Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cessna 340A, N98747, American Skyways Inc: Incident occurred October 27, 2017 at Elmira Corning Regional Airport (KELM), Chemung County, New York

American Skyways Inc:

BIG FLATS, NY (WENY) -- A private plane landed safely at Elmira-Corning Regional Airport after a suspected mechanical malfunction.

The emergency landing request came in around 5:15pm Friday. 

According to Director of Aviation, Bill Hopper, a gear indication light malfunctioned. 

Hopper says the plane made one fly-by approach to test the gears. The gears looked visually fine. The pilot then flew around the airport once and was able to land safely shortly before 6pm. Hopper says the pilot is safe.

According to Hopper, the plane is a privately-owned Cessna twin-engine aircraft, that's locally-based.

Our reporter on the scene saw multiple first responders staged at the airport during the emergency landing.

The plane's tail number appears in visible images to be N98747. According to FAA records, that plane is assigned to "American Skyways Inc." which is based in Corning, NY.

Story and video ➤

Clayton, Johnston County, North Carolina: Little League honors late Duke Life Flight pilot

Clayton, N.C. — A Clayton Little League baseball tournament took a timeout on Saturday to honor the pilot killed in a recent Duke Life Flight crash in northeast North Carolina. 

Pilot Jeff Burke, flight nurses Kris Harrison and Crystal Sollinger and patient Mary Bartlett were killed on September 8th.

The crash occurred in a grassy field near Amazon's wind farm outside the town of Belvidere, south of the Perquimans-Gates county line.

The helicopter, which was based at Johnston Regional Airport in Smithfield, was enroute to Duke University Hospital in Durham from Sentara Albemarle Medical Center in Elizabeth City when it went down, officials said.

Gerrod Bynum, an EMT, worked with Burke and the two nurses at their base in Smithfield.

"I don't question God, I know he's right, and I know everybody has their day and their time, but these three were gone too soon," he said. "I really feel that in my heart."

The crowd at the game cheered for Burke's 8-year-old son, Jason, and wife Dina.

Jason honored his father and threw the first pitch at the game.

Story and video ➤

Eurocopter MBB BK 117C-2, N146DU, operated by Air Methods Corporation: Fatal accident occurred September 08, 2017 in Hertford, Perquimans County, North Carolina

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration; Washington, District of Columbia
Air Methods Corporation; Englewood, Colorado
SAFRAN Turbomeca; Grand Prairie, Texas
Airbus Helicopters; Grand Prairie, Texas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA316
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, September 08, 2017 in Hertford, NC
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER DEUTSCHLAND GMBH MBB BK 117, registration: N146DU
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 8, 2017, about 1120 eastern daylight time, a Eurocopter Deutschland GMBH MBB BK117-C2 helicopter, N146DU, was destroyed when it crashed on a wind turbine farm in Hertford, North Carolina. The commercial pilot, two flight nurses, and one patient were fatally injured. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and a company flight plan was filed for flight that departed the Sentara Albemarle Regional Medical Center Heliport (NC98) about 1108. The flight was destined for the Duke University North Heliport (NC92). The helicopter was operated by Air Methods Corporation under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135.

According to the operator, on the morning of the accident, the pilot and both medical crew flew from their base at the Johnston Regional Airport (JNX), Smithfield, North Carolina to the Elizabeth City Regional Airport (ECG), Elizabeth City, North Carolina for refueling. They arrived at ECG about 0924, and loaded 70 gallons of fuel. About 1011, the crew radioed the company operations center and advised they were departing for NC98, and had 2 hours of fuel on board. They arrived at NC98 about 1022. At 1108, the pilot radioed the company operations center and advised that that they were departing for NC92 with 2 hours of fuel and four people on board. There were no further communications with the helicopter.

Preliminary data transmitted from the helicopter showed that it departed NC98 to the northwest, climbed to about 1,000 ft mean sea level (msl) and then turned west. The helicopter climbed to about 2,500 ft msl and continued on a westerly track at a groundspeed of about 120 knots. About 8 minutes after takeoff, the helicopter began a turn toward the south. About 1 minute later, the transmitted data ended at an altitude of about 1,200 ft msl and a groundspeed of 75 knots, while the helicopter was on a southeasterly track.

Several witnesses reported observing smoke trailing behind the helicopter while it was in flight. The smoke was described by some witnesses as "heavy" or "dark", while others reported the color as "black", "dark blue" or "blue." One witness reported that the helicopter was "hovering" and "not travelling forward" while it was a "couple of hundred feet" above the wind turbine farm. Another witness reported hearing a "popping noise," he then observed the helicopter turn left, then right. It then descended quickly and appeared "in control" with the rotors turning before he lost sight of it.

The helicopter impacted a shallow turf drainage pathway, about 30 ft wide and 2,000 ft long, located between two fields of 8 ft tall grass, on a wind turbine farm. The fuselage came to rest in a 7 ft wide ditch in the center of the pathway, and was oriented on a heading of 261° magnetic. No ground scars were present leading toward or away from the main wreckage.

