Saturday, February 3, 2018

Fuel Starvation: Piper PA-32-300, N4027W; accident occurred January 17, 2018 at Reno/Tahoe International Airport (KRNO) , Washoe County, Nevada

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada
Piper Aircraft Inc; Vero Beach, Florida

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms 
 
http://registry.faa.gov/N4027W


Location: Reno, NV
Accident Number: WPR18LA070
Date & Time: 01/17/2018, 1520 PST
Registration: N4027W
Aircraft: PIPER PA 32-300
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On January 17, 2018, about 1520 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-32-300 airplane, N4027W, was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground shortly after takeoff from Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO), Reno, Nevada. The private pilot and flight instructor were not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the private pilot under the provision of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight which was originating at the time of the accident. The flight was destined for Hawthorne Industrial Airport (HTH), Hawthorne, Nevada.

According to the flight instructor, who was the pilot-in-command (PIC) at the time of the accident, he was providing instruction to the pilot to satisfy a checkout requirement imposed by his insurance company. Prior to takeoff, a weight and balance computation were performed, the fuel quantity was visually inspected, the oil quantity was verified, and a walk-around inspection of the airplane's control surfaces was accomplished. Both main fuel tanks had been filled to their capacity and some residual fuel remained in the auxiliary tanks. After an uneventful engine start, the instructor contacted ground control who directed him to taxi to runway 16L. The instructor reported that he followed the airplane's "before takeoff" checklist and performed an engine run-up to 2,000 rpm, at which time he leaned the fuel/air mixture about 50° rich of peak to accommodate a departure from a high field elevation. The instructor and pilot observed a drop of about 100 rpm when they selected each magneto. During this time, the analog fuel pressure gauge was normal, and the JP Instruments, Inc. engine monitor appeared to be operational. The instructor then set 10° of wing flaps, verified the fuel selector was on the left main fuel tank and turned the auxiliary fuel pump on. The pilot, who occupied the left seat, performed the takeoff and initial climb, which were uneventful; however, when the airplane reached an altitude about 300 ft above ground level, a total loss of engine power occurred. According to the instructor, the engine stopped firing rapidly with no pre-indication. The pilot then transferred the controls to the instructor and declared an emergency to air traffic control, who cleared them to land on runway 16R. The instructor started a turn to the right over runway 16R, but quickly determined the airplane would not be able to land on the remaining runway and continued the turn. Despite their previous agreement that the instructor would control the airplane in an emergency, the pilot took the controls back from the instructor after the airplane's stall warning light appeared during the descent. The flight instructor did not recall any details beyond the illumination of the stall warning light. The pilot subsequently lowered the nose and flared when the airplane was over a gravel surface. During touchdown, the airplane impacted the gravel, slid, and came to rest between taxiways "A" and "B."

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 44, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/27/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/30/2017
Flight Time: 110 hours (Total, all aircraft), 0 hours (Total, this make and model)

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 67, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/18/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/21/2017
Flight Time:   916 hours (Total, all aircraft), 38 hours (Total, this make and model), 732 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 27 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 12 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

The 67-year-old flight instructor held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for single-engine land and instrument airplane. The instructor's most recent second-class medical certificate was issued on July 18, 2016, which included the limitation, "must wear glasses." According to the instructor he had accumulated 916 hours of total flight time in all aircraft, of which 38 hours was in the accident airplane make and model.

The 44-year-old private pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for single-engine land. His most recent third-class medical certificate was issued on February 27, 2017, which did not include any limitations. According to the pilot, he had accumulated a total of 110 hours of flight time in all aircraft, and no time logged in the accident airplane make and model.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N4027W
Model/Series: PA 32-300 301
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:1966 
Amateur Built:No 
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 32-40043
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/01/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 6 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5979 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-540-K1G5D
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 300 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The airplane was powered by a Lycoming IO-540-K1G5D, a normally-aspirated, direct-drive, air-cooled, 300-horsepower engine. Aircraft logbooks furnished by the pilot showed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on December 1, 2017, at which time the airplane had accumulated 5,979 total flight hours. The entry listed a tachometer time of 747.1 flight hours at the time of the inspection. At the time of the airplane's most recent service, the engine had accrued a total of 1,231.6 hours since major overhaul.

The pilot reported that he purchased the accident airplane in December 2017, and on the day of the accident, he had planned to fly with his instructor and observe the performance of a recently installed engine monitor.

