Friday, December 30, 2011

Capt. John Blonsick: Pilot turns to kayaking for Wounded Warrior Project

Blonsick on Lake George.
~



Capt. John Blonsick is used to traveling at roughly the speed of sound.  As a commercial pilot for Delta Airlines, he made six ocean crossings in the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Europe, Asia, Africa, North America – jet lag is part of the job description.

Yet Blonsick, 50, has chosen to spend his downtime in a less-than-relaxing way: kayaking the 150 miles from Sanford to Jacksonville along the St. Johns River to raise money for the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project. Tackling the journey 20 to 30 miles at a stretch, on the water he averages just 3.5 miles per hour.

He also carries a machete and a World War II fighting knife to even the odds against alligators and snakes who might object to his route.  With no chase boat to accompany him for most of his run, there is no help for hours or miles should something go wrong.  “When you’re alone on a long stretch of water with nothing but river and trees, failure is not an option,” he says.

A Navy veteran, Blonsick was introduced to the Wounded Warrior cause by a friend who served as a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Blonsick calls his quest “the Patriot Paddle,” and this week he plans to finish the final segment, between Orange Park and Jacksonville.

Already he has kayaked from Sanford to Hontoon Island, Astor, Georgetown, Welaka, Palatka and Green Coves Springs. He hopes to raise $3,000 in contributions – all of which will go directly to the Wounded Warrior Project. He is covering all the costs of the journey himself.  Blonsick also wants to create an annual one-day kayaking event as an ongoing fundraiser for the program.

To cover 150 miles, after all, is not for the casual kayaker. Blonsick has encountered swarms of blind mosquitoes, high waves, gators, water moccasins and deep fatigue.  “Sometimes when the wind is blowing and the waves are throwing me around, I have my doubts,” he says. “[But] I think of injured soldiers and know my inconvenience means nothing next what they have suffered.”  The Wounded Warrior Project helps combat-injured men and women through various physical challenges and activities designed to reignite a passion for living. Blonsick figures it’s the least the country should do.

“When you come home from war injured, you deserve a better shot at recovery than we gave guys coming home from Vietnam,” he says.

If you’d like to support the charity by sponsoring Blonsick, click
here.

Lancair IV P, N71DM, and Yakolev Yak-55M, N521BC: Accident occurred August 20, 2011 in Hammonton, New Jersey

Photo Credit:  Michael Ein

Mechanic Dan Armand, of Vineland, moves a twin-prop airplane out from a hangar at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, which has more than doubled its revenue this year but also was the site of a fatal plane crash.


Hammonton Municipal Airport Administrator Rock Colasurdo



HAMMONTON - This year could have been remembered as the year the Hammonton Municipal Airport took off, when the town more than doubled its revenue despite a poor economy and waning interest in aviation.

Instead, it will be marked in most minds by a mid-air collision four months ago that left one pilot dead and another critically injured. The Aug. 20 crash is still under investigation, and the aerobatic airspace where it happened remains closed.

On Monday, Airport Administrator Rock Colasurdo had to balance those two perspectives in his report to the Town Council.

He said revenue will exceed $62,000 this year, twice what it was last year, representing a profit of at least $56,000 to be used by the town.

That figure is expected to climb in 2012, since the state began stationing its SouthStar medevac helicopter there Dec. 1 and will start paying $3,500 in monthly rent beginning Jan. 1.

But Colasurdo, a former councilman and owner of Frog Rock Golf & Country Club, also said he would like to keep the airspace designated for stunt pilots indefinitely closed.

Town Council agreed, and the Federal Aviation Administration intends to keep it closed at least until it concludes its investigation sometime next year.

The "aerobatic box" at Hammonton is the only one of its kind in South Jersey, and pilots have practiced there for years before performing in airshows around the country.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board's initial investigation of the Aug. 20 crash, Kirill Barsukov, 33, of Jersey City, was practicing aerobatics in that space when his plane collided with a plane flown by David Mitchell, 71, of Voorhees.

Mitchell died in the accident, while Barsukov was able to parachute to safety and walk to find help before being taken to Cooper University Hospital.

The accident was the first fatal plane collision near the airport in 25 years. The last happened in December 1986, when two small planes collided on the runway as one was landing and another was taking off.

Final NTSB reports about the cause of fatal accidents are usually released nine to 12 months after they happen, meaning the full facts and probable cause of the August crash are not expected until late spring or summer.

In the meantime, Colasurdo said he hopes to have a restaurant opened at the airfield and for work to begin on re-paving the runway using grant funding.

Overhead costs at the airfield are currently very low. From January through Monday, all operating expenses this year totaled about $5,700, about half of which went to pay Colasurdo's stipend as the sole manager of the airport.

At the same time, monthly revenue ranged from $3,500 to $7,000, mostly coming from rentals of the airport's hangars, figures provided by the town to The Press of Atlantic City show.

Robert Pinto, chief flight instructor for Staraero Partners Group, said his company's decision to start operations at the airfield's northern hangar a year ago was primarily based on one thing: location.

In the northern part of the town, surrounded by blueberry fields and pine trees, the airport is centrally located in South Jersey, with easy access to Route 206, Route 30 and the Atlantic City Expressway.

"It's really unique," said Pinto, of Millville. "It has the potential to do a lot more, simply because of its location."

In fact, he said he has seen pilots traveling to New York City, Philadelphia or Atlantic City first fly to Hammonton and then rent to a car to get to their destinations, rather than go through the expense and hassle of flying to airports closer to those cities.

"It seems strange, but it's true," he said.

Not all the airport's users have praised the town's running of the airfield. There is an ongoing dispute between Colasurdo and the pilots who utilize a gate in the fence to access the runway from the hangars surrounding the adjacent Taildragger Inn.

For years, the owners paid the town a steady $100 a month. Colasurdo has demanded more, and said he would like to strike a deal for at least $360 a month.

In September, the town briefly blocked the pilots' entrance to the runway.by parking a tractor in front of the gate.

The fight has been bad for the business of Jenny Aviation, the maintenance and flight-instruction company that has used the gated entrance for seven years, owner Joseph Flood said.

"A person isn't going to fly their plane here to get it worked on if he's worried he won't be able to fly it home," Flood said. "They don't want to hear the negativity."

Flood said the town's overly focused on making money off the airfield and that its officials know little about aviation.

Colasurdo was appointed to his position in 2009, when the town started using $100,000 it had bonded to pay for improvements to the airfield. At that time, he said he was not an aviator but knew how to run the airport like a business.

Pinto said he felt the town has been cooperative with his business, and said the work it has put into the airport has so far paid off.

"Hammonton's a terrific community," he said. "They understand the commodity they have there."

Article, photos and comments:

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA468A
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 20, 2011 in Hammonton, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/26/2012
Aircraft: MITCHELL DAVID N LANCAIR IV P, registration: N71DM
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

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.