Examination of the wreckage revealed that all the major components of the helicopter were present at the accident site. The cabin had collapsed downward and was partially consumed by a postcrash fire. The tailboom remained largely intact. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit area to the rotor systems and engines. All main and tail rotor blades remained attached to the rotor hubs. The No. 4 (red) main rotor blade was found rotated about 180° in the hub with its pitch links fractured and partially melted. None of the main or tail rotor blades exhibited leading edge damage, chordwise scratches, or other evidence of rotation. The outboard 4 ft of No. 1 (yellow) blade came to rest in the 8 ft tall grass adjacent to the drainage path. The grass on either side of the blade was undisturbed. The tail rotor shaft remained attached to the transmission. The transmission could not be rotated by hand.

No foreign object damage was found on the axial compressor blades of either engine. No damage was observed on the visible portions of the turbine blades at the rear of either engine. The gas generator of the No. 1 engine moved freely when rotated by hand, the No. 2 engine gas generator would not rotate. The No. 1 engine fuel shutoff valve was found in the open position. The No. 2 engine fuel shutoff valve was damaged and its position could not be determined during the field examination. The No. 2 engine rear turbine shaft bearing exhibited discoloration consistent with overheating and lack of lubrication. The bearing roller pins were worn down to the surface of the bearing race. The end of the turbine shaft aft of the nut exhibited rotational nonuniform damage.

The helicopter was equipped with an on-board audio and video recording system. The unit was thermally damaged; however, the memory device remained intact. The unit was sent to the NTSB vehicle recorder laboratory for examination.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness records and helicopter maintenance records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2011. The helicopter's most recent 30-hour engine inspection was completed on August 15, 2017. At that time, the helicopter and both engines had accrued 2,673 total hours of operation. Several additional inspections were completed during scheduled maintenance on September 1, 2017. At that time, the helicopter had accrued 2,710 total hours of operation. According to the operator, a daily airworthiness check is performed by a mechanic.

According to FAA airman records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument-helicopter. His most recent second class medical certificate was issued on October 6, 2016, at which time he reported 4,362 total hours of flight experience. According to the operator, the pilot had accrued 1,027 hours of flight time in the same make and model as the accident helicopter, and had been employed with Air Methods Corporation since August 2009.

The helicopter was retained for further examination.

Monroe Regional Airport (KMLU) secures $41 million from Federal Aviation Administration

Monroe Regional Airport will benefit from $41 million in funding for construction projects over the next several fiscal years. 

The improvements will focus largely on improving operations behind the scenes through the extension of runways and improved drainage and airfield lighting. 

Mayor Jamie Mayo said city officials met with the Federal Aviation Administration in Fort Worth on Wednesday to discuss airport projects. 

"They have been very, very significant in helping us with so many different projects that we have as well as questions we have regarding Monroe Regional Airport," Mayo said. "Yesterday was no exception. In fact, if I were to sum up the meeting with the FAA, I would say it was very successful."

The FAA committed $41 million in funding over a five-year period to the airport based on projects presented by the city.

"We had to identify potential projects that we can present to the FAA and also state aviation," Ron Phillips, airport director, said. "Once we identified those projects within our master plan ... we had to go to the FAA and also to state aviation and sell that to them. They had to buy into that before they would commit the funding. They looked at and agreed these were worthwhile projects to fund."

The first year of funding is federal fiscal year 2018 when major projects will include initial phases of runway extension, airfield lighting improvements, design on a taxiway and a drainage study. 

"Over the next five years, we are going to be looking at changing the geometry of our airfield," Phillips said. "We are going to be rearranging taxiways, and the reason for that is we want to create a safer environment for the aircraft that are coming in."

A planned extension of the secondary runway will allow the airport to better accommodate flights when the primary runway is closed. During past closures, it has been necessary for flights to either reduce passenger load or divert to another airport when a closure occurs. 

The changes will also reduce hotspots, runway areas with a high potential of collision, and improve drainage to keep water off of the airfield. 

Story and video ➤

Skydive South Texas in Port Aransas is open for business

PORT ARANSAS -  It's been a little over two months since Hurricane Harvey hit the Coastal Bend. Many businesses and shops are still trying to get back up and running, but Skydive South Texas in Port Aransas, is open for business.

Their doors opened in early October. Since then, they have been more than happy to have people come out and jump.

Jason Nyman, an instructor at Skydive South Texas, was excited to get back to work.

"We were worried with the damage and everything that we were going to be closed awhile, maybe even until spring," Nyman said. "We weren't going to accept that, and got to work, got the business back together, and people back up in the sky."

Skydive South Texas did have damages because of Harvey. But in just five weeks time, they were able to open their doors for business.

Before Harvey hit, the crew took the plane and parachutes so they wouldn't get damaged. Everything else was left behind. They came back to having to replace almost everything.

But Harvey hasn't stopped locals from coming out and jumping.? It's been almost a month since they re-opened, and they say business has picked up.

Samantha Morales, a first-time jumper was there today to celebrate her father's birthday. She was going to get him tickets to the World Series or tickets to go skydiving.

After their jump, they were both pretty happy with their choice.

"I just was thinking, what can I do with my dad. And this was it, and I looked it up," Samantha Morales said. "And it's worth it. He's worth everything. He's just the best dad."

"It's a good present, I love it," her father, Sam Morales said. "I finally did something that I wanted to do for a long time. I haven't done it, but mission accomplished."

