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Jim Hall: Aircraft icing needs harder look

Thursday’s crash of a de Havilland Dash 8 Q400 in Clarence was deeply saddening. Fifty persons were killed in the tragedy, and the 2z-year period of fatality- free flying in commercial aviation was brought abruptly to an end.More tragic, this crash was foreseeable and likely preventable, if not for the preference of profit over safety in some of the aviation industry and for the lax oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration in its failure to adequately address known safety risks related to icing.

Initial reports strongly indicate that airframe icing played a major role in the crash of this turboprop aircraft. This type of occurrence is not without precedent. On Oct. 31, 1994, American Eagle Flight 4184 dropped from the sky when ice accumulated on its wings. It crashed into a soybean field in Roselawn, Ind., killing all 68 people onboard. On Jan. 9, 1997, Comair flight 3272 dropped from the sky over Monroe, Mich. when ice accumulated on its wings, killing all 29 people on board.

Like Thursday’s crash, both of these planes were turboprop-an Avions de Transport Regional 72 and an Embraer 120, respectively. Both aircraft were equipped with pneumatic deicing boots, a technology invented in the 1930s that has not changed much since.

As chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, I oversaw the investigation into the Roselawn and Monroe crashes. It became apparent that, while deicing boots are more fuel efficient than the heated wing technology that larger jets use, they are not as effective at reducing the risk of an icing accident.

Furthermore, the FAA is charged with overseeing the certification process of each make and model of aircraft, yet we found in our investigation that the FAA failed to ensure that this certification adequately accounted for hazards that can result from all known icing conditions. After our extensive investigation at Roselawn concluded, I signed the NTSB’s recommendations to the FAA regarding these issues.

More than 10 years later, the FAA has not adequately addressed these concerns, and the NTSB has placed safe flight in icing conditions on its “Most Wanted” safety improvements list.

The aircraft model that crashed Thursday was certified by the FAA on Jan. 26, 2000, and the accident aircraft itself was not manufactured until 2008-well after the Roselawn recommendations were issued and with full knowledge of the dangers that turboprops and deicing boots face in freezing conditions.

There was no move to incorporate the more effective (but more expensive) heated wing technology. What’s more, an airworthiness directive published by the FAA in 1996 notes that the earlier, 40-seat model of DHC-8 aircraft had an unsafe condition which could result in loss of control of the aircraft when flaps were extended during icing conditions-as they were in Thursday’s crash-and further that the autopilot should not be engaged in “severe icing conditions,” a vaguely defined term.

But because the FAA basically ignored the NTSB’s recommendation to adequately test aircraft in these conditions before declaring them airworthy, the certification of this new version of the DHC-8 went along without a hitch. The most substantial change to the new model was not related to safety: the aircraft was stretched to allow 78 passengers to be carried by the aircraft. In short, even in light of the Roselawn and Monroe accidents, safety was compromised so that these aircraft would be allowed to fly more people at cheaper cost.

In this instance, the FAA and the airline industry clearly placed a higher value on profit than on their passengers’ safety. Well-known risks were overlooked, well-documented recommendations were ignored. That this plane was allowed to fly in dangerous conditions for which it was not thoroughly tested and prepared, and without recommended safety measures and devices in place, demonstrates this.

This attitude must change. The NTSB should move quickly to identify any deficiencies and FAA should take the requested action, such as prohibiting this aircraft from operating in icing conditions until remedies are established. I hope this accident will finally cause the FAA and the commercial aviation industry to take icing risks seriously so that a tragedy such as this will not happen again.

Jim Hall, an attorney with Nolan Law Group, was chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board from 1994 to 2001.

Timeline of NTSB Icing Recommendations


October 31, 1994:Crash of ATR 72-212 (turboprop) at Roselawn, ID. 68 people were killed. American subsequently moved operations of ATR 72 to the Caribbean and southern U.S.

July 9, 1996: NTSB Aircraft Accident Report regarding Roselawn accident released. Probable cause was a “loss of control, attributed to a sudden and unexpected aileron hinge moment reversal that occurred after a ridge of ice accreted beyond the deice boots.”

