Pilot killed, Joliet home set ablaze when Wisconsin-bound plane crashes

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From chicagotribune.com. By Suzanne Baker, Matthew Walberg, and Susan LaMar Lafferty.

A small plane crashed on a residential block in Joliet on Thursday morning, killing the pilot and setting a two-story house on fire, officials said.

Plainfield plane crash

First reports indicated the plane struck the house in the 1800 block of Hampton Court on the city’s far west side, but a Joliet fire official said Thursday afternoon that authorities were not discounting that the plane may have struck the ground first, and flames from it ignited the house.

Ed Malinowski of the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane was a Piper PA-30.

The crash occurred at 11:14 a.m. Authorities don’t think anyone else was on the plane based on a discussion with an employee of the pilot, Malinowski said. The pilot has not been identified.

There were no reports of injuries on the ground, according to Tony Molinaro, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane took off from Florida, landed in Tennessee and was en route to Wisconsin. Malinowski said he didn’t know why the pilot was going to Wisconsin.

Witnesses said they saw the plane “in distress.” The impact of the collision shook houses blocks away and created a fireball, they said.

Mark Daniel, the son of the couple who lives in the house, said his mother, Patricia Daniel, was home alone with her dog at the time of the crash.

She was seated in the living room when she heard engine sounds, looked out the window and saw the plane approaching, her son said. She ran out of the house and saw flames as the plane crashed. She and the dog were not injured.

Pat Crotty, who lives about a block away from the site, said she saw a plane coming from the southwest in a nosedive toward the ground, spiraling out of control.

She said it crashed in the street, sparking a three- to four-story streak of flames. Debris from the plane hit the house, starting it on fire, Crotty said.

The plane left a trail of debris for about a mile, Joliet Fire Department Battalion Chief John Stachelski said, including a fuel tank recovered behind a Wal-Mart store about a half-mile southeast of the site.

Stachelski said the Joliet Fire Department received several calls from witnesses who said they saw the plane going down and then heard the crash and saw flames.

When they arrived, they found the home engulfed in flames, with debris from the plane scattered all around.

The FAA has sent a team to the crash site to begin an investigation. The FAA will gather information and pass it to the National Transportation Safety Board, which will lead the investigation and determine the probable cause of the accident.

Violeta Stankus, who lives a few blocks from the crash scene and was walking in the neighborhood at the time of the incident, said the plane looked like it was “falling out of the sky.”

Some said it looked as if the plane was already on fire before the crash, and with debris scattered over several residential yards at the scene, there was essentially nothing left of the plane other than that debris.

Neighbors attempted to control the fire by spraying the house with garden hoses until the Fire Department arrived.

Lisa Guardiola, who lives behind the house, said her “whole house shook” and she thought something hit the roof of her house. She said she felt lucky and grateful because on a normal summer day, her kids would have been outside playing at the time the plane crashed. But she kept them inside because of the heat. She went outside and saw her neighbor’s house in flames.

Harriet Nagajew said she saw the engine fall off the plane, then saw it glide before spiraling downward. She said she heard the crash and instantly saw black smoke. She had been outside cleaning her pool and ran inside and had her son call 911.

“I was devastated,” she said. “This is such a shock to the neighborhood.”

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PHILADELPHIA BOUND FLIGHT EVACUATED, 17 INJURED AFTER “FLUID LEAK” IN CABIN

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From 6abc.com.

Fourteen passengers and three flight attendants suffered minor injuries after a Philadelphia bound flight had to be evacuated.

In a statement to Action News, American Airlines says flight 1822 was taxiing to the runway when it experienced a maintenance issue Thursday afternoon.

The FAA said fluid was leaking from the aircraft.

“Our passengers and crew deplaned on the tarmac using the slides,” the American Airlines statement read.

The airline says 14 passengers and three flight attendants sustained injuries and were transported to local hospitals.

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Passenger Injured After United Airlines Failed To Provide Wheelchair Assistance

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From consumerist.com. By Mary Beth Quirk.

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A United Airlines passenger has filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that she fell down an escalator and was injured after the carrier failed to provide her with wheelchair assistance as promised.

The plaintiff is an 89-year-old Texas woman who filed a lawsuit [PDF] July 14 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas. She’s alleging that in sending an electric cart to fetch her instead of an attendant with a wheelchair, the airline was negligent, and failed to comply with applicable federal and state statutes.

