Saturday, September 9, 2017

This is why Oregon hasn't deployed the SuperTanker to fight Eagle Creek, Chetco fires

A Boeing 747 specially outfitted to drop up to 20,000 gallons of water or retardant on Oregon's wildfires is standing by, ready to travel over two of the nation's most urgent firefighting priorities.

But Gov. Kate Brown and the U.S. Forest Service aren't calling on the SuperTanker to aid in battling the Eagle Creek or Chetco Bar fires. And all of it has to do with the aircraft's limited effectiveness in both the Columbia River Gorge and the mountainous reaches of southern Oregon, officials say.

"If we need to use it, we'll just order it up," Doug Grafe, fire protection chief for the Oregon Department of Forestry. "But the the broken terrain won't allow it."

Strong and unpredictable winds, abetted by the heat of the fires burning in both ends of the state, also make maneuvering the 747 through the mountainous regions difficult enough.

"You need to fly this thing low and slow," Grafe said. "It works really well in open range country. But we just don't have much of that with Chetco or Eagle Creek."

The SuperTanker is also meant to act much like a tank, barreling ahead of an infantry of firefighters and dropping retardant or water so that men and women on the ground can tackle the blaze once it's somewhat suppressed. Rocky terrain in both the Eagle Creek wilderness and where the Chetco Bar blaze burns makes it all but impossible to send scores of people in after the aircraft.

"If you can't get people in there, you can't accomplish its mission," Grafe said.

Brown also said that heavy smoke and smog from both blazes made it difficult to asses just where the SuperTanker could target the fires burning beneath. Visibility is so bad that infrared is one of the only reliable ways to track what's burning.

The aircraft also requires immense effort to prepare and refuel, as KOIN reported earlier this week. KATU reports it also costs $120,000 per day to operate.

But the price and logistics aren't what's stopping state and federal officials from contracting the SuperTanker. Oregon State Forester Peter Daugherty said Brown has told him to disregard costs when considering how to tackle either of the state's large blazes.

"It's up to the incident management teams to ask for the resources they need to control the fire," he said.

Story and comments ➤

Lightning Strikes Hurricane Hunter Plane with News 5 On Board

BILOXI, Mississippi (WKRG) — News 5’s J.B. Biunno and Cameron Edgeworth traveled with the Hurricane Hunters into Hurricane Irma Saturday morning when a lightning strike hit the plane.

While they were in the air the plane was struck.  Pilots believe it happened sometime shortly after takeoff from Keesler Air Force Base. 

The lightning strike was believed to be minor and hit the front end of the modified C130 aircraft leaving some damage.

The aircraft will be grounded for some time to be fixed for the damage, but it is unknown how long.

On the trip to Irma they received the breaking information that Irma downgraded to a category 3 Hurricane.  

We are told the plane will go to the shop for repairs, but will be back in the air and hunting Hurricane Irma as soon as possible.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤

Chesapeake-based company's drone pilots fly more than 5,000 Harvey disaster relief missions in Houston area

A Chesapeake-based company that trains amateur drone pilots coordinated more than 5,000 disaster relief missions in the Houston area after Hurricane Harvey.

DroneUp, an app that's the main interest of Chesapeake resident Tom Walker's company DART Ventures, allows certified drone pilots – many of them hobbyists – to sign up for training and be part of a "drone-assisted response team" to help when they receive alerts, such as for a missing child or missing elderly person.

After seeing Harvey's destruction of Texas communities, the app's leaders said, they decided to help by recruiting drone pilots in the area who could help capture photo and video in areas most people couldn't reach, said Jim Harenchar, DroneUp's chief marketing officer.

Following approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, the team introduced the platform in Texas a little more than a week ago. The idea was to recruit local pilots who could download the app and be alerted to disaster-related assignments from law enforcement or citizens.

More than 400 pilots signed up, a quarter of them in Houston, Harenchar said. Some were from out of state.

"They packed up their drones and their suitcase and off they went to try to be of help," Harenchar said. 

DroneUp served as a sort of middleman, alerting its pilots to the missions when they popped up and sending the resulting photos and video to the appropriate individual, commercial or government parties.

The pilots have carried out more than 5,000 assignments in the area, Harenchar said Saturday. Those included residents' requests to check on elderly neighbors or people who had to flee their farms and needed to know the status of their animals left behind.

The pilots would receive an address, fly their drone out and come back with footage that could inform the displaced people who needed it. Many commercial operations used the platform to check on flooded facilities and see when they could get employees back in.

Harenchar said requests are starting to die down with only a little over a dozen each day. All the work in Texas was voluntary.

Now that the newly launched platform has gotten significant recognition, the team's shifting to developing a revenue stream.

On that note, DroneUp named Wayne Zinn, who has worked with Virginia Beach-based Operation Smile, as its new CEO. Walker had served as president and CEO and will continue on as president.

"This experience showed us that we were stretched way too thin," Harenchar said. But the Harvey work also proved "a bit of validation for what we thought the platform would allow."

DroneUp has been in contact with state and federal emergency management officials from Virginia down to Florida to help with Hurricane Irma efforts. But Harenchar said they want to make sure "we are not a distraction to ongoing or existing plans.

"We're prepared. We're on standby. But we'll only go if the states ask us to."

Story and photo gallery ➤

Exclusive: Flying into the eye of Hurricane Irma with U.S. 'Hurricane Hunters'

THE EYE OF HURRICANE IRMA (Reuters) - The sky darkened, lightning flashed and a jolt of turbulence shook the cabin of the hulking Air Force turboprop aircraft as it plied its way toward the eye of Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded.

Piloting the four-engine, WC-130J aircraft was Air Force Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Jim Hitterman, who over the past 22 years has flown into 40 to 50 hurricanes.

Every storm is different but he likens the experience to driving through a car wash - with one big difference.

“As you’re driving through that car wash, a bunch of gorillas start jumping on top of your car,” Hitterman said, adding that sometimes shaking gets so bad, he cannot see his instruments.

On Friday and Saturday, Reuters accompanied the Air Force Reserves’ “Hurricane Hunters,” whose hard-won data taken directly from the center of storms like Hurricane Irma are critical to U.S. forecasts that save lives.

Experts say U.S. satellite data simply cannot do the job.

“We can estimate by satellite what the strength and size of a hurricane is. But only if you go into the hurricane can you really get an accurate measure of its exact center location, the structure, the maximum winds,” said Rick Knabb, a hurricane expert at the Weather Channel and a former director the National Hurricane Center.

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron’s “Hurricane Hunters” are based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. Its members trace the origin of hurricane hunting to a 1943 barroom dare by two then-Army Air Corps pilots to fly through a hurricane off Texas.

Today, the missions are carried out largely by Air Force reservists who, after a few days or weeks of chasing storms, return to their jobs in the civilian world.

Hitterman, 49, flies for Delta Airlines most of the time and, as a hobby, races motorcycles.

The flight meteorologist, Major Nicole Mitchell, is an experienced television news meteorologist and mother of an eight-month-old baby boy. She normally lives in Minnesota.

The way Mitchell sees it, the more accurate her data is, the more accurate the forecasts can be that tell U.S. citizens whether to evacuate their homes as Irma or other storms advance.

“It’s a fact that we make a difference,” she said.


Mitchell’s plane would make four passes in total through Irma’s eye during that mission, some entries and exits more turbulent than others. Its final pass came on Saturday, as Hurricane Irma walloped Cuba’s northern coast.

Irma’s interaction with Cuba’s terrain weakened the storm from a Category 5 to a Category 4 hurricane but U.S. National Hurricane Center warned the storm was anticipated to strengthen again.

Irma was expected to hit Florida on Sunday morning, bringing massive damage from wind and flooding to America’s fourth-largest state by population. Millions of Florida residents have been ordered to evacuate.

Despite the severity of storms like Irma and the undeniable danger on the ground, these U.S. flights into hurricanes have an incredible safety record - not one aircraft has been lost in more than four decades. The last time was in 1974. 

But they are not without risk. Some six hurricane or typhoon hunting aircraft have been lost in total, costing 53 lives, according to the Weather Underground website.

Jeff Masters, director of meteorology of The Weather Underground, recalled an extremely close call during a flight into Hurricane Hugo in 1989 organized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which also fields its own turbo-prop aircraft.