August 8, 1996: NTSB Issues Safety Recommendations A-96-48 through A-96-69. Among these are Recommendations A-96-54 and A-96-56 which read as follows:

  • Revise the icing criteria published in 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 23 and 25, in light of both recent research into aircraft ice accretion under varying conditions of liquid water content, drop size distribution, and temperature, and recent developments in both the design and use of aircraft. Also, expand the Appendix C icing certification envelope to include freezing drizzle/freezing rain and mixed water/ice crystal conditions, as necessary. (A-96-54

 

  • Revise the icing certification testing regulation to ensure that airplanes are properly tested for all conditions in which they are authorized to operate, or are otherwise shown to be capable of safe flight into such conditions. If safe operations cannot be demonstrated by the manufacturer, operational limitations should be imposed to prohibit flight in such conditions and flightcrews should be provided with the means to positively determine when they are in icing conditions that exceed the limits for aircraft certification. (A-96-56)

 

August 20, 1997: NTSB classifies the FAA’s response to A-96-54 and A-96-56 as “Open-Acceptable” after FAA created an Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to develop certification criteria for the safe operation of aircraft in icing conditions.

1999: De Havilland Dash 8 Series Q402 receives type certification.

January 27, 2003: NTSB writes letter to FAA regarding the work of the ARAC, saying it is concerned about the “slow pace of the [the ARAC’s work].” The NTSB stated, “Although the FAA, through its referral of this work to the ARAC, is responding to these recommendations, the Safety Board remains concerned that in the 6 years since these recommendations were issued, the work has not been completed. The Board would like the FAA to provide a schedule for completion of the recommended actions.”

May 19, 2003: FAA responds to NTSB’s concern, stating that “The FAA will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking based on these recommendations by June 2004.”

November 9, 2004: After an NTSB meeting regarding “Most Wanted Recommendations,” NTSB classifies Recommendations A-96-54 and A-96-56 as “Open-Unacceptable.”

February 15, 2005: Cessna Citation 560, owned by Circuit City Stores, Inc. crashed in Pueblo, CO 4 miles east of Pueblo Memorial Airport. 8 people were killed. NTSB stated probable causes as: “the flight crew’s failure to effectively monitor and maintain airspeed and comply with procedures for deice boot activation on the approach, which caused an aerodynamic stall from which they did not recover. Contributing to the accident was the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to establish adequate certification requirements for flight into icing conditions, which led to the inadequate stall warning margin provided by the airplane’s stall warning system.” (Emphasis added)

May 10, 2006: Two years after the FAA’s own deadline for action, the NTSB issued a statement again lamenting the lack of action: “There does not appear to have been any progress since the FAA previously informed the Board of the status of this recommendation on September 15, 2003.”

February 27, 2007: From NTSB update on FAA action regarding the Recommendations: “[T]he FAA has still not received the recommendations from [its working group studying deicing certification], prepared regulatory analyses, issued the NPRM, analyzed comments, or completed the many other tasks involved in issuing new regulations.”

April 16, 2008: Aircraft involved in Buffalo crash issued certificate of airworthiness.

February 12, 2009: Crash of de Havilland Dash 8 Q-402 (turboprop) outside of Buffalo, NY killed 50 people. Cockpit Voice Recorder indicated that crew mentioned significant ice buildup on windshield and leading edge of wings.

Nolan Law Group Files Lawsuit on Behalf of the Parents of a 14-Month-Old Girl Killed in October 15th 2008 Medical Evacuation Helicopter Crash Near Aurora, Illinois


CHICAGO, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ — A lawsuit stemming from the catastrophic October 15, 2008 crash of an Air Angels EMS Helicopter near Aurora, Illinois was filed today on behalf of Robert and Brooke Blockinger, who suffered the tragic loss of their 14-month-old daughter Kirstin Reann Blockinger.

Kirstin Reann Blockinger was one of four individuals who was killed when the emergency medical evacuation helicopter bound for Children’s Memorial Hospital hit a radio tower and its supporting structure and crashed in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois.

The EMS helicopter which belonged to Air Angels Inc. was carrying a 3-person crew which included a pilot, a nurse and a paramedic, all of whom were employed by Air Angels Inc. Kirstin Reann Blockinger was being transported to Children’s Memorial for the purpose of receiving treatment for a medical emergency.

