Friday, April 27, 2018

Airbus A320-214, AP-BLD: Fatal accident occurred May 22, 2020 in Karachi, Pakistan

NTSB Identification: DCA20WA108
Scheduled 14 CFR Non-U.S., Commercial
Accident occurred Friday, May 22, 2020 in Karachi, Pakistan
Aircraft: AIRBUS A320, registration:
Injuries: 97 Fatal, 2 Serious.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The government of Pakistan has notified the NTSB of an accident involving an AIRBUS A320 with CFM56 engines that occurred on May 22, 2020. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the government of Pakistan's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13.

All investigative information will be released by the government of Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani-led investigation into a deadly air crash Friday will examine whether the jet’s engines were damaged in an aborted first landing, causing a loss of power when the plane circled around for a second landing, officials familiar with the probe said.

Initial evidence suggests the engines of the Pakistan International Airlines jet made contact with the runway in Karachi when the pilot attempted to land without landing gear deployed, the officials said. Marks on the runway indicate the engines were dragged along it, while flight-altitude data and eyewitness accounts say that the plane took off again, they said.

The Airbus A320 never made it back to the runway, striking a residential building near the Karachi airport. The crash killed all but two of the 99 people on board and injured several on the ground.

Pakistan International Airlines, the national carrier, has struggled financially for years. It has seen three planes destroyed in crashes since 2006, including Friday’s accident.

Arshad Malik, chief executive of Pakistan International Airlines, a former air force officer, has declined to comment on the cause of the crash until he sees the findings of the full investigation, which are supposed to be delivered within three months.

The “black box” flight-data recorder was found Friday, but the voice recorder hasn’t been located. The investigation is expected to get technical assistance from Airbus, and the engine manufacturer CFM.

“This will be a totally free and fair inquiry,” Ghulam Sarwar Khan, the aviation minister, said Saturday. “There will be action against whoever is held responsible.”

The investigation team is composed of three air force personnel and one representative of the industry regulator.

Imran Narejo, of the Pakistan Airline Pilots Association, questioned the independence of the inquiry, criticizing the absence of a commercial pilot or international experts.

He described the information coming out as premature, and expressed concern the pilots’ perspective may not be given proper consideration.

“Dead people don’t talk,” said Mr. Narejo.

The investigation will examine the technical and mechanical performance of the aircraft—one of the world’s most widely flown models—and decisions made by the crew that appear to have contributed to the crash, according to the officials who are familiar with the investigation.

The investigation will also try to determine whether the pilots had been fasting, for as long as 10 hours before the crash in this case, as part of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Pakistan International Airlines prohibits pilots from fasting when they are scheduled to fly so that their performance isn’t impaired. Low blood-sugar levels can cloud judgment.

The one-and-a-half hour flight appeared to be uneventful until the aircraft approached Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport just before 2:30 p.m.

According to officials familiar with the investigation, the probe will examine why the pilot approached the airport at an unusually steep and rapid descent. In a publicly available tape of air-traffic control’s communication with the pilot—confirmed by the airline—the control officer raised concern several times about the plane’s trajectory.

The pilot responded that he was “comfortable.” When the plane reached 5 miles from the runway, it was at 4,000 feet, flight data shows. That is higher than a prudent altitude at that point, experts said.

J.F. Joseph, head of Joseph Aviation Consulting, which is based in Texas and advises on aviation matters, said it was puzzling why the pilot didn’t abort the first approach when he saw he was too high.

“What was the sense of urgency which pushed the pilot to brush aside all protocols?” Mr. Joseph said.

Instead, the pilot continued descending, apparently unaware that the plane’s landing gear wasn’t extended, perhaps distracted by dealing with the steep approach, according to the officials. The plane is equipped with alarms to warn pilots that the landing gear isn’t extended as it nears the ground, the officials said.

Investigators will also probe why the tracking of the plane wasn’t handed from air-traffic control, which was following its initial path on radar, to personnel in the control tower, who might have been able to see whether the plane’s landing gear was retracted, the officials said.

Marks on the runway indicate the plane made contact with the ground during the initial landing attempt, including one or both engines, according to the officials. The first contact appears to be half way down the runway, with the left engine, an official said, while the right engine seems to have touched further down.

An amateur photograph of the plane once it got airborne again, which is regarded as a credible image by officials, seems to show black marks along the underside of both engines.

If the pilot did come down on his engines, he could have cut the power and let the plane slide to a halt, experts said. Instead, he powered full throttle and got airborne again to make another attempt to land.

The plane was told by air-traffic control to climb to 3,000 feet, according to the audio recording, but couldn’t maintain that altitude.

At that point the pilot told the controller “we have lost engines.” Shortly afterward, a voice from the cockpit said, “Mayday, mayday, mayday.”

Video footage from a security camera mounted on a rooftop and available on aviation websites shows the aircraft nose up and tail down—apparently gliding powerless. The landing gear looks to be extended as it approaches the airport the second time in the video, officials said.

The plane was over a residential area built on the approach path to the runway, with apartment blocks and houses, some four floors high, packed together. The investigation will examine whether those homes were built legally, the officials said.

The plane’s tail hit a building, video shows. The aircraft then fell onto the roofs of homes, breaking apart and catching fire.

ISLAMABAD — Rescuers recovered 97 bodies Saturday from the wreckage of a crashed Pakistan International Airlines domestic flight, which the pilot had said lost power.

