Friday, January 5, 2018

Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N739ZE, registered to Libra Air Inc and operated by Encore Flight Academy: Fatal accident occurred May 28, 2016 in Avalon, California

Family of student pilot who vanished flying from Catalina Island sues flight school

Edmond Haronian

Edmond Haronian

The family of a Woodland Hills man who was flying a plane that vanished departing Catalina Island in May 2016 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the flight school that employed his instructor, who also was on board.

The 11-page complaint filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges Encore Flight Academy in Van Nuys is negligent for Edmond Haronian’s presumed death because Jason Glazier was known to fly recklessly and had a criminal record that should have barred him from employment.

Haronian, a 50-year-old insurance agent and father who was almost done obtaining his private pilot’s license, posted pictures on Facebook minutes before taking off from Catalina Airport on the afternoon of May 28, 2016.

Elusive search

The single-engine Cessna 172 never made it back to Van Nuys Airport. Despite an exhaustive search by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and a private helicopter hired by Haronian’s family, the wreckage was never found.

A few weeks later, Haronian’s family offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to his return.

He was since declared legally dead, according to Kevin Boyle, an attorney representing two of Haronian’s sons and a stepson. They are suing the Encore Flight Academy and Libra Air Inc., which owned the plane.

For some reason, Glazier, a 52-year-old Encino resident, has not been declared dead and is still considered missing, Boyle said.

According to the lawsuit, the plane’s transponder was not turned on before take-off, so no altitude information exists. But radar data reviewed by the National Transportation Safety Board showed the plane made it five miles north of Avalon three minutes into the flight. The track ends over open water, where an oil slick was seen, the suit states.

According to the lawsuit, Encore Flight Academy officials failed to report that Haronian and Glazier did not return from the lesson and have not cooperated with NTSB investigators.

Parham Hendifar, an attorney for Encore Flight Academy, declined to comment on the lawsuit because he has not seen it and the school has not been served.
‘Reckless’ maneuvers

Encore was aware that Glazier was known to make dangerous moves in the air, such as rolls and spirals, during flight lessons, the lawsuit states.

Additionally, the complaint alleges he had a history of arrests for crimes including homicide, attempted homicide, battery, grand theft, drinking in public and resisting arrest.

Glazier’s reckless flying and “long pattern of partaking in aggressive, violent and untrustworthy behavior” made him “unfit to safely operate the defendant plane or provide safe instruction on its use,” the lawsuit states.

The crash “could only be caused” by something Glazier controlled, the complaint alleges.

Haronian’s family is seeking damages for loss of love, affection, companionship, financial support and other losses.

Original article ➤

Edmond Haronian

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

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

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Registered to Libra Air Inc
Operated by Encore Flight Academy

Location: Avalon, CA
Accident Number: WPR16FAMS1
Date & Time: 05/28/2016, 1257 PDT
Registration: N739ZE
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Unknown or undetermined
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional


The flight instructor and student pilot departed for an instructional flight from an airport on an island en route back to their home airport on the mainland. A review of radar data indicated that the airplane took off with its transponder in the "off" position; therefore, no altitude information was available. The data indicated that, after taking off, the airplane flew north. The track ended 3 minutes later over open water about 5 miles north of the departure airport. After the airplane was reported missing, a search ensued. Although an oil slick consistent with drift models was present in this area, neither the airplane nor the occupants were found.

Four minutes before the airplane took off, the reported weather at the departure airport included 9 statute miles visibility and a broken cloud ceiling at 800 ft above ground level (agl); however, the remarks section reported that the ceiling varied between 600 and 1,000 ft agl. In addition, satellite imagery indicated that there was a thick marine layer just north of the airport. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
Undetermined because the airplane was not located. 


Not determined
Not determined - Unknown/Not determined (Cause)

Factual Information 

On May 28, 2016, about 1257 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172 airplane, N739ZE, is presumed to have crashed in the Pacific Ocean about 5 miles north of Avalon, California. The airplane was registered to Libra Air Inc. and operated by Encore Flight Academy as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. The certified flight instructor and student pilot have not been located and the airplane is missing; presumed to be destroyed. Both pilots are presumed to be fatally injured. Both instrument and visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, and no flight plan had been filed. The airplane departed Catalina Airport (AVX), Avalon, California about 1254 and was destined for Van Nuys Airport (VNY), Van Nuys, California.

On May 29, 2016, a concerned family member of the student pilot contacted the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) to report their family member missing. They reported that the student pilot went flying with an instructor the day prior, and they have not heard from him since. The LASD contacted Encore Flight Academy, who reported that the accident airplane was not at their facility, nor do they have record of it returning the day prior.

The NTSB attempted to contact the operator numerous times, but to no avail; nor did the operator submit a Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report, NTSB Form 6120.1.

Review of radar data for the area revealed that the airplane took off from VNY and landed safely at AVX at 1209. At 1254, the airplane took off from AVX with its transponder in the off position and flew north. At 1257 the track ends over the water 5 miles north of AVX. An oil slick consistent with drift models was present in this area.

A weather study revealed that at the time of takeoff from VNY, the weather at AVX reported 4 miles visibility, mist, and an overcast ceiling of 300 feet agl. When the airplane arrived at AVX weather indicated 8 miles of visibility and an overcast ceiling of 500 feet agl. Four minutes prior to the airplane departing AVX, weather reported 9 miles of visibility and a broken ceiling at 800 feet agl, however, in the remarks section it reported the ceiling varied between 600 feet agl and 1000 feet agl. In addition, satellite imagery indicated a thick marine layer was just north of AVX, and in the vicinity of the presumed accident location.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and private entities conducted a search for the missing airplane along the apparent route of flight; however, no wreckage was found. The pilots and airplane remain missing. 

Jason Glazier, Flight Instructor

History of Flight

Unknown or undetermined

Unknown or undetermined (Defining event) 

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 53, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Sea; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Unknown
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/13/2014
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: Student
Age: 50, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Unknown
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/24/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N739ZE
Model/Series: 172N 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1978
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 17270930
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320 SERIES
Registered Owner: LIBRA AIR INC
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: Encore Flight Academy
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: AVX, 1602 ft msl
Observation Time: 1251 PDT
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 180°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 16°C / 12°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 800 ft agl
Visibility:  9 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots, Variable
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV): 
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Avalon, CA (AVX)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Van Nuys, CA (VNY)
Type of Clearance: Unknown
Departure Time: 1254 PDT
Type of Airspace: 

Airport Information

Airport: Catalina Airport (AVX)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 1602 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: Unknown
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 33.403056, -118.409444 (est)

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