The Lancair pilot told a witness that he was going to fly the high-performance airplane to a nearby airport to visit a friend. The pilot was aware that the nearby airport had occasional aerobatic activity near the runway, within an "aerobatic box." The box was active on the day of the accident, with a Notice to Airmen issued for aerobatic activity at 3,500 feet and below. The airplane approached the airport about 3,500 feet; however, the exact altitude could not be determined due to the fidelity of the radar/encoder data. As the airplane approached the airport at a high airspeed, likely about 190 knots, it collided with an aerobatic airplane that had just completed a hammerhead stall and was observed in a dive. The pilot's airplane cut through the aerobatic airplane's fuselage just aft of the cockpit, top to bottom, and lost about 4 feet of its left wing. The pilot's airplane then crashed into nearby woods, and the pilot of the aerobatic airplane parachuted into the same woods.

The aerobatic pilot and an observer stated that clearing turns were conducted prior to the aerobatic maneuver. However, the sun’s position and the airspeed of the oncoming airplane would have made it highly unlikely that the aerobatic pilot would have seen it. It is unknown what the inbound pilot's intentions were at the time of the accident. A relative of the inbound pilot, another pilot who had flown with him often, surmised that the pilot's approach to the airport at such a high altitude may have been an exploratory overflight, which is supported by the airplane's high airspeed at the time. Radar indicated that the pilot's airplane did not perform any standoff maneuvering prior to approaching the airport, and other pilots in the air at the time heard no advisory radio transmissions from him. During flight in visual meteorological conditions, the tenets of "see and avoid" apply. With the inbound pilot's knowledge of potential aerobatic activity at the airport, it is not known why he did not use advocated collision avoidance strategies.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The Lancair pilot's failure to see and avoid the aerobatic airplane. Contributing to the accident was the Lancair pilot's inadequate use of collision avoidance strategies while inbound to an area of known potential aerobatic activity.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 20, 2011, about 1315 eastern daylight time, an amateur-built Lancair IV P, N71DM, and a Yakolev Yak-55M, N521BC, were substantially damaged when they collided near Hammonton Airport (N81), Hammonton, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot of the Lancair was fatally injured, and the certificated private pilot of the Yak, who parachuted from his airplane, was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for either flight. The Lancair departed South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY), Mount Holly, New Jersey, for an undetermined destination, and the Yak departed N81 on a local aerobatic flight. The personal flights were conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.

Family members of the Lancair pilot stated that they knew he had gone to the airport, but did not know if he was even going to fly.

According to friends of the Yak pilot, he was performing maneuvers in an aerobatic practice area, also known as the "aerobatic box," while being watched by an observer/coach. The airspace in which the Yak was maneuvering, to the east of runway 3/21, was uncontrolled.

According to a witness on the ground, she saw the Yak take off and commence aerobatic maneuvers. After about 20 minutes, she saw the Yak make a steep climb, then enter a steep dive. As it did so, she saw a white airplane, traveling "really fast come out of nowhere" in level flight and collide with the Yak. Neither airplane appeared to have altered its course before the collision.

An observer was seated in a chair located across the runway (on the west side) from the fueling station (on the east side) with a hand-held radio on either side of him. According to the observer, one of the radios was tuned to the aerobatic box frequency, while the other was tuned to the CTAF. The observer thought the CTAF radio was functioning normally, as he had previously heard other pilots transmitting over the frequency during takeoffs.

The observer also stated that there was no pre-established sequence of maneuvers for the Yak pilot to perform. The Yak pilot would radio the maneuvers he intended to perform, and the observer would watch them in order to later provide a postflight critique. The maneuver during which the accident occurred was number six in a series, a hammerhead stall. The observer also noted that he had seen the Yak make clearing turns prior to the initiation of the maneuvers.

The observer further noted that as the Yak was about to commence the hammerhead maneuver, it was in the far right [southeast] corner of the aerobatic box. The Yak began a push up at what the observer estimated was between 2,400 and 2,500 feet, with the cockpit facing west, toward the runway, and the landing gear to the east. As the Yak was climbing, the observer heard the sound of another airplane south of the airport, then saw a blue and white Cessna at an altitude of about 1,000 feet. Although the observer felt it wouldn't be a factor, he called the Yak pilot to advise him of the Cessna's presence.

The observer also stated that he believed that the Yak had completed its turn at the top of the maneuver, and was headed down at a slow speed when the accident occurred. He didn't see the Lancair approach the Yak due to sun glare, but saw the Yak split into two pieces and begin to fall. At that point he also saw the Lancair still in level flight, but then it started to roll to the left, and about 4 feet of its wing came off. The Lancair continued to roll left, perhaps another 45 degrees, while descending at an increasing angle in the center of the aerobatic box. As the Lancair was descending, the observer was shouting over the radio for the Yak pilot to jump, and estimated that the majority of the Yak was about 1,600 to 1,700 feet above the ground when the pilot did so.

The observer further stated that he did not hear either the Cessna or the Lancair pilot transmit over the radio prior to the accident.

According to the pilot of a Cessna 172, he was returning to N81 after a departure earlier that morning, and was aware of the aerobatic activity. Approaching the airport from over the Atlantic City Expressway, he radioed on the CTAF that he was inbound to the airport, but heard no response. He continued inbound at a 45-degree angle for a "close" downwind for runway 21. His airplane was initially at an altitude of about 1,500 feet at the Expressway, but descended until it was about 1,200 to 1,000 feet, before turning onto the downwind leg.

As the Cessna neared the airport, the pilot saw the Yak climbing vertically and very rapidly, with a lot of smoke trailing it, which he assumed was airshow smoke. The Yak was climbing on the downwind side of the airport, but off to the Cessna pilot's right side (toward the east), and he guessed that it was between 2,000 and 3,000 feet when he saw it.

Because the Yak was maneuvering on the same side of the airport, the Cessna pilot decided to cross the airport runway to fly a downwind leg on the other (west) side. As he started turning the Cessna to the left, he saw the Yak again, coming at him and appearing larger, until it overflew the Cessna "very close," then headed straight down. After that, he saw an open parachute in front of him, which he avoided before crossing the airport to land on runway 21.

The Cessna pilot reiterated that he was sure his radio was on the airport CTAF, that no one responded to his call in, and that he never heard the Lancair pilot call in. A pilot-rated passenger in the Cessna was interviewed separately and related essentially the same observations.

The Yak pilot was briefly interviewed by a police officer after the accident, and according to the police report, stated that he was maneuvering the airplane when the control stick "suddenly went loose," and the airplane began to tumble. The pilot then parachuted into woods, walked to a nearby road, and was transported to a hospital.

On August 31, 2011, FAA personnel visited the Yak pilot in the hospital. An FAA inspector noted that due to his injuries, the pilot was still unable to speak, but wrote on a whiteboard that he thought his airplane was hit while it was in a climb. He had entered the hammerhead maneuver from inverted flight, climbed the airplane vertically, and planned to roll it into the wind. He didn't know until he was on the ground that a collision had occurred. He also noted that he completed a climbing clearing turn as the first of a two-part sequence to commence the hammerhead maneuver.

Radar data was provided by the FAA, both in data that was converted to radar plots, and in a moving display similar to a radar scope presentation. Radar plots and the moving display are included in the public docket for this accident.