The plane crashed Friday as it reached the southern city of Karachi, slamming into a residential area on the edge of the airport. The flight was carrying 99 passengers and crew. Two passengers survived and weren’t badly hurt, an escape described as “miraculous” by authorities.

Many of the passengers had been on their way to see their loved ones for the Muslim festival of Eid, which falls this weekend, officials said.

On Saturday, the provincial government said it had found 97 bodies. Residents of 25 homes on the ground that were damaged by the crash were relocated, said the military, which is helping with the debris-clearance operations.

Among the dead was one American, according to the airline and the State Department.

The plane flew into the roofs of low-rise apartment blocks and homes of a middle-class neighborhood, breaking the aircraft up. Fires broke out on the ground. Rubble from the buildings and plane parts littered the narrow streets of the area. Authorities said no residents were killed, but some were injured.

“The pilot tried his best to get the plane to the runway,” Ghulam Sarwar Khan, the aviation minister, said Saturday, visiting the site of the crash. He said when the pilot realized he wasn’t going to make it, he steered the plane down amid the buildings in a way to do “minimum damage.”

Many of the bodies of people on board were burned beyond recognition, rescuers said. The provincial government said Saturday morning that 19 of the dead have been identified so far. It asked relatives to come forward to give DNA samples to identify more victims.

An investigation into the crash has been launched, with a four-member team named by the government to run the probe.

The pilot radioed in an emergency before the crash, the airline said.

“We have lost engines,” the pilot told air-traffic control just before the plane went down, according to a voice recording played on local television channels that was confirmed as authentic by the airline.

The control tower then asked the pilot to confirm that the plane would be making a belly landing—indicating that the aircraft had also been unable to deploy its wheels to land. The air-traffic controller told the pilot that a runway was available for the plane.

“Mayday, mayday, mayday,” came the response from the pilot.

The plane, an Airbus A320, had come from the eastern city of Lahore and was due to land at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi at around 3 p.m. local time on Friday.

Arshad Malik, the chief executive of Pakistan International Airlines, said Friday the plane was on its final approach to the airport and cleared by air-traffic control to land. But the pilot decided to circle around for another attempt.

It was on that second approach that the plane lost height before crashing into the buildings near the airport, video footage run by local channels showed.

While announcing an inquiry, Mr. Malik declined to speculate about the cause before the investigation’s findings are known. He said that planes are allowed to take off only after undergoing technical safety checks.

One of the men who survived, Mohammad Zubair, suffered burns to his hands and feet but was well enough to give media interviews from a hospital bed on Friday.

He told reporters that on the first landing approach there were some shudders to the plane and the aircraft flew back upward. After a number of minutes, the pilot again announced that he would land.

Mr. Zubair said in the interviews that he was never aware of a problem.

The next thing that Mr. Zubair remembered, he said in the interviews, was fire all around and people screaming. He saw daylight coming in from one spot in the fuselage, undid his seat belt and scrambled toward it, escaping the wreckage, he said.

Imran Narejo, of the Pakistan Airlines Pilots’ Association, cited what he said appeared to be a failure of the landing gear on the first approach and engine failure when the plane attempted to land a second time.

The other survivor, Zafar Masud, is president of a local bank, Bank of Punjab. Local television footage showed residents carrying Mr. Masud, who appeared to be conscious, away from the site. His family, after visiting him at the hospital, said he was talking and had a fractured elbow. Bank of Punjab said that he had “sustained injuries but is out of danger.”

A spokesman for Airbus SE said Friday that “we are aware of the reports about an accident involving a passenger aircraft in Pakistan. At this time we have no further details.”

The aircraft, an earlier generation of Airbus’s popular A320 narrow-body jet, was powered by engines manufactured by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA, the plane maker said.

The aircraft first entered service in 2004. It has been in operation with Pakistan International Airlines since 2014, Airbus said.

Airbus said it was providing technical assistance to investigators in Pakistan and France under international air-accident investigation rules.

A spokesman for CFM said Friday it was aware of reports of the crash and is “closely monitoring the situation.”

The airline, which initially said 98 passengers and crew were on the flight but later corrected that to say there were 99 people, said Friday that it was in touch with both Airbus and the engine manufacturer.

Drone was photographing a frat party. It left a woman bleeding 'vigorously,' suit says

Pi Kappa Phi’s “Glow Party”

A drone was supposed to take pictures of attendees at a fraternity party at the University of Southern California, but it ended up leaving a woman badly hurt and bleeding “vigorously” from her head on Oct. 3, 2015, court documents said.

Alina Pituch said she was at the “Glow Party” for Pi Kappa Phi's Delta Rho Chapter for no longer than 20 minutes that night when a “heavy object” fell on her head, causing her to stumble forward into a friend, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles in 2016, City News Service reported.

The friend kept Pituch from falling, the complaint said. But the woman started bleeding from her wound, City News Service said. She says she suffered injuries to her forehead, left eye and the back of her head.

She was taken to the hospital, court documents said, the Daily Trojan reported. Pituch says the object that struck her was later identified to be a drone.

Her suit against the fraternity chapter and an event planning company, The Perfect Event, said Pituch suffers from permanent scarring on her head. The injuries have "compromised" her ability to focus on school work due to the headaches she began having after the incident, the Daily Trojan reported.

The event company had been hired to run the event and hire the operator of the drone that was taking pictures, the newspaper said.

The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits flying Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) directly over people, according to the agency’s website.

