Thursday, August 17, 2017

Former Bahamasair Pilot Admits Hitting Friend With Bottle After Argument At Bar

A former Bahamasair pilot was given an absolute discharge by the chief magistrate despite pleading guilty to striking his friend over the head with a Bud Light beer bottle and damaging his eyeglasses following a heated bar argument and scuffle last month.

Richard Marshall, 65, stood before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt facing one charge of assault with a dangerous weapon and one charge of causing damage concerning his July 1 argument with his friend, Godfrey Fernander, at a liquor store on Meadow Street.

During the argument, Marshall struck Mr. Fernander over the head with a Bud Light beer bottle, and also damaged his eyeglasses worth $639.63, according to a summary of facts presented by the prosecution.

According to the prosecution, both Marshall and Mr. Fernander were at the bar/liquor store in question around 3.30pm on July 1 when Mr. Fernander, the virtual complainant in the matter, spoke to Marshall about getting a bag of ice for him.

Marshall sharply retorted by telling Mr. Fernander to suck his ___, according to the prosecution.

A physical altercation followed, and at some point, Marshall approached Mr. Fernander brandishing a beer bottle. Mr. Fernander extended an arm to keep Marshall at bay. Nonetheless, Mr. Fernander was struck on his head with the bottle.

A struggle followed, resulting in Marshall falling down. Mr. Fernander consequently held his friend down, adamantly telling him to stop doing what he was doing.

Mr. Fernander eventually released Marshall, who then attempted to secure another bottle to attack him, according to the prosecutor. It was at this time that Mr. Fernander left to notify the authorities.

The matter was reported and Marshall was subsequently arrested and interviewed, and ultimately charged.

While in police custody, Marshall admitted he was involved in an argument with Mr. Fernander and that they were all drinking and being loud. Marshall agreed with the summary of facts read by the prosecutor yesterday.

As the summary of the facts were read to Chief Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt, however, she mentioned that the entire situation was "very disappointing" and that she did not expect such actions from "a senior man."

Marshall's attorney, Jomo Campbell, in pleading to the chief magistrate to exercise her lenience, said the scuffle was the result of a heated discussion about certain sensitive topics between the two, compounded by both men being "merry" at the time of the incident.

Mr. Campbell noted that his client, a resident of Seabreeze Drive, is a father of two and a grandfather with a clean police record and zero pending matters in any jurisdiction.

Mr. Campbell said his client is "extremely embarrassed" by the situation, and requested that the court be as lenient as possible considering the circumstances.

Nonetheless, Chief Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt said she was "lost for words" in trying to understand how, at "this age and stage," a man who has been both a "model" citizen and Bahamasair pilot could have been involved in such a matter. She also stated her view that Marshall should not drink unadvisedly.

Marshall would has been ordered to pay for the full repair of Mr. Fernander's glasses, however, the court was informed that he had already submitted a payment to Palmdale Optical for Mr. Fernander to have his glasses repaired.

The chief magistrate ultimately stated that it would not be "expedient" to inflict any punishment on Marshall in view of the circumstances, and discharged the former pilot "absolutely".

Marshall consequently thanked the chief magistrate for her lenience and promised her that he would never do it again before leaving the court with family and friends in tow.

Original article can be found here ➤

Central Flying Service Marks Milestone

Central Flying Service CEO Dick Holbert watches Chief Flight Instructor Mike Jones and student Kristine Beard finish a historic 475,000 hours of training on Wednesday.  

Central Flying Service of Little Rock on Wednesday marked a key milestone, with its Chief Flight Instructor Mike Jones and student Kristine Beard completing 475,000 hours of flight training at Arkansas' oldest continually operated flight school.

CFS is also the nation's largest fixed base operator, measured by square footage. It is engaged in aircraft sales, charter flying services and aircraft maintenance too.

Its flight school is also one of the nation's longest continually operated flight schools.

CEO Dick Holbert, son of CFS founder Claud Holbert, received an award from the FAA and a National Air Transportation Association Aviation Milestone Award commemorating the hours and 78 years of continuous service to the industry. CFS was one of NATA's earliest members.

NATA Executive Vice President Tim Obitts and FAA Safety Team Program Manager Heather Metzler attended the event. 

