Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tupelo Regional Airport (KTUP) narrows choice to two airlines

TUPELO – While Contour Airlines has proven it can provide reliable and affordable service flying passengers between Tupelo and Nashville – and as some Tupelo Regional Airport officials admit it has "restored trust in the community"  – that doesn't necessarily mean Contour is a shoo-in to continue service.

Contour is one of six airlines bidding to continue air service for another two years starting next March. The Smyrna, Tennessee-based airline has been providing service in Tupelo since April of last year, and its current two-year contract expires next spring. 

At a meeting of the Tupelo Airport Board on Tuesday, four of the airlines' bids were dismissed, leaving Boutique Air and Contour as the finalists.

San Francisco-based Boutique, which now provides service for Greenville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, is making a strong push to replace Contour in Tupelo.

On Friday, Boutique officials will make their presentation to the airport board. Contour is expected to make its pitch early next week.

The U.S. Department of Transportation hopes to hear from Tupelo later this month on its preference. The DOT subsidizes air service in Tupelo for about $4.2 million a year through the Essential Air Service program.

A look at the two finalists' bids:

BOUTIQUE AIR – It is offering proposals using either eight Pilatus PC-12 or Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft.

For the twin-engine Beechcraft, Boutique is offering 30 weekly flights in four options:

Five flights daily between Tupelo and Nashville for $3.92 million
Four flights per day to Nashville as well as once per day to Atlanta for a little over $4 million
Four flights per day to Nashville and once a day to Dallas/Fort Worth for $4.23 million
Three flights a day to Nashville and twice a day to Atlanta for nearly $4.17 million

For the single-engine Pilatus, Boutique also is offering 30 weekly flights in several forms:

Five times a day to Nashville for $3.7 million
Five times a day to Atlanta for $3.7 million
Four times a day to Nashville and once a day to Atlanta for $3.71 million
Four times a day to Nashville and once a day to Dallas/Fort Worth for $3.76 million
Four times a day to Atlanta and once a day to Dallas/Fort Worth for $3.76 million
Four times a day to Atlanta and once to Nashville for $3.7 million.

CONTOUR – The company has three "service pattern" options for its next bid:

Pattern A – 30 weekly flights to Nashville
Pattern B – 24 weekly to Nashville as well as six weekly flights to Atlanta
Pattern C – 18 weekly flights to Nashville and 12 weekly to Atlanta

And no matter which pattern is chosen, Contour is asking for the same EAS subsidy: $3.932 million, some $300,000 cheaper per year than its current contract.

At the board meeting Tuesday, incoming board chairman Larry Decker said he likes what Contour has done, but wishes more seats or bigger planes were offered.

However, under the current EAS plan, nine-seat planes are the maximum allowed.

Airport executive director Cliff Nash said Boutique, "doesn't necessarily add to anything we already have." However, he said Contour, while doing an exemplary job, hasn't followed up on its pursuit of what's called Part 121 certification, which would allow the use of bigger planes. Nash also noted that Contour's initial promise of keeping a second aircraft at Tupelo in case of maintenance issues has been "a little spotty." 

"Now, they've done a yeoman's effort," Nash said of Contour. "But we've milked a 9-seat aircraft about as much as we can."

The main concern is meeting the DOT's subsidy cap of $200 per passenger in order to maintain EAS funding. With Contour, that number is now a little more than that. But passenger counts are at the highest in three years, and there's still a little room to grow. And it has to in order to meet that gap.

Boutique's choices are intriguing to some airport board members because of the Dallas and Atlanta options, in addition to Nashville. And airport officials say Boutique is willing to locate a maintenance shop in Tupelo if it's selected as the provider.

However, using an eight-seat plane will reduce the number of available seats, which won't help with the subsidy cap. Still, Boutique's offer has merits, supporters say.

Decker has long preferred Atlanta as the preferred destination, and said the airport is losing business travelers because Contour is currently going to Nashville only.

"We've established credibility with the leisure traveler, but not the business traveler," he said.

But the added option of Atlanta in one of Contour's new bids could sway him.

However, some board members think what Contour has done is enough to keep it as the provider. Why risk losing the leisure market in hopes of getting a larger business traveler market (who, statistics show, are more profitable customers for airlines) that may or may not use Boutique, they ask.

Both airlines will get their chance to answer any and all questions in the next few days, board members hope.

