Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sungai Besi Airport to end aircraft operations. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


KUALA LUMPUR: The control of airspace over the Sungai Besi Airport here will revert to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) air-traffic control from Dec 1, marking the end of fixed-wing aircraft operations at the 70-year-old airfield.

With this decision, both the police Air Wing and the Royal Selangor Flying Club will have to relocate their fixed-wing aircrafts from the airport to Subang. However, helicopter operations will continue at Sungai Besi until further notice.

The Air Wing operates three fixed-wing aircraft from Sungai Besi, namely, the Pilatus PC-6, Cessna 208 Caravan and the Beechcraft Super King Air.

The Royal Selangor Flying Club operates three Cessna 172, mostly for training and leisure flights. The police also operate Squirrel helicopters for various duties. When contacted, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar, responded via text message: “We have to find space in Subang then.” He declined further comment.

Meanwhile, an official of the Royal Selangor Flying Club confirmed they were still negotiating terms and conditions with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) which will transform the Sungai Besi airport into Bandar Malaysia.

Ironically, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) units which operates and has overall control of the Sungai Besi airport, is expected to remain on the site until February next year or even longer.

RMAF chief Tan Sri Rodzali Daud told reporters yesterday they will conclude an agreement with 1MDb for its replacement site in Sendayan, Negri Sembilan, by February.

He said some of the units based at Sungai Besi will be relocated to the Subang Air Base in the meantime.

He also said the RMAF Museum which houses various historical aircraft will remain at the present Sungai Besi site as part of the attractions of Bandar Malaysia.

On April 7 last year, The Malay Mail front-paged a report on plans to redevelop the Sungai Besi Airport into a commercial business hub, complete with a heliport.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had initially denied the report, although he later said the air base would soon be closed to make way for the “Greater KL” development project as laid out under the 10th Malaysia Plan.

Sungai Besi Airport is the country's first international airport. The 162-hectare airport, also known as Simpang, served as the main air link from 1952 to 1965, before Subang Airport was opened.

Sungai Besi Airport was originally used as an airstrip in the 1930s but was turned into an airport after World War II.

RMAF designated the airport as the Kuala Lumpur Air Base which hosts two operational command headquarters, the No.1 Air Division and the Air Logistics headquarters.

The 10th Squadron, which flies Nuri and Blackhawk helicopters for utility and VVIP purposes, and the Aerospace Medical Institute are also located at the base.

Russia to develop new early warning plane by 2016

MOSCOW - Russia is expected to develop a new airborne warning and control system (AWACS) plane by 2016, Air Force chief Col. Gen Alexander Zelin said on Tuesday.

The general said the new A-100 plane will have an advanced active phase array capable of detecting and tracking airborne and land-based targets.

The Russian Air Force has 20 A-50 Mainstay AWACS planes based on the Il-76 transport aircraft.

Zelin also said the Russian Air Force will increase its bases from 8 to 14 by 2020, adding that more than 1,000 helicopters would be purchased under the state procurements program.

With regards to the deployment of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, he said the Russian Armed Forces will receive four S-400 Triumph systems in 2011.

"We have received the second S-400 air defense missile regiment this year. It has entered combat duty last week. We will receive two more S-400 regiments this year," Zelin said.

The general also confirmed that Russia's Aerospace Defense Forces will be supplied with another six Pantsir-S anti-aircraft artillery systems

"Four Pantsir-S systems have been delivered to an anti-aircraft missile regiment of the Fourth Air Force/Air Defense Command in Novorossiysk. Another six systems will be delivered to the Operative Strategic Command of the Aerospace Defense Forces," he said.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Singapore Airlines Orders 8 Boeing 777-300ERs For US$2.3 Billion.

-- New aircraft to operate medium- and long-haul routes
-- Order is part of airlines' growth and aircraft replacement plans
-- Delivery of aircraft to start in the 2013-2014 financial year
 
SINGAPORE -(Dow Jones)- Singapore Airlines Ltd. said Wednesday it is ordering eight more Boeing Co. (BA) 777-300ER aircraft worth US$2.3 billion at list prices, as part of its growth and aircraft replacement plans.

The carrier will receive the new aircraft starting in the 2013-2014 financial year, and will operate them on medium- and long-haul routes, it said in a statement.

The new aircraft, to be powered by General Electric Co.'s  GE90 engines, will join Singapore Airlines' existing fleet of 19 Boeing 777-300ERs, it added.

"These aircraft are being ordered for SIA's growth purposes as well as for replacement, in line with our longstanding policy of operating a young and modern fleet," a company spokeswoman said.

The average age of Singapore Airlines' fleet--comprising 106 aircraft currently--is six years and four months, as of July.

Singapore Airlines last month posted a sharper-than-expected 82% decline in first-quarter net profit after soaring crude-oil prices pushed up its fuel bill, and warned of a difficult period ahead.

In May, the carrier said it will start a no-frills low-fare subsidiary next year that will operate flights on medium- and long-haul routes, initially using Boeing 777-200 aircraft from the parent.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Cessna 182C, N8718T: Near Boulder Municipal Airport (KBDU), Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. — Boulder County sheriff's officials say a pilot suffered only minor injuries from landing her single-engine plane after it lost power about 3 miles from the Boulder airport.

Sgt. Lori Cox says the pilot was returning to the airport after dropping off some skydivers Tuesday evening when her plane lost power at 8,000 feet above ground. Cox says the pilot wasn't able to regain power and landed short of the airport runway, not far from a home.

Cox says the plane had some front-end damage but landed safely.

http://registry.faa.gov/N8718T


Cheap flights, but be careful of high booking fees.

JETSETTERS are saving hundreds of dollars surfing the net for the cheapest flights.

But some travellers are getting caught in a web of excessive fees on top of airline surcharges, a review warns.

A consumer road test has found that for domestic trips, comparison sites are often best used to check costs, but not necessarily to buy, because of steep booking, cancellation and flight change fees.

However for overseas flights, sites offered savings of hundreds of dollars, or up to 25 per cent, even when booking.

The Choice research reveals passengers dealing with some sites are being slugged up to $50 to book online, up to $110 to change flights, and up to $500 to cancel.

It rated jetabroad.com.au, zuji.com.au and wotflight.com (to/from New Zealand only) as top picks in a snapshot survey of international economy return flights to the UK, US and across the Tasman.