Original article  ➤

Rare Alaska hearing probes causes for plane crashes

A packed audience took part in a nine-hour field hearing held by the National Transportation Safety Board in Anchorage on Aug. 17. The hearing, the first in the state since the Exxon Valdez oil spill, was called to examine the continued problem of crashes known as controlled flight into terrain that continue to occur with regularity in Alaska.

Why, in the technological age, are airworthy planes still being flown into the ground in Alaska?

That was the omnipresent question at the National Transportation Safety Board’s Aug. 17 hearing in Anchorage to further its investigation into the crash of Hageland Aviation Flight 3153 on Oct. 2, 2016, just outside of the Western Alaska village of Togiak.

The Hageland Cessna 208 Caravan was en route to Togiak from the nearby village of Quinhagak with a load of mail and one passenger when it crashed high on a mountainside about 12 miles from Togiak, according to representatives from the commuter airline. The controlled flight into terrain, or CFIT, crash killed the passenger and both pilots on impact.

While the number of CFIT accidents in Alaska has generally decreased over the last decade-plus, NTSB officials said leading up to the rare field hearing that they really shouldn’t be happening anymore at all.

Board member Earl Weener stated in a press release that the board traveled to Alaska because most of the witnesses the agency wanted to hear from are here.

However, the NTSB has investigated countless aviation accidents in the state over the years and the inquiry into the Togiak crash was the first investigative hearing the board has held outside of Washington, D.C., in nearly 20 years. It was the first in Alaska since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Weener, who ran the hearing, noted at its outset that the hearing was “strictly a fact-finding mission.”

“The board does not find fault or blame,” he said.

Federal Aviation Administration officials and Hageland leaders testifying under oath before the board stressed throughout the intense, nine-hour day of inquiry that two age-old Alaska themes are often at the root of CFIT crashes in the state: much of rural Alaska still lacks needed infrastructure to give pilots the information they need — in this case for weather reporting and communications —and the daring, “bush pilot culture” is still pervasive amongst the state’s aviators.

According to FAA data, the number of CFIT accidents in Alaska has gone from eight in 2002 and nine in 2003, to an average of four per year by 2016.

The number of CFIT accidents — fatal and nonfatal — involving commuter and flight service operators known as Part 135 has gone from five in 2002 to four in 2004 and has been one or two per year since 2006.

The overall average would be lower if not for a recent spike in incidents that prompted Alaska FAA Flight Standards Manager Clint Wease to issue a letter in May 2016 to Part 135 operations.

According to Wease at the time, CFIT accidents involving Part 135 aircraft in the year before the letter had led to 24 fatalities or serious injuries.

“Many of these CFIT accidents have occurred in aircraft with advanced avionics, which were capable of instrument flight and operated by experienced pilots,” Wease wrote.

His first of several recommendations in the letter was for pilots to operate under instrument flight rules, or IFR, whenever possible.

Hageland Operations Manager Luke Hickerson said in his testimony to the NTSB that about two-thirds of the airports the airline serves don’t have all of the equipment necessary to conduct IFR flights.

According to Hickerson, Hageland has about 7,600 possible “city pairs” in its flight network and its pilots perform roughly 150,000 takeoffs and landings per year on about 55,000 flights.

Erin Witt, Hageland’s chief pilot, estimated that up to 15 percent of the airports the company flies to have no communication capabilities at all.

Hageland serves the numerous villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region of the state on behalf of its larger sister airline Ravn Alaska. The communications challenges are often compounded by the fact that the area regularly has low cloud ceilings that are sometimes at less than 1,000 feet, Hageland pilots testified.

Flying an IFR route allows a pilot to fly through and above cloud cover, almost eliminating the risk of CFIT accidents.

“I would love to operate a fleet of IFR aircraft” and fly by instruments all of the time, Witt said.

The alternative is flying below the ceiling under visual flight rules, or flying VFR.

Lacking weather reporting from official equipment such as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration automated weather observing systems, or AWOS, common at larger airports, Hageland pilots regularly use FAA weather cameras and call trusted sources in the villages such as state Department of Transportation workers at the airports for current conditions before take-off and, when possible, during a flight, Hickerson said.