Skydive South Texas will be open through the winter on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For other days, call for availability.

Original article can be found here ➤

Skydive Pepperell: Fatal accident occurred October 28, 2017 in Pepperell, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Rich Gately’s girlfriend catches a picture of him jumping out of the plane to skydive with his instructor. 

PEPPERELL, Mass. -- A 60-year-old experienced skydiver who filmed jumps for a skydiving company died after a parachute malfunction, CBS Boston reports.

The photographer, who authorities haven't identified, filmed Rich Gately's tandem jump for the Skydive Pepperell company on Saturday. Gately's first jump would be the man's last assignment.

"Everyone was quiet, the whole place was quiet, but you could tell that he was just such a nice guy, and I felt awful because he was videoing me," Gately told CBS Boston.

The pair spent a few hours together before the jump getting to know each other.

"He was so happy, and he just made us excited and comfortable," Gately said.

When they were in the air, the photographer "was across from me, and he's like almost reaching out, doing hand gestures, telling me to wave, and I'm just like 'yeah!'" Gately said.

After about 60 seconds of free-falling, Gately remembers pulling his chute and feeling like he came to a halt. The photographer kept going, which Gately thought was routine at first.

"In my peripheral, I could see spinning, but I couldn't see anything else," Gately said. "That's when I heard my instructor say, 'Oh no,' and you know something was wrong, so I start to freak out."

The photographer's main chute was tangled, and the second chute failed. He had 40 years of skydiving experience.

Gately will do his best to remember the man's contagious passion.

"In his honor," Gately said, "I would say that I would still go [skydiving], in his honor."

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A skydiver was killed in an accident in Pepperell, Massachusetts around 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The jump began like any other from a Twin Otter plane at the Pepperell Airport, but then investigators believe something went wrong with the 60-year-old's parachute.

"We have a main parachute and we have a reserve parachute," said David Goldstein, lead instructor at Skydive Pepperell. "And we all train in how to deploy a reserve if something happens to the main.” 

Skydive Pepperell, which operates the skydiving jumps, says the main parachute landed in a neighborhood nearby. The skydiver hit the ground on airport property, which tells experts that something went wrong with the first parachute, he disconnected from it, and was trying to use the reserve.

“Bad things happen and we do our best to prepare for emergency procedures and train often," said Stephen Hoff, an experienced skydiver who came to Pepperell to skydive Saturday only to be greeted by the tragic news.

"He was liked in this community," said Hoff, who knew the victim. "Just a fantastic person."

Saturday was the last day of the skydiving season at Pepperell Airport.

If a parachute does not fully function, a skydiver could hit the ground at up to 120 miles an hour.

Skydive Pepperell says the skydiver killed Saturday, whose identity has not been released, was highly experienced and worked as an independent contractor filming jumps with the skydiving company.

At the time of the accident, the man was taking video as instructors and students jumped from about 10,000 feet.

“He was working with the tandem students as a videographer," Goldstein said. "He was taking video of the students.”

The incident is under investigation by the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, the Pepperell Police department, Massachusetts State Police, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Foul play is not suspected at this point, according to the Middlesex DA.

The last time a fatal accident took place at Skydive Pepperell was in 2014.

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PEPPERELL, Mass. - On Saturday afternoon, at approximately 3:00 p.m., a skydiving incident in Pepperell left one person dead, according to police.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Pepperell Chief of Police David Scott have confirmed the death of a 60-year-old male who was an experienced skydiver. 

"(He was a) very experienced jumper. he was well-liked in this community," said Stephen Hoff, a fellow skydiver. 

The man worked as an independent contractor filming jumps with the skydiving company. He was filming beginner skydivers and then jumped from the plane himself. 

"Very nice, very gentle, very respectful, professional, family man, yes," said David Goldstein, who works at Skydive Pepperell. 

The exact cause of the accident is unknown, however, preliminary investigation suggests he experienced a parachute malfunction. 

Boston 25 News reporter Jim Morelli learned the skydiver's main parachute deployed, but was released and landed in a nearby neighborhood. 

"We all have a main parachute and we have a reserve parachute, and we're all trained how to deploy a reserve if something happens to the main," Goldstein said. 

It wasn't made clear if the reserve parachute deployed or not. 

The fatal jump happened on the last weekend of Skydive Pepperell's operational season. 

The skydiving aircraft used by Skydive Pepperell is a Twin Otter which carries about two dozen skydivers. Jumpers descend from 10,000 to 13,000 feet. 

Statistically, skydiving appears to be quite safe. 

The U.S. Parachute Association estimates 3.2 million skydived nationally in 2016. Out of those numbers, only 21 died as a result of the jump. 

Still, this is the second fatal accident at the Pepperell facility in three years. 

In 2014, a Mattapan man's skydiving death was ruled as accidental. 

"You're out having a good time with people and you forget that part that you're falling to the ground, towards the ground at 120 miles per hour," said Hoff. "It's important for us not to get complacent." 

It is definitely a sport in which chaos and control are forced to co-exist, and having a healthy dose of fear, helps. 

It is also a very personal sport in which participants tend to know each other, and mourn each other's passings. 

Police do not suspect any indication of foul play. 

This is an open and ongoing investigation conducted by the Middlesex's DA's office, Pepperell Police, State Police and the Federal Aviation Administration. 