The pilot lost control of the aircraft, one of the engines caught on fire, and the aircraft descended rapidly, all because satellite data had given his crew the sense they were flying into a Category 3 storm. It turned out to be a Category 5.

They were flying much too low for a storm that potent.

“We went in at 1,500 feet, which is a no-no in a Category 5 and we got clobbered,” recounted Masters. The pilot was able to recover control after entering Hugo’s eye.

On the mission into Irma, jolts of turbulence also shook the equipment in the cabin as it neared the eye of the hurricane. Emergency parachutes swayed. 

But then, suddenly, everything in the plane settled down.

It was safe enough to take off seat belts. The flying was smooth.

Inside the eye, the sky opened up. The dark “eyewall” - the surrounding ring of clouds - could be seen outside the cockpit window.


Masters says someday drones might be able to do the risky job now done by experienced air crews.

But, from the cockpit of this Hurricane Hunter flight, that possibility still seems distant. 

This aircraft, like all of the 53rd’s 10 WC-130J planes, are specially equipped to gather meteorological data and send it to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Some of that equipment is operated manually.

That includes releasing sensors through the belly of the aircraft that, as they fall, transmit storm data including Irma’s pressure, wind speed and direction.

As the mission got underway, the sensors - known as dropsondes - appeared to be malfunctioning.

Technical Sergeant Karen Moore, the loadmaster who releases the dropsondes from the aircraft, among many other duties, said she could not get its GPS signal as it fell into Irma’s winds.

So, Moore took out a screwdriver and literally started fixing them on the fly, one by one. That is something a drone would not be able to do.

Hitterman said he also could see a future where pilotless planes fly into hurricanes to get the data Americans need.

“But I think it’s a ways off,” he said. 

Story and photo gallery ➤

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University evacuates more than 40 planes to Auburn University Regional Airport (KAUO) as Irma approaches

Forty-two planes owned by the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University evacuated from Daytona, Florida, to Auburn University Regional Airport on Saturday to avoid being damaged by Hurricane Irma as she approaches the Florida peninsula.

Many of the planes would land within minutes of each other with the first aircraft arriving at 3:30 a.m. and the last one at 7:30 a.m.

“For a brief moment in time, Auburn’s going to be the busiest airport in the Southeast," said Steve Swartz, a flight instructor for Auburn University’s flight school.

In 2004, many of Embry-Riddle’s planes were damaged by Hurricane Charley, and since then, Embry-Riddle has been evacuating planes to Auburn. Irma, now a powerful Category 3 Hurricane, is preparing to make landfall early Sunday morning in South Florida.

For the last several days, Floridians have been evacuating further north to escape the most powerful parts of the Hurricane. But the eye of the weakened storm is expected to pass just east of Auburn next week, and if that happens, Swartz said the planes could have to be evacuated further north. It will likely be a tropical storm at that point, according to the National Weather Service.

But for now, Airport Assistant Director Todd Storey the airport is happy to provide the space and the help.

The planes were flown by Embry-Riddle students and faculty who are planning to stay here until there is no longer any threat from Irma. When asked how long the pilots would be in Auburn, flight instructor and Embry-Riddle student Matthew Mackenstein said probably until Tuesday or Wednesday.

After landing on Runway 36, each plane was escorted by a pilot truck to the west tarmac where a waiting van would shuttle pilots to the terminal area.

“Very excited to come here, first time in Auburn, I’d like to see some new places, some new people," said Mackenstein, shortly after landing in Auburn.

Auburn student volunteers came to the airport terminal to welcome and help pilots. 

Auburn students are enthusiastic about Aviation and willing to provide support, which is a good testament to what Auburn University’s about, Storey said.

Seth Swiecichowski, who is a certified pilot and an Auburn freshman studying aerospace, was one of the students who volunteered to come Saturday morning.

"[I] know that their fleet was destroyed a couple years ago, and I just wanted to help out," Swiecichowski said.

Many Auburn residents and children also came to AUO this morning to watch the planes arrive. 

Story and photo gallery ➤

Grants Pass Airport (3S8) Runway Will Be Closed for Five Days During Pavement Project

The Grants Pass Airport runway will be closed to the public toward the end of next week for a major pavement maintenance project.

According to Josephine County Airports Manager Larry Graves, the runway at the Grants Pass Airport will be closed for a large portion of the September 14th-19th time frame.

Graves said the airport itself will not close as firefighting helicopter traffic will likely be using various portions of the airfield during the runway closures.

The notification is primarily for Grants Pass Airport tenants, advisory board members, commercial operators and emergency responders.

Graves said Josephine County is sorry for the inconvenience and appreciates the understanding and cooperation of those affected during the maintenance project, which is being paid for through grants from the Federal Aviation Administration. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Oakland International Airport (KOAK): Officials warn of possible noise disruption during runway reconstruction work

OAKLAND — Residents living near the Oakland International Airport may experience some temporary noise disturbances from passing planes starting Sunday, when crews begin rehabilitating the airport’s main runway, officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced in June it would provide the airport with $37.4 million to reconstruct the runway, which was last repaved in 2001, airport officials said. Work will begin Sept. 10 and is expected to continue until Sept. 25.

During that time, planes will use a temporary, parallel runway on airport property near Earhart Road, said airport spokeswoman Keonnis Taylor. Business jets will use the same runway.

Residents living nearby may experience more noise because the planes will be flying a little closer to the airport’s border with the surrounding community. The temporary runway is necessary to allow the airport to continue offering 24-hour service, airport officials said.

But, Taylor said passengers using the airport aren’t likely experience any changes.

“(Airplanes) will simply taxi on an alternate runway located at North Field for take-off and landing,” she said.

Anyone concerned about the level of noise can call the airport’s noise hotline at (510) 563-6463.

Original article can be found here ➤

Private pilots airlift school supplies from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (KAUS) for youngest Harvey victims

People load donated school supplies onto private planes at Austin Bergstrom International Airport on Saturday, September 9, 2017, for delivery to Port Arthur, one of the cities devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than two dozen pilots took off from Austin Bergstrom International Airport Saturday morning to make a special delivery.

At least 25 airplanes were packed with school supplies going to some of the youngest Harvey victims in Port Arthur, Beaumont and surrounding areas.

The organizers of the airlift said Port Arthur’s police chief told them that in a normal year, local teachers spend between $1,500 and $1,800 of their own money on supplies for their students.

“We were looking for something to help the hurricane victims, and this seemed like the perfect thing to do — tie aviation into it and be able to help a lot of families,” said pilot Jeff Kelly.

Signature Flight Support and Aerobridge in Austin organized the airlift of the school supplies and said they wanted to focus on these areas because they are the most economically challenged.

Original article can be found here ➤

Flying rubber neckers disrupt drones working on Texas recovery

As they flew a fleet of drones over flood-ravaged Texas to aid rescuers and inspect levees, Robin Murphy and her team of disaster-response veterans expected to be operating in nearly empty skies.

What they saw instead when they called up a drone-tracking application in Fort Bend County southwest of Houston were whirling flocks of camera-carrying vehicles flying in spite of a federal prohibition on all but a handful of specially approved operations.

"What exactly is it you're doing other than disaster tourism?" said Murphy, who has assisted in disaster responses for more than a decade and is director of Texas A&M University's Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue.

The mass destruction brought on by Hurricane Harvey has been a seminal moment for drone operators, proving that they can effectively map flooding, locate people in need of rescue and verify damage to speed insurance claims. But the event has also illustrated the downside of a technology that has expanded so widely it has attracted irresponsible users who have hampered emergency crews.

Murphy and other drone operators who are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration said they watched in dismay over the past week as people posted photos on social media showing them flying drones while drinking beer or urging drone owners to disobey the law.

As they gear up for similar operations to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, a powerful category 5 storm bearing down on Florida with landfall expected over the weekend, they are girding for the worst.

The FAA last year approved regulations for the first time allowing routine commercial small-drone flights, making the influx after Harvey possible. Still, flights are limited to low altitudes and operators must keep the devices within sight. The agency didn't respond to an email request for comment on whether it had begun any enforcement actions related to recent flights in Texas.

