Post Tagged with: "Federal Aviation Administration"

No Safety Violations Proven Against Skydive Myrtle Beach

August 29, 2017 9:11 AM
No Safety Violations Proven Against Skydive Myrtle Beach

It is now apparent that Skydive Myrtle Beach was shut down from operating at Grand Strand Airport on the basis of safety allegations that were never investigated, much less proved.

For whatever reason, county officials (council members, staff or some combination thereof) decided they wanted to shut down Skydive Myrtle Beach (SDMB). The only way they could do that and not violate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Grant Assurances was to claim safety violations.

And this they did, sort of.

Horry County Department of Airports (HCDA) staff and Robinson Aviation employees, who were contracted with HCDA to operate the Grand Strand Airport control tower, created 112 “Unusual Incident Reports” (UIR) of SDMB alleged safety violations over a nearly two year period.

HCDP sent these UIR’s to the Federal Aviation Administration as documentation of safety violations. According to responses to FOIA requests by both Horry County and the FAA, none of these alleged incidents was ever investigated by HCDA and only one, number 86 on the compilation record, was investigated by the FAA.

Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti responses to two FOIA requests: 

“These records are provided in an abundance of caution, in that each may or may not demonstrate violation by Skydive Myrtle Beach of Horry County Department of Airports Minimum Standards, as that assessment has not been undertaken.” 

And

“Enforcement was held in abeyance due to pending litigation.” 

No investigation of any of the incidents was ever conducted by HCDA or other Horry County agencies.

The FAA found NO VIOLATION in the case of number 86, which occurred on May 31, 2015.

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Another Twist in the Skydive Myrtle Beach Controversy

August 19, 2017 12:30 PM
Another Twist in the Skydive Myrtle Beach Controversy

Another interesting twist has appeared related to the Skydive Myrtle Beach controversy with Horry County over the county’s closing of the Skydive Myrtle Beach business.

Nearly two years ago, the county used a Director’s Determination by the Federal Aviation Administration to close the landing zone for skydivers at Grand Strand Airport and evict Skydive Myrtle Beach from a hangar at that airport.

The Director’s Determination was based on 112 alleged safety violations committed by Skydive Myrtle Beach, which were documented and reported by Horry County Department of Airports personnel and/or Robinson Aviation personnel who are contracted by the county to staff the control tower at Grand Strand Airport.

In a recent post about the ongoing controversy, we quoted a letter by Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti that backed away from calling the documents proof of safety violations by SDMB.

Carotti’s letter, which was included with a response to a FOIA request for documents related to SDMB safety violations, stated, in part, the documents provided “may or may not demonstrate violation by Skydive Myrtle Beach of Horry County Department of Airports Minimum Standards, as that assessment has not been undertaken.”

Several days after the story was posted, the following was contained in an email to at least one county council member:

“On Aug 15, 2017, at 11:24 AM, Carotti, Arrigo wrote:

The misrepresentation of facts and the law has been ongoing on the part of Mr. Holly, misguided bloggers, and Holly surrogates for several years now, involving universally unsuccessful litigation by Holly, and pending litigation against the FAA, the State of South Carolina, Horry County, officials and employees. There have been no new admissions, the FAA’s and County’s sound positions in the matter remaining the same. 

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Horry County Reverses Story on Skydive Myrtle Beach Alleged Violations

August 12, 2017 4:56 AM
Horry County Reverses Story on Skydive Myrtle Beach Alleged Violations

Nearly two years after evicting Skydive Myrtle Beach from Grand Strand Airport for, allegedly, committing numerous safety violations, Horry County now won’t claim the skydiving business committed any violations.

In a cover letter providing 126 documents responding to a Freedom of Information Act request for all public documents associated with Skydive Myrtle Beach safety violations, Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti stated in part, “These records are provided in an abundance of caution, in that each may or may not demonstrate violation by Skydive Myrtle Beach of Horry County Department of Airports Minimum Standards, as that assessment has not been undertaken.” (See full letter below)

What is astounding about that statement is that two years ago the exact same documents were provided to both the Federal Aviation Administration and S.C. Fifteenth Circuit Court as proof of safety violations by Skydive Myrtle Beach.

In 2014, Skydive Myrtle Beach lodged a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration against Horry County Department of Airports alleging discriminatory actions against Skydive Myrtle Beach by HCDA.

In response, Horry County Department of Airports reported to the Federal Aviation Administration that Skydive Myrtle Beach was the subject of 112 alleged safety violations (contained in the 126 pages of documents) while conducting business at Grand Strand Airport.

On October 7, 2015, the FAA issued a Director’s Determination Report, authored by Randall Fiertz, the FAA Director of Airport Compliance and Management Analysis, in response to Holly’s original complaint, supposedly basing the report on those safety violations.

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SkyDive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County in Court This Month

November 1, 2016 7:25 AM
SkyDive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County in Court This Month

Skydive Myrtle Beach and Horry County are scheduled to face off in S.C. Court of Appeals November 3, 2016 for oral arguments in the case of Skydive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County (2014-002491).