According to the complaint, the passenger checker her suitcase at the United baggage counter at LAX, and spoke to an attendant who gave her a wheelchair voucher and told her a wheelchair would be waiting upon her arrival at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. From there, she’d be transported to baggage claim, and then on to ground transportation. She requires assistance due to her age and “difficulty in ambulating long distances,” the complaint says.

When she landed in Houston, she says she disembarked and asked a United representative about the wheelchair, and was instructed to sit in the gate waiting area for the chair and an attendant. After waiting alone for about 10 minutes, a man operating an electric cart stopped near the gate waiting area and approached the woman, and told her to get on the electric cart, grabbing her arm to escort her, according to the lawsuit.

She says the cart took her to the “general vicinity” of the “down” escalator within the airport, which leads to the baggage area and ground transportation. That’s when the operator told her to get off the cart, “and left her standing alone,” the complaint says.

“With no other assistance by United, or any explanation as to whether she would be provided any further assistance to the baggage claim area on the lower level, Plaintiff attempted to access the escalator to go down to the baggage claim area,” the lawsuit reads. “As Plaintiff grabbed the handrail to step onto the escalator, suddenly and unexpectedly, she fell to the bottom of the escalator and was knocked unconscious.”

As a result of the fall, the woman says she sustained serious injuries, “including four fractured ribs, a fractured pelvis, and injuries to her left shoulder, left arm, back and legs.”

She spent a week in the hospital before transferring to a medical center closer to her home for continued treatment, and says she now has to use a cane to walk and “can no longer participate in many activities she was able to enjoy prior to the incident.”

The woman alleges United Airlines failed to provide wheelchair assistance, “which constitutes negligence and falls below the standard of reasonable care for a common carrier airline.”

By failing to provide wheelchair assistance, she says the airline failed to comply with “applicable federal and state statutes, regulations, ordinances, rules, and/or codes pertaining to the safety and assistance of disabled invitees.” That includes Department of Transportation rules which require air carries to “ensure that individuals with a disability are to be provided with assistance in enplaning, deplaning, and in making flight connections and transportation between gates.”

She’s seeking a trial by jury, damages in an amount to be determined, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, all legal costs and such other relief as the court deems just and appropriate.

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3 men injured when plane crashes in East Parker County, Texas

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From weatherforddemocrat.com. By Christin Coyne.

Three men were transported to the hospital Tuesday morning following a plane crash south of the Parker County Airport.

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The Texas Department of Public Safety responded to the report of a downed plane around 9 a.m.

The three plane occupants, ages 51, 49 and 25, were transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Wort with undisclosed injuries, according to DPS.

Their names were not released.

The plane, a fixed-wing, single-engine 1966 Cessna 182J, appeared to have come to rest in the middle of Tackett Lane underneath several trees, with a bent wing and other obvious damage.

The Federal Aviation Administration investigator was en route to the scene, according to DPS.

David Byrom, of Aubrey, along with Lynn Singletary, were listed as the owners of the plane.

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JetBlue flight makes emergency landing in Charleston

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A JetBlue flight leaving Charleston International Airport Monday had to make a u-turn after the crew noticed smoke in the cabin.

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JetBlue flight 1131 was headed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida when it had to return to Charleston for an emergency landing. The crew said there was also an odor.

JetBlue corporate communications officials said the aircraft landed safely just before 2 p.m. and as of 4 p.m. was still being inspected.

ABC News 4 viewer Garrett Krause was on the flight. He said they were about 17 minutes into the trip when the decision was made to turn the plane. After, he said passengers waited on the runway for about an hour as crews inspected the plane.

“I was sitting next to a C-17 test pilot, and he said it was an environment fire in A/C systems,” Krause said. “Smoke came through air vents very fast.”

JetBlue has not confirmed the cause or source of the smoke, but Krause said he and other passengers got a refund.

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Helicopter design ‘loophole’ may contribute to fiery deaths

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From 9news.com. By Chris Vanderveen.

Few injuries are more personal and painful than burns. At this moment, a Colorado flight nurse continues to fight for his life inside the burn unit of University of Colorado Hospital. Four months have passed since a fiery Flight for Life helicopter crash left him with burns on more than 90 percent of his body.

9Wants To Know spent months gathering data, asking questions and interviewing nationally recognized experts on the subject of post-crash fires in an effort to better understand why it happened to him and why it has happened for decades under the regulatory eye of the FAA.