The moving display did not include time marks, but did portray a number of targets in motion, along with some background information such as a stationary circle to denote the approximate position of N81. In addition to the moving targets, transponder altitudes were also presented, but were occasionally intermittent.

Radar tracks were correlated to all three airplanes, which were all utilizing transponder code 1200. However, as the tracks converged in the vicinity of N81, the lack of presentation fidelity made the Yak and the Lancair difficult to distinguish.

The track that correlated with the Cessna indicated that it arrived from the southwest, and gradually descended until it was at an altitude of about 1,100 feet at the time of the accident.

The track correlating to the Yak was mostly maintaining itself in an area just east of the runway, at varying altitudes and with numerous data points missing.

The track correlating to the Lancair was first observed west southwest of VAY. It then proceeded south, and about 8 miles west of N81, turned southeast before turning east. Near the end of the track, it turned northeast. Altitudes inbound toward N81 averaged about 3,500 feet, but dipped to 3,300 feet approaching N81 before climbing back up again to 3,500 feet.

Nearing the airport, the Lancair and Cessna tracks converged but did not overlap, with the Lancair about 2,300 feet above the Cessna. The Yak track then appeared northwest of the other two airplanes, but subsequently disappeared, and the entire display then briefly froze. The next return indicated a radar contact at 3,400 feet followed by another at 3,600 feet; however, it could not be determined whether the contacts were the Lancair or the Yak. A final contact then occurred to the northeast, also at 3,600 feet.

Radar plots revealed similar results, and were also hampered due to fidelity. One plot revealed the Lancair first appeared on radar west-southwest of VAY before it turned south towards N81.

A number of radar-plotted Lancair position points near N81 were re-plotted on Google Earth, and utilizing the distances between positions in relation to elapsed times, resulted in calculated approximate ground speeds of about 190 knots.

The Yak was equipped with an electronic flight information system (EFIS) that retained limited non-volatile memory with six recorded parameters every 10 seconds. Because of the length of time between recorded parameters, maximums and minimums were not necessarily recorded.

At recorded time 1311:50, the Yak was at a pressure altitude of 3,046 feet, pitch about 10 degrees nose up, left roll of about 43 degrees, heading about 115 degrees, airspeed 100 knots.

At recorded time 1312:00, the Yak was at a pressure altitude of 3,313 feet, pitch about 55 degrees nose up, right roll of about 3 degrees, heading about 141 degrees, airspeed 52 knots.

At recorded time 1312:10, the Yak was at a pressure altitude of 3,455 feet, pitch about 29 degrees nose low, right roll about 176 degrees, heading about 309 degrees, airspeed 102 knots.

At the last recorded time, at 1312:20, the Yak was at a pressure altitude of 2,314 feet, pitch 19 degrees nose up, right roll about 21 degrees, heading about 324 degrees, airspeed 42 knots.

PILOT INFORMATION

The Lancair pilot, age 71, held a private pilot certificate, with airplane single-engine land, instrument airplane ratings. The pilot's most-recently filled logbook was not located; however, on his latest FAA third class medical application, the pilot indicated 4,280 hours of flight time.

According to the manager of Flying W Airport (N14), Lumberton, New Jersey, on the day of the accident, the pilot stopped by and bought a new pilot logbook [which was found in the wreckage.] The pilot also discussed with her that the son of a friend at N81 had recently been in an airplane accident, and that he was going to fly over to that airport to visit the friend. The manager further stated that the Lancair pilot clearly indicated to her that he was going to land at N81. The manager was not sure if the Lancair departed her airport for N81, or if the pilot subsequently drove to VAY, and took off from there for N81.

The manager at VAY saw the Lancair depart runway 26 sometime during the late morning of the accident.

The Lancair pilot's nephew, also a pilot and airplane owner, stated that he had flown with the Lancair pilot on many occasions, and that the Lancair pilot would normally fly a high pattern, perhaps about 1,500 feet above the airport. With the airplane's high sink rate, the Lancair pilot would also fly a high final approach, then, with the airplane's high sink rate, "drop it in" to the runway.

The Lancair pilot's nephew also noted that the pilot knew that aerobatic activity took place at N81, but that, at over 3,000 feet above the airport, the Lancair pilot was likely checking out the airfield, and perhaps looking to see if his friend's car was there.

The friend of the Lancair pilot stated that he wasn't at N81 on the day of the accident; he was visiting his son who had been in a recent airplane accident. The friend noted that the Lancair pilot would come to N81 to visit him about once a month, including during times when the aerobatic box was active. The friend also noted that the Lancair pilot was well aware of the aerobatic box.

The Yak pilot, age 37, also held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. His latest FAA first class medical certificate was issued on April 7, 2011. The pilot reported 610 total flight hours, with 260 hours in make and model.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The Lancair was a four-place, low wing, retractable landing gear airplane. Its latest annual condition inspection was completed on October 13, 2010. The airplane was based at VAY.

The Yak was a single place, low wing, fixed landing gear aerobatic airplane. Its latest annual inspection was completed on March 10, 2011. The airplane was based at Old Bridge Airport (3N6), Old Bridge, New Jersey.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The airport included a single runway, 3/21, that was 3,601 feet long and 75 feet wide. Airport elevation was 65 feet.

There were no automatic weather reporting systems located at the airport. Automatic weather reporting systems can have the capability to transmit recorded traffic advisories.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Recorded weather information at an airport about 15 miles to the southeast, at 1254, included variable winds at 4 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, a few clouds at 8,000 feet, and an altimeter setting of 30.01 inches Hg.

U.S. Naval Observatory astronomical information revealed that, at 1315, sun bearing was about 200 degrees magnetic, and sun angle was about 62 degrees above the horizon.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The Lancair, with the exception of the left outboard wing section, impacted the ground about 070 degrees, 3,800 feet from the departure end of runway 21, in the vicinity of 39 degrees, 39.99 minutes north latitude, or about 030 degrees, 3,200 feet from the main Yak wreckage. Tree cuts, relative positions of the airplane's components, and the direction of wreckage movement were consistent with a nose down, slightly inverted ground impact on a 060-degree heading. Engine components and shattered composite propeller remnants extended about 4 feet into the ground. The extent of the ground impact damage precluded any determination of control continuity.

The main Yak wreckage, with the exception of its fuselage aft of the cockpit and its tail, impacted the ground about 115 degrees magnetic, 2,400 feet from the departure end of runway 21, in the vicinity of 39 degrees, 39.54 minutes north latitude, 074 degrees, 45.15 minutes west longitude.

The outboard 4 feet of the Lancair's left wing came to rest about 045 degrees, 115 feet from the main Yak wreckage, and the Yak aft fuselage/tail section came to rest about 060 degrees, 240 feet from the outboard Lancair wing section.

The main Yak wreckage came to rest nose-down, with the engine and shattered composite propeller remnants buried in the ground to about 3 feet. Both main wing leading edges exhibited significant aft crushing as did the majority of the cockpit. The fuselage, aft of the cockpit, was sheared off almost perpendicularly from top to bottom. Due to the extensive damage, flight control continuity could not be determined.