The basic question in this lawsuit is whether Horry County acted fraudulently in stopping Skydive Myrtle Beach from operating its business at Grand Strand Airport.

A separate court ruling from a federal Administrative Law Judge is expected to be issued on or before November 18, 2016 addressing the actions of the Federal Aviation Administration in issuing a 73 page ruling against Skydive Myrtle Beach on the basis of very sketchy information provided by Horry County Department of Airports.

The case built by Horry County Department of Airports to evict Skydive Myrtle Beach from Grand Strand Airport has more holes than Swiss cheese.

After Skydive Myrtle Beach reported HCDA to the Federal Aviation Administration in February 2014 for discriminatory actions, Horry County officials began looking to cover their tracks.

HCDA began an incident reporting system that logged 112 alleged safety violations by Skydive Myrtle Beach over the next few months.

None of the 112 alleged safety incidents HCDA insists Skydive Myrtle Beach committed were ever properly reported to the FAA, according to FAA reporting requirements.

A recent Freedom of Information Act response from the FAA to SkyDive Myrtle Beach officials goes further. It says there are no records of the alleged safety violations in the FAA reporting system.

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More Questions About Skydive Myrtle Beach Case

March 19, 2016 7:23 PM
More Questions About Skydive Myrtle Beach Case

The more we look at the case built by Horry County Department of Airports against Skydive Myrtle Beach, the more holes appear.

After Skydive Myrtle Beach reported HCDA to the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014 for discriminatory actions, HCDA began reporting alleged safety incidents by Skydive Myrtle Beach operations to the FAA. A total of 112 of these alleged violations occurred, according to HCDA.

Skydive Myrtle Beach also filed suit in circuit court against Horry County and HCDA for their actions.

None of the 112 alleged safety incidents HCDA insists Skydive Myrtle Beach committed were ever properly reported to the FAA, according to FAA reporting requirements.

The FAA has a reporting system for tower operations regarding safety violations. It is known as the Comprehensive Electronic Data Analysis and Reporting (CEDAR) system. Instructions for reporting in the CEDAR System are required if any of the below three questions apply:

“The basic considerations when deciding whether or not to report an incident should be:

Did a dangerous situation occur?
Could a dangerous incident have occurred if circumstances had been different?
Could a dangerous incident occur in the future if the situation being reported is not corrected?”
A total of 112 safety violations were allegedly catalogued by HCDA and Robinson Aviation, the county’s contractor for tower operations at Grand Strand Airport. Yet, not one of these alleged violations were ever reported to the CEDAR System.

If Skydive Myrtle Beach was operating at Grand Strand Airport in such a grossly unsafe manner as HCDA categorized to the press, why is there no record of this in the CEDAR System?

The FAA apparently went along with this fictitious plan. Even though none of the alleged violations were in the database of its CEDAR System, the FAA issued a 73 page report on these violations that HCDA used as its basis for evicting Skydive Myrtle Beach.

How did the FAA issued a 73 page report on these alleged safety incidents when none were included in its CEDAR System database?

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FOIA Documents Don’t Support Allegations Against Skydive Myrtle Beach

March 12, 2016 6:16 AM
FOIA Documents Don’t Support Allegations Against Skydive Myrtle Beach

After reviewing the 215 documents the Federal Aviation Administration sent to Skydive Myrtle Beach responding to a FOIA request for all documentation related to the alleged 112 safety violations committed by that company at Grand Strand Airport, the conclusion must be drawn that there were no documented safety violations.

The heart of the documents dealing with these alleged violations are a series of “Unusual Incident Reports” generated by Horry County Department of Airports personnel or contractors claiming Skydive Myrtle Beach clients landed in areas other than the designated landing zone. I did not see one report that listed any injuries, accidents or damage to property.

A typical comment on these so-called incident reports said, “At 0922 Local, 3 parachutists jumping with Skydive Myrtle Beach landed outside the landing zone…Skydive Myrtle Beach received permission from CRE tower to retrieve wayward jumpers.”

This is not a safety violation. It is not a violation at all!

Below is the pertinent FAA Advisory Circular dealing with parachute landings on airports.

“Advisory Circular – Subject: Sport Parachuting, Date 5/8/2011, AC No. 105-2D

Below is Section 6(c)2 of the advisory circular:

“(2) Parachute Landings on Airports. Airports may designate suitable parachute landing areas. While skydivers attempt to land in such areas, at times there may be inadvertent landings in other grass or hard-surfaced areas. This could include landings on runways, taxiways, and other hard-surfaced areas. Areas such as runways, taxiways, clearways, and obstacle-free zones are not prohibited areas but should not be designated as a primary landing area and should be vacated as soon as practical. Flying a parachute over runways at low altitudes should be avoided where possible. The FAA recommends that airport management work with parachute operators to develop standard operating procedures (SOP) for activities conducted by parachutists.”

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Skydive Myrtle Beach Wait Continues

February 26, 2016 5:35 AM
Skydive Myrtle Beach Wait Continues

Another month is passing and Skydive Myrtle Beach still has no documents from the Federal Aviation Administration with respect to an ongoing Freedom of Information request.

