Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cirrus aircraft crashes off Virginia in Atlantic Ocean

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash of a Cirrus SR22 into the Atlantic Ocean about 50 miles from Wallops Island, Va., on Saturday.

The plane is a single-engine Cirrus (tail number N930RH) registered to Ronald Hutchinson of Brookfeld, Wis., according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

The popular flight tracking website Flightaware shows the aircraft departing Waukesha, Wis., headed for Manassas, Va. The website shows the flight path ends in the Atlantic Ocean.

The U.S. Coast Guard 5th District in Portsmouth received notification at approximately 2:40 p.m. that a single-engine aircraft with only the pilot aboard failed to land at Manassas Regional Airport as scheduled. Instead the plane remained at an altitude of approximately 13,000 feet and continued into restricted air space in the vicinity of Washington, D.C.

Two F-16 aircraft came alongside the Cirrus to investigate and observed the pilot to be unconscious in the cockpit.

The F-16 airmen escorted the plane on its course over the Eastern Shore of Virginia until it eventually ran out of fuel and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina and the crew of Cutter Beluga, homeported in Virignia Beach, to respond.

NASA's Orion spacecraft on the move toward maiden flight

NASA's new Orion spacecraft will be transferred from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility during the second week of September. The exact date will be announced as soon as possible, NASA said in a press release Friday.

In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, the Orion spacecraft will be fueled with ammonia and hyper-propellants for its mission. It will later be moved again for the installation of its launch abort system.

Orion is undergoing preparations for its maiden flight in December, an unmanned flight that will take it 3,600 miles above Earth on a 4.5-hour mission to test the systems critical for future human missions to deep space. After two orbits, Orion will reenter Earth's atmosphere at almost 20,000 miles per hour before its parachute system deploys to slow the spacecraft for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

The Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before.

Friday, August 29, 2014

ProJet discontinues aircraft maintenance services at Leesburg Airport

ProJet Aviation announced Friday they are discontinuing commercial maintenance and repair operations (MRO) at Leesburg Executive Airport in order to focus on managed aircraft clients. The company plans to accommodate “emergency maintenance” requests for all Leesburg based and transient aircraft.

“This extremely difficult decision was made after almost two years of trying to turn around a shop that had struggled for years under previous ownership,” said Shye Gilad, CEO of Projet Aviation. In June 2012, Landmark Aviation sold all of its fixed base operator assets at Leesburg to ProJet.

“In no way is this a reflection of the hard work and commitment of our MRO team - despite their best efforts, the economics of operating the MRO at a large scale are simply not sustainable in the face of adverse external conditions,” Gilad said.

“We thank you for your business and regret that we will no longer be able to provide scheduled maintenance services,” Gilad said in an announcement to customers.

In 2012, Leesburg had 215 based aircraft and over 70,000 annual operations (takeoffs and landings). The airport is home to three flight schools in addition to a number of aeronautical service companies. Total employment at the airport is nearly 300.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pilot fatally injured in F-15 crash

Officials confirmed Thursday the pilot of a F-15C Eagle was fatally injured when his jet crashed near Deerfield Valley, Va., on Wednesday.

The pilot's name is being withheld pending notification of family members and will be released when appropriate.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and we are doing all we can to support them during this very difficult time," said Air Force Col. James Keefe, commander, 104th Fighter Wing. "We ask that everyone respect the privacy of the family and allow them the time they need to grieve.”

An official safety board is being convened and the investigation into the crash is ongoing.


At approximately 9:05 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Washington Center Air Traffic Control in Washington, D.C. lost radio contact with the F-15C aircraft stationed at the 104th Fighter Wing, Mass., and at approximately 9:30 a.m. the 104th Fighter Wing learned that the aircraft had crashed in a remote site near Deerfield Valley, Va.

The single seat F-15C aircraft was en route to Naval Air Station New Orleans to receive a radar system upgrade. There were no munitions on the aircraft during this flight. The pilot was flying a solo mission when he reported an in-flight emergency prior to the loss of radio contact with Washington Center.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First unmanned aircraft take-off/landing aboard Coast Guard icebreaker

U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers successfully landed an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) on the flight deck of Coast Guard Cutter Healy Monday, marking the first time a UAS has completed a take-off and landing aboard a Coast Guard icebreaker.

UAS operators from AeroVironment, designers of the Puma All Environment UAS, working alongside researchers from the Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) and NOAA made necessary adjustments following several unsuccessful attempts to land the Puma AE on the icebreaker’s flight deck. High winds, heavy fog, and icing conditions delayed further attempts until Monday night when skies cleared enough for another attempt. UAS operators came close to landing the system on the initial attempt before managing three successful landings.

Researchers and crew aboard the Healy left Seward, Alaska, Aug. 8 to conduct testing of the Puma AE and other technologies for use as oil spill tracking tools. The UAS is equipped with an electro-optical and infrared camera allowing its operator to keep constant watch over the device’s target.

The Coast Guard RDC and NOAA hope to utilize UAS and other unmanned technologies to perform monitoring and search operations in the Arctic and other areas where hazardous conditions might otherwise place human observers in increased danger.

Coast Guard Cutter Healy is a 420-foot icebreaker homeported in Seattle, Wash.

F-15 fighter jet goes down over Shenandoah Valley

At approximately 9:05 a.m. EDT Wednesday the 104th Fighter Wing lost radio contact with an F-15C aircraft during a cross country mission over the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, the Air National Guard said in a press statement.

The pilot flying the F-15C made a report of an inflight emergency prior to radio contact being lost. Subsequently there were reports of dark smoke being seen around the aircraft at its last known location. Local law enforcement arrived on scene and confirmed the aircraft crashed.

"Information on this incident is developing rapidly and we are not going to speculate on what occurred or the status of the pilot", said Air Force Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander. "We are hopeful that the pilot is ok, and the pilot will be in our thoughts and prayers as the events of this incident unfold."

The F-15C aircraft was in route to receive a system upgrade, and there were no munitions on the aircraft during this cross-country trip.

At this point the status of the pilot is not confirmed.