Friday, March 2, 2018

Pilots and local residents clashed at a meeting to discuss a new business plan for Reid-Hillview Airport (KRHV)

Embedded in a modest neighborhood in East San Jose, Reid-Hillview Airport — a small facility where several hundred pilots house their private aircraft — has triggered a broader debate about the city’s lack of affordable housing and resources for low-income residents, with some accusing the airport of taking from the community and not giving anything in return.

“It feels like the airport is an island and you’re not part of the community,” said Andres Quintero, vice president of the board of trustees for the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District Governing Board and a resident of the area, at a community meeting held recently to discuss a new business plan for the airport.

The remark drew applause from some of the more than 100 people who packed into Donald J. Meyer Elementary School, which sits next to the airport.

While other small airports like the one in San Carlos to the north have cafes and aviation museums that attract people other than pilots, the same isn’t true for Reid-Hillview.

Several community members said they’d like to see a restaurant go in. Harry Freitas, director of airports and roads for Santa Clara County, which owns the airport, said he’s open to the idea but that there’s been little interest from restauranteurs.

Regardless, the new business plan will need to evaluate new revenue sources, whether its from restaurants or elsewhere. The number of planes taking off and landing from the airport has declined in the last several decades, and because of a dispute with the Federal Aviation Administration years ago, the airport hasn’t accepted a federal grant since 2011. And since the airport doesn’t get a subsidy from the county’s general fund, it has to support itself.

That’s become more difficult in recent years, and pilots have noticed. Several complained about poor signage causing confusion on the runways during the meeting.

“It feels like we’re not getting what we pay for,” said Lionel Figueroa, a pilot who stores his plane at the airport. Figueroa said he shares hangar space with another pilot, paying about half of the $600 monthly rent, as well as an annual county fee.

“We’re only fixing things when they break,” Freitas acknowledged, “and that’s no way to run a business.”

The airport currently collects rent from people who store airplanes at the airport and from several office buildings on its land. Those leases are up in 2021 and fees could go up. The airport also owns an empty parcel of land on the northeast corner of Tully Road and Capitol Expressway, and Freitas would like to see a private developer use the space and pay rent.

But Sylvia Alvarez, president of the board of trustees of the Evergreen School District said the community would benefit from putting affordable housing, or a swimming pool or sports fields for local kids on the empty parcel instead.

“I have 17 families living out of cars,” she said.

Former County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado echoed Alvarez, calling the airport a “giveaway of local assets to special interests.” And some people called for getting rid of the airport altogether.

But John Carr, who sits on the county’s Airports Commission, pushed back.

“It’s not a playground for rich people,” he said.

The airport, Carr pointed out, is home to Cal Fire operations and Civil Air Patrol, which help provide disaster relief during emergencies. Pilots offer flying opportunities for children through the Young Eagles program and the airport has open houses.

Reid-Hillview is also home base for San Jose State University’s aviation program, the largest on the west coast, with some 300 students.

“If Reid-Hillview closed,” said Craig Hofstetter, a former professor in the Department of Aviation and Technology, “we wouldn’t have anywhere to go.”

But “there’s a lot of apprehension in the community,” Hofstetter acknowledged.

Figueroa, the pilot, agrees.

“It’s like oil and water,” he said. “We need to do a better job of interacting.”

The issue shouldn’t be framed as pilots versus the community, said Rose Herrera, former vice mayor of San Jose. “I think it’s about a bigger vision for San Jose and this area,” she said.

Candice Nance, another pilot who attended the meeting, wants to see the airport do more to try to attract a restaurant or something else to draw the community in.

“There’s no vision,” she said.

Still, several attendees said the meeting was productive because it was the first time many members of the community and pilots interacted with each other. Freitas will spend the next several months drafting the new business plan and then it will go to the county board of supervisors in June.

“What it should be,” Hofstetter said, “is a consensus between all parties involved.”

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

Letter to the editor: A different look at the ATC reform bill

In a recent article examining Pawley Island pilot Doug Decker’s concerns about air traffic control reform, Decker misrepresents some key facts about proposals outlined in the 21st Century AIRR Act.

In the piece, he claims the ATC reform bill would hand over control of America’s ATC system to a private corporation, removing government oversight and giving airlines control of the ATC operations. This notion is blatantly false.

In actuality, the bill would create a non-profit, 13-seat board composed of a diverse group of aviation stakeholders to oversee ATC operations. Large airlines, regional carriers, cargo airlines, general and business aviation, and America’s airports would each hold a seat, ensuring equal representation. The federal government would also hold two seats, and the Secretary of Transportation would be required to approve all proposed ATC service changes.

Decker also overstates the FAA’s progress in implementing essential technology upgrades to America’s air traffic control system that would help reduce delays and shorten flight times. The NextGen satellite-based navigation system, which will replace the existing outdated radar-based system that was developed during WWII, is years behind schedule and billions over budget. Removing ATC operations and funding from the federal government will ultimately allow the FAA to focus on what it does best – overseeing aviation safety and national security.

What Decker fails to mention is that the main opponents to ATC reform are wealthy private and business jet owners who, under the current system, utilize roughly $1 billion in ATC resources a year but contribute less than one percent to the taxes that fund ATC operations, forcing commercial passengers to pick up the tab for their billion-dollar subsidy.

Decker speaks for private pilots and millionaire jet owners who want to maintain the status quo. But if you’re one of the 800 million people who fly commercial every year and would like shorter flight times and fewer delays, you should absolutely contact your elected officials – in support of ATC reforms that will benefit America’s flying public.

Sean Williams

Washington, D.C.

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

Aviation North Brings Chartered Flights to Southwest Florida

Bob Pitzi (left) with Aviation North Pilot in Command Dale Brooks. Dale has spent over 8,700 hours in the sky.


Airplane pilot Dale Brooks has spent over 8,700 hours in the sky.

The Michigan native first began flying back in 1989. Over the years he’s worked for FedEx, piloting both single and multi-engine aircrafts. Today Dale is the Pilot in Command for Aviation North, an air charter business that serves Marco Island and Naples approximately nine months out of the year.