The 9Wants To Know investigation revealed thousands of helicopters – more than 150 in Colorado alone – remain vulnerable to potentially deadly post-crash fires.

The problem, well known by federal regulators, has existed within the country’s civilian helicopter fleet for decades despite repeated warnings from safety experts. Those warnings documented the tendency of fuel tanks to rupture even after survivable, low-impact crashes and hard landings.

It’s a loophole that has allowed many well-known manufacturers ample wiggle room to continue to build helicopters with antiquated fuel systems that could never meet the latest federal standards. These standards are currently more than two decades old.

Conversely, the US military has gone so long without a fatal post-crash fire in one of its helicopters, it’s hard for researchers to find more than one death due to burns during the last four decades.

When 9Wants To Know asked one of the leading researchers on the subject of civilian helicopter crashworthiness in the country what would happen if nothing changed, he put it bluntly.

“More people are going to be severely burned,” retired Army Colonel Dennis Shanahan said.

9Wants To Know asked: Will more people die?

“Yes,” he replied. “I think this story needs to be told.”

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“It was an inferno. Absolutely,” recalled Jimmy Rhodes, a CT Tech at St. Anthony’s Summit Medical Center.

He said his first instinct was to run toward the burning Airbus AS-350B3e which had just crashed shortly after takeoff from St. Anthony’s helipad on July 3 in Frisco.

“The fire was just all around us,” he said. “I could smell the jet fuel.”

Inside the helicopter, pilot Pat Mahany and flight nurses Dave Repsher and Matt Bowe struggled to get out of the wreckage.

“I had to get [Mahany] out of there. I couldn’t let him burn,” Rhodes said.

The National Transportation Safety Board isn’t expected to release its final report on the crash until sometime in 2016 at the earliest. Its preliminary report makes little mention of the nature of the fire other than to say: “A post-impact fire ensued.”

Sources close to the family told 9Wants to Know Mahany likely died due to the impact. Repsher, however, suffered burns on more than 90 percent of his body and remains in critical condition at University of Colorado Hospital’s burn unit. A recent entry in a webpage devoted to his recovery said he had just gone through his 28th surgery as of November 2015.

Bowe has since been released from the hospital.

“The fire was on Dave,” Dobrin said. “Huge flames.”

The Flight for Life helicopter, built by Airbus and owned by Air Methods, was only 1-year-old, but its fuel system needed only to meet the standards in place when it was first certified by theFAA back in 1977.

The fuel tank, for example, is nothing more than a large plastic container that some industry insiders compare to a large milk jug.

“The fire didn’t need to happen,” Rep. Polis said.

Rep. Polis calls it a loophole. In 1994, acting on a request the NTSB made nine years prior, theFAA mandated all newly built and newly certified helicopters have crashworthy fuel systems that would meet or exceed the latest standards at the time.

For example, a fuel tank would have to survive a 50-foot drop test without spilling a drop.

Those standards, still in place now, only apply to newly certified helicopters. And since most helicopters in use currently were first certified by the FAA prior to 1994, helicopter manufacturers have built thousands of helicopters since then without updated fuel systems.

The AS-350 that crashed in Frisco, for example, was 1-year-old, but the FAA certified the AS-350 model in 1977. As a result, and even though it was new, it was not required to have acrash-resistant fuel system.

“Even by the FAA’s own observation, it’s unsafe. But because of a loophole they’re still letting these helicopters to be sold even though we know they are unsafe,” Rep. Polis said.

In July, the NTSB said more than 4,700 of the 5,600 helicopters manufactured since 1994 didn’t have fuel systems that would meet the 1994 standards. Analysis of FAA records by 9Wants to Know shows there are currently 173 helicopters registered in Colorado that are not required to have crash-resistant fuel systems. The vast majority were built after 1994.

Nine of the 17 emergency medical services helicopters (HEMS) currently operating in Colorado are also not required to have the more robust fuel systems, even though all were built after 1994.

All of the “Flight for Life” helicopters in Colorado are AS-350B3s, for example, and thus are not required to meet the 1994 standards. After numerous requests for comment by 9Wants to Know, Air Methods - one of the largest HEMS operators in the country and owners of the five Flight for Life helicopters in Colorado - announced in late October it planned to retrofit all of itsAS-350s starting as early as 2016 with crash-resistant fuel systems.