City News Service reports that the woman reached a settlement this month with the fraternity chapter and the Perfect Event. The terms weren’t disclosed.

This isn’t the first time a drone at a party led to injuries and lawsuits. Two guests at a New Hampshire wedding sued the groom in 2016, saying he brought in a drone that crashed into them. The women said they suffered permanent physical and emotional injury as a result of the crash, the Eagle-Tribune reported.

A drone injured two people, knocking one of them unconscious, at a Pride Parade in Seattle in 2015, the Seattle Times reported. The pilot was found guilty of reckless endangerment and got 30 days in jail.

Original article can be found here ➤

Commentary: Metal fatigue in the sky; Movie, novel hit close to home

By Thomas V. DiBacco
Guest Columnist

Thomas V. DiBacco, a 1959 Rollins College graduate, is professor emeritus at American University.

The recent engine explosion on a Southwest Airlines 737 flight forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia was a terrible disaster, killing one passenger, and bringing the Federal Aviation Authority, responsible for airline safety, into the public forefront. To be sure, the nation has had a near-decade long commercial airline safety record, but the preliminary finding of the FAA was that metal fatigue on one of the engine's fan blades may well have been responsible, as it was for a 2016 Southwest flight with a similar explosion that, fortunately, landed without incident.

I've been interested in metal fatigue for years because my late and older brother, Arch, was a mathematician with a specialty in that area. At one time he worked for an aeronautical firm. As an historian and airline passenger, I've been interested in metal fatigue because, in the early days of commercial flying, it was a major cause of accidents and deaths. For example, from 1934 to 1981, a total of 306 aircraft accidents attributable to metal fatigue occurred, resulting in 1,803 deaths.

No movie brought the issue of aircraft metal fatigue into the fear factor of travelers more than “No Highway in the Sky” (1951), at a time when most Americans had not purchased their first ticket for a commercial flight. Featuring top-ranked actors and derived from a novel by Nevil Shute, who was in real life a pioneer aircraft designer, the movie was part fiction in that Shute, who worked for Britain's de Havilland Company, which produced the first commercial jet airplane, was ahead of his time, but a little imprecise of the crisis curve, that is, of the first instances of metal fatigue causing jets to crash.

Here's the eerie time sequence between fiction and real life: Shute wrote his novel in 1948; the de Havilland firm put in service the first jet, called the Comet, in April 1951. Shute's movie was released on Sept. 21, 1951. No problems were found with the Comet airplane until May 1953, when three fatal crashes occurred, two attributable to metal fatigue. In time, after putting the Comet out of service, the de Havilland Company found the problem, but the responsible area of the plane was different from Shute's novel.

Here's the movie plot and metal-fatigue difference. Actor James Stewart, an American mathematician, works for a British company that produces what is dubbed a Reindeer aircraft, which experiences a crash that Stewart is charged to investigate. A quirky scientist who has already spent years on the unraveling of metal fatigue, Stewart finds himself on a Reindeer jet that, he calculates onboard the flight, has exceeded the number of hours that, mathematically, would bring the jet down. He exhibits all sorts of fright on the plane, confiding to a once-famous actress (Marlene Dietrich) as well as a flight attendant (Glynis Johns), both eventually becoming sympathetic to his reasoning. Although he can't get the pilot to abort the flight and is surprised when the jet lands safely, he goes into the cockpit and retracts the landing gear, so that the aircraft is damaged and can't fly again.

Of course, this not only puts Stewart in hot water with his firm but the law and finds himself in court defending his sanity. There's much more to the story: Stewart is a widower with a young daughter living in a London apartment filled with junk and neglect (he hasn't even cashed seven monthly payroll checks). And there's a bit of a romance (as the Brits would say) between Stewart and Johns.

But here's the bottom line: when the jet that he damaged is repaired, on its way to taxing onto the field, its tail falls off, just as Stewart had calculated. His misstep was that he didn't take into account how temperature changes (flying in tropical regions, for instance) affected his calculations.

As for the real story of the Comet's metal fatigue, the problem was not its tail, but the square design of the passenger windows, leading to cracks along the four edges, causing the windows to blow and the cabin to decompress. The problem was solved by making the windows smoothly in an oval shape — a design, fortunately, still honored to this day.

But it took years before the Comet's issues were resolved, and it wasn't until October 1958 when transatlantic jet flights were introduced by a major American carrier, Pan American. By then, the small-sized Comet was on its way to the history books. I took my first flight on Pan Am from London to New York in September 1958 on what was still dubbed a prop-jet, taking 13 and a half hours. By then, the Israeli airline, El Al, offered jet service, cutting four hours off the journey. Recalling the 1951 movie, I opted for Pan Am.

Original article ➤

Aerospatiale AS 350B2 Ecureuil, N127LN: Fatal accident occurred April 26, 2018 in Hazelhurst, Oneida County, Wisconsin

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration; Washington, District of Columbia
Turbomeca; Grand Prairie, Texas
Airbus; Grand Prairie, Texas
Honeywell; Phoenix, Arizona
Air Methods; Denver, Colorado
Federal Aviation Administration; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Federal Aviation Administration; Fort Worth, Texas
Appareo Systems; Fargo, North Dakota
Bureau d’EnquĂȘtes et d’Analyses; Paris, France
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Hazelhurst, WI
Accident Number: CEN18FA149
Date & Time: 04/26/2018, 2250 CDT
Registration: N127LN
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS 350 B2
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Positioning 

On April 26, 2018, about 2250 central daylight time, a Eurocopter AS 350 B2 helicopter, N127LN, impacted trees and terrain during cruise flight near Hazelhurst, Wisconsin. The pilot and two crewmembers were fatally injured. The helicopter was destroyed during the impact. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Air Methods Corporation as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 repositioning flight. Night visual meteorological conditions were reported in the area about the time of the accident, and the flight was operating on a company visual flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Dane County Regional Airport-Truax Field (MSN), near Madison, Wisconsin, about 2104 and was destined for the Howard Young Medical Center Heliport (60WI), near Woodruff, Wisconsin.