“After 18 years flying nightly in the Midwest, it’s a great pleasure flying our clients to their paradise in southern Florida,” Dale said.

Aviation North is owned by Dave Abend and Steve Hensel. The company has been in existence for nearly 40 years. However, prior to the opening of its Southwest Florida location, it served the people of Alpena, Michigan.

So how exactly did a Michigan airplane charter company transplant itself to Southwest Florida? According to Steve and Dave, they both own properties on the island and were tried of the harsh Michigan winters. They decided to make Aviation North a bi-state company, serving both Michigan and Florida.

“The snow and bad Michigan winters really reduces the charter business,” Steve said. “So we moved the airplane charter business down here.”

According to Steve, Aviation North has a perfect 38-year safety record. They serve 129 airports in the state of Florida and are cleared to fly to all of the Caribbean islands, excluding Cuba. They can also pick up or land anywhere in the lower 48 states and Canada.

Currently, the company employs a Piper Cherokee Six, piloted by Dale. Though Steve says they do have more planes at their disposal. The Piper Cherokee Six can carry up to five passengers and has a 1,000-pound weight limit. This includes the luggage. It flies at about 3,000-4,000 feet, at upwards of 140mph. A trip to Key West in this plane would take about an hour.


76-year-old Vietnam veteran Bob Pitzi arrived at Aviation North for a sightseeing flight around Marco Island. The airplane ride was a birthday gift from his wife.


Aviation North also offers rides to Miami, Orlando, and a ton of other locations around Florida. The company does day trips and overnight trips as well.

“If they want to go to Disney with the grandkids they can sleep at home,” Steve said.

The company also offers sightseeing tours that allow passengers breathtaking aerial views of Marco Island and Naples.

Recently, 76-year-old Vietnam veteran Bob Pitzi visited Aviation North for a special joyride around Marco Island. The trip was a birthday gift from his wife.

“I’d always wanted to and dreamt about flying ever since I was a little kid,” Bob said.

Bob spent a year in Vietnam with the United States Navy Seabees. He says he’s always wanted to fly planes but “something like life always got in the way.”

When Bob was about 50-years-old he decided to finally take the flying courses he’d always wanted. Eventually he got his private license and his instrument rating.


Aviation North is an airplane charter company with a perfect 38-year safety record. 


Over the years, Bob worked for the Angel Flight of New England, an organization for people who need medical treatment but don’t have the funds to take commercial airplane rides to major medical centers.

“We’d pick the people up and deliver to the city where the medical treatment was and then they would be transported to the hospital,” Bob said.

Bob stopped flying a few years back but still rocks the quintessential aviator sunglasses.

“Once an aviator you always have to wear these glasses,” Bob joked. “Even if you quit 30 years ago, you have to wear these glasses.”

Aviation North has a little something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a day trip to Key West or a joyride around Marco Island.

“We just want to offer something that’s cool and affordable,” Steve said.

Aviation North is located at 2005 Mainsail Dr. Suite 5, Naples.  For more information visit their website www.aviationnorth.com.

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

Belize: How many drug planes were there?



Authorities reported finding two drug planes in northern Belize this week within a day of each other; however, information to the Reporter suggests there may have been as many as four landings.

Sources say that in the early hours to Tuesday morning, three planes landed, but authorities only found one, which was left burning at the landing site. The source added that the authorities are aware of the amount of landings, which prompted the high level of response, including the use of a Belize Defense Force helicopter, dispatched to the area after the discovery.

Orange Walk residents have also said that the landings are a frequent occurrence and represent substantial financial transactions between the people bringing in the planes and counterparts in Belize.

Between Monday and Tuesday, police confirmed two of the landings, for which they found the burning remains of the aircraft. Police said they are conducting joint operations with the Belize Defence Force and are trying to determine the cargo of the burned aircraft, one of which was found in an area between Indian Church and Hill Bank villages in Orange Walk District. The other was found on Tuesday morning in an isolated area near Libertad village in the Corozal district.

Officer Commanding the Corozal Police Formation, Superintendent Sinquest Martinez, said that police are concerned about the incidents because of the resulting issues that drugs can bring to an area.

“It is a concern because it can have a balloon effect on us. It’s drugs that we are dealing with and drugs bring its own violence and cash which can affect us in the northern part of the country,” Martinez said.

He re-emphasized the department’s call for public cooperation in the investigation and encouraged anyone with useful information to call the nearest police station, the police hotline or even himself or his officers. Prior to the back to back landings, the last recorded incident of a suspected drug plane was in November of 2017.

Original article can be found here ➤  http://www.reporter.bz

Bombardier Global 6000, ZS-OAK

Johannesburg - The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled on Monday that a Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft, which the Gupta family was leasing, must be handed over to the applicants and stored at Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg. 

The court also interdicted the family and its companies from using the aircraft. 

Export Development Canada (EDC), which operates as an export credit agency, and Stoneriver brought the application against the Guptas over a lease agreement relating to the Bombardier jet valued at $41m. 

The Guptas have a lease agreement with EDC for the aircraft, registered as ZS-OAK, but are currently engaged in a court dispute in the UK over the agreement.

EDC had asked the court in South Africa to ground the plane, until a final order was made, and to prevent its movement while the tracking system was switched off.

https://www.news24.com

A Canadian bank is petitioning a court to ground a Bombardier luxury jet after a C$52 million loan issued to purchase the aircraft allegedly went unpaid. 

In 2014, Canada’s state-owned export-import bank, Export Development Canada (EDC) approved a US$41-million (C$52-million) loan to South Africa’s Gupta family for the purchase of a Bombardier Global 6000. The Gupta family is at the centre of several political corruption scandals around the former South African president, Jacob Zuma, though they have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

The EDC had been helping Bombardier secure a sale, but said in December 2017 that it had scrapped the deal after the Guptas failed to meet loan repayment requirements in previous weeks.

In addition, the EDC cited a “political exposure” risk as a factor in the decision. Under the agreement, the Canadian government’s export agency was financing 80 per cent of the C$52-million cost of the Bombardier Global 6000 with the tail number ZS-OAK.