Spokeswoman Ingrid Just said travellers could save hundreds of dollars by expanding searches beyond best-known flight comparison sites.

''Don't treat any site as a one-stop shop, even those that compare the greatest number of carriers won't necessarily quote the lowest price,'' a Choice report advises.

''Flight comparison sites are a great starting point - they're a fast and convenient way to compare flights across dozens of airlines, as well as alert you to sale fares.

''But given their sometimes exorbitant fees and charges, they're not always the most cost-effective way to book your ticket.

''They also won't necessarily compare all fares on the market, and the fares they advertise to entice traffic may not be available as soon as you start searching.''

Choice suggests plugging in different flight combinations, carriers and dates; scouring airline sites directly as well as comparison sites; considering breaking up journeys with an overnight stay then using a different airline for the next leg; and checking whether quoted prices include basic insurance.

The consumer body compared costs for identical overseas flights on the same dates. It noted quotes can depend on a range of factors including availability and airline sales, and may vary from day to day.

Sites were assessed on price, charges and user-friendliness.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Cebu Pacific Airlines expands fleet

FOR the convenience of Filipino travelers, both domestic and international, Gokongwei-owned budget carrier Cebu Pacific Airlines is set to acquire more Airbus aircraft.

In a statement issued yesterday by Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer, to the Philippine Stock Exchange, he said the airline had finalized its order with Airbus for 30 A321neo aircraft, increasing its total firm orders for the A320 Family to 71, of which 16 have already been delivered.

“The A321neo will enable us to increase capacity on our key routes while benefiting from the lowest operating costs of any aircraft in this size category,” said Gokongwei. “With these aircraft we will continue to build upon our reputation for offering high quality low fares service with one of the most modern and youngest fleets in Asia.”

The airline currently operates 25 A320 Family aircraft, including the 16 purchased from Airbus and nine leased aircraft.

Cebu Pacific plans to configure its A321neo fleet with 220 seats in a single class layout and will fly the aircraft across its expanding pan-Asian network. This network presently includes 34 domestic and 16 international destin


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Mexico and Canada Agree to Expand Airline Routes

MEXICO CITY – Mexico and Canada signed an air transportation agreement that allows any airline to offer commercial routes linking the two countries, the Communications and Transportation Secretariat said.

Carriers will now have the freedom to determine “the frequency of flights and the type and size of planes used to offer air transport service,” the secretariat said in a statement.

The agreement “represents a significant increase in the number of airlines that will have the opportunity to offer transportation service between the two countries, moving from a system of double to multiple designation,” the secretariat said.

The prior system allowed just two airlines per country to operate a route.

“More firms from Mexico and Canada will be able to participate in the current destinations being covered between both territories; moreover, it opens the possibility of developing new routes, offering more alternatives to passengers,” the secretariat said.

The agreement removes restrictions on the number of airlines that can fly a route, the number of flights a carrier can offer and the type and size of aircraft allowed.

The air transportation agreement will help improve “the operation and development of air services between Mexico and Canada,” the secretariat said. EFE


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

American Eagle sees good year in Augusta, Georgia.

American Eagle Airlines has been in Augusta for a year, and airport officials say it has been a good year.

The airline has two flights each day between Augusta Regional Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth. Over the past year, the airline has served 51,358 passengers.

"Those are very strong numbers for their first year, with only two flights per day," said Diane Johnston, the director of marketing for Augusta Regional.

American Eagle flew out of Augusta in the early 1990s but stopped in 1993 because of a national schedule adjustment.

As an American Airlines affiliate, Eagle feeds traffic to larger markets and larger planes. Eagle currently flies to 38 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The two Augusta-Dallas flights were 76.4 percent full on average, Johnston said, and demonstrate a strong demand for the flights.

"We are very happy with those flights, and we believe the community has been very pleased as well," she said. "They've certainly supported them well."


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Hainan Airlines Co enters bidding for Hochtief's airport assets

HONG KONG - The parent of Hainan Airlines Co, China's fourth-biggest airline by revenue, said Monday it is bidding for Frankfurt-based construction company Hochtief AG's airport assets, which it values at more than 1 billion euros ($1.43 billion).

The bidding is the latest development in Hainan provincial government-backed HNA Group Co's push to expand overseas amid falling global asset prices. Last week, the unlisted company said it was joining Bravia Capital of Hong Kong to buy a shipping-container lessor co-owned by General Electric Co in a deal valued at $1.05 billion.

In July, HNA, which owns a majority stake in Hainan Airlines, disclosed plans to buy a stake in Turkish air-cargo carrier ACT Airlines.

Adam Tan, an executive director at HNA Group, said HNA's airport unit is among the bidders that have been short-listed to move to the second round of bidding for Hochtief's airport assets. The assets include stakes in airports in Athens, Budapest, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Sydney and Tirana, Albania.

"The deal may have to go through another round of bidding and we expect the seller to assign a winning bidder within two months," Mr Tan said.

People familiar with the matter said last week that other bidders for the assets include airport operator Fraport AG of Germany and its bidding partner, Deutsche Bank AG's RREEF infrastructure fund, as well as French construction company Vinci SA and a bidding consortium made up of Allianz SE's investment arm Allianz Capital Partners and the infrastructure fund Global Infrastructure Partners.

The bids all valued the portfolio of airport stakes at more than 1 billion euros.

Mr Tan said HNA Group's plan to expand abroad won't be deterred by recent stock-market volatility and a slower global economic recovery amid concerns about the European debt crisis and health of the US economy.

HNA Group, whose businesses include airlines and airport operations, hotel management and logistics, has also been stepping up its efforts to tap the equity markets in recent years.

The Chinese conglomerate's Grand China Air aviation-investment arm, which counts billionaire financier George Soros as a major shareholder, holds aviation assets including Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines Ltd.

Grand China Air and Hong Kong Airlines are considering share listings, according to Grand China Air. American Aviation Ltd, backed by Mr Soros, also directly owns a stake of about 2.62 percent in Hainan Airlines.

Mr Tan said HNA Group will need to invest a total of about $500 million to $600 million from its internal capital for the three overseas transactions, with the rest to be funded by bank facilities.

Eyk Henning in Frankfurt contributed to this article.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Muskegon County Airport spared from cuts to federal subsidy. Muskegon County Airport (KMKG), Muskegon, Michigan.