Earlier in the day the emergency medical services (EMS) crew had transported a patient to the Madison area. The purpose of this flight was to reposition the helicopter back to 60WI. The helicopter was serviced with 80 gallons of fuel at MSN. According to initial information, the pilot radioed that he departed from MSN. The helicopter did not arrive at its destination at its estimated arrival time, and the operator started their search procedures for the helicopter. The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center placed a call to the operator and advised that an emergency locator transmitter signal associated with the helicopter was received by the center. The center informed the operator of a latitude and longitude in which to look for the helicopter. The helicopter was subsequently found near that location about 0215 on April 27, 2018.

The 34-year-old pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial pilot certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter ratings. He also held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. He held an FAA second class medical certificate issued on May 31, 2017. On his last application for the medical certificate the pilot reported having accumulated 3,200 hours of total flight time, with 100 hours logged with the preceding six months. According to initial information from the operator, the pilot received training on January 5 and 7, 2018 and satisfactorily passed a check ride.

N127LN was a 2006 model Eurocopter (Airbus) AS 350 B2, four-place, single-engine helicopter, with serial number 4149. The helicopter was configured for EMS transport services. It was powered by a Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 turboshaft engine, with serial number 19129. The engine had a maximum takeoff power rating of 732 shaft horsepower and a continuous power rating of 625 horsepower. According to initial information, the helicopter was maintained under a company aircraft inspection program and had undergone 100 and 600-hour inspections on April 25, 2018, at an airframe total time of 5,152.8 hours. The helicopter was not equipped with a vehicle engine multifunction display or a digital electronic control unit. However, it was equipped with an enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS).

At 2255, the recorded weather at the Lakeland Airport/Noble F. Lee Memorial Field, near Minocqua, Wisconsin, was: Wind calm; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 0° C; dew point -1° C; altimeter 29.88 inches of mercury.

At 2253, the recorded weather at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport, near Rhinelander, Wisconsin, was: Wind calm; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 2° C; dew point 1° C; altimeter 29.87 inches of mercury.

At 2253, the recorded weather at the Eagle River Union Airport, near Eagle River, Wisconsin, was: Wind calm; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 0° C; dew point 0° C; altimeter 29.86 inches of mercury.

According to U.S. Naval Observatory Sun and Moon Data, the end of local civil twilight in the Rhinelander, Wisconsin, area was 2031 and local moonset was at 0507 on April 27, 2018. The observatory characterized the phase of the moon as "waxing gibbous with 88% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated."

The helicopter was found in a wooded area about 178° and 8.4 nautical miles from 60WI. First responders indicated that the sky was clear, the moon was visible, and there was a smell of fuel at the time the helicopter was located. However, the wreckage did not exhibit any signs of fire. A tree about 70 ft tall about 66° and 47 feet from the nose of the wreckage had branches broken in its upper canopy. Trees in between this tree and the wreckage had their trunks and branches broken and linearly separated. The path of the broken and separated trunks and branches through the trees was steep. A ground impression about 11 ft by 9 ft and 2 ft deep was found in front of the helicopter wreckage. The helicopter came to rest on its right side. The heading of the wreckage from tail to nose was about 095°. During the on-scene examination, the smell of fuel was present at the site and in the ground below the helicopter. All major components of the helicopter were located at the site. The cockpit and cabin area was destroyed. The fuselage exhibited rearward crushing deformation. The tailboom was attached to the fuselage. The tail rotor gear box and tail rotor blades remained on the tail. However, the vertical fin had partially detached from the end of the tailboom. Both horizontal stabilizers were present on the tail. All three rotor blades remained attached to the rotor hub, and the rotor hub was attached to the transmission. The main rotor blades exhibited damage to include spar fractures and leading-edge abrasions and depressions. The main rotor hub rotated when the transmission's input drive shaft was rotated by hand. The fuel tank was fragmented. Yaw, pitch, lateral, and collective controls were traced from the cockpit to their respective servo actuators. Engine controls were traced from the cockpit through their respective bellcranks to their engine components. A magnetic plug in the hydraulic system had some particulate on its magnetic end. The filter bypass button on the hydraulic control block was popped. The hydraulic pump was turned by a drill and the pump exhibited a suction and pressure at the pump's inlet and outlet. Disassembly of the hydraulic pump revealed scoring witness marks on the pump housing in its gear's plane of rotation and no debris or obstructions were observed within the pump ports.

The engine was found on the ground and was separated from the fuselage. The engine's compressor blades exhibited nick and gouge damage consistent with foreign object ingestion. The power turbine blades exhibited silver colored deposits on them. The power turbine was turned by hand and the drive train did not turn. Subsequent examination revealed that the engine's Module 5 reduction gearbox had migrated out of its installed position, rearward, to the extent its O-ring groove was visible. The Module 5 gearbox was removed for inspection of the input pinion torque alignment marks. The marks were found to be misaligned approximately 2 millimeters in the tightening direction which is consistent with engine power being delivered to the drive train during the main rotor blade impact sequence.

