Friday, May 6, 2016

Sky Combat Ace pilots, aircraft had history of problems before fatal flight: Extra EA-330LC, N330MT, Vegas Extreme Adventures

A Sky Combat Ace stunt plane sits on truck bed after its pilot made an emergency landing Oct. 26, 2014 at McCarran International Airport with a passenger on board. National Transportation Safety Board investigators determined that the pilot experienced a control issue with the aircraft during spin maneuver when a rudder cable failed.


Sky Combat Ace instructor pilot Ben Soyars, 37, of Las Vegas, is shown with an unidentified person in an August 2015 post from his Facebook page. Soyars and Steve Peterson, 32, of Rohnert Park, Calif., (not shown) were killed Saturday when their plane crashed near Jean. (Ben Soyar/Facebook)


Sky Combat Ace instructor pilot Ben Soyars, 37, of Las Vegas, right, is shown with an unidentified person in an August 2015 post from his Facebook page. Soyars and Steve Peterson, 32, of Rohnert Park, Calif., (not shown) were killed Saturday when their plane crashed near Jean. (Ben Soyar/Facebook)


Officials from the Clark County Department of Aviation, Clark County Fire Department, Henderson Fire Department, and Henderson Police Department respond to an airplane crash at the southern edge of the Henderson Executive Airport in Henderson on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. 



The same stunt plane that crashed Saturday, killing a Sky Combat Ace pilot and his passenger, had been involved in a dangerous, low-flying maneuver in 2015 over the Colorado River south of Hoover Dam, according to Federal Aviation Administration officials.


A pending enforcement action letter, obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request, proposes to suspend the commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates of Denis Richard Boissonneault of Las Vegas for 135 days for violating FAA regulations during a March 16, 2015, flight from Henderson Executive Airport.


“On takeoff … you abruptly pitched up the aircraft in a manner not normal for takeoff of an Extra,” the letter reads, referring to the Extra EA300 aircraft with tail No. N330MT.


The letter also states Boissonneault executed “an aileron roll,” commonly known as a barrel roll, “below 1,500 feet above the surface over the Colorado River.”


An FAA official familiar with the incident said Thursday the FAA was alerted to the low, aerobatic flight by Bureau of Reclamation police at Hoover Dam who saw the plane flying south of the dam.


The FAA official said Boissonneault had a passenger in the plane and that such maneuvers below 1,500 feet above the surface are prohibited by FAA regulations.


“Your operation of N330MT, in the manner and circumstances … was careless or reckless so as to endanger the life or property of another,” reads the Sept. 9, 2015, letter to Boissonneault.


Attempts to reach Boissonneault on Thursday were unsuccessful.


Messages seeking comment from Sky Combat Ace President Richard “Tex” Coe left on the company’s answering machine also were not returned.


A profile of Denis “Smokey” Boissonneault on Sky Combat Ace’s website says, “His favorite thing to do is to share his passion with anyone who wants to learn about the joy of flight, particularly advanced aerobatics!”


FAA officials confirmed that the two-seat, single-engine aircraft Boissonneault flew south of Hoover Dam on March 16, 2015, is the same one that crashed Saturday near Jean killing a passenger, Steve Peterson, 32, of Rohnert Park, California, and Sky Combat Ace instructor pilot Ben Soyars, 37, of Las Vegas.


BACHELOR PARTY DEATHS


Peterson and his twin brother, Chris Peterson, were among 12 friends who had traveled to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Nine from the group were supposed to fly in at least three Sky Combat Ace stunt planes as part of a simulated air-combat and bombing run experience they had planned months in advance through Vegas Extreme Adventures.


With thunderstorms in the area, some members of the group declined to go on the flights. But Steve Peterson and two others decided to go to avoid forfeiting the more than $8,000 in fares in keeping with the company’s non-refund policy, one member of the group has said.


The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating Saturday’s fatal stunt plane accident near Jean. The FAA is also investigating Sky Combat Ace on legal grounds to see if the company was in compliance with its regulations at the time of Saturday’s accident.


Vegas Extreme Adventures, which does business as Sky Combat Ace, had issued a statement after Saturday’s plane crash saying the company has provided “instructional aerobatic airplane rides to the general public since 2011 and has conducted over 15,000 incident-free flights over the last 5 years.”


When asked about its “incident-free” claim Tuesday, Vegas Extreme Adventures publicist Megan Fazio released a revised statement that reads, “Up until this tragic accident on April 30th, 2016, there have been exactly zero injuries to customers at Sky Combat Ace. That is 5 years and 15,000 flights.”


