Saturday, February 10, 2018

Superior, Douglas County, Wisconsin, join legal action against Kestrel Aircraft

SUPERIOR, Wis. — Six years ago, Kestrel Aircraft officials came to Superior with a promise of hundreds of manufacturing jobs.

Now, the city and Douglas County are joining forces with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to recoup defaulted loans made to Kestrel Aircraft.

As part of the package of incentives for manufacturing facilities to build the Kestrel K-350 turboprop composite jet, the city of Superior, the Douglas County Revolving Loan Fund and WEDC all approved loans to help the aircraft company get off the ground.

But none of the promised jobs materialized. A Wisconsin plant was never built, and in 2015 Kestrel merged with Eclipse Aerospace to form ONE Aviation, which is building planes in New Mexico.

WEDC had provided $2 million in a Business Expansion and Retention Incentive loan and $2 million in a federally funded State Small Business Credit incentive loan to Kestrel in 2012, WEDC spokesman Mark Maley said. According to a timeline he provided, WEDC modified the company's loans in 2014 after the company ran into cash-flow problems. While the company made periodic principal and interest payments totaling $865,490 after November 2014, the last payment the economic development corporation received was in November 2016.

The agency met with company officials in 2017 and entered into a forbearance agreement in May, agreeing to delay legal action to give the company time to solve its cash-flow problems.

The city and county also participated in that agreement, but the company never paid the $8,000 agreed for the forbearance, Superior Mayor Jim Paine said.

According to Maley, a Kestrel representative contacted WEDC in October to request additional time, but the corporation hasn't heard from the company since.

WEDC has engaged with its partners — Superior and Douglas County — and is actively working with outside counsel to pursue its legal remedies, Maley stated in a memo.

"Since the contracts were first entered into with Kestrel in January 2012, WEDC has fulfilled all its contractual obligations," Maley stated. "Since that time, WEDC has worked with the company, its bank, and also local officials, to take the steps needed to give Kestrel the best possible chance of succeeding."

In Superior, the City Council has decided to join a lawsuit with WEDC, Paine said following a closed-session meeting last week to discuss the city's options with legal counsel. Paine said he anticipates a lawsuit being filed in coming weeks.

Superior loaned the company $2.6 million in 2013, but Kestrel only made its first two annualized payments of $368,709.

The last payment was received in October 2015.

The Douglas County Revolving Loan Fund also provided $500,000, all of which is in arrears.

The Douglas County Revolving Loan Fund executive board also met in closed session last week to discuss the matter and reached a consensus that it would pursue a suit with WEDC, Douglas County Board Supervisor Mark Liebaert confirmed. He said once the suit is filed, it's likely the entire Board of Supervisors will discuss the matter.

Original article  ➤ https://www.bemidjipioneer.com

Breach of contract suit alleges aviation company lied about employee's eligibility for severance program

SHERMAN – A Collin County man asserts a fractional jet company reneged on its promise to let him take advantage of a severance program.

Derek Shoemaker sued Flexjet, LLC for breach of contract in Collin County District Court on November 27, 2017. The litigation was elevated to Sherman federal court on February 9.

Shoemaker’s lawsuit says Flexjet offered him the chance to apply for a voluntary separation package.

The defendant reportedly offered the program to pilots who sought a change of employment as a form of assistance.

According to the suit, Shoemaker accepted the package on assurances of his eligibility from Flexjet and joined Southwest Airlines, but the respondent later deemed him ineligible because he was supposedly not a pilot.

The plaintiff insists he would not have resigned from Flexjet had he known he did not qualify for the package.

Consequently, he seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Brandi Jo McKay of the law firm Scheef & Stone LLP in Frisco is representing Shoemaker.

Sherman Division of the Eastern Division of Texas Case No. 4:18-CV-0094

Original article can be found here ➤ https://setexasrecord.com

No planes, but good company at Bowman Field (B10) Fly-In

Bowman Field Flying Club member Terry Averill of Litchfield, accompanied by his dog, Piper, towed a snow roller behind a snowmobile at Bowman Field in Livermore Falls on Saturday during the eighth annual Bowman Field Ski Plane Fly-In. 



LIVERMORE FALLS — The cloud ceiling was too low Saturday for planes to fly in, but Bowman Flying Club members still enjoyed some good company at the eighth annual Bowman Field Ski Fly-In at Bowman Field.

When the ceiling is low, with a lot of precipitation, the moisture will freeze on the plane wings, making them heavy and risking altitude loss, said club member Ken Lyman of Livermore Falls.

Visibility was also an issue, so no planes flew in to the field Saturday.

“We are having a good time, though. That’s what it’s all about,” said member Ray Steinmayer of Sydney, as he and the other club members enjoyed their potluck meal.

Member Kendra Lyman-Hood of Turner told the story of the field’s origin.

In 1960, her great-grandfather, Royston “Stubby” Lyman, along with his brother-in-law, Winn Bowen, turned a cow pasture and potato patch into the little airport it is today. By combining their last names, Lyman and Bowen, they created Bowman Field.

The club has about 30 members, and much like the snowmobile clubs in the state, their aging member-base is causing them to seek some “young blood,” said member Sue Firlotte of North Monmouth.

“The biggest reasons the aviation industry is dying is because it’s so expensive and so weather-dependent,” Lyman-Hood said.

But her father, Ken Lyman, said flying is no more expensive than any other outdoor hobby.

“You can buy a basic airplane for $12,000 to $15,000, which is no more than two new snowmobiles,” he said.

Aviation fuel costs about $4 a gallon, and Lyman said the average plane burns anywhere from four to seven gallons per hour.

“But you could go 100 miles in that hour,” he said.

In the summer, members take turns mowing the field. Even using a mower that is eight feet wide, it takes the designated member about seven hours to complete.

“It’s a great way to spend a nice day,” Steinmayer said.