The Oneida County Coroner was asked to perform an autopsy on the pilot and to take toxicological samples.

The helicopter was equipped with an Appareo Vision 1000 recorder unit, which records to both a removable secure data (SD) card and internal memory. Both the unit and the SD card sustained impact damage. The unit and its SD card were shipped to the National Transportation Safety Board Recorder Laboratory to see if they contain data in reference to the accident flight. A hydraulic fluid sample and a fuel sample were retained for testing. Additionally, the hydraulic magnetic plug, the hydraulic pump, hydraulic filter, four actuators, and the EGPWS were retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: EUROCOPTER
Registration: N127LN
Model/Series: AS 350 B2 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: QMLA

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KARV, 1630 ft msl
Observation Time: 2255 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 0°C / -1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.88 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: MADISON, WI (MSN)
Destination: WOODRUFF, WI (60WI) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 3 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  45.754444, -89.695833

The air ambulance helicopter crash Thursday night in Hazelhurst has affected staff and families of Ascension and Air Methods across the region and the country.

In a joint follow up statement, representatives from the two organizations said the “outpouring of support from our Ascension and Air Methods families, first responders and the community has been significant and greatly appreciated.”

Ascension public relations manager Tom Weaver released photos and names of the three crew members who perished in the accident. Deceased are Rico Caruso, 34, of Hazelhurst- Air Methods pilot; Greg Rosenthal, 43, of Mosinee- flight paramedic and Klint Mitchell, 30, of Watersmeet, Mich. – flight nurse.

Also in the follow up statement released Saturday, Weaver announced the Howard Young Foundation will be using its ‘Helping Hands’ fund for any donations to benefit the families of the Spirit team affected by this tragedy. All donations collected will go to the affected families.  To donate, people are asked to visit the foundation’s website at or call  715-439-4005. Donations can also be mailed to Howard Young Foundation, PO Box 470, Woodruff, WI 54568.  Checks may be made payable to Howard Young Foundation – Spirit.

A remembrance banner has been placed near the recently constructed entrance to the Howard Young Medical Center campus along Highway 51. Similar areas are being planned for other facilities in the area.

Oneida County dispatchers were alerted to a missing air ambulance approximately 11:22 p.m. April 26. The last known contact with the helicopter was at approximately 10:55 p.m.  Emergency responders searched the last known area of the aircraft.  At approximately 2:00 a.m., emergency responders located the helicopter in the town of Hazelhurst.  Three occupants, including the pilot were on board the aircraft; all three occupants were found deceased.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are continuing the investigation.

Air Methods and Ascension previously announced that both ground and air medical transport would be suspended until further notice. However, Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transportation has been able to resume operation of its ground units for interfacility transport. The Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Air Medical services remain grounded.

Ascension Wisconsin has released photos of the three victims in Thursday night's air ambulance helicopter. From left, Rico Caruso, Air Methods pilot; Greg Rosenthal, flight paramedic and Klint Mitchell, flight nurse.

HAZELHURST -  Saturday afternoon, the Oneida County Sheriff's Office identified the victims killed in a medical helicopter crash.

Gregory Rosenthal of Mosinee, 43, Rico Caruso of Hazelhurst, 34, and Klint Mitchell of Watersmeet, MI, 30, all died when their Ascension SPIRIT Air helicopter crashed into the woods in Hazelhurst late Thursday night.  The Oneida County Medical Examiner told Newswatch 12 all three died on impact.  

The NTSB reported Friday that the victims included a pilot and two medical staff members, however the agency did not identify the victims at that time.  Ascension spokesman Tom Weaver confirmed to Newswatch 12 Saturday that Caruso was the helicopter's pilot.  There was no patient on board at the time of the crash.

The Eurocopter AS350 was returning to its base at Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff after dropping a patient off in Madison. The last known contact with the helicopter came at 10:55 p.m. on Thursday.   Oneida County Emergency Dispatch received a call alerting police to the missing helicopter around 11:20 p.m.

Emergency responders searched the area and found the wreckage in the woods past South Blue Lake Road around 2:00 a.m. Friday.

The NTSB and FAA took control of the investigation Friday. A preliminary report could come out in the next week, but a full report -- including what caused the crash -- could take about a year.

The Howard Young Foundation set up a fund for Rosenthal, Caruso, and Mitchell's families.  You can donate by following the steps through this link.

Joint Statement from Air Methods and Ascension Wisconsin

We are deeply saddened and mourning the loss of three teammates who were aboard the air medical helicopter that went down in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin last night.

Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to the families and friends of the crew onboard. We will not release any names at this time to respect the privacy of their families.

The accident is currently under investigation by the NTSB and FAA and we will support their work in every way possible.

In addition, we have made the decision to suspend operations of our air and ground medical transport units until we determine when it is appropriate to resume operations. We are working with our EMS partners and medical transportation colleagues in the region to meet the needs of patient transport.

We would like to thank the dedicated Emergency Response professionals in our community who have been responding to this incident.

There is no further information available at this time.

ONEIDA COUNTY, Wis. (WAOW) - Three people are dead after a helicopter crash in Oneida County, according to the Oneida County Medical Examiner.

The medical helicopter, which is based in Woodruff, dropped off a patient in Madison Thursday and was heading back to the Northwoods, according to a spokesman with the National Transportation Safety Board. The helicopter crashed 12 miles south of its destination, a FAA spokesperson told News 9. 