The FAA maintains a network of more than 230 weather cameras in Alaska at airports and high-risk points. While they are viewed by small commercial operators across the state, the cameras are geared towards general aviation and information they provide cannot be used as a formal weather report by a commercial pilot.

When questioned by NTSB investigators why a pilot would rely on unofficial weather information, Hickerson responded by saying the pilots are “going from nothing and making something.”

Hageland pilot Natoshia Burdick, who was the safety pilot on a flight about five minutes behind Flight 3153, noted in testimony that a pilot flying in the Yukon-Kuskokwim area is required to get near-immediate clearance from air traffic control in Bethel when requesting to fly IFR and the tower is not always reachable.

“It’s a whole lot easier with the infrastructure that’s out there to go VFR,” Burdick said.

Additionally, pilots on IFR-capable routes may still have to fly below the clouds because many of the village airports do not have de-icing equipment, according to Hickerson.

Flying through clouds and at higher altitudes greatly increases the likelihood that ice will form on the aircraft and when a plane that has flown through icing conditions it cannot take back off without being sprayed down with a glycol solution.

Hageland has developed its own small, portable de-icing sprayer that can be kept in the small aircraft it flies, but with only about five gallons of fluid its usefulness is limited, company representatives testified.

Hickerson said there are reasons CFITs were a serious problem in the Lower 48 up until about 40 years ago.

“I think the technology and infrastructure advancements that have been made in the continental U.S. need to be made here,” he told the NTSB.

Deputy NTSB Director of Aviation Safety John DeLisi said the agency has recommended mandating CFIT avoidance training for all Part 135 pilots — it isn’t currently — while also seeming to commiserate somewhat with the Hageland witnesses.

“It would be great to have that infrastructure and we’re going to do our job to make that point,” DeLisi said in response to Hickerson.

FAA Alaska Region Administrator Kerry Long, who has held the position for about three years, said in an interview that he believes he and his staff have made progress of late in getting key agency personnel from the Lower 48 to visit Alaska and recognize the challenges the aviation industry faces in the state.

Long said a pending report commissioned by the FAA from the RTCA — an aviation technology nonprofit —should highlight Alaska issues for decision-makers in Washington, D.C. He called the lack of weather and navigational infrastructure in parts of Alaska “a pressing issue.”

“We believe that we have developed approaches that have made people more interested in coming up here as well as providing the information in forms that people understand better and this particular RTCA report will fit in with the recommendations that get made to the agency as a whole,” Long said.

He noted the FAA’s funding has been flat for several years as a result of Congress repeatedly passing continuing budget resolutions, which challenges the agencies ability to install new equipment.

“We can ask for it; we can push for it; we can do everything we can but if we can’t deliver we have to try harder,” he added.

Alaska Air Carriers Association Executive Director Jane Dale wrote in an email that despite the facts that 82 percent of Alaska communities are only accessible by air and the FAA encourages Alaska carriers to fly IFR, the state lags in AWOS stations and working ground-based navigational equipment.

“Infrastructure supporting IFR and VFR flights in Alaska is and has been the association’s number one priority for years,” Dale wrote. “This includes improving the availability of weather information in rural Alaska, proactive investment in aviation infrastructure and maintaining the existing infrastructure.”

Flight 3153 crash

Despite the apparent consensus among industry and government regulators at the hearing that Alaska’s aviation infrastructure is insufficient; it does not explain the Togiak accident.

The Quinhagak-Togiak route is IFR capable.

Burdick, a pilot on the trailing Hageland flight that detoured around the mountain before being notified of the crash, said agents at the company’s Operations Control Center led by Hickerson recommended flying IFR that day, but the Flight 3153 pilot chose not to.

Little explains the crash of the flight that had a pilot-in-command to fly the Cessna and a safety pilot tasked with — as the title implies — being a redundant safety check.

Hageland’s right-seat safety pilots are trained to clearly and directly voice any concerns they have with weather conditions or decisions made by the pilot-in-command, the company’s NTSB witnesses testified.

Burdick said when news of the crash made its way to their plane, she and her pilot-in-command attempted to locate the crash site but the 2,500-foot mountain was obscured by clouds below the broader ceiling.