An airframe and powerplant mechanic employed by Advanced Aviation Reno, Inc., the maintenance facility partially owned by the pilot of the accident airplane reported that he had been asked to install a JP Instruments engine monitor in the accident airplane. The day before the accident, the company received fittings for the fuel flow sending unit portion of the assembly; however, the fittings were not the correct size for the fuel pump inlet line. The mechanic informed his director of maintenance of the error and then reinstalled the fuel line with a stubby wrench and reported to the director of maintenance that the fuel line had been tightened. He did not re-torque the fitting, as he was under the impression that the installation would be completed before the airplane was returned to service. When the pilot came to retrieve the airplane, the mechanic was working on another aircraft and had assumed the pilot was not going to fly the airplane.

According to the fitting manufacturer, the line must be torqued between 135 – 90 lb/in.

The director of maintenance corroborated the mechanic's statement and further added that he didn't know the airplane had been returned to service or even left the hangar.

According to JP Instrument, Inc's website, the installation of the JPI unit requires the completion of an FAA Form 337 major alteration/repair under Federal Regulations Part 43 appendix A. A major alteration requires the signature of a mechanic who holds inspection authorization (IA) in the aircraft logbook. According to the mechanic, the director of maintenance was the only IA mechanic at the time the service was completed, as the company's other IA had not been to work in at least a month.

The pilot stated that he didn't know if the mechanic knew they had planned to fly the airplane. He never asked the mechanic if the airplane had been returned to service or was ready to fly.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: RNO, 4414 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 1539 PST
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 12000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 24000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 3 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 270°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C / 2°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: RENO, NV (RNO)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: HAWTHORNE, NV (HTH)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1520 PST
Type of Airspace: Class C 

Airport Information

Airport: RENO/TAHOE INTL (RNO)
Runway Surface Type: Concrete
Airport Elevation:4414 ft 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used:16L 
IFR Approach:None 
Runway Length/Width: 9000 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing:  Forced Landing 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire:None 
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 39.499722, -119.768056 

Additional Information

The airplane was examined by representatives of the manufacturer with oversight from the NTSB Investigator-in-Charge. Examination of the fuel sump revealed several ounces of fuel that resembled 100 low lead aviation grade gasoline that did not contain any water contamination or debris. The fuel selector was moved through its detents and the auxiliary fuel pump motor was audible when the pump was engaged at the cockpit.

The airplane was then moved to an open area outside of the owner's hangar and secured with wheel chocks and a tether to facilitate an engine run; the engine was run with its original propeller. Approximately three gallons of 100 low lead aviation grade gasoline was deposited into the left tip tank. The airplane started normally and was set at idle power (~1,000 rpm) for about one minute before the test began. The throttle was then advanced to three separate power settings: 1,600 rpm, 1,900 rpm, then 2,600 rpm. The fuel pump was engaged during engine runs at the first two power settings. During the test run, an excessive quantity of fuel was expelled from the engine driven fuel pump hose. However, the results showed that the engine could achieve a maximum power of 2,600 rpm. According to the airplane flight manual, the airplane's published maximum power is 2,700 rpm.


The engine driven fuel pump, manufactured by Lear Romec, was examined and tested by the manufacturer under the supervision of the FAA. The examination revealed wear on the drive shaft and pinion. Further, the drive pinion rotated freely about 40°; a newly manufactured pump would rotate less than 10°. The unit failed the external leakage and seal leakage tests, as flow testing showed that the seal behind the drive pinion leaked profusely. While the pump failed two discharge pressure tests, it functioned during each test and failed by a margin of 3%.

Location: Reno, NV
Accident Number: WPR18LA070
Date & Time: 01/17/2018, 1520 PST
Registration: N4027W
Aircraft: PIPER PA 32-300
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On January 17, 2018, about 1520 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-32-300, N4027W, was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground during a forced landing in Reno, Nevada. The private pilot and flight instructor were not injured. The airplane was operated as a personal flight, conducted under the provision of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the cross-country flight, which departed Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO), Reno, Nevada at 1520 and was destined for Hawthorne Industrial Airport (HTH), Hawthorne, Nevada.

According to the flight instructor, and pilot at the time of the accident, he was instructing the airplane owner to satisfy a checkout requirement imposed by the owner's insurance company. Prior to takeoff, the pilot and the owner performed a weight and balance computation, visually inspected the airplane for fuel quantity, verified oil quantity, and completed a walk-around inspection of the airplane's control surfaces. After an uneventful engine start, the pilot contacted ground control who instructed him to taxi to runway 16L. He followed the airplane's "before takeoff" checklist and performed an engine run-up to 2,000 rpm at which time he leaned the fuel/air mixture about 50° rich of peak to accommodate a departure from a high field elevation. The pilot observed a drop of about 100 rpms when he selected each magneto. He then set 10° of wing flaps, verified the fuel selector was on the left main fuel tank and turned the auxiliary fuel pump on. The takeoff and initial climb were normal; however, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power when it reached an altitude of approximately 300 ft. above ground level. According to the pilot, the engine stopped firing rapidly with no pre-indication. He started a turn to the right over runway 16R, but quickly determined the airplane would not be able to land on the remaining runway, but continued the turn. The airplane's stall warning horn annunciated during the descent, and the pilot responded by decreasing the airplane's pitch attitude. During touchdown, the airplane impacted gravel, slid, and came to rest between taxiways "A" and "B."