The Oneida County Sheriff's Department said the helicopter was found in Hazelhurst. The three were all flight crew members, according to the medical examiner. No patients were on board. 

No identities are being released at this time, pending notification to family members. The three are believed to have died on impact, according to the medical examiner. 

The body of the pilot is being sent for an autopsy, which is standard protocol, according to the medical examiner.

The FAA will send a team to the site and the National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation. 

The helicopter went missing Thursday night, according to the sheriff's office. According to the press release, the Oneida Dispatch Center received the call at about 11:22 p.m.

Ascension Wisconsin released the following statement Friday afternoon: 

"We are deeply saddened and mourning the loss of three teammates who were aboard the air medical helicopter that went down in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin on April 26.

Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to the families and friends of the crew onboard. We will not release any names at this time to respect the privacy of their families."

Ascension said ground and air medical transport has been suspended until further notice.

The Associated Press reports at least eight agencies were involved in the search.

Several local fire department are extending condolences on Facebook.

Story and video ➤

Vermont Transportation Board seeks input on private landing sites

BENNINGTON — Citing a steady number of applications for private helipad, landing strip or seaplane site permits, the Vermont Transportation Board is asking about the concerns of local officials and their level of municipal regulation.

The board recently sent messages to cities and towns, along with information on applicable state law and regulation, said Executive Secretary John Zicconi. He said replies are sought by July 1 concerning applications to site helicopter landing areas or other aviation facilities for private use.

"The board also recognizes that many municipalities do not have a process for municipal approval of these facilities." the letter stated. "We encourage all cities and towns to consider adopting such a process."

Reached Friday by phone, Zicconi said the transportation board has fielded roughly two permit requests annually over the six years he has been in his position. Some of those requests have come from second homeowners wishing to fly in from their primary residence location to their Vermont property.

"Our process," Zicconi said, "is that we don't consider applications unless they have local approval."

But he said many towns don't have local permitting requirements for such facilities, which leaves the decision up to the board, pending the results of a technical review by VTrans aviation officials.

The board does have the option of specifying conditions of operation when approving a permit.

Dorset application

Zicconi said an example of how the process might play out occurred in Dorset in 2017, when town officials informed the board in a letter that there were no local regulations regarding helipads and deferred an application to the board.

Some communities determine "they have to punt to us" if they have no local regulation in place, he said.

After VTrans had reviewed that request and found the application complete, the board decided in January 2017 to schedule a public hearing in Dorset in the spring. However, before that hearing took place, the applicant withdrew the request amid expressions of opposition among some residents.

A similar board hearing is scheduled for next month for a private air strip permit in the town of Panton, near Vergennes. That site was once used for crop spraying or similar flights, Zicconi said, but it was never formally permitted and a new owner has filed a permit application.

Old, unclear regulation

In its letter to local officials, the board said state regulation concerning board reviews of such facilities "were written long ago and provide little guidance on how the board is to consider such applications other than that an application be supported by `a showing that the proposed facility has received municipal approval' and the mandate that the board `consider and determine whether in the public interest the application ought to be granted.' Neither statute nor the board's rules, however, define `municipal approval' or `public interest.'"

Zicconi said another factor is that some recent requests are for sites closer to village areas of communities, as opposed to more isolated rural locations.

He said the board "seeks input that will help guide its discussions and decision making prior to embarking on the formal rule-making process."

Asked about regulation in Bennington, Assistant Town Manager and Planning Director Daniel Monks said Friday, "I don't believe we have any regulations that explicitly address the issue. Arguably, however, only uses that are specifically allowed are permitted under the zoning regs."

Manchester Planning and Zoning Director Janet Hurley said, "Our proposed zoning would allow either [facility] in the proposed Office Industrial District," but she added that there have been no such applications in recent years.

Zicconi can be reached for further information about the outreach effort at

Regulations pertaining to the applicable state law can be found at [] in Section 207 of the statute.

Original article ➤

Why the Pentagon Got Just One Bid to Build Next-Generation GPS Satellites: Incumbent Lockheed Martin’s multibillion-dollar prize reflects revised Air Force procurement strategy

The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor
Updated April 26, 2018 1:21 p.m. ET

Lockheed Martin Corp. will remain the sole producer of satellites for the government’s Global Positioning System after two main rivals decided against bidding on the newest version, reflecting new Air Force acquisition strategies that favor incumbent contractors on some big-ticket space programs.

The decisions by Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp. this month to forgo competing for the multibillion-dollar business are in keeping with efforts by Air Force brass to reduce long-term costs and accelerate production of GPS satellites. They underscore the Pentagon’s broader drive to transform acquisition of space technology—satellites, rockets, missile warning systems—into a less expensive and more nimble process.

The U.S. military, which is already committed to buying up to 10 next-generation GPS III satellites from Lockheed, has been advised by procurement experts inside and outside the Air Force that the best way to streamline the program is to stick with the existing supplier, say people familiar with the details.

The government-owned satellite system supports a range of widely used devices, from navigation aids to the cash-dispensing machines at banks. The Air Force has run the GPS program for decades, providing services to both government and commercial users.

The developments come against a backdrop of heightened threats to U.S. space technology from Russia and China. Military and intelligence experts warn that U.S. national-security satellites, for example, could be blinded or damaged by hostile forces using lasers, antisatellite weapons and other types of weapons.