Nash said comments can be emailed to him at

Original article can be found here ➤

Hotel at iconic TWA terminal will evoke glamour of jet age


When it opened in 1962, the sleek TWA terminal at New York's Kennedy Airport was the embodiment of jet-age style. Now, construction is underway to transform the landmark into a $265 million hotel that will conjure the same glamour, smack in the middle of an airport better known for controlled chaos than comfort.

The hotel, being built by New York-based MCR Development, will include two new buildings with 505 rooms, a rooftop pool, an observation deck where guests can watch planes take off and a museum stocked with artifacts, including uniforms lent by former TWA flight attendants.

But the starring feature will be the long-closed TWA Flight Center, designed by architect Eero Saarinen. The center will be preserved, along with its Charles Eames furniture and Noguchi fountain, as the hotel's lobby.

"I've loved the TWA building since as far back as I can remember. It's such an incredible structure," said Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR Development. "It's this cacophony of midcentury modern design all under one roof," he said. "To bring that back to life was very exciting."

The gull-winged terminal, which looked like something out of the TV show "The Jetsons" and opened the same year as the animated series, was a symbol of flight and a favorite project of Saarinen, who also designed the St. Louis Gateway Arch. It closed in 2001 when TWA was acquired by American Airlines.

The iconic structure is protected by the city as a landmark and can't be torn down, but its destiny was uncertain before the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the region's major airports, began soliciting bids for a hotel operator several years ago.

MCR, which owns 94 hotels in 24 states, was the winning bidder with JetBlue, a 5 percent minority owner.

The hotel is scheduled to open in early 2019. It will be the first hotel at the airport property since the Ramada Plaza, fairly distant from the terminals, closed in 2009. The only other hotels near the airport are budget accommodations a short drive away by shuttle bus or taxi.

The rooms will start at $250 a night. The target clientele, Morse said, will include business travelers as well as aviation "geeks" interested in the landmark TWA terminal and in the location.

Tourists are unlikely to use it as a base for exploring the city. It is a long subway ride or drive from Manhattan, but just minutes from all of the airport's terminals by monorail.

A scale model of the hotel, built for marketing purposes, opened last month at One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.

It was filled with retro items like swizzle sticks and a front page from John Glenn's 1962 space flight. A sound track featuring Frank Sinatra singing "Fly Me to the Moon" and The 5th Dimension's "Up, Up and Away" plays on a continuous loop while a telescope pointed at Kennedy Airport, 12 miles to the east, links the space to its parent terminal. A mini-fridge is stocked with Tab.

TWA memorabilia includes first-class china and flatware and uniforms worn by pilots and flight attendants. Of particular interest are the paper "Italian toga," ''French maid" and "English wench" outfits from the summer of 1968, when TWA experimented with disposable hostess uniforms.

Chris Betz, event coordinator for the space, said some of the artifacts will go to the museum at the hotel when it opens.

Many of the uniforms and other items came from organizations of former TWA employees that formed after the airline shut down.

"I'm pleased that the building is being taken care of and put to a special, good use, and I really hope they are successful with it," said Judy Gerling, president of TWA Clipped Wings, a group of former flight attendants.

Gerling, who worked for TWA from 1965 to 1989, said air travel was special in the era the hotel will evoke.

"Everybody dressed up," she recalled. "The women wore dresses, hats and gloves. The men wore suits."

First-class passengers were served their meals in courses with linen napkins.

"Even in coach we always had a choice of two or three entrees," Gerling said. "Now you get a choice of peanuts or not."

Story and photo gallery ➤

Casper Police Demonstrate New Drone

Police officer Tanner Rockwell launches the new drone as officer Lyle Berg spots during a public demonstration at Lake McKenzie Dog Park on Wednesday afternoon in Casper. The two officers are both FAA certified to fly the new drone, which will help in search and rescue and crime scene investigations.

The Casper Police Department held a public demonstration of their new drone on Wednesday afternoon at the Lake McKenzie Dog Park.

Casper EMT participated in the demonstration to show the capabilities of the new tool.

The drone, a Phantom IV Pro, has a number of practical uses for police and rescue according to police officer Justin Edberg. The rescue scenario demonstrated the drone’s speed and maneuverability by speeding across the North Platte River and examining a cluster of reeds and grass on the edge.

