Wednesday, March 28, 2018

International pilot shortage has left New Zealand flight schools scrambling to find experienced training staff as airlines snap up their senior instructors



Flight schools have long been a recruitment pipeline for airlines, but the increased exodus of experienced staff is hitting hard because it comes as demand for pilot training is growing. 

Massey University School of Aviation chief executive Ashok Poduval​ said they lost a third of their 12 B category instructors last year and other schools reported similar problems.

"We've had increased numbers leaving for opportunities within the Air New Zealand group, which is a natural career progression for them and we don't begrudge them that, but the impact is that the number of B Cat instructors who are at the higher experience end is dwindling.

"We're not severely impacted yet, but we are concerned."

Ardmore Flying School chief executive Ian Calvert said normal instructor turn over had increased in the past six months as airline recruitment ramped up.

"If it continued at its current rate, it could cause a problem for student numbers; at the moment it causes an issue around how quickly we can train the next lot of instructors up to replace them."

Calvert said two thirds of his school's 150 full time students were from overseas, and the training demand from foreign airlines was growing.

Aviation New Zealand chief executive John Nicholson said flying schools were reporting a 20 per increase in students this year and a joint project involving the Civil Aviation Authority and the Royal New Zealand Air Force was being mooted in an attempt to ensure professional standards were maintained.

Unlike the Air Force, which trained its more experienced pilots as flight instructors, newly qualified commercial pilots routinely train as instructors to get their flying hours up to the level where they could get an airline job.

"The schools have the instructors, it's just that they don't have the experience levels they used to have … that clearly impacts on the ability to train the next generation," said Nicholson.

Poduval said one potential solution would be for airlines to release pilots with light aircraft experience to assist schools with training.

Calvert said a better career path and pay for instructors would also help retain staff, but industry attitudes to instructing needed to change.

"The stigma of 'only' being an instructor is probably the biggest barrier which is a real shame."

The New Zealand Airline Pilots Association represents both commercial pilots and instructors.

President Tim Robinson said junior flying instructors earned barely more than minimum wage and chief instructors were paid between $50,000 and $70,000 a year.

"It's pathetic. Historically it's been a rite of passage almost to go through that pain prior to picking up an airline job, but it's being exacerbated by the fact that the airlines are sucking up these pilots so quickly."

Robinson said the pilot shortage was a major issue and at a meeting with Transport Minister Phil Twyford on Wednesday he pushed for the student loan cap on pilot training to be eased so the numbers could increase from about 200 a year to 300.

It costs up to $100,000 to train as a commercial pilot and most students could not afford that without a student loan, Robinson said. 

Allowing for retirements and pilots going overseas to work, there was a big shortfall in the number of pilots required.

"We have 60 to 70 net commercial pilots coming into the system a year and it's not enough to cover the growth that's going on in the industry at the moment."

Industry sources have raised the pilot shortage as a reason for the cancellation of flights to regional airports. 

Aviation consultant Irene King said although the airlines "deny it until they are blue in the face" the situation had potential to become quite serious.

Air New Zealand said that while it was recruiting more pilots, it was not affected by the current global shortage.

It said flight cancellations were not due to lack of staff "although we naturally have the normal absences because of illness etc..." and lack of pilots had not driven the decision to withdraw services to the Kapiti Coast due to end next week.

Original article can be found here ➤  https://www.stuff.co.nz

Bonney Lake crash and unidentified flying object mystery reveal hidden history




On the evening of Wednesday, April 1, 1959, an Air Force C-118 – that’s the military version of a DC-6 airliner – was on a training exercise. It was doing “touch and go” landings at McChord Air Force Base, or what’s now JBLM, taking off and landing, and then flying around the nearby countryside.

At about 8:12 p.m. that night, the tower at McChord asked the pilots of the C-118 to delay their next return to the runway because several fighter planes were landing. The C-118 headed east toward Bonney Lake to fly in a holding pattern.

It was about five minutes later when something went terribly wrong. The C-118 went down.

And within a few days, some people were blaming a UFO. Some still aren’t sure what exactly happened.




The crash site

Lee Corbin is a retired military and airline pilot who for many years has been researching the story of what happened to the C-118. Last Friday, Corbin led a reporter on a hike to a wooded area not far from Highway 410, during an unusual bout of springtime snow.

The woods where Corbin walked are in Pierce County near Bonney Lake, south of Highway 410, and not far from the growing “master planned community” called Tehaleh. Corbin had parked his truck off the side of the road, near a dead end that will one day connect the east and west halves of the development, and then walked up a gentle slope and onto a woodsy plateau.

“At the time this happened, and this is where the UFO controversy comes in, is supposedly the [pilot] made a radio call saying ‘We’ve hit something or something has hit us,’” Corbin said, leading the way along an old logging or fire road leftover from when the land belonged to Weyerhaeuser.

“[And] you don’t find [mention of that] in any of the accident reports, interestingly enough, but several newspapers carried that story,” Corbin said.

That quote mentioned by Corbin – with the pilots reporting some kind of collision – was attributed to Colonel Robert E. Booth, commander of the 1705th Air Transport Group. It appeared in the Seattle Times on April 2, 1959.