A postccident examination of the airplane by the Federal Aviation Administration revealed substantial damage to fuselage and wings.

The wreckage has been retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N4027W
Model/Series: PA 32-300 301
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: GAMBEE TROY M
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: RNO, 4414 ft msl
Observation Time: 1539 PST
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C / 2°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 12000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots, 270°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 24000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: RENO, NV (RNO)
Destination: HAWTHORNE, NV (HTH)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries:  2 None
Latitude, Longitude:  39.499722, -119.768056

Unregistered experimental Six Chuter Spirit light sport aircraft and unregistered experimental Destiny light sport aircraft: Accident occurred January 18, 2018 in Marana, Pima County, Arizona

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

WPR18LA071A - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Location: Marana, AZ
Accident Number: WPR18LA071A
Date & Time: 01/18/2018, 1730 MST
Registration: UNREG
Aircraft: Six Chuter Spirit
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 18, 2018, about 1730 mountain standard time, an unregistered experimental Six Chuter Spirit light sport aircraft and an unregistered experimental Destiny light sport aircraft were substantially damaged after a mid-air collision and subsequent impact with the ground in Marana, Arizona. The non-certificated pilot of the Destiny received serious injuries and the non-certificated pilot of the Six Chuter was not injured. The airplane was operated as a personal flight, conducted under the provision of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the local flight, which originated from a dirt runway.

According to the pilot of the Six Chuter aircraft, at the time of the accident he had received a few hours of flight training, but had not received any formal training towards a private pilot certificate. After experiencing a few hours as a passenger in a powered parachute aircraft he was invited to fly the Six Chuter while his Uncle, and owner of both aircraft, flew the Destiny. During the flight, the Six Chuter pilot, pilot A, turned to the east while cruising at approximately 100 ft above ground level. He observed his uncle, pilot B, on a northerly course and decided to maintain his altitude and heading, but his uncle then turned to the west on a direct path towards the Six Chuter. Moments later the Six Chuter collided with the parachute of the Destiny, which bound the Six Chuter's propeller. The Six Chuter spun 180° and drifted aft as the aircraft descended to the ground. The right side cabin of the Destiny impacted the ground after the aircraft entered a nose down attitude and rapid descent without a parachute. Pilot A reported no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that could have precluded normal operation prior to the loss of power.

Photographs furnished by local law enforcement showed substantial damage to the structural tubing of both aircraft.

The wreckage has been retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: Six Chuter
Registration: UNREG
Model/Series: Spirit
Aircraft Category: Powered Parachute
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: AVQ, 2031 ft msl
Observation Time: 1735 MST
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / -6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 290°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:
Destination: 

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:  32.320278, -111.251389 (est) 

WPR18LA071B - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Location: Marana, AZ
Accident Number: WPR18LA071B
Date & Time: 01/18/2018, 1730 MST
Registration: UNREG
Aircraft: Destiny XLC
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 18, 2018, about 1730 mountain standard time, an unregistered experimental Six Chuter Spirit light sport aircraft and an unregistered experimental Destiny light sport aircraft were substantially damaged after a mid-air collision and subsequent impact with the ground in Marana, Arizona. The non-certificated pilot of the Destiny received serious injuries and the non-certificated pilot of the Six Chuter was not injured. The airplane was operated as a personal flight, conducted under the provision of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the local flight, which originated from a dirt runway.

According to the pilot of the Six Chuter aircraft, at the time of the accident he had received a few hours of flight training, but had not received any formal training towards a private pilot certificate. After experiencing a few hours as a passenger in a powered parachute aircraft he was invited to fly the Six Chuter while his Uncle, and owner of both aircraft, flew the Destiny. During the flight, the Six Chuter pilot, pilot A, turned to the east while cruising at approximately 100 ft above ground level. He observed his uncle, pilot B, on a northerly course and decided to maintain his altitude and heading, but his uncle then turned to the west on a direct path towards the Six Chuter. Moments later the Six Chuter collided with the parachute of the Destiny, which bound the Six Chuter's propeller. The Six Chuter spun 180° and drifted aft as the aircraft descended to the ground. The right side cabin of the Destiny impacted the ground after the aircraft entered a nose down attitude and rapid descent without a parachute. Pilot A reported no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that could have precluded normal operation prior to the loss of power.