Neither the Lancair wing section nor the separated Yak fuselage ends displayed any paint transfers. The separated Yak aft fuselage/tail section, top aluminum skin, just forward of the communications antenna, was crushed downward to where it met the bottom of the fuselage. The bottom fuselage skin was also crushed downward, and the ends of all separations appeared torn, rather than cut. Concurrent with the downward crushing, the fuselage was crushed inward on its upper left (port) side and bent outward on its lower right (starboard) side.

MEDICAL AND TOXICOLOGICAL INFORMATION

According to the medical examiner report from the Atlantic County Department of Public Safety, Northfield, New Jersey, no autopsy was performed on the Lancair pilot. The cause of death was listed as "multiple devastating traumatic injuries."

Toxicological testing was subsequently performed only on muscle tissue by the FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with no preexisting anomalies noted.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

- Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 91.303 -

"No person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight –
(a) Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement;
(b) Over an open air assembly of persons;
(c) Within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for an airport;
(d) Within 4 nautical miles of the center line of any Federal airway;
(e) Below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface; or
(f) When flight visibility is less than 3 statute miles.
For the purposes of this section, aerobatic flight means an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft's attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight."

- Certificate of Waiver (CW) -

On December 21, 2009, the FAA issued a CW to an individual from International Aerobatic Club Chapter 52, which waived CFR Part 91.303(c) and (d).

Special provisions included:

1. Aerobatic flight shall be confined to the area designated on the pictorial chart attached to this CW and defined in special provision 2.

2. The aerobatic area is further defined as follows: a one nautical mile radius around a point centered over the numbers of Runway 21 at the Hammonton Municipal Airport (N81) with a no fly area established between the 180 degree and the 270 degree magnetic radials of the circle which is the southwest quadrant of the circle. The altitudes included in this waiver are from 1,500 feet agl to 3,500 feet agl.

5. Before commencing aerobatic flight operations, the person authorized to activate and deactivate the aerobatic practice area shall be responsible for advising the Washington Hub FSS…of the activity and requesting a NOTAM [Notice to Airmen]that includes the following information be issued:
a) The location, dates and times the aerobatic activity will be in effect.

7. Notification shall be made to the FSS…at least one hour before aerobatic activity is to commence and notification shall be made to Atlantic City Approach…and McGuire Approach…at least 30 minutes before the commencement of aerobatic activity in the practice area. The FSS, Atlantic City Approach and McGuire Approach shall also be notified at the termination of aerobatic activities.

11. All pilots operating within the waivered aerobatic area shall maintain VFR at all times and shall be responsible for seeing and avoiding all conflicting traffic.

13. The holder of this CW or properly designated ground observer representative is responsible for halting or cancelling activity in the aerobatic practice area if, at any time, the safety of persons or property on the ground or in the air is in jeopardy.

16. Before performing any aerobatic sequence, every reasonable action shall be taken to assure the area is clear before executing any aerobatic maneuver.

22. The established altitude for this aerobatic practice area (box) is 1,500 feet agl to 3,500 feet agl.

23. A ground observer who is approved by the waiver holder will always be present observing aerobatic activities in the area. The observer will have an operable two-way radio and will monitor two frequencies.

The aerobatic box was permanently closed by the FAA shortly after the accident.

- NOTAMs -

Records revealed that an airspace NOTAM was in effect for the aerobatic area, 3,500 feet and below, from 1300-2359[Universal Coordinated Time]. The NOTAM did not state whether the altitude was agl or mean sea level.

In addition, a pilot transiting the area on an instrument flight rules flight plan recalled hearing a transmission that the aerobatic box was open.

While not inclusive of all possible means to obtain NOTAMS, Lockheed Martin-contracted flight service stations had no record of the Lancair pilot making any preflight briefing contact with it or with any DUATS (Direct User Access Terminal Service) vendors.

- Airman's Information Manual –

Paragraph 5-5-8: "When meteorological conditions permit, regardless of type of flight plan or whether or not under control of a radar facility, the pilot is responsible to see and avoid other traffic, terrain, or obstacles."

- FAR Part 91.103 -

"Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight."

- FAR Part 91.113 (b) -

"…vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft."

- Advisory Circular 90-66A -

7a. "Use of standard traffic patterns for all aircraft and CTAF [Common Traffic Advisory Frequency] by radio-equipped aircraft are recommended at all airports without operating control towers. However, it is recognized that other traffic patterns may already be in common use at some airports or that special circumstances or conditions exist that may prevent the use of the standard traffic pattern,"

7b. "The use of any traffic pattern procedure does not alter the responsibility of each pilot see and avoid other aircraft."
8a. "Prior to entering the traffic pattern at an airport without an operating control tower, aircraft should avoid the flow of traffic until established on the entry leg.

8b. "Arriving aircraft should be at the appropriate traffic pattern altitude before entering the traffic pattern."

8c. "It is recommended that airplanes observe a 1000-foot above ground level (agl) traffic pattern altitude…. A pilot may vary the size of the traffic pattern depending on the aircraft's performance characteristics."

9. "Airport operators routinely establish local procedures for the operation of gliders, parachutist, lighter than air aircraft, helicopters, and ultralight vehicles."

- Advisory Circular 90-48C -

4.a. "See and Avoid" Concept

(1) This concept requires that vigilance shall be maintained at all times by each person operating an aircraft…"
(2) Pilots should also keep in mind their responsibility for continuously maintaining a vigilant lookout regardless of the type of aircraft being flown."

b. Pilots should remain constantly alert to all traffic movement within their field of vision, as well as periodically scanning the entire visual field outside of their aircraft to ensure detection of conflicting traffic.

- Advisory Circular 90-42F -

4a. "Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) – A designated frequency for the purpose of carrying out airport advisory practices while operating to or from an airport that does not have a control tower or an airport where the control tower is not operational. The CTAF is normally a UNICOM, MULTICOM, flight service station (FSS) frequency, or a tower frequency. CTAF will be identified in appropriate aeronautical publications."

5b. "There is no substitute for awareness while in the vicinity of an airport. It is essential that pilots remain alert and look for other traffic and exchange traffic information when approaching or departing an airport without the services of an operating control tower. To achieve the greatest degree of safety, it is essential that all radio-equipped aircraft transmit/receive on a common frequency identified for the purpose of airport advisories."

6. "All inbound traffic should continuously monitor and communicate, as appropriate, on the designated CTAF from appoint 10 miles from the airport until clear of the movement area."

9. "'Self-announce' is a procedure whereby pilots broadcast their position, intended flight activity or ground operation on the designated CTAF."

10. To "help identify the location of aircraft in the traffic pattern, and enhance safety of flight: (4) Notify the UNICOM station approximately 10 miles from the airport, reporting altitude, aircraft type, aircraft identification, location relative to the airport, and whether landing or overflight."


NTSB Identification: ERA11FA468A
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 20, 2011 in Hammonton, NJ
Aircraft: MITCHELL DAVID N LANCAIR IV P, registration: N71DM
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors.