The NTSB may yet find a definitive reason for the Hageland tragedy, but Hickerson and FAA officials said audacious attitudes are still far too prevalent among Alaska pilots, creating a wholly unnecessary danger, particularly among commercial pilots.

Hageland’s operational control agents at the center in Palmer discuss the circumstances surrounding each flight with the pilot before approving, or releasing it, Hickerson said.

An operations manager is involved if any disagreement arises between the pilot and the agent. He emphasized that the operations center is completely removed from the business side of the company.

“There is not pressure on the OCC to ever release a flight,” he said.

The OCC has cancelled more than 3,500 flights since the start of 2016 and turned another 600-plus around due to deteriorating weather, according to Hageland leaders.

Culture shift

Hickerson stressed that “safe, legal, and best practice” is what drives Hageland Aviation.

“It’s a lot easier to write rules and regulations than it is to change hearts and minds and that’s what we’re trying to do right now,” Hickerson said.

He continued: “The idea of turning around 10 years ago was unheard of and shamed not only by other pilots buy by companies as well.”

Wease generally agreed in his testimony, saying a series of Hageland incidents in the 2012-13 timeframe pushed the FAA to uncover what he described as a “poor pilot culture,” that he believes has since been corrected.

The company CEO starts each ground school with a talk to prospective pilots highlighting Hageland’s safety culture, Hickerson said, to illustrate it is truly companywide.

He said the company looks for reckless behavior “in every aspect of pilots’ lives,” because risks don’t announce themselves.

“You’ve got to listen for the whispers in the system,” Hickerson said.

Dale, of the Alaska Air Carriers Association, said the industry group does not agree with the belief that there is still an unsafe pilot culture in the state. Alaska operators “work hard to ensure a culture of safety,” according to Dale.

She again cited a lack of needed equipment in some areas of the state, noting some of the current AWOS and navigational infrastructure is often out of service.

Witt said pilots applying to fly for Hageland are screened with questions related to their decision-making and risk tolerances and about 10 percent of applicants are denied solely on those answers.

To that, FAA Alaska Certificate Office Manager Deke Abbott, who spent most of his career in aviation Outside, said he was taken aback by the adventurous nature of many Alaska pilots.

“We push the airplanes to get where we’re going,” Abbott said to the board, adding that when a pilot makes a decision, the consequences of that decision are ultimately solely the pilot’s responsibility.

“We’re trying to change a 100-year culture,” he concluded.

Today, Thursday, August 17, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking into the safety of Alaska skies. 

Ravn Air's crash outside of Togiak last October is at the center of the hearing being held in Anchorage. But the NTSB’s investigation goes much further than the accident on the flight from Quinhagak to Togiak, which crashed into Caribou Ridge on October 2, killing all three on board. The NTSB is also looking into the wider issues surrounding the continued persistence of high numbers of accidents involving small planes and air taxis in Alaska.

The Federal Aviation Administration has chosen to back the voluntary "Medallion" program as a solution instead of tighter regulations and requirements, but the stats are stacking up, indicating that voluntary programs may not be enough to make Alaska skies safe.

The hearing will take all day. Typically the NTSB does not look at a single reason for an accident, but at a range of factors that may be involved. The board may take a year to release its findings and their recommendations could change the shape of air travel in rural Alaska.

Story and audio:

Incident occurred August 16, 2017 near Lawrence Municipal Airport (KLWM), North Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts

Newburyport-bound police helicopter, drone nearly collide: Massachusetts State Police seek public's help identifying drone operator

NORTH ANDOVER — A state police helicopter came within seconds of colliding with a drone in the vicinity of Lawrence Municipal Airport on Wednesday morning, according to officials.

The helicopter was flying a training mission from Holliston to Newburyport when it passed through the air space of the Lawrence airport about 11:20 a.m., according to state police. 

While flying at 600 feet, the helicopter’s crew saw what they described as a large drone approach them from the side, flying toward the front of the helicopter.

The drone came within 100 feet of the helicopter, which was flying at about 120 mph.

“It flew across the front of the windshield of the helicopter, they thought it was a bird initially until they came right up on it,” said Maj. Richard Prior, special operations commander with Massachusetts State Police. “The drone itself did drop out from under them, so I’m sure the pilot of the drone saw — you have to observe the helicopter, it’s only 100 feet away — but the helicopter was forced to take evasive action to avoid collision.”

