Friday, February 16, 2018

Ravn begins flights between Bristol Bay and Anchorage

On Valentine’s Day, Ravn Alaska made its first regularly scheduled flight between Dillingham, King Salmon and Anchorage. Bristol Bay residents said they were excited for increased competition among airlines in the region.

Ravn Alaska prepares to board its inaugural passenger flight from Dillingham and King Salmon to Anchorage.





Fat snowflakes fell as passengers boarded the inaugural Ravn Alaska flight out of Dillingham and King Salmon, heading toward Anchorage. Flight attendant Diane Andrew Ross welcomed travelers aboard the full flight Wednesday morning. Ross is originally from Aleknagik, though she now lives in Anchorage. She said it was “heartwarming” to see friends and family at the airport in Dillingham.

Bristol Bay residents who boarded the flight were enthusiastic for another airline to provide service between Anchorage and regional hubs. PenAir previously offered the only regular, year-round flights connecting Anchorage and Bristol Bay.

“It’s very expensive to live out in rural Alaska,” said Georgette Baumgartener from Dillingham. She summed up what she hopes to see with another airline servicing the region—“more competition. Prices should come down. More people flying again.”

It is not unusual for a round trip flight between Anchorage and Dillingham to cost $500 or more. Several other passengers on Wednesday’s Ravn flight echoed Baumgartener’s hope that increased competition will bring down airfare.


Georgette Baumgartner and her son were among the first to check in for the Ravn flight in Dillingham.



Ravn’s president and CEO, David Pflieger, called Bristol Bay an “obvious” choice for expansion. This is the first new route the company has added in six years.

“When we look at our network and where we fly in the state, we weren’t flying there, and some of the folks who’ve been with the company 10 plus years have said, ‘Hey, let’s get into these communities.’ So we looked at it. We ran the numbers, heard overwhelmingly from the community that they wanted more competition and more reliable service, and here we are,” Pflieger said.


Christine Kivolk works for Freshwater Adventures. She helps prepare Ravn's plane to fly out of Dillingham.



Starting Wednesday, Ravn offers two roundtrip flights per day between Anchorage, Dillingham and King Salmon on weekdays. On weekends, they offer one roundtrip flight per day. It operates Bombardier Dash-8 aircraft on these routes, which can seat up to 29 passengers and make the trip between Dillingham and Anchorage in about 80 minutes.

Pflieger explained that ensuring local demand for another air carrier and securing facilities for operation were among the main considerations for expansion.

Rather than buying or building its own terminals, Ravn is contracting with local businesses to operate terminals for its flights. In King Salmon, King Salmon Ground Service is providing a terminal. In Dillingham, Ravn is operating out of Freshwater Adventures.


Ravn Alaska flight attendant, Diane Andrew Ross, grew up in Aleknagik and lives in Anchorage.



Freshwater Adventures’ owner and lifelong Dillingham resident, Jerry Ball, called PenAir and its operators “legends of Bristol Bay and good people.” Ball also repeated the sentiment that an additional air carrier will benefit Bristol Bay residents.

“It’s always good to have competition. Peninsula [Airways]’s been a good airline over the years and still is. I have nothing disparaging to say about anybody. Just an alternative service here, I think the people of Bristol Bay are going to enjoy it, and it’s going to be a good thing,” said Ball.

Perhaps the best image on Wednesday of the competition passengers hoped to see was the PenAir terminal and Freshwater Adventures terminal in Dillingham, next door to one another, both busy with passengers traveling form Bristol Bay to Anchorage.

Story, audio and photo gallery ➤ http://kdlg.org

Orlando International Airport (KMCO) gets new flights to Alabama

Orlando International Airport will get daily nonstop service from Huntsville International Airport starting May 23, Silver Airways announced this week.

Introductory fares are starting $99 between May and December, the company said.

Currently, no other airlines provide direct service to Huntsville from Orlando, according to Orlando airport’s website.

“We are very excited to announce our first growth market utilizing our new fleet of ATR-600 aircraft that will begin arriving in May,” said Jason Bewley, president of Silver Airways, in a press release.

“Considering NASA, Huntsville and Florida’s space coast have many close ties, and we expect this new nonstop service to attract business travelers and vacationers alike headed to Orlando and beyond to Silver’s many destinations in Florida and the Bahamas.”

Added Rick Tucker, Huntville airport’s executive director, “This has been one of Huntsville’s most requested destinations by our passengers and so it is exciting to have this new carrier to fulfill that request.”

The latest flight service comes during what’s been a crowded year at the Orlando International Airport.

The airport recorded 44.6 million passengers in 2017 and became the busiest airport in the state as airlines added more than 3 million passenger seats in the market, according to a press release this month from the airport.

Airport officials are predicting the growth to continue in 2018.

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

Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines examining ways of keeping Alitalia in Skyteam

PARIS (Reuters) - Air France-KLM and its U.S. partner Delta Air Lines are studying ways of keeping Alitalia inside the Skyteam alliance - but without Air France-KLM being a buyer, Chief Executive Jean-Marc Janaillac said on Friday.

"We are not a potential buyer so we did not participate in the process," Janaillac told a news conference, adding the Franco-Dutch airline group has not had access to Alitalia data.

Lufthansa , which leads the rival Star Alliance and has its own North Atlantic joint venture, has said it would be interested in a bid but only if Alitalia could be restructured.

Janaillac said that given the publicly-known offers so far, there was a risk that Alitalia could leave Skyteam and the North Atlantic joint venture, which would have a negative impact for Air France-KLM.

Air France-KLM and Delta last year rejigged their North Atlantic alliance, bringing in Virgin Atlantic, which had a separate joint venture with Delta.

"Also, we are working (on) a new joint venture in the Atlantic with a specific role for Alitalia and it would also be quite negative to have Alitalia not as a partner but as a competitor on these North Atlantic routes," he said.

The Italian market is of interest to airlines because of the high demand from tourists from all over the world wanting to visit the country.

British low-cost airline easyJet said last month that it was interested in parts of Alitalia, and that discussions were ongoing. However, it is only interested in short-haul operations, so a separate buyer would have to be found for long-haul routes.

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

La Crosse Regional Airport (KLSE) volume, revenue stable in 2017

La Crosse Regional Airport director Clint Torp


The La Crosse Regional Airport served slightly fewer passengers in 2017 without a loss in revenue.

Nearly 177,500 passengers flew in and out of the airport on commercial flights, about 1.1 percent fewer than the previous year, according to the airport's annual report.

There was a 2 percent drop in arrivals, while the number of departures was essentially the same as in 2016.