Photographs furnished by local law enforcement showed substantial damage to the structural tubing of both aircraft.

The wreckage has been retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: Destiny
Registration: UNREG
Model/Series: XLC
Aircraft Category: Powered Parachute
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: AVQ, 2031 ft msl
Observation Time: 1735 MST
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / -6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 290°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:   10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point:
Destination:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  32.320278, -111.251389 (est)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Impossibly large bird, almost the size of a small airplane, spotted in Mendenhall Valley, Juneau, Alaska

According to several eyewitness reports, a bird with a wingspan nearly the width of Mendenhall Loop Road has been spotted in the Mendenhall Valley.

The cryptozoological curiosity stems from a post in the popular Facebook page “Juneau Community Collective,” brought to the attention of the Empire by several readers. The Empire couldn’t track down a clear explanation of what the bird was, but we did talk to some bird experts and did a little digging on similar sightings from around Alaska.

Here’s the original post, from eyewitness Tabitha Bauer:

“Attn; I was just driving by the movie theater in the Valley and there was a huge black bird flying above the road. The wingspan had to be at-least 20 feet, it was almost as wide as the road. I have lived here all my life and have never seen anything like that, it freaked me out. It was not a raven or an eagle. This isn’t a joke. This thing was HUGE, almost the size of a small airplane. Did anyone else see it?”

The sighting was backed up by several others in a long comment thread on the post. Some were poking fun at the idea of a thunderbird or pterodactyl in the valley, but others weren’t so skeptical.

Bauer, recounting the sighting to the Empire a few days after spotting the bird, said it was “like an eagle, but five times as big.” She couldn’t think of any other way to describe the odd encounter.

She spotted it around 4 p.m. on Jan. 16, what would have been dusk. Bauer was driving to the bank, alone in her car.

“Right before the movie theater, I looked ahead of me and it was towards Superbear direction,” Bauer said, referencing the grocery store in the Mendenhall Mall and Gross Alaska Theatre’s Glacier Cinema.

There was rain on her windshield, so she turned on her wipers to clear the view.

That was when she saw a massive, jet-black bird with a short tail flying level with the treetops over Mendenhall Loop Road toward her. Bauer said the bird flapped its wings, soared a little higher, and flew at a fast clip over her car about 50 feet in the air.

“I looked up and right at that point, there was a gigantic, huge black bird flying right above my truck. It was basically following the roadway along the treetops.

“I slowed down to try to get a better look at it. It was heading toward the glacier, the wingspan was almost as wide as the road,” Bauer said, adding, “It was the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was very concerning. I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Bauer said that it definitely had feathers, but she couldn’t make out a beak.

“The body of it itself had to have been six to eight feet,” Bauer said. “I know it sounds nuts — I’ve been getting a lot of crap on Facebook about it like I am crazy — but I wanted to post it in case anyone else had seen it.”

Another woman, who asked that the Empire use only her first name, Diane, said she saw something very similar — this time perched, or attempting to perch, in a tree near her house late at night a few years ago.

Diane went out to smoke a cigarette at her Lemon Creek home and noticed that all the birds in the area were excited.

“All you heard was the whooshing sound in my tree. I went inside and grabbed a flashlight. It was so large, I couldn’t even get an outline of what type of bird it was,” Diane said.

Diane noticed downed branches littered her yard in the morning.

“That sounds crazy, but it was huge,” she said. “I don’t even go camping anymore.”

Similar sightings

Both of these accounts sound similar to a national headline-making event in 2002, when a very large bird was spotted in Southcentral Alaska.

A heavy equipment operator from Togiak spotted the bird then.

“At first I thought it was one of those old-time Otter planes,” the Alaska Dispatch News (now the Anchorage Daily News) quoted Moses Coupchiak, 43, a heavy equipment operator from Togiak, as saying. “Instead of continuing toward me, it banked to the left, and that’s when I noticed it wasn’t a plane.”

So what could this be? It’s debatable what the biggest bird in Alaska is, but one candidate is the black-footed albatross, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raptor biologist Steve Lewis said. They can have a wingspan of 6-8 feet.

But it’s highly unlikely an albatross would venture into the valley. Strong winds can sometimes blow an albatross inland, but they’re generally ocean-going birds that stick to the coast, Lewis said.