The crash of this Medical Services (EMS) Bell 222 Helicopter was the latest in a tragic wave of EMS helicopter accidents last year. The families of the four victims join dozens of others who mourn the loss of loved ones that have been killed in EMS Helicopters in the past months. Despite the long list of recent tragedies, however, there has been no change to the rules governing EMS safety — rules that are known to be flawed and insufficient.

“What makes this accident even worse is that is was preventable,” said aviation attorney Donald J. Nolan. “In February of 2006, the NTSB made safety recommendations which were largely ignored,” Nolan added. “Our hope is that this lawsuit will draw attention to this issue and help bring about industry change.”

Named in the suit are Air Angels Inc., Reach Medical Holdings Inc., and Richard D. Hoffman, as personal representative of the estate of Delbert Lee Waugh.

The complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County and alleges that Kirstin Reann Blockinger’s untimely death was caused as a direct and proximate result of the defendant’s breach of duty of care.

The lawsuit also asserts that the defendants were responsible for exercising the highest and/or ordinary degree of care in the operation, maintenance, possession and control over the subject helicopter so as not to cause injury and further specifies the following acts or omissions by defendants:

— Negligently and carelessly failed to require and provide two pilots for operation of subject flight

— Negligently and carelessly failed to equip the subject helicopter with a proper and adequate Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TWAS)

— Negligently and carelessly failed to provide proper and adequate time and information to the pilot for flight planning

— Negligently and carelessly failed to keep sage and proper separation between the subject helicopter and existing tower hazard

— Negligently and carelessly failed to provide proper and adequate flight following measures

— Negligently and carelessly operated, controlled and equipped and maintained the subject helicopter in particulars to be determined through the course of discovery

Robert Blockinger and Brooke Blockinger have been appointed co-special administrators to their daughter’s estate and, as such, are seeking personal and pecuniary damages, including but not limited to, loss of society, love and companionship for the loss of their daughter in a sum in excess of the minimal jurisdictional limits of the Cook County Circuit Court.

In early February of 2009, there will be public hearings regarding the safety of EMS helicopter operations. Nolan Law Group and the Blockingers are planning to attend.

Nolan Law Group is a Chicago-based personal injury law firm concentrating in aviation accidents, construction accidents, brain injury litigation, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, and trucking accidents.

Passengers escape burning jet in Denver; 38 hurt


DENVER – Firefighters said it was like something out of a movie – passengers emerging from a smoke-filled ravine where the remains of a Boeing 737 lay in flames, its landing gear and left engine shorn off.

Denver Fire Department Division Chief Patrick Hynes called it “surreal.” The fire burned the entire right side of the plane, and melted plastic from overhead compartments dripped onto the seats below.

Thirty-eight people suffered injuries including broken bones, and two were in critical condition with fractures after the Saturday evening accident, officials said.

Passenger Mike Wilson of Denver described a chaotic scramble to leave the burning plane on updates he posted on Twitter.com from the airport using his cell phone.

“By the time the plane stopped we were burning pretty well and I think I could feel the heat even through the bulkhead and window,” he wrote. “I made for the exit door as quickly as I could, fearing the right wing might explode from the fire. Once out, I scrambled down the wing.”

The 107 passengers and five crew members made it out through slides, and firefighters put out blaze quickly, said airport spokesman Jeff Green.

By P. SOLOMON BANDA, Associated Press Writer

Lawsuit: Heparin caused dialysis patient’s death Breckinridge County man died a day after receiving blood thinner

CHICAGO – Attorneys seeking compensation and answers surrounding potentially deadly lots of the anticoagulant Heparin say a contaminated batch of the drug made its way to Elizabethtown last year and was administered to a hemodialysis patient who died the next day.

Franke Leon Isom, 59, of Webster, died Dec. 14, 2007, a day after he received the drug at Elizabethtown’s Woodland Dialysis Clinic.

When he experienced adverse symptoms, Isom was taken to Breckinridge Memorial Hospital where he later was pronounced dead by Dr. Peter Rives, according to staff and records at Alexander Funeral Home in Irvington.

A warning from Heparin’s distributor about possible adverse effects from the drug was issued a month later.

Attorneys with Chicago’s Nolan Law Group say the Heparin administered to Isom was among 55,000 gallons of blood-thinner contaminated with over-sulfated chondroitin sulfate (OSCS) during its manufacturing process in China, where most of the world’s Heparin originates.