The report is scheduled to be presented to the Aviation Board on Monday.

Airport Manager Clint Torp said he expects passenger volumes to grow in 2018 as a result of American Airlines using larger airplanes for two of its three daily flights, which translates to 26 more seats per day.

"Now that we have the larger American aircraft we'll hope for an increase," he said.



The airport is also pursuing a federal funds to help land new eastbound service. The Small Community Air Service Development Program subsidizes domestic airline service to under-served airports for up to three years.

"It definitely helps," Torp said. "Anytime you can reduce the risk it makes your market more attractive."

Torp is hoping to add service to Detroit, which Delta Airlines discontinued in 2013.

Minneapolis and Chicago are now the only destinations with service from La Crosse, but Torp said the volume of passengers heading to Washington, D.C., and New York suggest there is enough demand to support service to a third eastern hub.

This year the airport plans to add canopies and new ticket kiosks to the parking lot as part of an effort to improve amenities and "to make flying out of lax second to none" in order to maintain passenger volume.

"When we bring (new planes) in, we have to work on filling them. Otherwise they go away," Torp said.

The airport brought in about $2.7 million -- up $5,000 from the previous year. The airport brought in more money from car rentals and general aviation services. There was also a bump in restaurant and gift store sales, while parking revenue and fuel volumes were down.

Total operations -- landings and takeoffs of commercial, civilian and military planes -- at all Wisconsin airports was down about 2.1 percent in 2017, according to Federal Aviation Administration data.

Commercial operations were up about a half percent statewide. La Crosse was one of four Wisconsin airports to see a drop in commercial operations, which were down 6.6 percent.

With roughly the same number of passengers traveling on fewer flights, airlines filled nearly 83 percent of their seats, slightly higher than the previous year. That number has climbed steadily since 2002, when airlines filled just over half the seats on their flights in and out of La Crosse, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

"Fuller aircraft is the trend definitely across the nation," Torp said.

Story and photo gallery ➤ http://lacrossetribune.com

Local economy does not support scheduled air flights: Grant County Regional Airport (KGCD), John Day, Oregon



The Grant County area does not have the population, employment and income levels needed to support regularly scheduled passenger service at Grant County Regional Airport.

That’s the conclusion of a recent report on rural airport services presented at the Grant County Court’s Feb. 14 meeting. The Grant County area has seen declining population and household income over the past decade. It has also seen a significant drop in manufacturing sector earnings, which is positively correlated with demand for air service, the report said.

“The region has limited demand for passenger air service,” ECONorthwest said in its report. “This is due to the area’s relatively small population and limited economic footprint.”

Airport manager Haley Walker said she contacted the Oregon Department of Aviation in fall 2016 about applying for a Critical Oregon Airport Relief grant to support a passenger air service study and was told a study was already underway.

The department had contracted with ECONorthwest to describe passenger air service distribution across Oregon using the framework of supply and demand. The study was completed in January and includes a case study for Eastern Oregon, with a section on Grant County Regional Airport and John Day.

According to Federal Aviation Administration data provided in the report, Grant County Regional Airport saw 251 enplanements in 2007 and 102 in 2009, but none were reported after that date. Most Grant County air travelers drive to Boise, Idaho, a six-hour round-trip that requires an overnight stay for outbound or return flights, or both, the report said.

A slightly shorter drive would take local travelers to the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton, which has regularly-scheduled flights to Portland that are subsidized by the federal government. But passenger trips to and from Pendleton have declined by 82 percent since 2000 despite the subsidies, paralleling a general trend toward fewer enplanements at smaller airports across Oregon, the report said.

Among the largest employers in the Grant County area are the city of John Day, several federal and state agencies and Malheur Lumber Co., the report said. The lumber company currently operates its own planes in and out of the airport, and access to scheduled service or charter arrangements likely wouldn’t impact this business investment decision, the report said.

“It’s possible that demand exists for business travel on air taxi or charter flights, but it is unlikely that sufficient demand exists to support scheduled air services to GCRA for the foreseeable future,” the report said.

ECONorthwest noted that “for many people who choose to live in Eastern Oregon, driving long distances is routine and does not represent the same perceived cost as it may to someone from a more urban area of the state. Thus, the most stable primary source of demand for small rural airports would be business travelers, with less predictable demand from tourists or travelers on personal business.”

Walker told the Eagle that communities typically draft a business plan for their airports and present it to an air service company to attract their business. She said the county was considering scheduled service with six- to nine-seat aircraft, but the Grant County airport could not meet the “load factor” requirements.

According to ECONorthwest’s study, load factor is the most common tool used to describe a marketplace for scheduled air passenger service. Load factor combines the supply of seats available in a region to the demand by passengers choosing to fly from that location.

“High load factors mean that airlines are able to ‘right size’ the supply of seats with the demand,” the study said. “In other words, passengers are filling every seat on the plane, thereby maximizing revenue for that flight.”

Grant County Commissioner Boyd Britton noted that ECONorthwest’s report never mentioned The Retreat and Links at Silvies Valley Ranch, a new major tourism attraction in Grant County.

Walker said she believes the report is an accurate description of current conditions, however. Tourism is not a good indicator of consistent demand, she said. If it costs too much to fly, people in this region are willing to drive, she said. Seats on a plane need to be filled to make it work for private business, she said.

Grant County Judge Scott Myers agreed that based on the study it didn’t make sense to approach an air service company about establishing flights to John Day. Air taxi and charter flights could continue as an alternative, he noted.

Original article ➤ http://www.bluemountaineagle.com

Airbus Soars Into Cash: Even if there are bumps down the road, it won’t matter much as long as planes roll out the door



The Wall Street Journal
By Alex Frangos
Updated February 15, 2018 9:46 a.m. ET

It sure is nice when your plane comes in early. For Airbus shareholders, it is something that could in theory happen more often.

Airbus results published Thursday restored some faith in the airplane making giant and its ability to become a cash flow machine—though it remains well behind arch rival Boeing in that regard. Airbus’s measure of free cash flow, closely watched by investors, was more than €6.2 billion in the fourth quarter, handily beating analysts expectations. It boosted its dividend and gave a bullish outlook for the current year. The stock rose more than 10%.

The results reinforce that the company, with more than 7,000 planes on back order, is mostly an execution story. So long as it churns out planes with increasing frequency, while picking up efficiency gains along the way, more cash will follow. Management said it aims to deliver around 800 commercial airplanes in 2018, up from 718 last year.

Helping matters along, Airbus isn’t in the midst of developing any new planes. Research and development costs, for instance, are down nearly 20% in the past two years. Its last new airplane model, the long-haul A350, is well along its product cycle without major hiccups.