Other uses for the drone include accident scene photos, which now typically require a ladder truck to block traffic for extended periods of time as investigators make evidence photos. The drone can be used to gather those in a fraction of the time and cost, according to Edberg.

Drone operators must have an FAA license, which requires a 20-hour class and passing an FAA test. Two officers, Tanner Rockwell and Lyle Berg, are currently licensed to operate the drone. The plan is to eventually have certified operators in all departments that can use the drone for more efficient rescue and investigation work, according to Edberg.

Story and photo gallery ➤

Lessons from General Electric, an American loser

General Electric or GE, once the symbol of American success in business, is now an American loser.

And the reasons for its demise go to the heart of what has gone wrong with many of Australia’s leading companies.

On Wall Street GE was replaced by new symbols of American success like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon or even GE rivals like Honeywell and United Technologies, which also boomed.

In Australia, apart from CSL, we did not give birth to enormous success stories that went on to dominate our market and replace the struggling icons.

Accordingly our share market has not matched Wall Street.

So let’s look at GE. This week GE shares tumbled to a two-year low. GE has lost a quarter of its value — roughly $70 billion — so far this year. A few months ago the company showed long-running chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt the door and other executives, including this week’s surprise exit of Jeffrey Bornstein as chief financial officer, have followed him. The new CEO is cutting costs but he will need to do a lot more than that.

GE has a severe dose of what Australians might call the BHP, Telstra and big bank disease — GE’s dividend has become the most important driver of strategy. Much to the dismay of shareholders who invested for income, BHP and Telstra have woken up that you must reinvest in the business and so have cut dividends and linked future moves to earnings. In time the banks will follow.

GE has not reduced its dividend since the 1930s recession (BHP had similar pride in its dividend record) but GE’s free cash flow has deteriorated for six consecutive years so the market knows the inevitable is ahead — hence the fall in share price. I can remember on several occasions meeting and questioning the legendary Jack Welch, who built GE. Jack’s charisma drove GE but he was a compulsive buyer of businesses, which was always going to give his successor a headache. That successor, Jeffrey Immelt, decided to exit some of Jack’s jewels and in the process presided over GE’s dismantling.

Immelt disposed of GE’s media arm, NBC Universal, and sold off most of GE Capital, which had been a brilliant financial arm. He even sold off GE’s well-known appliance business last year to China’s Haier Group. Now, it’s trying to unload the iconic light bulb business. Just imagine the turmoil that regular selling has created among managers. Who will be next?

The Immelt goal was to focus GE on businesses where it could win, and to get rid of the ones that were so called “distractions”.

Not surprisingly GE’s remaining businesses, which include aviation, transportation, healthcare and energy, are not winning. In fact given the fall in operating cash flows GE actually had to sell businesses to keep up the dividend.

In today’s world, corporate might is no longer enough. Technology is enabling rivals from around the world to enter businesses that were once the province of giants. GE in the Welch era attracted the world’s best and brightest talent. Talents today are also attracted to the exciting companies but GE is low on the list because today’s generation has seen their predecessors trashed in the GE sale process.

The new GE CEO, John Flannery, is getting rid of the corporate jets and executive cars (in former times BHP was big on corporate jets but they have gone and these days you see BHP’s Andrew Mackenzie in the Qantas lounge).

The GE CEO better act quickly on costs because to win he has to bring excitement back to the company by investing in the business on a much larger scale and start recruiting the best people to compete in the new world.

That’s also the task facing many Australian large companies.

Original article ➤

Scaled Composites flies out experimental aircraft for first time

MOJAVE, Calif. - Scaled Composites announced that they rolled out the first flight of their most recent project, which was experimental aircraft Model 401. 

The company worked with others to construct two different aircraft that showed advanced, and low-cost manufacturing techniques. They were both designed the same on the outside and as well as in performance. 

They are both capable of flying with a service ceiling of 30,000, have a wingspan of 38 feet and are 38 feet long. 

The first flight was part of the test phase for the first vehicle. The team plans on continue expansion of the first aircraft as they get closer to flying the second aircraft. 

Story and video ➤

Aircraft plans grounded: Wisconsin taking legal action against Kestrel Aircraft; Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board loan sits untouched

Alan Klapmeier, then the president and CEO of Kestrel Aircraft, stands with a mockup of a Kestrel in a hangar at the Bong Airport in Superior in March 2013. The state of Wisconsin is taking legal action against Kestrel, which received $4 million in state loans in 2012 to build a plant in Superior.