“Over the water there’s a potential to see something that may have wings like an albatross, but wouldn’t be jet black and wouldn’t be over the valley at all,” Lewis said.

The Stellar’s eagle is another candidate. Like the black-footed albatross, those can have a wingspan of 6-8 feet. They generally don’t venture as far north as Juneau, but as recently as the 1990s they were consistently spotted only a few miles from Juneau on the Taku River, near Canada.

A third, and more likely explanation is that the bird was an immature female bald eagle. Those are the largest birds that are frequently in the area, Lewis said. Young bald eagles have bigger feathers than older eagles, he explained, which aid them as they learn to fly and can make them look larger than they are.

Female bald eagles are generally larger than their male counterparts, Lewis added. Their job in a mating pair is to defend the nest, so it helps to be big and imposing to scare off potential nest robbers.

Bauer and Diane were both adamant about the size of the bird, so neither the albatross, Steller’s eagle or immature female bald eagle squares with their account. They’re both too small and the wrong colors.

The Federal Aviation Administration didn’t return calls to this story, but since both eyewitnesses described seeing this thing flap its wings, it’s unlikely it was a glider or a large drone, by their accounts.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://juneauempire.com

Lakeland Airport (KARV) fence project funding a question mark: Getting the project done all at once may or may not happen

The Lakeland Airport Commission had the chance last week to review the design, to this point, of a 10-foot high perimeter fence for the facility.

The fence is estimated to cost between $1 million and $1.5 million, 90 percent of it paid for with funding from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Five percent will come from the state of Wisconsin and the airport commission has approximately $300,000 set aside to handle its share.

The purpose for the fence is safety, its intent to dramatically reduce the amount of wildlife - primarily deer - that end up on airport runways, a safety hazard for aircraft taking off or landing.

Up until now, members of the commission had been under the impression they had the 90 percent in funding for the fence project from the federal government.

During the commission's December meeting they were told by Matt Yentz of Strand Associates, the firm responsible for the fence's design, his understanding was the federal and state funding probably wouldn't be available before September 2018, but he could get that confirmed with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Bureau of Aeronautics (BOA).

"Even if we were done and ready (with plans), we wouldn't bid the project until the money's available to you," Yentz said. "So it's probably a fall thing. Maybe even a winter thing. It won't take a year to design this for you but just to get all the pieces in place ... advertise it, bid it, award it, get somebody out here."

He said it wasn't unreasonable for that part of the process to take up to three months for a project like this.

"I think November would be a nice time of year to be doing the work," Yentz said.

At last week's meeting, however, they heard some information regarding funding which might mean having to do the fence in sections instead of all at once.

'What you can do'

Yentz couldn't make it to last week's meeting so Josh Pachniak of Strand Associates went over the plans with the commission, taking their input and answering questions.

Matt Messina, an airport development engineer with the BOA, also provided an update on the funding piece.

"Funding wise, we get the block grant usually around July each year," he said. "It comes in one big grant that's made up of all 90 airports, the $150,000 entitlements you guys get. All that's in there plus we get about $3 million or $4 million in 'apportioned funding' that we use to fund projects like these that are going to exceed what you guys have in entitlements. So, we use that money at our discretion so we'll have to see where the projects come out this year and we can fund this one. If not all of it, just a portion of it."

Messina said how that would be done would be "in limbo" until that point.

Typically, he said, a portion of that funding would go for what are usually considered high priority projects.

"But there's a safety factor in here, too, that we're trying to accomplish in funding the whole thing," Messina said.

"The state's five percent, you mean?" airport commission chairman Ginger Schwanebeck asked.

"No, the FAA's 90 percent," Messina said.

"I was under the impression we had been assured that this would be funded," Schwanebeck said.

"Eventually," Messina told her. "We might have to do it in ... portions. It's not 100 percent, um, sure. It's gonna be in limbo."

He said what could be done is when bids are advertised, alternates could be specified "so when we get the bid prices in, we can award what we get money for at the time."

"We can make the contractor hold the price for a certain amount of time," Messina said. "As more money becomes available, the more we can finish, the more we can change order more pieces of the fence and see how it goes. When we get closer to that time, we'll figure out how we'll break that up."

"We don't want to do any part of the fence if we can't do the whole fence, right?" commission member Brandon Baker asked.

"What's that?" Messina asked.

Baker clarified.

"We wouldn't want to do just a portion of the fence," he said.

"Wouldn't want to but if you can't fund it all then ... you just see what you can do," Messina said.

He reiterated July is usually when most of the grant money is received and August is when bids are let for bigger projects.