On August 20, 2011, about 1315 eastern daylight time, an amateur-built Lancair IV P, N71DM, and a Yakolev Yak-55M, N521BC, were substantially damaged when they collided near Hammonton Airport (N81), Hammonton, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot of the Lancair was fatally injured, and the certificated private pilot of the Yak, who parachuted from his airplane, was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for either flight. The Lancair departed South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY), Mount Holly, New Jersey, for an unknown destination, and the Yak departed N81 on a local aerobatic flight. The personal flights were conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to friends of the Yak pilot, he was performing maneuvers in an aerobatic practice area, also known as the "aerobatic box," while being watched by an observer/coach. The airspace in which the Yak was maneuvering, to the east of runway 3/21, was uncontrolled.

A witness on the ground reported that she saw the Yak take off and commence aerobatic maneuvers. After about 20 minutes, she saw the Yak make a steep climb, then enter a steep dive. As it did so, she saw a white airplane, traveling "really fast come out of nowhere" in level flight and collide with the Yak. Neither airplane appeared to have altered its course before the collision.

Preliminary radar information indicated that the Yak was operating just east of the runway, at varying altitudes and with numerous data points missing. The track correlating to the Lancair was first observed northwest of N81. It then proceeded south, and about 8 miles west of N81, turned southeast before turning east. Near the end of the track, it turned slightly northeast. Altitudes inbound toward N81 averaged about 3,500 feet, but dipped to 3,300 feet approaching N81 before climbing back up again to 3,500 feet.

Radar returns in the vicinity of the accident site were at 3,400 feet followed by another at 3,600 feet; however, it could not be determined whether the contacts were the Lancair or the Yak. A final radar return occurred just to the northeast, at 3,600 feet.

WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky: An airline aficionado plots a bigger fleet

WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky.


By BRENT JANG - The Globe and Mail

Over the past year, Gregg Saretsky has kept analysts and aviation buffs guessing over the details of WestJet Airlines Ltd. next major move.

But over lunch in Toronto, the WestJet chief executive officer tells me that the carrier is getting set to take one of the biggest steps in the company’s history. His plan calls for the Calgary-based airline to move beyond its fleet of Boeing 737s, the planes that have served as the airline’s workhorse since it launched operations in 1996, reliably transporting travellers across Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Seating anywhere between 119 and 166 passengers depending on the model, the 737s are too big to profitably service smaller destinations in Canada and lack the range needed for transpacific and transatlantic routes.

“We’ve built out almost as much as we can the 737 footprint in Canada, serving all the markets within the mission range and capability of the 737,” he says, after settling into a booth at Alice Fazooli’s, an Italian restaurant in downtown Toronto. “We see the end of our ability to grow with the single-fleet type. We’re pretty much done with the 737s in Canada.”

Mr. Saretsky favours first acquiring smaller jets to expand WestJet’s domestic network, which in turn will pave the way in the long term for larger aircraft for overseas flights.

But for now, his priority is to transform the way Canadians fly to and from smaller centres, with potential non-stop service to “Middle Canada” – markets that are underserved or neglected. Air Canada and its affiliates already fly to some of the centres targeted by WestJet, but in many cases, travellers have to change planes to get to their final destination or board an 18-seat turboprop in their hometown.

“We need to fly into small communities, and if we bring airfares down, we can get a lot of travellers. You have to build out the home market first. I think of it as 737s, then some smaller planes and then ultimately something bigger,” he says.

The strategy is important to WestJet because, despite its name, it doesn’t even fly non-stop between the provincial capitals of Regina and Winnipeg. Travelling between those two cities requires a stopover in Calgary. With smaller planes, WestJet would be positioned to profitably do Regina-Winnipeg non-stop, and also spread its wings to new Canadian destinations such as Fort St. John, B.C., and Sarnia, Ont.

Although he has a slight case of jet lag after an overnight flight from Calgary, Mr. Saretsky is animated as he speaks about WestJet’s future and the sector in general. His past may have something to do with his enthusiasm. He fell in love with the industry while working as an Air Canada flight attendant for three summers in the early 1980s, and then joined CP Air, the predecessor to Canadian Airlines International, in 1985.

It’s safe to say, then, that Mr. Saretsky’s passion for planes – and the economics behind them – is the real deal. And it might explain why, if you shared his overnighter from Calgary to Toronto, you would have found him picking garbage out of the seat-back pockets of his flight after landing. “We all pitch in to clean the plane, and that saves us $12-million a year,” he says. “When everybody sees everybody else pitching in, it’s a pretty cool thing. I can’t begin to tell you how powerful that is.”

He talks about corporate culture during his light lunch of mixed salad, with balsamic dressing and pieces of Parmesan chicken. He explains that valuing employees is much more than a marketing ploy. Not only does it connect to consumers, he says, it encourages cost-saving ideas – even if it means having a cabinet full of pens unabashedly collected by employees from hotel rooms. WestJet is profitable enough to afford its own pens, but that thrifty attitude has persisted throughout its history.

Mr. Saretsky shuns the idea that executives should receive preferential treatment, and says that even during harsh Prairie winters, he has to jockey for a parking spot just like anyone else at WestJet’s head office at Calgary International Airport. “A lot of companies would have reserved parking for their executives. We have no such privileges and no country club membership and no car allowance,” he says.

While Mr. Saretsky emphasizes that no corporate decision has been finalized yet on whether to order larger or smaller planes, he believes it makes sense for the company to first focus on neglected domestic markets before considering larger jets for routes to Asia and Europe.

“Domestically, if it’s a short-haul mission, then we would be leaning toward turboprops. If it’s medium to longer haul, then it’s regional jets, but jets have poorer economics on shorter stage lengths,” he says, pouring sparkling water into his glass.

The Canadian-built Bombardier Q400 turboprop, already being used by Toronto-based Porter Airlines Inc. and Air Canada’s regional service, is on WestJet’s shortlist. At 70 seats, the Q400 is more comfortable than older turboprops, configured to seat 18 or 30 passengers, and is used by Air Canada affiliates such as Central Mountain Air. Also on the shortlist is the French-Italian ATR 72 turboprop.

Mr. Saretsky rattles off examples of new destinations that could benefit from WestJet’s expansion, subject to further market analysis: Cranbrook, Prince Rupert, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek in British Columbia; Lethbridge, Alta.; Saguenay, Que.; and Sudbury, Sarnia and Timmins in Ontario.

He is also examining whether to fly non-stop between some of WestJet’s existing destinations to avoid Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Travelling non-stop between Montreal and London, Ont., for instance, might be economical for a smaller plane.

If WestJet decides in 2012 to order new aircraft, it would take at least another 12 to 18 months for delivery.

“Think of it as building blocks. We want to make sure we’ve done a good job of locking up our home market first,” Mr. Saretsky says. “We have an opportunity here to start up WestJet, just like we did nearly 16 years ago, getting into new markets with lower fares.”

----------------------------

CURRICULUM VITAE

----------------------------

ROOTS

Born in 1959 in Ch√Ęteauguay, Que., and raised for nearly 11 years in the Montreal suburb.

Moved with family to Richmond, B.C., in 1970.