There are clear overhangs on Airbus. Chief Executive Tom Enders is meant to step down next year and there is natural anxiety over whether the replacement will be the best person for the job or someone who is politically palatable to Airbus’s French and German government shareholders. A new sales chief was recently installed. The military transporter A400 project continues to generate write-downs. And investigations into past sales practices could result in hefty fines down the road, the company has warned.

Even if some of these generate bumps down the road, it won’t matter much as long as planes roll out the door and cash rolls in.

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

Aircraft burglary incidents escalate, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria deploys armed vehicles

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has raised high security alert at most of the country’s aerodromes with the deployment of additional 10 heavily armed Hilux patrol vehicles to the airside of Lagos airport.

This is coming amid the escalation of burglary of airplanes on the holding section of the Lagos airport by unknown persons who constitute security breach to passengers and facilities including airplanes.

Meanwhile, there is a new reported case of robbers operating within the perimeter fence of the Lagos airport. The robbers were said to have attempted to burgle an African World Airlines (AWA) Accra bound CRJ jet as it prepared for take-off.

Spokeswoman for FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu in a statement said the deployment of these vehicles is one of the measures being adopted by the authority to enhance operational efficiency and also boost security procedures at the airport.

The Authority will like to assure airport users and the general public that we will continue to upgrade our facilities, processes and procedures, in consonance with our core values of security, safety and comfort.

A source told Woleshadare.net that the thieves opened a cargo door of the light aircraft and tried to steal passengers’ luggage, but the pilot recognising the situation around him scared the thieves away with releasing hot gas on them. The incident was said to have occurred on Tuesday.

The situation caused delay to the aircraft departure, with Police anti-bomb squad called to re-check the airplane for safety.

It was learnt that passengers on-board were disembarked and asked to undergo identification of their luggage before the airplane was cleared for take-off.

Just this week, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Air Peace traded words over attempt to burgle the B737 aircraft.

While the carrier maintained that the rear cargo hold of the airline’s Flight 7138 holding for departure on Runway 18R of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos was opened by thieves on February 8. The aviation regulatory body had, in a statement by its spokesman, Sam Adurogboye, described the airline’s allegation as ‘unfounded’.

The aviation regulatory body stated that their investigation proved that the burglary incident never occurred after it reviewed all the reports from the relevant agencies concerning the incident.

Adurogboye stated that in line with Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs), aviation security personnel were at the holding point of Runway 18R monitoring the departure/ take off of both Air Peace and Arik Air aircraft.

It will be recalled that on December 12, 2017, a Vistajet jet with registration number 9H-VFA operated by Evergreen Apple Nigeria (EAN) Ltd. was robbed on the runway 18R of the airport by bandits when taxiing to the hangar of EAN.

The jet was arriving from Istanbul between 2110- 2130hrs when the robbery took place after landing in Lagos.

The pilot of the jet, Captain Emma Heering, discovered that the rear door of the aircraft was opened while taxiing to the hangar of EAN after which it was discovered that a big black bag belonging to the air hostess, Francesca Louis, was missing from the jet.

Also, a private jet carrying two top Nigerian musical artists, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun aka “Wizkid” and Tiwa Savage from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State was robbed on December 26, 2017 while taxiing on Murtala Muhammed airport’s runway 18L.

The pilot, Captain Cloud Cote, was said to have noticed the cargo door had been opened by burglars and promptly notified the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) security.

The burglars had disappeared before FAAN officials could make it to the point where the attack took place. Upon arrival at Quits Aviation Centre, a private jet hangar, the pilot discovered that two bags belonging to Savage and Wizkid had been stolen by the airport bandits.

However, in a statement, FAAN denied that the incident took place. “It is not possible for anyone to burgle an aircraft in motion. Furthermore, because aircraft are highly technical machines, it is practically impossible for anyone who does not have the requisite training and competence to operate or tamper with the baggage compartment,” FAAN stated.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.woleshadare.net

Thorp T-18 Tiger, N89ER: Accident occurred February 16, 2018 at Vance Brand Airport (KLMO), Longmont, Colorado

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N89ER

Location: Longmont, CO
Accident Number: CEN18LA102
Date & Time: 02/16/2018, 1320 MST
Registration: N89ER
Aircraft: SCHEINEMAN-VAN BUREN T 18
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On February 16, 2018, about 1320 mountain standard time, a Scheineman-Van Buren T-18 airplane, N89ER, was substantially damaged while landing at Vance Brand Airport (LMO), Longmont, Colorado. The pilot and flight instructor were seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which departed without a flight plan about 1220.

According to the flight instructor, the purpose of the flight was to orient the pilot to the airplane, which he had recently purchased. The pilot made a normal takeoff, departure, and flew several area maneuvers. After descending into LMO, the pilot executed about eight landings to a full stop. During the final landing, the airplane turned to the right during rollout. The pilot attempted to correct with left rudder, but the right turn continued, and the airplane ground looped, departed the runway surface, and nosed over. Examination of the airplane revealed the rudder cable was fractured. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: SCHEINEMAN-VAN BUREN
Registration: N89ER
Model/Series: T 18 UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KEIK, 5132 ft msl
Observation Time: 1318 MST
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 3°C / -8°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots, 360°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Longmont, CO (LMO)
Destination: Longmont, CO (LMO) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  40.164444, -105.163611 (est)

On Friday, February 16, 2018, Jay was involved in a serious accident. During a seemingly routine landing, Jay’s airplane skidded of the runway and flipped onto its roof, trapping him inside. He was taken by ambulance to the ICU and underwent surgery on the same day. While the Jay we know and love is still very much here, he has lost the use of his legs due to a spinal cord injury and multiple spine fractures. He is still recovering in the ICU, and will continue to need extensive rehabilitation therapy once he is released.

Paving Jay's Road to Recovery: https://www.gofundme.com



The pilot of a small plane that crashed on Friday remains in serious condition and the flight instructor has since been released from the hospital, according to hospital officials.

A GoFundMe campaign created Monday for Jay Davis — an engineer, cyclocross competitor and longtime pilot — says that he underwent surgery in the intensive care unit the same day of the crash and has "lost the use of his legs due to a spinal cord injury and multiple spine fractures."

"While it promises to be a long journey, Jay's perseverance and resilience, as well as the on-going support of all those who love him, will aide in his road to recovery," according to the page.

Davis remains at Longmont United Hospital, said LUH spokeswoman Kirsten Pfotenhauer.

Davis' flight instructor was Billy Mitchell, who was transported to UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital with less serious injuries. He has since been released.

