Friday, April 6, 2018

Feds charge ex-Metro Nashville airport official with stealing more than $130k in cellphones

A former Metro Nashville Airport Authority official is suspected of stealing more than $130,000 worth of cellphones through his role with the authority, according to a federal court filing Thursday. 

John Pat Banister, Sr., obtained 282 new and upgraded phones from February 2015 to January 2017 through fraudulent means as telecommunications service manager, states an information filed Thursday in federal court. 

An information is a federal charging document that indicates the person accused of committing the crime acknowledges their guilt. 

Banister is charged with mail fraud, accused of illegally having the phones shipped to him under the guise they were needed by the authority. 

He is the latest airport official to face federal charges amid ongoing scrutiny of the leadership at the major airport. 

In April 2016, former executive John T. Howard was sentenced to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution stemming from charges of money laundering, wire fraud and accepting a bribe. 

That same month, airport contractor Tim Rucker was charged with conspiring with Howard to commit money laundering and wire fraud. Rucker pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight months in prison. 

The incidents, including the investigation into the stolen phones, are part of an ongoing legal battle between the former authority leader and the airport board. 

Former airport authority CEO Rob Wigington was fired in October 2017. The board cites a lack of oversight and lack of controls as a criticism of Wigington. The theft of phones occurred on Wigington’s watch, but the board did not find out about the theft from Wigington, which angered them. 

Wiginton says he was wrongly fired after telling the board he was sick. He sued the authority for wrongful termination. Federal proceedings are ongoing. 

Original article can be found here ➤

The sponsor of a northern Arkansas festival during which live turkeys are dropped from an airplane says it will no longer promote the event

Yellville Chamber of Commerce

After much consideration, discussion, and soul-searching, it is with a heavy heart that we announce that the Yellville Area Chamber of Commerce will no longer be the promoter of the Turkey Trot festival. For many years, we have enjoyed the days of a family-friendly festival that served as a homecoming; an occasion every fall to gather and enjoy a parade, live music, crafts, festival food, and camaraderie. We feel we can no longer deliver the same experience that we have enjoyed in years passed. Our decision was not entered into lightly. Safety concerns, rising costs, and loss of funding were some of the determining factors in making this decision. As a chamber of commerce, our goal is to help our local businesses grow and the festival has been more detrimental to them than prosperous. We remain committed to the Yellville area and appreciate the support that our community has given us over the years and hope that you will continue to support us in our efforts to promote our area.

The Yellville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The longtime sponsor of a northern Arkansas festival that included dropping live turkeys from a low-flying airplane to crowds below said Friday it would no longer organize or promote the annual gathering.

Yellville Chamber of Commerce board member Lesley Edmonds said a flap had continued since the 72nd Annual Turkey Trot last October. She didn't know whether other organizers might come forward.

"For many years, we have enjoyed the days of a family-friendly festival that served as a homecoming; an occasion every fall to gather and enjoy a parade, live music, crafts, festival food, and camaraderie," the board said in a statement posted on its Facebook page. "We feel we can no longer deliver the same experience."

The tradition of a "Phantom Pilot" dropping live birds to crowds below began 50 years ago, but protests mounted in recent years.

"Our goal is to help our local businesses grow and the festival has been more detrimental to them than prosperous," the board's statement said.

The Federal Aviation Administration has investigated but said the pilot was not running afoul of aviation rules. Regardless of whether any laws were broken, animal rights activists wanted the turkey drops stopped.

"We hope to speak to people involved with the event to try to find a way to promote businesses in the community some other way," Gene Baur, the president of Farm Sanctuary, said Friday. "Dropping birds out of an airplane is unacceptable and outside the norms of society."

Baur's group said it had taken in four birds that survived last year's fall.

Arkansas is one of the nation's top turkey-producing states and the festival, coming six weekends before Thanksgiving, has drawn thousands.

Early on, live birds were dropped from the courthouse roof, but at least 50 years ago the birds were taken aloft in an airplane. After animal rights advocates offered a $5,000 reward for the pilot's arrest, flights stopped for a time before resuming in 2015.

Whether wild turkeys can fly was the subject of a "WKRP in Cincinnati" episode in 1978 after a radio station stunt involving birds dropped from a helicopter went horribly awry. In the wild, they typically only flutter from tree top to tree top rather than fly long distances.

