Saturday, February 13, 2016

Flight Design CTLS, N911TS, County of Tulare Sheriffs Office: Fatal accident occurred February 10, 2016 near Visalia Municipal Airport (KVIS), Tulare County, California


NTSB Identification: WPR16FA067 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Springville, CA
Aircraft: FLIGHT DESIGN GMBH CTLS, registration: N911TS
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 10, 2016, at 1617 Pacific standard time, a Flight Design CTLS airplane, N911TS, while flying at low altitude entered a hard left turn and descended into terrain 4 miles southwest of Springville, California. The airline transport pilot and single passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the Tulare County Sheriff as a public aircraft under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules company flight plan. The flight originated from Visalia Municipal Airport, Visalia, California, approximately 1440 as a local flight.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane circling a nearby area then depart to the southwest. The airplane made a left turn, the wings dipped left and right, then the airplane descended into the ground in a sideways wing down orientation. The engine was heard operating in a steady tone until ground impact. A post-crash fire ensured, destroying the airplane.

The Porterville Municipal Airport automated weather observation system-3 (AWOS-3), located 11 miles southwest of the accident site, at an elevation of 443 feet mean sea level, recorded at 1556, wind from 300 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, and altimeter setting of 30.18 inHg.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fresno FSDO-17

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

The Modesto Police Department’s proposal to spend about $660,000 for a light sport aircraft is on hold after a fatal crash involving the same type of airplane in Tulare County.

Tulare County Sheriff’s Department pilot James Chavez and Deputy Scott Ballantyne were killed Wednesday when their two-seat Flight Design CTLE plane crashed into a mountain near Porterville, according to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper reported the two had just helped deputies track and apprehend a suspect.

The Sheriff’s Department reported it had used the aircraft since 2011 and it had logged more than 3,000 miles of flight time. A department spokeswoman said Friday that the National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the crash.

Modesto police Chief Galen Carroll said his department has put its proposal on hold.

“We are obviously going to wait for what comes out of the investigation,” he said. “But we feel very bad for the pilot and the deputy. I feel horrible for them and their families and the other survivors.”

Modesto police officials worked closely with Tulare County Sheriff’s Department officials in researching the proposal to buy a crime-fighting aircraft. Carroll has said he envisioned the plane being in the air about 30 hours a week, patrolling the city, conducting traffic enforcement, helping special operations and tracking crimes in progress.

The plane would be equipped with a spotlight and high-definition camera with long-range scope and night vision that records what it sees. Carroll has said police officers who are pilots and volunteer pilots would fly the plane.

The proposal drew criticism and questions when it came before the City Council in early November because voters had just rejected Measure G, the one-half percent general sales tax increase the city put on the Nov. 3 ballot. Council members decided to have the proposal fully vetted at two committee meetings before having it come back to them. The proposal has since been reviewed at one committee, which endorsed it.

Carroll has said the money for the purchase would come primarily from grants and other funding sources that could not be used to hire officers and a one-time $200,000 refund from the general fund. He has said the aircraft would serve as a “force multiplier” for his department, which has lost more than 20 percent of its officers since 2008.

Flight Design USA, the Connecticut-based importer of the German aircraft, could not be reached for comment Friday.


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