What had happened, it was later reported by the Air Force, was that the pilot and co-pilot thought the tower at McChord was tracking the plane’s altitude, and the tower thought the pilot and co-pilot were tracking their own altitude.

It was dark, and there weren’t many houses or lights in that area in those days. As it turned out, the plane was flying too low to clear a place called “Spar Pole Hill” near Orting. The right wing of the C-118 struck the treetops there. The wing was badly damaged, and it caught fire, but the plane kept flying.

Six or so miles north of Spar Pole Hill, the damage from striking the trees proved to be too much.




“The right wing peels off the airplane, and about this same time the co-pilot makes a radio call saying ‘This is it,’ because they know they’re going in,” Corbin said.

The pilot was later credited with somehow steering the plane clear of the homes and businesses in and around downtown Orting.

“So the airplane loses its wing, rolls inverted, then just basically noses in right here,” Corbin said, pointing to a wooded area, dense with underbrush and 50-foot tall evergreens.

The plane crashed and exploded, and a huge fire consumed much of the wreckage and was still smoldering the next day. At the crash site on Friday, Lee Corbin easily found pieces of the wreckage – small chunks of thick and twisted aluminum, some with rivets still attached – just sitting on the forest floor.

All four men aboard the plane died in the fiery crash, including 1st Lieutenant Robert Roy Dimick, the pilot; 1st Lieutenant Thomas E. Lasater, co-pilot; and Technical Sergeant Guy J. Cunningham and Staff Sergeant Arthur T. Foote, both flight engineers.

Corbin has researched military aviation accidents around the Northwest, and he lives not too far from the site of the C-118 crash. He’d ultimately like to see some kind of monument to the crew of the C-118, maybe when the Tehaleh development reaches this, so far, relatively untouched piece of land.



Corbin has also been in touch with the developers and asked them to keep him apprised when work is set to begin in the area near where the C-118 crashed, so that he can help keep a lookout for artifacts that might turn up during any tree removal or excavation.

What actually caused the crash? Officially, the Air Force cited “operator error” and “supervisory error” in the downing of the C-118, pointing to the confusion over who was keeping track of the plane’s altitude.

But in addition to the crash that night, a series of sonic booms had been heard and felt around much of the Puget Sound, and a series of odd and seemingly inexplicable lights had been witnessed near Bonney Lake. This, combined with the news that the pilot had reported that they might’ve hit something, helped spawn theories that the crash was caused by a collision with a UFO.

These theories were collected and written about by a Seattle firefighter named Bob Gribble. Gribble was a pioneer in the amateur scientific study of UFOs – and sharing of information – going back to the 1950s. He’s in his 90s now, and reportedly suffering from dementia.

Gribble is best known in the UFO community for founding the National UFO Reporting Center and UFO hotline in Seattle in the 1970s. When Gribble stepped down from running the hotline, a UW fisheries school graduate named Peter Davenport volunteered to take over. 

Davenport had witnessed a UFO as a small child with his family in St. Louis back in the 1950s, and he wrote about UFOs for a local paper in New Hampshire as a teenager.

In July 1994, Davenport heard that Bob Gribble was thinking of closing down the hotline. So he called him up.

“We talked, and before I knew it, Bob said, ‘Would you like the hotline?’ He said, ‘If you’d like it, it’s yours,’” Davenport said by telephone late last week.

“I accepted the responsibility for the hotline in that conversation,” Davenport said. “There are many times when I wished I’d turned my back on the generous offer and not accepted it, because it has resulted in tens of thousands of hours of work, very interesting work in many instances, but work nevertheless.”

Davenport calls the hotline “work,” but it’s more of a volunteer project or labor of scientific love.

“Most of the expenses are met by me, out of my savings, in order to keep the process going. It’s a measure of my dedication to the field, but I’m convinced that we are being visited, frequently visited, by these objects we call UFOs,” Davenport said.

“The US government, is trying to convince people that it’s all a hoax and a fiction, but I don’t believe so,” Davenport said. “And I think it’s extremely important . . . that the American people know the truth about the UFO phenomenon.”

Peter Davenport was based in Seattle for more than 20 years and only recently moved his residence – and the hotline – to Eastern Washington. He’s heard as a guest, discussing recent UFO reports almost every week on “Coast to Coast AM,” broadcast nightly at 10pm on KIRO Radio.

As for the Bonney Lake crash, it’s not as famous as the time when Kenneth Arnold coined the term “flying saucer” near Mount Rainier in 1947 or the Maury Island Incident in the same year, but Peter Davenport had heard of it.

“I think Bob Gribble did mention this case to me once before,” Davenport said. “What triggered my memory was the fact that the plane appeared to have been pressed down vertically to earth rather than hitting, striking the earth at a slant angle.”

Gribble published an article in May 1959 in a publication called “A.P.R.O. Bulletin” – short for “Aerial Phenomena Research Organization.” Gribble’s piece detailed his investigations into the Bonney Lake crash. He described the odd sounds and lights that many witnesses had reported that evening, and what he described as the “silencing” of local officials in Orting – by the military – about what had really happened on the night of April 1, 1959.

UFO mystery years later

Nearly 60 years later, it doesn’t really help clear things up much to see that the crash investigation report prepared back then by the US Air Force still has about two pages of text redacted—even though Lee Corbin has tried for years to get the full report and has been denied multiple times.