Original article can be found here ➤

US air accidents lead to cancellation of exercise

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military on Thursday canceled the remainder of a training exercise in the Horn of Africa, and the government of Djibouti called a halt to U.S. military air operations in its country, following two U.S. Marine aircraft accidents this week in Djibouti.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie told reporters at the Pentagon that the decision to cancel the remainder of an exercise called Alligator Dagger, billed by the U.S. as a combat rehearsal, was "a reasonable precaution" in light of the aviation accidents, which happened separately but within a few hours of each other on Tuesday.

A Marine AV-8B Harrier jet crashed after the pilot ejected during takeoff from Djibouti Ambouli International Airport. Officials said the pilot received medical care and was released by a medical facility at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. In the second incident about two hours after the first, a Marine CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter sustained structural damage during a landing at Arta Beach, Djibouti. The aircrew were not injured.

The U.S. aircraft conduct sensitive surveillance and counterterrorism missions from Djibouti.

The accidents were the latest in a recent series of aviation mishaps in the U.S. military, including the crash of an F-16 fighter jet in the Nevada desert that killed an Air Force Thunderbirds pilot during what the Air Force called a routine aerial demonstration training flight Wednesday. The pilot's name was being withheld pending notification of relatives.

Also, four crew members were killed when a Marine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed Tuesday in California during a training mission along the U.S.-Mexico border west of El Centro.

Asked whether he considered the series of accidents to be evidence of a systemic problem in U.S. military aviation, McKenzie said it would be a mistake to reach such a conclusion now and that accidents are inevitable.

"Those are mishaps that occurred. We're going to look at each one in turn," he said. "Each one is tragic. We regret each one. We'll look at them carefully. I'm certainly not prepared to say that it's a wave of mishaps or some form of crisis."

McKenzie is director of the staff that reports to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.

Original article ➤

Gulfstream business-jet lead in China at risk in trade spat

Gulfstream, the maker of the G650 business jet, is at risk of losing its dominance in China because of a worsening trade spat with the U.S.

China's proposed 25 percent tariff on U.S.-made aircraft would leave Gulfstream at a disadvantage against competitors from Canada and France. Of the 431 private aircraft based in the country, Gulfstream jets account for 42 percent followed by 24 percent for Montreal-based Bombardier and 9 percent made by France's Dassault Aviation, said consultant Rolland Vincent.

"They have been the most successful of the manufacturers in penetrating the Chinese market with new aircraft," Vincent said of Gulfstream, a unit of General Dynamics Corp. "There's potentially a market-share benefit for Dassault and Bombardier if this tariff goes in."

The tariffs, outlined by China as part of a $50 billion retaliation against duties on Chinese goods proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, would add to the hurdles of selling private jets in an already sputtering market. Sales have been under pressure in China in the last couple years after President Xi Jinping began an anticorruption campaign, said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with Teal Group.

"People said, 'wrong time for a business jet,' " Aboulafia said.

The new restrictions on U.S. aircraft have yet to take effect, and there's a chance they never will if the U.S. and China reach a truce. But tensions escalated Friday as the nations traded more threats. Trump ordered his administration to consider another $100 billion tariffs against China, which prompted the Asian nation to vow it would defend its interests "to the end, and at any cost."

China already has a 17 percent value-added tax on private aircraft plus a 5 percent duty on foreign jets, according to the International Trade Administration. The 25 percent tariff on large Gulfstream models would probably be added to that, said Vincent, who puts out a widely read industry forecast with partner Jetnet called Jetnet iQ.

The duties would be applied to U.S. aircraft weighing between 15,000 kilograms (33,000 pounds) and 45,000 kilograms. All Gulfstream models except for its smallest aircraft, the G280, fit in that weight range. Some models of the Boeing 737 would also be affected.

China deliveries made up 10 percent of the 80 large aircraft that Gulfstream shipped last year, Vincent said. The company has an even bigger share of planes hit by the tariff. Gulfstream accounts for 112 of those jets, including the G650 and G550, compared with 41 Bombardier jets in the same category and 28 for Dassault.

Gulfstream is expected to begin deliveries this year of two new large aircraft -- the G500 and the G600 -- that fall in the weight range for the tariff. Heidi Fedak, a spokeswoman for Gulfstream, declined to comment.