Air Force leaders also are under congressional pressure to show progress in overhauling the acquisition of space hardware. Some House GOP leaders advocate a separate branch of the armed services dubbed a space corps.

With product development largely paid for and 22 additional GPS III satellites slated for procurement, the focus is now on smoothing out assembly, according to one person involved in discussions. “The Air Force realizes it needs to dramatically squeeze costs while ratcheting up the pace of production,” the person said.

There are currently 31 GPS satellites in orbit, including spares. The latest models feature greater power, accuracy and jam-resistant capabilities. The first Lockheed-built GPS III satellite, with a longer lifespan than its predecessors, will launch this fall at the earliest.

In the past, the Air Force’s sprawling acquisition bureaucracy regarded competitive bidding as key to getting the best price. But now the emphasis is on moving quickly and, in some other programs, building prototypes to swiftly demonstrate cutting-edge technologies before committing to long-term production.

The process change aims “to put large amounts of hardware on orbit now, at the lowest possible cost,” according to industry consultant Jim McAleese. Such moves “are critical for the Air Force at all levels,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

Boeing, which built a previous version of GPS satellites, declined to comment. Instead, it referred to its statement earlier this month that it didn’t bid because the Air Force’s request, in part, prioritized uninterrupted production over creating new GPS features and capabilities.

Northrop spokesmen couldn’t be reached for comment. The company has indicated it didn’t submit a bid because it didn’t make financial sense. Last year, Northrop surprised aerospace industry analysts by not bidding on some larger Pentagon contracts, including one to supply unmanned tanker aircraft for the Navy and a training aircraft for the Air Force.

A Lockheed spokesman also declined to comment. When it submitted its bid, the company said modular design envisioned “insertion of modern technologies and new Air Force requirements in a low-risk manner.”

Retaining GPS business is particularly important for Lockheed as it faces the end of production on its premier Pentagon communications and missile-warning satellite constellations, The company also has invested heavily in recent years to shake up its commercial satellite-making operations, and industry officials said some of those efficiencies give it a distinct price advantage over Boeing and Northrop.

Lockheed went over budget on its initial GPS production that dates back seven years, but company officials have said the program is back on track. The Pentagon now says the unit costs for each satellite will be at most 6% higher than initially projected, though cost overruns for development were significantly larger.

Based on current prices, the anticipated fixed-price contract, excluding potential incentive payments, could total more than $12 billion.

At a space conference in Colorado last week, Air Force officials declined to discuss specifics of GPS bidding procedures, but said rigorous cost estimating would be used if there were to be only one bid. They also spelled out the scope and reasoning behind the new direction in space contracting.

Lt. Gen John Thompson, head of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center in suburban Los Angeles, said future requests for bids would “take advantage of similarities between programs,” noting that “we have so much redesign work to do” regarding SMC’s structure and acquisition policies.

He also said future satellite fleets will have to be “more defensible and resilient systems.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Skystar Kitfox V, N181TW: Fatal accident occurred April 27, 2018 near Kalkaska City Airport (Y89), Kalkaska County, Michigan

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Kalkaska, MI
Accident Number: CEN18LA150
Date & Time: 04/27/2018, 1416 EDT
Registration: N818TW
Aircraft: WOLFE Kitfox V
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On April 27, 2018, at 1416 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Kitfox V, N818TW, impacted terrain about 4 miles south of Kalkaska City Airport, Kalkaska, Michigan, after witnesses reported that the airplane was in a spin. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces. The private pilot and a passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight's origination and destination are unknown. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: WOLFE
Registration: N818TW
Model/Series: Kitfox V
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: ACB, 623 ft msl
Observation Time: 1415 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 5°C / 1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots, 310°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1400 ft agl
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.8 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:

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

Thomas & Mary Lynn (Medearis) Wolfe

GREENFIELD - Thomas Wolfe, age 71, and Mary Lynn (Medearis) Wolfe, age 70, of Greenfield, passed away on Friday, April 27, 2018 in Kalkaska, Michigan. Tom was born on March 21, 1947 in Terre Haute, Indiana, as the son of Walter and Dorcas Anne (Fink) Wolfe. Mary Lynn was born on October 11, 1947 in Slaton, Texas, as the daughter of Dale and Mildred (Swenson) Medearis. The two were married in 1973.

Mary Lynn graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in 1972, studied music history at Butler University, and earned a Medical Doctorate in the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1992. She continued her medical training in the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Radiology, including a fellowship in neuroradiology, completing her training in 1997. Mary Lynn practiced radiology with Irvington Radiologists and was the chief of radiology at Hancock Regional Hospital, retiring in 2013.

Tom was proud to have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in 1969, he earned his Medical Doctorate in the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed his medical training in 1978 in the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology, including a fellowship in pediatric anesthesiology. Tom enjoyed his career as a highly respected teaching physician in the Department of Anesthesiology at Riley Hospital for Children. He also retired in 2013. 