This week, Skydive Pepperell will close for the season. The aircraft that sometimes did up to twenty-five skydiving runs a day will head to Florida.

When the facility re-opens in the spring, skydivers are hoping they can learn something from this tragedy to make the sport even safer. 

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PEPPERELL, Mass. (WHDH) — One person was killed while skydiving in Pepperell on Saturday afternoon.

The incident happened at the Skydive Pepperell facility on Nashua Road. Lead instructor David Goldstein told 7News the man killed was a veteran of “thousands of jumps” and worked for the facility as a videographer. His name has not been released.

Goldstein said the man’s primary parachute was found in an area away from his body, which means he possibly attempted or tried to attempt to use his reserve parachute. 

The incident is under investigation.

Goldstein said State Police and local police are investigating and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been notified. 

In a statement, the Middlesex County district attorney said preliminary investigations indicate the man’s parachute malfunctioned.

This is the second time in the last three years a skydiver was killed in Pepperell. A 37-year-old man from Mattapan was killed while skydiving back in 2014.

Goldstein said this was the last jump at the facility before it closed for the season.

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PEPPERELL, Mass. — A skydiver who works as an independent contractor filming jumps from airplanes was killed Saturday after what appeared to be a parachute malfunction, the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office said.

Pepperell Police responded to a report at the Skydive Pepperell on Nashua Road around 3 p.m.

When authorities arrived, they discovered the body of a 60-year-old man who authorities said was an experienced skydiver.

The District Attorney's Office said the victim worked as an independent contractor filming jumps with the skydiving company.

The preliminary investigation suggests that the decedent experienced a parachute malfunction.

The District Attorney's Office said no foul play was suspected.

Story and photo gallery ➤

A skydiver who was filming other people making their jumps was killed when his parachute apparently malfunctioned Saturday afternoon in Pepperell, the Middlesex district attorney’s office said.

Local police responded at about 3 p.m. to Skydive Pepperell on Nashua Road, where they found the body of a 60-year-0ld deceased man, prosecutors said in a statement.

The man, who was not identified, was described as an “experienced skydiver,” and an independent contractor who was “filming jumps with the skydiving company,” the statement said.

The preliminary investigation indicates the man “experienced a parachute malfunction,” prosecutors said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Stearns County deputies tap drones for aerial searches: A growing contingent of Minnesota law enforcement has 'eye in the sky'

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office is the latest law enforcement agency in Minnesota to deploy drones to help track fleeing suspects or missing people.

The county purchased the drone earlier this year and has already used it to find a domestic assault suspect who fled through some bushes and a driver who tried to escape authorities by darting into a farm field.

"We can get up in the air in a matter of minutes," said Lt. Robert Dickhaus, who oversees the team that uses the drone. "It's been very reliable. Hopefully it's a tool we can use for years to come."

Several other law enforcement agencies in Minnesota also use drones, including the Hennepin County and Dakota County sheriff's offices. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FAA, however, don't track how many agencies have them.

Drones have been controversial elsewhere due to concerns about the threat to privacy, but in Minnesota, leaders of law enforcement agencies have repeatedly said the technology won't be used for surveillance.

In Stearns County, Dickhaus said the drone is only going where law enforcement would already be working a scene involving, for example, a search of a fleeing suspect or a report of a missing child. In some cases, he added, authorities would need to get a search warrant, much like they would in other police searches.

"I think they were skeptical of it at first," Dickhaus said of county leaders when he approached them with the idea of buying it. "It's new technology."

The county bought the drone, a DJI Inspire 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, last January for about $12,000 — most of which went to the attached heat-sensitive camera used for night searches. The drone also has a camera for daytime searches, and the images can be recorded and used later for prosecution, if needed.

The drone, which is battery operated, can rise as high as 400 feet and has a range of about a mile. The Sheriff's Office received a certificate from the FAA to operate the drone and has trained eight deputies to operate it. The department has already used it during SWAT team investigations, flying it overhead to film what officers are doing on the ground, Dickhaus said.

In June, deputies used the drone to help Cold Spring and Richmond police track down a suspect who had fled a traffic stop after assaulting a woman; it was dark and nearly 3 a.m. when the drone flew overhead and spotted the suspect within minutes hiding in brush. He was arrested without incident.

A month later, a driver raced into a bean field to escape a State Patrol trooper. A nearby Stearns County deputy offered to help and deployed the drone, which directed officers to the suspect's location.

Earlier this year, St. Cloud police paid about $13,000 for a drone to help map three-dimensional major crime and accident scenes. So far, they've used it 15 times to track down suspects, search for missing people, help other agencies and perform rescues, Lt. Martin Sayre said.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office has also used its drone and its heat-sensitive camera to help firefighters detect heat spots and survey tornado damage.

Dickhaus said he would also like to use the drone to help locate missing people, such as the 2-year-old who recently wandered away from his home in rural central Minnesota. The child was spotted on the State Patrol aircraft's heat-sensitive device before the county could use its drone. But Dickhaus said the drone, stored in the back of a squad car, is ready to be deployed again.

"We don't fly it for just no reason," he said. "It's another eye in the sky."