All those details aside, it’s fascinating to hear Peter Davenport describe the big-picture, scientific and non-sensationalized national approach that Bob Gribble took to studying UFOs, from right here in Seattle.

“He set up the National UFO Reporting Center and the Aerial Phenomena Research Group, and he also formed a telephone hotline which is the hotline I run today,” Davenport said. “It’s been in continuous operation since October of 1974.” Gribble, Davenport says, also did mass mailings of information about the hotline to law enforcement agencies around the country, to make sure word got out that there was a place to call to report UFO sightings.

As it turns out, Bob Gribble was just one of several nationally influential people in this area who compiled information and studied UFOs for decades.

Dr. Marilyn Childs and her late husband Laurence Childs moved to Seattle in 1971 and were the first husband-and-wife team of UFO investigators. They were part of a local chapter of group called the Mutual UFO Network, or “MUFON” for short.

“What we did was, we kept the metaphysical part out of MUFON,” Childs said earlier this week. “There’s a lot of us who do believe in this stuff, but we want to keep it strictly scientific . . . because if it’s going to [be taken seriously], we’re going to have to do that.”

“So we concentrated on mainly education and scientific research, and we trained our people,” many of whom were engineers from Boeing and Fluke, Childs said.

The various groups also got along with each other, and the members of different organizations attended each other’s meetings and were supportive of their groups’ respective activities.

Marilyn Childs says this was unusual compared to what she heard about or saw in other parts of the country.

“I haven’t ever heard of anybody working together like we all did,” Childs said. “But we just loved each other and nobody was on a big ego trip, and it just worked out perfectly.”

The earlier era described by Childs sounds downright idyllic, and it also seems to have changed somewhat in recent years.

Meanwhile, Peter Davenport is not sure about who’s going to take over the hotline when he retires. He’s also not sure about what will happen to the decades of UFO reports that he and Bob collected. Aside from their value to UFO researchers, these records likely say much about broad aspects of American culture and the human psyche.

“I’ve approached the University of Washington to inquire whether they’d like to have my records, and they expressed disinterest,” Davenport said. “The library said, ‘Because we don’t have courses in the subject, we’re not interested in having the archives.’ Which makes sense, I guess. I might just burn it. There’s very little good that the archives would do if people are not going to pay attention . . . I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t have a solution to that problem.”

Davenport may also write a book about his experiences, but he says it likely won’t be strictly about UFOs.

“It will be about the peculiar facets of human psychology that I’ve been witness to as a UFO investigator,” Davenport said. “People do and say and believe strange things, some of which are true, most of which, in my opinion, are probably not true.”

“But it’s hard to know for sure.”

Have you seen or experienced a UFO? Peter Davenport wants to hear about it! Reach him via the National UFO Reporting Center.

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

Aircraft Hobbyist Slams Federal Aviation Administration Bid To Duck Registry Rule Suit

Law360 (March 28, 2018, 2:13 PM EDT) -- A model aircraft hobbyist fired back at the Federal Aviation Administration's attempt to boot his proposed class action accusing the agency of unlawfully collecting his personal information and imposing registration fees, arguing Tuesday that the agency has intentionally ignored lawmakers and the courts. 

Robert C. Taylor told a D.C. federal court that the FAA knowingly passed an "illegal" rule that required recreational model aircraft hobbyists such as himself to disclose their personal information and pay a $5 fee. But even after the D.C. Circuit struck the regulator's 2015 rule down in May, finding the agency does not have the authority to regulate such aircraft under a 2012 law, Taylor said the FAA kept hobbyists' personal information and registration fees "and even expanded the unlawful registry."

"The FAA’s collection of Mr. Taylor’s registration fee and the collection and maintenance of his personal information was not relevant or necessary to accomplish a purpose of the FAA because, as the D.C. Circuit held, the FAA lacked the statutory authority to promulgate the Registration Rule," Taylor said. "A rule cannot be relevant or necessary where a rule is unlawful."

The FAA's rule was passed amid concern about the public safety risks associated with drone use, including warnings about close calls affecting airplane pilots, prisons and crews fighting wildfires.

But the rule also applied to "model aircraft" weighing between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds, and recreational enthusiasts argued that it violated the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

In explaining the inclusion, the FAA said at the time that the rule is authorized by pre-existing statutory provisions that are unaffected by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act. Under longstanding statues, aircraft are required to register before operation, the FAA said.

But the D.C. Circuit was unpersuaded, saying at the time that the FAA has never previously interpreted that registration requirement to apply specifically to model aircraft and saying the registration rule creates a new regulatory regime. 

"Statutory interpretation does not get much simpler," the circuit panel said at the time. "The registration rule is unlawful as applied to model aircraft."

Taylor, who spearheaded the challenge at the circuit court, filed the instant suit in January, arguing that the FAA violated the Privacy Act since the agency knew it couldn't enforce the rule in the first place. He claims that he lost use of something he paid for, and that the agency unlawfully made money through his fees — a violation of the Little Tucker Act. 

But the FAA balked at the lawsuit, arguing earlier in March that Congress reviewed the issue and reinstated the rule by passing the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed by President Trump in December. With the green-light from Congress, there's express authority to collect hobbyists' fees and information, the agency contends. 