The extra levy "would have an immediate effect of curtailing potential sales," said Steve Varsano, founder of the corporate aircraft brokerage The Jet Business. Although private jets can be registered in one country and used in another, operators in China discovered that authorities frowned on attempts to circumvent the existing 22 percent tax-and-tariff combination.

"It was a hardship to pay," Varsano said in an email. "But if you didn't and were a regular user in China, they made life difficult to get landing slots and parking availability."

Business-jet manufacturers will be in Shanghai less than two weeks from now for the annual Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition.

Original article can be found here ➤

Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes: New Reward for Fugitive in ValuJet crash

The FBI recently released age-progressed images of Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes, a fugitive in the 1996 crash of a ValuJet Flight 592 near Miami. 

When Valujet Flight 592 ascended for the last time in 1996, it was supposed to be for a routine, hour-and-a-half-long trip from Miami International Airport to Atlanta.

Seven minutes after takeoff, however, flight captain Candalyn Kubeck radioed a troubling message: There had been a strange sound heard on the plane, and now the pilots were experiencing electrical problems.

“We’re losing everything,” Kubeck said, seconds later. “We need, we need to go back to Miami.”

In the background were shouts of “fire, fire, fire, fire” and “We’re on fire! We’re on fire!”

Kubeck and her co-pilot managed to turn the aircraft back toward Miami, but it was too late. In the cargo hold a devastating blaze had erupted, filling the cabin and cockpit of the DC-9 with thick smoke and flames that were hot enough to melt aluminum. The plane careened downward, tilted to the right, on a final, uncontrolled descent.

At 2:13 p.m. on May 11, 1996 — less than 10 minutes after takeoff — Valujet Flight 592 slammed into the murky waters of the Florida Everglades, killing all 110 people on board. The impact was at once devastating and curious: A witness in a sightseeing plane would later tell investigators that the jet seemed to vanish once it struck the wetlands, creating a deep crater in the muck and saw grass.

Crash debris haunted investigators for months as they recovered fragments of both plane and passengers from the “River of Grass.” To this day, no complete body of any of the passengers has ever been found.

“It just went to pieces,” Jacqueline Fruge, a special agent with the FBI’s Miami office, said in a statement Thursday.

The devastating crash prefaced the financial demise of one of the country’s low-cost carriers.

The National Transportation Safety Board spent more than a year working up an accident report that ruled the crash had been caused primarily by a contractor’s mishandling of the packaging and shipment of oxygen generators in the cargo hold.

The oxygen generators had been loaded without the proper safety caps, causing them to ignite in the cargo hold and trigger the deadly fire, the report said.

Investigators identified three employees of SabreTech, the maintenance contractor for Valujet at the time, who had a role in mishandling the oxygen generators, according to the FBI. Two of those employees were criminally charged but later acquitted.

However, the third SabreTech employee, mechanic Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes, fled sometime before his trial in 2000. He had been charged the year before with making false statements to the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as causing the transportation of hazardous materials.

Now, more than two decades after one of the deadliest aviation disasters in Florida history, the FBI is renewing its search for Valenzuela-Reyes, the last employee wanted in connection with the Valujet crash.

The FBI announced Thursday that it was offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Valenzuela-Reyes. The agency also released age-progressed images of what the mechanic might look like today at 48 years old.

He is described as a 170-pound Hispanic male with black hair and brown eyes, and stands anywhere from 5-foot-10-inches to six feet tall. FBI investigators believe Valenzuela-Reyes could be living under a false identity in Chile or elsewhere in South America. He also has ties to Georgia, the agency said.

Anyone with information on Valenzuela-Reyes is asked to contact their local FBI office.

An FBI spokesman did not respond to questions sent by email or grant an interview request Friday, referring to the statement the agency had released the day before.

Fruge, who has worked for the FBI for 29 years and has been the primary agent on the Valujet case since it began, said in the statement that locating Valenzuela-Reyes would bring “closure” in one of Florida’s deadliest airline crashes.

“We’ve tried over the years to find him,” Fruge said. “It bothers me. I’ve lived and breathed it for many, many years.”