According to a police report, officers, firefighters and paramedics responded to an overturned small airplane at the Vance Brand Municipal Airport at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

Eyewitness Carl Harris, who said he knew Davis and Mitchell, told police that the two had been flying for the past hour or so and he had seen them make several successful landings at the airport.

Harris said he had just seen another landing when he began driving back toward his hangar. But when he looked back, he saw the plane overturned.

He said he then positioned his red pickup truck underneath the tail of the aircraft to lift it in an attempt to access the men.

One of the men was able to pull himself from the airplane and rescuers lifted up the plane to remove the second man, according to previous reports, but it is unclear who was who.

The aircraft, a Scheineman-Van Buren T-18, is registered to Mark D. Russell, of Denver, according to the FAA. It is described as a single-engine, fixed-wing airplane.

A friend of the pilot previously said that his friend had just bought the plane from Russell and was conducting a "check ride" for insurance purposes.

The police report says Davis is the owner of the plane.

The crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. 

Story, video and photo gallery ➤  http://www.dailycamera.com








Two men were taken to area hospitals on Friday afternoon after a small plane crashed while landing and then flipped onto its top at Vance Brand Municipal Airport in Longmont.

Longmont Police Deputy Chief Jeff Satur said that the crash was reported at about 1:30 p.m. and one of the men was able to pull himself from airplane, but rescuers had to lift up the plane to remove the second man.

Satur said the older of the two men was taken to UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and the more seriously injured of the two was taken other to Longmont United Hospital. Airport Manager David Slayter identified the pilot as the more seriously injured of the two.

Slayter said the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, and the plane has since been removed from the scene and will be stored in a secure location as the federal authorities investigate.

He said that the pilot was practicing landings and for unknown reasons the plane went off the runway and flipped over.

A group of police, fire crews and airport officials had gathered around the small airplane, which sustained damage to its top. Police were seen wrapping crime scene tape around the plane before it was removed later in the day.

The plane did not catch fire, according to the Longmont Fire Department.

The aircraft, a Scheineman-Van Buren T-18, is registered to Mark D. Russell, of Denver, according to the FAA. It is described as a single-engine, fixed-wing airplane.

Steve Lowe, a friend of the pilot, said his friend had just bought the plane from Russell and was conducting a "check ride" for insurance purposes. He did not identify his friend by name but said he was undergoing surgery on Friday afternoon and is an experienced pilot.

Lowe added that he did not know the other person in the plane.

Friday's incident marks the second time in slightly more than a month that a small plane has gone down at the airport. On Jan. 13, a single-engine aircraft lost power shortly after take off and crashed in a grassy area west of the runway. A preliminary NTSB report stated that one of the two people on the plane suffered serious injuries in the crash.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤ http://www.dailycamera.com

Schweizer 269C-1, owned by Herlihy Helicopters Inc and operated by Helicopter Flight Services, N204HF: Fatal accident occurred September 08, 2017 at Flying W Airport (N14), Medford, Burlington County, New Jersey

James Evan Robinson graduated from Middle Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Science and Management. He was a commercial pilot and flight instructor having worked for Helicopter Flight Services in Medford, New Jersey.   
 
Troy Gentry, one half of the country duo Montgomery Gentry, died after the helicopter crashed on September 8th, 2017. He was scheduled to perform at the Flying W Airport (N14) and resort later that evening. 


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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sikorsky; Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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/N204HF



Location: Medford, NJ
Accident Number: ERA17FA317
Date & Time: 09/08/2017, 1300 EDT
Registration: N204HF
Aircraft: SCHWEIZER 269C
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Hard landing
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On September 8, 2017, about 1300 eastern daylight time, a Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter, N204HF, was substantially damaged during a collision with terrain while performing a forced landing to runway 01 at Flying W Airport (N14), Medford, New Jersey. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The helicopter was owned by Herlihy Helicopters Inc and operated by Helicopter Flight Services under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight.

According to the chief flight instructor for the operator, the purpose of the flight was to provide an orientation/pleasure flight to the passenger, who was scheduled to perform in a concert on the airport later that evening.

Several minutes after takeoff, the pilot reported over the airport UNICOM frequency that he was unable to control engine rpm with throttle inputs. He reported that he could "roll" the twist-grip but that there was no corresponding change in engine rpm when he did so.

The company flight instructor and another helicopter flight instructor, who was a designated pilot examiner (DPE), were monitoring the frequency and engaged the pilot in conversation about potential courses of action to accomplish a landing. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, who was also a helicopter instructor and examiner, joined the conversation on the radio.

Options discussed included a shallow approach to a run-on landing or a power-off, autorotational descent to landing. The instructors suggested that the pilot perform the run-on landing; however, the pilot reported that a previous attempt to perform a run-on landing was unsuccessful and announced that he would stop the engine and perform a power-off autorotation. The pilot stated that this was a familiar procedure he had performed numerous times in the past. When asked over the radio by the DPE when he had last performed an autorotation to touchdown, the pilot replied that 4 months had elapsed since his most recent touchdown autorotation. Subsequent attempts to convince the pilot to attempt a run-on landing were unsuccessful.

According to the DPE and the FAA inspector, the pilot was advised "multiple times" to aim to touch down "midfield" and not to initiate the engine shutdown and autorotation until over the runway. According to the DPE, his last reminder to the pilot came when the helicopter was on a 2-mile final approach.

A video forwarded to the NTSB by local police was recorded from a vantage point nearly abeam the approach end of runway 01. The video showed the helicopter about 1/4 mile south of the runway as it entered a descent profile consistent with an autorotation. Toward the end of the video, the descent profile became more vertical, and the rate of descent increased before the helicopter descended out of view. No sound could be heard from the helicopter.

During a postaccident interview with law enforcement, the company flight instructor reported that the helicopter entered the autorotation about 950 ft above ground level (agl) and that the helicopter was quiet during its descent "because the engine was off." During the descent, the rotor rpm decayed to the point where the instructor could see the individual rotor blades. The helicopter descended from view before reaching the runway threshold, and the sounds of impact were heard. Both the instructor and the FAA inspector reported that a high-pitched "whine" could be heard from the helicopter during the latter portion of the descent.

In a written statement, the flight instructor reported, "[the pilot] began the autorotative descent, but it was not long before it became apparent it was not being executed correctly. I began to see individual blades instead of a translucent disc. His vertical speed increased while his horizontal speed became almost non-existent. The nose of the [helicopter] rolled forward. Instead of being able to see the bottom of the [helicopter]… all I could see was the cockpit glass and rotor head."


James Evan Robinson

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held commercial and flight instructor certificates, each with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued April 12, 2017.