The state of Wisconsin is taking legal action against an airplane manufacturer that received $4 million in state loans and millions more in tax incentives in 2012 to build a plant in Superior that was to employ 665 people.

Five years after the loans were made to Kestrel Aircraft, the manufacturing plant hasn't been built, there are no aircraft manufacturing jobs in Superior and Kestrel — now part of ONE Aviation, headed by Northland aviation mogul Alan Klapmeier — hasn't made a loan payment to the state in 11 months.

In a memo from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. requested by the News Tribune, state officials on Monday told the company they are "moving forward with legal action against the company" due to "Kestrel's inability to show measurable progress toward obtaining financing."

"We will pursue any and all remedies available to us to protect the state's investment," the memo notes.

Meanwhile, one year after being offered $1.5 million in public financial incentives to expand to the Grand Rapids airport, a subsidiary of ONE Aviation still hasn't accepted the money.

Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board officials confirmed this week that Albuquerque, N.M.-based ACC Manufacturing Inc., which makes composite airplane parts for its parent company, ONE Aviation, hasn't used the $1.5 million IRRRB loan.

ONE Aviation — formed in 2015 by the merger of Kestrel Aircraft and Eclipse Aerospace — also hasn't moved any work into a vacant hangar at the airport purchased by the Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority last year with a $293,000 loan from the IRRRB to the city. ACC had pledged to build a manufacturing plant in the empty hangar employing at least 20 people making composite parts for ONE Aviation's Eclipse jet by now.

IRRRB officials and state lawmakers on the IRRRB board even expressed hope that Klapmeier would not just build the parts plant but also decide to build his long-developing Kestrel business airplane in Grand Rapids.

So far, neither has happened.

"We're being cautious. But we're still hopeful," IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips told the News Tribune. "The latest we've heard is that they're still trying to get their financing organized. We aren't out anything to let them have more time."

Klapmeier is the former co-founder and head of Duluth-based Cirrus Aviation who left that company in 2009 and struck out on his own to build the Kestrel. He has said he still maintains a home near Cloquet and a cabin near Iron River. He did not return News Tribune requests to comment on the status of Kestrel.

Wisconsin legal action

WEDC officials say the state has fulfilled all of its contractual obligations and tried to work with Kestrel, the company's bank and local officials in Superior, but to no avail.

According to the WEDC memo, Kestrel repaid $865,490 of the $4 million but hasn't made a payment since Nov. 15, 2016.

ONE Aviation is based in Albuquerque, N.M., where it produces the Eclipse business jet.

So far, the company's planned Kestrel turboprop aircraft has not received federal certification for manufacturing, and it remains unclear if or where the business aircraft will be built. In July, Klapmeier told the AIN Online aviation news site that plans for the Kestrel had been shelved.

"Everyone's working on Canada," Klapmeier said, referring to ONE Aviation's new Eclipse Canada model jet aircraft.

Wisconsin officials last December notified Kestrel that the company was in default. The state gave official notice of the default in February, with the company behind in payments by $180,450. In May, WEDC agreed to delay legal action to give the company one last chance to get current on the loan, setting an Aug. 31 deadline.

The company failed to meet the deadline.

In 2012, Kestrel received both a $2 million business expansion loan and a $2 million small-business credit loan through WEDC.

The company also was offered $18 million in state job-creation tax credits but earned only $717,500 of those because employment promises were never met. Kestrel reportedly has about 25 employees in Superior, far short of the 665 promised.

Locally, Douglas County gave Kestrel a $500,000 loan. The city of Superior offered Kestrel free land and $1.125 million in tax-increment financing as well as a $2.4 million loan. Jason Serck, the city's director of economic development and planning, did not return requests from the News Tribune to explain how much the company may still owe the city.

Grand Rapids hangar

In Grand Rapids, ONE Aviation subsidiary ACC does employ four people at a different mold-making facility across from the airport, said Rob Mattei, Grand Rapids economic development director. The company also has stored a single Eclipse jet at the Grand Rapids hangar.

Because the city owns the hangar purchased for ACC, there's no public money lost.

"We're still hopeful that they can get things going and use our facility," Mattei said, noting the startup aircraft company has been slow to attract private financing. "That's not uncommon in that business."