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

Eurocopter EC 130B4, N155GC, air-tour flight operated by Papillon Airways Inc: Fatal accident occurred February 10, 2018 in Peach Springs, Arizona

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration; District of Columbia
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Las Vegas, Nevada
Bureau d'EnquĂȘtes et d'Analyses; Toulouse, FN
Papillon Airways, Inc.; Boulder City, Nevada

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N155GC

Location: Peach Springs, AZ
Accident Number: WPR18FA087
Date & Time: 02/10/2018, 1715 MST
Registration: N155GC
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER EC130
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 4 Serious
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled - Sightseeing 

On February 10, 2018, about 1715 mountain standard time, an Airbus Helicopters EC130 B4 helicopter, N155GC, was destroyed when it impacted a canyon wash while on an approach to land at Quartermaster landing zone near Peach Springs, Arizona. The commercial pilot and three passengers sustained serious injuries and three passengers were fatally injured. The air-tour flight was operated by Papillon Airways, Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 136. The helicopter departed Boulder City Municipal Airport, Boulder City, Nevada at 1635 and had intended to land at Quartermaster landing zone, a group of landing pads within Quartermaster canyon. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company flight plan had been filed.

A review of the recorded radar data showed that the helicopter departed Boulder City and continued on the Green 4 standard helicopter route prescribed in the Grand Canyon West Special Flight Rules Area 50-2. Witnesses reported that as the helicopter neared the vicinity of Quartermaster, they observed it on a flight path consistent with the pilot aligning to make a downriver-wind landing to a pad on the west. The helicopter began to slow after it passed over the river and maintained a southern course as it entered a canyon wash adjacent to the landing pads. While maintaining the same altitude, the helicopter entered a nose-high attitude and then began a left turn toward the Quartermaster landing zone. During the turn, the helicopter transitioned into a nose-low attitude and as it began to face the landing pads it began to slightly drift aft. The helicopter then maneuvered into a nose-level configuration and continued in the left turn. Subsequently, the helicopter made at least two 360° left turn revolutions as it descended into the wash below where it impacted terrain and a postcrash fire ensued.



The helicopter came to rest upright in rocky terrain about 300 feet below the landing zone on a heading of 222° magnetic. The accident site was compact except for small main rotor blade pieces and small paint chips distributed around the main wreckage site. Most of the wreckage was consumed by the postcrash fire except for the tailboom and fenestron, which had separated from, but were collocated with the main fuselage. The engine, still attached to the engine deck, was found in the main wreckage and had also sustained fire damage. All three main rotor blades remained attached to the main rotor hub and exhibited damage consistent with high rotational energy. The tail stinger, fenestron hub cover, a toe from a skid step, and small pieces of transparent acrylic glass were found on a canyon slope east of the main wreckage.

The 8-seat capacity, fixed landing gear helicopter, serial number 7091, was manufactured in 2010. The accident helicopter was powered by one Safran Helicopter Engines (formerly Turbomeca) Arriel 2B1 turboshaft engine. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: EUROCOPTER
Registration: N155GC
Model/Series: EC130 B4
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Papillon Airways, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Commercial Air Tour (136); Agricultural Aircraft (137); Rotorcraft External Load (133); On-demand Air Taxi (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PRIV
Observation Time: 1710 MST
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / -3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots/ 19 knots, 360°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  
Altimeter Setting: 29.62 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: BOULDER CITY, NV (BVU)
Destination: Peach Springs, AZ

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 3 Fatal, 3 Serious
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal, 4 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  35.967222, -113.768889 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.


Stephen R Stein, Investigator In Charge (IIC)
National Transportation Safety Board 




The chief executive officer of Papillon Airways, a Boulder City-headquartered helicopter tour company whose aircraft was involved in a deadly crash last month, said allegations made in a wrongful death lawsuit filed Friday are premature.

Longtime helicopter crash attorney Gary Robb filed the lawsuit in District Court on behalf of the parents of 31-year-old Jonathan Udall, of Southampton, England. Udall survived the Feb. 10 crash in the Grand Canyon on tribal land in Arizona, but he later died from his injuries.

The lawsuit, the first filed since the chopper went down, accuses Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters of neglecting to outfit its copters with crash-resistant fuel systems. Had Papillon done so, the lawsuit alleges, Udall would have survived his injuries. He was onboard the 2010 Eurocopter EC130 B4 with five other British tourists when it crashed.

The lawsuit, which asks for unspecified damages, also blames a faulty tail rotor, failed weather checks and pilot inexperience for causing the plane to spin out of control.

But in a statement emailed to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sunday, Papillon Airways CEO Brenda Halvorson said it is too soon for such allegations.

“It is extremely premature and misguided for any attorney to make allegations regarding the accident prior to the NTSB investigation being complete,” she said in the statement. “We are working intimately with the NTSB and providing all technical and factual information as requested.”

The crash left Becky Dobson, 27; Jason Hill, 32; and Stuart Hill, 30, dead at the scene. Udall, his 29-year-old wife, Ellie Milward, and the pilot were hospitalized at University Medical Center in critical condition after an hourslong rescue effort. Milward also died from her injuries in the weeks since the crash.

A National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report states that the helicopter landed about 300 feet from the planned landing site near Quartermaster Canyon. The helicopter spun 360 degrees at least twice, according to the report.

“That, to me, is the hallmark of a malfunctioning tail rotor,” Robb told the Review-Journal last month. He has litigated numerous cases involving tail rotor issues.

Papillon announced earlier this week that it will retrofit its fleet with crash-resistant tanks.

Manufacturer Airbus Helicopters said Saturday that it now builds helicopters with the new fuel systems and supports operators who choose to retrofit their Airbus aircraft with them, the Associated Press reported.


https://www.reviewjournal.com



LAS VEGAS (AP) — The manufacturer and operator of a sightseeing helicopter that crashed in the Grand Canyon last month are responding to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a British tourist who was on board.