EDUCATION

Bachelor of science in microbiology and biochemistry, University of British Columbia, 1982; master of business administration, UBC, 1984.

Worked as flight attendant for Air Canada for three summers to help pay his way through UBC.

CAREER

Management at Canadian Airlines International Ltd. (formerly CP Air) from 1985 to 1998.

Management at Seattle-based Alaska Airlines Inc. from 1998 to 2008.

Joined WestJet Airlines Ltd. as vacation vice-president in mid-2009; became CEO in April, 2010.

FAMILY

Married for 26 years to wife, Debb. Their children are 25-year-old twins Mark and Jennifer, and 17-year-old Bobby.

Mr. Saretsky has two older brothers who are commercial pilots, one with Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and the other with Air Canada.

CHARITY

Raised nearly $70,000 for Movember, including a $25,000 donation from WestJet chairman Clive Beddoe. The charity campaign is staged in November, when men grow mustaches to raise money for prostate cancer research. Mr. Saretsky shaved off his mustache on Dec. 1.

http://www.ctv.ca

Over 50% of cabin crew of Air India to be under 37 years of age.

NEW DELHI: Last week when 36 "flying models" of Kingfisher joined national carrier Air India - long notorious for its virtually senior citizen cabin crew - as air hostesses, the airline started a journey back in time to its glamorous old days. These 36 were among the 670 twenty-somethings who joined as cabin crew, altering after many years the age profile of the aged Maharaja's air hostesses. Now, 1,800 of the airlines 3,500 cabin crew (90% of which are women) are below the age of 37.

This ratio is all set to improve further as the management on Friday cleared hiring of 100 more young air hostesses who would join by mid-January. The airline is working on a voluntary retirement scheme for employees and for the first time cabin crew is going to be included in this scheme. Since VRS usually covers those who have served for over 20 years, a substantial chunk of the 1,400 cabin crew in the age group of 45 and 58 would be eligible to opt for it - making way for more young faces.

Apart from correcting the age profile of its air hostesses, the Maharaja has also decided to give them a new look. For this purpose, it has asked Delhi's National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) to design new uniform for them. And in a first, the management has asked NIFT to come up with option of western wear for cabin crew of international flights. Till now, AI air hostesses have only worn Indian dresses like sarees, salwar kameez and churidars.

"Cabin crew was considered as technical staff and never included in VRS but now we will include them in VRS. A number of old timer cabin crew members have expressed a desire to leave if given the option of VRS. We did not recruit for so long that the crew aged. Now we are aiming the right balance of youth and experience in our flights," said sources. In past few years, AI drifted so far away from its original glamour image of days when icons like Parmeshwar Godrej or Maureen Wadia worked for the airline. Today, as many as 600 cabin crew are in the age group of 52 to 58!

A senior AI commander said: "A very large number of young cabin crew has joined the airline despite knowing its financial health. We last got paid in first week of December. Now five months' allowance and salary is unpaid. Still being a government company, youngsters feel safe in joining AI as they feel the state will keep funding it. This explains why so many Kingfisher air hostesses have joined us."

The aviation ministry is for months trying to make a case of infusing Rs 33,000 crore into the airline, with immediate infusion of Rs 6,600 crore to clear dues to employees and vendors. While this is long term survival prescription, in reality the airline is fighting to get about 100 crore by this weekend to pay something to employees in January.

Tecnam Sierra P2002 light sport aircraft.

by ultralightnews on Dec 30, 2011

Tecnam Sierra P2002 light sport aircraft. www.aircraftreporters.tv 's Editor In Chief Dan Johnson gives us a quick look at the Tecnam Sierra P2002 low wing, all metal light sport aircraft at the Midwest LSA Show in Mt. Vernon Illinois.

Report: Wisconsin city wooing Kestrel Aircraft, its 300-600 jobs away from Brunswick, Maine.

By Beth Brogan, Times Record
Posted Dec. 30, 2011, at 2:12 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 30, 2011, at 4:45 p.m

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Kestrel Aircraft Co. is negotiating with development officials in Superior, Wis., to create 300 to 600 jobs initially envisioned for Maine, a local redevelopment official confirmed Friday.

Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, said Friday that Kestrel founder Alan Klapmeier confirmed a story in the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune reporting on a Jan. 16 public hearing at which the city of Superior would consider a development agreement with Kestrel for the company to build parts for its new single-engine turboprop plane there.

Also on Friday, Gov. Paul LePage and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development touted another business at Brunswick Landing, the American Bureau of Shipping Maine Modeling Center, which saw strong growth in 2011 and has plans to add another 16 jobs, all of them local hires.

Neither Klapmeier nor his spokeswoman immediately returned phone calls Friday.

Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen told the paper that the city’s redevelopment authority would hold the Jan. 16 hearing to consider a development agreement with Kestrel, and that state housing and economic development officials would present Kestrel with their proposal on Thursday.

Levesque was taken by surprise this morning when told of the story, he said, and called Kestrel officials who confirmed it.

“They said no decisions have been made, but they confirmed they have been talking with [officials in Superior],” Levesque told The Times Record.

The public hearing is necessary before the city could present an incentive package to Kestrel, according to Levesque.
 
Calls to city and development officials in Superior were not immediately returned Friday.

The jobs in question initially were envisioned for Maine, and perhaps Brunswick, where Kestrel has signed a 10-year lease for part of Hangar 6, the newest and largest hangar at the former Navy base

But in October, Klapmeier told The Times Record that some of the jobs might be located elsewhere because funding expected from Wiscasset-based CEI Capital Management of Maine did not materialize.

In October, Klapmeier said he was negotiating with officials in Berlin, N.H., to open a Kestrel facility near a new biomass plant there.

Levesque said at the time that CEI Capital Management informed Kestrel in May that it could not allocate more than $20 million in New Market Tax Credits to the Kestrel project, leaving a gap of approximately $60 million.

Since then, MRRA has worked with Kestrel, Maine Economic Development Commissioner George Gervais, the governor’s office, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, and others at the state and federal level to find additional funding.

“We’re still working on it,” Levesque said Friday. “We’re trying to be as helpful as we can to support the growth of the company [but] we only have so many tools. You get into a situation where it becomes a bidding war. Maine doesn’t always compete very well with other states, if that’s what it’s going to come to, but I’m not sure that’s what it’s going to come to.”

MRRA has applied to become eligible to allocate $70 million in federal tax credits, and Levesque said he will hear in January if the application was successful.

Gervais did not immediately return a phone call or email Friday.

“We’re all taking this seriously and negotiations are going on,” Gerzofsky said Friday. “I have been working with Alan Klapmeier for quite a while now and I believe they truly want to be in Maine. They have made a commitment to be in Maine. It’s just a short-term funding issue we have to find a way to overcome, in this very competitive economy … everybody’s trying to steal jobs. A lot of investors have been trying to woo every company to come into their state, just like we’re doing, and this is becoming competitive.”

Terms of Kestrel’s lease with MRRA require the company to attempt to secure up to $90 million to support its aircraft design, development and production operation, and that MRRA would work with CEI Capital Management and others to “facilitate project financing.”