The claim, filed on behalf of Isom’s estate Thursday in Cook County, Ill., is among more than 50 similar civil tort claims against the Wisconsin-based Heparin manufacturer, Scientific Protein Laboratories, and one of its major distributors, Baxter International Inc.

Isom’s suit – the most recently filed – claims Baxter and Scientific Protein Laboratories are responsible for allowing Heparin to reach hospitals and medical facilities, such as Woodland Dialysis Center, where it could be administered to patients.

Heparin is used as a blood-thinner in many medical procedures, with large doses given to patients undergoing heart surgery, moderate doses administered during hemodialysis and smaller doses used in minor medical procedures.

After Isom’s death and a highly publicized civil claim filed in January by actor Dennis Quaid, regarding an alleged overdose of Heparin given to Quaid’s infant twins, Baxter recalled nine lots, or about 10 percent of its annual production.

On Monday, the Associated Press reported a $750,000 settlement between the Quaids and a hospital that administered an overdose.

A February recall by Baxter ordered more of the drug to be pulled from hospital and medical facilities’ shelves.

In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a link to contaminated Heparin and a Chinese manufacturer. Scientific Protein Laboratories owns a majority stake in that manufacturer, according to Tom Ellis, detective and spokesman for Chicago-based Nolan Law offices.

According to the FDA, there were 246 deaths blamed on contaminated Heparin between January 2007 and May 31, 2008. Of those reported deaths, 149 included patients experiencing allergic symptoms associated with OSCS – such as hypotension and swelling.

Ellis said contaminated Heparin reached all parts of the United States. While recalls were issued by Baxter, Ellis said lots from those tied to contaminated batches were found on the shelves of 92 California hospitals after March.

“This is probably just the tip of the iceberg for Elizabethtown,” Ellis said. “Per the February recall, some 55,000 gallons of Heparin may have been contaminated.”

No answer to Isom’s claim against Baxter and SPL had been filed as of Tuesday. Leslie Smith, the Chicago attorney representing Baxter and SPL on both federal and state cases, did not return calls as of Tuesday evening.

Michelle Murphy, spokes woman for Hardin Memorial Hospital, said HMH reacted quickly after the January and February recalls – immediately removing all lots of suspected contaminated Heparin from the shelves.

“We have very stringent policies and procedures and we comply promptly with any mandatory recalls,” Murphy said.

State Medical Examiner Barbara Weakley-Jones said chondrointin sulfate occurs naturally in the body, but confirmed OSCS does not. OSCS is, however, found in medications designed to aid joint function, she said.

Weakley-Jones said she has not heard of any other deaths stemming from contaminated Heparin. Neither had coroners from Hardin and Breckinridge counties.

“But how would I know?” said Breckinridge County Coroner Tim Bandy. “These people are usually already sick and under a physician’s care.”

Bandy, as did Hardin County Coroner Dr. Bill Lee, said under situations such as Isom’s, where ongoing care was overseen by a physician, coroners don’t normally sign death certificates.

“Those are usually considered death by natural causes,” Lee said. “We only get involved when someone dies for unknown or unnatural reasons.”

Ellis said he’s seen “death by natural causes” and even “air embolism” noted as the cause of death in contaminated Heparin-related death cases.

Rives, who could not be reached for comment, no longer practices in Kentucky, according to multiple officials at medical facilities in Daviess, Meade and Breckinridge counties.

The chief administrator and regional director of Woodland Dialysis Center would not comment on Isom’s death, acknowledge if any patients had been exposed to contaminated Heparin, or discuss the lots of Heparin recalled. The two officials, instead, deferred to a spokesperson in California, for comment.

A statement released Tuesday night by California-based DaVita – parent company of Woodland Dialysis Center – failed to address any issue relating to contaminated Heparin or answer the two questions asked of it by The News Enterprise.

“At DaVita, quality patient care is our utmost concern. However, our existing corporate policies and the active nature of this litigation involving parties outside of DaVita, preclude us from making any further comment,” DaVita’s statement reads.

SPL issued a statement in March saying there was no intentional contamination of the Heparin. SPL spokesman Wayne Pines told the New York Times on March 6 there had been no evidence of tampering or counterfeiting uncovered.

Ellis said all “bad lots” of contaminated Heparin should by now have been removed from medical facilities’ shelves.