Eviction in Maine

The slow progress at Grand Rapids is just the latest in a string of unfulfilled projects as the Kestrel project has struggled for years to get off the ground.

Last week the Portland Press Herald newspaper in Maine reported that Kestrel Aeroworks has been evicted from its facility in Brunswick, Maine, for not paying rent.

The company, headed by Klapmeier, in 2010 promised to create 600 jobs in Brunswick developing the all-new turboprop business aircraft. That never happened, and last week Kestrel's lease at a 64,000-square-foot facility in Brunswick was terminated by the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the quasi-governmental agency that operates the former Navy air base.

Kestrel reportedly owes about $360,000 in back rent, and the paper reported that the authority was considering court action to seek the past-due amount. The company reportedly had about 12 employees in Maine.

Layoffs in Albuquerque

ONE Aviation is producing the corporate Eclipse jet in Albuquerque. Klapmeier said last year that the company is focused on bringing the Eclipse to full production and the second-generation "Eclipse Canada" jet to market before it starts producing the planned Kestrel turboprop.

The Eclipse 500 is a small, six-seat business jet in the works since the mid-2000s. Last month Klapmeier announced that faster, larger "Eclipse Canada" version had been successfully tested in flight.

"This is a key milestone in the path to making a very good airplane a great airplane," Klapmeier said in a September statement.

But sales of the Eclipse have not gone as planned. In January, ONE Aviation announced an undisclosed number of layoffs at the Eclipse plant in Albuquerque, according to AIN Online.

Airline industry analysts "expects quarterly sales to be down for aircraft deliveries, and we're seeing that throughout this market space," Ken Ross, ONE Aviation president, told AIN at the time. "We have primarily realigned our production, service and engineering capabilities to be more efficient."

Klapmeier returned to Minnesota one year ago with the promise of some related jobs. The parts made in Grand Rapids would be used in the Eclipse assembly line in New Mexico. But it's still not clear if or where the Kestrel will be built.

The Kestrel 350 is planned to be an all-composite, single-engine turboprop aircraft that could carry up to eight people at high speed over long distances and designed to be "far more versatile" than jet aircraft. It would burn less fuel, and be able to maintain approach speeds at large busy urban airports yet land on short, grass or gravel strips in rural areas, according to the company's website.

Original article  ➤

Aaron McCartan: Iowa Pilot Three-Time National Aerobatic Flying Champion

ALGONA, Iowa -   Aaron McCartan is often seen flying his aerobatic plane based in a hangar at the Algona Airport.

In late September, McCartan won the U.S. Advanced Nationals Champion, which is the most difficult category of this type of flying. This was his third national title, in five tries. He was also named as Captain of the U.S. Advance Aerobatic Team, which will compete next summer in Europe.

“I’m a competition aerobatic pilot,” said McCartan. “It’s a little different in the air shows, it's not the wild tumbling and rushing at the ground, it's a little bit more disciplined, kind a like ballet versus breakdancing.”

McCartan flies Panzel aircraft, which is made in Michigan. The plane is very lightweight 1240 pounds, but with a 330 horsepower engine, maneuvers are no problem.

“This aircraft is called a Panzl,” said McCartan.“They're made up in Michigan, it's a steel tube roll cage around the fuselage, the wing is actually a combination of different types of wood, and then there some carbon fiber hardeners inside.”

Cloth is also used to cover the aft section of the plane, and parts of the ailerons are covered in cloth as a way to keep the plane light weight.

“It is the ultimate challenge it aviation it is the hardest most disciplined study of aviation,” said McCartan. “This is one of the most challenging things you can do with an airplane and I absolutely love it!”

McCartan normally flies his aircraft to competitions. But next summer to get his plane to Europe, he will have to disassemble it and ship it by boat to the competition site.

Story and video ➤

Former Chula Vista airplane broker gets prison for heading money-laundering ring

An airplane seized as part of the investigation into Vicente Contreras Amezquita. 
(Courtesy of U.S. Attorney's Office)

On December 19, 2011, $248,820 cash was seized as part of the investigation into Vicente Contreras Amezquita and his money-laundering ring. 
(Courtesy of U.S. Attorney's Office)

Those who contracted with Vicente Contreras Amezquita for his unique services not only had their illegal profits laundered, but they got an airplane in return — presumably to traffic more drugs and earn more dirty money.

