New report says FAA unaware of power pole in 2013 Thomson plane crash that killed Vein Guys staff

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 3:00 PM
Last updated Thursday, July 31, 2014 9:34 AM
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The National Transportation Safety Board released an update Wednesday to the fiery plane crash in Thomson last year that killed five members of the Vein Guys staff.

Workmen repair a power line near the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport. A small jet carrying seven people hit the pole before it crashed in 2013  2013 file photo/ MICHAEL HOLAHAN
2013 file photo/ MICHAEL HOLAHAN
Workmen repair a power line near the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport. A small jet carrying seven people hit the pole before it crashed in 2013

The board’s factual report stated, as previously reported, that the Beechcraft 390 Premier carrying two pilots and five passengers crashed Feb. 20 at Thomson-McDuffie County Airport after pilots aborted a landing, and the plane collided with a 72-foot-tall utility pole and crashed in the woods.

The report, however, found the Thomson airport failed in 2010 and 2012 to meet federal requirements for precision and obstruction-free approaches, as trees and a power line were listed as obstructions for two runways. The Federal Aviation Administration also said it had no knowledge of the Georgia Power utility pole struck by the plane until after the crash.

The FAA requires notification of any structure that is newly built or altered, and may affect the national airspace system. The concrete pole, built in 1989, provided power to the Milliken & Co. textile plant, adjacent to the airport.

The NTSB report stated that after the accident, Georgia Power submitted forms to the FAA for four utility poles east of the airport, which included the one that was struck in the plane crash. In its initial findings issued May 31, 2013, the FAA stated the structure exceeded the obstruction standards and “would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic interference effect upon navigable airspace or air navigation facilities.”

Although the FAA has not completed a final determination on the tower, the preliminary findings show the utility structure was a presumed hazard to air navigation and that an adequate height for the tower would have been 46 feet or lower.

The utility pole has been a point of contention in civil suits filed in Fulton County Superior Court by the families of those killed in the crash. In addition to Vein Guys co-owner Dr. Steven Roth, Kim Davidson, Heidi McCorkle, Tiffany Port­er and Lisa Vol­pitto died of blunt force injuries sustained in the wrecked plane. The plane’s pilot, Richard Trammell, and co-pilot, Jeremy Hayden, sustained serious injuries but survived.

Several parties, including the airport’s operators, the city of Thomson, McDuffie County and Roth’s estate, are named as defendants. Others being sued include Georgia Power and parent company Southern Company Services; Milliken & Co., owner of the Kingsley Plant at the end of the runway that had granted easement for the power pole; and The Sky’s The Limit doing business as Executive Shuttle, which was owned by Trammell and employed both pilots.

A copy of one lawsuit alleged the pole was too tall and inappropriately lit and that the transmission lines were too high. The suit also states that allowing trees to be planted in the airport’s “safe zone” was negligent, and it found fault in the proper maintenance and service of the privately-owned plane.

In addition, The Pavilion Group, Roth and the two pilots are blamed for having enabled “impaired,” “unqualified,” or “inadequately trained pilots” to operate the plane. Trammell and Hayden have also filed suit in Ful­ton County against the city of Thom­son, McDuffie County, Geor­gia Power and Milliken & Co.

Also in the NTSB report released Wednesday, the co-pilot, Hayden, said after the aircraft’s landing gear was lowered, an “anti skid fail” light flashed on. The plane touched down on the runway, he said, before Trammell announced a “go-around” and ascended back into the air. Hayden said he did not know the reason for the go-around.

In Trammell’s post-accident interview, the pilot said the last thing he remembered before waking up in the hospital four days later was checking the plane’s landing light switches in preparation to land. He said he couldn’t recall anything about the approach, landing or any anti-skid problems during the flight.

Minutes before the crash, Hayden is reported as alerting Trammell to adjust his altimeter.

“I’m kinda out of the loop or something,” the pilot (Trammell) is quoted as saying in the report. “I don’t know what happened to me there, but I appreciate you lookin’ after me there.”

Both pilots were tested for drugs and alcohol, and toxicology results came back negative.

A final report, which will detail the probable cause of the crash, will be completed in the “near future,” said Terry Williams, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.

“It’s not unusual for our investigations to take more than a year, although we do try to wrap them up around the anniversary of a particular accident,” Williams said. “But, there are many factors that may delay it.”

Williams said while he is uncertain of the reason in this specific case, some investigations take longer to gather information. The staff’s workload also can lead to a lengthier probe, he said.

Comments (14) Add comment
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BamaMan
2549
Points
BamaMan 07/30/14 - 03:10 pm
7
2
??

Now THIS was a total waste of post and reading time. Why did they bother?

bright idea
858
Points
bright idea 07/30/14 - 03:34 pm
7
1
Lots of lawsuits

pending in this crash. Passenger families suing everybody in sight including the one with a bottomless pit of money, Ga. Power. If the NTSB doesn't know now the fix might be in. Both pilots survived. Do you think they know why the crash occurred? Has the NTSB asked them? I would assume so. Everybody waiting on the lawyers now.

foxsilong
853
Points
foxsilong 07/30/14 - 04:13 pm
3
1
it's called a developing report

"THIS was a total waste of post and reading time. Why did they bother?"
yep so hopefully that will answer your question. This report probably wont't be the same within the next few visits.

dichotomy
34777
Points
dichotomy 07/30/14 - 04:12 pm
5
1
Oh good.....a report with

Oh good.....a report with everything EXCEPT what everyone wants to know.

nocnoc
45450
Points
nocnoc 07/30/14 - 04:32 pm
6
0
Augusta Chronicle NEWS ALERT!!!!!!

The AC reports that the NTSB has nothing to report.

NOC-NOC ALERT
http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief2.aspx?ev_id=20130220X11432&ntsbn...

After reading the report, did you may notice the parts that said:

Georgia Power did not notify the FAA before constructing the utility poles in 1989; therefore, the FAA had no knowledge of the poles as potential obstructions. Accordingly, there were no depictions or mention of possible obstructions on associated aeronautical charts.

The pilots comments just prior to landing about being spaced out?

"About 1956, the flight crew advised the Atlanta ARTCC that they were descending through 18,500 ft, and 2 minutes later, they cancelled their IFR flight plan. About 1958, the copilot stated to the pilot, "ten thousand comin' up captain and you blowin' through." About 1959, the copilot told the pilot to adjust his altimeter. The pilot responded, "say, I'm kinda out of the loop or something. I don't know what happened to me there but I appreciate you lookin' after me there."

nocnoc
45450
Points
nocnoc 07/31/14 - 07:32 am
3
0
Loaded question

In this case the article has been drastically updated and actually now includes information.

Why are the comments from the No information article posted Wednesday, July 30, 2014 3:00 PM still being used for the updated, July 31, 2014 2:01 AM greatly expanded & rewritten article?

Little Lamb
47278
Points
Little Lamb 07/31/14 - 08:04 am
1
1
Huh?

From the story:

The FAA requires notification of any structure that is newly built or altered, and may affect the national airspace system.

Wouldn't that be just about everything ever built everywhere in America?

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
9439
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 07/31/14 - 10:21 am
3
0
Hmm, sounds like the Fed is ducking!!

"The report, however, found the Thomson airport failed in 2010 and 2012 to meet federal requirements for precision and obstruction-free approaches, as trees and a power line were listed as obstructions for two runways. The Federal Aviation Administration also said it had no knowledge of the Georgia Power utility pole struck by the plane until after the crash." "The concrete pole, built in 1989, provided power to the Milliken & Co. textile plant, adjacent to the airport." So the pole had been in place for 23 years and even though the airport was inspected, by whom???, and noted in reports, the FAA says they have no knowledge of it? I smell the nightsoil of a male bovine creature in this!!

Little Lamb
47278
Points
Little Lamb 07/31/14 - 11:30 am
1
2
Error

You are absolutely correct, CBBP. Because of the sympathy factor for the lawsuit and the deep pockets of Georgia Power, the safety board is ducking. They should call this tragic accident what it really is, pilot error.

sand gnat
602
Points
sand gnat 07/31/14 - 01:58 pm
0
0
Deep Pockets

Let no deep pockets go unchallenged regardless of liability. If enough
mud is slung on the wall, some of it will stick. The insurance companies will have to assess their potential exposures. In the end, each will contribute a proportional amount of $$ based upon what they feel their exposure is to arrive at a total sum to be pro-rated to each plaintiff, based upon individual exposure to each. My heart goes out to the innocent passengers and their families. The plaintiff attorneys will see a big payday without a trial.

gaflyboy
5073
Points
gaflyboy 07/31/14 - 02:08 pm
4
0
"FAA unaware of power pole in 2013"

According to the article, the pole was installed in 1989.

A few years after 1994, the FAA installed an ILS there (Instrument Landing System). Among all that's involved with this, obstruction clearances are at or near the top of the list.

Have the Feds forgotten? Can one believe anything our government says anymore?

burninater
9693
Points
burninater 07/31/14 - 02:31 pm
1
1
"The FAA requires

"The FAA requires notification of any structure that is newly built or altered, and may affect the national airspace system.

Wouldn't that be just about everything ever built everywhere in America?"
-------
Why? If something is not obstructing a reasonably expectable flight path, then it wouldn't reasonably be considered to affect the national airspace system.

An overly tall power pole near the end of a runway would be the type of structure the FAA is presumably talking about.

Little Lamb
47278
Points
Little Lamb 07/31/14 - 02:37 pm
0
1
Airspace

The regulation does not say "expectable flight path;" it said "national airspace system." That is all air below 40,000 feet.

burninater
9693
Points
burninater 07/31/14 - 02:47 pm
1
1
You are correct LL, I was

You are correct LL, I was unaware of "Class G" airspace, extending to the ground in uncontrolled areas. Maybe the FAA was referring specificallly to structures in controlled airspace?

And apparently the ceiling is 60,000 feet -- not that that has any bearing on the structures issue.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Airspace_System

Little Lamb
47278
Points
Little Lamb 07/31/14 - 04:34 pm
1
2
Deny, Deny, Deny — Nobody will call you on it

From the story:

The Federal Aviation Administration also said it had no knowledge of the Georgia Power utility pole struck by the plane until after the crash.

The government that said that also said it had no backup of Lois Lerner's e-mails. You just cannot believe what they say.

Here's the thing: the power pole and lines have been there for twenty-some-odd years; thousands and thousands of take-offs and landings. It is clear that the pole was not the problem. The pilot was.

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