MUSKEGON COUNTY — Muskegon County Airport is not one of the unlucky 13 when it comes to a federal subsidy for commercial air service.

The local airport, which currently receives $660,000 per year through the Essential Air Service program, was not on the list of rural communities targeted for federal subsidy cuts as part of recently approved legislation for the Federal Aviation Administration's operating authority. Muskegon County officials credited the federal money with making commercial service to the local airport possible over the last couple of years.

Muskegon County Airport Manager Marty Piette said county officials appreciate the subsidy, essential for maintaining local commercial service during the economic downturn, but he said the goal is to make it unnecessary in the future. One version of the legislation, approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, would have eliminated much of the program, including the funds for Muskegon service.

“We're trying to get it profitable so we don't even need it if it is voted out,” Piette said.

Muskegon County Airport's subsidy supports SkyWest Airlines in providing commercial service. SkyWest, operating as United Airlines, flies 50-passenger jet service daily to and from Chicago O'Hare.

The Essential Air Service program currently provides subsidies for commercial air carriers serving about 110 airports in rural communities and small towns across the lower 48 states. The program was established in 1978 when the government deregulated the airlines, enabling them to drop lightly traveled routes that lose money.

Conservatives have targeted the $200 million program as wasteful spending for years.

The deadlock over the FAA bill between Republicans and Democrats was broken Friday, when an agreement was reached to end a partial two-week shutdown of the FAA. The shutdown led to the furlough of nearly 4,000 workers and delays to several airport construction projects.

The air service subsidies were a factor in the political stalemate.

Republicans achieved the subsidy cuts in the final law, but with a major caveat: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has the authority to continue subsidized service to the 13 communities if he decides it's necessary.

Communities targeted for the proposed air service subsidy cuts are Morgantown, W.Va.; Athens, Ga.; Glendive, Mont.; Alamogordo, N.M.; Ely, Nev.; Jamestown, N.Y.; Bradford, Pa.; Hagerstown, Md.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Johnstown, Pa.; Franklin/Oil City, Pa.; Lancaster, Pa.; and Jackson, Tenn.

More rural airports, including Muskegon County's, also were proposed for cuts in the initial House legislation. Even if the program was eliminated, the funding for the airline serving Muskegon County Airport would have continued until Oct. 1, 2013.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Piper PA-23-150 Apache D, Phillip W. Hatfield (rgd. owner), N2286P: Accident occurred August 08, 2011 in Millersburg, Ohio

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA557 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 08, 2011 in Millersburg, OH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/18/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-23, registration: N2286P
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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 pilot received a weather briefing on the day before the visual flight rules flight during which he was informed that the weather conditions near his destination would be deteriorating. The pilot departed in night visual conditions. Toward the end of his planned flight, he flew over the destination airport but was unable to see it due to weather conditions that he described to an air traffic controller as “too thick.” The pilot informed the controller that he wanted to fly back toward Columbus, Ohio. About 1 minute later, the pilot informed the controller that he wanted to change his destination to a second airport, which is located about 24 miles northwest of his original destination. While en route to the second airport, the pilot was informed of a notice to airmen indicating that the runway lights at that airport were out of service. Fourteen minutes later, the air traffic controller in communication with the pilot asked if he wanted another airport or to proceed to his second destination. The pilot stated that, once again, he wanted to head back to Columbus. Shortly thereafter, the pilot informed the controller that he wanted to land at a third airport. On the approach to the third airport, the pilot was initially unable to see it because fog was in the area and the airport beacon was out of service; further, he was using the wrong frequency to activate the pilot-controlled runway lights. An air traffic controller informed the pilot of the correct frequency and shortly thereafter the pilot reported that he had the runway in sight. Several witnesses reported seeing and hearing the airplane as it flew over the area. One witness, who was a pilot living adjacent to the airport, stated that he heard the airplane make three passes over the airport from different directions beginning about 25 minutes before the accident. The airplane subsequently impacted trees and terrain in an upsloping wooded area that bordered the south side of the airport. A postaccident examination of the airplane and engines did not reveal any preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that the pilot was unable to see the airport and continued to fly in the vicinity searching for the runway, and subsequently lost situational awareness and struck trees.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance with terrain during the landing approach in night conditions and fog. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s inadequate preflight planning.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 8, 2011, about 0455 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-23 airplane, N2286P, collided with trees and terrain while maneuvering to land at the Holmes County Airport (10G), Millersburg, Ohio. The commercial pilot and two passengers received fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Sullivan County Airport (SIV), Sullivan, Indiana, about 0135.

The original route of flight was intended to be from SIV to the Jefferson County Airpark (2G2), Steubenville, Ohio. The purpose of the flight was to fly one of the passengers to Steubenville, so that she could be with a family member who was having a medical procedure performed.

The pilot contacted the Indianapolis air route traffic control center (ARTCC) at 0138 requesting visual flight rules (VFR) flight following, stating that he had just departed SIV and was en route to 2G2. At 0145, the pilot reported to air traffic control that they were in a layer of clouds and that he was going to climb to 7,500 feet. The airplane subsequently descended to 5,500 feet and continued on toward 2G2.

At 0325, the airplane was instructed to contact Cleveland ARTCC. The pilot checked in with Cleveland and was given a squawk code. At 0341, the pilot was advised to contact Pittsburgh approach control.

The pilot contacted Pittsburgh approach and was cleared through the Class B airspace and instructed to maintain VFR. The pilot advised the controller that he was going to descend to 3,500 feet and that he intended to land at 2G2. The controller instructed the pilot to report having the airport in sight.

At 0351, the controller asked the pilot how he was doing and the pilot responded that he was looking for the airport and couldn’t find it. The controller informed the pilot that the airport was to his north. The controller then told the pilot that he could descend to 3,000 feet and the controller issued a vector to the airport. At 0353, the controller informed the pilot that he was over the airport. The pilot was unable to see the airport stating it was a little “too thick.” The controller asked the pilot what his intention was and the pilot responded that he wanted to fly back toward Columbus. The controller asked the pilot if he had enough fuel and the pilot responded that yes he did. The controller instructed the pilot to maintain VFR and suggested an altitude of 4,500.