Original article ➤

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Location: MIAMI, FL
Accident Number: DCA96MA054
Date & Time: 05/11/1996, 1413 EDT
Registration: N904VJ
Aircraft: Douglas DC-9-32
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event:
Injuries: 110 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 121: Air Carrier - Scheduled


The airplane crashed into the Everglades about 10 minutes after takeoff from Miami International Airport.  Safety issues discussed in the Board's report include minimization of the hazards posed by fires in class D cargo compartments; equipment, training, and procedures for addressing in-flight smoke and fire aboard air carrier airplanes; guidance for handling of chemical oxygen generators and other hazardous aircraft components; SabreTech's and ValuJet's procedures for handling company materials and hazardous materials; ValuJet's oversight of its contract heavy maintenance facilities; FAA's oversight of ValuJet and ValuJet's contract maintenance facilities; FAA's and the Research and Special Programs Administration's (RSPA) hazardous materials program and undeclared hazardous materials in the U.S. mail; and ValuJet's procedures for boarding and accounting for lap children. Safety recommendations concerning these issues were made to the FAA, RSPA, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Air Transport Association.  (See NTSB Report AAR-97/06)

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
which resulted from a fire in the airplane's class D cargo compartment that was initiated by the actuation of one or more oxygen generators being improperly carried as cargo, were (1) the failure of SabreTech to properly prepare, package, and identify unexpended chemical oxygen generators before presenting them to ValuJet for carriage; (2) the failure of ValuJet to properly oversee its contract maintenance program to ensure compliance with maintenance, maintenance training, and hazardous materials requirements and practices; and (3) the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require smoke detection and fire suppression systems in class D cargo compartments. Contributing to the accident was the failure of the FAA to adequately monitor ValuJet's heavy maintenance programs and responsibilities, including ValuJet's oversight of its contractors, and SabreTech's repair station certificate; the failure of the FAA to adequately respond to prior chemical oxygen generator fires with programs to address the potential hazards; and ValuJet's failure to ensure that both ValuJet and contract maintenance facility employees were aware of the carrier's 'no-carry' hazardous materials policy and had received appropriate hazardous materials training. (NTSB Report AAR-97/06)


Occurrence #1: FIRE
Phase of Operation: CLIMB



Phase of Operation: DESCENT

Phase of Operation: DESCENT - UNCONTROLLED

Factual Information

Please refer to the National Transportation Safety Board Aircraft Accident Report, NTSB/AAR-97/06, DCA96MA054, for information about this accident.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor
Age: 35, Female
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Seatbelt, Shoulder harness
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Valid Medical--no waivers/lim.
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/12/1996
Occupational Pilot:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  8928 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2116 hours (Total, this make and model), 188 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft) 

Co-Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Engineer
Age: 52, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 1 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/07/1996
Occupational Pilot:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: Douglas
Registration: N904VJ
Model/Series: DC-9-32 DC-9-32
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Transport
Serial Number: 47377
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 115
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Continuous Airworthiness
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 108000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Turbo Fan
Airframe Total Time: 2864 Hours
Engine Manufacturer: P&W
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: JT8D-9A
Rated Power:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Flag carrier (121)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: VJ6A 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MIA, 8 ft msl
Observation Time: 1350 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 18 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 100°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 4000 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 16°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  12 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots, 100°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting:
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: MIAMI, FL (MIA)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: ATLANTA, GA (ATL)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 1403 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class B

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type:
Airport Elevation:
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: 0
IFR Approach:
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 5 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 105 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: In-Flight
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 110 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:

Progressive Aerodyne SeaRey, N124AL: Accident occurred April 06, 2018 in Palatka, Putnam County, Florida

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA212
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, April 06, 2018 in Palatka, FL
Aircraft: SASSER ALLEN L SEAREY, registration: N124AL

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. - The pilot of a Progressive Aerodyne SeaRey that flipped over after landing on the St. Johns River north of Palatka was rescued by a nearby boater, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office said.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 63-year-old Allen Sasser was piloting the aircraft about 11:20 a.m. Friday when he attempted to land on the St. Johns River near his East Palatka home. 

During the landing, troopers said, the Progressive Aerodyne SeaRey crashed and rolled. 

After he was helped by a boater, Sasser was taken to the Crystal Cove Marina, where he was checked out by a Putnam County Fire Rescue crew and refused treatment, troopers said.

The crash report said he suffered minor injuries.

Authorities said the upside-down plane was removed from the river to be taken to the pilot's home.

The Federal Aviation Administration was called to investigate.

Original article can be found here ➤

PALATKA, Fla. - Civilians helped rescue several people from the St. Johns River after a Progressive Aerodyne SeaRey crashed in Palatka on Friday, according to officials with the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said the crash went down in the river in the the Bostwick area near Seminole Electric, according to Putnam media. 

