Articles Posted in Aviation Accident

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation into a 2011 medical transport helicopter crash that led to the deaths of two Mayo Clinic employees and the death of the pilot/owner of the helicopter, has determined that the helicopter used in the flight was not certified to fly in the weather conditions it encountered.

The Florida Times-Union reports the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville had contracted SK Logistics to fly a helicopter to pick up a heart needed for a transplant. Unfortunately, the helicopter never made the pick up, as it crashed into a 50-foot tree in a remote area in Clay County.

An ex-employee of the now defunct company said that the area where the helicopter crashed was known to often be foggy, and visibility could be near zero at 200 to 400 feet. It was determined that the helicopter used for the pick up was not certified for use under those conditions and was not equipped with an autopilot or radar altimeter.

Disturbingly, SK Logistics had a helicopter that would have been certified to make the flight, but it had been down for maintenance since August of that year. The crash occurred the day after Christmas in 2011.
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A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on the cause of a medical helicopter crash near Green Cove Springs has been released. The Bell 206B went down in the early morning hours of December 26, killing a doctor from the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, a medical technician, and the pilot. The three took off from Jacksonville and were on their way to Gainesville to retrieve a heart for a waiting transplant patient in Jacksonville.

The NTSB reports the flight took off at 5:37 a.m. from the Mayo Clinic Heliport in Jacksonville and crashed 16 minutes later. Its altitude varied from 200 to 700 feet. Seconds before the Florida fatal aviation accident, the Bell helicopter struck a tree at about 30 feet off the ground, though it’s not clear yet why this experienced helicopter pilot didn’t avert the collision. He had been at 300 feet above sea level in what is described as foggy conditions.
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On Sunday, April 17, the federal government announced new rules that will prevent air traffic controllers from falling asleep on the job, according to a report by CNN. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Air Traffic Controllers Union agreed to the changes, effective immediately, after a number of air traffic controllers were found sleeping on the job. Under the new rules, controllers will be able to take at least nine hours off the job between shifts. Currently, they are allowed an eight-hour minimum. And after a day off, the controller cannot be put on a midnight shift.

On Saturday, April 16, another air traffic controller was suspended by the FAA for sleeping on the job. This incident was the seventh disclosed by the FAA so far this year. It was reported this week that some air traffic control towers only have one person on duty during night hours. Two planes at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington had to land with no communication from the control towers this past Wednesday, April 13. Two controllers have now been scheduled on the overnight shift at Reagan. em>The Washington Post reported last July that the number of near-misses at Reagan National in just six months had surpassed the total of 18 the previous year.
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Jacksonville.com reports that the parents of a 24-year-old Jacksonville Beach law student have a filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville against Bombardier Aerospace, a Canadian aircraft manufacturer that made the Dash 8-Q400 aircraft used by the regional carrier for Continental Airlines, Colgan Air, that crashed over Buffalo two years ago killing everyone onboard, including their daughter.

The young woman was a Florida Coastal School of Law student and one of 45 passengers onboard the Continental Connection Flight 3407 when it crashed outside of Buffalo Niagara International Airport on February 12, 2009, after leaving an airport in Newark, New Jersey. Four crew members and one person on the ground died, along with all of the passengers. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that pilot error caused the plane to stall and that he was too inexperienced to recover from the stall. The pilot and co-pilot had been distracted by cockpit conversation and both pilots were tired and had not been adequately trained in flying during snowy and icy conditions. The suit contends that Bombardier was negligent and careless in the plane’s design and by failing to have an adequate warning system.
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Elly Kausner was a 24-year-old law student at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, when she and 48 other passengers perished last year aboard a Continental Connection flight that crashed near Buffalo.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is conducting a two-day hearing, beginning Tuesday, October 26, on just what happens when a major airline, such as Continental, partners with a smaller commuter airline, such as Colgan Air in this case. It was a Colgan-operated flight that crashed when an exhausted pilot and co-pilot who were not adequately trained, failed to maneuver the plane in icy conditions.
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Federal accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a report Thursday, September 25, that stated cockpit fatigue led to a near mishap at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport last October, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Delta Boeing 767, a wide-body jet, landed on a 75-foot taxiway instead of the 150-foot wide parallel runway typically used for jumbo jets at the airport. None of the 182 passengers aboard was injured.

The NTSB report highlights the insidious problem of pilot fatigue.
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The change was prompted by an airline crash that left no survivors near Buffalo last year. It turns out the pilot was tired as was the co-pilot, even before they started their flight from Newark, New Jersey.

Under the proposed overhaul of fatigue rules, an airline pilot will be able to get nine hours of rest between their work shifts. That represents a 13 percent increase from the current rules. This is the first proposed change of fatigue rules for airlines pilots in 15 years, reports Bloomberg.

The proposal would also require pilots to take more time off, at least 30 consecutive work-free hours every week, which represents a 25% increase from the current rules.
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As if the morning rush hour isn’t bad enough, commuters had to dodge a twin-engine aircraft as it made an emergency landing along Interstate 10 on Tuesday, August 31, around 8:15 a.m. Traffic snarled for hours after commuters dodged the plane on the crowded highway, according to an article on News4Jax.com. The pilot and his passenger walked away from the crash landing while a small amount of fuel leaked from the plane.

The problem with the 1957 Aero Commander plane began earlier that morning after it took off from Herlong. Soon afterward, the pilot reported losing one engine. He tried to return to the airport when the other engine went out. At that point, pilot William Montgomery, 47, of Jacksonville, was forced into an emergency landing on the westbound lanes of I-10 at mile marker 353, which is near the large Publix warehouse.
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The air traffic controllers who direct all flight in the Washington region have been overseeing a record number of dangerous misses. So after 22 close calls, a team from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday, July 7, began reviewing procedures at the towers at airports in the region.

The Washington Post has been leading the coverage of problems in the Washington region, the third busiest airspace after New York and Los Angeles. In one instance on June 28, a 120-seat United Airlines Airbus 319 from Chicago, being guided to land at Reagan National, narrowly missed a 22-seat Gulfstream.

When the United pilot’s warning collision-avoidance systems sounded, he pulled up hard and saw the Gulfstream pass behind him. The FAA requires a distance of three miles or 1,000 feet in altitude between aircraft.
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It’s been one year since an experimental plane crash in Marion County that killed the pilot. On March 6, 2009, the crash occurred in an RV park just off CR 25 in Ocala, according to an Orlando Sentinel article. An 80-year-old pilot was flying the experimental, amateur-built Stewart S51 plane, which was a 2/3 scale replica of a p-51 Mustang fighter. The National Transportation Safety Board report says that the pilot told his wife the test flight was “beautiful.” Witnesses reported they heard the engine sputtering before the plane crashed between two unoccupied RVs and then burst into flames. Our hearts go out to the wife of this adventurous man who lived life to the fullest.

The nine-page NTSB report does not indicate an actual cause of the crash. It includes four pages of flight history, personal information, weather reports, and notes from several witnesses who heard the engine sputter. The man was in the air for 0.3 hours. He was certified with a multi-engine rating and was a certified flight instructor and had nearly 14,000 hours of flight experience. He was the third owner of the experimental plane. The previous two owners never finished assembling the aircraft. The pilot was described as meticulous. He had purchased the airplane six years before the crash.
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