At 0354, the pilot reported that they wanted to proceed to the Carrollton County Airport, Carrollton, Ohio (TSO). TSO is located approximately 24 miles northwest of 2G2. The controller instructed the pilot to contact the Cleveland ARTCC and to let them know what his intentions were. The pilot acknowledged the instruction and subsequently checked in with the Cleveland ARTCC.

At 0404, the controller advised the pilot that there was a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that the runway lights for runway 7/25 were out of service.

At 0417, the controller asked the pilot if he wanted to try another airport or if he still wanted to go to TSO. The pilot responded that they were going to head back to Columbus at 6,500 feet. The pilot was instructed to contact the Indianapolis ARTCC and the pilot complied with that instruction.

The pilot informed the controller, at 0438, that he was changing his destination from Columbus to 10G. The controller acknowledged the change. Approximately 0437, the controller informed the pilot that he was over the airport and asked if he could see the ground. The pilot stated that he could see the ground and he was looking for the airport. A short time later the controller informed the pilot that he was now east of the airport and asked the pilot if he could see the airport. The pilot replied that they could not see the airport. About a minute later the controller asked the pilot if he clicked the lights on. The pilot responded yes, but that apparently they weren’t working. The controller stated that there were no NOTAMS regarding the lights. The pilot responded “ok … just must be obscured to us then.” The controller then informed the pilot that the frequency for the lights was 123.4. When the pilot did not respond, the controller again stated that the frequency for the lights was 123.4 and asked the pilot if that was the frequency that he used. The pilot responded “123.4?” At 0453, the controller twice informed the pilot that radar contact was lost and asked if he could hear her. The pilot then responded that he had the runway in sight. The controller verified with the pilot that he had the runway in sight. The controller instructed the pilot to squawk VFR and that radar service was terminated. The pilot responded, “thank you, good day.”

Several witnesses reported seeing and hearing the airplane between 0430 and 0445 as it flew over the Millersburg area. One witness, who was a pilot living adjacent to the airport, stated he heard the airplane make three passes over the airport from different directions beginning around 0430. He stated that around 0500 he went to the airport, turned on the runway lights, and made a call over the universal communications (UNICOM) frequency inquiring if the airplane circling the airport needed assistance. He did not receive a reply. He assumed the airplane diverted to another airport “…where the fog was not as thick… .” This witness stated the airplane sounded normal and as if both engines were running. He stated there was fog in the area at the time he heard the airplane and that he could see vertically through the fog.

Another witness who was outside his residence located about 2 ¼ miles northeast of the airport reported hearing the airplane at 0445. This witness stated the airplane was low and headed south when it flew almost directly over his house. He stated he was able to see a “flash” from the light (rotating beacon) on the tail of the airplane and wondered why an airplane was flying in the fog. The witness reported that the airplane’s engines sounded normal.

The wreckage was located by a State Highway Patrol helicopter on August 9, 2011, at approximately 1130.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument ratings issued March 26, 2011. The pilot was issued a third-class airman medical certificate, with no restrictions, on August 10, 2009.

The pilot’s logbook contained flights dated from June 12, 1994, when the pilot began flying, through August 3, 2011. The logbook indicated the pilot had approximately 412 hours of total flight time. The logbook showed the pilot had a total of 74 hours of multi-engine flight time, of which 73 hours were in the accident airplane. The pilot had a total of 11.1 hours of actual instrument flight time of which 8.5 hours were in the accident airplane. In addition, the logbook showed the pilot had a total of 71.7 hours of simulated instrument flight time, of which 7.0 hours were in the accident airplane and 16.7 hours were in a flight simulator.

Federal Aviation Administration airman records indicate the pilot’s certification history as follows:

October 7, 1986 - Private pilot certificate issued with airplane single-engine land rating.

May 20, 2010 - Failed practical test for instrument rating. Areas to be re-examined were "Air Traffic Control Clearances and Procedures" and "Instrument Approach Procedures."

May 23, 2010 - Passed instrument flight test.

May 26, 2011 - Failed practical test for multi-engine rating. Areas to be re-examined were "Takeoffs, Landings, and Go-Arounds."

May 26, 2011 - Re-tested on same day and passed multi-engine flight test.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was a Piper PA-23, serial number 23-897. It was a four-place, low-wing, twin-engine airplane with retractable landing gear. The airplane was purchased by the accident pilot on September 20, 2010. The airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on January 30, 1957. The airplane was equipped with two Lycoming O-320-A3B engines.

Maintenance records indicate that the last annual inspection on both the airplane and engines was conducted on July 28, 2011. The total airframe time at the time of the inspection was 5,720.84 hours. The total time on the left engine at the time of the inspection was 5,720.84 and the time since major overhaul was 450.73. The total time on the right engine was 5,713.21 and the time since major overhaul was 540.84.

The total aircraft and engine times at the time of the accident could not be determined due to the amount of postimpact damage; however, the pilot’s logbook showed he had flown the airplane 11 hours, not including the accident flight, since the last annual inspection.

Two fuel receipts were found at the accident site. One receipt dated July 30, 2011, showed the airplane was fueled with 90.8 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel. The only flight in the pilot’s logbook after the airplane was fueled was a 1 hour flight on August 3, 2011. The second fuel receipt that was dated and time stamped August 8, 2011, at 0010, indicated the airplane was fueled with 45.2 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel. The total amount of fuel onboard at takeoff could not be determined.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The pilot received a weather briefing from the Princeton Contract Flight Service Station on August 7, 2011, at 1639. The pilot requested a “standard briefing” for a VFR flight from SIV to 2G2 departing at 0230.

The briefer stated to the pilot that there would “definitely be some heavier cloud cover” along the route due to a low pressure system in the area. The briefer provided the terminal forecast for Wheeling, West Virginia, stating that after 0100, the forecast called for westerly wind at 4 knots, 5 miles visibility with mist, and scattered clouds at 10,000 feet. He also stated that after 0500 the Wheeling weather was forecast to be variable wind at 3 knots, 2 miles visibility with mist, scattered clouds at 300 feet, and broken clouds at 1,500 feet. He informed the pilot that the forecast was valid until 0900. The pilot stated that he would probably call back, but that he was going to continue with his VFR plans. The pilot did state that he had instrument flight rules (IFR) capability with a Garmin 430 and he could go direct.

Witnesses reported that there was fog in the area when they heard the airplane. One of the witnesses stated that because of the terrain, it was not uncommon for there to be fog in the area.