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office is responding to the scene. 

We're working to find out the conditions of the crash victims. 

The city and the surrounding area has recently had several plane crashes. Authorities are expected to release more information.

In March, two people were hurt after a small plane crashed off Reid Street. Another incident happened in February after a small plane crash-landed behind a home off Dogwood Road.

Original article can be found here ➤

New executive director for Chennault International Airport (KCWF) named

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -  A new executive director of Chennault International Airport Authority is coming aboard in late April.

The board of commissioners announced the selection of W. Kevin Melton as Chennault’s executive director.

Melton joins Chennault from American Airlines, where he was a project manager, facilitating and directing airport terminal and hangar construction projects for national and international sites.

Melton retired from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel after 24 years of service, during which he was part of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.  His primary experience is as an airfield operations officer, responsible for all airport operations, including air traffic control, airfield management and flight service operations. He served as lead for the U.S. Department of Defense to support the rebuilding of Iraqi and Afghan civic airspace infrastructure as part of nation rebuilding operations.

“Kevin’s wealth of experience in aviation and the airport operations will be invaluable to Chennault,” said Chennault board president Charles Dalgleish. “The board and staff look forward to Chennault’s continued growth as a leading economic driver in the region with Kevin at the helm.”

Melton also brings airshow experience to his new position, having provided direct support to several airshows, and served as military airshow director for the Dayton Airshow in Ohio.

A native Tennessean, Melton holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee State University as well as a master’s degree in national resource strategy from the National Defense University.

Chennault International Airport is a major industrial airport in Lake Charles, La. The airport and its tenants employ some 1,500 persons and account for $300 million in annual economic impact. Chennault was recently honored as Louisiana Airport of the Year by the Federal Aviation Administration. For more information, visit

Original article can be found here ➤

Honda HA-420, N104HJ: Incident occurred April 05, 2018 at Piedmont Triad International Airport (KGSO), Greensboro, North Carolina

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Greensboro

Aircraft blew two main tires on landing.

Honda Aviation Service Co Inc:

Date: 05-APR-18
Time: 18:35:00Z
Regis#: N104HJ
Aircraft Make: HONDA
Aircraft Model: HA 420
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

Luscombe 8A, N71617: Accident occurred April 05, 2018 at Wilbarger County Airport (F05), Vernon, Texas

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA205
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, April 05, 2018 in Vernon, TX
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8, registration: N71617

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Aircraft ground looped on landing.

Date: 05-APR-18
Time: 22:24:00Z
Regis#: N71617
Aircraft Make: LUSCOMBE
Aircraft Model: 8A
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
State: TEXAS

Cessna 182Q Skylane, N5292N: Accident occurred March 31, 2018 at Skypark Airport (KBTF), Bountiful, Davis County, Utah

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City

Squawk Aviation LLC:

NTSB Identification: GAA18CA202
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 31, 2018 in Nephi, UT
Aircraft: CESSNA 182, registration: N5292N

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Aircraft made a hard landing.

Date: 31-MAR-18
Time: 19:00:00Z
Regis#: N5292N
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 182Q
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
State: UTAH

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Boeing Signal Regular Missions to Space Station to Be Delayed: Revised Boeing contract signals capsule won’t fly with crew until 2019

The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor
Updated April 5, 2018 11:34 p.m. ET

NASA and Boeing Co. have agreed to turn the initial test flight of the company’s commercial crewed capsule into an operational mission, one of several recent signs officials are hedging their bets on when U.S. spacecraft will start regularly ferrying astronauts to the international space station.

Thursday’s disclosure by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration suggests a previously planned two-person flight, slated for November 2018,  is now likely to occur in 2019 or 2020 and would likely carry one additional crew member along with extra supplies. Instead of staying for two weeks as originally envisioned, NASA said the expanded crew could stay at the station for as long as six months conducting experiments and carrying out maintenance tasks.

The agency’s agreement to use Russian rockets and capsules to carry astronauts to the international laboratory ends in late 2019. That is prompting NASA leaders to seek contingency plans to carry American astronauts into orbit—and keep them there for extended periods—in the event U.S. providers aren’t ready to assume routine transportation responsibilities by the deadline. Maintaining a continuous U.S. presence on the international space station is important to NASA.