Along with the deaths, hundreds of patients claim to have survived after having adverse allergic reactions to OSCS, according to the FDA.

“No one can fix what’s already happened,” Ellis said. “And it’s a personal decision for anyone exposed to know if they could be subjected to some kind of long-term effect.”

Ellis said there has not yet been any answer to the question of long-term negative effects of Heparin contaminated with OSCS.

Story By BOB WHITE bwhite@thenewsenterprise.com

Bob White can be reached at (270) 505-1750.

American Law Firms File Claim Against The FAA And Seek Discovery On Behalf Of Family Of Aeroflot Plane Crash

CHICAGO – American law firms, Nolan Law Group and Ribbeck Law Chartered, today filed a Petition for Discovery in the state court in Chicago arising from the Boeing 737 crash of Aeroflot-Nord Airlines in Perm, Russia on September 14, 2008. The petition was filed on behalf of Aleksey A. Afanasenkov, Sr., whose son perished in the crash, and seeks documentation and information concerning the individuals or companies that may be responsible for causing the crash.

Additionally, the law firms asserted a formal claim on behalf of Mr. Afanasenkov against the United States Federal Aviation Administration for its failure to properly regulate U.S. training institutions which provided training to the crew of the accident airplane. The US-Russian treaty entitled “Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation for the Promotion of Aviation Safety” entered into force on September 2, 1998. Under the treaty, the U.S. government agreed that the FAA would monitor, among other things, aviation training establishments in the United States providing training to Russian pilots in accordance with the standards, rules, practices, general procedures and Implementation Procedures established pursuant to the treaty.

While the investigation of the crash is ongoing and no probable cause determinations have yet been made, the circumstances of the crash have highlighted the dangerous shortcomings in the training of pilots accustomed to Eastern-built aircraft transitioning into operation of Western-built airliners. It futher highlights the need for proper oversight in the FAA airworthiness certification process of transport category airplanes.

It was previously reported by the airline, Aeroflot-Nord, that the captain of the accident airplane received training in the 737-500 at a U.S. based training institution in 2006, and had 452 hours as pilot-in-command of this model airplane. The first officer began flying the 737-500 airplane earlier this year and had only 219 total hours in the model airplane. Both pilots had spent the majority of their careers operating Russian-built aircraft which have some significant technical differences in cockpit instrumentation from Western-built aircraft such as the Boeing 737.

For further information on this news item please contact Thomas J. Ellis, Director of Litigation Support, Nolan Law Group, 20 North Clark Street, 30th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60602. Office: (312) 630-4000; Mobile (312) 493-3349 or e-mail: tje@nolan-law.com

149 dead in plane crash at Madrid airport

MADRID, Spain (AP) — A Spanish airliner bound for the Canary Islands at the height of the vacation season crashed, burned and broke into pieces Wednesday while trying to take off from Madrid, killing 149 people on board, officials said.

There were only 26 survivors in the mid-afternoon crash, said Spanish Development Minister Magdalena Alvarez, whose department is in charge of civil aviation. It was Spain’s deadliest air disaster in more than 20 years.

A police officer said the bodies were so hot that police could barely touch them and told El Pais newspaper the shattered wreckage bore no resemblance to a plane.

Dozens of ambulances rushed to the site as columns of smoke billowed from the wreckage. The prime minister broke off his vacation in southern Spain and rushed back to Madrid, heading straight for the airport.

“I have never seen anything like this in my life,” ambulance driver Luis Ferreras, who viewed the crash site, was quoted as saying by El Pais.

Spanair Flight JK5022 — bound for Las Palmas during the height of Europe’s summer vacation season — was just barely airborne when it veered right, crashed and broke into pieces, reports said.

Spanair spokesman Sergio Allard told a news conference the plane was carrying 175 people and the cause of the crash was not immediately known.

El Pais said the plane left an hour late because of technical problems. It eventually managed to get slightly off the ground but crashed near the end of the runway, El Pais said, quoting an employee of the national airport authority AENA.

Helicopters and fire trucks dumped water on the plane, which ended up in a wooded area at the end of the runway at Terminal 4.

A makeshift morgue was set up at the city’s main convention center, officials said.

Mats Jansson, the chief executive of Spanair’s owner, Scandinavian Airlines, said he had no information about the toll or the accident itself.