As of October, Kestrel employed about 25 people in Brunswick, including 10 designers. Klapmeier said at the time that while he always assumed all the new jobs would be in Brunswick, other communities offered advantages that he had to consider.

“We have some assets here that are pretty significant,” Levesque said. “The state-of-the-art hangar, [Southern Maine] community college, the composites alliance and the University of Maine, the work force — a lot of elements that are intangible. It’s important to us that as we go forward that whatever we do, we can support it publicly and that it makes sense from a business perspective for MRRA and for the state.”

What could be a major blow to the state’s efforts to create new jobs was tempered Friday with an announcement from LePage and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais that another business at Brunswick Landing, American Bureau of Shipping Maine Modeling Center, is poised for growth.

The nonprofit ABS Modeling Center, which creates computer-aided design models of seagoing vessels for clients with the intent of ensuring the accomplishment of safety and legal requirements, announced in April that it was moving part of its operation from India to the former air station, which is now known as Brunswick Landing. At the time, ABS promised 30 good jobs immediately followed by as many as 100 more.

In a December 21 letter to LePage from ABS Chairman Robert Somerville, which was distributed by the administration Friday, Somerville said the company’s first five months of operations in Brunswick have been “outstanding.” There are 30 employees at the center and Somerville said he expects another 16 new employees in 2012.

“The early success of the Maine Modeling Center would not have been possible without support from you and other leaders in Maine,” wrote Somerville to LePage. “I sincerely appreciate all you have done to assist ABS further its mission of promoting safety throughout the maritime industry.”

BDN writer Christopher Cousins contributed to this report. 

To see more from The Times Record, visit timesrecord.com.

Manchester-Boston Regional: Hotel by airport closing parking lot

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Travelers who left cars parked at the Highlander Inn outside Manchester-Boston Regional Airport have until Saturday night to get the vehicles out of there.

Control of the property officially transfers at midnight Dec. 31 to the airport, which plans to raze the hotel and conference center because some of the buildings lie within the airport's runway protection zone.

The shuttles that have been running passengers from the hotel lot to the airport terminals for about 20 years are making their final trips over the next few days, clearing out the acres of parking spaces for the final time.

"The last two weeks have been kind of tough for all of us, knowing we were closing on the 31st," said Phil Davenport, general manager of Highlander Parking Inc.

Davenport said about 350 cars remained on site Wednesday as passengers from holiday travels returned to Manchester, took the shuttle to the lots just outside the airport property and picked up their vehicles.

The closing has been well-publicized to customers, who were told in advance they had to be out of the Highlander's lots by the end of New Year's Eve.

"The fact that we still did about 500 at Christmastime was a bit of a surprise to us," Davenport said.

Growth matched airport's

The Highlander's parking business started by using about 25 of the inn guest parking spots for airport passengers, and the operation has grown along with the airport. Davenport said the capacity is now around 850 slots for customers who have enjoyed the service, which included making reservations in advance so there was no last-minute rush to find a spot and make it to the terminal in time for check-in.

The service, which included perks like complimentary snow removal, helped develop a loyal customer base.

Davenport said several people have dropped by with things like candy and gifts for the lot and shuttle attendants.

"It's not something you see with every company," Davenport said.
Highlander parking was $8 daily. The cost at the airport's long-term lots is $10 daily.

Davenport said he and a couple of colleagues hope to open a similar business for off-airport parking, but need to find a property and investors. A deal they thought was about done recently fell through, Davenport said.

The Federal Aviation Administration designates runway protection zones for safety, trying to keep areas free of people and property in the event of a crash or a landing beyond the runway.

The Highlander originally began as the Elms boarding house in the late 1800s and was at the property long before the first flight and any need for runways. The modern facilities now lie at the end of the airport's Runway 6, with parts well within the runway protection zone.

Airport officials learned in 2010 that the Highlander owners were interested in selling. The airport and the FAA combined to cover the $10 million price to take over the 33-acre property and make plans to demolish the buildings closest to the runway.

The sale agreement included allowing the Highlander to continue operating until the end of the year, enabling it to fulfill existing reservations for weddings and meetings.

Airport deputy director J. Brian O'Neill said demolition on the property should begin this spring.

Although Saturday's deadline is a firm one, Davenport said travelers stranded by weather or other circumstances need not worry about their vehicles at the Highlander lot.

Davenport and a few other workers plan to be available to make sure the final customer is shuttled from the terminal door to car door, with the lots empty.

"We're definitely well-liked by the public. Everybody wanted to make sure they got their last time with us," he said.

"We're looking to close professionally," he said. "We take pride in what we do and want to make sure that's there until the end."

Man Running Through Dulles Terminal Arrested. Caught in parking lot

Police took a man into custody that ran from the customs desk at Dulles airport.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority confirmed a man was arrested Friday afternoon after a chase through the terminal there.

Officials said the man was being questioned by customs officers when he took off running.

Security chased the man through the terminal, and caught up with him in the parking lot.

Video for airplane lovers by Denver TV station KUSA 9. Denver International Airport (KDEN), Colorado.

By: Sheryl Jean/Reporter
3:01 PM on Fri., Dec. 30, 2011

Denver TV station KUSA 9 (Gannett) recently filmed a behind-the-scenes look at Denver International Airport.

A TV newscaster introduces the video, saying it will show how the Denver airport moves "all those planes, people and a whole lot of baggage." But the video simply shows a bunch of different airlines' planes on the tarmac, taking off, flying and landing.

Take a look ...


Improve airport concessions: An editorial. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (KMSY), Louisiana.

By Editorial staff, The Times-Picayune

Tourists visiting New Orleans expect to have an unmatched culinary experience in a city known for its food, but concessions at Louis Armstrong International Airport don't begin to live up to New Orleans' reputation. They don't even measure up to what's available at other airports, most of which feature major national brands. Louis Armstrong International has only one nationally known brand and doesn't offer much in the way of well-known local eateries.

The New Orleans Aviation Board recognizes that the offerings fall short and has been pushing its concessions contractor, Delaware North, to improve them. Aviation Director Iftikhar Ahmad said he wants changes to be in place by the time New Orleans hosts the Super Bowl in 2013.

He's right to make that link. A Super Bowl is a high-profile event that brings the eyes of the world to a city, and the airport makes an important first impression. Outdated storefronts and generic food deliver the opposite of what New Orleans should be showing tourists.

Delaware North's contract is up in 2014 -- well after Super Bowl XLVII. But even though contract extension negotiations provide an opportunity to press for changes, the Aviation Board isn't working from a strong position. Its contract with Delaware North provides for a five-year extension that the Aviation Board can't deny unless the company violates the terms of its 2004 contract. The other option, buying the company out, would be expensive.

There's also a time factor, considering that the Super Bowl is 13 months away and redesign and construction work that the board wants will take about six months.

The situation is all the more frustrating since Delaware North only recently took steps to cut ties with Pampy's Inc. The contractor said that Stan "Pampy'' Barre was running the company from prison. That violated a 2009 agreement that allowed Pampy's Inc. to remain in the airport contract as long as Mr. Barre was not involved in running it. He was sentenced to prison for swindling more than $1 million from a Marc Morial-era energy-efficiency contract.