"In any young industry, during pivotal moments in its development, there are going to be positives and there are going to be missteps and mistakes that you need to learn from," said Brian Scott, a drone company owner who was part of an impromptu team known as Humanitarian Drones that helped local officials in Houston, Port Arthur and Rockport.

In Rockport, which is on the Gulf of Mexico coast and suffered extensive damage, their team of six drones was able to photograph 1,650 homes, turning over the data to local government officials, Scott said. The data will be used in the community's application for U.S. disaster assistance, he said.

"We've essentially done in two and a half days what it would have taken them two weeks to do on the ground," he said. "That's the kind of efficiency we've lent to them."

The Humanitarian Drones team were all licensed by the FAA for commercial drone operations and received permission from the agency to fly in some restricted zones, Scott said.

That wasn't true of many drone pilots they encountered, he said.

"You had an influx of everybody and their brother with a drone coming down and getting in the way," he said. "We're going to get a black eye like that."

In Houston, where flood waters have mostly receded, leaving brown silt across vast areas, Houston Fire Department drone pilot Patrick Hagan encountered a different problem: there still isn't a formal system of keeping drones and the emergency helicopters that swarmed the city apart.

Hagan was flying his quad copter over a flooded highway last week, gaging the retreat of floodwaters, when he heard the thumping of an approaching police helicopter. He said he had a "heart-stopping" moment as he raced to lower his radio-controlled aircraft without knowing where the chopper was headed.

With emergency aircraft flying a lower altitudes than usual, "it doesn't leave a lot of room for error," Hagan said in an interview.

Hagan said the dozen missions he flew last week to document the extent of flooding in Houston provided valuable information that would have been difficult or far more costly to obtain. But he often flew no higher than tree-top level because the emergency helicopters criss-crossing the city had no way of seeing where he was.

An air-traffic system for small drones at low altitudes doesn't exist and very few of the devices are equipped with the tracking beacons that can be seen by FAA controllers or other aircraft. As a result, managing drones in an emergency environment is still "a work in progress," Hagan said.

He also encountered two people who were flying drones illegally even though the FAA had issued an order not to fly over the city. One was a teenage boy, he said.

"I told him the FAA had grounded them," he said. "And it's extremely dangerous to be in the air at all."

There is little doubt that drones are proving useful after widespread disasters such as Harvey.

On a street in Missouri City, a suburb southwest of Houston hit by high winds during the storm, fence posts, tree limbs and other debris were piled in front of nearly every house.

Brent Hazen, an adjuster for Farmers Insurance Group, powered up a drone built by Kespry Inc. on Thursday afternoon. The quad copter lifted off and flew a pre-programmed route back and forth over a home insured by Farmers, capturing dozens of photos of the roof.

The flight was completed in 11 minutes, a task that would have taken far longer if Hazen had had to climb up on a ladder. It was also safer, sparing him from having to get onto the steeply pitched second-story roof, he said.

"It's definitely one of those things that will make it more efficient," he said.

Drones are not a panacea for tasks like insurance adjusting, and operations have been limited as operators waited for FAA flight restrictions to be lifted and for water levels to drop.

If there's flood damage inside a home, a human still has to make an assessment, said Kristina Tomasetti, strategic innovation director at insurance company USAA Capital Corp. The company has used unmanned vehicles in about 50 cases, so far, Tomasetti said.

"Our end game isn't to use drones everywhere," Tomasetti said. Still, they are useful tools that the company is embracing, she said.

Original article  ➤

Denver International Airport (KDEN) ... Where the Bison Might Soon Roam: Flyers through this large airport could be greeted by America’s official mammal

Travelers into Denver International Airport could be welcomed by a herd of bison if a new plan to let the animals roam the facility's property goes through, reports Bruce Finley for the Denver Post.

Officials from the airport are in talks with federal officials to open up about 200 acres of land to bison from the nearby Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge to roaming and grazing, according to Finley. The bison will have no trouble filling that space, as the refuge's herd has reached a record high of 122 animals, with plans to expand to 147 in the coming months, as more animals are imported to bolster the herd's gene pool.

Bison were once a dominant wild animal of America, with tens of millions of them roaming the Great Plains, but widespread hunting, accelerated by completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, decimated the species by the late 19th century. Heroic efforts by conservationists have slowly brought the bison back from the brink of extinction, and today an estimated 30,000 of them live in wild herds, mainly in national parks or refuges like the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Last year, the federal government recognized the bison as the "official mammal" of the United States, cementing its place in the country's cultural identity.

Opening up space to bison is more than just a conservation win for Denver airport officials. The iconic animals would make any trip through the airport a memorable one for visitors, especially those not used to seeing animals that can weigh more than 2,000 pounds. And Denver International Airport has the space to spare, notes Finley—its property comprises more than 50 square miles of space, much of it empty.

To make sure that bison encounters aren't too intimate, however, officials are currently working on plans to build a barrier to separate the animals from the road and runways. For these powerful beasts an ordinary fence won't do, so it could take the form of two massive fences.

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National Transportation Safety Board asking Federal Aviation Administration for safety requirements for medical helicopters

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to issue more safety requirements for medical helicopters.

Duke University Medical Center has two emergency medical transport helicopters.

Duke Life Flight has been in operation for 32 years. The most recent crash before Friday’s fatal accident was in 1999.

CBS North Carolina pulled crash data from the National Transportation Safety Board. The agency says it’s had a long standing concern for medical helicopter safety.

Here is the number of Helicopter Emergency Medical Services crashes in the past couple of years.

The NTSB has been asking the FAA for better safety requirements since 1988, then again in 2006 and again in 2009.

This includes requiring night vision systems and better training for pilots.

Last year, the chairman of the NTSB wrote an article saying safety for these helicopters have improved but much more is needed.

You can read that report here.

Story and video ➤

Nevada makes a mark at InterDrone, officials say

James Spear, right, pilots the Yuneec H520, unmanned aircraft system, as Ross Miller, the Nevada Highway Patrol major accident investigation team, looks on as Yuneec and the Nevada Highway patrol demonstrate the latest commercial sUAS during an accident reconstruction on Thursday, September 7, 2017, outside the Rio hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

Although Nevada didn’t have a strong presence on the exhibit floor, local drone officials say the state still made a mark at InterDrone.

The commercial drone conference ran Wednesday through Friday at the Rio. Of the 170 exhibitors that displayed their latest and greatest drone gear at InterDrone, six were local — and not necessarily drone related.

The city of Henderson, the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems and the Nevada Business Aviation Association, the Las Vegas Drone Club all had booths, as did Las Vegas-based Yota Enterprises, which was selling cell phone accessories, and OIC Advance, which was offering massages.

InterDrone event organizers told the Review-Journal that OIC Advance is a Nevada company, though the company is not listed on the Nevada Secretary of State’s website, and a company representative did not return a request for comment.

Reza Karamooz, president of the Nevada Business Aviation Association, ran the booth with some interns promoting science, technology, engineering and math education.

“We bring this type of tech to you,” Karamooz said.

Karamooz exhibited on the floor with the intent of meeting other STEM-education organizations that they could collaborate with. That didn’t pan out the way he would have liked, he said. But, he hopes to partner with some Clark County School District classrooms soon.

“I invited educators from CCSD to come to the expo for free,” Karamooz said.

While the show floor wasn’t packed with Nevada-specific companies, Chris Walach, director of all testing sites in Nevada for unmanned aerial systems said Nevada’s presence was the greatest its been since InterDrone first launched in 2015.

The conference kicked off with a recorded video welcome message from Gov. Brian Sandoval followed by a keynote from Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta, in which he mentioned that Nevada is a key player in research and development for a potential drone detection 

Those comments helped to raise awareness about the efforts in Nevada to shape the drone industry, Walach said.

Walach and a team also coordinated to have four companies conduct live drone demonstrations during the pre-conference day on Tuesday at the 6-acre Henderson Unmanned Vehicle Range urban drone-testing site, located at 1125 Nevada State Drive.

Tom Wilczek, aerospace and defense industry specialist for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said the demonstrations were a success.