The pilot banked a “hard left” to avoid impact, while the drone had already begun to drop out of the way of the helicopter.

“It’s an awakening moment,” said Russell Phippen, a tactical flight officer and trooper who was on board.

He described the drone as a black and white quad-copter drone, approximately two to three feet long, hovering in the air.

The crew reversed direction and searched for the person who was flying the drone but did not locate anyone, police said. State police cruisers also responded to the area and did not find anyone. The flight crew landed safely back at the Lawrence base.

It is against the law for private drone pilots to fly their craft within five miles of an airport, or to fly at an altitude greater than 400 feet. Private drones heavier than 0.55 pounds must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Lawrence Municipal Airport manager Michael Miller said drone operation is a concern for anyone involved in aviation, especially around the operation of an airport.

Miller said for the most part, people have been complying with laws that require hobbyist drone operators to inform airports if they plan to fly in an airport’s airspace.

“If you’re within five miles, as a hobbyist recreational, you have to contact the air traffic control tower, and people have been doing that,” Miller said. “They call us when they’re launching, tell us the duration of the flight, and they call us when it has been recovered.”

The operator Wednesday did not notify either the FAA or the Lawrence Municipal Airport of its flight plans, according to Prior.

If the drone had made contact with the helicopter, the windshield would have likely broken and impacted the crew.

“The wind screens ... they’re not like a car windshield that has two pieces of glass with a piece of plastic in the middle,” Phippen said. “That’s a very thin piece of plastic that can break just by dropping something two feet away. A drone, while we’re going at 120 miles an hour, would have come right through the screen.”

Prior said state police obtained helmets with protective masks about a year ago for helicopter crews to use that mitigate the impact of a stray bird.

“In theory, if a bird flies in, with them wearing the mask, it makes them at least be able to fly if the aircraft is still intact,” said Prior. “But a bird’s about a quarter-pound or less,” and the drone that nearly collided with the helicopter on Wednesday was about two pounds. The officers were not wearing the masks Wednesday, as they are usually only used when the doors of the helicopter are open during flight.

Prior said drones can be useful and fun machines if used properly.

“If you’re a recreational user of a drone, have at it. We think they’re a great tool,” Prior said. “We ask people before you take one out, be aware of how high you can go, be aware of your surroundings, check with the FAA.”

The investigation of the incident is ongoing, and Prior advised anyone with information about the drone operator to contact state police in Danvers. Their phone number is 978-538-6020.

Original article ➤

Firefighters with drones? Grand Rapids seeks input

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The Grand Rapids Fire Department wants to add drones to its arsenal of tools used to investigate fires and aid in rescues.

After the idea was publicly introduced in January, the department is now ready to move forward with a formal request for the equipment this fall.

First, the city must hold a public hearing due to its policies that govern any time the city adds new surveillance equipment.

That hearing is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, in front of the city commission at its regular session.

Fire Department Chief John Lehman told the city commission this week that the drone would not be used on a daily basis.

"There's not someone out there that we're trying to model - we're attempting to be the model for departments in the state of Michigan," Lehman said in an interview with MLive.

The fire department is considering the purchase of an Inspire 1 V2.0 drone, along with the Zenmuse XT Flir thermal imaging camera.

The thermal imaging software would allow firefighters to find hot spots in a fire faster and without putting as many firefighters at risk. A similar technology could also help firefighters in investigating the cause of fires after they are extinguished.

One of the biggest opportunities the department sees for the drone is to assist in water rescues to help locate people, especially in the middle of the night. The drone could also be used to aid in hazmat situations, storm damage assessment and training.

Under the department's policy, the drone would be used to "aid in the department's fire investigation efforts, hazardous materials planning, fire inspections, emergency operations, damage assessment after large scale emergencies and to support the department's training efforts."

The policy also states that drones used by the department "will not be used for surveillance or tracking of individuals or groups of people unless it is directly related to emergency deployments such as fires, fire investigations, damage assessments and rescue missions."

Firefighters will also be required to use the drone in a way that does not violate individuals' rights protecting them against unreasonable search and seizure, according to the policy.