The suit, filed Friday in Las Vegas by the parents of Jonathan Udall of Southampton, says he could have survived if the helicopter had a crash-resistant fuel system.

Manufacturer Airbus Helicopters said Saturday it now builds helicopters with the new fuel systems and supports operators who chose to retrofit their Airbus aircraft with them.

Papillon Airways CEO Brenda Halvorson says it is "misguided" for attorneys to make allegations about the accident before the National Transportation Safety Board finishes its investigation.


The Feb. 10 crash killed five people and critically injured two, including the pilot.



The parents of a newlywed who was among five Britons to die in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon are suing the tour operator for wrongful death.

Jonathan Udall, who died in hospital days before his wife, Ellie Milward, could have survived if Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters and the manufacturer Airbus Helicopters had not negligently failed to install a crash-resistant fuel tank, according to the lawsuit filed in Nevada on Friday.

The honeymooning couple died in hospital as a result of burns sustained in the 10 February crash that killed their friends Becky Dobson, her boyfriend Stuart Hill and his brother Jason.

Lawyers for Philip and Marlene Udall, of Southampton, claim that their 31-year-old son would not have sustained “catastrophic” burns if the Airbus EC130 B4 had been fitted with the fuel system.

After the lawsuit was filed, lawyer Gary Robb said: “Mr and Mrs Udall deeply grieve for the loss of their son but their primary motivation now is to prevent anyone else from having to suffer the deadly burn injuries as their son did.

“If this helicopter had been properly equipped with a crash-resistant fuel system, it would have allowed this young man to walk away injury-free.”

They are also suing the pilot, Scott Booth, who was taken to hospital; in critical condition, accusing him of negligence for crashing. Also named in the lawsuit are the Papillon directors Brenda Halvorson and Elling Halvorson, president Geoff Edlund and chief operating officer John Becker. The family allege that they failed to ensure the helicopter was in a “safe and defect-free” condition.

They also accuse mechanic Matthew Hecker and its inspector Daniel Friedman of negligence over the state of the helicopter, in particular its tail rotor.

A coroner ruled that Jonathan Udall and Milward, 29, from Worthing, West Sussex, died of complications of thermal injury.

Dobson, 27, Stuart Hill, 30, and Jason Hill, 32, all from Worthing, died at the scene of multiple injuries. Their friend, Jennifer Barham, 39, was airlifted to Las Vegas’s University Medical Centre.

The Udalls are asking for in excess of $195,000 (£141,000) in damages, as well as punitive damages and a jury trial.

The lawsuit comes after it was announced that Papillon would fit 40 of the crash-resistant tanks to its fleet following the crash, which Robb called “too little, too late”.

Robb said he previously won a $38m (£28m) lawsuit for Chana Daskal, who suffered burns over 85% of her body, having been the sole survivor of a Papillon crash in the Grand Canyon 17 years ago.

The crash-resistant fuel system is not currently mandatory in the US for helicopters certified before 1994.




The company whose helicopter was involved in a deadly crash at the Grand Canyon is adding new fuel systems to its fleet that could help prevent or limit burn injuries.



Papillon Airways announced an agreement this week with StandardAero for 40 fuel tanks that expand, rather than rupture, on impact and that have self-sealing components. The systems generally give passengers and pilots more time to escape if they survive a hard landing or crash by keeping fuel from spreading and igniting, aviation experts say.



The National Transportation Safety Board repeatedly has urged the Federal Aviation Administration to require that all helicopters have the systems. The FAA is considering it. Right now, they're required only for helicopters newly certified after 1994, a requirement that aviation experts have called a major loophole.



Papillon declined comment Tuesday on what led to its decision.

Lon Halvorson, the company's owner, said in a news release that it's committed to lead the industry by retrofitting its air tour fleet with the crash-resistant systems developed by StandardAero and Robertson Fuel Systems. The first of the installations for the Airbus EC130 B4 and the AS350 B3 is scheduled for April.



The crash-resistant systems aren't standard on either of the aircraft, but the FAA certified retrofits last year, Airbus spokesman Bob Cox said. All single-engine helicopters Airbus has sold in the U.S. since 2016 include the systems, he said.



Kyle Hultquist, a spokesman for StandardAero, said the company anticipates more interest in the systems now that the retrofits have been certified.



Cox put the cost estimate at tens of thousands per helicopter and the time frame at two weeks per retrofit, depending on how Papillon has reconfigured the helicopters and the structure surrounding the fuel tanks.



Aviation attorney Gary C. Robb said the timing of Papillon's decision was no coincidence, coming a little more than two weeks after one of its helicopters crashed at the base of the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai reservation. Witnesses saw smoke billowing from the canyon and the aircraft in flames.



"It's well and good that they are making these retrofits, but it doesn't help the people who were horribly injured and those who were killed," Robb said.



Three of the British tourists on board were pronounced dead at the scene: veterinary receptionist Becky Dobson, 27; her boyfriend and car salesman Stuart Hill, 30; and Hill's brother, 32-year-old lawyer Jason Hill.



Two others in their group — 31-year-old Jonathan Udall and 29-year-old Ellie Milward Udall — were in critical condition and later died at a Las Vegas hospital. The Clark County coroner's office said Tuesday that the newlyweds died of complications from burn injuries.



Ellie Udall's family said in a statement that she died without regaining consciousness in the burn unit. The family asked for privacy and said it was "exceedingly grateful" for the rescue services in the Grand Canyon, volunteers and hospital staff.



A sixth passenger, 39-year-old Jennifer Barham, and the 42-year-old pilot, Scott Booth, remained in critical condition Tuesday.



The Britons were in Las Vegas to celebrate Stuart Hill's birthday.



An NTSB report released last week said the helicopter made at least two 360-degree turns before crashing but doesn't specify the cause. A full report won't be complete for more than a year.