“I would like to see the HUVR demonstration area grow, and have more opportunities and more of these entities come out and demo their products,” Wilczek said, adding that he and Walach are looking into ways to do that.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤

Harvey will be ‘a landmark’ in drone usage, Federal Aviation Administration chief says in Las Vegas

A drone’s flight is demonstrated during the InterDrone Conference at the Rio on Wednesday, September 6, 2017. 

Even as  drones prove essential in Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, the Federal Aviation Administration is exploring new ways to detect them when they’re being used for illegal and malicious activities.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, speaking at the InterDrone conference at the Rio on Wednesday, said drones are playing a transformative role in post-hurricane operations in the Houston area and the FAA had to give clearances quickly.

“We recognized that we needed to move fast — faster than we have ever moved before,” he said. "We basically made the decision that anyone with a legitimate reason to fly an unmanned aircraft would be able to do so. In most cases, we were able to approve individual operations within minutes of receiving a request.”

By the end of last week, Huerta said the FAA had issued more than 70 authorizations covering a wide range of activities by local, state and federal agencies. That number is expected to climb as the cleanup efforts continue.

Huerta said drones were used to survey damage to roads, bridges, underpasses and water treatment plants that required immediate repair. Oil and energy companies used drones to spot damage to flooded infrastructure.

“Every drone that flew meant that a traditional aircraft was not putting an additional strain on an already fragile system,” Huerta said. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the hurricane response will be looked back upon as a landmark in the evolution of drone usage in this country.”

Despite the many constructive uses of drones, people are using them for illegal activity as well. Huerta noted drones have been used to fly contraband into federal prisons over a dozen times in the last five years.

“Just last month, three men were arrested for allegedly using a drone to drop drugs and a cellphone into a prison in Ionia, Mich.,” he said.

Additionally, Huerta said there has been an increase in drone sightings in restricted airspace, including interfering with wildfire fighting operations, crashing drones in crowded urban areas and flying them near crowded stadiums.

Drone users have also flown in restricted airspace around the nation’s airports, with some of those reports coming from McCarran International Airport.

“We’re receiving an average of about 200 drone-sighting reports from pilots each month this year,” he said. “That’s significantly higher than in both 2016 and 2015. We’ve had a number of reports from pilots right around Las Vegas in just the past month — at altitudes of up to 6,000 feet.”

To attempt to address these issues, Huerta said the Drone Advisory Committee has been asked to look at ways to complement other work that’s been done to evaluate technology that could be used to detect drones flying without authorization around airports and other critical infrastructure.

“This spring, we completed the fifth and final field evaluation of potential drone detection systems, at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport,” he said. “We’re going to use the information we got from the evaluations to develop minimum performance standards for drone-detection technology that might be deployed around airports here in the U.S.”

Huerta said the effort included FAA’s partners in the Pathfinder and unmanned aircraft test site programs, including the test site in Northern Nevada.

The FAA marked the one-year anniversary of its small unmanned aircraft rule, or Part 107, on Aug. 29. In the first year, the FAA registered more than 79,000 commercial aircraft and 59,000 remote pilot certificates. He said 92 percent of the people who take the pilot certificate exam passed it.

“The rule really was a game changer because it allows for routine public and commercial operations, without getting case-by-case FAA approvals — provided they are conducted within the parameters of the rule,” Huerta said.

“Very few people would have envisioned that within a few years, drones would be the fastest-growing field in aviation,” Huerta said. “And few people would have envisioned that the FAA would be devoting so much of its energy and resources to this field.”

Story and comments ➤

Friday, September 8, 2017

Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair, N63TV, Stalactite LLC: Fatal accident occurred August 15, 2015 near Essex County Airport (KCDW), Caldwell, New Jersey

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA312
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 15, 2015 in West Caldwell, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/18/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA T206H, registration: N63TV
Injuries: 1 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.

The commercial pilot was departing in the turbocharged airplane to go to another airport and pick up the owner of the airplane. He contacted the air traffic control tower and received instructions from the controller to taxi to the active runway and hold short. The airplane taxied to the designated location and remained there for about 5 minutes. During this time, a student pilot heard the airplane's engine cycle from near idle to full power about five times and reported that the engine did not "sound right." The pilot requested and received clearance to takeoff, and, shortly after becoming airborne, advised that he had a "problem," declared an emergency, and requested to "return to the field immediately." The controller cleared the pilot to land on any runway, and the pilot reported that he was unable to maintain engine power. There were no other communications from the airplane.

Review of security camera video revealed that the airplane was slow to accelerate and did not rotate until about 1,800 ft down the 4,552-foot-long runway from the point where the pilot initiated the takeoff roll. Once airborne, the airplane began to pitch slightly up and down while remaining in ground effect. Considering that the pilot was the only occupant of the six-seat airplane, the airplane should have become airborne much sooner. Further, there was adequate runway remaining at the point of rotation for the pilot to abort the takeoff and stop on the remaining runway. However, the pilot elected to continue the takeoff.

The airplane climbed slowly, momentarily reaching an altitude that was just above the trees that surrounded the airport, then began to lose altitude, and turned left about 90°. The airplane then disappeared from view of the camera, and a smoke cloud was observed to rise from behind a tree line. Witnesses who observed the airplane just before impact saw the airplane gliding toward the ground "in slow motion" and heard no noise coming from the airplane. The witnesses reported that the airplane then rolled into a steep left bank, entered a nose dive, and exploded when it hit the ground. The witness observations were consistent with the pilot failing to maintain adequate airspeed, resulting in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and an aerodynamic stall.

Examination of the wreckage revealed signatures indicating that the propeller and the turbocharger's turbine wheel were not rotating during the impact sequence, which is indicative of a loss of engine power. The spark plug electrodes displayed evidence of black sooty deposits indicative of carbon fouling. The carbon fouling could have been the result of failure of the turbocharging system, which can result in an overly rich mixture condition so severe as to cause a total power failure.

Examination of the turbocharging system revealed that it had been heavily damaged by the postcrash fire, and only the turbocharger and wastegate were recovered. Examination of the turbocharger revealed that the turbine and compressor wheels, which were interconnected by a shaft, could not be rotated by hand as the shaft had partially fused to the bearings likely as a result of exposure to the postcrash fire. The bearing radial holes were clear, and there were no excessive or abnormal scoring marks on the bearings as would be expected if they were contaminated, distressed, or subject to prolonged oil starvation. There was also no coking of oil in the turbocharger body that would have prevented lubrication of the bearings, and no definitive rotational rub marks that would have suggested excessive bearing wear or imbalance. Examination of the wastegate also did not reveal any anomalies, and the wastegate valve was free and could move through its full range of motion. The wastegate actuator body had been mostly consumed by the postcrash fire; only the valve housing assembly, actuator shaft assembly, springs, and retainer remained.

X-ray examination of the oil supply line check valve, which was located upstream from the turbocharger and regulated the supply of oil that it received, showed that instead of being straight, the internal spring was slightly cocked about 5°. Review of the manufacturer's specifications revealed that no check valve leakage was allowed below 8 psi of oil pressure. However, flow testing of the check valve revealed that oil leaked from the check valve exit hole before 1 psi of pressure was reached, which indicated that the check valve was likely not preventing oil from draining into the turbocharger after shutdown and was pooling in the turbocharger body. During further examination of the check valve using computed tomography scanning and radiography, a small gap was found between the ball and the internal channel along the neck. Sectioning of the check valve revealed that the angled spring and the small gap between the ball and the internal channel were due to the presence of contamination in the internal channel on the upstream (inlet) side of the check valve and the presence of foreign material between the ball and the internal channel along the neck. The presence of contamination in the check valve indicated that contamination was likely present in other components of the turbocharging system. Because the controller and the wastegate use engine oil and pressure for operation and control of the turbocharger, if either one is contaminated, system performance can be compromised.