For his role as head of a Chula Vista-based money laundering organization, a San Diego federal judge on Wednesday sentenced Contreras to five years in prison.

The scheme moved $3.6 million over a five-year period, from 2007 to 2012, with the money split into 525 cash deposits to buy 35 small planes and plane parts for exportation to Mexico, according to court documents.

The bulk of the planes were Cessna 206 and 201 models — reliable, fast and able to carry heavy payloads, the kind of aircraft favored by drug-trafficking organizations, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Hobson.

Some of the planes were outfitted with heavy-duty tires and landing gear for clandestine airstrips, or extra fuel tanks for long flights, Hobson said.

Contreras, 46, grew up in Sinaloa, Mexico and later moved with his mother and siblings to Tijuana, according to court documents. In 1998 he moved to Chula Vista with his wife and their children, who are U.S. citizens. Contreras had a visa that allowed him to legally cross the border but not to live in the U.S., prosecutors said.

He started his legitimate business out of his dining room, buying and selling airplane parts, and later got his pilot’s license and began refurbishing whole planes and also brokering sales, said his defense attorney, Frank Ragen.

Prosecutors say as of 2007, at least, there doesn’t appear to be anything legitimate about the business.

A wiretap in 2011 and 2012 revealed Contreras would pick up cash in bulk in an alley in Los Angeles or in a fast food parking lot, according to prosecutors.

The money would then be divided up among his crew who would travel the country, making a flurry of deposits into multiple bank accounts under various names. The deposits would be “structured” in amounts under $10,000, therefore avoiding the mandatory reporting requirement by banks.

Alleged associates made deposits in California, Arizona, Texas, Michigan and Georgia, prosecutors said.

The money would then be transferred to other accounts, and later combined into yet different accounts, where it would be withdrawn for the purchase of an airplane through one of Contreras’ companies, Aeropartes Baja or Vekve Corporacion, the investigation showed.

Contreras himself used 46 different personal and business accounts at five banks, prosecutors said.

During the wiretap investigation, authorities seized a plane in Florida and $350,000 in cash.

Contreras pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to launder more than $10,000 of criminally derived property.

But whether Contreras knew the true source of that money was subject to intense debate in court.

“There is absolutely no evidence all this money came from drugs,” Ragen said, listing a host of other crimes in Mexico that also generate profits — from kidnapping to oil theft to human smuggling.

U.S. District Judge Michael Anello asked: “What other source could there be?” He later ruled that Contreras either knew or should have known about the true source of the funds and that there was “overwhelming circumstantial evidence he knew what was going on here.”

Contreras apologized to the court and his family in the front row: “None of this was done with any malice. I saw it as something like my daily work. I apologize if it was wrong. I’m remorseful and I’ve learned my lesson.”

Contreras’ wife, who is also charged in the scheme, remains in Mexico and has a warrant for her arrest, along with most of the other alleged accomplices, Hobson said.

Hector Hernandez, owner of Pacific Coast Aero in Torrance, was also arrested and has pleaded guilty.

Original article ➤

Experimental amateur-built, Fleetwood Jack, Team Air-Bike, N7566D, registered to a private individual and operated by the pilot: Accident occurred October 11, 2017 near Ocean Springs Airport (5R2), Jackson County, Mississippi

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Jackson, Mississippi

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Ocean Springs, MS
Accident Number: ANC18LA002
Date & Time: 10/11/2017, 0900 CDT
Registration: N7566D
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (partial)
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


During a prebuy inspection flight, the airline transport pilot reduced engine power to test the airplane's slow-speed handling characteristics. He then increased the throttle to restore full engine power, but the engine seemed to "bog down" and lose power. He then lowered the airplane's nose, and engine power was restored. The pilot then chose to return to the airport, and while on approach, the engine again began to lose power, but lowering the airplane's nose did not increase the rpm this time. The pilot realized the airplane would be unable to reach the airport, so he conducted an off-airport landing in a residential area, during which the airplane impacted a fence.

A postaccident engine run revealed that, after running at various power settings, when the power was reduced, the engine bogged down and backfired through the power takeoff (PTO) carburetor, and the rpm would not increase. The PTO cylinder ignition coil was replaced with a serviceable coil, and the engine was restarted for several minutes and run through various power setting. The engine accelerated normally without backfiring, hesitating, or stumbling.