However, the Canadian aircraft has since disappeared after a public tracking device was disabled on February 4, as stated in court documents, and the EDC is petitioning a Johannesburg court to ground the aircraft until its request to have the plane removed from the Gupta family’s possession can be heard in a U.K. court.

According to the local news outlet EWN, a lawyer representing the EDC told the court that the aircraft’s tracking device had been turned off, making it impossible to determine its location.

“Export Development Canada (EDC) is petitioning the courts to ground the aircraft,” said Phil Taylor, a spokesman for the agency, which provides Canadian exporters with trade financing.

The EDC has said in previous statements that the family defaulted on the loan in October 2017, and still owed the bank US$27-million. Furthermore, the EDC expressed concern in the statement that the aircraft had been used to help the GUPTA family escape justice from the law.

The Gupta family’s alleged corruption started a chain reaction of political scandals that forced former president Zuma out of office. An arrest warrant is still outstanding for one of the family’s three brothers, Anjay Gupta, who has been declared a “fugitive from justice.”

“All my clients want is for the aircraft to sit in a hangar somewhere so it can’t be flown to Dubai or India or somewhere,” Alfred Cockrell, EDC’s lawyer, told South Guateng high court in Johannesburg.

He added that EDC does not “want to sell this aircraft in the interim period, they just want the aircraft to be put in a safe place where it can be stored and where it cannot be used by the Guptas.”

Global News previously reached out to EDC for comment but was told the agency couldn’t speak on the matter while involved in court proceedings.

The proceedings were adjourned on Friday with judgment expected in a week or so, local media reported.



The Guptas say they have every right to fly their Bombardier jet around the world as the Canadian bank that financed it refuses to take their money. 

Export Development Canada (EDC) went to court to ground the jet because the Guptas defaulted on repayments and to stop the family from using it to commit crimes or flee from justice. The Hawks consider Ajay Gupta a fugitive after he failed to hand himself over for arrest.

But an aviation newsletter has reported the jet registered in South Africa as ZS-OAK, which was thought to be missing and hidden from creditors, flew from Dubai to Delhi on Saturday and returned to Dubai on Monday afternoon.

ZS-OAK latest flight took place just before Indian authorities reportedly conducted multiple raids on Gupta properties and offices in Saharanpur on Tuesday morning.

Last month EDC applied to the South Gauteng High Court for an urgent order to force the Guptas to return the aircraft or face having it deregistered pending the outcome of legal proceedings in the UK. The Johannesburg case is due to be heard on Friday. The Civil Aviation Authority says it will not oppose the application.

But the Guptas argue that EDC lent them $41m to buy the jet despite knowing of the reputational risks involved and wanted to seize the plane as a "face saving exercise", not because the family had defaulted on payments.

EDC’s complaint that it couldn’t keep tabs on ZS-OAK movements because its "public tracker" had been disconnected was "of no consequence" because the Guptas’ UK lawyers had disclosed the aircraft’s location to the bank.

This is contained in opposing papers filed by Gupta executive Ronica Ragavan.

In an affidavit obtained by Business Day dated February 27, Ragavan said the Guptas had defaulted only once, in October 2017, because the Bank of Baroda had delayed effecting a repayment.

Once the payment was made the bank withdrew its termination notice.

In December EDC cancelled the loan and in February it went to court to ground the jet. In its papers the bank said the Guptas had defaulted on payments "more than a dozen" times between October 2017 and January 2018. The Guptas still owe EDC $27m.

But in their responding papers the Guptas countered that Westdawn was prevented from paying the bank because it had "unlawfully" ended their lease with Stoneriver, a special purpose vehicle registered in Ireland. As a result the Guptas were "entitled to continue the enjoyment of the full spectrum of rights granted under the lease agreement".

Westdawn leases the aircraft from Stoneriver, which loaned $41m for 80% of the aircraft’s purchase price from EDC in April 2015. The Guptas paid Bombardier a deposit of $10m for the jet in December 2014 and stand surety for the EDC loan.

The Guptas had offered to exercise their right to end the lease and buy the aircraft but hadn’t received a response from EDC. Their offer would be accepted if EDC was "truly interested in their commercial interests, rather than some unspecified political agenda which they now seem to harbour against the Guptas", Ragavan said.

Other "contract breaches" EDC cited for cancelling the loan were "minor technical defaults". These included allegations that Westdawn and other Gupta companies had received corrupt payments from Estina dairy and from coal contracts with Eskom.

These presented a "clear risk of criminal, civil and reputational sanctions" for the Guptas, the bank said. Letting them continue to use the jet represents "substantial reputational harm" to EDC.

EDC was also concerned that the jet wasn’t being properly maintained.

Ragavan said it was "farcical" to say the Guptas would let the aircraft fall into disrepair after ExecuJet had cancelled its maintenance contract, as this would be "life threatening".

The only reason the bank had cancelled the loan and gone to court was because of the reputational damage it suffered by keeping the Guptas as clients, she said.

There was no case to be made for urgency, which she described as "self-created", because corruption allegations against the Guptas had been widely publicised since 2013, including in Canada. Yet EDC had done nothing to distance itself from the Guptas for several years and continued to enjoy "a commercially beneficial relationship" with the family.

The urgent court application was therefore little more than "a public relations and face-saving exercise".

Ragavan said there was no evidence that the jet had been used in illegal activity. The bank is "free with the South African criminal authorities to ensure that the aircraft is permanently seized by or forfeited to the State" for allegations that have been in the public domain for years, but hadn’t done so.

She also denied that money the Guptas allegedly looted from Estina dairy was used to pay for the aircraft, pointing out that the Asset Forfeiture unit had only frozen R6m of Westdawn’s funds, a sum "which is not material".

Ragavan herself appeared in court in connection with the Estina dairy project. She is currently out on bail. Gupta patriarch Ajay Gupta is currently regarded as a fugitive by the Hawks who have issued a warrant for his arrest. Other Gupta family members are expected to be arrested in relation to the dairy farm project and other allegations of state capture.

https://www.businesslive.co.za

The application by a Canadian bank, to ground a Gupta-owned airplane, has been postponed to Friday.