Even after a successful crewed test flight, it could take NASA several months or longer to authorize routine missions, according to outside experts, agency advisory committees and senior NASA officials. The process could leave the U.S. scrambling for stopgap measures unless alternate options are put in place relatively soon.

On its website, NASA said it is updating its existing contract with the company and “may evolve flight test strategy” for Boeing’s Starliner capsule, in anticipation of validating the spacecraft’s safety and authorizing “regular post-certification crew rotation missions.”

Boeing was more direct. In a release, the company said “it was clear” that “we needed to provide NASA with additional flexibility to ensure the station remains fully staffed and fully operational” until U.S. capsules achieve a regular cadence of missions.

In February, NASA’s top official in charge of the crewed exploration programs telegraphed such moves were under active consideration but stopped short of announcing a decision.

On its web posting Thursday, the same official, William Gerstenmaier, said the contract modification “provides NASA with additional schedule margin if needed,” but further technical reviews are anticipated. He also said NASA is “preparing for potential schedule adjustments normally experienced during  spacecraft development.”

NASA stopped flying the space shuttle fleet in 2011 and has relied on Moscow for crew access to orbit since then. A major challenge for shuttle replacements is that the agency must comply with longstanding requirements that all commercial crew systems meet strict statistical safety benchmarks.

Boeing already has six post-certification Starliner flights under contract, but dates and payments for those missions haven’t been set. In 2014, NASA awarded Boeing a contract valued at as much as $4.2 billion, including an unmanned test flight followed by the first test flight with people on board.

Elon Musk’s closely held Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is developing its own commercial space taxi and plans at least one crewed test flight before seeking approval to begin routine trips. After NASA gives the green light, both providers envision flying a pair of missions to the space station annually.

Boeing and SpaceX will have to demonstrate their capsules are more than four times safer than the space shuttle fleet when it was retired. But senior NASA officials and independent safety watchdogs have repeatedly said it may be difficult to comply with the new standards, and the agency may have to issue certain waivers before regular flights commence. Those deliberations could lead to delays.

Original article can be found here ➤

Federal Communications Commission Regimen Could Help Prevent False Alerts, Official Says

Law360 (April 5, 2018, 7:55 PM EDT) -- FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel suggested Thursday that the agency should use some of its built-in reporting processes to encourage states to sharpen their emergency communications plans in the aftermath of a rogue alert sent by a misguided Hawaii state employee earlier this year.

Rosenworcel said the FCC oversees the technical aspects of alerts that warn TV and radio audiences of impending threats, and she said reports that states are required to file with the agency are an opportunity for greater accountability.

“The FCC can help prevent this from happening by serving as a convening force to develop a checklist of best practices — including security protocols — at the local, state, and federal level,” she said.

Her comments came during a field hearing in Hawaii to more closely examine next steps after a false missile alert terrified island residents in January. An FCC investigation found that a state-level employee blasted out the alert during a training exercise he believed was real.

The Emergency Alert System, overseen by the FCC, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service, requires TV and radio broadcasters, cable companies and satellite providers to carry important messages to their viewers during national emergencies. Local officials can also send messages over the system, including Amber Alerts about missing children and severe weather warnings.

According to its website, the FCC checks to make sure state and local EAS plans conform to its specifications. But Rosenworcel said Thursday that the agency should go beyond simply checking to make sure the plans exist.

Rosenworcel said the FCC can use its filing requirements to incentivize cooperation, encouraging states and localities to come together and develop better emergency management practices. The FCC should also be making sure that the plans are updated, she said. She pointed out that Hawaii's state plan was a decade old at the time of the January incident. 

“The act of filing ... should be more than bureaucratic,” she said.

Also on the panel on Thursday was Nicole McGinnis, deputy chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. She said the bureau is finalizing its report on the Jan. 13 incident and that its key findings include many layers of human error and a lack of state-level safeguards to prevent one person from sending a false message in real time.

During a preliminary discussion of the report’s findings in January, the FCC said the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency did not follow the standard script for emergency drills, leading the employee to misinterpret the exercise and to send the alert stating that “this is not a drill.”

FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Lisa Fowlkes previously testified that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is responsible for managing the content of emergency alerts. The FCC’s role is to work with broadcasters and wireless carriers to manage how communications infrastructure reacts when transmitting an alert, she said.

The FCC’s final report on the incident is still forthcoming, but officials have pledged to work with FEMA to help states implement better practices going forward.

Original article can be found here ➤