Moreover, Taylor has filed his case in the wrong court: The district court lacks jurisdiction since only circuit appeals courts can entertain challenges to agency rules, the FAA said. Taylor, the agency said, also lacks standing to sue because at the time his suit was filed, there was no provision against the $5 registration fee he paid. 

The parties have sparred already since the the circuit's ruling. In August, Taylor filed a proposed class action in Maryland challenging the FAA's implementation of the circuit's order forcing it to delete hobbyists' information and refund their fees. However, he voluntarily dismissed the suit after the passage of the NDAA.

Counsel for the parties did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday. 

Taylor is represented by Thomas L. McCally, Matthew D. Berkowitz, J. Peter Glaws and M. Therese Waymel of Carr Maloney PC. 

The FAA is represented by acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Federal Programs Branch Assistant Director Judry L. Subar and U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Daniel Riess. 

The case is Taylor v. Federal Aviation Administration et al., case number 1:18-cv-00035, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.law360.com

Aeroprakt A-22 Foxbat, ZK-LFD, Auckland Flying School Limited: Accident occurred March 28, 2018 in Waihi, New Zealand

Veteran investigative journalist Rod Vaughan says a drone may have collided with the plane he was flying moments before he was forced to make a terrifying crash landing near Waihi on March 28, 2018.




Veteran investigative journalist Rod Vaughan in an ambulance after the crash.



Broadcaster Rod Vaughan says a drone may have collided with the plane he was flying moments before he was forced to make a terrifying crash landing near Waihi.

The veteran TV reporter, who lives in Katikati, told the Bay of Plenty Times he was taking his son Richard, who was visiting from Germany, on a flight over the Western Bay Wednesday afternoon.

They had set off from Thames about 2:30 PM in a small plane belonging to the Hauraki Aviation Club, of which he is a member.

They were travelling over Waihi about 3:10 PM when the windscreen of the plane "exploded", allowing a rush of air to enter the cockpit.

 "The wind coming through was so forceful that it blew my headset into the back of the plane, so I had no communications."

The strong wind travelling through the plane also smashed the side and back windows, and the noise inside the cockpit was incredibly loud.

"The only option was to get down as soon as possible," Vaughan said.

He spotted a field south of Waihi and attempted to make an emergency landing. He estimated the plane was travelling between 80 and 90kmh when it approached the field, clipping the top of a hedge. The plane landed hard, breaking the nose wheel before tipping over soon after impact.

"It all happened in about 30 seconds," Vaughan said.

Both Vaughan and his son were still strapped to their harnesses in the upside-down aircraft.

Blood was dripping down Vaughan's face from a large gash in his head; he was unable to release himself from the harness. His son managed to help him out of the plane and emergency services were alerted to the crash.

They were both taken by ambulance to Tauranga Hospital. His son had several bad contusions, and Vaughan was treated for the large gash he had sustained during the crash landing.

Although he did not see what caused the windscreen to shatter, he suspected it might have been a drone after discounting the possibility it could have been caused by a bird strike or a shot from a high-velocity rifle.

The most probable explanation is that it was a drone," he said.

Vaughan said there had been a lot of drone activity in the area and members of the Hauraki Aviation Club had expressed concern about possible collisions with aircraft.

 Vaughan, who has worked as an investigative reporter for television news and current affairs, said as far as he was aware it would be the first time a drone had caused a plane to crash if his suspicion proved correct.

Tighter rules needed to be in place regarding the use of drones, he said.

A CAA spokesperson confirmed they were investigating the crash, but would not discuss the possibility of a drone being involved.

"I'm aware of the speculation of the cause but we can't comment on that.

"One of our investigators is intending to talk to the pilot of the aircraft this afternoon to try and find out exactly what happened. He'll be talking to witnesses and others during this information-gathering stage.

"I can't say at this stage how long the investigation is expected to take."

Police have confirmed a Aeroprakt A-22 Foxbat crashed around 3:16 PM on March 28th near Ford Road, Waihi.

A spokesperson said two people sustained minor injuries, and that the investigation was now being run by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.nzherald.co.nz

Curtiss JN4D Jenny, N1662: Fatal accident occurred November 17, 2016 near Peach State Airport (GA2), Williamson, Pike County, Georgia

Federal Aviation Administration Inspector Larry Daniel Enlow 
November 26, 1947 – November 17, 2016


Larry was admired and esteemed throughout the national general aviation community, where his outstanding airmanship, expertise in numerous disciplines and dedicated efforts enabled the Orlando Flight Standards District Office to achieve the highest standards of professional performance. His contributions will have a lasting impact.  His hobby as an aviation instructor and Designated Examiner led him to a second career in the Federal Aviation Administration, overseeing nearly all aspects of the most active aviation training area in the world. It is his wife's professional opinion as a pilot that the Federal Aviation Administration will need to activate an entire Air Force Reserve squadron to fulfill his role. 


Ronald Ray Alexander, 74


Ron’s love of flying began at the age of 14 and he received his pilot’s license at the age of 17. After high school and college, he joined the United States Air Force where he served his country in the Vietnam War. The Air Force awarded Ron the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Air Medals. In 1969, he was hired by Delta Air Lines where he worked until retirement in 2002, with 34 years of service as Chief Pilot. Ron was an entrepreneur having owned and operated several businesses since 1979. In March 2004, Ron founded the Candler Field Museum, a non-profit organization. Candler Field is named after the original Atlanta airport.