Maintenance records indicated that two repairs requiring replacement of major components of the engine took place about 2 years before the accident. The first repair occurred following a report by the owner of high oil consumption, and it entailed replacing a cracked air/oil separator, leaking oil dipstick gaskets, a leaking fitting on the turbocharger wastegate actuator, and the turbocharger "due to oil leaking past shaft seal intake system." The second repair occurred about 4 months later, when the owner again reported high oil consumption. This resulted in replacement of the Nos. 3, 5, and 6 cylinders because the oil control rings stuck in the pistons of these cylinders, which indicated debris had been deposited in the ring grooves. Although these repairs provided evidence that suggested the oil system was contaminated, the maintenance records did not show that any reused oil lines, the turbocharger oil supply line check valve, or turbocharger system components such as the controller and wastegate were flushed. Further, review of the engine manufacturer's guidance revealed that it did not include instructions for checking or replacing the check valve during inspections, flushing of any reused oil lines, the check valve, and components such as the turbocharger, controller, and wastegate whenever a turbocharger leak was detected, following an engine test run after cylinder replacement, after replacing lubrication system components, or when doing any type of maintenance where contamination or foreign debris could be introduced into the system. If the engine manufacturer had included these instructions and the mechanics had performed actions such as flushing the check valve and turbocharger system components following either of the two engine repairs, it is likely the contamination found in the check valve (and likely present in other components of the turbocharging system) would have been removed. The presence of contamination in the check valve, the airplane's maintenance history, and the carbon fouling of the spark plugs, strongly suggest that the engine lost power due to contaminated oil compromising the performance of the turbocharger system.

The National Transportation Safety Board asked the Federal Aviation Administration in 2008 to require manufacturers to amend their pilot operating handbooks (POHs) to include emergency procedures for turbocharger failures (Safety Recommendation A-08-21). However, the FAA did not take this action, and review of the POH for the airplane revealed that it did not include an emergency procedure for turbocharger failure. Under the emergency procedure for an engine failure, the POH called for advancing the mixture control to the rich position if restart does not occur, but review of the airplane manufacturer's supplementary information revealed that a failure of the turbocharger system would cause either an overboost condition or some degree of power loss and that, if a turbocharger system failure resulted in power loss, it may be further complicated by an overly rich mixture. According to the supplementary information, this rich mixture condition may be so severe as to cause a total power failure. It could not be determined whether the total loss of engine power in this case was due solely to failure of the turbocharger system or whether it was the result of a partial loss of power due to failure of the turbocharger system that was exacerbated by an overly rich mixture.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A loss of engine power due to a malfunction of the turbocharging system likely due to contaminated oil. Also causal were the pilot's decision to continue the takeoff although the airplane was not performing normally and his failure to maintain adequate airspeed following the loss of engine power, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the engine manufacturer's inadequate guidance regarding inspection and maintenance of its turbocharged engines.

John Hannon

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Saddlebrook, New Jersey
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Hartzell Engine Technologies; Piqua, Ohio

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA312
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 15, 2015 in West Caldwell, NJ
Aircraft: CESSNA T206H, registration: N63TV
Injuries: 1 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 August 15, 2015, at 1002 eastern daylight time, a Cessna T206H, N63TV, impacted trees and terrain after a loss of engine power during initial climb at Essex County Airport (CDW), Caldwell, New Jersey. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Stalactite, LLC, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the positioning flight, destined for Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey.

According to a friend of the pilot, the pilot planned to fly to TEB, pick up the owner of the airplane and fly with him to South Hampton, where the owner had a residence. The friend owned a Cessna 182 and was interested in purchasing a Cessna 206 like the one the pilot was flying, so the pilot invited him to come to CDW before the flight and see the airplane.

The friend arrived at the airport about 0930 and noticed that the pilot had already completed the preflight inspection of the airplane. The pilot appeared to be "fine, his usual self, and doing good that morning," The pilot's friend was in the fixed base operator's (FBO) lobby when he heard the airplane's engine start. The airplane stayed on the ramp for a few minutes and then taxied out. About 10 minutes later, the pilot's friend saw the airplane as it passed by a window in the FBO. The airplane seemed quieter than it should have to him, and he thought that it did not seem to be moving very fast. About 10 minutes later, a line service agent entered the FBO and said that there had been an airplane accident.

According to information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot contacted the CDW air traffic control tower, requested to taxi, and advised the controller that he had the current weather that was being transmitted by CDW's automatic terminal information service. The controller subsequently instructed the pilot to taxi to runway 22 and to hold short of the runway at intersection "November," which was normally used for airplanes departing on runway 22. The airplane taxied to the designated location and remained there for about 5 minutes. According to FAA inspectors, during the time that the airplane remained stationary, a student pilot heard the airplane's engine go from near idle to full power about five times and reported that the engine did not "sound right."

The air traffic controller cleared the pilot for takeoff with a left turnout. Shortly after becoming airborne, the pilot advised that he had a "problem," declared an emergency, and requested to "return to the field immediately." The controller cleared the pilot to land on any runway, and the pilot reported that he was unable to maintain engine power. There were no other communications from the pilot.

Review of security camera video revealed that, during the takeoff, the airplane appeared to accelerate slowly and rotated about 1,800 ft. after the pilot initiated the takeoff roll." Once airborne, the airplane began to pitch slightly up and down while remaining in ground effect and then slowly climbed. The airplane momentarily reached an altitude that was just above the trees that surrounded the airport, then began to lose altitude, and turned left about 90°. The airplane disappeared from view of the camera, and a smoke cloud then rose from behind a tree line.

According to witnesses who saw the airplane just before impact, the airplane was at the same height as the trees and appeared to be gliding toward the ground. One witness stated that the airplane appeared to be "in slow motion;" it then banked sharply to the left and pitched steeply down. Another witness reported that the airplane made "a hard-left turn, went into a nose dive, and exploded when it hit the ground." Three additional witnesses reported similar observations. The witnesses heard no noise coming from the airplane before the impact.


According to FAA and pilot records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane, a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine, and a ground instructor certificate with an advanced ground instructor rating. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on March 30, 2015. He had accrued about 1,941 total hours of flight experience, 16 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model.


The airplane was a 6-place, single-engine, high-wing monoplane of conventional metal construction. It was equipped with fixed-tricycle-type landing gear and was powered by a turbocharged, 310-horsepower, Lycoming TIO-540-AJ1A engine, driving a three-blade, McCauley, controllable pitch propeller.

According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 2009. Its most recent annual inspection was completed on April 17, 2015. At the time of the inspection, the airplane and engine had accrued 1,155.4 total hours of operation.

According to the maintenance provider who had maintained the airplane since December 2011, anything that bothered the owner about the airplane would get fixed. Most of the items that were addressed by the maintenance provider were cosmetic or routine maintenance, such as oil and filter changes, gauges, starter replacement, lights, accessories, battery replacement, and compliance with airworthiness directives and service bulletins. The maintenance provider reported that the owner's landings could be a little rough, so they had also replaced some tires as he had experienced a few flat tires, and, as a result, the owner would keep a spare set in the airplane in case he blew a tire on landing.

Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's engine had been receiving regular oil changes since new as well as spectrometric oil analysis. Review of oil analysis reports provided by the maintenance repair organization indicated that a sample of the engine's oil that was taken on March 5, 2012, contained elevated levels of iron, nickel and chromium. Another sample taken on December 19, 2013, contained elevated levels of aluminum, chromium, iron, and nickel. In a report dated March 9, 2015, the laboratory commented about an oil sample that had been taken on March 4, 2015, stating that:

"These numbers are a lot easier to take than the high aluminum, chrome, iron, and nickel we saw last time. The shorter oil run obviously helped, but most of the metals are lower on a ppm/hour basis too, meaning that the engine really did wear better. If anything, nickel could still stand to be lower. 13 ppm is almost high enough to get a mark, so that's one we'll be monitoring next time. There's a trace of fuel to report this time, but that's not anything to worry about. It's likely just from normal use. Much better at 1,151.6 hours S[ince ]New."

In a report dated August 12, 2015, for an oil sample that was taken on August 4, 2015 (11 days before the accident), the laboratory commented that:

"Steady as she goes for this sample out of N63TV. If we're being picky you could say that iron should have come down as a result of the shorter oil run, but 39 ppm isn't bad at all for one of these engines after 20 hours on the oil. Everything else is in good shape, so we'd be surprised if the extra iron on a per-hour basis turned out to be an issue. No problems with the oil itself were found, making for a very nice report overall."