In Germany, Lufthansa said it issued tickets to seven people who checked in for the flight, and that four of those were from Germany. It was unclear whether they were German citizens.

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that two Swedes were onboard the aircraft. One of them has been located at a hospital while the other is unaccounted for, ministry spokeswoman Gufran al-Nadaf said.

The plane was an MD-82 on a codeshare flight with Lufthansa’s LH255, Spanair said. Departures from Madrid’s airport were suspended for several hours.

McDonnell Douglas was bought out by Boeing in 1997. Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx said the company would send at least one person to assist in the investigation of the crash as soon as it receives an invitation from Spanish authorities.

“We stand ready to provide technical assistance,” he said, reading from a prepared statement.

Allard said the plane last passed an inspection in January of this year and no problems with it had been reported since then. The plane is 15 years old and has been owned by Spanair for the past nine, he said.

Last July, 199 people were killed in Brazil when an Airbus A320 belonging to TAM airlines skidded off the runway at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport before crashing into a nearby gas station and an air cargo building.

Five people died and 65 were injured on May 30 when the A320 belonging to Grupo Taca skidded off the end of the runway at Toncontin International Airport near the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.

The deadliest disaster in aviation history occurred in Spain in 1977 as a result of a runway collision between two fully loaded Boeing 747s in the Canary Islands. A total of 583 people died.

In November 1983, a Boeing 747 operated by the Colombian airline Avianca crashed near Madrid as it prepared to land, killing 181 people.

In February 1985, an Iberia Boeing 727 crashed near Bilbao in the Basque region, killing 148 people.

By HAROLD HECKLE Associated Press Writer

Jim Hall, Former NTSB Chairman and Counsel to The Nolan Law Group Issues Statement Regarding Flight Data Recorders

CHICAGO, Aug. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Jim Hall, former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Counsel to the Nolan Law Group issued the following statement today:

At his press availability in Minnesota Friday morning, NTSB Member Steven Chealander revealed that there was no flight data recorder (FDR) installed on the Hawker 800 that crashed in Owatonna, MN, on Thursday morning.

Fortunately, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) will provide some limited information as to the flight crew’s reactions and actions regarding whatever caused the crash, but an FDR would provide a fraction-of-the-second readout of systems performance. This information would yield critical insight into any mechanical malfunction. Witness reports indicate the aircraft touched down at Degner Owatonna Airport, but that it appeared the landing attempt was aborted for some reason and the airplane was trying to become airborne when it crashed, killing the two pilots and the six passengers.

The NTSB must now try to piece together what happened in those final seconds.

We’ve had this frustration before — a fatal crash and no flight recorder to help document why the airplane stalled and plummeted to the ground. Recall the 2005 crash of a Cessna Citation V jet owned by Circuit City Stores in Pueblo Colorado where all eight people aboard the jet were fatally injured or the 2002 crash of a King Air A100 on approach at Eveleth, MN, that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone and the seven others aboard. Neither plane was equipped with an FDR. We see this time and time again — an accident occurs with air taxis or corporate airplanes, and recorders were not required to be installed, forcing NTSB accident investigators into a search for other data, such as radar tapes from air traffic control, to infer what happened. A supposition, however well educated, is simply not good enough.

As a result of the Wellstone accident, the NTSB recommended to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that if recorders are not going to be ordered installed on air taxis, at the least a video recording of pilots’ actions in the cockpit, in which the field of view would capture essential controls and the instrument panel, should be obtained.

On 7 March 2008, some six years after the Wellstone crash, the FAA ruled that video recorders would not be mandated for installation on air taxis. Needless to say, the NTSB’s “Most Wanted” safety recommendation remains in an “unacceptable” status. In its ruling, the FAA said, “The issue of cockpit video is unsettled.” The unsettled situation averred to by the FAA results in large measure because of its failure to press the issue with industry. Sadly, despite the availability of this invaluable technology, the inaction of the FAA and the business aviation community regarding these safety measures will once again leave the people of Minnesota asking questions.