Its statement read, in part:

“We are working directly with a third party who is seeking certification for a crash-resistant fuel system for the entire Airbus line. We expect a crashworthy system to be certified in 2016 for the AS350 … fleet. For us, it’s about doing the right thing.”

In July, NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart authored a safety recommendation urging the FAAto mandate all new helicopters - no matter the date of certification - have a crash-resistant fuel system.

“We’ve seen it in the military. We want to see similar progressive action taken in civilian helicopters,” Hart told 9Wants to Know.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta responded recently by saying the FAA will consider the request. The response, with no timeline for possible implementation, is yet another reminder of just how long this problem has existed with full knowledge of federal regulators’ full knowledge.

Dennis Shanahan, a former Army colonel and one of the leading researchers in the country on crashworthiness of helicopter fuel tanks, knows by the time he started doing research for the Army the problem had already been solved.

“It was 1976, and we already had crash-resistant fuel systems in every helicopter in the Army,” he told 9Wants to Know when 9Wants To Know visited his southern California home.

Blame or credit, of all things, the Vietnam War.

Tired of losing soldiers to fiery helicopter crashes in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the Army committed itself to solving the problem of vulnerable fuel tanks. It started, among other things, installing bladder tanks and breakaway, self-sealing fuel valves.

In a few years, the problem went away.

Shanahan’s research suggests to him since the mid-1970s, only one person has died as a result of burns suffered as a result of a post-crash fire in a military helicopter.

At the same time, he knows, hundreds died in post-crash fires in civilian helicopters even as evidence mounted as to the need for more robust fuel systems:

  • In 1980, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendations A-80-90 through 95 warning “post-crash fires are occurring in survivable accidents.” In the letter to the FAA, the NTSB recommended “flexible, crash-resistant fuel lines and self-sealing frangible fuel line couplings.”
  • In 1985, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendations A-85-69 through 71 asking for better testing of fuel systems in newly type-certificated helicopters. It would take another nine years for the FAA to adopt the rules that would require crash-resistant fuel systems only on all newly certified helicopters.
  • In 2002, the FAA issued “A Study of Helicopter Crash-Resistant Fuel Systems.” The 170-page report outlined, in sharp detail, the need for better research on crash-resistant fuel systems. In addition, it stated, “Training of field investigators in specific crashworthiness is of great importance.”
  • In July 2015, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation A-15-12 which called on the FAA to require crash-resistant fuel systems on all new helicopters no matter the date of model certification. The FAA has since stated it preliminarily agrees with the recommendation and will start the process of considering it. The process, if history is any guide, will take many years to implement.

Shanahan said the FAA has all of the data it needs to make a decision now.

“I think it’s deplorable,” Shanahan said. “I think the manufacturers and the Federal Aviation Administration have a moral imperative to require [crash-resistant fuel systems] on all new helicopters right away.”

A 9Wants to Know investigation of hundreds of NTSB accident reports since 1994 indicatescrash-resistant fuel systems do make a difference when it comes to post-crash fires in fatal helicopter accidents.

After reviewing reports on the crashes which resulted in post-crash fires, 9Wants to Know found the helicopter that crashed in Frisco in July - the AS-350 - has the highest incident rate of fires that happen after a fatal crash.

  • Of the 46 fatal crashes involving an AS-350 since 1994, 22 have resulted in post-crash fires. That’s an incident rate of 48 percent
  • The Bell 407 – which has a crash resistant fuel system as part of its design – was involved in 22 fatal crashes since 1994. Four resulted in fires. That’s an incident rate of 18 percent
  • The Bell 206, which is not required to meet the 1994 standards but does have some measures in place to protect the fuel system, particularly in the newer ones, experienced a fire incident rate in fatal crashes of 26 percent
  • The Robinson 44, which is also not required to have a system in place that would meet the 1994 standards, experienced an incident rate of 43 percent. Robinson has scrambled to replace the R-44’s aluminum tanks with more crashworthy ones over the last half decade.

Airbus supplied a statement to 9Wants to Know this week which read, in part:

“The data presented does not take into account the widely varying circumstances of each accident. Because of the differences, a reliable comparison of accidents requires detailed analysis of the facts and circumstances contained in the accident reports.”