It is likely that, during the accident flight, the PTO cylinder ignition coil broke down, which resulted in an intermittent spark at the PTO spark plug and a partial loss of engine power. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
An intermittent failure of the power take-off cylinder ignition coil, which resulted in a partial loss of engine power.


Ignition power supply - Malfunction (Cause)

Environmental issues
Fence/fence post - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

On October 11, 2017 about 0900 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built, Fleetwood Jack, Team Air-Bike airplane, N7566D sustained substantial damage during a forced landing, following a partial loss of engine power while attempting to return to Ocean Springs Airport (5R2), Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by the pilot, as a visual flight rules flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 when the accident occurred. The certificated airline transport pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that he was contemplating purchasing the airplane, and the flight was a part of the pre-buy inspection. He stated that during the test flight, he reduced the power to test the slow speed handling characteristics of the airplane. Following slow flight, he increased the throttle, but the engine seemed to "bog down". In an attempt to increase the engine's RPM, he lowered the nose of the airplane and the engine seemed to respond and run normal again. He stated that he was uncomfortable with the way the engine was operating and decided to return to 5R2. During the approach to runway 36 at 5R2, the airplane seemed to "bog down" again. He lowered the airplane's nose, but the engine failed to increase in RPM. Realizing he would be unable to reach the airport, he selected an off-airport landing site in a residential area. During the forced landing the airplane impacted a fence and sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and wings.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 2005. It was an experimental single place, externally braced high wing airplane, with a two-blade fixed wood propeller, and a Rotax 503, 50 hp, two-stroke engine.

A postaccident examination of the airplane and engine revealed that the wings and fuel tank had been removed, and were not available for examination. The Rotax 503 engine remained attached to the airframe, and both propeller blades had separated from the propeller hub. The fuel system was inspected; no fuel filter was present between the fuel pump and carburetor as required per the ROTAX Aircraft Engines Installation Manual for ROTAX 503 UL DCDI engines. However, a fuel filter was present upstream of the fuel pump on the fuel inlet line. The filter appeared clean, with no debris present. The fuel pump had been previously removed and disassembled, and was not an appropriate type for an aircraft application. The airplane was equipped with an aftermarket type exhaust, and an exhaust leak was noted at one of the welds. The exhaust was removed from the engine, and a continuity and compression check was completed via manual rotation of the propeller. No anomalies were noted on the power take off side (PTO) and magneto side (MS) pistons and cylinders, as viewed from the exhaust port. The PTO and MS spark plugs were removed from the engine and both plugs exhibited features consistent with a rich mixture, and were not designed for use in aircraft. The PTO spark plug was broken.

The engine was then prepped to be test run, which included replacing the propeller, mounting a serviceable fuel pump and replacing the damaged spark plug. Fuel was introduced to the engine by placing the fuel inlet line in a fuel container with the appropriate fresh fuel/oil mixture. The engine was started and run for several minutes at various power settings. The power was then reduced, prior to applying full power. The engine bogged down and backfired through the PTO carburetor and would not increase in RPM.

The PTO ignition coil was replaced with a serviceable coil, and the engine was restarted for several minutes and run through various power settings. The power was then reduced, prior to the throttle being opened. The engine accelerated normally without backfiring, hesitation or stumbling.

According to an FAA inspector, the accident airplane, as equipped, did not meet the requirements contained in 14 CFR Part 103 to be considered an Ultralight Vehicle.

The closest weather reporting facility was Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Mississippi, about 10 miles west of the accident site. At 0856, a METAR was reporting, in part: wind 010° at 5 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds and ceiling, clear; temperature, 79° F; dew point 75° F; altimeter, 30.06 inches of Mercury. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor; Military
Age: 49, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/15/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/18/2017
Flight Time: 13000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 0.3 hours (Total, this make and model) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: FLEETWOOD JACK
Registration: N7566D
Model/Series: TEAM AIRBIKE
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2005
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental Light Sport
Serial Number: AB000154
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  10/11/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 560 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 79 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: ROTAX
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 503
Registered Owner: Sprouse Phillip R
Rated Power: 50 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBIX
Observation Time: 1356 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 277°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / 24°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 10°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.06 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Ocean Springs, MS (5R2)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Ocean Springs, MS (5R2)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0845 CDT
Type of Airspace:  Unknown

Airport Information

Airport: OCEAN SPRINGS (5R2)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 20 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 36
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3500 ft / 50 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  30.389444, -88.753333 (est)

The pilot of an ultra light-weight plane escaped injuries when he made a crash landing in the yard of a home in Gulf Park Estates, officials said.