According to the FAA, the 124-page March rule on recorders “will enable investigators to retrieve more data from accidents and incidents requiring investigation.” Unfortunately, that’s true only for airplanes carrying ten or more passengers. Hundreds of airplanes, including the Hawker and the King Air carrying Sen. Wellstone and party, are not covered. So much for the FAA’s much-publicized ethic of “one level of safety.” The sad fact is that occupants aboard air taxis are not afforded the same protection as passengers aboard a regularly scheduled airline. Make no mistake, recorders are part of the safety equipment, because with the information they contain, we can prevent the next accident.

To reach Mr. Hall for additional comment please contact either Brianne Murphy at 347-524-1415 or Jamie Crooks at 619-507-4182.

Small Jet Crashes in Minnesota; at Least 8 Killed

OWATONNA, Minn. (AP) _ A small jet crashed in strong thunderstorms Thursday while preparing to land at a regional airport in Minnesota, killing at least eight people, including several casino and construction executives.

Sheriff Gary Ringhofer said there were at most nine people aboard the Raytheon Hawker 800, which went down at a regional airport about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities. He said investigators were looking into whether there was a passenger who is unaccounted for.

Seven people were dead at the scene. One died later at a hospital.

Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans told The Associated Press that those on board included two high-ranking executives from Revel Entertainment, which is building a $2 billion hotel-casino project in Atlantic City, and several employees of Tishman Construction, which is working on the project. He didn’t know their identities, but said Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis was not on board.

Bud Perrone, a spokesman for Tishman, identified one of the victims as Karen Sandland, a project manager on the Revel project who worked out of Tishman’s Newark, N.J., office. He said the company thinks Sandland was the only Tishman employee on board, but that it was trying to confirm that.

Lauren Avellino Turton, a spokesperson for Revel, confirmed in a written statement that several company employees were killed in the crash, although she didn’t identify those killed or say how many were on board.

“Revel is mourning the loss of several of its team members,” the statement read. “The design team was heading to Minnesota for a glass manufacturing meeting.”

The charter jet, flying from from Atlantic City, N.J., to Owatonna, a town of 25,000, went down in a cornfield northwest of Degner Regional Airport, scattering debris, Ringhofer said. The wreckage was not visible to reporters because tall corn obscured the crash site.

Cameron Smith, a mechanic at the airport, said he spoke by radio with the jet’s pilot just minutes before the crash. The pilot was about to land and was asking where he should park for fuel, Smith said.

He ran to the crash scene to see if anyone could be helped, but saw only a long skid path and debris that he described as “shredded.”

“I was amazed to hear that someone survived,” he said. “There was no fuselage. There were just parts.”

Quinn Johnson, an assistant manager at a restaurant about three miles from the airport, didn’t see the crash, but heard it. She initially thought it was a tornado.

“It lasted, I’m guessing, probably 15, 20 seconds, maybe slightly longer than that. It was a really, really loud, kind of a rumbling, screechy type noise,” Johnson said.

The crash happened as severe weather battered parts of southern Minnesota. An hour before the accident, a 72 mph wind gust was reported in Owatonna, according to the National Weather Service.

Both Smith and Johnson said the crash happened after the worst of the storm had passed, with the sky clearing and only light rain.

The plane had been scheduled to land at 9:42 a.m., then take off at 11:40 a.m. for Crossville, Tenn.

Viracon earlier this year was awarded a contract to supply glass to the World Trade Center replacement project. The company’s president, Don Pyatt, told the Owatonna People’s Press that the customers were from “a couple of different companies” who were coming to the plant to discuss a project in Las Vegas.

Pyatt gave no other details, and didn’t return a call from The Associated Press.

Mary Ann Jackson, a spokeswoman for Viracon’s parent company Apogee Enterprises Inc., confirmed to the AP that those on board were Viracon customers, but declined to provide any other details. She said no Viracon employees were involved in the crash.

The airport lies alongside Interstate 35 as it skirts Owatonna’s western edge. The airport’s Web site describes it as “ideal for all classes of corporate aircraft use” with an all-weather instrument landing system. “Maintaining access to Owatonna’s business community in all weather conditions is a priority,” the site says.

Sharon Gordon, a spokeswoman for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates Atlantic City International Airport, said the East Coast Jets plane landed at the airport at 7:10 a.m. from its base in Allentown, Pa.

It picked up several passengers, although there is confusion about how many actually got in the plane, she said.

“We really don’t know the total amount,” she said. “It turned around very quickly, leaving at 8:13 a.m., and required no services on the ground.”