"Those usually get special grants from the FAA," Messina said. "Those are for runway reconstructions and things like that. As soon as the FAA gives us the full amount for those, then we're usually OK to use our apportionment for a lot of other things. But last year, they didn't give us enough money for those runway and taxiway rehabs that we normally get so we had to use our apportionment money on those types of projects."

He said runway and taxiway improvement projects rate higher than something like the perimeter fence at Lakeland Airport.

"Unfortunately, the apportionment money got cut down a lot," Messina said. "So we weren't able to do as much. With the August bid letting, we'll know a lot more."

"We have to remind President Trump he's in favor of infrastructure," Schwanebeck said, half-jokingly.

"He is," commission member Jeff Hunter said. "He likes airports."

"The one thing you have going for you, too," Messina said, " is the project would be let (in August) and you're in 30 percent design now. Environmental (assessment) and all that stuff should be done so if we have a project that's let ... typically, we try and spend that money instead of reserving that money for a project that might not be ready."

Baker asked if there were other airports the size of Lakeland looking to do a perimeter fence project similar to the one being planned.

"Not fence projects," Messina said. "Everybody wants to do something a little different."

Monday, he provided more clarification when asked if the fence would be built all at once or in sections.

"It could be either at this point," Messina told The Lakeland Times. "We don't know if we can get everything Lakeland needs for the fence in one shot."

If the fence were to be built in sections, Messina said he doesn't know how much time there would be between construction.

"Obviously, it's not ideal to do it that way," he said. "We'd like to start it and keep it as fluid as we can. 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.lakelandtimes.com

Chico Municipal Airport (KCIC) pushes closer to commercial airline service



Chico, Calif. --- The effort to bring commercial airlines to Chico is going strong. Airport Manager Sherry Miller says the city has made contact with four major carriers, but she would not say which ones.

Miller says the city could hear from those carriers any day now. The city is working with Jet Chico, a citizen and business-based non-profit organization.

A recent study by a consultant firm, shows the Chico Metropolitan service area, which includes Oroville, Paradise and Gridley would support two commercial flights departing and two arriving each day, or about 682 passengers coming and going to the area.

The passenger study is based on information derived from credit card information and zip codes from passengers in the Chico area. The study also show Los Angeles would be the number one destination.

The last commercial service in Chico was in December of 2014. Miller told Action News Now today, "Businesses have left Chico because of no commercial air service and businesses have not come because of it. Miller says they are just beginning to work on revenue guarantee funds of a million dollars.

The money will come from businesses, and the local community. Miller says several major businesses in Chico, including Transfer Flow and Chico State University are on board with the effort. The public can help by participating in a 'ticket bank' by promising to buy tickets. Miller says people who Uber Drivers to get to Sacramento can put money into the ticket bank for a ticket guarantee.

An agreement with possible airlines could be made quickly, but it could take six months after that, as the carriers have to get Chico into the route planning and Transportation Security Administration or TSA has to set up equipment. Miller says she is encouraged, optimistic and excited at the direction the movement is going and they are prepared for any hurdles that may come. 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.actionnewsnow.com

Passenger restrained with duct tape and zip ties after storming cockpit, Federal Bureau of Investigation says

Charlene Sarieann Harriott 
Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office

A passenger was charged Thursday after federal authorities said she attacked three crew members aboard an American Airlines flight as it approached Charlotte’s airport.

The FBI charged Charlene Sarieann Harriott, 36, with interfering with a flight crew member and attendants during a flight Wednesday morning from Dallas/ Fort Worth to Charlotte.

Harriott was seated at the rear of Flight 1033 as it prepared to land at Charlotte’s airport, according to a criminal complaint. Flight attendants had taken seats when Harriott ran from the last row and toward the cockpit.

The attendants first ordered her to stop, then gave chase – just as the flight was touching down.

They eventually restrained her with duct tape and zip ties in the first-class section as the plane landed, it says, but Harriott “became more aggressive and physically violent toward the flight crew.”

She bit one attendant on the right forearm, puncturing the skin and causing bleeding, according to the complaint, hit a second attendant in the right forearm and kicked a third attendant in the leg and abdomen. All three went to American Airlines’ onsite medical clinic for treatment.

An arrest warrant was sealed, but court documents say Harriott was scheduled for an initial appearance before a federal magistrate on Thursday afternoon. She was being held in the Mecklenburg County Jail on three counts of assault and battery.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered that Harriott remain in custody until her detention hearing next week.