Original article can be found here ➤

Investors Grow Impatient Waiting for United’s Profit Takeoff: The third-largest U.S. carrier by traffic has an enviable network but continues to lag behind its big peers

The Wall Street Journal
By Susan Carey
Oct. 27, 2017 3:18 p.m. ET

United Continental Holdings Inc. has promised investors for years that it will close the profit-margin gap with its major rivals and start delivering the fruits of its 2010 merger. But the third-largest U.S. carrier by traffic continues to be an industry laggard.

As airlines wrapped up third-quarter earnings this week, United posted in-line but tepid results and gave a disappointing outlook for costs and revenue in the final quarter. Despite ambitious cost-shaving and revenue-enhancing initiatives announced nearly a year ago, the Chicago-based carrier is still far from catching up with industry darling Delta Air Lines Inc. by most measures.

Oscar Munoz, United’s 59-year-old chief executive, has asked investors for more time.

“We’ve dug ourselves historically in a little bit of a competitive hole as a company,” he said during a call with analysts and investors last week. “In order to get ourselves out of it, we have to do something a little bit [more] extraordinary than others.

“This team has only been in place really for a year, and we’re just getting our mojo working,” he added.

The day of the call, investors lost patience. United shares suffered a 12% one-day selloff last Thursday and have yet to recover. The selling spree helped shaved $7.6 billion from the company’s market capitalization since the stock’s June high. Shares are down nearly 18% year to date, and were trading flat at $60.03 Friday.

Investors and analysts who follow the stock said they are frustrated that United appears to be more focused on providing reasons for the lack of progress than on addressing cost headwinds that now extend into 2018. On the earnings call, United executives refused to talk about 2018 costs and capacity growth, which they normally would.

They also failed to provide detailed results from cost and revenue initiatives announced last year. Those steps were aimed at $4.8 billion in earnings improvements through 2020, including some $1.8 billion by the end of this year. Aside from saying most of the initiatives were on track, United executives wouldn’t speak about that work.

“It’s been six years postmerger, and it’s one excuse after another” at United, said Hunter Keay, of Wolfe Research, referring to the merger of United and Continental . “New faces, same results.”

United declined to make executives available for comment.

United has an enviable network. It is the largest U.S. carrier to Asia, enjoys a strong footprint to Europe and Latin America, and has well-placed domestic hubs in big business centers.

Yet it produces lower revenue than its two big rivals. American Airlines Group Inc. produced a 2.7% gain in third-quarter revenue to $10.9 billion. Delta’s revenue grew 6% to $11.1 billion in the period. United’s revenue slipped 0.4% to $9.9 billion.

And United’s unit revenue, a closely watched measure of the amount taken in for each seat flown per mile, is expected to fall by 1% to 3% in the fourth quarter, after a 3.7% third-quarter decline. American expects a gain of 2.5% to 4.5% after eking out a small increase in the latest quarter.

Investors also are concerned about margins, or earnings before taxes as a percent of total revenue. At United, that measure has been the lowest among the four largest U.S. carriers since 2014. United’s fourth-quarter guidance is for margin of 3% to 5%. Delta is guiding for margin of 11% to 13%.

This summer, United began adding more flights to smaller cities from its hubs, growing more than rivals, and started fighting discount airlines. The new flights were aimed at chasing what United President Scott Kirby calls the airline’s “natural share” of the market, which it had ceded over years of domestic shrinkage.

But investors are concerned that growing seats at a time when costs are rising doesn’t bode well for the carrier’s margins.

United’s effort to battle discount airlines sent its fares down, particularly when one of those competitors sharply dropped its last-minute ticket prices. Meanwhile, the rollout of United’s answer to that competitive threat—low-cost, low-perk Basic Economy tickets—wasn’t initially successful.

“Our Basic Economy rollout went well operationally, but from a revenue perspective, it started out rocky,” Mr. Kirby said on the call.

United’s postmerger existence has been fraught. The airline’s former CEO was ousted in 2015, and Mr. Munoz, a director with no airline management experience, took over. A few weeks into his tenure, Mr. Munoz suffered a heart attack and, later, had a heart transplant that kept him out of action for five months. Under activist pressure, United refreshed its director slate to include people with airline experience, including a former Delta executive and a former Air Canada CEO.

But there have been bright spots. After Mr. Munoz returned, he succeeded in winning labor peace among United’s 85,000 workers. The company introduced a new international business-class product, and assembled a new management team, importing a chief financial officer from a discount carrier and bringing in Mr. Kirby, who surprised the industry by decamping from American last year.

One person with knowledge of the C-suite said Mr. Munoz, who is two years into a five-year contract, retains the confidence of his board. “There is no thought of any kind of regime change,” this person said, adding that the management team needs to overcome some current challenges and do a better job communicating.

“United’s shares could spend some time in the penalty box until we get a more realistic, measurable and consistent strategic direction from the company,” said Brandon Oglenski, of Barclays Capital.

Original article can be found here ➤

Emergency landing prompts questions about Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (KBHM) emergency protocol

BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) – New questions are being asked about passenger security after an emergency landing of an American Airlines flight at the Birmingham Airport sent fliers spilling onto a tarmac with other planes still preparing for takeoff.