The one-seat plane, with a 4-gallon gas tank, was having mechanical problems before the crash Wednesday morning, Jackson County Emergency Services Director Earl Etheridge said.

The plane crashed into a wooden privacy fence at a home on Marguerite Drive.

“The pilot tried to make it into an open field and unfortunately, he didn’t make it. He’s not hurt. He just ran into a fence,” Etheridge said.

James Hitterman had departed from the Ocean Springs Airport to test-fly the plane and was in the air about 15 minutes when the plane lost power, Sheriff Mike Ezell said.

A homeowner in the neighborhood near Ocean Springs heard a loud noise and went outside to discover a crashed plane in the yard, he said.

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -  An ultralight aircraft fell out of the sky and crashed into the backyard of a home on Marguerite Dr. in the Gulf Park Estates area of Jackson County, according to county emergency services director Earl Etheridge.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell said the pilot took off from Ocean Springs Airport on Wednesday morning to test fly the single-seat plane and was in the air for about 15 minutes when the aircraft lost power.

Ezell said the pilot was unable to make it back to the airport and was forced to perform an emergency landing.

The pilot was shaken up but not injured, Etheridge said.

A witness said he was standing outside talking on the phone when he saw the plane circling overhead. Minutes later, he heard the crash.

The aircraft crashed into a fence, but no other residential damage has been reported. We're told officials with the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

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Piper PA-28-181, N4403Z: Accident occurred September 13, 2019 at Marana Regional Airport (KAVQ), Pima County, Arizona

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona 
Piper Aircraft; Phoenix, Arizona
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
AVStar Fuel Systems Inc; Jupiter, Florida
Precision Airmotive LLC; Arlington, Washington
CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Phoenix Inc; Mesa, Arizona

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Marana, AZ
Accident Number: WPR19LA259
Date & Time: 09/13/2019, 1730 MST
Registration: N4403Z
Aircraft: Piper PA28
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On September 13, 2019, about 1730 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-28-181, airplane, N4403Z, caught fire during preflight startup at the Marana Regional Airport (AVQ), Marana, Arizona. The flight instructor and two student pilots were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the firewall. The airplane was registered to CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Phoenix, Inc, and operated as an instructional flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight and no flight plan was filed.

According to the flight instructor, after landing at AVQ, he and the student pilots exited the airplane, used the airport facilities, and had the airplane refueled. About 30 minutes after the airplane was shut down, the flight instructor completed his preflight and he and the student pilots boarded the airplane. During the preflight, the flight instructor stated he did not see any fuel or liquids during the walk around. After a second failed attempt to start the engine the flight instructor and student pilots smelled smoke. The flight instructor saw smoke coming from the nose wheel well and he and the student pilots stood clear of the airplane and called the local authorities. The airplane continued to smoke for about 15 minutes before the fire department arrived.

During a post-accident examination of the airplane, the cowling was removed which revealed substantial damage to the firewall. The cowling and various lines and accessories sustained thermal damage.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N4403Z
Model/Series: PA28 181
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Cae Oxford Aviation Academy Phoenix Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot School (141) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KAVQ, 2031 ft msl
Observation Time: 0035 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 37°C / 2°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 320°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.88 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Mesa, AZ (FFZ)
Destination: Marana, AZ (AVQ)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 3 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 32.403889, -111.219722

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

Aircraft on final, bird struck the wing. Landed without incident.

Date: 10-OCT-17
Time: 17:00:00Z
Regis#: N4403Z
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Flight Phase: APPROACH (APR):
Aircraft Operator: CAE OXFORD AVIATION
Flight Number: OXF176
City: MESA

Aircraft on landing, ground looped, went off the runway and struck a windsock.

Date: 30-APR-17
Time: 13:20:00Z
Regis#: N4403Z
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: MESA

Aircraft on landing, went off the runway and struck a sign.

Date: 29-JUL-16
Time: 17:48:00Z
Regis#: N4403Z
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA28
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Minor
Activity: Instruction
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: MESA
State: Arizona