph LDS temples. He said he was flying near the perimeter of the Draper Utah Temple grounds on June 26, when someone who identified himself as the temple’s site manager approached him. The man asked him to fly over and get a visual of where a drone was stuck near the top of the temple’s steeple, Armstrong said. It is presumed that the drone, which has been sitting near the top of the temple for weeks, had crashed.

“I had the site manager looking over my shoulder wanting to see what was on my iPad because we were trying to figure out how to get the other drone off,” Armstrong said.

He emphasized that he normally doesn’t fly that close to temples and only did so at the site manager’s request.

“They are worried about somebody damaging the church’s property, and I don’t blame them,” he said.

The stuck drone illustrates the potential problems that can happen as more drones take to the skies and inexperienced pilots push the limits, as well what private property owners and cities can and cannot require when it comes to regulating drones.

Drone pilots typically fall into one of two Federal Aviation Administration categories: commercial or hobbyist. Drone pilots who fly commercially must be certified by the FAA and follow regulations, like agreeing to not fly over people or at night unless they receive waivers from the FAA. Hobbyist drone pilots, on the other hand, are encouraged to fly safely and in accordance with a drone community-based set of safety guidelines.

The lack of consistency in requirements for drone pilots and confusion behind who can order what are where things can get tricky.

For instance, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has discouraged unauthorized drone flights near temples.

“Temples and the grounds that surround them are sacred spaces for worship and reflection, and so we try to preserve an atmosphere of tranquility and peace. For this reason, drone filming is very rarely authorized,” said church spokeswoman Irene Caso. “If a drone were to crash during an unauthorized flight over a temple, we may offer to retrieve it at the pilot’s expense, but in some cases, this may not be possible.”

Along these similar lines, during this year’s legislative session, Utah lawmakers passed SB111, which prohibits drone hobbyists from flying over private property without permission, and says a violation of this rule would be considered trespassing.

“The person operating the unmanned aircraft is not otherwise authorized to fly the unmanned aircraft over the private property or any portion of the private property,” states part of the law.

This law, however, contradicts the FAA’s authority to regulate the U.S. airspace. It also goes against the agency’s request that state and local municipalities not attempt to regulate airspace to prevent a “patchwork” of laws and regulations across the nation that become difficult for pilots to follow.

“This ‘patchwork quilt’ of differing restrictions could severely limit the flexibility of FAA in controlling the airspace and flight patterns, and ensuring safety and an efficient air traffic flow,” reads a statement on the FAA’s website. “A navigable airspace free from inconsistent state and local restrictions is essential to the maintenance of a safe and sound air transportation system.”

So, while the church can prohibit drone pilots from taking off, landing and operating a drone while standing on church property, a FAA spokesperson said as a private property owner, it cannot regulate airspace above a property.

“The FAA is responsible for the safety and management of U.S. airspace from the ground up. Property owners are within their rights to prohibit drone takeoffs and landings on their property, but cannot deny use of the airspace surrounding the site,” a FAA spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Even still, church officials encourage drone pilots to first contact a member of the temple staff before flying near a temple site.

“We’re grateful that most drone pilots and film crews understand and respect this restriction,” church spokeswoman Caso said.

The church would not comment on this specific incident.

Bell 407, N242MT: Rotorcraft issue - El Dorado, Butler County, Kansas

BUTLER COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) UPDATE: One man is dead and a woman is in the hospital in serious condition after a motorcycle crash east of El Dorado. The highway is also back open after a helicopter had issues and was stuck on US-54. 

Sheriff Herzet said the two were on a motorcycle heading west when they crossed the centerline and lost control. Both flew from the motorcycle. Herzet said he doesn't know why they crossed the centerline.

Herzet said a helicopter came and landed to airlift the two to the hospital but after it landed, Herzet said the pilot noticed something was wrong. They decided not to fly back to Wichita until someone could look at the helicopter. That kept the helicopter on US-54 for some time, closing the road.

Herzet said mechanics came on scene and towed the helicopter off of the road to figure out what was wrong. The mechanic said he wasn't authorized to release the issue. But the highway is since back open and the helicopter went back to Wichita.

Both people went to the hospital via ambulance. Herzet said they're from Overland Park but isn't yet releasing names.

Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet confirms a helicopter is stuck on US-54 after responding to a two motorcycle crash from early Saturday morning.

Cirrus SR22T, N411SE, Levy Aviation 1 LLC: Accident occurred July 15, 2017 at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (KMKC), Kansas City, Missouri

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Kansas City, Missouri

Levy Aviation 1 LLC:

Aircraft on landing, nose gear collapsed.

Date: 15-JUL-17
Time: 19:50:00Z
Regis#: N411SE
Aircraft Make: CIRRUS
Aircraft Model: SR22
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)

No one was injured when a single-engine plane from Charlotte landed on its nose at a Missouri airport Saturday afternoon. 

According to Joe McBride, who is the spokesperson for the Kansas City Aviation Department, the aircraft was flying from Denver, Colorado to the Charles B. Wheeler airport in Kansas City around 3 p.m. when the incident occurred. McBride said the nose landing gear of the aircraft collapsed upon landing. 

The airport did not close since another runway was available for use, McBride told KCTV5. 

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the airplane was manufactured in 2014 and most recently registered to an individual in the 6300 block of Mitchell Hollow Road in Charlotte. 

The plane was a Cirrus SR22T (N411SE)  aircraft, according to KCTV5.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two occupants of a small plane escaped a scary situation after making a rough landing Saturday at the Charles B. Wheeler downtown airport.

Joe McBride, a representative with the Kansas City airport, said a small plane’s nose wheel collapsed Saturday afternoon, causing the plane to end up on its propeller.

Two people were on the plane, but did not suffer any injuries. The Cirrus SR22T (N411SE)  was flying from Denver to Charles B. Wheeler downtown airport.

The incident happened 3 p.m. and caused a temporary shutdown of one runway at the downtown airport, but the other runway is still open.

World War II pilot's remains found in tree, return for burial 72 years later

Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William J. Gray, Jr., 21, of Kirkland, Washington.

For more than 70 years a tree protected the remains of a World War II fighter pilot from Washington state whose plane crashed in Germany in 1945.

The remains of Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William Gray of Kirkland were returned to his family Friday for a burial at Tahoma National Cemetery with full military honors.

The 21-year-old Gray was on a dive-bombing mission on April 16, 1945, when his single-seat P-47D aircraft clipped a tree and crashed in Lindau.

The Defense POW/MIA said investigators recovered Gray’s remains last year. Two people who saw Gray’s plane go down told the investigators where to look, Q13 Fox reported Friday. The investigators were in Lindau on another recovery mission. 

“The bones they found were embedded in the tree,” Gray’s niece Jan Bradshaw told the station.

Her brother Doug Louvier added, “It grew over his remains and really protected and marked the spot.”

Gray was buried side-by-side with his best friend—Bradshaw and Louvier’s father.

Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Jim Louvier returned home from the war and was 89 when he died in 2010.

As they went off to the war together after enlisting, Louvier made a pact with his buddy. They each promised to take care of the other’s family if anything happened to either one of them.

Bradshaw told the station that her father kept his word. He married Gray's younger sister, her mother.

“I know he loved her dearly and committed to her for 64 years before he died,” she said of her father.

Louvier was cremated after he died but his children didn’t know what do with the ashes—until Friday.

“We couldn’t decide what to do and now we know why,” Bradshaw said.