An American Airlines flight reported smoke in the cabin and made an emergency landing at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport Tuesday morning at 6:15 a.m. Passengers were instructed to exit the plane onto the tarmac and leave all their belongings behind. New video obtained by CBS 42 from a passenger on board the flight shows the 79 passengers and 4 flight crew members standing on a tarmac with another plane taxiing yards away.

“This jet just taxied right between us and the tarmac,” said Vance Williamson, passenger on board, with over 60 trips on American Airlines in 2017. “This is the first time that I’ve ever had an emergency landing.”

The Birmingham Airport Emergency Protocol states the airport has limited parking for diverted aircraft, they don’t own or operate equipment needed to safely deplane passengers in these situations, and says airport personnel are not properly trained to handle deplaning passengers from emergency landings.

Birmingham Airport Officials were not available for an interview Friday.

Williamson says officers on the scene told him that the air traffic control tower is incapable of making contact with emergency response teams on the ground. Despite that, Birmingham Fire Rescue says they responded efficiently to ensure everyone was safe.

“We’re there 24 hours a day. We were there before the plane was there. That’s how good our response time is,” said Battalion Chief Kenneth Hatcher with Birmingham Fire Rescue.

Williamson added, “I think we were very lucky that someone didn’t get hurt. That would be horrible.”

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Air Tractor AT-502, N10325, operated by T-C Aerial LLC: Accident occurred June 06, 2016 in Ropesville, Hockley County, Texas

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

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

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Registered Owner: Capital Asset Resources
Operator: T-C Aerial LLC

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA208 
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Monday, June 06, 2016 in Ropesville, TX
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR AT-502, registration: N10325
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On June 6, 2016, at 1316 central daylight time, an Air Tractor Inc. AT-502, N10325, impacted terrain during an aerial application of a field near Ropesville, Texas. The airplane was destroyed. The pilot received serious injuries. The airplane was operated by T-C Aerial LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an aerial application flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

The pilot stated that during a "routine" aerial application, he circled the field to be sprayed to locate obstacles. He sprayed the field from north to south and made passes from east to west. During the third pass when the airplane exited the field to west to return for an eastward pass, he felt the airplane shake at the apex of the turn. He said that he "corrected for the shake/stall," and the shaking quit for a moment. He then felt the right wing "take a hard dip." The airplane entered a right roll and impacted the ground.

The pilot stated that there was no mechanical malfunction/failure of the airplane.

Incident occurred October 28, 2017 at Palm Beach International Airport (KPBI), West Palm Beach, Florida

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — A Citation jet reported smoke in the cockpit of an airplane, and landed safely at Palm Beach International Airport on Saturday morning.

According to Palm Beach International Airport, two people were on board the aircraft at the time of the incident.

Neither were transported to the hospital.

The cause of the smoke is unknown at this time.  

Original article can be found here ➤

Plane-watch at the world’s busiest airport

With nearly 2,500 takeoffs and landings per day, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport provides aviation fanatics an excellent perch for watching the skies. 

For the best experience, and a clean view of the runways surrounding the concourses, head to the top of the domestic hourly parking garage.

Provided that the airport is launching planes to the west, you’ll easily be able to spot the smaller regional aircraft to the north and the big birds to the south. 

Original article  ➤

Aerostar 600A, N211W, Vercelli Airplane LLC: Accident occurred October 27, 2017 at Tallahassee International Airport (KTLH), Leon County, Leon County

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida

Vercelli Airplane LLC:

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA035
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 27, 2017 in Tallahassee, FL
Aircraft: SMITH AEROSTAR 600A, registration: N211W

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

Aircraft on takeoff, went off the side of the runway.

Date: 27-OCT-17
Time: 21:50:00Z
Regis#: N211W
Aircraft Model: AEROSTAR 600A
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)

The Tallahassee Fire Department and Tallahassee Police Department responded to a small aircraft that was experiencing an "anomaly" Friday afternoon at the Tallahassee International Airport. 

There were three people aboard the Piper Aerostar that experienced an unknown issue as it tried to take off, according to the Tallahassee Airport Twitter. 

Both Tallahassee Fire Department and Tallahassee Police Department responded, but there were no injuries, leaks nor a fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the issues. 

There were no impacts to Tallahassee International Airport operations.

Story and photo gallery ➤

North American P-51D Mustang, Big Beautiful Doll, N551JP: Fatal accident occurred February 05, 2016 near Ak-Chin Regional Airport (A39), Maricopa, Pinal County, Arizona

Jeff Pino and  Nick Tramontano

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

Additional Participating Entity:

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

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA064

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 05, 2016 in Maricopa, AZ
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN F51, registration: N551JP
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On February 5, 2016, about 1157 mountain standard time, a North American F-51D, N551JP, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain about 6 miles southwest of Maricopa, Arizona. The commercial pilot and the pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The local personal flight departed Stellar Airpark, Chandler, Arizona, earlier that morning, at an unknown time.

Several witnesses, located between about 1/2 to 1 mile from the accident site, reported observing the airplane performing acrobatic-type maneuvers. One witness, described the maneuver as a "regular loop." The witness stated that, during the last half of the maneuver, the airplane never pulled up. He estimated the height of the airplane to be about 2,500 ft above ground level, at the top of the maneuver, and said that the airplane may have rotated during the dive. Several other witnesses reported seeing the airplane descending in a nose-down spiral until it impacted the ground. Further, all of the witnesses that commented on the airplane's engine, stated that they heard the engine running during the nose down spiraling descent. Some of the witnesses described the engine sounding like it was going from full power to a lower power setting.