Read more here ➤ http://www.charlotteobserver.com

Aviation staff fined for letting no-fly woman boarding

HÀ NỘI — The Northern Airports Authority has fined two staff members of the Nội Bài Airport Security Centre for not seriously obeying regulations when they allowed a woman listed on a no-fly list to board an Aeroflot plane, traveling from Hà Nội to Moscow, on January 3.

They were fined VNĐ4 million (US$88) each under Item 3, Article 15 of Government Decree 147, issued in 2013. Additionally, a member of the staff of Aeroflot – the Russian airlines - was also penalised the same amount.

The passenger, named Phạm Thu Thủy, 36, of the northern province of Hải Dương’s Hải Tân Ward, was banned from flying between September 16, 2017 and March 15, 2018 by the Civil Aviation Authority of Việt Nam (CAAV) because she quarreled with a passenger on another Aeroflot flight, traveling from Hà Nội to Moscow last August.

After issuing the ban, the CAAV had asked Vietnamese airlines, and those which operate in Việt Nam, to refuse to transport Thủy during this period. Airports have been required to tighten security monitoring to prevent Thủy from boarding flights.

However, she was still able to board a flight on January 3. The agency has asked Aeroflot to pay more attention, to avoid repeating such cases in the future.

Tô Tử Hùng, deputy head of the CAAV’s Airport Security Office, told Tuổi trẻ (Youth) online newspaper that it had only issued an administrative fine, and the two staff members would be disciplined after the conclusion of the CAAV’s inspection to determine why the woman could slip through surveillance and board the plane

Original article can be found here ➤ http://vietnamnews.vn

Costa Rican airline Nature Air to resume operations



The National Directorate of Civil Aviation could be lifting the suspension of Nature Air flights by the end of this week.

Rolando Richmond, sub-director of Civil Aviation confirmed that Nature Air presented all necessary documentation since this past Monday where they show that they have made the necessary changes and adjustments and hired additional personnel to comply with the requirements of this entity, the documents and information are being analyzed and verified.

Back in January 11, Nature Air was notified by Civil Aviation of the suspension of its operations due to the fact that the company “didn’t have the structure to operate properly and guarantee the execution of the flight operations with safety;” in particular since they lost key personnel after the death of pilot Juan Manuel Retana (in the tragic plane crash of Dec.31) who was the Chief Trainer; the resignation of the Director of Operations, Jorge Valverde shortly after the crash, and the sick leave of Rodney Duran, Chief of Flight Security.

The news of the suspension came just 11 days after the tragic airplane accident in which 10 US tourists lost their lives.

Nelson Vega, General Manager of Nature Air, assured in an interview with national news daily La Nacion, that the suspension has resulted in losses of over $1.2 million and therefore they hope to receive the green light to begin operating again by the end of this week.

According to statistics by Civil Aviation, Nature Air absorbs a 30% of the domestic flights market which represents an approximate 8000 travelers a month (data 2016), while SANSA takes 54.9% of the total travelers, and the rest of the passengers use other smaller companies.

Even though there is a strong possibility that the company will be able to offer their services again in the next few days, the investigation regarding statements made by the former Director of Operations Jorge Valverde in his letter of resignation where he makes reference to some irregularities in the operations of the company (the details have not been disclosed) continues.

Also, the investigation to find out the cause of the plane crash that occurred December 31st is still open, the Judicial Investigative Organism (OIJ) carried out three searches in the first days of January in the offices of Nature Air at the Juan Santamaria Airport and the Tobias Bolaños Airport as well as in the offices of Civil Aviation in La Uruca to collect data related to the aircraft, the flight records, maintenance information and digital files. The engine recovered of the Cessna 208B Caravan was also sent to the manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC), and evidence was collected at the scene of the accident. 

Original article can be found here ➤ https://news.co.cr

A new ramp and hangars for Venice Municipal Airport (KVNC)



Venice, FL (WWSB) - It's a busy scene at the Venice Airport as construction crews and pilots share the same space.

"We're removing and rehabilitating all of the old Army Air Corps ramp," explained Airport Director Mark Cervasio.

The original concrete was laid in the early 1940's when Venice Airport was used by the United States Army as a training base. The 12-inch-thick concrete is being removed and recycled.

"We're bringing that back in and we're using that as a base for the new asphalt. Not only are we saving concrete but we're also saving environmentally, by shipping it out," Cervasio said.

The project costs $4.5 million-dollars and is largely being paid for through a Federal Aviation Administration grant.

"90% FAA money, 5% FDOT money, and 5% airport money," Cervasio said.

Next to the ramp is the shell of a new airplane hangar. The airport has an extensive waiting list for it's existing hangars. The new one will provide 14 additional spots for pilots to rent.