Maintenance records indicated that two repairs requiring replacement of major components of the engine had been accomplished. The first repair followed a report from the owner that the engine was experiencing high oil consumption. According to a maintenance entry dated January 21, 2013, and the associated work order, this resulted in the maintenance provider inspecting for the cause of the oil leaks by first washing down the engine, and then after a test flight, tightening loose rocker box return line coupling clamps, replacing a cracked air/oil separator, replacing leaking oil dipstick gaskets, and replacing a leaking fitting on the turbocharger wastegate actuator. During this inspection and maintenance action, maintenance personnel noticed oil on the inlet scroll of the turbocharger and oil on the belly of the airplane, so they replaced the turbocharger "due to oil leaking past shaft seal intake system."

The second repair occurred about 4 months later, when the owner again reported high oil consumption. According to a maintenance entry dated May 22, 2013, and the associated work order, this resulted in the maintenance provider checking the compressions and borescoping the cylinders.

During this inspection and maintenance action, maintenance personnel found pooled oil in the Nos.3, 5, and 6 cylinders. Per guidance from a Lycoming representative, they attached an airspeed indicator to a modified oil dipstick cap and then ran the engine. No excessive crankcase pressure was found. Next, they ran the engine to get the temperature up and shut down the engine at 1,300 rpm. Then they borescoped the cylinders again and found that all of the pistons were damp, all of the spark plugs were dry, and there was pooled oil in the Nos. 3, 5, and 6 cylinders. After these tests, maintenance personnel removed the Nos. 3, 5, and 6 cylinders and found the oil control rings stuck in the pistons. They installed new Nos. 3, 5, and 6, cylinder assemblies.

The maintenance records did not indicate that the check valve on the turbocharger oil supply line was cleaned or replaced following either of these engine repairs.

Turbocharger System Information

The airplane was equipped with a turbocharging system manufactured by Hartzell Engine Technologies (HET) that forced air into the engine's combustion chamber, allowing the engine to maintain sea-level manifold pressure as altitude increased. The turbocharging system consisted of a turbocharger, controller, wastegate, and pressure relief valve.

The turbocharger converted wasted energy, in the form of hot exhaust gases from the engine exhaust, into increased manifold pressure to increase power available from the engine. After air and fuel were burned in the cylinders, the exhaust gases from combustion were used to spin a turbine wheel at high speeds. The turbine wheel was connected to a compressor wheel that compressed induction air supplied through an opening in the lower cowl, that was ducted through a filter and into the compressor, increasing its density. The pressurized induction air would then pass through the throttle body and induction manifold into the engine cylinders, completing the cycle.

The controller sensed manifold pressure to maintain sea level horsepower at altitude, without over-speeding the turbocharger or over-boosting the aircraft's engine. It did this by controlling pressurized engine oil to hydraulically actuate the wastegate. The wastegate (exhaust bypass valve), used speed or compressor discharge pressure (boost) during certain conditions of a flight. Managed through the controller, the wastegate opened to allow exhaust gas to bypass the turbocharger, limiting speed and boost.

The pressure relief valve acted as a supplementary safety device in the airplane turbocharger system. The valve was set to open at a pressure slightly above the maximum turbocharger discharge pressure, should the controller or wastegate not adequately limit the boost pressure.

According to HET, the turbocharger operates at speeds over 100,000 rpm and at temperatures exceeding 1,650ºF, and oil is required at the correct flow rate and pressure to lubricate the bearings, stabilize the rotating shaft and bearings, and act as a coolant. The system's lubricating oil comes directly from the engine's oil system, so shutting down the engine immediately stops the flow of oil to the turbocharger. If the turbocharger is still turning at a high rate of speed when oil flow is cut off, the turbocharger bearings can be damaged. In addition, any stagnant oil remaining around the extremely hot turbine shaft will overheat and "coke" or burn.

The controller and the wastegate also use engine oil and pressure for operation and control of the turbocharger. If either one is contaminated by oil, does not receive the correct oil flow rate, or lacks sufficient oil pressure to function, system performance is compromised. In the event of malfunction of a turbocharged engine, HETs experience is that maintenance personnel assume that the turbocharger is at fault and replace it. Frequently the replacement unit fails, which prompts an investigation into the real cause of the initial failure. According to HET, the major cause of turbocharger failures is faulty lubrication systems.

The accident airplane was equipped with a check valve on the turbocharger oil supply line, which was located upstream from the turbocharger and regulated the supply of oil that it received. HET does not require the use of check valves, and the check valve installed on the airplane was supplied by the engine manufacturer. The check valve was used to prevent oil from draining into the turbocharger after shutdown and pooling in the turbocharger body. According to HET, this pooling can result in stagnant oil remaining around the extremally hot turbine shaft and coking or burning. Along with coking, bearing damage can occur that causes the bearings to orbit instead of spin, which can lead to turbine and/or compressor rub, wear, and failure.

If a check valve sticks in an open or partially open position, this allows the turbocharger's center body to fill with oil; the oil then leaks past the seals because the oil cannot drain and is not being scavenged. The absence of turbo air pressure (both in the compressor and turbine housings) also does not assist in preventing oil leakage past the piston rings, which can result in the presence of oil in the compressor/induction system (evidence of oil in the combustion chambers) and/or the turbine/exhaust system (resulting in smoking during engine start).


The recorded weather at CDW, at 1012, about 10 minutes after the accident, included: variable winds at 3 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 28°C, dew point -17°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.13inches of mercury.


CDW was owned by the Essex County Improvement Authority and was located 2 miles north of Caldwell, New Jersey. It was classified by the FAA as a publicly owned, tower controlled, public use airport.

The airport elevation was 172 ft above mean sea level and was oriented in a 10/28 and 4/22 runway configuration. Runway 22 was asphalt, in good condition, and measured 4,552 ft long by 80 ft wide with a 0.2% gradient. The threshold was displaced 134 ft. The runway was equipped with high intensity runway edge lights and runway end identifier lights and was marked with nonprecision markings in good condition.


The accident site was located in a wooded area about 0.3 nautical mile from the departure end of runway 22 on a magnetic heading of 156°. Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted terrain on a 20° magnetic heading after striking several trees. Further examination revealed that the airplane impacted in a nose-down, inverted attitude. During the impact sequence, the engine separated from its mounting location. The empennage was displaced about 20° to the left of the fuselage centerline and was partially separated from the aft fuselage. The wings were separated from their mounting locations. The fuselage came to rest upright on a 100° magnetic heading against the base of a tree. The majority of the fuselage was consumed by a postimpact fire.

The wing flaps were found in the up position. The elevator trim was near neutral. The fuel selector valve was in the "BOTH" position, and there was no evidence of fuel blockage. Control continuity was established from the ailerons, elevator, and rudder to the flight controls in the cockpit. There was no evidence of any inflight structural failure.

Examination of the propeller revealed that one of the three blades separated during the impact sequence and came to rest about 30 ft from the rest of the propeller assembly. The propeller blades did not display evidence of propeller rotation during the impact sequence.

Examination of the engine revealed that the rear of the engine had been heavily damaged by the postcrash fire, and the magnesium oil sump was destroyed by fire.

The engine's fuel system was heavily damaged by the postcrash fire. The engine-driven fuel pump was destroyed by the postcrash fire. The fuel servo inlet fuel screen was free of contaminants, and the diaphragm displayed thermal damage. The fuel flow divider was thermally damaged.

The left magneto's internal windings were found in the molten metal beneath the engine. The right magneto was found loosely attached to the rear accessory housing and was thermally damaged.

Attempts to rotate the engine drive train by hand were unsuccessful. There was no evidence of any type of blockage in the intake or exhaust systems. The spark plug electrodes displayed evidence of black sooty deposits indicative of carbon fouling. A portion of the No. 3 piston's skirt was missing; metal fragments were present in the crankcase, and metal was found extruded from the edges of the No. 3 main engine bearing.

The turbocharger system was partially destroyed by the postimpact fire; a majority of the damage was to the compressor housing and compressor wheel. The turbine housing exhaust port did not display evidence of turbine wheel rotation during the impact sequence. The turbocharger was secured to its mount with the exhaust pipes separated from the exhaust bypass valve on both ends. The slope controller and the pressure relief valve were destroyed by the post impact fire, and the exhaust bypass valve was partially destroyed but remained attached to the turbocharger.


The Office of the State Medical Examiner, State of New Jersey, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The listed cause of death was blunt impact injuries.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted toxicological testing of the pilot. The specimens were negative for carbon monoxide.