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg was due to hear the urgent application by Export Development Canada (EDC), the country’s state-owned export-import bank, to ground a plane being used by the Gupta family.

However, the matter was referred to Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo for a special allocation and it is now expected to be heard on Friday.

It was reported at the weekend that the controversial Gupta family had defaulted on a $41-million loan for the jet, and EDC believes the plane might be used to evade justice or for other unlawful means.

News24 reported in February that the Bombardier Global 6 000 business aircraft registered as ZS-OAK, had landed in Russia.

Following this, the plane could no longer be tracked on publicly accessible flight tracker websites and apps.

The plane flew from Dubai to Zurich on December 13, where it remained for six days, before undertaking a 36-minute journey to EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg in Switzerland.

There the plane stayed put for more than a month, before taking to the skies again on January 25.

Legal proceedings remain

It was widely reported in December that the Guptas had fallen behind in their scheduled repayments on the loan from EDC that financed ZS-OAK, and that the plane was grounded.

It also isn’t clear if the Guptas were able to make a payment leading to the release of the aircraft after that, but Phil Taylor from the EDC told News24 at the time that the legal proceedings they have against the Guptas were still proceeding.

“Our position has not changed,” Taylor said.

The EDC, which provided a soft loan for 80% of the finance required to buy the jet, had instituted legal action against the Guptas for defaulting on their payments and wanted to seize the aircraft to settle the outstanding debt.

EDC provides finance to international customers to buy Canadian products.

Last month, News24 reported that Ajay Gupta was a fugitive from justice, while his brother Atul signed an affidavit that formed part of his application to have a preservation order obtained against him by the NPA‘s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) set aside.

The Krynaauwslust farm near Vrede in the Free State was also put under curatorship by the Free State High Court in January.

News24 reported at the time that the order reveals that the Free State’s agricultural department - under then agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane - paid R220-million to the Guptas in what the AFU calls a “scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department”.

https://mg.co.za

Canada lent a family $41 million to buy a luxury jet. Now the jet is missing

OTTAWA — If you spot a sleek Bombardier Global 6000 business jet sporting tail number ZS-OAK, Canada would love to hear from you.

The jet belonged to South Africa's notorious Gupta family, whose alleged corruption helped trigger the scandals that recently forced President Jacob Zuma out of office. But the Guptas bought the plane with help from a $41 million loan from Export Development Canada, or EDC, Canada's state-owned export-import bank.


EDC was helping Bombardier Inc., the Canadian aerospace firm, land the jet sale. But that turns out to have been a poor bet: EDC now says the family defaulted on the loan in October and still owes the bank $27 million.


And with an arrest warrant outstanding for Ajay Gupta, one of three brothers in the family, there are other worries, too. “There is a very real concern that the aircraft may be used to escape justice or for some unlawful means,” wrote EDC in a recent application to a South African court seeking permission to ground the jet.


But EDC first has to find the plane; the Guptas made the plane's location data private after EDC sought the jet's exact whereabouts in a court filing. The disappearance of the plane is noted on FlightAware, a website that allows the public to track the location of planes around the world. “This aircraft (ZS-OAK) is not available for public tracking per request from the owner/operator,” the site says. The plane has been spotted in recent weeks at airports in India, Russia and Dubai.


Ehsan Monfared, a Toronto aviation lawyer, says that the case is unusual. Most people or entities who buy business jets of that size and value don’t have credit issues, and banks like EDC make sure they’re well protected. EDC, for its part, insists it performed due diligence on the Guptas.


Phil Taylor, a spokesman for EDC, said that the bank’s motion seeking to ground the aircraft is due to be heard in Johannesburg on March 6, but he declined to comment further. A separate court case is also underway in Britain. An effort to contact the Guptas through their London law firm was not successful.


It's certainly an embarrassing incident for the bank. But Karyn Keenan, the director of Above Ground, a Canadian human-rights and development nonprofit, finds it ironic that EDC is now worried about risking its reputation when it should have known of the corruption allegations against the Guptas that were circulating in South Africa at the time of the loan deal.


“This loan should never have been made,” she told The Washington Post. “Everybody in South Africa knew who the Guptas were. They had been investigated by South African authorities.”


The good news for EDC is that it's likely to get the plane back eventually. Under an international agreement called the Cape Town Treaty, Monfared said, lenders have the right to seize a plane in any country that's part of the pact. “I don’t think the Canadian taxpayer is going to get bilked, unless the aircraft has been otherwise disposed of,” he said.


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




ZS-OAK, the tail registration of the Gupta brothers’ jet—a powerful symbol of the family’s immense wealth and global reach—may soon be grounded.

Following an investigation by amaBhungane and Daily Maverick’s Scorpio, which ran in conjunction with several pieces in Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe & Mail, it was revealed that Canada’s Export Development Corporation (EDC), ignoring the Guptas’ political exposure, loaned the family $41 million to purchase their now infamous ZS-OAK private jet. The resulting fallout, along with the Guptas reportedly being unable to service the debt, has led to EDC cancelling the loan.

The jet was purchased from the sleaze-ridden Montreal-based Bombardier Aerospace, which has recently been involved in bribery scandals in South Africa, South Korea, Azerbaijan, and Russia, to name only a few. The #GuptaLeaks revealed that Bombardier had courted the Guptas over the course of 2014, and in December of that year helped facilitate a loan between Westdawn Investments, an arm of Gupta umbrella company Oakbay, and Bombardier Aerospace, for the purchase of a Global 6000 business jet. Subsequently, ZS-OAK has flown South African politicians around the world, included deputy president (and newly-inaugurated ANC president) Cyril Ramaphosa, who in 2015 used the jet to attend a junket in Japan.

EDC is mandated to help facilitate Canadian business abroad. On paper, there is nothing especially notable about the lender—most countries have some version of an export development agency (EDA), which provide a range of financial instruments, including loans, bridge financing and insurance, to local manufacturers. But export development agencies are subject to scant international oversight, and they are a significant source of the dark money that flows through the global economy.

EDC is one of the biggest of its kind in the world, behind only China’s Exim Bank, and neck-in-neck with Japan’s EDA. The agency provided over $100 billion in financial services to Canadian companies and their clients in 2016. Traditionally, it has financed companies in Canada’s bread and butter industries—mining, oil and gas. Lately, however, it has underwritten Canada’s tech boom and, to a much larger extent, its big manufacturers. Bombardier is probably one of its greatest beneficiaries, having received around $5 billion in services over the course of 2015 alone.

Despite being an arm of the Canadian government, and notwithstanding Canada’s squeaky-clean international reputation, EDC is an opaque organisation that has consistently refused to institute more robust disclosure practices. No one in Canada, including the minister that oversees the agency, knows precisely how much it provides and to whom, and nor does it disclose the methodology behind its due diligence practices. This renders it a financial black hole—every year, it pumps over $100 billion into the global economy, from companies like scandal-plagued miner Kinross Gold, to two-bit operations like Westdawn, with much of that money being untraceable.

When asked why a syndicate as toxic as the Guptas were provided $41 million to buy a luxury jet, EDC spokesperson Phil Taylor, would not comment on specific transactions because, “the law does not allow EDC to disclose third party information without the consent of the obligor.”

He said in an email that, “in the case of allegations, EDC will undertake enhanced due diligence to better understand the situation (for example, are the allegations politically-driven, are they coming from a business competitor, and, conversely, are they leveled by formal authorities, is there a formal investigation, etc.) Where the facts surrounding the allegations cannot be determined or substantiated, EDC will then work directly with the obligor to research and document the issue to the satisfaction of EDC or the transaction does not go forward.”

In other words, the Guptas would be called on to investigate Guptas, an arrangement unlikely to result in success as far as disclosure it concerned.

Three days ago, a lengthy expose on EDC, written by this reporter, was published online by Walrus Magazine, a Canadian general interest periodical. A day later, according to a front-page article in the Globe & Mail on Thursday, EDC announced that it would be rescinding the loan, and may take steps to repossess the aircraft should the brothers continue to miss payments, and should they be unable to refinance.

ZS-OAK is currently in Basel, Switzerland, following a lengthy sojourn in Dubai. The Guptas may be forced to leave it there, and fly steerage back to Dubai. That is unlikely to upset many South Africans, but it is a small indication of how far the family has fallen over the course of this tumultuous year.

Original article ➤   https://www.dailymaverick.co.za

Editorial: Five San Francisco International Airport (KSFO) near-misses in 14 months require action; federal crackdown needed before hundreds of airline passengers die on the tarmac

By Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards

If the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board don’t take action, hundreds of people are going to die on the runway of a U.S. airport. It’s just a matter of time before luck runs out.

In a little more than a year, there have been five near-misses at San Francisco International Airport alone, one of which could have wiped out nearly 1,000 lives.

The problem is getting worse. In congressional testimony Tuesday, a federal government auditor revealed that the annual number of runway “incursions” increased nearly 83 percent from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2017.

Worse, the increase in incursions — incidents involving unauthorized aircraft, vehicles or people on a runway — comes despite a series of FAA initiatives starting in 2007 to reduce them.

It isn’t working.

The FAA, NTSB, Congress and the Trump administration need to stop coddling pilots, close regulatory loopholes and require preservation of cockpit voice recorders from every incident. It’s time to require that airlines, airports and the federal government invest in the best preventive technology for averting these near-disasters.

If they fail to act, if they allow this rapidly increasing problem to go unaddressed, we will inevitably be asking someday why they didn’t prevent the deaths of hundreds of passengers.

For seven months now, Bay Area News Group investigative reporter Matthias Gafni has been highlighting runway near misses, including five here in the Bay Area at San Francisco International Airport.

• An Aeromexico plane on Jan. 9 came within seven-tenths of a mile of landing on a runway where another aircraft was waiting for takeoff. The Aeromexico passenger jet dropped to as low as 250 feet before aborting its landing.

• An Air Canada plane landed at SFO on Oct. 22 despite repeated orders to abort because of concerns another plane had not cleared the runway.

• An Air Canada plane nearly landed July 7 on a SFO taxiway where four fully loaded planes awaited takeoff.  It came within a few seconds and only a few dozen feet of a devastating impact that could have wiped out nearly 1,000 lives.

• A Compass Airlines plane on Feb. 15, 2017, was cleared to land on the same runway where another aircraft had been cleared to wait for take-off. The Airport Surface Detection System radar alerted the tower and the Compass flight aborted its landing.

• A SkyWest Airlines flight on Dec. 14, 2016, entered the runway as a jet taking off raced past.

SFO is not alone:

• In Atlanta, a Delta Air Lines plane nearly landed Nov. 29 on a taxiway occupied by a fully loaded jetliner. The plane dropped to 60 feet above the ground before aborting its landing.

• In Pullman, Wash, a Horizon Air flight on Dec. 29 whizzed past four fuel tankers and ground crew as it landed on a narrow taxiway rather than the runway where it should have been.

Let’s hope luck doesn’t run out before the bureaucrats and politicians in Washington act.

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

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, N9829B: Accident occurred August 04, 2017 at Mulino State Airport (4S9), Clackamas County, Oregon

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Hillsboro, Oregon

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Registered to Kapowsin Air Sports Limited

http://registry.faa.gov/N9829B

Location: Mulino, OR
Accident Number: GAA17CA490
Date & Time: 08/04/2017, 1300 PDT
Registration: N9829B
Aircraft: CESSNA 208
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Hard landing
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Skydiving 

Analysis

The pilot was conducting parachute jump operations in the vicinity of the airport. After climbing to altitude, he released his jumpers and returned to land.

The pilot reported that during the landing flare, the airplane struck the runway, nose wheel first. He added that the airplane bounced, floated down the runway, then settled to the right of the runway.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the engine mount and right elevator.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

After multiple requests, the pilot failed to submit the NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report Form 6120.1. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's improper landing flare, which resulted in a bounced landing.

Findings

Aircraft
Landing flare - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing
Abnormal runway contact
Runway excursion

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 58, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Unknown
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/16/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N9829B
Model/Series: 208 B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1988
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 208B0116
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 7449 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: P&W
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: PT6A SERIES
Registered Owner: KAPOWSIN AIR SPORTS LTD
Rated Power: hp
Operator: KAPOWSIN AIR SPORTS LTD
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KUAO, 196 ft msl
Observation Time: 2053 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 285°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 33°C / 13°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 4 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Light and Variable, Variable
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.88 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: Moderate - Smoke; Moderate - Haze; No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Mulino, OR (4S9)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Unknown
Destination: Mulino, OR (4S9)
Type of Clearance: Unknown
Departure Time: PDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: MULINO STATE (4S9)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 259 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: 32
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3425 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 45.214722, -122.588889 (est)

Cessna 560, N22AF: Incident occurred November 28, 2016 at Salinas Municipal Airport (KSNS), Monterey County, California

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

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Jose, California

Registered to Bill Massa Company Incorporated


http://registry.faa.gov/N22AF

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Location: Salinas, CA
Incident Number: GAA17IA083
Date & Time: 11/28/2016, 2030 PST
Registration: N22AF
Aircraft: CESSNA 560
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Defining Event: Abrupt maneuver
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On November 28, 2016, at 2030 Pacific standard time, after landing and after transitioning from taxiway Foxtrot to a taxilane, a Cessna 560 airplane, N22AF, struck a helicopter, N530PJ, that was parked in a non-movement area at Salinas Municipal Airport, Salinas, California. The airplane sustained minor damage to the right-wing tip and the pilot was not injured, but the helicopter required major repair. The airplane was registered to Bill Massa Company Incorporated, Salinas, California, and operated under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a night, visual flight rules flight. The flight originated from Salinas, California and had returned to Salinas.

According to the pilot, he landed the airplane and taxied to his hangar. The pilot reported that he utilized taxiway Foxtrot and had made a right turn into the transient parking area heading southeast, via the taxilane. He recalled that he was concerned with remaining a safe distance from an airplane that was parked on the left side of the taxilane, and turned the airplane to the right, away from the taxilane centerline, and the airplane's right wing struck a helicopter that was parked on the right side of the taxilane.

Federal Aviation Administration, Advisory Circular 150/5300A, Airport Design, page 124, Table 4-1 Design standards based on Airplane Design Group (ADG), denotes that Salinas Municipal Airport is a Category B-II airport. B-II design standards denote a 57-foot, 5 inch Taxilane Object Free Area (TOFA), on either side of the taxilane centerline.

The airplane that the pilot attempted to avoid was parked on the left side of the taxilane centerline within the limits of the TOFA. The airport manager had authorized aircraft parking within the area of the TOFA. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Commercial
Age: 74, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied:
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/16/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:   0 hours (Total, all aircraft), 0 hours (Total, this make and model) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N22AF
Model/Series: 560 CITATION
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1991
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 560-0129
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 9
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.:  16300 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Turbo Fan
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer:  P&W CANADA
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: JT15D-5
Registered Owner: BILL MASSA CO INC
Rated Power: 374 lbs
Operator: BILL MASSA CO INC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSNS, 77 ft msl
Observation Time: 0453 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 313°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 10°C / 6°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 250°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point:  Salinas, CA (SNS)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Salinas, CA (SNS)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  PST
Type of Airspace: Class D 

Airport Information

Airport:  SALINAS MUNI (SNS)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 84 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  36.662778, -121.606389 (est)

NTSB Identification: GAA17IA083 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Incident occurred Monday, November 28, 2016 in Salinas, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 560, registration: N22AF
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

On November 28, 2016, at 2030 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 560 airplane, N22AF, struck a helicopter that was parked in designated transient parking area at Salinas Municipal Airport, Salinas, California. The airplane sustained minor damage to the right wing and the pilot was not injured, but the helicopter required major repair. The airplane was registered to Bill Massa Company Incorporated, Salinas, and operated under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a visual flight rules flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight. The flight originated from Salinas, California and had returned to Salinas, California.

During the incident investigation the pilot reported that he turned to the right to avoid an airplane that was too close to the taxi lane centerline. There is a specific distance from the taxi lane centerline that obstacles must remain clear of. The area is defined as the Taxiway/Taxi lane Object Free Area (TOFA). The airplane that the pilot attempted to avoid and the helicopter that was struck, occupied the TOFA. The dimensions of the TOFA do not appear to meet Federal Aviation Administration Airport Design standards, specifically Airport Certification requirements specified per Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 139. 

The investigation is continuing.

Bell 47G-5, N4427F: Fatal accident occurred June 20, 2015 -and- Accident occurred September 03, 2010 near Salinas Municipal Airport (KSNS), Monterey County, California

Frank William Gomes, Jr., passed away on June 20, 2015, doing what he loved, being an Ag pilot. He was born May 28, 1948 in Hollister, California where, at an early age, he began his lifetime career in agriculture.


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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Jose, California

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Gomes Farm Air Service Inc: http://registry.faa.govN4427F

Location: Salinas, CA
Accident Number: WPR15LA193
Date & Time: 06/20/2015, 0715 PDT
Registration: N4427F
Aircraft: BELL 47G 5
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

Analysis 

The non-instrument-rated pilot was conducting aerial application flights in the helicopter and had completed several work orders at various locations before the accident flight. Two coworkers refilled the fertilizer tank on the helicopter and saw it depart from the loading area. About the time that the helicopter was expected to return, a thick fog came in, and the visibility dropped to about 15 to 20 ft. When the helicopter did not return, one of the coworkers searched for the helicopter and found the accident site. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of any pre-impact mechanical failures. It is likely that the pilot lost visual contact with the ground due to the fog and subsequently experienced spatial disorientation and lost control of the helicopter. This pilot had a similar accident in the helicopter about 5 years earlier, which suggests that he had a habit of taking risks with the weather.