The sightseeing helicopter that crashed at the Grand Canyon, killing three British tourists, was not required to have a system that would keep it from bursting into flames on impact, U.S. authorities said.

Investigators were combing through the wreckage Tuesday in a remote, rugged portion of the natural wonder, west of the national park, and will determine if the Airbus EC130 B4 helicopter owned by Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters had been updated with a crash-resistant fuel system.

A full report that would outline the cause of the crash isn't expected for more than a year.

It's unclear if any of the three victims in Saturday's crash would have survived if the helicopter had not caught on fire, giving them more time to escape. A witness said he heard explosions after the crash and saw one woman who appeared burned over most of her body. She was among four survivors.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires all helicopters certified after October 1994 to have equipment that could minimize the chance of a fire in a crash-landing. That includes fuel tanks made of composite material that can expand rather than rupture and components that seal automatically if they break away from the fuel tank to keep gas from spreading.

But those requirements don't apply to newer versions of helicopters that were designed before that date, including the Airbus EC130 B4 that crashed at the Grand Canyon, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The National Transportation Safety Board has urged the FAA repeatedly to apply its standards for crash-resistant fuel systems to all helicopters, regardless of when they were certified. It cited data showing only three helicopters in 135 accidents it investigated between 1994 and 2013 where the aircraft caught fire had the systems.

More than 221 people died in those accidents, though not all from fire-related injuries, the agency said.

The FAA designated a working group to take up the recommendation.

The U.S. Army has had the more flexible fuel systems in its aircraft for decades but they haven't been in widespread use in the civilian world, said Jerry Kidrick, assistant professor of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott. Cost, weight and time often factor into decisions on whether to add them, he said.

"Personally, my view is there is no excuse not to have them when they've proven themselves," said Kidrick, a former Army pilot. "This crash is another example."

The National Transportation Safety Board noted in a 2016 safety recommendation report that Airbus was developing a kit for updating the EC130 B4 helicopters and planned to make it available to owners and operators that year. Airbus didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The crash killed veterinary receptionist Becky Dobson, 27; her boyfriend Stuart Hill, a 30-year-old car salesman; and his brother, Jason Hill, a 32-year-old lawyer. They were with a group of friends to celebrate Stuart Hill's birthday in Las Vegas and took the Grand Canyon sightseeing tour on tribal land.

Unlike the more tightly regulated air tours within Grand Canyon National Park, helicopters quickly deposit tourists inside the canyon for lunches or hikes or pontoon boat rides. Just as quickly, they whisk them away.

Hualapai tribal leaders said they have halted helicopter tours at the canyon for now and are working with federal investigators. Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters said it is cooperating with the investigation and abides by flight safety regulations that exceed those required by the FAA.

The helicopter pilot, 42-year-old Scott Booth, severely injured a limb. The other survivors being treated for critical injuries at a Las Vegas trauma center are Ellie Milward, 29; Jonathan Udall, 32; and Jennifer Barham, 39.

An Arizona medical examiner had not yet completed autopsies on the victims Tuesday.

http://abcnews.go.com



An expert says investigators are likely to pay special attention to the type of helicopter that crashed in the Grand Canyon, killing three British tourists. Aviation attorney Gary C. Robb says the EC-130 helicopter generally lacks a system to keep it from exploding on impact, denying passengers a few extra minutes to try to escape. It comes after the crash on tribal land, which has fewer regulations than helicopter tours in Grand Canyon National Park. 

Federal safety officials were on the scene of a downed helicopter in the Grand Canyon, and plan to move the aircraft itself to Phoenix soon for further investigation of what caused a fiery, fatal crash over the wee
kend. 

"This a very technical-heavy investigation," said Stephen Stein, air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, at a media conference Monday afternoon in Boulder City, Nev.

"We have a lot of analysis to do — analysis of meteorological observations, engine and airframe examinations," he said.

Five FAA representatives and three NTSB investigators were on the scene, Stein said, with assistance from the helicopter manufacturer and the flight operator, Papillon Airways.

Access to the area is difficult, as investigators must take a helicopter into the canyon and then hike to the crash itself. Investigators will spend a couple more days at the site before moving the remnants of the aircraft to Phoenix, where they will do further examination. 

A preliminary report will be available in 5-10 days, with analysis of the likely probable cause, Stein said. But a full investigation is expected to take 18 months.

Victims and survivors

The Eurocopter EC130 tour helicopter went down near Quartermaster Canyon in the western portion of the Grand Canyon after 5 p.m. Saturday. Officials have since identified the crash victims: Becky Dobson, 27; Jason Hill, 32; and Stuart Hill, 30, died. Pilot Scott Booth, 42, and passengers Ellie Milward, 29; Jonathan Udall, 32; and Jennifer Barham, 39, survived, and were taken to a Las Vegas hospital.

Stein said investigators were in contact with the survivors and working to get info from them, but were waiting for those survivors to recover enough to provide statements. 

Federal officials encourage any witnesses to contact investigators at witness@ntsb.gov.

Asked about whether the helicopter had a fire-resistant fuel system installed, Stein said the question was an important one, but declined to answer whether he knew. He said investigators would have to examine whether that model of helicopter has a history of fires.

"That's something we're going to have to look at in our investigation," he said. "We're going through our archives right now." 

"There is evidence of a post-crash fire," he said. Photos from the scene show the area in flames. 

That area of the Canyon remains under a temporary flight restriction, he said, though flights will probably resume within the next day or two.

https://www.azcentral.com




The pilot behind the controls of the helicopter that crashed in the Grand Canyon over the weekend, killing three people, has had one surgery and is slated for several more, according to a fellow pilot who has started a GoFundMe page to help defray medical expenses.