The FOIA seeks documents that were used by Horry County Department of Airports as the excuse needed to stop Skydive Myrtle Beach from operating at the county’s Grand Strand Airport.

In 2014, Skydive Myrtle Beach lodged a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration against Horry County Department of Airports alleging discriminatory actions against Skydive Myrtle Beach by HCDA.

In response, Horry County Department of Airports reported to the Federal Aviation Administration that Skydive Myrtle Beach was the subject of 112 alleged safety violations while conducting business at Grand Strand Airport.

According to Aaron Holly, a principal of Skydive Myrtle Beach, his business had never been notified of any of these violations and still has not received any official paperwork relating to any of them.

In October 2015, the FAA issued a 73 page Director’s Determination Report, in response to Holly’s original complaint, supposedly basing the report on those safety violations. Horry County subsequently used this report as an excuse to shut down Skydive Myrtle Beach operations at Grand Strand Airport.

But nobody can produce documentation of the alleged 112 safety violations.

Horry County claims not to have the documentation even though it was the government agency that ostensibly generated them.

The FAA has failed to produce the documentation even though the agency acknowledged February 2, 2016 was the date to send it out. Since February 2nd, one outrageous excuse after another has been the FAA’s tact.

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Douglas A. Decker Receives Wright Brothers Master Pilots Award

February 13, 2016 5:14 AM
Douglas A. Decker Receives Wright Brothers Master Pilots Award

(Above image left to right, Gary Pendleton, Marjorie Jake, Douglas Decker)

The Federal Aviation Administration presented Douglas A. Decker, Pawleys Island, SC, Thursday with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in recognition of 50 years of safe flying and his contribution to aviation safety. In addition to the plaque, Decker’s name will be added to the FAA’s Roll of Honor in Washington DC.

The award was presented at the South Carolina Aviation Association Annual Conference in Charleston SC, by FAA’s Mr. Gary M. Pendleton and Ms. Marjorie Jake both representing the Flight Standards District Office, Columbia, SC.

The Wright Brothers Master Pilot award is the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots. This award is named after the aviation pioneer Wright Brothers. It recognizes individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as Master Pilots.

Decker started his aviation activity in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1964 and currently holds an Airline Transport pilot’s license. He owns a single engine A-36 Beechcraft Bonanza airplane, which he flies from the Grand Strand area.’

Decker has served in many aviation positions including Commissioner on the Utah State Aeronautics Board, member of Salt Lake City International Airport Advisory Board, and member of the Capital Improvements Committee, General Mitchell Milwaukee International Airport. In addition he was appointed a member of the State of Wisconsin Aviation Master Plan Task Force.

Decker spearheaded the successful effort to open the Wendover AFB, Utah for public use in 1974. The city renamed the airport “DECKER FIELD” and he also received the Utah Pilot’s award for Outstanding Service to Aviation in Utah.

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Who Has Information on Skydive Myrtle Beach?

December 27, 2015 7:09 AM
Who Has Information on Skydive Myrtle Beach?

The ongoing dispute between Skydive Myrtle Beach and Horry County Department of Airports has taken interesting twists and turns in recent weeks.

In 2014, Skydive Myrtle Beach lodged a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration against Horry County Department of Airports alleging discriminatory actions against Skydive Myrtle Beach by HCDA.

In response, Horry County Department of Airports reported to the Federal Aviation Administration that Skydive Myrtle Beach was the subject of 112 alleged safety violations while conducting business at Grand Strand Airport.

According to Aaron Holly, a principal of Skydive Myrtle Beach, his business had never been notified of any of these violations and still has not received any official paperwork relating to any of them.

In October 2015, the FAA issued a 73 page Director’s Determination Report, in response to Holly’s original complaint, supposedly basing the report on those safety violations. Horry County subsequently used this report as an excuse to shut down Skydive Myrtle Beach operations at Grand Strand Airport.

County officials said FAA grant funding was in jeopardy if the Department of Airports didn’t act to shut down the business.

That’s not exactly true. A letter from Michael O’Donnell of the FAA to HCDA director Pat Apone, dated November 13, 2015, states in part, “The FAA also requested Horry County to submit a “corrective action plan incorporating acceptable risk mitigation measures and revised procedures under which safe skydiving operations may resume.”

The county was only supposed to suspend skydiving operations until a mitigation plan was submitted.

And the problem for HCDA gets worse.

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Horry County Department of Airports Conundrum

January 5, 2015 9:02 AM
Horry County Department of Airports Conundrum

Setting minimum standards for general aviation airports in Horry County requires more than Horry County government’s typical “Independent Republic” approach.

Too much is at stake for Horry County government and its Department of Airports to assume it can do whatever it wants to do with respect to the treatment afforded to businesses conducting general aviation aeronautical activities at the county’s airports.

Accepting FAA grant money (of which Horry County receives millions every year) and free land conveyance of former Air Force property brings with it certain requirements of and assurances from the county, most importantly that the airport and its facilities must be available for public use in a non-discriminatory manner.

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