Toxicology testing of the pilot was positive for hydrocodone, dihydrocodeine, acetaminophen, and hydromorphone. The hydrocodone level in the pilot's peripheral blood was 0.718 ug/ml, which was more than 10 times the usual upper therapeutic limit of 0.05 ug/ml. Hydrocodone and its metabolites do not undergo significant postmortem redistribution. Therefore, the measured levels of hydrocodone most likely represent the pilot's antemortem levels. If the pilot had been a novice user, this level would likely have been toxic and caused severe symptoms. However, with regular opioid use, brain physiology changes, leading to tolerance for both the desired analgesic effects and the sedative effects. As a result, incremental dosing increases are required to achieve the same effects, and long-term, chronic users may need the drug to feel and act "normally." The levels present in the pilot indicate that he was chronically taking high doses of hydrocodone. It is likely that the pilot was impaired by opioids at the time of the accident.

In the high workload situation of piloting a helicopter in low altitude flight, even a small degree of impairment from the pilot's use of a high-dose of opioid would have contributed to the likelihood of an accident. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The non-instrument-rated pilot's visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in his spatial disorientation and loss of helicopter control. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's impairment by high-dose opioid use. 

Findings

Personnel issues
Qualification/certification - Pilot (Cause)
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Spatial disorientation - Pilot (Cause)
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)
Illicit drug - Pilot (Factor)

Environmental issues
Fog - Effect on operation (Cause)
Fence/fence post - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying
Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

On June 20, 2015, about 0715 Pacific daylight time, a Bell 47G-5 helicopter, N4427F, impacted a fence and terrain while maneuvering about 5 miles southwest of the Salinas Municipal Airport (SNS), Salinas, California. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Gomes Farm Air Service, Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The local aerial application flight originated from a loading area near the accident site about 0650.

According to a tachograph card found in the wreckage, the pilot had completed six different work orders at various locations on the morning of the accident.

Two witnesses, who worked for the operator, refilled the fertilizer tank on the helicopter and saw it depart from the loading area. According to the witnesses, about the time that the helicopter was expected to return, a thick fog came in, and the visibility dropped to about 15 to 20 ft. The witnesses became concerned when the helicopter failed to return for its scheduled rinse load. One of them searched for the helicopter and found the accident site nearby. 



Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Private
Age: 67
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/10/2014
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 11/29/2014
Flight Time:  17500 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The pilot, age 67, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and rotorcraft-helicopter ratings. He did not hold an instrument rating. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicated that the pilot's most recent third-class airman medical certificate was issued on February 10, 2014, with the limitation that the pilot "must wear corrective lenses." According to the pilot's application for this medical, he had accumulated a total of 17,500 hours of flight time of which 200 hours were within the last 6 months.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BELL
Registration: N4427F
Model/Series: 47G 5
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1970
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 7971
Landing Gear Type: High Skid;
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 02/06/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2257 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:  8275.4 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: VO 435 B1A
Registered Owner: GOMES FARM AIR SERVICE INC
Rated Power: 265 hp
Operator: GOMES FARM AIR SERVICE INC
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Agricultural Aircraft (137)

The helicopter, a Bell 47G-5, serial number 7971, was manufactured in 1970 and was issued a restricted category airworthiness certificate on May 17, 2012. The helicopter's type certificate data sheet indicated that it seated two and had a maximum gross weight of 2,257 pounds. The helicopter was configured for agriculture and pest control operations. The most recent annual inspection was conducted on February 6, 2015, at a total airframe time of 8,275 hours. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KOAR, 144 ft msl
Observation Time: 1353 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 297°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Temperature/Dew Point: 12°C / 9°C
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  7 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: Heavy - Fog; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Salinas, CA
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Salinas, CA
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  PDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

At 0653, the SNS weather reporting facility, located about 5 miles east of the accident site, reported wind calm, visibility 7 statute miles, sky condition clear, temperature 12°C, dew point 9°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury.

At 0653, the recorded weather at Monterey Regional Airport, Monterey, California, about 9 miles southwest of the accident site, was wind 290° at 3 knots, visibility 1 statute mile, mist, overcast at 200 ft, temperature 12°C, dew point 11°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.93 inches of mercury. 



Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  36.658889, -121.707500 

An FAA inspector examined and documented the wreckage on-scene. The helicopter came to rest on a road near a lettuce field. An opening was torn in a wired fence that ran parallel to the road about 40 ft northeast of the main wreckage. Powerlines running in an east-west direction about 50 ft south of the accident site were undamaged. During the examination, the inspector did not identify any anomalies or malfunctions with the helicopter. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Monterey County Sheriff-Coroner's Office, Salinas, California, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The autopsy report listed blunt force injuries as the cause of death. The autopsy also identified an enlarged heart and significant coronary artery disease with 50-75% stenosis of two coronary arteries.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing of the pilot and identified 0.718 ug/ml of hydrocodone and 0.098 ug/ml of dihydrocodeine in blood and 224 ug/ml of acetaminophen, 4.61 ug/ml of dihydrocodeine, 36.917 ug/ml of hydrocodone, and 12.99 ug/ml of hydromorphone in urine.

Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid identified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is most commonly sold in combination with acetaminophen, often with the names Vicodin and Lortab. It carries several warnings, including, "hydrocodone, like all narcotics, may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery," and "alcohol and other CNS (central nervous system) depressants may produce an additive CNS depression, when taken with this combination product, and should be avoided."

Dihydrocodeine and hydromorphone are each opioid analgesics, but they are also metabolites of hydrocodone. Hydrocodone's usual therapeutic levels are between 0.010 and 0.050 ug/ml. Dihydrocodeine's usual therapeutic levels are between 0.050 and 0.150 ug/ml.

The pilot had reported no chronic medical conditions and no chronic medication use to the FAA. At the time of the autopsy, a small plastic baggie containing 5 tablets labeled M367 was found in the pilot's pocket. The autopsy report identified these tablets as a combination of 325 mg of acetaminophen and 10 mg of hydrocodone.

Additional Information


The pilot was involved in a helicopter accident on September 3, 2010, where he received serious injuries, and the Bell 47G helicopter was substantially damaged (NTSB accident number WPR10LA446). The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident was the pilot's visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in his spatial disorientation and loss of helicopter control. 

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA193 
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Saturday, June 20, 2015 in Salinas, CA
Aircraft: BELL 47G 5, registration: N4427F
Injuries: 1 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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this a
ircraft accident report.

On June 20, 2015, at 0715 Pacific daylight time (PDT), a Bell 47G 5 helicopter, N4427F, was substantially damaged when it impacted a fence and terrain while maneuvering about 5 miles southwest of the Salinas Municipal Airport, Salinas, California. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by, Gomes Farm Air Service, Inc., under provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant of the helicopter, was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The local aerial application flight originated from a loading area near the accident site about 0650.

Ground crewmen who worked for the operator had just refilled the fertilizer tank on the helicopter prior to its last departure. When the helicopter did not return for its scheduled rinse load the crewmen drove out to the field to be sprayed and observed that the helicopter had crashed on a road near a field. Neither ground crewmen witnessed the crash but stated that the fog was thick and visibility was between 10 and 20 feet at the time of the accident.

A postaccident examination of the helicopter was conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration, on June 20, 2015. The examination revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Location: Salinas, CA
Accident Number: WPR10LA446
Date & Time: 09/03/2010, 0600 PDT
Registration: N4427F
Aircraft: BELL 47G
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: VFR encounter with IMC
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Positioning

Analysis

After taking off on a visual flight rules flight in instrument meterological conditions, with a reported 2 1/2 miles visibility with mist and overcast clouds at 100 feet, the pilot proceeded westbound about 50 feet above ground level (agl) then, while approaching an interstate highway, climbed to 100 feet agl in order to avoid power lines. During the climb, the helicopter entered the fog. The pilot stated that after entering the fog he turned on the landing light, which blinded him and caused him to become disoriented as he attempted to make a 180-degree turn back to the airport. The pilot added that he subsequently lost control of the helicopter and impacted a highway guardrail with the tail section of the helicopter. The helicopter then came to rest inverted and partially in the southbound lane of the highway. The pilot reported no helicopter mechanical failures or malfunctions. A truck driver who witnessed the accident reported that the forward visibility was about 250 feet at the time of the accident.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in his spatial disorientation and loss of helicopter control.

Findings

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Spatial disorientation - Pilot (Cause)
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Low visibility - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

On September 3, 2010, about 0600 Pacific daylight time, a Bell 47G-5 helicopter, N4427F, was substantially damaged following impact with terrain near Salinas, California. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was seriously injured. Gomes Farm Air Service of Salinas, was operating the helicopter under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a flight plan was not filed. The repositioning flight had departed the Salinas Municipal Airport (SNS) about 0550, with its destination being an off-airport work site about 3 miles west of SNS.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector who conducted a telephone interview with the pilot shortly after the accident, the pilot stated that he was flying about 50 feet above the ground and was concerned about the power lines that were hidden by the fog. The pilot reported that he then climbed up to about 80 feet above ground level (agl), which put him in the fog, and when he turned on the landing light in an attempt to illuminate the ground references and identify the power lines,  it caused a temporary blinding condition that caused him to become disoriented. The pilot stated that he then attempted a 180-degree turn toward the airport, which resulted in a loss of control and impact with the highway pavement. The pilot reported no mechanical problems with the helicopter.

In a written report submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) several days after the accident, the pilot reported that abeam the airport’s control tower at an altitude of about 75 feet mean sea level (msl) and after turning west toward the interstate highway that borders the airport on the west, he could clearly see a [sugar plant] about 2 miles away. The pilot stated that after reaching the interstate highway he climbed to 100 feet msl and remained clear of clouds, with visibility “2 miles plus.” The pilot revealed that when the helicopter was over the interstate highway’s  median strip between the north and southbound lanes, visibility began to deteriorate. The pilot reported that at this time he decided to turn around and return to the airport, as well as to descend in an attempt to re-establish visual contact [with ground references]. The pilot stated that during the descent and course reversal the tail section of the helicopter collided with a guard rail on the highway. The helicopter subsequently impacted the highway pavement and came to rest inverted partially in a southbound lane. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to its airframe. 

A truck driver who was traveling southbound on the interstate highway reported seeing the helicopter approaching her position from the right side; it was moving from side to side. The witness stated that the helicopter subsequently impacted the terrain and rolled over, coming to rest partially inverted. The witness added that the forward visibility at the time of the accident was about 250 feet, and it was also very foggy.

At 0546, a special observation was reported by the SNS Automated Surface Observing System  (ASOS), which revealed wind calm, visibility 2 ½ miles, mist, overcast clouds at 100 feet, temperature 13 degrees Celsius, dew point 12 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.96 inches of Mercury.

At 0553, the SNS ASOS reported wind calm, visibility 2 ½ miles, mist, overcast clouds at 100 feet, temperature 13 degrees Celsius, dew point 12 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.97 inches of Mercury. 

History of Flight

Enroute
VFR encounter with IMC (Defining event)
Loss of visual reference
Loss of control in flight

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT) 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 62, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: Seatbelt
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/16/2010
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 11/18/2008
Flight Time:  15928 hours (Total, all aircraft), 15928 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 120 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 50 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BELL
Registration: N4427F
Model/Series: 47G 5
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 7971
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/30/2010, Continuous Airworthiness
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2850 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 0 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 7936 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: VO435
Registered Owner: Gomes Farm Air Service Inc.
Rated Power: 260 hp
Operator: Frank Gomes
Operating Certificate(s) Held:
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: LSJG 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: SNS, 27 ft msl
Observation Time: 0553 PDT
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 180°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Unknown
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 12°C
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 100 ft agl
Visibility:  2 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: Mist; No Obscuration
Departure Point: Salinas, CA (SNS)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Salinas, CA (SNS)
Type of Clearance: Special VFR
Departure Time: 0550 PDT
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: Salinas Municipal Airport (SNS)
Runway Surface Type:
Airport Elevation: 85 ft
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 36.662222, -121.623889 (est)