|Hubs||Rickenbacker International Airport, Miami International Airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, Subic Bay International Airport|
|Headquarters||Building 597 Rickenbacker International Airport Columbus, OH 43217|
Air Tahoma was an American cargo airline (Part 121) based in Columbus, Ohio, United States. It was established and started operations in 1996 in San Diego then later moved to Indianapolis in 1998 and to its last location at Rickenbacker International Airport, Columbus. Air Tahoma operated contract cargo flights internationally to the Caribbean, Mexico, Vietnam, Philippines and the United States. Air Tahoma ceased operations in 2009.
Noel Rude founded the company in 1996, and it was based out of Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus, OH
Air Tahoma is a spin-off from Cool Air Inc., which was founded in 1986 by Rude and his father, Bud Rude, who is a veteran of the airline industry and who founded the parent company that originally flew firefighting missions in Washington.
FedEx contracted with Air Tahoma to fly to cities without enough traffic to support a larger jet.
Air Tahoma operated twin-engine turboprop Convairs (either the 580 or the 240).
Based on the September 1, 2008 FAA's post accident inspection report, on Friday November 7, 2008, Air Tahoma was presented with a list of alleged discrepancies on each of its aircraft. The company voluntarily suspended operations. On Monday November 10, Air Tahoma presented the FAA with a 150-page document answering / dismissing every item in the FAA report. Air Tahoma subsequently resumed operations and requested input from the FAA as to any known safety items so that they could be properly addressed. Assigned FAA inspectors told the carrier it was "business as usual" and their instructions were to continue their daily surveillance as usual.
With no new information, the FAA issued an emergency revocation on January 13, 2009 citing many systemic violations of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
The Company appealed the revocation. During the appeal process, the FAA revoked all ferry flights to reposition the company's aircraft to its home base and blocked any attempt by the company to place aircraft with other operators. In exchange for dropping its appeal, the FAA allowed the company to move its aircraft home and agreed not to withhold necessary inspectors from other operators trying to lease Air Tahoma aircraft.
The Inspector General also conducted an investigation of Air Tahoma and its management personnel. As part of the investigation, two primary FAA officials with detailed knowledge of Air Tahoma stated:
"The First Inspector" read the FAA Enforcement Investigative Report (EIR) that was done after the fatal accident in September 2008. stated if that went to trial, 95% of the items within the EIR would be unsubstantiated. Several issues documented in the EIR concerned NDT (non-destructive testing). declared that Air Tahoma contracted much of its NDT work to outside companies.
"The Second Inspector" read the FAA Enforcement Investigative Report (EIR) about Air Tahoma. The EIR mentioned several issues with maintenance aspects and not many issues concerning operational items. stated if the maintenance items in the EIR were addressed individually in court, the items would not stand-up. Additionally, if Air Tahoma had the money to go to court, many aspects of the EIR would not have held-up. did not elaborate on those issues and his opinions. Although, stated agreed with the EIR, it appeared "loaded on." did not elaborate
At the conclusion, the Special Agent in charge briefed the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) about the information obtained and the AUSA declined the case for prosecution.
Given that Air Tahoma successfully rebutted every item in the November 7, 2008 list of alleged aircraft discrepancies and given that the FAA's own inspectors believed that the Enforcement Investigative Report against Air Tahoma would not hold up in court, it is easy to conclude why the FAA aggressively pressured Air Tahoma into dropping its appeal of the revocation order.
The Air Tahoma fleet included the following aircraft (as of September 2007):
On September 1, 2008 an Air Tahoma Convair 580 crashed in Pickaway County, Ohio, shortly after taking off from Rickenbacker International Airport, claiming the lives of the 3 crew members. The FAA and NTSB are investigating. Rickenbacker International Airport is 16 miles (26 km) southeast of Columbus, Ohio. The crash happened around the Noon hour.
NTSB Identification: CHI08MA270 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation Accident occurred Monday, September 1, 2008 in Columbus, OH Probable Cause Approval Date: 6/22/2009 Aircraft: CONVAIR CV-580, registration: N587X Injuries: 3 Fatal.
The accident flight was the first flight following maintenance that included flight control cable rigging. The flight was also intended to provide cockpit familiarization for the first officer and the pilot observer, and as a training flight for the first officer. About one minute after takeoff, the first officer contacted the tower and stated that they needed to return to land. The airplane impacted a cornfield about one mile southwest of the approach end of the runway, and 2 minutes 40 seconds after the initiation of the takeoff roll. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) indicated that, during the flight, neither the captain nor the first officer called for the landing gear to be raised, the flaps to be retracted, or the power levers to be reduced from full power. From the time the first officer called "rotate" until the impact, the captain repeated the word "pull" about 27 times. When the observer pilot asked, "Come back on the trim?" the captain responded, "There's nothing anymore on the trim." The inspection of the airplane revealed that the elevator trim cables were rigged improperly, which resulted in the trim cables being reversed. As a result, when the pilot applied nose-up trim, the elevator trim system actually applied nose-down trim. An examination of the maintenance instruction cards used to conduct the last inspection revealed that the inspector's block on numerous checks were not signed off by the Required Inspection Item (RII) inspector. The RII inspector did not sign the item that stated: "Connect elevator servo trim tab cables and rig in accordance with Allison Convair [maintenance manual]..." The item had been signed off by the mechanic, but not by the RII inspector. The card also contained a NOTE, which stated in bold type, "A complete inspection of all elevator controls must be accomplished and signed off by an RII qualified inspector and a logbook entry made to this effect." The RII inspector block was not signed off.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows: The improper (reverse) rigging of the elevator trim cables by company maintenance personnel, and their subsequent failure to discover the misrigging during required post-maintenance checks. Contributing to the accident was the captain's inadequate post-maintenance preflight check and the flight crew's improper response to the trim problem.
During the civil cases filed by the pilots' families, it was discovered that the maintenance work card for the installation of the trim tab and rigging were properly signed by the mechanics and the inspector. The results of this card, were improperly transferred to the control sheet used by the company to track the completion of required checks. This control sheet also required the inspector's initials, it was this control sheet that was missing the required inspector initials.
It was also discovered that at least four other incidents of improper (reverse) mis-rigging had occurred with other operators of Convair aircraft, including one case with the now manufacture of the aircraft. The manufacture subsequently issued a Service Bulletin (SB 340-27-001) requiring placards to safeguard against improper (reverse) rigging of the elevator trim cables in the future. The pilots' families sued the manufacture for improperly notifying Air Tahoma of the known mis-rigging issue with the Convair. The case has now been settled.
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