Weather conditions recorded at the Wheeling Ohio County Airport (HLG), Wheeling, West Virginia, located 13 miles south-southeast of the pilot’s original destination of 2G2 were:

At 0353: wind 250 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 9 miles, overcast clouds at 1,200 feet, temperature 21 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 19 degrees C, and altimeter 29.74 inches of mercury.

Weather conditions recorded at the Akron Canton Regional Airport (CAK), Canton, Ohio, located 30 miles north-northeast of TSO (the pilot’s first alternate destination) and 37 miles from 10G were:

At 0351: wind 270 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 2 ½ miles with mist, overcast clouds at 400 feet, temperature 21 degrees C, dew point 19 degrees C, and altimeter 29.72 inches of mercury.

At 0451: wind 270 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 3 miles with mist, broken clouds at 300 feet, temperature 21 degrees C, dew point 19 degrees C, and altimeter 29.72 inches of mercury.

Weather conditions recorded at the Wayne County Airport (BJJ), Wooster, Ohio, located 18 miles north of the accident site were:

At 0410: wind 240 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 4 miles with mist, scattered clouds at 400 feet, temperature 21 degrees C, dew point 19 degrees C, and altimeter 29.74 inches of mercury.

At 0456: wind calm, visibility 4 miles with mist, scattered clouds at 300 feet, temperature 19 degrees C, dew point 19 degrees C, and altimeter 29.74 inches of mercury.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

10G is located at the top of a ridge surrounded by hills and valleys. The area on the south side of the airport consisted of heavily wooded terrain that sloped down into a valley of a ridge line. The area south of the airport is sparsely populated with few ground references visible at night.

The UNICOM frequency for the airport was 123.0. The airport was equipped with medium intensity runway edge lights and runway end identification lights that were pilot controlled on a radio frequency of 123.4. The operation of the pilot controlled lighting was verified following the accident. The airport’s rotating beacon was out of service at the time of the accident.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was in a heavily wooded area about 1/4-mile southeast of the approach end of runway 27 at 2G2. The wreckage was located on the up sloping terrain of a valley that bordered the south side of the airport. The slope of the terrain at the accident site varied between 20 and 30 degrees. The wooded area contained trees that varied in height between 75 to 100 feet. A path of broken trees along a magnetic heading of 280 degrees led up to the location of the main wreckage. Impact damage indicated the airplane contacted the terrain in a nose down attitude then flipped inverted. The entire airplane was located in the general area of the main wreckage.

The forward fuselage area, including the cockpit and instrument panel, was destroyed by impact forces and a post impact fire. The empennage was partially separated from the forward cabin just aft of the rear baggage area.

The vertical stabilizer and rudder were separated from the empennage. The top portion of the vertical stabilizer and rudder exhibited rearward concave crushing consistent with a tree strike. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer and the rudder trim tab remained attached to the rudder. The rudder trim was in a neutral position.

The horizontal stabilizers sustained impact damage and were separated from the empennage. The right elevator remained attached to the horizontal stabilizer. The left elevator which was separated at the hinge points was found at the wreckage site. The leading edge of both the left and right sides of the horizontal stabilizer exhibited rearward concave crushing consistent with a tree strike. The elevator travel stops were intact with no damage noted. The elevator trim setting could not be established.

The left wing was partially attached to the fuselage. The entire leading edge of the wing was crushed aft, with the most significant damage being outboard of the engine nacelle. Both left wing fuel tanks were ruptured. The inboard section of the wing sustained fire damage. The flap remained partially attached to the wing. The inboard aileron hinge was separated from the aileron. The aileron balance weight was in place. The aileron trim tab indicated a slight upward position. The engine nacelle was attached to the main spar. The nacelle was crushed downward and aft. The engine remained attached to the engine mounts in the nacelle.

The right wing was partially separated from the fuselage. The four foot outboard section of the wing was separated from the inboard section. The inboard section of the wing sustained substantial impact damage and was partially consumed by the post impact fire. Both right wing fuel tanks were ruptured from impact and fire damage. The flap which sustained impact and fire damage remained attached to the wing. The aileron was separated from the wing at its hinges and the actuator was bent upward. The aileron trim tab remained attached to the wing and it was bent downward. The aileron balance weight was separated from the aileron and it was located in the debris path along with the fiberglass wingtip which sustained impact damage. The aileron control bell crank was fractured with the cables attached. The right engine nacelle was destroyed by the post impact fire. The engine remained partially attached to the engine mounts and firewall.

Continuity of all of the flight controls was established from the control surfaces to the forward cabin area and from the forward cabin area to the cockpit flight controls. Breaks in the control cables exhibited broomstraw signatures consistent with overload.

The main landing gear were in the down and locked position. The nose gear was separated from the main wreckage. The flap actuator indicated the flaps were in the up position.

Both engines sustained impact damage in addition to the fire damage sustained by the right engine. The engine accessories were removed from the engine and inspected. No preimpact anomalies were noted with the accessories that were inspected. The magnetos from both engines produced spark when rotated by hand. Both engines were rotated by hand using a tool inserted in the vacuum pump drive housing. Thumb compression was obtained on all of the cylinders. Crankshaft and valve train to the cylinders was verified. The cylinders were examined using a lighted boroscope and no anomalies were noted.

The right engine propeller was separated from the engine at the crankshaft flange and was buried in the ground. One propeller blade was bent rearward and twisted beginning about midspan. The other blade was bent rearward near the root of the blade. The outboard third of the blade contained an “S” curve and was slightly twisted. The leading edge of both blades sustained impact damage.

The left engine propeller remained attached to the engine and was removed from the engine during the engine examination. One blade sustained fire damage on the outboard half of the blade. The outboard half of the same blade was bent rearward and slightly twisted. The outboard third of the other blade was twisted. The leading edge of this blade tip sustained impact damage.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Stark County Coroner’s Office, Canton, Ohio, on August 11, 2011. The death of the pilot was attributed to injuries sustained in the accident.

Toxicology testing for the pilot was performed by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. The test results revealed 10.47 (ug/ml, ug/g) Acetaminophen was detected in urine, along with Dextrorphan which was detected in urine and blood.



MILLERSBURG, Ohio - Three people were killed in a small plane crash in Holmes County Monday night, but the wreckage wasn’t discovered until at least 14 hours later.