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia

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

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

Ron R. Alexander: http://registry.faa.gov/N1662



National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Factual Report

Location: Williamson, GA
Accident Number: ERA17FA050
Date & Time: 11/17/2016, 1740 EST
Registration: N1662
Aircraft: CURTISS JN4
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Part(s) separation from AC
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

Analysis 

The airline transport pilot and pilot-rated passenger were departing on a local flight in the experimental amateur-built airplane. During the initial climb after takeoff, a witness heard backfire and popping noises coming from the airplane, followed by visual indications of an in-flight fire. The fire intensified and the airplane disappeared behind a tree line and crashed. The airplane came to rest in an upright position, and fire consumed the airplane forward of the empennage. A 45-inch section of one wood laminate propeller blade was found in a wooded area about 380 ft southwest of the departure end of the runway and about 670 ft from the main wreckage. This section of propeller blade separated in flight, and the ensuing engine vibrations most likely separated fuel and/or oil lines, which resulted in the in-flight fire and a loss of airplane control.

An examination of the propeller pieces revealed that the propeller likely fractured due to excessive vibrational loads associated with engine operation. These loads most likely began well before the accident flight. Documentation revealed that the engine underwent troubleshooting and repair on several occasions for issues related to hesitation, improper cylinder firing, and other anomalies. The copper cladding on the propeller tip was relatively heavy, which also made the propeller particularly susceptible to damage from vibration loads. The leading edge copper strip showed evidence of fatigue crack growth in a plane perpendicular to the leading edge near the tip of the blade. While adding weight at the tip, the leading edge strip and full-width tip sections provided chordwise reinforcement to the wood at the tip. However, once the leading edge strip fractured, the chordwise reinforcement of the wood was reduced, resulting in a spanwise fracture in the wood along the wood grain and subsequent liberation of the tip and trailing edge of the blade.

During the restoration of the airplane, the builders noted that the thickness of the newly-manufactured propeller did not match the length of the hub on the engine, and they elected to reduce the length of the hub rather than purchase a new, thicker propeller that was properly sized to the existing hub. The accident propeller was made for a 180-hp engine instead of the 200-hp engine on the accident airplane. This decision may have contributed to higher stresses on the propeller.

About 16 months before the accident, a crack was found in the copper cladding on the suction side of the fractured propeller blade. The propeller was removed and returned to the manufacturer for repair. After the blade was returned to service, another crack initiated and propagated in the pressure side of the copper cladding from an adjacent repair rivet located closer to the hub from the original crack location. The blade fractured through the copper cladding at the original crack, the crack emanating from the adjacent repair rivet, and through the wood, intersecting the hole in the wood for the rivet associated with the repaired crack and an adjacent repair rivet hole closer to the tip. The repair did not effectively redistribute the loads to prevent further cracking in the area, as evidenced by the rapid formation of a crack at the repair rivet. Furthermore, the additional rivet hole aligned through the same grain of the supporting wood may have further weakened the remaining structure of the propeller as the crack on the pressure side of the leading edge initiated and propagated to merge with the repaired crack on the suction side. Although the primary cause of the fracture was likely the result of excessive engine vibration loads and use of a propeller that was too thin for the hub installed on the engine at the start of restoration, the inadequate repair may have contributed to the accident by providing a false sense of security that the structural integrity of the cracked propeller had been restored. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The in-flight failure of the propeller due to excessive engine vibration loads and the use of an incorrectly-sized propeller, which resulted in a fatigue crack of the leading edge strip. Contributing to the accident was the inadequate repair of the propeller following a previous crack. 

Findings

Aircraft
Propeller blade section - Failure (Cause)
Propeller system - Incorrect use/operation (Cause)
Propeller blade section - Damaged/degraded (Factor)

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Owner/builder (Cause)
Repair - Maintenance personnel (Factor)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Initial climb
Part(s) separation from AC (Defining event)
Fire/smoke (non-impact)
Loss of control in flight

Uncontrolled descent

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

On November 17, 2016, at 1740 eastern standard time, an experimental, amateur-built Curtiss JN4D, N1662, collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from Peach State Airport (GA2), Williamson, Georgia. The airline transport pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Dusk, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight, which was originating at the time of the accident.

According to a witness, the airplane departed runway 31, appeared to enter a normal climb, and the engine sounded "as it always did." As the airplane passed the runway end markers, about 110-120 ft above the ground, he heard a loud backfire followed by two "pops" that were not as loud. The airplane seemed to hesitate for an instant, then there was silence. He observed the airplane in a left turn. After about 90ยบ of turn, he saw a flicker of flame appear from the forward, left side of the fuselage that progressed into a "raging fire," with an audible "whoomp" sound. The fire streamed back over the top and left side of the fuselage and extended about 1/2 the length of the airplane. The fire persisted and the airplane disappeared behind a tree line and crashed. The witness immediately called the authorities. Another witness provided a cell phone photo of the airplane on the takeoff leg, which showed a fire near the forward section of the airplane.