Toni Evans, an executive assistant for the SOSH architectural firm in Atlantic City, said at least some of those on board the plane were affiliated with the company, though none were company employees.

“They were from a couple of different companies,” she said. “We’ve been asked not to say anything further about it at this point. We don’t know who survived and who didn’t.”

She said the people affiliated with the firm were New Jersey residents.

SOSH specializes in designing casino projects. It is helping design the $2 billion Revel Entertainment casino-hotel project in Atlantic City, and the $333 million Buffalo Creek casino-hotel project in upstate New York for the Seneca Nation, among other projects.

The Associated Press, 07/31/2008
By AMY FORLITI

Associated Press writer Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, N.J. contributed to this report.

Peruvian Government Insubstantial Report Not Surprising, Peruvian Government Issues Final Report for TANS Peru Crash August 23, 2005

Chicago The government of Peru has issued their final report of the TANS airlines Boeing 737-244 accident official investigation from August 23 2005. (Click link for full report) The vague report concludes pilot error and adverse weather conditions contributed to the crash which killed 45 people and injured the other 55 passengers. The report notes the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) had nothing usable to determine the cause of the crash and is still being held as what many see as the to determining what really happened.

On August 23, 2005, a TANS (Transportes Aeros Nacionales de la Selva) Boeing 737-200 with 100 people on board (92 passengers, 8 crew) was flying from Lima to Pucallpa, Peru, a popular tourist destination 840 kilometers (520 miles) northeast of the capital, when it crashed on approach to landing during turbulent weather conditions.

On April 4, 2006 Nolan Law Group served the Peruvian Government with 29 petitions, signed by survivors or families of the victims. These petitions requested the government of Peru, through its Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission (Comision de Investigacion de Accidentes Aereos), exercise its discretion under Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation to release the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder tapes. The Peruvian Government has refused to honor the request.

On May 31, 2006 Nolan Law Group filed lawsuits on behalf of six members of the Vivas family from New York, one Peruvian survivor and the father of a six month old baby who was killed in the crash. The plaintiffs complaints include two counts each against Boeing and United Technologies Company (operating as Pratt Whitney) alleging negligence and product liability and one count against TANS Peru alleging negligence.

“This unreleased evidence is vital in determining the actual cause of the crash and who may be” said Donald J. Nolan of Nolan Law Group regarding the withheld CVR and FDR. “Given the myriad of unanswered questions in the report, this is precisely a case that requires full disclosure” offers Nolan.

The final report indicates that the accident airplane was equipped with a ground proximity warning system (GPWS) and that a wind shear detection device was added to the airplane three months prior to the accident. With both of these systems in place, the pilots should have received warnings prior to the plane crashing. For example, the audible warnings of “wind shear, wind shear” and “terrain, terrain” would have alerted pilots under proper conditions. However, the final report states that investigators were not able to verify the functionality of this equipment, leading to speculation that perhaps the GPWS was not working properly.

Under international treaty, the investigation if the TANS Peru crash was lead by the government of Peru. The Peruvian investigators faced numerous constraints such as lack of funding and resources. These types of constraints limit the ability of investigators to perform proper testing and analysis and preclude their access to resources and independent experts.

Acknowledging the inevitable constraints of a governmental investigation, Nolan notes that his firm “stands ready to have all of the factual information and data analyzed and tested by the best available experts in order to provide the victims and their families with full and complete answers.”

To date, however, the government of Peru, which through (FONAFE) indirectly owns the stock of TANS Peru, has refused to provide the victims and their families with any of the factual information and data related to the crash. “We simply want access to factual information; you have to wonder why they won’t give us that.”

About Nolan Law Group

Nolan Law Group helps individuals and families, in Chicago and around the world, after a tragic loss or serious personal injury. The law firm focuses its practice primarily on mass tort aviation and closed brain injury litigation.

Nolan Law Group is one of small number of law firms with a niche in the highly complex and ever-changing area of aviation litigation and is active all over the world. With regard to traumatic brain injury litigation, Nolan Law Group has pioneered the use of sophisticated technology to demonstrate the extent of brain damage that can occur as a result of accidents.

The firm has earned recognition by the legal industry leading authority, Martindale-Hubbell, for impeccable professional ethics and for legal abilities of the highest caliber.

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