9Wants to Know examined each of the reports outlined in our investigation, and while Airbus’ statement suggests, accurately, the difficulty of assessing survivability of individual accidents, our data shows – in fatal crashes – the AS-350 burns more often than helicopters with more robust fuel systems. It is important to note that while a fire may have followed a crash, many crashes are not survivable with or without a fire.

In addition, Airbus stated it has offered a crash resistant fuel system on all new AS-350s (also known as H125s) since July 2014. Also, Airbus stated it is working with a third-party vendor to design a retrofit in AS-350s currently in use. The design, “is expected to be certificated and available for purchase by aircraft owners in 2016,” according to Airbus.

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For information about Friedman | Rubin’s aviation practice and our work representing flight attendants, commercial airline passengers, pilots, plane and helicopter crash victims, visit our website.

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Three dead, One critically injured in Albany, N.Y. area plane crash

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From upi.com. By Ed Adamczyk.

The crash of a private plane in Schoharie County, N.Y., killed three passengers and critically injured a fourth, officials said.

State troopers and first responders stand by at the scene of a plane crash that went down in a wooded area at Hogan's Airfield at 212 Brandon Road in Esperance killing 3 and seriously injuring 1 Saturday, July 16, 2016.

The Piper PA-28 plane flew about 1,000 feet after takeoff from the privately owned Hogan Airport in the town of Esperance Saturday evening when it crashed in a nearby wooded area and burned.

Three passengers aboard the plane were pronounced dead at the scene. The fourth was flown to Albany Medical Center with severe burns, Schoharie County Sheriff Anthony Desmond said, adding the plane was heading for Connecticut.

A spokeswoman of the Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft was destroyed by the fire. The identities of the four people aboard were not given, and there was no information regarding to whom the plane was registered.

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‘Terrifying’ flight to Austin diverted due to severe turbulence

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From kxan.com. By Andy Jechow.

Southwest Airlines Flight 1265 from Chicago to Austin was forced to divert to Kansas City after experiencing severe turbulence, on Wednesday.

The airline said that out of an abundance of caution, the flight crew chose to land at Kansas City International Airport to conduct a post-turbulence check on the aircraft.

Nick Dunbar said he was sleeping and the next thing he knew his “butt was out of the chair.” Passengers began to scream and for about a minute the plane was in the midst of severe turbulence.

Dunbar says after moments of “high anxiety,” the flight crew said they would land in Kansas City to make sure the plane and its passengers were okay.

Passenger Robin Grulke said it was a “terrifying” moment for many on the plane. “They just kept telling us to stay in our seats because we were going to have turbulence… and then it was kind of quiet, and then all of a sudden that plane dropped and tipped.”

She said passengers were told flight attendants didn’t want to get back on the plane.

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NTSB investigating TVA helicopter crash Graves County, Kentucky

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From wpsdlocal6.com.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators are on the ground Tuesday trying to determine what caused a helicopter crash at the Tennessee Valley Authority site in Graves County on Monday.

The pilot, Randy Love, died. Although we don’t know that it was the crash that killed him. Investigators say Love’s helicopter rolled over during landing.

NTSB crews arrived in the area last night from Georgia. They and Federal Aviation Administration investigators are trying to find all the helicopter’s parts to put it back together.

NTSB senior investigator Ralph Hicks says they’re looking at everything, from possible system errors to the weather.

“We’re going to move the wreckage to a secure storage facility in Tennessee where we’ll continue our look at it, and all the systems on the aircraft.” Hicks says.

Love’s helicopter crashed Monday morning in a field near the TVA center in graves county. He was the only person on board.

A TVA spokesman says Love worked for the company for 17 years. An autopsy began on Love on Tuesday in Louisville. It could be weeks before that autopsy is complete.

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information about Friedman | Rubin’s aviation practice and our work representing flight attendants, commercial airline passengers, pilots, plane and helicopter crash victims, visit our website.

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4 Killed In Plane Crash Near West Houston Airport

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From khou.com

Four people were killed Friday when a small plane crashed near West Houston Airport, according to the DPS.

The plane burst into flames after it plunged to the ground in a wooded area. It was completely destroyed.

Kyle Ruehle was on the scene within minutes of the crash and said there were several small explosions.

The victims have not been identified.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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For more information about Friedman | Rubin’s aviation practice and our work representing flight attendants, commercial airline passengers, pilots, plane and helicopter crash victims, visit our website.

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