Both Tom and Mary Lynn were consummate hobbyists. Tom was a dedicated pilot, building several of his own planes, and an active member of the EAA Chapter 1121 in Greenfield. He was also passionate about forestry and enjoyed working his tree farm and woods, dog Lexi by his side. Mary Lynn loved music. She played the piano and was active in two local handbell choirs. Mary Lynn had an ever-expanding list of leisure pursuits, from sewing, knitting, and quilting to doll making and ribbon embroidery. She also loved planning elaborate trips, especially in their RV. Above all, they treasured hosting friends and family at Sunday brunches, birthdays, and Thanksgiving and Christmas parties at their Greenfield home.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Erlewein Mortuary & Crematory, 1484 W. US Hwy. 40, Greenfield, IN 46140. A private Celebration of Life event will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to one of several organizations which were meaningful to Tom and Mary Lynn. These include the Harpoon Restoration & Museum at the Indianapolis Regional Airport (; the IUF-Wolfe Pediatric Anesthesia Education Fund, administered by the IU Foundation, PO Box 7072, Indianapolis, IN 46207-7072; or the music programs of the Cross of Grace Lutheran Church (3519 S. 600 W., New Palestine, IN 46163) and Old Bethel United Methodist Church (7995 E. 21st Street, Indianapolis, IN 46219). Envelopes will be available at the mortuary. Friends may share a memory or a condolence at

Read more here:

Thomas Wolfe

Mary Lynn (Medearis) Wolfe

Two people are dead after a plane crashed in Kalkaska County on Friday.

The sheriff tells us they got a call that a Skystar Kitfox V went down around 2:15.

Thomas and Mary Wolfe, from Indiana, the only two on board, were killed.

The plane crashed near U.S.131 and Vroom Road.

“We were just in the house, in the office here, and all of a sudden we heard a noise and we were not sure what it was, either a big clunk noise, backfiring or something and Dylan was standing at the door and he opened it up and looked out and said an airplane crashed next door,” says Polly Piltz.

Polly Piltz lives next door to where the plane crashed. She immediately called 911.

“There was a little bit of smoke. There was a man and woman in there because our guy that works for us, and our son Mike went over there and they were trying to see what they can do,” says Piltz.

The Kalkaska County Sheriff tells us Thomas Wolfe and Mary Wolfe from Indiana were found dead inside.

They tell us Thomas was flying the plane.

The FAA showed up on scene to start investigating how the crash might have happened.

“Looking at today and the weather, I don’t even understand, I don’t know anything about aviation, but gorgeous day and no big wind gusts,” says Belinda Mercado, lives near crash.

The sheriff tells says they’re working to find out where the Skystar Kitfox V was coming from and going to.

And everyone on the ground is thankful more people weren’t hurt.

“Wow that could have hit our house, but it didn’t thank God, and we just pray for the people and their family that did get in the accident,” says Piltz.

Mercado added, “it’s very sad. It’s kind of shocking to hear that someone lost their life, of course prayers go out to the family and everyone involved just wow, wow.”

Story and video ➤

KALKASKA COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- A small plane crash killed two people in Kalkaska County Friday afternoon.

Sheriff Pat Whiteford said the Skystar Kitfox V crashed just after 2 p.m. just west of US 131 and Vroom Road in Boardman Township. 

Thomas Wolfe, 71, Mary Wolfe, 70, were killed. They were from Indiana. 

Deputies secured the scene until the FAA arrived. The FAA then cleared the aircraft and removed the victims. 

Investigators say Mr. Wolfe was the pilot and the cause of the crash is still under investigation. 

The Kalkaska Airport is about 5 miles north of the crash site.

Original article can be found here ➤

SOUTH BOARDMAN, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say two Indiana residents were killed when their Skystar Kitfox V crashed in northern Michigan.

Officials in Kalkaska County identified the victims of Friday's airplane crash as Thomas Wolfe and Mary Wolfe. The relationship of the two was not given.

Sheriff Pat Whiteford says the plane crashed near U.S. 131 about 20 miles southeast of Traverse City. The plane crashed on private property without hitting any houses or other structures. Whiteford says Thomas Wolfe was flying the plane.

The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement saying it was investigating the crash with the National Transportation Safety Board


SOUTH BOARDMAN, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say two people have died after a single-engine airplane they were on crashed in northern Michigan.

Kalkaska County Undersheriff Harry Shipp confirmed the fatalities after the crash Friday afternoon.

Sheriff Pat Whiteford says the plane crashed on private property without hitting any houses or other structures. It occurred near U.S. 131 about 20 miles southeast of Traverse City.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports law enforcement officials were waiting for Federal Aviation Administration officials to arrive at the scene.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

Story and video ➤

KALKASKA COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- A small plane crash killed two people in Kalkaska County Friday afternoon.

Sheriff Pat Whiteford said the Skystar Kitfox V crashed just after 2 p.m. just west of US 131 and Vroom Road in Boardman Township. 

Thomas Wolfe, 71, Mary Wolfe, 70, were killed. They were from Indiana. 

Deputies secured the scene until the FAA arrived. The FAA then cleared the aircraft and removed the victims. 

Investigators say Mr. Wolfe was the pilot and the cause of the crash is still under investigation. 

The Kalkaska Airport is about 5 miles north of the crash site.

Story and video ➤

SOUTH BOARDMAN — Authorities believe two people were killed when a Skystar Kitfox V crashed near South Boardman.

Sheriff Pat Whiteford said emergency personnel responded to reports of a plane crash near the west side of U.S. 131 near Vroom Road at about 2:16 p.m. Friday. Whiteford said first responders believe two people inside the plane were killed in the crash.

Law enforcement officials must wait for Federal Aviation Administration officials to arrive at the scene before investigating the crash and determining a cause.

Whiteford said the plane crashed on private property without hitting any houses or other structures. The crash and investigation will not impede traffic on either roadway, he said.

Original article can be found here ➤