Excerpts of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had logged 480.9 total hours of flight experience, of which about 300 hours were in the accident helicopter make and model. The last entry logged was for 1.2 hours in the accident helicopter on the day of the accident.

Company training records indicated that the pilot had received the training required by the operator for employment as a flight instructor, and his last airman competency check was completed satisfactorily on April 19, 2017, in the accident helicopter.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The helicopter was a single-engine, two-seat, light utility helicopter constructed primarily of aluminum alloy and powered by an air-cooled, Lycoming HO-360-C1A, 180-horsepower engine. It was equipped with conventional collective and cyclic control sticks and tail rotor control pedals.

The main rotor was a fully articulated, three-bladed design, and the tail rotor was a two-bladed, semi-rigid, anti-torque rotor design. Power was transmitted from the engine to the rotor system through a V-belt drive, which incorporated a free-wheeling (one-way) sprag clutch, a main drive transmission, a tail rotor transmission, and shafts.

According to FAA records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2000, delivered to the owner/operator, and had accrued about 7,899 total aircraft hours. Its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on August 17, 2017, at 7,884 total aircraft hours.

A review of maintenance records revealed that the helicopter's engine was replaced with factory rebuilt or overhauled engines at the manufacturer's recommended overhaul intervals. Engine changes occurred in 2003, 2006, and most recently, on September 24, 2011.

The records reflected numerous entries regarding carburetor discrepancies. Carburetors were adjusted or removed and replaced with loaner carburetors then reinstalled following repairs. In February 2014, the carburetor was removed, sent out for repair, and reinstalled by the operator.

On August 31, 2016, the operator installed a throttle control cable manufactured by McFarlane Aviation Products, as documented on an FAA Form 337. A cable from the original equipment manufacturer was not available per the operator, and the FAA approved the manufacture and installation, which required the cable's inspection at 25-hour intervals. The inspections were documented; the most recent was completed concurrent with the annual inspection conducted 15 hours before the accident.

The operator was interviewed during a meeting with NTSB investigators and FAA inspectors regarding the maintenance history of the accident helicopter. He was later interviewed by telephone to gain more detail about the disassembly/reassembly and rigging of the throttle during carburetor/engine changes.

According to the operator, when the engine was changed for overhaul, the carburetor traveled with the engine, and the throttle control arm was removed at the carburetor splined shaft. The throttle control bellcrank was removed from the front of the carburetor, and the entire throttle control system remained with the helicopter. The throttle control arm, the throttle tie rod, the throttle control bellcrank, and the throttle cable all remained attached to each other and to the helicopter. He stated that, because of this, there was no need to disconnect or adjust the throttle tie rod that connected the bellcrank and the throttle control arm.

He also stated that, when a new engine was installed, the correct "angle" was measured for the installation of the throttle control arm on the carburetor. Adjustment of idle and mixture set screws was often required, as the carburetors were often set at the factory "for airplanes."

When asked about the most recent installation of the throttle control cable, the operator stated that the cable was a fixed measurement and changing the cable did not change the rigging of the throttle. He said that, when the cable was changed, no throttle rigging adjustments were necessary; the cable was disconnected at the bellcrank upstream of the tie rod and throttle control arm. He repeated that the cable installation was "plug and play" and that no adjustments were necessary to achieve/maintain proper throttle rigging.

The operator was asked specifically about the throttle rigging and the nominal measurement of the tie rod during the throttle rigging procedure following the most recent engine change. He stated, "I don't know if I did. I'm sure I did, because that's part of the procedure, but I'm not 100 percent [sure]."

According to the manufacturer's maintenance manual, actions that required compliance with the throttle rigging procedure included:

1. Installation of a new engine (Section 3-15, page 3-26)
2. Installation of a new throttle control cable (Section 4-19, page 4-19)
3. Installation of a new carburetor (Section 5-55, page 5-21)

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1254, the weather recorded at South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY), 2 miles west of N14, included clear skies and wind from 260° at 13 knots gusting to 18 knots. The temperature was 21°C, and the dew point was 9°C. The altimeter setting was 30.13 inches of mercury.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

N14 was at 49 ft elevation and was equipped with a single runway, oriented 01/19. The operator's hangar was positioned at the south end of the field, approximately abeam the numbers for runway 01. A creek, oriented east/west, crossed about 200 ft south of the approach end of runway 01. The creek bed was lined with small trees and low brush and bisected the area between the runway and an open field immediately south of the airport.

The field was about 1,400 ft long and 300 ft wide at its narrowest point and was oriented in the same general direction as the runway. The surface was mowed grass or "scraped" and flattened soil.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was examined at the accident site and all major components of the helicopter were accounted for at the scene. The initial ground scar was about 10 ft before the main wreckage, which was about 220 ft from the threshold of runway 01 and aligned with the runway.

The cockpit was significantly deformed by impact damage, and the tailboom was separated at the fuselage. The engine and main transmission remained mounted in the airframe, and all main rotor blades were secured in their respective grips, which remained attached to the main rotor head and mast. The pitch-change link for the yellow rotor blade was fractured and displayed signatures consistent with overstress. Each of the three blades was bent significantly at its respective blade root. The blades showed little to no damage along their respective spans toward the blade tips, which was consistent with low rotor rpm at ground contact.

Flight control continuity was established from the individual flight controls through breaks to the main rotor head and tail rotor. The pilot's and co-pilot's throttles both moved together when the pilot's throttle was actuated by hand. The movement was limited due to damage on the pilot's collective; during the continuity check, an internal component of the pilot's collective disconnected and continuity between the two throttles was lost.

Continuity of the throttle control cable was confirmed from the collective jackshaft to the throttle bellcrank assembly, to which it remained securely attached. The throttle bellcrank assembly was intact, but separated from its mount, which was fractured. The internally threaded portion of the two-piece throttle control tie rod was securely attached to the throttle bellcrank assembly. The internally threaded portion of the tie rod was filled with an organic material that resembled the roots in the impact crater.

Drivetrain continuity was established to the main and tail rotors. The main gearbox housing was intact and attached to the bottom of the main rotor mast and to the center frame. The main gearbox rotated freely and exhibited continuity from input to the main rotor driveshaft, and the free-wheeling (one-way) sprag clutch operated correctly.

The engine was rotated by hand at the cooling fan, and continuity was confirmed from the powertrain through the valvetrain to the accessory section. Compression was confirmed on all cylinders using the thumb method. The magnetos were removed and actuated with a drill, and spark was produced at all terminal leads. Borescope examination of each cylinder revealed signatures consistent with normal wear, with no anomalies noted.