The department would plan to destroy the data captured by the drone unless it is considered to be evidence of a crime, part of an ongoing investigation or otherwise required to be retained by law, under the operating guidelines the fire department has developed.

Data would be stored on the fire department's shared drive in a secure folder only accessible by the fire chief or someone the chief designates, according to the guidelines.

Other departments could ask to use the fire departments drone - but they would have to agree to the terms and conditions of the fire department's guidelines first.

Ten firefighters across the department are now certified drone pilots through the Federal Aviation Administration. Lehman said federal requirements to operate a drone program have been completed.

The drone would require a three-man team to operate: one pilot, one spotter and one person to watch the video feed from the drone.

After the Aug. 22 hearing, the department would next bring a formal request to the commission to start an unmanned aerial vehicle program Sept. 12. Should that vote be successful, the department would then approach the commission's fiscal committee Sept. 26. 

Original article can be found here ➤

U.S. Army Aviation Museum: AP-2 Neptune kept tabs on enemy

As if it was pulled out of a scene from a James Bond movie complete with covert ops and spy planes, one Army Aviation aircraft played a vital role as the eyes and ears over the skies of Vietnam.

The Lockheed AP-2E Neptune sits on the western lawn of the U.S. Army Aviation Museum and is one of the largest aircraft in the collection. It served as a signals intelligence aircraft during the Vietnam War, and although it wasn’t the first signals intelligence aircraft to fly during the war, it provided greater capabilities than its predecessors, according to Bob Mitchell, U.S. Army Aviation Museum curator.

“Back during the Vietnam War, the Army Security Agency basically ran an operation where they were using U-8 [Seminole} aircraft to monitor low-power radio transmissions and other signals – it was a very covert program,” he said. “This program was designed to listen for communications in the field to determine what the enemy was doing and be able to monitor that without them knowing it.”

The program was successful in that the Army was able to intercept transmissions and information, but the capability of the U-8 and other aircraft were limited by their size and weight limits, and the Army quickly realized that a larger aircraft was needed, said Mitchell.

“When the mission first started out, they didn’t have a lot of equipment or a lot of capability, so they had a small aircraft. As they got more involved with the mission, they realized that they needed more monitoring devices, better devices and more powerful devices,” he said.

Since the Army didn’t have a large, fixed-wing aircraft of its own, it eventually turned to the Navy, which had been operating P-2 Neptunes for some time as long-range, anti-submarine patrol aircraft.

In 1966, it was decided that the Navy would give the Army 12 P-2s that would be retrofitted to fit the Army’s needs, and they were designated AP-2 Neptunes in the Army inventory.

“Since it was a covert program, the Army didn’t want anyone to know that this aircraft was doing anything special, so they called it an AP-2 Neptune and not an RP-2, which would denote reconnaissance or security,” said the curator. “The only external clues to the role of the aircraft were extended wing tips tanks to house the sensors, extra antenna and a solid nose, of which the original aircraft had a glass nose.”

The plane was also kept painted in the Navy colors and proved to be a very effective surveillance system, able to house much more surveillance equipment, radios and monitoring devices, as well as a crew of up to 15, including pilots and ASA agents.

The program ran from 1965 to 1972, but as the Vietnam War began to wind down and the mission was no longer required, the Army returned the aircraft to the Navy, but the Navy allowed the Army to keep one, which now sits on the lawn of the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

Original article can be found here ➤

Loss of Engine Power (Partial): Beech A36, N48TZ; accident occurred August 17, 2017 near Louisiana Regional Airport (KREG), Gonzales, Ascension Parish, Louisiana

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 
Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Gonzales, LA
Accident Number: CEN17LA328
Date & Time: 08/17/2017, 0927 CDT
Registration: N48TZ
Aircraft: BEECH A36
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (partial)
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 


During the initial climb on an instructional flight, the private pilot and instructor noticed a partial loss of engine power. The pilot performed a forced landing into a hay field and the airplane nosed over. Following the accident, the mechanic who normally performed maintenance removed and discarded all twelve spark plugs, as several were worn. A subsequent examination and test run of the engine revealed a leaking fuel hose due to a loose B-nut. The loss of engine power was consistent with an inadequate fuel supply due to a fuel line leak. Further, it is likely that the worn spark plugs would also have contributed to the loss of engine power. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A partial loss of engine power due to inadequate maintenance, including worn spark plugs and a leaking fuel hose fitting. 