Carvedilol, which is used to treat high blood pressure, was detected in urine and blood, and
quinapril, which is used to treat hypertension, was detected in urine. Use of these two non-impairing drugs was previously reported by the pilot to the FAA. Salicylate (aspirin) was detected in urine.

Review of FAA medical certificates and supporting documentation indicated that the pilot had a history of high blood pressure and a myocardial infarction with stent placement in 2007. Based on clinical reports, his conditions were stable, and no significant conditions were identified during his FAA physical examinations.


At the request of the NTSB, Lycoming analyzed the metal fragments found in the engine crankcase and the metal extruded from the No. 3 main bearing. Lycoming determined that the metal fragments found in the engine crankcase were cast aluminum material. Chips recovered from the sludge in the crankcase were also made of the same material. The material was not from the No.3 piston and was most likely from the crankcase or other housing. The metal that was bulged or extruded out from the edges of the No. 3 main bearing (both halves) was made primarily of lead, with some tin and copper, indicating that it came from the bearing overlay material. It also indicated that the bearings experienced some localized melting and flow of the overlay material from the postcrash fire.

The turbocharger and wastegate were examined at Lycoming Engines by HET under the supervision of the NTSB. Examination of the turbocharger revealed that the compressor housing and mounting surfaces had been consumed by fire. The compressor wheel had been heavily damaged by fire. The compressor wheel nut was tight, and the compressor oil film journal bearing's radial holes were clear.

The compressor thrust collar radial holes were clear; there was no evidence of scratches, scoring, or galling of the end surfaces and no evidence of rubbing on the compressor backplate seal bore. There was no scoring or worn face areas on the compressor inboard thrust bearing.

The compressor back plate was corroded from heat and water exposure. No damage was observed to the attachment surfaces, and the seal bore inside diameter spacer was not damaged or scored. The compressor back plate oil squirt holes were also clear.

The turbocharger's turbine wheel could not be turned by hand. The turbine oil film journal bearing's radial holes were clear. No evidence of turbine wheel rub was present, and clearance existed between the turbine wheel blades and the turbine housing. The turbine wheel did not display evidence of foreign object damage or bent blades.

Examination of the center bearing housing revealed that there was no evidence of residual oil, and extreme corrosion was present. The oil squirt holes were clear, and no evidence of the outlet port being restricted by coking was discovered. The outlet and inlet gaskets were heat damaged.

The anti-rotation pins were of the split type, and they were secure and properly oriented.

The wastegate valve was free and could move through its full range of motion. The wastegate actuator body had been completely consumed by the postcrash fire; only the valve housing assembly, actuator shaft assembly, springs and retainer remained

At the request of the NTSB, Lycoming radiographically inspected the oil supply line check valve, which was located upstream from the turbocharger and regulated the supply of oil that it received. Review of the low-resolution x-ray images by Lycoming personnel indicated that the internal components appeared to be in sound condition, there was no obvious foreign object damage, and the ball was resting on the seat. The x-ray film also showed that the internal spring was slightly cocked about 5°.

The check valve assembly was then tested by installing it in a flow testing fixture, and the oil pressure was monitored while observing the check valve for flow. The engineering drawing specified the performance as follows: "No leakage allowed below 8 [pounds per square inch] psi; and check valve must open at 13 psi ±2 psi oil pressure". Leakage was observed from the check valve exit hole before 1 psi of pressure was reached. The oil stream flowing from the check valve steadily increased, and the vertical level of the stream rose higher until about 5 to 6 psi pressure was reached. At that point, the stream was nearly a straight jet of oil.

The turbocharger and oil supply line check valve were submitted to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for further examination. Examination of the turbocharger components revealed that they exhibited surface oxidation (rusting) and evidence of coking with soot residue. These conditions were consistent with exposure to fire, as well as exposure to water. The center bearing housing of the turbocharger had rusted to a degree that the iron oxide was starting to spall. No other visible damage, such as distortion, wear, or cracking, was present on the component exterior. The center housing was radiographed and inspected using computed tomography (CT) scanning. There were no discernable features noted on the center housing using these techniques.

The center housing was sectioned using a band saw with a water-based emulsion-coolant. The location of the sectioning was along the position of the turbine wheel. The housing bearing on the turbine side exhibited longitudinal score marks that were consistent with removal of the shaft, which had partially fused to the bearing. It also displayed circumferential wear, with relatively less rust and other surface contamination compared to the bearing on the compressor side. Gouging was also present on the interior surface of the turbine side bearing. There was no evidence of damage to, or blockage of, the oil holes.

The center housing bearing on the compressor side exhibited primarily circumferential wear. The longitudinal marks on the bearing were consistent with machine marks or sliding. There was internal surface rusting on this bearing. There was no evidence of blockage or damage to the oil holes or channels in this section of the housing. No other indications of internal mechanical malfunctions were found inside the center housing.

The turbine wheel blade fins did not exhibit any mechanical damage consistent with foreign object impacts, overheating, or distortion. There was no chipping or cracking observed.

The tapered stub shaft of the compressor side had fractured away from the threaded portions of the shaft during removal for examination. The features on the fracture surface had been entirely obliterated by smearing, consistent with post-fracture damage, and the area adjacent to fracture exhibited a jog on one side, with a general flat surface. This pattern was consistent with overstress failure in shear of a ductile material.

Gouge marks were present on the hexagonal cap on the turbine side of the wheel and most probably occurred during removal. Theses marks were consistent with an impact with an adjacent component or tool, in a clockwise rotation. The turbine side bearing surface of the turbine wheel also exhibited longitudinal gouging marks, in addition to the circumferential wear marks. These gouge marks matched those of the bearing surface of the sectioned center housing. These marks were consistent with the wheel assembly shifting forward while positioned in the housing.

The turbocharger oil supply line check valve and an exemplar check valve were inspected by radiography and CT scanning. The accident check valve exhibited a small gap between the ball and the internal channel along the neck. The spring that held the ball was angled. Neither the ball nor the spring in the exemplar check valve exhibited the features noted in the accident valve.

Sectioning of the accident check valve revealed the presence of contamination in the internal channel on the upstream (inlet) side of the check valve and the presence of foreign material between the ball and the internal channel along the neck. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy revealed that the spectra of the foreign material was similar to lubricating oil.


Lycoming Maintenance Guidance

A review of Lycoming's maintenance guidance revealed that the direct drive engine overhaul manual did not explicitly address the turbocharger system, nor was there guidance for checking or replacing the check valve, flushing of any reused oil lines, or flushing of other components such as the turbocharger, controller, wastegate, or air-oil separator. Further review also revealed that for maintenance personnel to maintain, repair, or replace the turbocharging system on the TIO-540-AJ1A model engine, a mechanic would have to rely on multiple documents including the Illustrated Parts Manual for the parts needed, the Service Table of Limits for applicable torques, and Service Bulletins, Service Letters, and Service Instructions applicable to that model or individual component for replacement.

Pilot Operating Handbook

Review of the Cessna T206H Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) short field takeoff performance charts revealed that when configured to a 20-degree flap setting, and assuming a 30° C temperature at sea level, the airplane's expected ground roll would be between 670 and 1015 feet, at a gross weight of 3,000 and 3,600 pounds respectively. The short field landing distance performance chart shoed that under similar conditions, and a gross weight of 3,600 pounds, the airplane's expected ground roll was 775 feet.

Further review of the POH also revealed that it did not list emergency procedures for turbocharger failures, under "ENGINE FAILURES," in Section 3 (Emergency Procedures). Under "ENGINE FAILURE DURING FLIGHT (Restart Procedures), in the POH, it also called for advancing the mixture control to the rich position if restart does not occur.

Cessna's "Pilot Safety and Warning Supplements," which was reissued in 1998 to incorporate turbocharger failures, stated, in part: "A failure of the turbocharger system will cause either an overboost condition or some degree of power loss. An overboost can be determined on the manifold pressure instrument and can be controlled by a throttle reduction. If turbocharger failure results in power loss, it may be further complicated by an overly rich mixture. This rich mixture condition may be so severe as to cause a total power failure. Leaning the mixture may restore partial power. Partial or total power loss could also be caused by an exhaust leak. A landing should be made a soon as practical for either an overboost or partial/total power loss."