The passenger in the airplane for a flight immediately before the accident flight reported that his flight was uneventful. The engine performed normally, and he did not smell fuel during the flight. After landing, he exited the airplane and his colleague climbed into the front seat and "strapped in." He observed the airplane take off. He turned his back momentarily and heard someone scream, "fire." When he saw the airplane in flight, the forward fuselage was "engulfed in flames" and he no longer heard the engine running. The airplane turned toward the south, and the fire appeared to spread to the wings before the airplane descended rapidly into trees. 


Ron Alexander

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor; Flight Engineer
Age: 74, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Rear
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/29/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  25200 hours (Total, all aircraft)


Larry Enlow

Pilot-Rated Passenger Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor
Age: 68, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Multi-engine Sea; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/12/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 13862 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The pilot, seated in the aft cockpit seat, held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multiengine and glider. He also held flight instructor and mechanic certificates. He reported 25,200 hours of flight experience on his most recent FAA second-class medical certificate, dated June 29, 2016.

The pilot-rated passenger, seated in the front cockpit seat, held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multiengine land, and airplane single- and multiengine sea. He also held flight and ground instructor certificates. He reported 13,862 hours of flight experience on his most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate, dated May 12, 2016. 



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CURTISS
Registration: N1662
Model/Series: JN4 D
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 6062
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/20/2016, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 10 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 71 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Hispano-Suiza
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: E-2
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 200 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The single-engine, bi-wing, fabric-covered airplane incorporated a dual, tandem, open cockpit. The landing gear comprised two main wheels and a tail skid. The airplane was equipped with a Hispano-Suiza E-2, 8-cylinder, water-cooled, reciprocating engine rated at 200 horsepower. The engine was fitted with a St. Croix wood laminate fixed-pitch propeller. A total restoration of the airframe and engine was completed in 2013. The airplane was restored mainly from new material; however, some vintage parts were used, such as the radiator, engine, and fuel tank. A condition inspection of the airframe and engine was completed on June 20, 2016. On that date, the aircraft total time was 58.6 hours, and about 10.5 hours were accrued since that inspection. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: GA2, 926 ft msl
Observation Time: 1815 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 60°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 9°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Williamson, GA (GA2)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Williamson, GA (GA2)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1740 EST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Griffin-Spalding County Airport (6A2), Griffin, Georgia, was located about 6 miles northeast of the accident site. The 6A2 weather at 1815 included calm wind, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 17°C, dew point 9°C, and altimeter setting 30.12 inches of mercury. 



Airport Information

Airport: Peach State (GA2)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 926 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 31
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2400 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: Both
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  33.184444, -84.384722 (est) 

The accident site was located about 1,060 ft southwest of the departure end of runway 31. The airplane came to rest upright in a grass field at the edge of a wooded area. There was no lateral wreckage path across the ground and no discernible impact crater. Fire consumed the entire airframe with the exception of the aft fuselage and empennage. Flight control cable continuity was established from the ailerons, elevator, and rudder to the dual cockpit controls. A coating of residue consistent with engine oil was found on the lower surfaces of the horizontal stabilizer and elevator.

All structure and components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site, with the exception of a 45-inch-long section of one blade of the wood-laminate propeller. The missing blade section was later found in a wooded area, about 380 ft southwest of the departure end of runway 31 and about 670 ft from the main wreckage.

The engine sustained fire and heat damage. The engine was rigidly mounted to wooden engine bearers and vibration isolators were not installed. The magnetos, carburetor, oil pump, and fuel pump were examined. No anomalies were noted; however, fire and heat damage precluded functional testing of these components. The spark plugs were removed; the electrodes exhibited normal wear and color when compared to a Champion inspection chart. The engine crankshaft was turned manually; internal engine continuity was confirmed. Compression and suction were observed on all cylinders and valve action was correct. The oil screen was clean and free of contaminants. The copper line from the engine to the oil pressure gauge was separated and burned.

An examination of the fuel tank and remaining fuel system components was performed. The steel fuel tank, which was an original Curtiss component, was ruptured from impact with the wooden engine bearers. No internal contamination was found, and the tank was dry. The fuel shutoff valve, which was installed at the lower right side of the tank, was separated and found loose in the wreckage. The shutoff valve was controlled from the aft cockpit seat, and the linkage was still attached to the valve. The aluminum plumbing between the valve and the gascolator was partially consumed by fire; however, the fittings remained intact. A fuel wobble pump, originally installed in the aft cockpit, was fire-damaged and loose in the wreckage. The firewall-mounted gascolator was dry and contained no contaminants.

The aft cockpit seat was equipped with a four-point harness and the front cockpit seat was equipped with a lap belt. All buckles were found attached and the harness and lap belt webbings were consumed by fire. The airplane was not equipped with an emergency locator transmitter. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Division of Forensic Sciences, Decatur, Georgia, performed the autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was exposure to aircraft fire with extensive thermal injuries.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. Testing for ethanol and carbon monoxide was negative. Alfuzosin was detected in the blood and urine, and rosuvastatin was detected in the urine. These medications are not generally considered impairing.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Division of Forensic Sciences, also performed the autopsy of the pilot-rated passenger. The cause of death was blunt impact injuries of the head and torso.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot-rated passenger. Testing for ethanol and carbon monoxide was negative. Amlodipine was detected in the blood and urine. This medication is not generally considered impairing. 