Pilot Scott Booth was among four survivors of the crash Saturday in a remote portion of the Grand Canyon. No cause has been given for the wreck though a law-enforcement official noted that a storm had passed through the area at the time of the crash.

Booth worked at Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, a tour company that flies tourists out of Las Vegas to get below-the-rim views of the Arizona natural wonder.

A fellow Papillon pilot, T.J. Wesoloski, started the GoFundMe page Monday with a posted goal of $50,000. The page said Booth “sustained life-threatening injuries” in the crash.

“We don’t know his current condition,” the page read, “but we expect a long road to recovery.”

Wesoloski did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.

Though Wesoloski was listed as the organizer, the page describes it as coming from “the line pilots at Papillon.”

Killed in the crash were Becky Dobson, 27; Jason Hill, 32; and Stuart Hill, 30. The survivors were identified as Ellie Milward, 29; Jonathan Udall, 32; Jennifer Barham, 39, and Booth.

The page described Booth, who lived in Long Beach, Calif., as “one of the nicest, kindest human beings on the face of the planet.  He would always offer to help if someone was in need, and would often crack a joke while doing it.”

The page showed a picture of Booth smiling with a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap backward on his head.

The page made a specific plea to members of the tour helicopters community.

“You have heard his voice on the radio, flown next to him, and probably shared a few jokes at (Grand Canyon West Airport) together,” the page read. “All of us are family, let's make sure we show it."

The page had raised more than $7,100 by late Monday afternoon.

https://www.azcentral.com


The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Monday it will take a very close look at the fuel system of a helicopter that crashed in the Grand Canyon.

“There is evidence of a post-crash fire,” said NTSB investigator Stephen Stein.

Three people died in the crash. Four others survived with serious injuries that include burns.

The helicopter, operated by Papillon Airways in Las Vegas, was an EC-130 B4. The helicopter model is not required by the Federal Aviation Administration to have a crash-resistant fuel system onboard.

As 9Wants to Know has outlined since a 2015 Flight for Life crash in Frisco, Colorado, most helicopters in use today have fuel systems that remain vulnerable to rupturing after otherwise survivable crashes.

The Frisco crash resulted in a fire that left flight nurse Dave Repsher with burns on more than 90 percent of his skin.

Two weeks ago, Airbus Helicopters and Air Methods agreed to pay Repsher $100 million to settle a case that had been set to begin in March.

While it will likely take until 2019 at the earliest for the NTSB to issue an official cause for the Grand Canyon crash, Stein said Monday his investigative team will examine the aircraft’s fuel system closely effort to determine if its design led to the burns suffered by the survivors or if it contributed to the deaths of the pilot and two passengers.

9Wants to Know found more than 170 fatal helicopter accidents that resulted in post-crash fires since 1994.

“The crash-resistant fuel system is a very important part of this investigation, something we are taking very seriously and looking at very closely,” Stein said. 

http://www.9news.com


A Papillon Airways helicopter (right) takes off, January 16, 2018, from Grand Canyon West.



PHOENIX — A day after a tour flight crashed in the Grand Canyon, killing three people and injuring four others, Helicopter Alley was silent.

Air tours over the Grand Canyon were suspended Sunday as investigators tried to determine the cause of the crash. The quiet was rare in an area that normally rattles under the sound of hundreds of helicopters a day.

Demand for flights over the Grand Canyon has spiked in recent years, transforming empty airspace into a travel destination. Thousands of helicopters now fly over the Canyon each year, all competing for business and the same limited space.

“Everybody wants to see the same thing,” said Gary C. Robb, a Kansas City attorney who specializes in helicopter-crash litigation. “It is a recipe for disaster.”

Closely regulated flights

The constant pulse of engines over the West Rim led one visitor to dub the stretch “Hurricane Alley.” It also turned up the volume on a decades-long debate over conservation, federal oversight and helicopter safety.

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to more closely regulate tour flights. Tourism companies want to make more money. Conservationists want to keep the Canyon clean and quiet. Tribal leaders want to maintain control of their land and their economies. And tourists just want to fly.

“You’ve got these agencies that are suspicious of each other,” Dick Hingson, who spent years working on the issue with the Sierra Club, told The Arizona Republic in September. “That’s going to drag it out.”

The Grand Canyon has a long history of air disasters. A 1956 midair collision there killed 128 people and led to the birth of the FAA. Two sightseeing aircraft crashed and killed five people in 1986. A daredevil pilot nicknamed “Kamikaze,” known for dipping in and out of the Canyon on tours, killed himself and six passengers when he crashed in 2003.

Papillon Airways, which operated Saturday’s fatal flight, has been investigated after at least three other fatal crashes in the last 20 years.

As the industry grew and accidents piled up, the FAA tried to limit the danger. It barred flights from dipping below the Canyon rim and mandated a 500-foot buffer zone between aircraft and any obstacles.

Restrictions don't go far enough

Robb and other critics argue the restrictions don’t go far enough. They argue that packed flight schedules often leave little time for routine maintenance and inspections, and tour-flight companies don’t pay enough to attract top-tier pilots.

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board noted the pilot in a 2001 crash had once chased thrills to entertain his passengers.

The Canyon walls also create flight conditions unlike anywhere else in the U.S. Twisted edges and jagged cliffs sometimes send gusts of wind cutting in unexpected patterns. Rough terrain on the canyon rim can make emergency maneuvers difficult to pull off. Even minor mishaps can turn a helicopter into a midair phone booth, with nowhere to go but down.

“The machine and the pilot are put through a lot,” said Michael Slack, another attorney with experience in helicopter-crash cases. “They’re not that strictly regulated.”

On Sunday evening, with flights at the Canyon still grounded, Papillon Airways wasn't accepting reservations for Monday flights. A booking agent said the company had canceled all flights for that day.

Reservations were available for Tuesday.

http://www.wtsp.com



(CNN) -- Authorities have released the names of the victims of a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon in Arizona Saturday.

Three people died when a EC-130 helicopter operated by sightseeing tour company Papillon Airways went down at 5:20 p.m. (7:20 p.m. ET) Saturday near Quartermaster Canyon, within the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai Nation.

The six passengers on board were visiting from the United Kingdom, Police Chief Francis E. Bradley Sr. of the Hualapai reservation said.

Passengers Becky Dobson, 27, Jason Hill, 32, and Stuart Hill, 30, suffered fatal injuries in the crash, according to a news release from the Hualapai Nation Police Department. Their bodies were recovered early Sunday afternoon.

Three other passengers and the pilot were injured. They were rescued during an operation that stretched into the early hours of Sunday morning, Bradley said.

The injured pilot was identified as Scott Booth, 42. The hospitalized passengers were identified as Ellie Milward, 29, Jonathan Udall, 32, and Jennifer Barham, 39, according to the police news release.

Rescue efforts

In a statement, Bradley expressed his condolences to the family and friends of the crash victims.

He said first responders and rescuers had arrived at the scene within 30 minutes of the crash: "Without their valiant and diligent efforts to stabilize and rescue the survivors under extreme conditions, we may have had more loss of life," he said.

Bradley earlier said first responders had been hindered by windy, dark and rugged conditions and had a 20-minute hike to the crash scene.

Rescuers got help from military aircraft from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and were eventually able to fly all four of the injured to the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, he said. The pilot had severe injury to one of his limbs.

Photos of the crash scene showed flames and dark smoke rising from rocky terrain.

Teddy Fujimoto told CNN affiliate KSNV he was in the area taking photographs when he witnessed the aftermath of the crash.

"I saw these two ladies run out of it, and then an explosion. One of the survivors ... looked all bloody. Her clothes probably were burnt off," Fujimoto told KSNV.

"The ladies were screaming. ... It was just horrible," he said.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer earlier said the aircraft sustained considerable damage in the crash.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, Kenitzer said.

Papillon Airways describes itself on its website as "the world's largest aerial sightseeing company" and adds that it provides "the only way to tour the Grand Canyon."

The company says it flies roughly 600,000 passengers a year on Grand Canyon and other tours. It also notes that it "abides by flight safety rules and regulations that substantially exceed the regulations required by the Federal Aviation Administration."

"It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident. Our top priority is the care and needs of our passengers and our staff," Papillon Group CEO Brenda Halvorson said Sunday.

NTSB records show a helicopter operated by Papillon was involved in a deadly crash on August 10, 2001, near Meadview, Arizona. The pilot and five passengers were killed; one passenger survived, the NTSB report shows.

NTSB investigators determined the probable cause of the 2001 crash was pilot error.

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GRAND CANYON WEST — A day after a tour helicopter crashed in the Grand Canyon, killing three and wounding four, the sky above the gorge was unusually quiet.

Air tours were suspended as officials tried to piece together what caused the Papillon Airways helicopter to plummet early Saturday evening.

“I’m not going to begin to speculate,” Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley told reporters Sunday afternoon, though he noted a storm had passed through the area about the time of the crash.

A few hours later, officials publicly identified the crash victims. Becky Dobson, 27; Jason Hill, 32; and Stuart Hill, 30, died. Pilot Scott Booth, 42 and passengers Ellie Milward, 29; Jonathan Udall, 32; and Jennifer Barham, 39, survived.

All but the pilot were from the United Kingdom, officials said. Relationships between the passengers were not immediately clear.

High winds, rugged terrain and the crash site’s remote location slowed overnight rescue efforts Saturday. As of Sunday evening, the four survivors remained hospitalized at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada with “severe” burns and other injuries.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement that it was “providing support to the families of six British visitors.”

Brenda Halvorson, chief executive officer for Papillon Group, also extended the company’s “heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident.” In a statement, she said the company’s “top priority is the care and needs of our passengers and our staff.”

'Extreme and hostile conditions'

The remote location of the crash site complicated rescue efforts. More than 20 first responders had to hike about 20 minutes to the downed helicopter from an area accessible by certain vehicles.

Emergency crews then had to wait for strong winds to quiet before they could lift passengers out of the canyon. That took about eight hours, Bradley said. 

"They all endured those extreme and hostile conditions of the weather, the darkness and the terrain," he said in a Sunday afternoon press conference. 

Bradley said the multi-agency rescue effort included the Hualapai Nation Police Department, Hualapai Tribe Emergency Services, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, along with paramedics from surrounding agencies. 

As of Sunday afternoon, it was still unclear what caused the EC-130 tour helicopter to go down near Quartermaster Canyon, about 3 miles east of Grand Canyon West Airport. Allen Kenitzer with the Federal Aviation Administration told The Republic the helicopter "crashed under unknown circumstances."

Video posted on Twitter by several news outlets showed flames and smoke at the site.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive at the site Sunday afternoon, Bradley said. He expected video and other flight information to be recovered.  

The wreckage, which Bradley said was not on the Canyon floor but higher up, will remain in place until investigators allow its removal. 

Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters advertises itself on its website as the "world's largest Grand Canyon sightseeing company." It has been involved in fatal crashes in the past, including one in 2001 that killed the pilot and five people touring the area. 

Bradley said the company has been "more than cooperative" in the crash's aftermath, including offering its tour helicopters to help move first responders and survivors. 

"Our hearts and our prayers are with the victims of this very tragic crash in the Grand Canyon, as well as all the first responders and medics involved in critical rescue efforts," Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted Sunday morning.

'Fire, smoke'

Teddy Fujimoto, a freelance photographer based in Las Vegas, was shooting wedding pictures in the area when the crash occurred. He said he had been in the area for about 15 minutes when the helicopter went down.

He didn’t see the crash, but suddenly, the pilots he was with started running toward the wreckage to help.

Story and video:  https://www.azcentral.com




Three people were killed and four critically injured when a helicopter touring through the Grand Canyon National Park crashed and exploded in a fireball, officials told ABC News.

As investigators tried to figure out what caused the crash of the Papillon aerial-touring company helicopter -- which was carrying a pilot and six tourists from the United Kingdom -- a witness described to ABC News watching in disbelief as one of the survivors walked out of the flames.

Witness Lionel Douglass, who was attending a wedding on a bluff about 1,000 yards away from where the helicopter crashed and exploded, said the scene reminded him of the biblical story of when Jesus rescued Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego from a fiery furnace they were cast into by King Nebuchadnezzar.

"I had taken my phone and I was zooming in to see if I could see anybody and a lady walked out of the flames and I just lost it," Douglass told ABC News.

The helicopter "sustained substantial damage" when the crash occurred "under unknown circumstances" in the Quartermaster Canyon area of the immense wilderness wonderland on Saturday afternoon, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer told ABC News.

Kenitzer said the helicopter crashed about three miles east of the Grand Canyon West Airport in Peach Springs, Arizona.

Video taken by witnesses shortly after the crash and posted on Twitter showed the helicopter engulfed in flames and black smoke, surrounded by sage and cactus at the bottom of a steep, rocky canyon.

Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley said the crash occurred at 5:20 p.m. local time, with six passengers from the United Kingdom and the pilot on board. He said the helicopter tour originated in Boulder City, Nevada.

Bradley said a storm was rolling into the area around the time of the crash. He said weather conditions were "not normal," but no flight restrictions had been imposed.

He said the crash occurred in an area with extremely rugged terrain and that initial rescue efforts by emergency helicopter were hampered by gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. Bradley said rescuers had to hike into the area and that they didn't get everyone out of the wreckage until about 2 a.m. Sunday.

Douglass told ABC News that he saw the helicopter plummet from the sky after doing two complete circles as if the pilot was searching for a spot to set the aircraft down.

"It happened so fast. When I saw them turning, I wasn't sure what he was doing and by the time I yelled to everybody to turn around and look, it was all out of control," Douglass said. "It fell down between the mountains, the tail broke in half, it hit the bottom and it was the biggest explosion you ever heard and then flames like you never seen before."

He said the initial explosion was followed by five or six others.

He said the woman who staggered out of the flames appeared to be disoriented. Once out of harm's way she collapsed to the ground and began screaming the name Jason.

It is unclear if the pilot is among the injured or deceased.

The four who survived the crash were taken by rescue helicopter to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada and remained in critical condition Sunday evening, hospital spokeswoman Danita Cohen told ABC News.

According to Papillon's website, it flies roughly 600,000 passengers a year over the Grand Canyon and on other tours.

"It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident. Our top priority is the care and needs of our passengers and our staff," Brenda Halvorson, chief executive officer of the helicopter touring company's parent company, Papillon Group, said in a statement Sunday afternoon.

Halvorson said the company is cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board and local authorities investigating the crash.

Original article can be found here  ➤  http://abc7.com



A tour helicopter crashed on Saturday, under "unknown circumstances," during a tour of the west side of the Grand Canyon, officials said. 

It's not the first time authorities have investigated a deadly helicopter crash involving the tour operator, Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, the company that touts itself as being "the world's largest aerial sightseeing company" and "the only way to tour the Grand Canyon."

The helicopter carrying seven people went down near Quartermaster Canyon, a side canyon west of Grand Canyon National Park, just before 5:30 p.m. Three people were confirmed dead, and there were four Level 1 trauma patients at the scene, Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley said late Saturday. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. Exact details about what happened, and why, might take months to determine, if history is any indication.

Papillon Airways, which does business as Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, has been investigated after at least three other fatal crashes. Here is a rundown, based on federal crash investigation reports.

Quartermaster Canyon crash kills six

Aug. 10, 2001: A Papillon Airways tour helicopter crashed during an uncontrolled descent about 4 miles east of Meadview, Arizona. The 27-year-old pilot and five passengers were killed as a result of the wreck and subsequent fire. One passenger survived. 

The midday flight originated from the company terminal at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas for a tour of the western Grand Canyon area and a planned stop at a landing site in Quartermaster Canyon, investigators wrote in the crash report. 

The helicopter departed that landing site about 2 p.m. and stopped at a company fueling facility at Grand Canyon West Airport. 

After leaving the fueling facility bound for Las Las Vegas, the pilot lost control "for undetermined reasons" and crashed into the rugged terrain, investigators said. 

The downward maneuver near a scenic cliff "effectively limited any remedial options" before impact, the report said. One of several passengers interviewed about previous flights with the same pilot called the trip "frightening and thrilling at the same time."

Improper idle setting kills pilot 

May 18, 2014: A Papillon Airways helicopter arrived at a dirt landing pad at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, near the west bank of the Colorado River, after the 26-year-old pilot reported planning to perform a "fluid level check," FAA records show. 

"After landing, the pilot exited the running helicopter; the helicopter was observed going airborne and then impacting the ground and rolling over. The pilot was struck by one or more of the main rotor blades, and was fatally injured," investigators wrote. 

The phrase "fluid check" was widely known to be code pilots used when briefly landing a helicopter so they could "relieve themselves," investigators said.

The pilot left the helicopter in "flight idle" mode, as opposed to "ground idle," for reasons never determined, which caused it to nose forward into the ground and kill the pilot. 

Trainee killed during takeoff

April 1, 1999: A helicopter operated by Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters crashed into a tree when its engine cut off during takeoff from the Canyon airport, killing the pilot-in-training and seriously injuring the instructor.

The trainee pilot had recently been hired, and the incident marked the pilot's second flight as part of the training program. 

Investigators determined the cause of the crash stemmed from the crew's failure to properly prepare the helicopter for flight and to detect and remove accumulated snow from the engine. 

Story and video ➤  https://www.azcentral.com



Four survivors of a deadly helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon Saturday evening were rescued during an operation that stretched into the early hours of Sunday morning, according to Police Chief Francis E. Bradley Sr. of the Hualapai reservation.

The helicopter was operated by Papillon Airways, an aerial sightseeing company that gives tours of the Grand Canyon and other locations, Bradley said.

Three people died when the EC-130 went down at 5:20 p.m. (7:20 p.m. ET) Saturday near Quartermaster Canyon, within the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai Nation.

A pilot and six passengers were on board, Bradley said.

First responders had difficulty reaching the four survivors due to windy, dark, and rugged conditions, Bradley said.

Rescuers got help from military aircraft from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and were eventually able to fly all four of the injured to the University Medical Center in Las Vegas by Sunday morning, Bradley said.

Crews will work Sunday to retrieve the bodies of those who died in the crash, Bradley said, but weather conditions were hampering efforts.

Photos of the crash scene showed flames and dark smoke rising from rocky terrain.

Teddy Fujimoto told CNN affiliate KSNV he was in the area taking photographs when he witnessed the aftermath of the crash.

“I saw these two ladies run out of it, and then an explosion. One of the survivors … looked all bloody. Her clothes probably were burnt off,” Fujimoto told KSNV.

“The ladies were screaming … It was just horrible,” he said.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer earlier said the aircraft sustained considerable damage in the crash.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, Kenitzer said.

Papillon Airways describes itself on its website as “the world’s largest aerial sightseeing company” and adds that it provides “the only way to tour the Grand Canyon.”

The company says it flies roughly 600,000 passengers a year on Grand Canyon and other tours. It also notes that it “abides by flight safety rules and regulations that substantially exceed the regulations required by the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Story and video ➤  http://ktla.com



A rescue effort in the Grand Canyon continued through the night after three people were killed and four were injured when a Papillon Airways helicopter crashed there Saturday afternoon, officials said. 

Just before midnight, Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley said four public-safety agencies were working together to save lives.

"The rescue is ongoing," he said. "We have a unified command set up."

The multi-agency effort, he said, included the Hualapai Nation Police Department, Hualapai Tribe Emergency Services, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The Eurocopter EC130 carrying seven people crashed under "unknown circumstances," Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer told The Arizona Republic.

Bradley said the Papillon Airways helicopter crashed near Quartermaster Canyon in the Grand Canyon just before 5:30 p.m.

Three people were confirmed dead, and there were four Level 1 trauma patients at the scene, Bradley said in a text sent to The Republic at about 9:45 p.m.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. No further details were immediately available. 

A woman answering the Papillon company phone number for scheduling helicopter tours declined to comment on the crash or deaths. “I don’t have any information on that but to direct you to our PR,” she said late Saturday.

The tour company advertises itself on its website as the "World's Largest Grand Canyon Sightseeing Company."

The company states on its website that "safety is our top priority" and that it is certified by the Tour Operators Program of Safety. 

"Operators who carry a TOPS certification have agreed to operate their airlines to standards that far exceed those set forth by the FAA," the site states, adding that standards are enforced by internal and external audits.

Rates for tours, according to the website, range from $109-$224, with a more expensive $554 flight that includes landing at the bottom of the Canyon, a meal and a walk along the Grand Canyon Skywalk, which juts over the Canyon. Tours from the Grand Canyon's West Rim range from $194-$254.

The West Rim has become a more popular destination for tours since the 2007 opening of the Skywalk. The horseshoe-shaped international attraction extends along a see-through walkway jutting from a craggy cliff and over the depths of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. 

The Hualapai Tribe manages the steel and glass walkway, which is on its reservation.

Conservationists have balked at the spike in flights, citing worries over how the increased tourism will affect the national park. In Republic archive stories, they expressed worries about safety risks given the history of deadly air travel over the canyon.

Helicopter and airplane crashes at the Canyon date back decades. The creation of the FAA stemmed from a 1956 incident in which two passenger planes collided over the Canyon, killing all 128 people on board.

Hualapai tribal officials said they operate a responsible tourism plan that protects the Canyon and the people who visit it.

Story and video ➤  https://www.azcentral.com

Passengers disembark at the airport in Boulder City, Nevada, from a Papillon Airways helicopter after flying to the western part of Grand Canyon National Park. This photo was shot in 2017 for a previous Arizona Republic article.

A Papillon Airways helicopter flies over the Colorado River in the area of the Grand Canyon where Saturday's fatal crash occurred. This photo was shot in 2017 for a previous Arizona Republic article.


GRAND CANYON WEST, AZ - Three people have been killed after a helicopter crashed near the Grand Canyon Saturday afternoon, according to Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley.

Chief Bradley said a Papillon Airways aircraft carrying a pilot and six passengers crashed in the Quartermaster Canyon sometime around 5:20 p.m.

He said the helicopter was on a tour. 

Dispatch received the emergency call regarding the crash at 5:31 p.m. Multiple agencies are assisting in the investigation.

Allen Kenitzer with the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Communications confirmed in an email that the helicopter, a Eurocopter EC130, "crashed under unknown circumstances in the Grand Canyon."

He said the helicopter "sustained substantial damage" and, citing local authorities, that 7 people were on board.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating.

This is one of several incidents in the past two decades involving Las Vegas-based Papillon Airways, according to National Transportation Safety Board crash reports.

In 2001, six people, including the pilot, were killed in a crash near the Grand Wash Cliffs. The tour had stopped at Quartermaster Canyon and was on its way back to Las Vegas, where the tour began, when the helicopter crashed.

In 2009, a helicopter with six passengers crashed after the pilot heard a “loud pop,” but no one was injured.  

In 2014, a pilot was killed after he got out of a running helicopter to go to the bathroom and was struck by rotor blades.