Continental TSIO-520-C Engine

Some earlier models of the Cessna 206 were equipped with a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C engine, which was rated at 300 horsepower. Both the Continental TSIO-520-C and the Lycoming TSIO-540-AJ1A engines use turbochargers manufactured by HET. Review of system information for the Continental TSIO-520-C revealed that it also used a spring-loaded check valve to control oil flow through the turbocharging system and prevent oil flow from the engine oil cooler to the turbocharger when the engine was shut down.

Published guidance was issued by Continental Motors in a service bulletin (Service Bulletin SB16-3), which advised that if the check valve did not close properly or became blocked with foreign matter, the check valve may remain open, allowing oil to continuously flow to the turbocharger (after the engine is shut down and the oil scavenge pump is no longer actively returning oil to the engine oil sump).

The service bulletin also advised that characteristic symptoms associated with a blocked check valve are turbocharger oil leakage and oil leakage through the tailpipe or induction system.

It also included the following statement: "NOTE: Do not assume an oil leak from the turbocharger is simply an incorrectly operating check valve – thoroughly troubleshoot for causes of all turbocharger oil leaks."

The service bulletin also required that the check valve be checked:

- At each 50-hour inspection.
- Whenever a turbocharger oil leak was detected.
- Immediately following an engine test run after cylinder(s) replacement.
- After replacing lubrication system components.

NTSB Recommendation A-94-81

On April 11, 1994, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation A-94-81 as a result of its investigation of a January 13, 1992, accident (NTSB Case No. LAX92FA092) involving a Cessna T210L, N22592, that occurred at the Temple Bar Airport, Temple Bar, Arizona, as the pilot attempted to execute an emergency landing. Two of the five persons aboard were killed, and three were seriously injured when the airplane struck the ground short of the runway. The pilot reported that the airplane had sustained a partial loss of engine power during cruise, but that he could not determine the nature of the problem. While descending to the airport, he turned the fuel boost pump on, and the engine lost additional power. Just before arriving over the airport, the cockpit and cabin areas filled with smoke, and the pilot secured the engine.

The NTSB determined that the probable causes of this accident were fatigue failure of the turbocharger's turbine shaft due to inadequate maintenance and the pilot's improper in-flight planning/decision after experiencing a turbocharger failure. Additionally, the lack of written instructions or an emergency procedure in the Cessna T210L Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) relating to turbocharger malfunctions or failures contributed to the accident.

The NTSB's safety recommendation letter stated, in part:

From January 1, 1988, to May 4, 1993, there were 88 accidents and incidents involving aircraft engine turbochargers, resulting in 6 fatalities and 35 injuries. Many of these occurrences, in both single and twin-engine airplanes, involved loss of engine power, fire in flight, or smoke in the cockpit. Moreover, from January 1, 1986, to May 4, 1993, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received 580 Service Difficulty Reports (SDRs) regarding aircraft turbocharging systems. The reports contained detailed system malfunctions that, in many cases, were attributed to inadequate installation, inspection, maintenance, service, or overhaul. The Safety Board noted, in connection with a significant number of the accidents, that improper pilot remedial actions following the turbocharger malfunction or failure may have contributed to these occurrences. For example, because compressed air to the engine normally produced by the turbocharger was no longer available, use of the boost pump, as evidenced in the accident with N22592, aggravated an already overly rich fuel mixture condition. This resulted in a further reduction in engine power and subsequent inability to sustain flight. Other inappropriate pilot actions or responses cited in accident reports that may also have exacerbated the loss of engine power or caused an in-flight fire because of turbocharger failure include the following: use of an inadequate emergency procedure, improper adjustment of the fuel mixture, improper use of the throttle control, and operating with known deficiencies in equipment."

Safety Recommendation A-94-81 asked the FAA to "require the amendment of pilot operating handbooks and airplane flight manuals applicable to aircraft equipped with engine turbochargers by including in the "Emergency Procedures" section information regarding turbocharger failure. The information should include procedures to minimize potential hazards relating to fire in flight and/or loss of engine power."

In a July 3, 1995, response, the FAA stated that it agreed with the intent of Safety Recommendation A-94-81 but did not believe that there was sufficient basis to issue an airworthiness directive applicable to all aircraft flight manuals (AFMs) or POHs with turbocharger installations. The FAA indicated, however, that it would take the following actions: 1) revise the AFM policy regarding minimum safe operating procedures following turbocharger failures during the next revision of Advisory Circular (AC) 23-8A "Flight Test Guide for Certification of Part 23 Airplanes;" 2) provide copies of Safety Recommendation A-94-81 to all aircraft certification offices and direct each office to provide the recommendation to each holder of a type certificate or supplemental type certificate having a turbocharged engine installation; 3) request type certificate or supplemental type certificate holders to revise their AFMs, POHs, or AFM supplements, as appropriate, to comply with Safety Recommendation A-94-81; and 4) provide the Safety Board a copy of the revised General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) Specification No. 1, "Specification for Pilots Operating Handbook," to address safe operating procedures following turbocharger failures.

Until the next revision to AC 23-8A was accomplished, the FAA issued a policy letter dated February 16, 1995, which added turbocharger failure procedures to the established list of systems that should be considered when evaluating the emergency procedures section of the AFM. In an August 15, 1997, response, the NTSB classified Safety Recommendation A-94-81 "Closed—Acceptable Alternate Action" based on the FAA's issuance of the policy letter, as well as the FAA's agreement to revise AC 23-8A.

NTSB Recommendation A-08-21

On May 13, 2008, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation A-08-21 as a result of its investigation of a May 28, 2004, accident (NTSB Case No. CHI04GA130) involving a Cessna T206H, N9548D, that impacted terrain following a loss of engine power during cruise flight near Homer Glen, Illinois. The pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. Witnesses reported that they heard several attempted engine restarts as the airplane descended, and a witness reported that black smoke emanated from the airplane during each start attempt. The black smoke was indicative of a mixture that was too rich. Postcrash examination revealed that the turbocharger had seized. The oil supply line check valve was tested, and it would not hold 8 psi of oil pressure. Oil and debris were seen being expelled from the check valve assembly when it was placed under oil pressure. Examination of the airplane's POH revealed that the in-flight emergency procedures lacked information to assess the difference between an engine and a turbocharger failure and did not provide any clear guidance or instructions on how to handle a turbocharger failure once a pilot identified the problem.

The NTSB determined that the probable causes of this accident were:

The seized turbocharger, the altitude/clearance not maintained/obtained during approach to a forced landing on an agricultural field, and the unsuitable landing area encountered by the pilot. Contributing factors were the inadequate emergency procedures by the manufacturer, the trees, and the residential area.

The NTSB's safety recommendation letter stated, in part:

The Safety Board notes, however, that the intent of Safety Recommendation A-94-81 has still not been fully realized. In connection with its investigation of the May 28, 2004, accident in Homer Glen, Illinois, the Safety Board also reviewed a representative sampling of POHs for other airplane makes and models and determined that procedures addressing turbocharger failures have either not been incorporated in the emergency procedures section or, if included, are incomplete, potentially leading to an incorrect identification and response to a turbocharger failure that could result in a total loss of engine power. A query of the Safety Board's accident database revealed that from May 1, 1993, to the present, 23 accident/incidents have occurred involving aircraft engine turbochargers, resulting in 23 fatalities and 3 injuries; 15 of these accidents/incidents have occurred (resulting in 9 fatalities) since 1997, when Safety Recommendation A-94-81 was closed.

Safety Recommendation A-08-21 asked the FAA to "require manufacturers of aircraft equipped with engine turbochargers to amend their pilot operating handbooks and airplane flight manuals to include in the "Emergency Procedures" section information regarding turbocharger failure and, specifically, procedures to minimize potential hazards relating to fire in flight and/or loss of engine power."

On June 11, 2012, the NTSB classified Safety Recommendation A-08-21 "Closed—Unacceptable Action" based on the FAA's decision not to take the recommended action. In its classification letter, the NTSB stated it "remains concerned that, without the establishment of an FAA requirement, manufacturers of aircraft equipped with turbochargers still have not voluntarily included emergency procedures for turbocharger failures, and as a result, accidents and incidents continue to occur."