Records obtained by the Review-Journal, however, show there have been two close-call incidents in which pilots and passengers narrowly escaped injuries. And, there have been numerous complaints about Sky Combat Ace’s flights over Henderson neighborhoods and elsewhere in Southern Nevada filed with local authorities and the FAA.


RECORD OF PROBLEMS


On Oct. 26, 2014, a Sky Combat Ace stunt plane made an emergency landing at McCarran International Airport with a passenger on board after performing an aerobatic spin maneuver. National Transportation Safety Board investigators determined that the pilot’s control problem stemmed from a rudder cable that had failed.


The next month, a Sky Combat Ace aircraft was forced to land on a street near the Henderson airport after the pilot experienced a partial loss of engine power. The accident caused substantial damage to the plane’s right wing.


FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said Sky Combat Ace had been granted a waiver in 2011 to carry passengers for hire while flying in formation but the waiver was suspended for a month in 2012 after the agency investigated a complaint that the company’s aircraft flew in formation at 500 feet above ground level contrary to provisions of the waiver.


The waiver was revoked Aug. 30, 2012, “based on a second complaint involving low-flying aircraft near the Hoover Dam,” Gregor said.


Las Vegas trial lawyer Robert W. Cottle said Thursday he is representing a mechanic in a claim against Sky Combat Ace. He said his client was run over in January by a Sky Combat Ace plane that was taxiing at the south end of the Henderson Airport.


“Fortunately he’s alive,” Cottle said about the mechanic who works for an air service company at the airport.


“He turned around to catch the red plane in the corner of his eye. That’s when the plane ran over the top of him and his foot was struck by the wheel,” he said, adding that the mechanic remained flat on the tarmac to avoid being struck by the propeller.


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


NTSB Identification: WPR15LA024
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 26, 2014 in Las Vegas, NV
Aircraft: EXTRA FLUGZEUGPRODUKTIONS-UND EA 300/L, registration: N763DT
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 26, 2014, about 1130 Pacific daylight time, an Extra Flugzeugproduktions, N763DT, experienced an in-flight rudder cable separation after recovering from an aerodynamic maneuver, and veered off the runway during the emergency landing at Mc Carran International Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada. Sky Combat Ace was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The flight instructor and pilot-rated passenger were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The aerobatic demonstration flight departed from the Henderson Executive Airport, Las Vegas about 1100. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed.

The flight instructor stated that the purpose of the flight was to take the passenger on an aerobatic introduction flight where he would demonstrate the characteristics of the airplane. He performed a spin maneuver, and during the recovery, he felt the tension in the rudder pedal become completely slack. The pedal moved completely forward, and he realized that the rudder cable must have separated. The flight instructor declared an emergency, and decided to land at Mc Carran International Airport due to their robust emergency facilities and less of a crosswind. The flight instructor further stated that during landing on runway 19R, he could not maintain directional control, and the airplane slid off the right side.

A post accident examination of the airplane was performed by an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He found the area that the rudder cable had separated, and it was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Materials Laboratory for further evaluation. The examination revealed that the rudder cable showed signatures indicative of a failure as a result of tension overstress. Several of the wire strands on the cable were damaged by rubbing wear. Several of the damaged strands were either completely worn through or nearly worn through, compromising the cross-section of the cable. There was no obvious indication of material transfer.

A Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB), CE-12-01 was issued in October 2011 to address some Extra Aircraft rudder cable failures. The SAIB stated that because the cables are made of stainless steel they are susceptible to corrosion and wear damage. The recommendation to mitigate risk was for cable inspections to be completed, and to install a protective hose on the cable. There was no record of implementation of this SAIB in the logbooks. 

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA034
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 05, 2014 in Las Vegas, NV
Aircraft: EXTRA FLUGZEUGPRODUKTIONS-UND EA 300, registration: N369XT
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 5, 2014, at 1145 Pacific standard time, an Extra Flugzeugproducktions-UND, EA-300/L, N369XT, experienced a partial loss of engine power while on final approach to runway 35L, Henderson Executive Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada, and collided with terrain short of the runway. The airplane's right wing was substantially damaged; the commercial pilot and single passenger were uninjured. The airplane was registered to Unmanned Systems, Inc., and operated by Sky Combat Ace under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 135. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which originated from Henderson Executive Airport at 1100.

The pilot stated that while on long final to runway 35L, about 3,000 feet above ground level (agl), he felt a loss of engine power. The propeller continued to windmill while he attempted to restart the engine twice unsuccessfully. He then executed a forced landing to flat desert terrain short of runway 35L. The right wing and landing gear sustained structural damage during the off field landing. The pilot stated that the center fuel tank was 3/4 full (17 gal capacity), and the wing tanks were empty.