Aviation Board negotiators have rejected at least six proposals from Delaware North since February. Public documents obtained by The Times-Picayune show that the Aviation Board has been disappointed by the lack of national brands that Delaware North has brought forward. Those documents also show that board members are unhappy with how much the contractor wants to charge travelers and the share of capital-improvement costs it has proposed passing on to taxpayers.

One proposal would have required the airport to spend up to $14.5 million to buy out vendors and pay Delaware North back for earlier investments.

Mr. Ahmad says that the airport wants lower prices, better customer service and longer hours before it will accept a deal, and those are all important factors. So is having airport food that's an asset to the city instead of an embarrassment.

If the Aviation Board can't get that from Delaware North, a buyout might be the more palatable option.



Merged airline's pilots pan new safety training

Airline mergers are nothing new in this economy, but the merger between United Airlines and Continental is causing some pilots concern.

To operate as one airline, the two companies need to merge flight training, too -- and some pilots worry that having to learn new cockpit procedures is having an impact on safety in the skies. Pilots point to at least three reported instances when passengers may have been in danger when planes almost landed without their wheels down.

If you ask some cockpit crews today, you might not get the confidence in the pilots' training that you're looking for, CBS News national correspondent Lee Cowan reports.

"We're being tasked with learning that new procedure without having the opportunity to effectively practice it," Captain Rory Kay, of the United Airline Pilot's Association, told CBS News. "We're just sitting at home in our armchairs reading (a manual)."

The United pilots union is expressing worry after having to re-learn procedures to fly some of the world's busiest routes. It's all because United merged with Continental, and the new training practices for the brand new combined airline are making some pilots feel like they're back in flight school.

Captain Wendy Morse, of the United Airline Pilot's Association, said, "It has to be one set of procedures, so it's a lot of learning, a lot of retraining, and that retraining requires a very robust training program to make sure it becomes innate."

The United pilots union says it worries the new, merged airline is relying too much on Internet-based learning -- and not enough on time in flight simulators.

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who is now retired and a CBS News aviation and safety expert, said there is no substitute for being in the simulator. He said, "Practicing these procedures time and time again (is essential) until it becomes part of your routine."

The airline union claims there have already been incidents in which pilots have become so distracted by the new techniques that they've made mistakes, forgetting to put the landing gear down, for one.

Kay told CBS News the procedures in his cockpit have "changed dramatically."

The airline denies the allegations, saying, "These claims are baseless and are an attempt ... to influence contract negotiations under a false guise of safety."

But Morse said of that statement, "Nothing could be further from the truth." She added, "We've had to take our attention from our contract negotiations, away from contract negotiations, and instead, focus them on safety."

With the clock ticking, the Federal Aviation Administration has given its blessing to make the two airlines one. So, for now, the training regimen remains.

"You have realize that there are many incentives to quickly merge two different airlines and to achieve the synergies and to realize the economic benefits of the merger," Sullenberger said. "And the sooner that's done, the better the bottom line."

Merging two airlines is complicated enough, but merging two training manuals, may prove even harder, Cowan remarked.

"Early Show" co-anchor Jeff Glor added on "The Early Show" that the next big step in the United-Continental merger is combining the two carriers' reservation systems. That's supposed to happen in the first quarter of 2012.

Study Finds Plymouth Airport is Critical to the South Shore Economy. Plymouth Municipal Airport (KPYM), Massachusetts.

A statewide study of the economic impact of Massachusetts airports finds smaller airports, such as Plymouth, help generate $11 billion and 124,000 jobs.

Plymouth Municipal Airport will expand one of its runways in order to mitigate both the safety concerns of pilots and noise concerns of neighbors. Credit Patch

Plymouth Airport generates $48.5 million and more than 300 jobs for the local economy according to a study completed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

The comprehensive statewide airport economic impact study finds that the 39 Massachusetts public airports generate $11.9 billion in economic activity and support approximately 124,000 jobs. Regionally, the airports in Norwood, Plymouth, Marshfield, Mansfield, and Taunton generate a combined $119.1 million for the regional economy, supporting 827 jobs.

“The Commonwealth’s airports create jobs, economic development and transportation options,” Gov. Deval Patrick said in a press release. “A strong regional economy depends on our investments in infrastructure, including the airport facilities in these five communities.”

According to the study, Plymouth Airport employs 301 workers, maintains a total payroll of $12,046,000, and generates $48,514,000 in revenue.

The study considers the annual economic impacts accrued in 2010 associated with airport business operations, on-airport construction, military aviation, visitors who arrive via commercial airlines, and visitors who arrive on privately-owned general aviation aircraft. These impacts are reported for each airport in terms of employment, payroll, and total economic activity.

“These South Shore airports are critical to the regional economy, creating jobs directly while making many more jobs possible in the private sector,” MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey said.

“The economic impact study confirms what the aviation community statewide understands about the vital role our airports play in providing safe transportation for commerce, military, and recreational users,” Christopher Willenborg, MassDOT Aeronautics Division administrator, said.


Massachusetts: Study Shows Mansfield Airport Strong Economic Contributer.

Credit Cathy Knipper


The Patrick-Murray Administration has announced the results of a comprehensive statewide airport economic impact study that finds Massachusetts public airports generate $11.9 billion in economic activity and support approximately 124,000 jobs.   Regionally, the airports in Norwood, Plymouth, Marshfield, Mansfield, and Taunton generate a combined $119.1 million for the regional economy, supporting 827 jobs.

“The Commonwealth’s airports create jobs, economic development and transportation options,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “A strong regional economy depends on our investments in infrastructure, including the airport facilities in these five communities.”

The major general aviation airports in the region include Norwood Memorial Airport, Mansfield Municipal Airport, Marshfield Municipal Airport - George Harlow Field, Plymouth Municipal Airport, and Taunton Municipal Airport - King Field.

The Statewide Airport Economic Impact Study completed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Aeronautics Division with the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration measured the total economic impact of the 39 public-use airports in Massachusetts, including Boston Logan International Airport. The airports’ $11.9 billion in economic activity and 124,000 related jobs reflects commercial airline service, military aviation, emergency law enforcement and medical transport activity and general aviation.

Along with the release of the study, Governor Deval Patrick proclaimed the month of November as "General Aviation Month."

“These South Shore airports are critical to the regional economy, creating jobs directly while making many more jobs possible in the private sector,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey.

“The economic impact study confirms what the aviation community statewide understands about the vital role our airports play in providing safe transportation for commerce, military, and recreational users,” said Christopher Willenborg, MassDOT Aeronautics Division administrator.

In addition to federal and local investments, the MassDOT Board of Directors in the past two years has approved additional infrastructure investments in the Commonwealth's airports, including a $13.4 million grant for runway extension and safety at the Pittsfield Municipal Airport and $13.1 million toward a new terminal building at Barnstable Municipal Airport, in addition to annual ongoing airport maintenance improvement projects statewide.

The Statewide Airport Economic Impact Study executive summary is available on the web: