Grand Aire CEO Lost In Hansa 320 Accident
FAA and NTSB investigators were in St. Louis, MO, Wednesday,
sifting through the wreckage of a Hansa 320 that went down shortly
after departure from Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The aircraft went
down as winds gusted up to 23 miles an hour and light snow was
falling. Visibility was reported at nine miles.
There were two people
aboard the aircraft -- 50-year old Tahir Cheema (right), of Toledo,
OH, and Eko Pinardi from Fort Wayne, IN. It wasn't immediately
clear which of the two men was flying the aircraft when it went
It was the third accident in a year for Grand Aire, a
Toledo-based charter operator. The first two occurred within five
hours of each other on April 8th. One of the aircraft -- both of
which were Falcon 20s -- went down in St. Louis on a flight from
Del Rio, TX. Both pilots, Saleem Iqbal, 34, and Mohammed Saleh, 44,
were rescued as they clung to the wreckage in the Mississippi
The other Falcon crashed five hours earlier on final approach to
Toledo Express Airport. In that case, all three people on board
Grand Aire Statement
Grand Aire has suffered a terrible loss with the accident that
took the lives of its founder and owner, Tahir Cheema, as well as
co-pilot, Eko Pinardi.
Tahir Cheema was flying his private aircraft, a Hansa jet,
enroute from St. Louis to Toledo on personal business.
Grand Aire, directed by
Mr. Cheema, just completed a financial restructuring which will
enhance the continued growth the company has experienced over the
last year. The company is financially strong, with a solid
management team and outstanding, dedicated employees. It is well
positioned for the future.
We will keep Grand Aire a viable business in Toledo, inspired by
the passion and spark exhibited by Tahir. The Team is focused on
this common goal.
At this time we would appreciate a period of grievance and would
like everyone to pray for our friends and their families.
FAA Preliminary Accident Report
Regis#: 604GA Make/Model: HF20
Description: HFB-320 Hansa
Date: 11/30/2004 Time: 0156
Event Type: Accident Highest Injury:
Fatal Mid Air: N Missing: N
State: MO Country: US
ACFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, THE TWO PERSONS ON
FATALLY INJURED, HOWELL ISLAND, CHESTERFIELD, MO
INJURY DATA Total Fatal: 2
2 Fat: 2 Ser: 0
Min: 0 Unk:
0 Fat: 0 Ser: 0
Min: 0 Unk:
Grnd: Fat: 0
Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:
WEATHER: SPECI 010202Z 2801462KT 9 -SN BKN016 BKN022 OVC028
Activity: Unknown Phase: Unknown
Operation: General Aviation
Departed: SAINT LOUIS,
MO Dep Date: Dep.
Plan: Wx Briefing:
Last Radio Cont:
FAA FSDO: ST. LOUIS, MO
(CE03) Entry date:
Controllers: Black Hawk Pilot Wanted To File IFR
The flight crew aboard
the Army UH-60 Black Hawk that went down near Waco, TX, yesterday
reportedly inquired about converting their VFR flight plan to IFR
just moments before the helo impacted a TV tower guy wire.
NATCA Southwest Regional President Darrell Meachum told the
Dallas Morning News that the crew contacted Waco Regional Airport
Approach for a pop-up IFR about five minutes before the aircraft
went down Monday. The aircraft was en route from Fort Hood to
Texarkana, carrying seven soldiers -- including a brigadier
"He called us at 6:45," Meachum said. "He reported that he was
at 800 feet and interested in an IFR flight plan, and we asked him
to state his position. He said, 'Currently... standby, sir.'"
The pilot wasn't heard from again.
The Morning News reports the Black Hawk crew got a weather
briefing indicating IFR conditions at the time of departure. But
weather along its route deteriorated fast. At 0600, there was fog
and mist with five miles' visibility at Robert Gray Army Airfield.
At 0651, the weather at Waco, about 20 miles north of the crash
site, was overcast and ten miles' visibility. An hour later, the
terminal weather report at Waco indicated visibility at less than a
quarter mile in fog.
Compounding the visibility problem, the FAA had issued a NOTAM
indicating the lights on the 1,680 foot tall broadcast tower,
operated by KXXV-TV, were inoperable. Further, Col. Donald
MacWillie told the Morning News that the helo's route took it
nowhere near the broadcast tower.
"We plan our routes precisely," he told the paper. "The route
that was briefed and planned did not have them going through those
The IV Division's aviation brigade was routinely grounded for
two days after the mishap.
Was There Something Familiar About The Montrose Accident?
As the investigation continued Wednesday into the runway
accident that destroyed a Canadair Challenger CL-601 (file photo of
type, below) on Sunday, chairman Ellen Engleman Connors told the
Washington Post that the accident bore a remarkable similarity to
an accident involving a CL-604 in January, 2002. The aircraft was
departing Birmingham, England, when it rolled sharply immediately
after departing the ground and impacted the edge of the runway.
"The similarities are quite substantial, and we don't have that
very often in our business," she told the Post. Further, Engleman
Connors said, the design of the Challenger's wing -- which foregoes
leading edge slats -- made the aircraft "very susceptible to debris
or frost or icing, and it is one we will be focusing on of many
On January 4th, 2002, the CL-604 (N90AG) was being flown from
Birmingham to Bangor, ME. There had been a severe frost at
Birmingham the previous night, a situation which improved somewhat
before the accident. Britain's Air Accident Investigation Branch
cited one pilot in this passage from the accident report:
The commander of a CRJ aircraft, which had been parked adjacent
to N90AG overnight, commenced his pre-flight external inspection at
1125 hrs. By this time his aircraft had been moved to the Terminal
side of the airfield. He noticed that there was about 1 to 2 mm
(approx 0.06 inch) of hoar frost covering all the upper surfaces of
the aircraft. The frost was soft as he moved his finger along areas
on the wing and fuselage. He had no doubt that de-icing was
required and called for this service through his company's
No request was made for N90AG to be de-iced. Information from
the de-icing company at the airport indicated that if a request had
been made at about 1030 hrs, it would have taken about 5 minutes
for the de-icing rig to get to the location and a further 10
minutes to complete the de-icing of the aircraft.
The crew aboard the Challenger CL-601 involved in Sunday's
accident at Montrose, CO, also declined to have the aircraft
de-iced. Citing the wing's design, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
University Engineering Professor Charles Eastlake told the Post,
"The really sensitive part of the wing is on the top surface near
the leading edge. It only takes lumps and bumps [of ice or frost] a
few thousandths of an inch thick to disrupt the airflow over the
wing... that could be dangerous."
Even the 604's
documentation referred to the absolute necessity to clear the wings
prior to take-off. The AAIB report stated:
The Bombardier Challenger 604 Operating Manual included clear
statements about the need to ensure that surfaces were clear of
ice, snow or frost. For example, the SUPPLEMENTARY PROCEDURES (Cold
Weather Operations) included the following statement: "Takeoff must
not be attempted if snow, ice or frost are present in any amount on
the wings and tail surfaces of the airplane."
The investigation into Sunday's accident will continue for
months. Engleman Connors qualified her statements about possible
wing icing by saying that investigators will, of course, examine
every possible detail in their search for a probable cause.
Tailwinds, Heavy Rain May Have Contributed To Lion Air Accident
As search teams revised downward the number of people lost in
the crash of a Lion Air MD-82 -- from 31 to 29 or even 25 confirmed
deaths -- a spokesman for the carrier said tailwinds and heavy rain
upon landing may well have contributed to the accident.
The MD-82, with approximately 160 passengers and crew, skidded
off the runway at Adi Sumarmo International Airport in Surakarta as
it was landing near dusk Tuesday. The aircraft plowed into a
cemetery and broke apart before coming to a stop. While the number
of casualties appears to be in flux, the number of missing
passengers and crew could be as high as 47. Seventy-five people
were reported injured.
"The cause of the accident is likely to be bad weather and
strong winds. But, we are still looking into the facts," Setyo
Rahardjo, head of Indonesia's national transportation safety
commission, told reporters at the scene. He was quoted by
A spokesman for Lion
Air said the aircraft apparently landed with a tailwind of more
than 10 kts. A study of MD-82 accidents quoted by the Jakarta Post
said 15 of the 33 cases studied involved tailwinds in excess of 10
Reuters reports the Lion Air MD-82 was one of three aircraft to
unexpectedly skid off Indonesian runways this week. A Bouraq Boeing
737 reportedly overshot the runway in Makassar. The next day, an
Indonesian Air Force F-16 skidded off the very same runway.