"Assuming that it'll be full based on that waiting list; that'll be about $88,000 a year for the airport fund," said Cervasio.

That project, too, is recieveing outside financial help. It's costing $1.4 million but, 80% of it is being funded by the state.

"It's pretty disruptive but on the other hand it's really valuable," said Paul Holloway.

Pilots like Holloway say they're glad the work is being done... especially new tie downs that are being built. That way plane owners can secure their aircraft to the ground in the event of high winds.

"People have had to move their airplanes out to other parking spaces but they've done a great job and I don't think you hear any complaints with any pilots," Holloway said.

We spoke to several other aircraft owners who all shared the same sentiment, they're glad for the work... but, they'll be glad when it's over in March.

Story and video ➤ http://www.mysuncoast.com

Azur Air may stop flying from March 21 — Russian aviation regulator

MOSCOW, February 2. /TASS/. Russia’s Azur Air may stop flying from March 21 if the airline does not close out all violations materially affecting the flight safety, the Russian aviation regulator Rosaviatsiya said on Friday.

Rosaviatsiya limited the term of the operator’s certificate of the Russian air carrier Azur Air by March 20, 2018, two sources on the air travel market told TASS earlier on Friday.

"Nonconformities and drawbacks pertaining to matters of supporting airworthiness of aircraft and organization of air operations were found in the activity of the air carrier in the course of the inspection performed by Rosaviatsiya in December 2017. Azur Air did not confirm the closeout of identified nonconformities and comments in full scope within prescribed terms," the regulator said. "Restrictions can be lifted in accordance with laws if all violations are cured. Otherwise, the airline may stop making flights from March 21," it noted.

The air carrier will continue its operations in full scope and perform commercial air transportations according to obligations assumed earlier until March 20 inclusive, Rosaviatsiya said.

The aviation regulator explained that in accordance with requirements of Russian air operations laws, an operator’s certificate of an airline can be limited by the term, suspended or cancelled if violations significantly affecting flight safety are found in its operations.

Azur Air will file an application for removal of this restriction shortly, press service of the airline said on Friday.

"An application will be prepared and submitted to Rosaviatsiya as soon as practicable for lifting of the restriction on the term of the operator’s certificate with attachment of all requisite documents evidencing elimination of comments," the press service said.

The airline does not see difficulties in closing out all nonconformities and drawbacks identified by the regulator during the inspection.

Azur Air carries its air transport operations in full scope, the press service said.

According to Rosaviatsiya, Azur Air is eighth in terms of air transportation in Russia. The company carried 3.7 mln passengers in 2017.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://tass.com

Senator calls Hagerstown Regional Airport (KHGR) an 'economic hub' for the area



U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen heard an update on Hagerstown Regional Airport's economic impact when he visited the facility Friday.

"I have been up to Hagerstown many, many times, but this is my first visit to the airport," Van Hollen said before a gathering of about a dozen people, many of them airport or county officials. "I think everybody here knows this is such an important part of our regional economy, and we look forward to being a partner at the federal level with the efforts here, primarily through the Essential Air Service program and other efforts that we can work with you on. ... I've been hearing from local businesses and people who live and work in Hagerstown how important this airport is to them to help connect them with folks around the country and businesses that are doing business here."

The Essential Air Service program helps guarantee that small communities maintain a level of scheduled air service.




During the visit, Van Hollen, D-Md., heard a report from Phil Ridenour, the airport director.

The airport, north of Hagerstown, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, Ridenour said, and is one of the oldest continuously operating airports in the United States. He said 50,618 passengers came through the airport last year, counting both departures and arrivals.

"That's one of the highest numbers we've had for quite a while," he said.

The airport's annual budget is a little more than $2 million, Ridenour said. But he said the airport's economic impact goes beyond its immediate operations and accounts for more than 1,600 jobs in the area.

About 17 entities do business at the airport, including Sierra Nevada Corp., which Van Hollen was to tour after his airport stop.




After hearing Ridenour's report, Van Hollen said the federal government needs to do its part to make sure "all systems are go" for regional airports.

"It's a really important hub, economic hub, for this area," he said of the Hagerstown-area facility. "You've got 50,000 passengers flying in and out of here every year and you've got more and more businesses, like Sierra Nevada, being attracted to this area because of the airport. So I'm pleased that, at the federal level, we're able to get grants from the FAA, about $1.6 million this past year, working on mainly Essential Air Service, so that we can continue to attract passengers and businesses to Hagerstown and to the airport. So we need to make sure all systems are go."

Story, video and photo gallery ➤ https://www.heraldmailmedia.com