Tests And Research

The recovered propeller pieces were sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for examination. The propeller was a two-bladed, fixed-pitch, wood laminate propeller with formed copper sheets with lead/tin filler attached to the tips and leading edges. For purposes of this report, the blade with the piece that separated in flight and was recovered 670 ft from the main wreckage was labeled blade "A," and the blade found within the main wreckage was labeled blade "B."

The leading edge strip on blade A had a transverse fracture between the leading and trailing edges of the strip at a location where the piece transitioned from the full-width tip portion to the leading edge strip. The underlying wood of the blade was fractured spanwise along the wood grain, and the fracture intersected two of the rivet holes attaching the leading edge/tip piece. The strip fracture features showed substantial damage consistent with fracture surface recontact. Most of the fracture surfaces were obscured due to recontact damage or deposits; however, in some protected areas, transgranular fractures with curving crack arrest lines were observed, consistent with fatigue. Fatigue features emanated from origins at the filled depression associated with the rivet, with crack propagation directed toward the leading and trailing edges of the blade. Fatigue striations were counted in four selected fracture areas, with striations per inch values ranging from 20,250 to 79,320. Aluminum oxide deposits were found on the fracture surfaces on the forward side of the leading-edge piece.

According to the primary caretaker and restorer of the airplane, a crack was observed in the leading edge strip of the propeller, near the tip, in July 2015. A photograph of the crack before repair is included in the NTSB Materials Laboratory Addendum Report (17-032B), located in the public docket for this investigation. The propeller was returned to the manufacturer, St. Croix Propeller, where it was repaired. According to an October 13, 2015, email from the propeller manufacturer, there was a "fatigue cracked rivet exactly halfway down inside the wood." To repair the propeller, the rivets in the area were "doubled up." The repair was completed in October 2015, and the propeller was reinstalled on the airplane in November 2015.

The photograph of the crack before repair was compared to the fractures found on the propeller postaccident. The fatigue fracture through the leading edge strip intersected the original rivet and the adjacent repair rivet closer to the hub. The fracture in the underlying wood intersected an original rivet hole and the adjacent repair rivet closer to the blade tip.

The builders of the airplane maintained an online blog detailing the airplane's restoration. A search of the blog revealed multiple entries related to the propeller and engine. On May 6, 2013, the builder noted that the propeller that was fabricated for use on the accident airplane was designed for the Hispano-Suiza E engine, and when fitted to the hub for the Hispano-Suiza E2 engine, the thickness of the propeller was about 1/2 inch too thin for the length of the hub. A new hub was subsequently acquired and installed on the accident airplane to accommodate the thinner propeller. According to type certificate data on the FAA website, the Wright Hispano E engine was rated 180 horsepower at 1,800 rpm. In the builder's May 6 blog entry, the builder noted that the Hispano-Suiza E2 engine produced 200 horsepower.

An entry in the builder's blog dated October 14, 2013, documented the first engine run, and the first flight was listed in an entry dated November 29, 2013. In an entry on April 23, 2014, the builder noted that the engine had been running rough with hesitation and backfires for a few seconds when accelerating. This issue was corrected by adjusting the engine idle speed from 350 rpm to 480 rpm. In a November 9, 2014, entry, the builder noted a recent issue with an oil leak that led to an overhaul of the engine, and an entry on July 6, 2015, indicated that the airplane was back in the air after a year.

The airplane was housed in a museum, and according to the builder's blog, the propeller was polished on at least one occasion as noted in the April 23, 2014, entry. The type of polish used was not specified; however, various brands of metal polish can contain oxides of either aluminum or silicon.

According to FAA Advisory Circular 20-37E, Aircraft Propeller Maintenance, "A propeller is one of the most highly stressed components on an aircraft. During normal operation, 10 to 25 tons of centrifugal force pull the blades from the hub while the blades are bending and flexing due to thrust and torque loads and engine, aerodynamic and gyroscopic vibratory loads."

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA050
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 17, 2016 in Williamson, GA
Aircraft: CURTISS JN4, registration: N1662
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 November 17, 2016, at 1809 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built Curtiss JN4D, N1662, collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from Peach State Airport (GA2), Williamson, Georgia. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and fire. The airline transport pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally 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. Dusk, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to a witness, the airplane departed runway 31, appeared to be in a normal climb, and the engine sounded "as it always did." As the airplane passed the runway end markers, about 110 to 120 feet above the ground, he heard a loud backfire, followed by two "pops" that were not as loud. The airplane seemed to hesitate for an instant, then there was silence. He observed the airplane in a left-hand turn. After about 90 degrees of turn, he saw a flicker of flame appear from the forward left side of the fuselage that progressed into a "raging fire," with an audible "whoomp" sound. The fire streamed back over the top and left side of the fuselage for about one-half the length of the airplane. The fire persisted until the airplane disappeared behind a tree line and crashed. The witness immediately called 911. Another witness provided a cell phone photo of the airplane on the takeoff leg, with a visible fire near the forward section of the airplane.

The airplane came to rest, upright, in a grass field at the edge of a wooded area. The accident site was located about 1,060 feet southwest of the departure end of runway 31. There was no lateral wreckage path across the ground and no discernible impact crater. Fire consumed the entire airframe with the exception of the aft fuselage and empennage. Flight control cable continuity was established from the ailerons, elevator, and rudder to the dual cockpit controls.