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane multi-engine land and single-engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument airplane and helicopter ratings. He also held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine and helicopter ratings. The pilot was issued a third-class airman medical certificate on March 10, 2015, with the limitation that it was not valid for any class after March 31, 2016. The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application that he had accumulated 6,700 total flight hours, and had flown 105 hours in the last 6 months. 


The dual-seat, low-wing, retractable gear, tail wheel airplane, serial number 44-85634, was manufactured in 1944. The airplane was a type of American fighter used during World War II. A review of the maintenance logbooks revealed that the last annual inspection was accomplished on August 10, 2015, at an airplane hour meter time of 1,882 hours. The engine was given a 100 hour conditional check on August 10, 2015, at an hour meter time of 1,882 hours and 2.4 hours since overhaul.

The airplane's current weight and balance form could not be located and the investigation was unable to determine the weight and balance condition at the time of the accident.


A review of recorded data from the Casa Grande Municipal Airport, Case Grande, Arizona, automated weather observation station, located about 21 miles east of the accident site, revealed that at 1155 conditions were wind from 010° at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 15° C, dew point -7° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.36 inches of mercury.


Examination of the accident site by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge revealed that the airplane impacted terrain at an elevation of about 1,274 ft. All major components of the airplane were contained within the main wreckage site. Wreckage debris of mostly broken canopy pieces and small metal fragments was scattered about 150 ft in front of the main wreckage. The first identified point of contact was a large area of disturbed dirt, about 4 ft by 3 ft in size and 6 inches deep, located about 5 ft aft of the wreckage. The airplane was partially buried in dirt, and two of the four propellers blades were completely buried in the dirt. The two propellers blades that were visible, had about 1/3 of their blades in the ground. 

The airplane came to rest perpendicular to the edge of a road and partially buried in a crater. Across the road, an area of light vegetation of about 25 ft by 150 ft was scorched by the post-impact fire. A majority of the fuselage structure and wings were consumed by fire. The power lines located adjacent to the main wreckage were not damaged.

The fuselage came to rest upright on a heading of about 180° magnetic. The wings remained partially attached to the main fuselage. The empennage was partially attached to the main fuselage. 

Flight control continuity was established from the individual flight controls to the center portion of the cabin.

The wings sustained thermal damage, and leading-edge compression damage was observed on both wings. The left aileron was attached at all its respective mounts. The left aileron's trim tab was located behind the main wreckage. The left flap was separated but located near its normal position, in the main wreckage. The right aileron was attached at all its respective mounts and sustained thermal damage. The right flap and portions of the right aileron trim tab were separated and were located near the main wreckage. 

The empennage was crushed and sustained thermal damage. The vertical stabilizer was attached to all its respective attachment points, and its leading edge was crushed aft throughout its entire vertical span. The rudder was separated, and portions of it were located on top of the engine and on the right wing. The horizontal stabilizers and right elevator remained attached to all their respective attachment points. The left elevator was separated but located near its normal position behind the left horizontal stabilizer. The damage sustained to the left elevator was consistent with impact damage. Both elevator trim tabs were intact and remained attached at all their respective attach points.

The instrument control panel and cabin area were mostly consumed by the post-impact fire. The mounts to a video recording system were found in the wreckage but the recording devices were located, at a later date, in the airplane's hanger. Following the on scene examination, the airplane wreckage was recovered to a secure facility for further examination.


The Pima County, Office of Medical Examiner, conducted an autopsy on the pilot. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was "multiple blunt force injuries."

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the pilot. Testing was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested-for drugs. Ethanol was detected in the muscle and liver. Ethanol is primarily a central nervous system depressant commonly found in beer, wine, and liquor. After ingestion and absorption, ethanol is quickly distributed uniformly throughout the body's tissues and fluids. Ethanol is also produced after death by microbial activity. 

Review of the pilot's FAA medical records found that they included multiple cardiology evaluations performed as part of special issue requirements because of the pilot's history of an arrhythmia and stroke. The pilot suffered a cardioembolic stroke in March 2012, because of a blood clot that resulted from atrial fibrillation. The atrial fibrillation was successful ablated in June 2012. At the time of his last FAA medical exam, he reported using rivaroxaban, a blood thinner use to decrease the risk of clots commonly marked as Xarelto. 

The most recent cardiology evaluation in the pilot's FAA records, dated February 2015, found no evidence of recurrent atrial fibrillation and no significant cardiovascular abnormalities. Additionally, the pilot's FAA records included multiple neurological evaluations, the most recent of which was from August 2013, which found no significant motor or cognitive impairment.

The pilot's cardiology records from his treating cardiologist for the period from January 2014 to February 2016, were also reviewed. The most recent visit was dated February 5, 2016, the day of the accident. The visit was to follow up on the pilot's annual Holter monitor study (a 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiogram [EKG]). The physician documented that the pilot had done very well in the past year and had not sustained palpitations to indicate atrial fibrillation. The examination documented a normal cardiovascular examination and a normal EKG. The 24-hour monitor showed no evidence of atrial fibrillation. The cardiologist stated that from a cardiovascular standpoint, the pilot was fit for a third-class medical certificate. 


Engine and Airframe Examination

On April 11 and 12, 2016, at the facilities of Air Transport, in Phoenix, Arizona, the airframe and engine were examined. 

A majority of the fuselage was extremely fragmented. Some remains of the airplane's instruments and engine controls were located in the recovered wreckage. The airspeed indicator displayed about 530 miles per hour. The left and right wing leading edges, exhibited compression, aft to the wing spar, throughout their entire span. 

The forward and aft control stick assembly was located. The forward control stick remained attached; however, it was separated into multiple sections. The aft control stick was bent forward near the base and aft near the upper portion of the stick. The forward and aft control sticks were removed and sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for further examination. The examination revealed that both control sticks exhibited ductile overload fractures, and no corrosion or cracks were present.

The engine was mostly intact. Visual continuity of the crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons was established throughout the entire engine. One of the four propeller blades had separated. The separated blade exhibited "S" bending signatures, leading edge gouges, and chordwise scratches. Two of the attached blades were slightly bent and exhibited leading edge damage and chordwise striations. The other attached blade exhibited slight bending and chordwise striations.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no pre-impact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane.

A performance study was conducted by the NTSB Office of Research and Engineering. The study used airport surveillance radar to determine the accident airplane's ground track, altitude, and speed. The radar data used in the study began at 1154:59 when the airplane was northwest of Maricopa, Arizona. The airplane climbed from an initial altitude of 5,400 ft to 6,100 ft mean sea level (msl), and, at 1156:45, it descended to 5,700 ft msl. The airplane's airspeeds were calculated and revealed that, during this portion of the flight, airspeed was increasing from 180 kts to 250 kts. The descent and airspeed increase were consistent with maneuvering to enter a climbing acrobatic-type maneuver. The study determined that the airplane's maneuvering and speed during the period from the beginning of the radar data to 1156:45 were well within the airplane's flight envelope. 

The secondary set of radar data started after 1156:45, when the airplane was about 5 miles southwest of Maricopa. Ten more radar returns were recorded, but only one recorded an altitude. The point that recorded the altitude was the fifth data point, at 1156:59, and it indicated 7,700 ft msl. Several of the data points were very closely grouped together with no associated altitude information recorded. Acrobatic maneuvering could account for the loss of the altitude information, as the airplane's transponder may not have been properly positioned, relative to the radar antenna.

By 1156:59, the airspeed had slowed to about 100 kts. Additionally, climbing to 7,700 ft, would have required a significant nose-up pitch attitude and a rate of climb of over 8,000 ft/min from the previously known radar point at 1156:45. The last secondary radar return was located about 2,600 ft from the airplane wreckage location.


The F-51D Aircraft Flight Manual states that "no intentional power-on spins or snap rolls are permitted, as it is impossible to do a good snap roll and most attempts end up in a power spin." The manual further states that "no intentional power-off spins are permitted below 12,000 ft."

The manual also states that "power-on spins should never be intentionally performed in this airplane. In a power-on spin, the nose of the airplane remains 10 to 20 degrees above the horizon, and recovery control has no effect upon the airplane until the throttle is completely retarded." In the "Power-On Spin Recovery" section, the manual states if you should ever get into a power spin: "close the throttle completely and apply controls as for the power-off spin recovery…As many as 5 or 6 turns are made after the rudder is applied for recovery, and 9,000 to 10,000 ft of altitude is lost." Additionally, the manual warns that "power-on spins are extremely dangerous in this airplane." 

Subtracting the accident site elevation from the airplane's highest altitude recorded (7,700 ft msl), would allow for about 6,426 ft of altitude for a spin recovery.

According to the manual, the airplane's estimated stall speeds at a gross weight of 9,000 lbs, with gear and flaps up, are 101 mph level, 109 mph at 30° of bank, and 121 mph at 45° of bank. At a gross weight of 10,000 lbs, with gear and flaps up, the stall speeds are 106 mph level, 115 mph at 30° of bank, and 128 mph at 45° of bank.

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA064
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 05, 2016 in Maricopa, AZ
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN F51, registration: N551JP
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 5, 2016, about 1157 mountain standard time, a North American F-51D, N551JP, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain about 6 miles southwest of Maricopa, Arizona. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot and a passenger, who was an airline transport pilot, were fatally injured. Visual (VMC) meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The local personal flight departed Stellar Airpark (P19), Chandler, Arizona earlier that morning, at an unknown time.

A witness located about 1 mile from the accident site reported observing the airplane in a nose down spiral about 1,500-2,000 feet above ground level, until it impacted the ground. Another witness located near the accident site stated that the airplane was in a dive and that he did not observe the airplane pull out of the descent.

Examination of the accident site by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), investigator-in-charge (IIC), revealed that all the major components of the airplane were located at the main wreckage site. A debris path extended from the forward part of the airplane about 150 feet and contained various debris including fragments of the canopy. A majority of the fuselage structure and wings were consumed by a post impact fire. The power lines located adjacent to the main wreckage were not damaged.

The airplane was recovered to a secure facility for further examination.