The carburetor was separated from the engine, displayed impact damage, and was found near the initial ground scar. The externally-threaded portion of the two-piece throttle control tie rod was still attached to the throttle arm. The throttle and mixture arms were actuated by hand and moved smoothly through their respective ranges. The filter screen was removed and was absent of debris. The carburetor contained fuel, which appeared absent of water and debris.

The collective control and jackshaft assembly with the associated throttle cable and bellcrank assemblies, as well as each half of the throttle tie rod, were retained for further examination at the NTSB Materials Laboratory.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office of Medical Examiner, County of Burlington, New Jersey, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was listed as "multiple injuries."

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the pilot. The results were negative for the presence of drugs and alcohol.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The throttle tie rod assembly was received separated at the threaded joint. The components were unbolted from the carburetor throttle arm and the throttle cable before receipt in the materials laboratory. The tie rod assembly consisted of an internally threaded rod attached to the bellcrank and an externally threaded rod-end bearing and jam nut attached to the throttle arm. The tie rod was separated at the threaded joint between the two pieces. The rod end jam nut was found about midway between the threaded end and the rod end bearing eye.

Magnified examinations of the externally threaded rod-end bearing threads revealed mechanical damage to the three end threads. The damage was consistent with thread-to-thread wear.

Visual examination of the internal threads in the rod revealed cellulose material (wood) imbedded into the threads. After brush cleaning, damage was visible to the three end threads. The damage included pock-marks and a reduced thread flank size, consistent with vibratory thread-to-thread wear. These three threads corresponded to the three worn threads on the bearing fitting. Threads further inside the rod were bright, shiny, and undamaged.

Once installed, each end of the throttle tie rod remained fixed and were unable to rotate.

An exemplar Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter was examined in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The rigging of the throttle control arm and throttle tie rod (4.97 inches +/- .02 inch) was confirmed, and the helicopter was started and idled at a speed about 1,000 rpm. The engine was stopped, the throttle tie rod was disconnected and adjusted to the approximate operating length of the accident tie rod (5.5 inches) and reinstalled. The engine was started and idled at a speed about 1,100 rpm.

According to the Sikorsky maintenance manual for the Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter, after rigging the throttle control system, idle speed was adjusted to its prescribed rpm range (+/-200rpm) by idle/mixture screw adjustments of the carburetor.

The Sikorsky maintenance manual also required a 50-hour inspection of the engine in accordance with the engine manufacturer's publications and a 100-hour inspection of the fuel control linkage. The Sikorsky flight manual required an inspection of the general engine area before each flight.

On November 16, 2017, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation issued Alert Service Bulletin ASB-C1B-048 for a one-time inspection of the throttle control tie rod assembly to verify the length of throttle control tie rod assembly dimension.

ORGANIZATIONAL AND MANAGEMENT INFORMATION

The owner of Helicopter Flight Services held airline transport, commercial, and flight instructor certificates with multiple ratings for each. He also held a mechanic certificate with ratings for airframe, powerplant, and inspection authorization, and performed much of the maintenance of the accident helicopter, including the most recent throttle cable inspection.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

US Army Hughes TH-55A (Hughes/Schweizer 269) Manual (TM 55-1520-233-10) Chapter 9, Emergency Procedures, 9-12, Throttle Failure, stated, "If the throttle becomes inoperative in flight, continue to a landing area that will permit a shallow approach and running landing."

The manufacturer's Pilot's Flight Manual does did not contain an emergency procedure for throttle failure. An informal survey of two other manufacturers of piston-powered helicopters by the FAA inspector assigned to this accident revealed that neither published such a procedure in their flight manuals.

The US Army Training Circular (TC) 3-04.4, "Fundamentals of Flight," specified the following regarding autorotations:

1-123. During powered flight, rotor drag is overcome with engine power. When the engine fails or is deliberately disengaged from the rotor system, some other force must sustain rotor RPM so controlled flight can be continued to the ground. Adjusting the collective pitch to allow a controlled descent generates this force. Airflow during helicopter descent provides energy to overcome blade drag and turn the rotor. When the helicopter descends in this manner, it is in a state of autorotation. In effect, the aviator exchanges altitude at a controlled rate in return for energy to turn the rotor at a RPM [an rpm] that provides aircraft control and a safe landing. Helicopters have potential energy based on their altitude above the ground. As this altitude decreases, potential energy is converted into kinetic energy used in turning the rotor. Aviators use this kinetic energy to slow the rate of descent to a controlled rate and affect a smooth touchdown.

Circle of Action

1-139. The circle of action is a point on the ground that has no apparent movement in the pilot's field of view (FOV) during a steady-state autorotation. The circle of action would be the point of impact if the pilot applied no deceleration, initial pitch, or cushioning pitch during the last 100 feet of autorotation. Depending on the amount of wind present and the rate and amount of deceleration and collective application, the circle of action is usually two or three helicopter lengths short of the touchdown point.

Last 50 to 100 Feet

1-140. It can be assumed autorotation ends at 50 to 100 feet and landing procedures then begin. To execute a power-off landing for rotary-wing aircraft, an aviator exchanges airspeed for lift by decelerating the aircraft during the last 100 feet. When executed correctly, deceleration is applied and timed so rate of descent and forward airspeed are minimized just before touchdown. At about 10 to 15 feet, this energy exchange is essentially complete. Initial pitch application occurs at 10 to 15 feet. This is used to trade some of the rotor energy to slow the rate of descent prior to cushioning. The primary remaining control input is application of collective pitch to cushion touchdown. Because all helicopter types are slightly different, aviator experience in that particular aircraft is the most useful tool for predicting useful energy exchange available at 100 feet and the appropriate amount of deceleration and collective pitch needed to execute the exchange safely and land successfully.

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 61-140, "Autorotation Training - Predominant Cause of Accidents/Incidents," states:

A review of NTSB reportable accidents and incidents during autorotation training/instruction indicates that the predominant probable cause is failure to maintain main rotor .... rpm (Nr) and airspeed within the Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM) or pilot's operating handbook (POH) specified range, resulting in an excessive and unrecoverable rate of descent."

According to the FAA Helicopter Handbook: "If too much collective pitch is applied too early during the final stages of the autorotation, the kinetic energy may be depleted, resulting in little or no cushioning effect available. This could result in a hard landing with corresponding damage to the helicopter."

The US Army Hughes TH-55A Manual (TM 55-1520-233-10) states in Chapter 9, Emergency Procedures, 9-12, Engine Failure – Cruise, "Collective pitch should never be applied to reduce rpm for extending glide distance because of the reduction in rpm available for use during touchdown. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 30, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter; Instrument Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/12/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/19/2017
Flight Time: 480 hours (Total, all aircraft), 300 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: SCHWEIZER
Registration: N204HF
Model/Series: 269C 1
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2000
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 0109
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/17/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1750 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 15 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 7899.2 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: HIO-360-C1A
Registered Owner: HERLIHY HELICOPTERS INC
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: Helicopter Flight Services
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Pilot School (141)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KVAY, 53 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1254 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 299°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 13 knots / 18 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 260°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C / 9°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Medford, NJ (N14)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Medford, NJ (N14)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1245 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: FLYING W (N14)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 49 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry; Vegetation
Runway Used: 01
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3496 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing:  Forced Landing; Precautionary Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 39.934167, -74.807222 (est)







NTSB Identification: ERA17FA317
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 08, 2017 in Medford, NJ
Aircraft: SCHWEIZER 269C, registration: N204HF
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On September 8, 2017, about 1300 eastern daylight time, a Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter, N204HF, operated by Helicopter Flight Services, was substantially damaged during collision with terrain while performing a forced landing to Runway 01 at Flying W Airport (N14), Medford, New Jersey. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the chief flight instructor for the operator, the purpose of the flight was to provide an orientation/pleasure flight to the passenger who was scheduled to perform in a concert on the airport later that evening.

Several minutes after takeoff, the pilot reported over the airport UNICOM frequency that he was unable to control engine rpm with throttle inputs. He reported he could "roll" the twist-grip, but that there was no corresponding change in engine rpm when he did so.

The company flight instructor and another certificated helicopter flight instructor were monitoring the frequency and engaged the pilot in conversation about potential courses of action to affect the subsequent landing. Options discussed included a shallow approach to a run-on landing, or a power-off, autorotational descent to landing. The pilot elected to stop the engine and perform an autorotation, which was a familiar procedure he had performed numerous times in the past. Prior to entering the autorotation, the pilot was advised to initiate the maneuver over the runway.

The company flight instructor reported that the helicopter entered the autorotation about 950 ft above ground level, and that the helicopter was quiet during its descent "because the engine was off." During the descent, the rotor rpm decayed to the point where the instructor could see the individual rotor blades. The helicopter descended from view prior to reaching the runway threshold and the sounds of impact were heard. Both instructors reported that a high-pitched "whine" could be heard from the helicopter during the latter portion of the descent.

A video forwarded by local police showed the helicopter south of the runway as it entered what appeared to be a descent profile consistent with an autorotation. Toward the end of the video, the descent profile became more vertical and the rate of descent increased before the helicopter descended out of view. No sound could be heard from the helicopter.

The pilot held commercial and instructor pilot certificates, each with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued April 12, 2017.

Excerpts of the pilot's logbook revealed he had logged 480.9 total hours of flight experience. It was estimated that he had accrued over 300 total hours of flight experience in the accident helicopter make and model. The last entry logged was for 1.2 hours in the accident helicopter on the day of the accident.

The company training records indicated the pilot had received the training required by the operator for employment as a flight instructor, and his last airman competency check was completed satisfactorily on April 19, 2017 in the accident helicopter.

According to FAA records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2000 and had accrued approximately 7,900 total aircraft hours. Its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed August 17, 2017 at 7,884 total aircraft hours.

At 1254, the weather recorded at South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY), 2 miles west of N14, included clear skies and wind from 260° at 13 knots gusting to 18 knots. The temperature was 21°C, and the dew point was 9°C. The altimeter setting was 30.13 inches of mercury. Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) Sierra for instrument meteorological conditions and mountain obscurations was in effect for the area surrounding the accident site at the time of the accident.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The initial ground scar was about 10 ft prior to the main wreckage, which was about 220 ft prior to the threshold of runway 01 and aligned with the runway.

The cockpit was significantly deformed by impact damage, and the tailboom was separated at the fuselage. The engine and main transmission remained mounted in the airframe, and all main rotor blades were secured in their respective grips, which remained attached to the main rotor head and mast. The pitch-change link for the yellow rotor blade was fractured, with fracture signatures consistent with overstress. Each of the three blades was bent significantly at its respective blade root. The blades showed little to no damage along their respective spans toward the blade tips, which was consistent with low rotor rpm at ground contact.

Flight control continuity was established from the individual flight controls, through breaks, to the main rotor head and tail rotor. Drivetrain continuity was also established to the main and tail rotors.

The engine was rotated by hand at the cooling fan, and continuity was confirmed from the powertrain through the valvetrain, to the accessory section. Compression was confirmed on all cylinders using the thumb method. The magnetos were removed, actuated with a drill, and spark was produced at all terminal leads. Borescope examination of each cylinder revealed signatures consistent with normal wear, with no anomalies noted.

The carburetor was separated from the engine, displayed impact damage, and was found near the initial ground scar. The throttle and mixture arms were actuated by hand and moved smoothly through their respective ranges. The filter screen was removed, and was absent of debris. The carburetor contained fuel which appeared absent of water and debris.

The collective control and jackshaft assembly as well as the associated throttle cable, push-pull tube, and bellcrank assemblies were retained for further examination at the NTSB Materials Laboratory. https://www.courthousenews.com

Case ID: 180201141

Arthur Alan Wolk, Esquire
Michael S. Miska, Esquire
Attorney ID. Nos. 02091 and 309501 
THE WOLK LAW FIRM
1710-12 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA  19103 
Attorneys for Plaintiffs

ANGELA K. GENTRY, Individually and as Executrix of the Estate of TROY LEE GENTRY, Deceased
Plaintiff.

v. 

SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT CORPORATION:  
110 East Stewart Huston Drive
Coatesville, PA  19320 
and 
SIKORSKY GLOBAL HELICOPTERS, INC.
110 East Stewart Huston Drive
Coatesville, PA  19320 
and
KEYSTONE HELICOPTER CORPORATION
110 East Stewart Huston Drive
Coatesville, PA  19320 
Defendants.

Jury Trial Demanded

https://www.courthousenews.com

PHILADELPHIA (Courthouse News) — Five months after country music star Troy Lee Gentry died in a helicopter crash, his widow filed suit Wednesday against the aircraft manufacturers.

One half of the duo Montgomery Gentry, 50-year-old Gentry was slated to perform on Sept. 8, 2017, at the Flying W Airport and Resort in Medford, New Jersey, when he was offered a private sightseeing tour of the area.

Represented the Wolk Law Firm, Gentry’s widow says the throttle cable jammed soon after takeoff and threw the engine of the Model 269 helicopter into high speeds.

Angela Gentry says the failure by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and Keystone Helicopter Corp. to make the aircraft crashworthy left occupants no chance of survival in case of an emergency.

“The dangers from the lack of crashworthiness and defects in the engine, transmission and sprag clutch, throttle cables, engine attachments and absence of crashworthy features were unknown to the average user and consumer of this helicopter but well known to these defendants who made it a point to hide and deny and problems that could and did cause serious personal injury and death,” the complaint states, filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Rather than correcting these design flaws, the complaint says Sikorsky and Keystone chose instead to “treat … the helicopter and its engine like an unwanted burden.”

Gentry’s widow says no recommendations on how to deal with the emergency were available in the pilot operating handbook, and that the course taken here — to shut down the engine at an altitude of 959 feet — proved fatal.

“Because of defects in the engine, throttle cable attachment and collective control, the helicopter did not enter autorotation as expected, it did not disengage smartly from the transmission so the engine the rotors slowed to a speed lower than would permit a safe autorotation, thus allowing the helicopter to drop like a stone to the ground below, killing all aboard,” the complaint states.

A Tennessee native, Troy Gentey was father to two daughters, ages 15 and 24. Montgomery Gentry was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009. The band recorded six albums and charted more than 20 singles on Billboard’s Hot Country list, “Something to be Proud Of” and “Lucky Man.”

Gentry’s bandmate Eddie Montgomery, the brother of country star John Michael Montgomery, continued to tour as a solo act but will reportedly not keep the band going.

Their final album, “Here’s To You,” was released on Feb. 2. The duo had been working on the album at the time of the crash.

Sikorsky spokeswoman Callie Ferrari declined to comment on the allegations pending an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

“We are fully cooperating with the NTSB and cannot comment further due to the investigation,” Ferrari said in a statement.

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



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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sikorsky; Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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

Herlihy Helicopters Inc
Helicopter Flight Services
http://registry.faa.gov/N204HF

Location: Medford, NJ
Accident Number: ERA17FA317
Date & Time: 09/08/2017, 1300 EDT
Registration: N204HF
Aircraft: SCHWEIZER 269C
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 8, 2017, about 1300 eastern daylight time, a Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter, N204HF, operated by Helicopter Flight Services, was substantially damaged during collision with terrain while performing a forced landing to Runway 01 at Flying W Airport (N14), Medford, New Jersey. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the chief flight instructor for the operator, the purpose of the flight was to provide an orientation/pleasure flight to the passenger who was scheduled to perform in a concert on the airport later that evening.

Several minutes after takeoff, the pilot reported over the airport UNICOM frequency that he was unable to control engine rpm with throttle inputs. He reported he could "roll" the twist-grip, but that there was no corresponding change in engine rpm when he did so.

The company flight instructor and another certificated helicopter flight instructor were monitoring the frequency and engaged the pilot in conversation about potential courses of action to affect the subsequent landing. Options discussed included a shallow approach to a run-on landing, or a power-off, autorotational descent to landing. The pilot elected to stop the engine and perform an autorotation, which was a familiar procedure he had performed numerous times in the past. Prior to entering the autorotation, the pilot was advised to initiate the maneuver over the runway.

The company flight instructor reported that the helicopter entered the autorotation about 950 ft above ground level, and that the helicopter was quiet during its descent "because the engine was off." During the descent, the rotor rpm decayed to the point where the instructor could see the individual rotor blades. The helicopter descended from view prior to reaching the runway threshold and the sounds of impact were heard. Both instructors reported that a high-pitched "whine" could be heard from the helicopter during the latter portion of the descent.

A video forwarded by local police showed the helicopter south of the runway as it entered what appeared to be a descent profile consistent with an autorotation. Toward the end of the video, the descent profile became more vertical and the rate of descent increased before the helicopter descended out of view. No sound could be heard from the helicopter.

The pilot held commercial and instructor pilot certificates, each with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued April 12, 2017.

Excerpts of the pilot's logbook revealed he had logged 480.9 total hours of flight experience. It was estimated that he had accrued over 300 total hours of flight experience in the accident helicopter make and model. The last entry logged was for 1.2 hours in the accident helicopter on the day of the accident.

The company training records indicated the pilot had received the training required by the operator for employment as a flight instructor, and his last airman competency check was completed satisfactorily on April 19, 2017 in the accident helicopter.

According to FAA records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2000 and had accrued approximately 7,900 total aircraft hours. Its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed August 17, 2017 at 7,884 total aircraft hours.

At 1254, the weather recorded at South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY), 2 miles west of N14, included clear skies and wind from 260° at 13 knots gusting to 18 knots. The temperature was 21°C, and the dew point was 9°C. The altimeter setting was 30.13 inches of mercury.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The initial ground scar was about 10 ft prior to the main wreckage, which was about 220 ft prior to the threshold of runway 01 and aligned with the runway.

The cockpit was significantly deformed by impact damage, and the tailboom was separated at the fuselage. The engine and main transmission remained mounted in the airframe, and all main rotor blades were secured in their respective grips, which remained attached to the main rotor head and mast. The pitch-change link for the yellow rotor blade was fractured, with fracture signatures consistent with overstress. Each of the three blades was bent significantly at its respective blade root. The blades showed little to no damage along their respective spans toward the blade tips, which was consistent with low rotor rpm at ground contact.

Flight control continuity was established from the individual flight controls, through breaks, to the main rotor head and tail rotor. Drivetrain continuity was also established to the main and tail rotors.

The engine was rotated by hand at the cooling fan, and continuity was confirmed from the powertrain through the valvetrain, to the accessory section. Compression was confirmed on all cylinders using the thumb method. The magnetos were removed, actuated with a drill, and spark was produced at all terminal leads. Borescope examination of each cylinder revealed signatures consistent with normal wear, with no anomalies noted.

The carburetor was separated from the engine, displayed impact damage, and was found near the initial ground scar. The throttle and mixture arms were actuated by hand and moved smoothly through their respective ranges. The filter screen was removed, and was absent of debris. The carburetor contained fuel which appeared absent of water and debris.

The collective control and jackshaft assembly as well as the associated throttle cable, push-pull tube, and bellcrank assemblies were retained for further examination at the NTSB Materials Laboratory.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: SCHWEIZER
Registration: N204HF
Model/Series: 269C 1
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Helicopter Flight Services
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Pilot School (141) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KVAY, 53 ft msl
Observation Time: 1254 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C / 9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots/ 18 knots, 260°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Medford, NJ (N14)
Destination:  Medford, NJ (N14) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  39.934167, -74.807222 (est)