All structure and components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site, with the exception of one blade of the wood-laminate engine propeller. A three-foot-long section of one blade, including the sheet copper-covered tip, was missing. The missing blade section was later found in a wooded area, about 380 feet southwest of the departure end of runway 31, and about 670 feet from the main wreckage.

The pilot, seated in the aft cockpit seat, held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane single-engine, airplane multiengine, and glider ratings. He also held flight instructor and mechanic certificates. He reported 25,200 hours of flight time as on his latest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate, dated June 29, 2016. The pilot-rated passenger, seated in the front cockpit seat, held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, airplane single-engine sea, and airplane multiengine sea ratings. He also held flight and ground instructor certificates. He reported 13,862 hours of flight time as on his latest FAA second-class medical certificate, dated May 12, 2016. He was also employed as an operations safety inspector with the FAA.

The single-engine, bi-wing, fabric–covered airplane incorporated a dual, tandem, open cockpit design with a tricycle landing gear. It was equipped with a Hispano-Suiza E-2 reciprocating engine rated at 180 horsepower. The engine was fitted with a St. Croix wood-laminate fixed-pitch propeller. A total restoration of the airframe and engine was completed in 2013. A condition inspection of the airframe and engine was completed on June 20, 2016. On that date, the aircraft total time was 58.6 hours, and about 10.5 hours were accrued since that inspection.  

The propeller assembly was forwarded to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for additional examination.

Residents rally against noisy air traffic: Citizens consider walkout, lawsuit

Coastsiders and other Bay Area residents are banding together to combat air traffic noise wrought by the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The latest action follows in the footsteps of other communities across the United States that have found their voices are stronger together. They are getting a response from the Federal Aviation Administration. 

FAA began to implement NextGen technologies and procedures in 2007 to modernize air transportation and increase safety, efficiency and predictability. In recent years, that’s come at the cost of residents who now live under rerouted flight paths. Some people argue that it’s actually decreasing safety by exposing them to airport noise and jet fuel particulate that has negative health impacts. 

“Everyone all over the country is waking up to the same nightmare,” said Tony Verreos, of Brisbane. “It takes some time for people to get frustrated to a point where they do something about it.”

Now some are. 

“I’m going to focus on suing the FAA because nothing else has worked,” said Verreos, who started a Facebook group called “STOP Jet Noise NOW! SFOAK North S.F. Bay Area.” 

He’s working with other citizens to convince Bay Area cities such as his own, Pacifica, Daly City and Half Moon Bay to take the charge. 

If a local lawsuit occurred, it would be one of more than 10 others across the nation regarding NextGen. The city of Phoenix won its case last August, which led to an agreement to redesign flight paths. The FAA also agreed to tweak flight paths around John Wayne Airport in Southern California, following individual lawsuits from Culver City, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach that were then consolidated as one case a year ago.

As cities consider action, residents of the unincorporated Midcoast don’t want to be ignored. 

Erin Caslavka, of Montara, wanted to get involved when she realized there was little Midcoast representation at the SFO Airport/Community Roundtable, a committee to address noise impacts from San Francisco International Airport flights. 

“I feel like we’re the redheaded stepchild. (Just because there’s no representative) doesn’t mean it’s not intrusive into our life as well,” Caslavka said.

She started attending roundtable meetings and recording local flight traffic data from home. Over a two-week period in the fall, she counted 2,480 flights that passed over Montara from various airports in the area. Many exceeded the established noise threshold, and the bulk of them were from SFO.

At a Midcoast Community Council meeting, she encouraged people to direct their air traffic noise complaints to San Francisco International Airport at (650) 821-4736 or sfo.noise@flysfo.com.

She agreed a lawsuit is worth a shot. “With a lot of lawsuits, you end up settling with the other party. Maybe that means you end up getting some of the demands we’re making to be implemented.”

Stanley Peng, of El Granada, said his goal was to raise awareness. He started a petition about a year ago that has since collected the signatures of more than 500 people calling for a ban from flying low over the Coastside. Peng works as a delivery driver for the Review.

Peng forwarded the petition to U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, the FAA, local airports and others he wants to take notice.

“I even sent it to Donald Trump, the president of the United States. I don’t know if it (will get there),” Peng said. But he wants to try. “Hopefully I can make as much of a contribution all the way from Pacifica to Half Moon Bay … We just want to try our best to see if FAA would make any substantial change.”

Congressional representatives, including Speier, are working to ensure that the FAA adheres to implementing noise mitigation recommendations that came out of a report released in November. But relief can’t come soon enough for some.

Laslo Vespremi, of El Granada, is organizing a representative walkout at a roundtable meeting to send a message to the FAA. 

“If the representatives of these 2 million people (from more than 20 communities) say enough is enough, notice will be taken,” he said. 

Half Moon Bay Vice Mayor and SFO roundtable representative Harvey Rarback said he wouldn’t participate in a walkout without learning more first.

“There’s a lot of concerned people on the roundtable, but the structure is such that it doesn’t have the teeth to do much. I certainly want to find out more about this,” Rarback said. 

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