Elizabeth Cory, spokeswoman for the Great Lakes region of the FAA, said the Piper 23 plane took off from the Holmes County Airport at some point on Monday, and was later reported missing at 10 p.m. She said the plane was originally headed to Jefferson County, Ohio.

Cory said the plane’s wreckage was discovered at noon on Tuesday --- possibly in the Millersburg area. She also confirmed three fatalities in the crash, but said their identities have not been released yet.

Holmes County Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly said the plane went down near the airport where it took off. It flew from Terre Haute, Indiana Monday. He said the victims are two men and one woman.

A neighbor reported seeing the plane circling before the crash.

No other details about the crash have been released.

Keep checking newnset5.com for more information.

“The Hidden Charm” Beckons in Cathay Pacific’s Allure of Vietnam Sweepstakes. Win a Trip for Two to Hanoi and Halong Bay.

SAN FRANCISCO -- An eclectic experience awaits the winner of Cathay Pacific’s Allure of Vietnam sweepstakes to Hanoi. From the relaxing comfort of the luxurious InterContinental Hanoi Westlake to the unbridled beauty of mysterious islands visible from the decks of a Halong Bay river cruise, amazing memories are there for the making.

“I’ve taken this very trip and had such a great time that I encouraged our team to make it possible for others to experience it,” said Dennis Owen, Cathay Pacific’s vice president, marketing, Americas. “Vietnam is an amazing country with much to see and do. This will likely just whet the appetite of the winner to return on a regular basis as I do.”

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com
  
Comments 
* Weigh In 
* Corrections?

Plane diverted to Charleston airport after severe turbulence, passengers injured


CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - An American Airlines flight that hit  severe turbulence landed in Charleston, S.C., and officials say one  flight attendant and two passengers were treated for minor  injuries. American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said Flight 734 hit rough  air near the Florida-Georgia border. The flight was headed from  Miami to Reagan National Airport in Washington with 152 passengers  and a crew of six.

The Boeing 737 landed shortly before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Smith said emergency medical crews met the plane and treated  those who were hurt. He said a replacement plane was being flown to Charleston and  the passengers would continue on. Smith said the plane made a normal  landing and added that mechanics will check out the aircraft for any damage.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Colorado pilot killed in Afghan chopper crash died 'a hero'



CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Colorado National Guardsman David Carter is being remembered as an accomplished helicopter pilot, an expert flight instructor and a reliable comrade.

“While our shock loss and grief are monumental...so too has been the support that the Carter family received,” said family friend and spokeswoman Yolanda Levesque at a Tuesday news conference in Centennial.

“He was an outstanding husband and father, son, brother and soldier. He was a friend to all who met him...quick with a smile and always with a twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes.”

Carter, a chief warrant officer based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, died along with 29 other Americans, including 22 Navy SEALs, as he flew their Chinook helicopter into a firefight with Taliban forces in a remote part of Afghanistan Saturday.

The aircraft was shot down by Taliban militants.

“He was flying our nation’s elite forces into combat,” said Col. Chris Petty, Carter’s friend and fellow pilot, “that is what he wanted to do.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper expressed sadness and gratitude in a statement Tuesday.

“Carter died a hero while protecting the freedoms we sometimes take for granted,” the governor said. “We are grateful for his service to our country and to the Colorado Army National Guard. Carter’s family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers as we join the entire nation in mourning his death.”

The governor will order flags be lowered to half-staff on all public buildings statewide on the day of Carter’s funeral, which has not yet been determined.

Watch Video: http://www.kdvr.com

Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Air Zimbabwe: Hundreds stranded in China for weeks

OVER 200 Air Zimbabwe passengers have been stranded in China for the past two weeks after the airline’s pilots went on strike demanding unpaid salaries, officials said on Monday.

The pilots have vowed not to return to work until they are given US$200,000 each as full payment of arrears and salaries pending from last year.

Air Zimbabwe, which is struggling with $100 million debts, will be paying the stranded passengers’ hotel bills until it starts servicing the route.

“The situation is that we have not been flying to China for the past two weeks,” Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive officer Innocent Mavhunga said.

“We have been accommodating the passengers in hotels and those who we can re-route we are doing so. The cost varies from one hotel to another.”

The strike has affected some of the airline’s international services besides domestic and regional flights which have also been cancelled.

This is not the first time this year the pilots have downed tools.

They went on strike in January demanding to be paid their outstanding salaries and allowances.

They also embarked on another job boycott on March 22.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

MidAmerica Airport losing chances for international cargo flights

St. Claire County may lose $250,000 on MidAmerica Airport with a major deadline approaching.


Watch Video: http://www.kmov.com

Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Canton, Ohio: Man charged with interfering with plane.

CANTON — A 24-year-old man faces felony charges of shining a laser light at aircraft after he was arrested by Stark County Sheriff’s deputies early Tuesday.

Richard J. Davis, who has home addresses listed in both Canton and Washington Township, according to Stark County Common Pleas Court records, was arrested at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday on a charge of interfering with the operation of an aircraft with a laser.

A pilot with Ultimate Jet Charters said he was hit with a green laser beam Tuesday morning. The sheriff’s office report said Davis had been shining the light at passing cars, and the plane, between 12:50 and 1:22 a.m..

Davis was arrested in the 15000 block of Cenfield Street NE in Washington Township.

The charge, a second-degree felony, carries a 2- to 8-year prison term and fine of up to $15,000 on conviction.


St. Cloud Tries to Attract Airline.


The effort is underway to try and convince a new airline to serve St. Cloud. Delta pulled out in late 2009.

The city is applying for a $750,000 federal grant, local businesses have also pledged support to help draw an airline.

The new carrier would most likely not serve Minneapolis-St. Paul, but instead fly from St. Cloud to Chicago.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Piper Cherokee: Pair swim to safety after plane crashes. Stewart Island, New Zealand.

A pilot and his passenger were left floating on a wing after their plane hit the water at a remote part of Stewart Island yesterday afternoon.

The Rescue Co-ordination Centre received a distress call from a South East Air beacon at 2.45pm at Doughboy Bay, in the southwest corner of Stewart Island.

A spokesman said a helicopter and a plane were dispatched to the area and located the Piper Cherokee plane in 2m of water near the mouth of the bay.

The pilot and passenger were found on the beach near the scene of the accident.

Bill Moffatt, of South East Air, said the incident occurred immediately after the experienced Invercargill-based pilot attempted to take off from the sandy beach at low tide.

"It is pretty hard to speculate [about the cause] at this stage. The engine didn't stop or anything like that."

The Civil Aviation Authority would investigate the case of the incident, he said.

The pilot and his passenger were left standing on the wing of the floating plane, before "deciding whether they would get wet or not".

They both eventually decided to swim to the beach. They were wet and cold but unhurt.

"We probably won't charge [the passenger] now."

Mr Moffatt said he visited the site yesterday, where the wingtip of the plane was still visible, and assisted the helicopter with retrieving the plane.

It was too early to conclude if the $150,000 plane was a write-off, but confirmed it was insured.

"We are just happy everyone is fine, and it is a good outcome really."


PRESS RELEASE: Biggin Hill Airport revised application rejected at Executive. (UK)

Published on 9 August 2011

The revised Biggin Hill Airport Limited (BHAL) request to vary the lease during Olympic Games period was rejected last night.

The Executive decision not to grant the application followed a discussion about the nature of the application itself and the business case surrounding it. BHAL approached the Council in its capacity as landlord of the airport.

"We listened very carefully to the case put before us and we were simply not convinced. We just do not believe that the benefits being spoken about were strong enough when compared to the adverse impact of additional flights. We continue to want to see a viable airport which is commercially successful. The Council originally purchased the airport to ensure that its airport use continues and to protect residents' interests. There are already significant business opportunities for the airport as the Olympics approaches and BHAL can take advantage of these within the context of the existing lease" said Leader of Bromley Council, Councillor Stephen Carr.

BHAL approached the Council in its capacity as landlord of the airport. BHAL, as the tenant, needs the Council's permission to change operating hours which are set out in the lease and operating schedules.

Following discussion of the revised BHAL proposal at Executive in June, the Council began consulting local residents and groups. The revised proposal was circulated widely, with details being sent either by e-mail or post to all the groups and individuals on the Biggin Hill consultation register. Details of the application were also published on the Council's website and in the local media. A total number of 1741 responses were received with 690 (40%) responses supporting the BHAL proposal and with 1046 (60%) responses against it.

The revised BHAL proposal included:

Easing the current restrictions applied to the shoulder opening hours which permit morning departures and evening arrivals for based aircraft on weekdays to allow arrivals from 0630 in the mornings and departures until 2200 in the evening. The number of movements between 0630 and 0700 would be restricted to a maximum of 3. This would make the proposed weekday operating hours 06.30 to 22.00 hours, changed from the existing 07.30 to 21.00 hours (excluding the shoulder hours for planes normally based at the airport).
 
The proposed weekend and bank holiday operating hours would be from 08.00 to 21.00 hours on Saturdays and 08.00 to 22.00 hours on Sundays and bank holidays, changed from the existing 09.00 to 20.00 hours. This would mean an extra hour in the mornings on all days, and one extra hour on Saturday evenings, two on Sunday and the August bank holiday evenings.

BHAL's proposals would operate from Friday 13 July to 19 August and from 28 August to 12 September, which encompasses both the Olympics and Paralympics. The volume of flights proposed would be within the existing limit in the lease.

Biggin Hill Airport is let to Biggin Hill Airport Limited (BHAL) for 125 years by a lease dated 6 May 1994. The use permitted by the lease is restricted to specific aviation uses including, in particular, business aviation. While hired air taxis do fall within that use, flights for the use of fare paying passengers are not permitted. The hours of operation of the airport are also restricted by the lease.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Denver International Airport using new equipment for airspace makeover.

DENVER -- Denver International Airport's aviation manager says the airport is one of a handful in the country beginning to work with technology to switch from a radar-based system of tracking planes to a more precise satellite system.

Kim Day told Colorado lawmakers in a briefing Tuesday that the new system will allow airplanes to safely fly closer together and increase traffic capacity.

Day says the new satellite system is part of a plan by the Federal Aviation Administration that is as much as 20 years away from full implementation. Part of the so-called airspace redesign will also rely on airplanes getting new computers installed to make landings easier.

Day says other airports starting to test the new technology include Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Hamilton Sundstrand to Make Parts for New Military Plane

Hamilton Sundstrand has put years of work have gone into making parts for a next generation military plane. The F-35 will soon be part of the Air Force, Navy, and Marines.


ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Some workers at Hamilton Sundstrand have their work cut out for them.

Years of work have gone into making parts for a next generation military plane. The F-35 will soon be part of the Air Force, Navy, and Marines.
Click here to find out more!

Lockheed-Martin buys parts from Hamilton Sundstrand for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. They were visiting Rockford today showing what the plane can do using a flight simulator. The trip is to build even more support for the program from employers, taxpayers and congressmen.

Rep. Robert Schilling said, "It's expensive to have our freedoms and protect the U.S. so the big thing is that we have to appropriately spend money and I think something like this is putting us at the top. [This is] who we are and what we are about."

Hamilton Sundstrand manufactures electrical control systems--pumps and a variety of other parts for the plane. About 50 other suppliers in Illinois also make parts for the F-35.


Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Ontario: Aerotropolis experiencing turbulence. Airport plans appeal pushed to 2012.

The earliest date that an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing will be held to determine the future of the airport employment growth district (AEGD) is March 2012.

But before that happens, the city and two appellants agreed August 8 during an OMB pre-hearing at the downtown McMaster University Learning Centre to argue in October whether the planning approvals were valid to create the so-called aerotropolis.

Environment Hamilton and Flamborough resident Victor Veri appealed council’s October 2010 decision to approve the 830-hectare airport employment land’s secondary plan, arguing the entire process was flawed.

Veri said planning approvals were given, such as new parking restrictions, that will have an impact on the entire city of Hamilton and the public wasn’t aware of those changes.

Both are asking the Official Plan amendment and rezoning applications be dismissed for the development.

Solicitor Nancy Smith, who is representing the city at the OMB, said the appeals are beyond the jurisdiction of the government body.

“It’s going to the legality of the bylaw,” she said. “The board has no authority.”

OMB chair Jason Chee-Hing agreed to hear the legal issue on October 28.

Chee-Hing also agreed he will hear a settlement motion December 2 by the city, and possibly by some of the 16 parties that have appealed the aerotropolis decision.

Guy Paparella, director of airport and industrial land development said there is a possibility up to half of the parties could agreed to a settlement with the city. So far, he said three parties have approved of tentative settlements.

Paparella said Environment Hamilton, and Hamiltonians for Progressive Development, another opponent of the development, are not expected to agree to a settlement.

“The board encourages you to look at on-going discussions,” said Chee-Hing.

Another pre-hearing has been scheduled for December 9 at 10:30 a.m. to draft procedural orders, and to formalize an issues list. Smith said a proposed hearing could start in March next year.

“It depends upon how the matters are dealt with,” she said.

Other parties that agreed to take part in the OMB proceedings, included Craig Smith, a landowner on Smith Road, Dr. John Bacher, a researcher for the St. Catharines-based Preservation Agricultural Lands Society, Ancaster Christian Reformed Church, and the Living Ward Christian Fellowship.

The majority of the appellants are local property owners with specific objections to the planning regulations contained in the AEGD, city officials say.

City officials argue that by 2031, the AEGD will create 24,300 direct jobs, and 11,500 spin-off jobs, while creating $66 million in net tax revenue annually.

The infrastructure needed for the development, including sewers and roads, will cost about $353 million, with about $227 million identified for roads. Developers are expected to pay $114 million of the cost. Opponents of the project argue the true cost for the infrastructure is about $1 billion if you include the needed sewer and road improvements along Centennial Parkway.

The AEGD is identified as being bounded by Upper James to the east, Fiddler’s Green Road to the west, Garner Road to the north and Whitechurch Road to the south. The development will include prestige business, commercial and some industrial.

Councillors last fall approved in a 13-2 vote the planning recommendations after nearly six years of contentious debate.

Mayor Bob Bratina voted against the recommendation, arguing the politicians were approving a risky proposition.

“There is no absolutely no reason to take this decision today,” he said. “It is a wrongheaded move in so many ways. It’s a huge gamble.


The city’s proposed aerotropolis is still hovering on the edge of a full-blown Ontario Municipal Board hearing.

A pre-hearing was held Monday over the controversial plan to transform about 700 hectares of farmland near the Hamilton airport into an industrial and commercial business park.

The plan, approved by council last fall, is being appealed by 16 community groups, landowners and developers at the OMB.

Guy Paparella, the city’s project boss, said a potential settlement hearing is scheduled for Aug. 30.

It is possible some parties, although probably not all, will reach an agreement with the city to drop their appeals at that hearing, he said.

Additional pre-hearings are scheduled for Sept. 30, Dec. 2 and 9.

A full OMB hearing, if required, likely won’t happen before March, Paparella said.

Some of the parties appealing the so-called aerotropolis want the city to allow more residential land use around the airport.

Other appellants, like Environment Hamilton, argue the city is ignoring its own land-use policies, and those of the province, by giving valuable farmland to manufacturers that could set up shop within the city’s existing urban boundaries.

The Hamilton Spectator

Source:  http://www.thespec.com

Comments
* Weigh In
* Corrections?

Air Canada to hire hundreds for new discount airline.

Air Canada plans to hire hundreds of flight attendants at a lower wage scale to help create a discount leisure airline, saying the new division must be competitive against tour operators.

The Montreal-based carrier’s proposals are contained in a letter of understanding signed with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents 6,800 flight attendants at the “mainline,” Air Canada’s existing operations.

Flight attendants at the low-cost carrier would start at $22.99 an hour, according to the letter, which is attached to a 53-page tentative labour agreement reached on Aug. 1. CUPE leaders began providing details of the document to its members this week during union meetings in Toronto and Montreal.

It would take four years for new hires at the discount division to attain the highest wage level, listed at $36.03 an hour.

By contrast, Air Canada flight attendants started at $22.99 a hour in 2008, or the monthly equivalent of about $1,494 based on a formula for 65 hours of paid working time, the union said. On that mainline pay grid, the wage is $36.03 an hour after four years.

The top rate at the mainline is higher – $48.27 an hour after completing nine years of service under the now-expired labour contract, or the monthly equivalent of about $3,137. (Unionized service directors in charge of flight attendants are paid a premium.)

CUPE’s bargaining committee, which will also hold meetings this week in Calgary and Vancouver, is unanimously recommending acceptance of the five-year agreement and hopes to assuage concerns from some flight attendants about job security at the mainline.

“We feel that we did the very best job possible in preserving important benefits and working conditions,” the committee said in a four-page newsletter. Management’s plan to place new hires on defined-contribution pensions will go to arbitration.

Under the tentative pact, which would be retroactive to April 1, Air Canada flight attendants would receive wage hikes of 2 per cent in each of the first three years, and 3 per cent in each of the final two years.

The letter of understanding confirms Air Canada’s view that the launch of a low-cost carrier (LCC) is crucial to win a share of the leisure markets in North America and overseas, but stresses that “mainline cabin personnel shall not be forced to transfer to the LCC.”

The letter also says: “The mandate of the LCC will be limited to the market segment seeking low-cost air travel. The LCC is not intended to replace mainline routes the company considers to be financially viable.”

Air Canada recognizes “the union as the sole bargaining agent for all cabin personnel assigned to the LCC,” the letter adds.

The letter says that the budget airline needs flexible work rules to compete against tour operators, noting that “the working conditions applicable to cabin personnel assigned to the LCC shall be similar to those in place” at rivals. Competitors include Transat A.T. Inc., Sunwing Travel Group and WestJet Airlines Ltd.

Air Canada still needs to win approval for the discount division from the Air Canada Pilots Association, whose members rejected a tentative contract in May that would have established a lower wage scale for pilots at the budget carrier.

About 460 pilot jobs could be created at Air Canada’s low-cost division by 2015, plus new employment for up to 1,400 flight attendants, according to the carrier’s internal analysis.

Air Canada has experimented with discount carriers in the past, notably the Zip Air Inc. fleet. In 2004, just two years after its startup, Air Canada closed Zip, which had 12 Boeing 737s for short- and medium-haul domestic routes.

Stephen Smith, former chief executive officer at Zip, said in an interview Tuesday that Zip hired nearly 200 flight attendants – all from outside Air Canada. Zip attracted 100 pilots who transferred from the mainline because they were drawn by the prospect of more flying hours on the 737s, he said.


Comments

* Weigh In
* Corrections?