Engine (reciprocating) - Incorrect service/maintenance (Cause)
Spark plugs/igniters - Fatigue/wear/corrosion (Cause)
Fuel system - Damaged/degraded (Cause)

Personnel issues
Maintenance - Maintenance personnel (Cause)

Factual Information 

On August 17, 2017, about 0927 central daylight time, a Beech A36 airplane, N48TZ, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after departing from the Louisiana Regional Airport (REG), Gonzales, Louisiana. The pilot and flight instructor were not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Gulf Central Aviation LLC under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which departed without a flight plan about 0926.

According to the pilot, he departed from Runway 17, following a normal engine run up and takeoff roll. After reaching about 150 ft agl, the pilot noticed the airplane was no longer climbing and lowered the airplane's nose. Based on his perceptions of a partial engine power loss, the pilot checked the throttle and mixture lever positions, both of which were full forward. After maneuvering to avoid trees, the pilot initiated a forced landing into a hay field. During the landing roll, the airplane impacted a small ridge and nosed over, which damaged the engine firewall.

Examination at the recovery location revealed the ignition harness connecting the magnetos to each of the top sparkplugs had been disconnected from the sparkplugs. All twelve sparkplugs appeared new, with no combustion deposits noted. Without authorization, a mechanic who normally performed maintenance on the airplane stated he had removed and discarded the spark plugs due to several having a worn-out condition. Not realizing the airplane should not be disturbed during the investigation, the mechanic had also removed the fuel screen.

Examination of the throttle and mixture control cables revealed proper attachment to their respective control arms. Borescope inspection of piston domes, cylinder wall surfaces, and intake and exhaust valves revealed normal wear patterns and combustion signatures, except for the No. 5 cylinder exhaust valve, which had a green crescent-shaped discoloration on the bottom of the valve face.

After the fuel screen was returned by the mechanic, an engine test run was performed. The engine rotated and ran on the first attempt but stopped after several seconds. A fuel leak was observed adjacent to the fuel pump, with a flexible fuel hose leaking at a B-nut. The nut was tightened about ¼ turn, which seated the nut onto the fitting. The engine driven fuel pump and the adjacent oil filter adapter were stained with a blue color.

A second fuel leak was observed at the throttle body/metering unit, with the fuel mixture arm and shaft bent in a manner consistent with impact damage. A second engine test run was conducted, during which power was not increased above 1,100 rpm, due to a damaged propeller. The engine was operated at varying speeds and a magneto check was accomplished, with no anomalies. The throttle was reduced to idle power and the engine ran smoothly.

The oil on the oil rod was very dark in color. A logbook review revealed the engine had accumulated 163.7 hours since the last oil and oil filter change. The manufacturer recommends oil change intervals of 50 hours for an engine equipped with external filters installed.

History of Flight

Initial climb
Loss of engine power (partial) (Defining event)

Hard landing

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 43, 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: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/28/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 09/19/2016
Flight Time:  302 hours (Total, all aircraft), 165 hours (Total, this make and model), 148 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 18 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 11 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor
Age: 58, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/21/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/12/2017
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 18100 hours (Total, all aircraft), 3000 hours (Total, this make and model), 17200 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 100 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 25 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: BEECH
Registration: N48TZ
Model/Series: A36
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1980
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: E-1804
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/08/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3651 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 163 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 6184 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-520
Rated Power: 285 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KREG, 14 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0935 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 17°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 300 ft agl
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 230°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 26°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: GONZALES, LA (REG)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: GONZALES, LA (REG)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0926 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 14 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 17
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5003 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

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: 30.153889, -90.937778 (est)

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA328
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 17, 2017 in Gonzales, LA
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N48TZ
Injuries: 2 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 August 17, 2017, about 0927 central daylight time, a Beech A36 airplane, N48TZ, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after departing from Louisiana Regional Airport (REG), Gonzales, Louisiana. The private pilot and flight instructor were not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Gulf Central Aviation LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which departed about 0926. 

According to the pilot, the departure occurred on Runway 17, following a normal engine run up and takeoff roll. After climbing to about 150 ft agl, the pilot noticed the airplane was no longer climbing and lowered the nose. Based on his perceptions of a partial engine power loss, the pilot checked the throttle and mixture lever positions, which were both full forward. After maneuvering to avoid trees, the pilot initiated a forced landing into a hay field. During the landing roll, the airplane impacted a small ridge and nosed over, which damaged the engine firewall.

BURNSIDE — A single-engine plane crashed in a hay field north of La. 22 shortly after takeoff mid-Thursday morning in southern Ascension Parish, sheriff's deputies said.

Ascension Sheriff's Chief Deputy Bobby Webre said the Beechcraft Bonanza lost power about 9:40 a.m. Thursday right after taking off from nearby Louisiana Regional Airport, a general aviation airport northwest of La. 22. 

The pilot had to immediately make an emergency landing in the field, Webre said, and it was a good one if not for a ditch in the field that caused the plane to nose forward after touching down. 

Webre said two people were on-board the plane, a pilot and co-pilot, but there were no injuries, no fires and no leaks of fuel or other hazardous materials as a result of the crash.     

The plane had damage to its propeller and engine cowling, Webre said. 

Webre said the field is located north of La. 22 between the Pelican Point subdivision to the north, the Ascension Trace subdivision to the south and between the La. 22/La. 44 intersection and the Word of Life Church.

The crash site also happens to be just down the road from the 5th Ward fire station. Deputies and firefighters responded the crash, Webre said. 

Original article can be found here ➤ 

GONZALES – Two people were on a plane that went down in a hayfield in Ascension Parish Thursday, but none sustained serious enough injuries to be taken to the hospital.

The plane went down in a field near Pelican Point Country Club around 9:30.

The plane, built in 1980 by Beechcraft, seats six people.  It is registered to Gulf Central Aviation LLC of Baton Rouge.

The plane had some damage to the nose, authorities said. 

The crash was near the intersection of Highways 44 and 22.

Original article can be found here ➤

McDonnell Douglas MD-90, Delta Air Lines, N955DN: Incident occurred August 16, 2017 at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (KATL), Georgia -and- Incident occurred July 09, 2016 at Tulsa International Airport (KTUL), Oklahoma

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia

Delta Air Lines Inc:

Delta Air Lines flight DAL1293: Aircraft, while at the gate, a vehicle struck aircraft. One person on the ground and one person on the aircraft sustained unknown injuries.

Date: 16-AUG-17
Time: 19:34:00Z
Regis#: N955DN
Aircraft Model: MD90
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: UNKNOWN
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: STANDING (STD)
Operation: 121
Aircraft Operator: DELTA AIRLINES
Flight Number: DAL1293

TULSA -- Several passengers voiced their frustrations after a flight from Atlanta to Denver was diverted to Tulsa.

Dylan Doyle was on his way from Atlanta to Denver to see his girlfriend, however; the trip was cut short when Delta flight 1817 was forced to land because 9 people were feeling nauseous. 

"As people started seeing other people freaking out everybody just kind of went into a panic," said Doyle.

"We arrived, assisted with evaluating 12 patients who had complained of or were showing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning," said Tulsa Fire Captain Stan May.

One passenger was transported to the hospital for unrelated medical issues, while around 150 other passengers were moved off the plane without their baggage, spending most of the day waiting in the terminal.

“So everyone is just sitting here quarantined and they’re not telling us anything and it’s getting to the point where people, tensions are running high," said Doyle.
Firefighters said the source of the carbon monoxide is still unknown. 

“Whether it’s something on the airplane or the airplane itself, but for the safety of the passengers and the crew they’re going to go ahead and continue their travels on another plane," said May.
Doyle said although he’s glad he can finally leave the airport, he wishes the situation was handled better. 

“It’s just one of those situations where it just kind of wreaks of them trying to cover their own behind, like a lawsuit or something," said Doyle. 

Passengers were put on a different plane late Saturday night.

Officials say the original plane will be taken to the maintenance to figure out the source of carbon monoxide within the next couple of days. 

Delta told 2 Works For You the safety and security of their customers is their top priority. 

Story and video: