Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Reject Terms of Dispute Enquiry.

The Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association has rejected the terms of reference of a proposed Board of Enquiry that is to look into its wage dispute with the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA).

The Association and the JCAA are at odds over alleged overtime payments to air traffic controllers more than two years ago.

At a meeting last week with Transport Minister, Mike Henry, the parties agreed to go to mediation to resolve the impasse.

It was proposed that a Board of Enquiry be set up to review the matter and make a final decision on the 40 hour work week and overtime schedule implemented by the Authority.

However, in a letter to the transport minister today, the air traffic controllers expressed objection to the terms of the enquiry.

Association president, Kurt Solomon, said the controllers are insisting that they are designated fixed annually paid workers and not hourly paid as outlined in the terms of reference.

Solomon said based on legal advice to the Association it has taken a decision not to sign-off on the terms and he says the air traffic controllers will not take part in the enquiry until they are adjusted.

The air traffic controllers and Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority have been at loggerheads over the overpayment of $55 million to workers.

Taiwanese jumbo caused Jet turbulence

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has identified a jumbo jet of Taiwanese carrier Eva Airline as the aircraft that caused turbulence on a Jet Airways flight when they crossed paths on July 21.

Replying to a query in Parliament on Thursday, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi said the jumbo plane that passed by the Jet Airways flight was identified as a B744-747 aircraft. The jumbo, flight EVA 6079, belonging to a Taiwanese carrier, Eva Airline, was flying 1,000 feet above the Jet Airways Delhi-Guwahati flight in the opposite direction.

“Both the aircraft were flying in RVSM airspace and there was no breach of separation,” Ravi told the Rajya Sabha in reply to a query by Ishwar Singh.

RVSM refers to the reduction of the vertical separation between two flying aircraft, which is mandated at 1,000 feet.

The DGCA, the air safety regulator, said it was not an incident but an ‘occurrence’.
“All operations were normal. There was no injury to any passenger or crew,” Ravi said, and added that the Jet aircraft, carrying 134 passengers, experienced a “moderate wake turbulence”.

Wake turbulence is the disturbance caused by a bigger plane flying nearby a smaller plane.

The “occurrence”, the minister explained, was investigated by an Inspector of Accident appointed by the DGCA.

SkyWest Airlines to cut 170 Utah jobs. Salt Lake City International Airport (KSLC), Salt Lake City, Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — The economy has claimed more Utah jobs as SkyWest Airlines announced Thursday it will cut 170 positions from its Salt Lake workforce.

The reductions will come from the ground handling crew at Salt Lake International Airport, said corporate communications manager Marissa Snow. The layoffs are a result of service reductions on several of the daily flights operated in conjunction with Delta Connection.

She said the cuts would be effective late next month and would affect baggage handlers and ticket agents who are SkyWest employees that serve Delta Connection flights.

"The Delta Connection schedules from Salt Lake will be seeing capacity reductions. As a result, we'll be initiating a reduction in force," Snow explained. "It's an economic decision based on (reduced passenger) demand (and) the volatile price of fuel."

Headquartered in St. George, SkyWest employs approximately 11,000 workers in more than 160 locations nationwide, including about 3,000 personnel in Utah.

SkyWest operates more than 500 Delta Connection flights from Salt Lake City.

A spokesman for Delta Airlines said the Atlanta-based carrier typically reduces capacity every fall in response to decreased demand during the autumn travel season. But this year, the high price of fuel has prompted an even steeper schedule reduction than normal.

"Energy costs are up significantly," said spokesman Trebor Banstetter. "And for airlines, the price of jet fuel has skyrocketed this year."

The airline will cut its worldwide flight schedule by about 12 percent this fall to mitigate rising operating costs, he said, adding that increased expenses are really the main focus of this decision.

"We can fly a lot more efficiently … and still serve our passengers in way that helps us compensate somewhat for this big increase in fuel prices," he said.

WFTV-9 Investigates: Sanford Jet Rental Company. Orlando Sanford International Airport (KSFB),Orlando, Florida. (With Video)

Watch Video:

SANFORD, Fla. -- 9 Investigates a jet rental company in Sanford whose rent is thousands of dollars overdue at the Orlando-Sanford International Airport. Investigative reporter George Spencer asked why the airport did not have plans to collect.

A 1999 Sunjet plane crash in a South Dakota field killed golfer Payne Stewart and thrust the jet's owner, Sanford airport-based James Watkins Jr., into a harsh spotlight. However, his company was not found responsible.

Sunjet eventually shut down at the Sanford airport, but Watkins opened two new companies: Avion Jet Center and Southern Jet Center at the airport.

WFTV uncovered new issues. Records show Watkins' companies leased hangar space and are nearly $200,000 behind in rent. That is about nine months worth of payments.

Airport leaders admitted that until now, there were no plans for collecting that money.

"We believe it pays to work with that tenant. But at some point, you may be exactly right. We'll come to the point of no return," said Geoffrey Longstaff of the Sanford Airport Authority.

Property records show Watkins' father, James Watkins Sr., bought a home from Sanford airport President Larry Dale in 2000.

Also, in just the last year, the airport vice president said Dale has used the jet company where Watkins Sr. now works, for more than $6,000 of travel.

WFTV reporter George Spencer tried to ask Dale if the relationship played into the decision to not collect rent, but he replied, "I'm not going to comment on any of that, George."

Even Sanford's mayor appears concerned about the back rent issue. WFTV found emails from Mayor Triplett requesting a full copy of the airport's balance sheet.

The only other business significantly behind on rent is Millwork International. It owes about $100,000, and its owner said that it is because of slow sales in the bad economy.

Watkins Sr. said his son's rent was too high. However, airport board members said the rent leniency was simply good business, because no one else was asking to rent the space.

After WFTV raised the issue, it got an email from airport leaders saying they are now working to resolve the back rent issue and said that some unpaid rent was covered by a company that took over Watkins' space.

Watkins Jr. could not be reached for comment.

Watch Video:

CANADA: Dundas cadet earns his glider’s wings - Air Cadet Glider Pilot Scholarship

GEERKENS, Robin Sgt C-GTGB Sergeant Robin Geerkens (right) receives congratulations and his first solo certificate from 2nd Lieuttenant Chris Smuck, commemorating a successful first solo flight in his glider.
The Spectator

Robin Geerkens is about to be handed his wings.

The young Dundas cadet is among more than 50 cadets from across Ontario graduating Friday from the Air Cadet Glider Pilot Scholarship course.

“It means everything because that’s the ceremony where I officially get my wings,” said Geerkens, 16. “I’ll put that on my uniform, and that shows that I’m a glider pilot.”

During the graduation ceremony, cadets who completed the intensive, six-week aviation course will be awarded a cloth wing to display on their uniform.

Sergeant Geerkens applied for an Air Cadet League of Canada flying scholarship last winter. Eighty-six recipients were accepted from more than 180 applicants in Ontario.

“They are a bunch of dedicated young people,” said Captain Gerald A. Joanisse, public affairs officer for the central region gliding school. “They do a lot of hard work and spend a lot of time studying the material because they also have to pass the Transport Canada written exam.”

On July 27, Geerkens aced his first solo flight, in the school’s Schweizer 2-33 Glider: “My first solo flight was great, the feeling was indescribable — you are alone in a plane, there is no one behind you telling you what to do. You are the only one who can control it. I was definitely a little scared.”

After graduation, Geerkens plans to keep flying on weekends. There are gliding centres in St. Catharines and Welland where he can work toward his 10 hours of pilot and command time.

Once he has accumulated those hours, he can take passengers in the glider.

And he will be able to take other cadets on a familiarization flight to get a sense of what it’s like, as he did at age 12.

When he’s airborne, Geerkens’ flights last between 8 and 14 minutes, depending on how high he goes.

And he does plan to go higher. Next year, Geerkens intends to apply for the Power Scholarship Course to get his pilot licence for powered aircraft. That’s also a six-week program.

Someday, he wants to be a professional pilot.

“Flying any plane would be great; a fighter plane would be an awesome opportunity.”

CANADA: Committee aims to land Alberta service. Penticton Regional Airport

Passengers disembark from an Air Canada Jazz de Havilland aircraft at Penticton Regional Airport. A new city committee is hoping to convince the airline to resume service to Alberta.

A revamped city committee to put Penticton Regional Airport on the map for more travellers is up and running.

The 12-member group chaired by Judy Poole has put together a comprehensive survey and they hope to deliver the results to Air Canada executives as soon as next month.

“It’s just all about numbers to them (Air Canada) and we’re going to try and give them some sense of what we’re doing here and why we need these flights,” said Poole, who also chaired the previous committee. “Our thing is first and foremost to get people coming in and out of the airport; get some flights that we need to Calgary and Edmonton.”

The main objective of the survey is to find out who is flying out of Penticton and who is flying out of Kelowna and why.

“What we want to say to Air Canada is there’s a whole bunch of people using the airport in Kelowna and they’re not flying with you, and if we can bring them back here they will fly with you,” said the committee chair.

“I think what they care about is making money, and if we can show them that what we’re asking them to do will be profitable, I think we may get somewhere with it.

“When we talked to Air Canada before it’s been from the Penticton perspective, but there’s a heck of a lot growth in the rest of the South Okanagan.”

In particular she pointed to residential and other developments in Oliver and Osoyoos which bring in many people from Alberta on a regular basis.

Poole also believes by narrowing the committee’s focus it will be much more effective in accomplishing its objectives.

“We have really only two goals and that is to increase utilization of the airport — so market it to travellers — and increase flights in and out of the airport with the specific goal of trying to get flights to the east, either Calgary or Edmonton or both, that’s it,” she said. “This is not a committee that’s just going to sit around and talk about what they’re going to do; we’re going to do it.”

The current survey targets the business and industrial sectors of the communities but not the travelling public at this stage.

Air Canada at one time did offer service from Penticton to Alberta but suspended it due to low passenger volume in 2004.

Since then two other carriers, QuikAir and more recently Pacific Coastal, tried unsuccessfully to make a go of the route.

According to Poole, due to the current economic climate the committee feels it will have a much better chance of convincing Air Canada to resume flights east than attracting a new company.

“The first step is to talk to the guys that are already here, that’s certainly the simplest approach to give them first kick at the cat,” she said. “Given the world economies and the credit crunch, it would be difficult (to find another airline) but we will do whatever has to be done.”

The committee is scheduled to meet again Monday.

RAW VIDEO: Two Marine Corps aviators rescued off San Diego coast. U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry G. Dunphy.

by USCG Imagery on Aug 11, 2011

Aircrew members from Coast Guard Sector San Diego transfer survivors of a Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet crash from an MH-60 Jayahwk helicopter to emergency medical personnel at Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego, Aug. 11, 2011. Coast Guard and Navy rescue crews worked together to locate and rescue both men who were aboard the jet. U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry G. Dunphy.

Kings Hill cleared of jet noise. Australia.

After studying new noise maps, Port Stephens Council planners now expect to clear more than 3,000 homes of noise impacts from the Joint Strike Fighter jets.

Mayor Bob Westbury says planners have been closely examining the maps since they were released on Wednesday, to help them prepare a new development control plan for Port Stephens.

Councillor Westbury says the outcome is much better than council had hoped for and will now give developers the confidence to invest.

"It's shown that the new ANEF [Australian Noise Exposure Forecast] maps for 2025 will probably clear about 3,000 homes from noise affectedness that's not livable," he said.

"It's gone from 4,800 down to about 1,400.

"Our guys putting together a DCP [development control plan] for the area can now say this is the area that you can't build in, this is the area you attenuate in and this is the area that's okay."

Meanwhile, Cr Westbury says council planners now believe the Kings Hill housing project near Raymond Terrace will not be affected by noise from the new jets.

Late last year, the New South Wales Government approved the rezoning of land for 3,000 home sites but there has been uncertainty about how much of the land would be affected.

It was also unclear how many homes would need sound proofing.

Cr Westbury says the new maps have cleared the project of significant aircraft impacts.

"The RAAF have never said they wouldn't need some attenuation up there, well now they're saying 99 per cent of it will be clear of aircraft noise for noise attenuation," he said.

"It doesn't mean they won't fly near there but it won't requite that and we should be able to issue a certificate that says it is clear from noise effects."

OAS Helicopters: crashed chopper in top form. Osun State, Nigeria.

OAS Helicopters, owner of the ill-fated chopper which crashed in Osun State on July 29, yesterday spoke on the incident.

The chairman of Josepdam Group of Companies, Mrs. Josephine Kuteyi; her personal assistant, Adedoyin Okubanjo; and the pilot, Arnold Catameo died in the crash.

In its first official statement, OAS Helicopters said the late Mrs. Kuteyi, who was a director in the company, was very familiar with the chopper and had flown it over 200 times.

The Managing Director, OAS Helicopters, Evarest Nnaji, said the late Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Pastor used to fly the helicopter with registration number 5N BKA to her farm in Bacita, Kwara State.

Nnaji said: “The whole thing is a shock. As a matter of fact, one of our backbones is gone. I am actually devastated. The amiable late Pastor Kuteyi was not just an ordinary passenger, but a VIP passenger.

“She was one of our directors here in OAS Helicopters and had a reasonable degree of helicopter flight experience, as she had been flown well over 200 times in the same flight configuration in the past five years.”

The late Mrs. Kuteyi’s body was buried on August 3 at her country home in Ondo town, Ondo State, while the late Mrs. Okubanjo was laid to rest on August 5 at the Victoria Court Cemetery on Epe Express Road, Lagos.

Nnaji said: “The Philippines community in Lagos had a wake keep/mass for the late pilot, Capt. Catameo, on August 6. We are currently working with the Embassy of the Philippines on getting his remains to his family in Philippines.

“Our wholehearted sympathy goes to the bereaved families of the three victims. May their gentle souls rest in peace.”

He said the crash site was located with the help of a major mobile network provider, MTN Nigeria, which traced the deceased through their phone sims, and the concerted effort of various agencies, groups and individuals.

The MD said: “I must sincerely commend the effort and assistance rendered by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA); Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA); Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); Osun State Government; the Fire Service; the Nigeria Police Force; MTN Nigeria; traditional rulers and the good people of Ikonifin village, the crash site, during the search and rescue operations.”

He said there was no doubt about the flight worthiness of the helicopter, which he said was manufactured in 2005, fitted with Mode 406 Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) and obtained air worthiness certificate less than two months before the crash.

Nnaji said: “The Nigeria aviation industry is highly regulated. As such, no commercial helicopter operator will be allowed to operate in the airspace with an aircraft that is not serviceable or certified flight worthy by the regulatory authorities.

“OAS Helicopters has a sound maintenance culture with experienced engineers (local and expatriate), who are type-rated on the aircraft in the company’s fleet.

“You may wish to note that the crashed aircraft just completed a periodic inspection.”

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) is investigating the crash.

“We’re confident they will come up with a probable cause of the accident, so that the industry can learn from it and subsequently enhance safety in general aviation, both in Nigeria and the world at large,” Nnaji added.

Confirming earlier reports, he said: “The crashed aircraft actually took off from our Maryland Heliport to Ilorin with a full tank of Jet-A1 fuel. “The aircraft fuel endurance is three hours and 10 minutes, but the flight time from Lagos (Maryland) to Ilorin Airport is about 1 hour 10 minutes. “As part of OAS safety policy, the late Pilot had enough money to buy fuel at Ilorin Airport, just in case the VIP decided to fly to some other locations.”

Nnaji said the pilot was highly experienced, had flown in the Philippines Military and had his Civil Aviation certification with over 5000 flying hours to his license on helicopters before joining OAS Helicopters.

“Catameo had the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ (CAAP) licenses,” he added.


Air India's plight is the result of political interference and mismanagement


The sorry plight of state-owned carrier Air India is a telling commentary on how a combination of political interference and mismanagement can run the best of public sector companies to seed. To be sure, it been a while since anyone perceived AI as anywhere near the best of state-owned companies. But that is only because a succession of ministers and chairmen tried to run it as a departmental undertaking instead of allowing it to be run professionally at arm's length distance from its parent ministry.

An ill-advised merger with the domestic carrier, Indian Airlines, delayed and bunched up purchase of new planes and rising oil prices (fuel typically accounts for around 30-40% of airline costs) have not helped matters. As a result, its financial position has steadily worsened. As of March 31 this year, the airline had accumulated losses of 22,000 crore and debt of 42,570 crore and needs an immediate equity infusion of 6,600 to stay airborne.

In all, AI has sought equity support of 42,920 crore, against which the government has agreed to a bailout package of 1,200 crore. Admittedly, the airline industry in India (as also the world) is not exactly in the pink of health. Both Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways are also in loss. While Kingfisher Airlines has not made a profit since inception in 2005, Jet Airways made a loss on a consolidated basis in each of the last four years. Low-cost carriers, however, seem to be faring better with SpiceJet (the only listed airline in this category) making profits in the last two years after incurring losses in the previous three.

The blame game for the present mess in AI is unlikely to end soon. Cosmetic changes like replacing the present chairman (presumably with another bureaucrat!) and yet another debt restructuring package will not help. The problems are too deep-rooted. In the circumstances, rather than throw good money after bad and infuse more money into AI, the best thing would be to sell the airline. Air India will find a buyer as it has assets to put on the table. There is no great sanctity about having flag carriers. Many countries have sold off their flag carriers. We could do no worse.


Fighter jet pilots training in Savannah, Georgia.

The tarmac rumbled as the dark grey, twin-engine fighter jet soared upward only meters above.

Within seconds the F-15E Striker Eagle disappeared into Savannah’s cloudless blue sky.

Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff O’Donnell grinned as a second F-15E roared off the runway Thursday morning at the Georgia Air National Guard’s Combat Readiness Training Center.

“Loud enough for you?” asked O’Donnell, the commander of the 333rd Fighter Squadron, an F-15E pilot training unit based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

More than 20 pilots from O’Donnell’s unit and about 200 additional airmen from the 4th Fighter Wing deployed to the training center this week to conduct a final training mission.

“For these students, over the last eight months they’ve been learning to fly the F-15E,” O’Donnell said. “This is the end of the program.

“When we’re finished here we’ll send them back to Seymour Johnson and they will graduate from this course.”

Before the deployment to Savannah, the pilots each had about 70 hours of training in the F-15E. Within six months they could be deploying to fly it in Afghanistan.

That’s why having the final test in a deployment-like situation is especially useful, said 1st Lt. Adam Thompson, a student-pilot in the unit.

“The main purpose of this is to get a taste for a deployment — it’s like a small-scale deployment, with the (aircraft) maintainers and everyone out here,” Thompson said. “We can get a feel for what that’s like before we actually go downrange.”

The 10 planes — each equipped with a pilot and a weapons system officer — headed Thursday morning toward the Pinecastle Bombing Range in the Ocala National Forest where the flight crews would drop their first laser-guided bombs.

“It’s a big deal,” Thompson said. “We’ve done a lot of simulated training for it, but this is the real thing — it’s a big day for us.”

Although the missiles dropped Thursday were not live, they gave the pilots and weapons systems officers the feel for striking their targets, O’Donnell said.

The formation also had to deal with a number of contingencies, including simulated combat and systems failures over the course of the two-hour flight, the lieutenant colonel said.

For the pilots, the trip to Savannah is especially exciting, Thompson said, because it’s the first time they are using all of the skills they’ve been learning in one flight.

“It’s a great culmination of everything we’ve learned so far,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for us, a new challenge in a new location. We can learn a lot.”

Asked what it’s like flying an F-15E, Thompson hesitated before answering.

“It’s fast,” he said. “You don’t really have time to think about it.

“Before doing it I thought, ‘Oh that looks like so much fun,’ but when you’re up there you’re so busy the whole time that you don’t really think about it while you’re doing it. On the ground, though, you can sit there and say, ‘Yeah, that’s cool. That’s really fun.’”

Fighter jet training will increase air traffic

People throughout the Coastal Empire can expect to hear increased flight traffic the next two weeks.

The 333rd Fighter Squadron, an F-15E training squadron based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., is currently training in the area.

Most of their flying will be performed along the southeast Georgia and northeast Florida coast and out over the Atlantic Ocean.

The unit’s commander, Lt. Col. Jeff O’Donnell, said the F-15Es are louder than most of the military aircraft commonly present in the area.

“They’re a little louder than the (F/A-18) jets the Marines fly (out of Marine Cops Air Station Beaufort) around here,” O’Donnell said. “And that is mostly because we’re flying 10 planes all together instead of two or three.”

Continued upgrades at the Stawell Airport. Australia.

Grant Harrison from Aero Restorations, with the Chinese Nanchang training aircraft he has commenced modifying for a client.

Restoration projects such as this Ayres agricultural aeroplane have led to Grant Harrison expanding his busiuness operations at Aero Restorations, based at the Stawell Airport.

Stawell - Continued upgrades at the Stawell Airport have led to an increase in growth opportunities for business owner Grant Harrison.

Mr Harrison, who operates his business Aero Restorations from the aerodrome, has been busy restoring damaged aircraft and modifying other aircraft, which has been keeping him on site seven days a week.

However, he's the last to complain about the busy workload and expects business to continue growing once the airport restoration is complete.

"Business is growing out here. AG Airworks are expanding and I'm looking forward to when the development out here is fully complete, as it will enhance opportunities and allow both our businesses to expand even more," he said.

"We should start to see more planes utilising the airport once the development is complete and a lot of larger planes will be able to fly into Stawell."

Mr Harrison has already started increasing his staff, with an employee joining the company from South Australia and moving his family to Stawell. The plan is to increase employment even further in the near future.

Mr Harrison has just completed restoring an Ayres S2R agricultural aeroplane that had crashed on the Cayman Islands. The plane landed awkwardly while being used by the Cayman Islands government for spraying mosquitos. The wings were bent, the legs were torn completely off, the fuselage had to be stripped and repaired and the entire plane repainted.

The plane will now go to Horsham to be used for spreading Urea on crops.

With work on the agricultural plane complete, Mr Harrison has now turned his attention to modifying a 1984 Nanchang Chinese trainer aircraft that was sent to him by the owner from Melbourne. The owner actually purchased the plane in South Australia and tracked Mr Harrison down to complete the modifications, after hearing of his 25 years experience working on radial engines.

The Nanchang aircraft will be stripped completely, be strengthened all over and be given an engine upgrade. It will be made more aerobatic as well.


Government pays for empty flights to rural airports

Original article:

On some days, the pilots with Great Lakes Airlines fire up a twin-engine Beechcraft 1900 at the Ely, Nev., airport and depart for Las Vegas without a single passenger on board. And the federal government pays them to do it.

Federal statistics reviewed by The Associated Press show that in 2010, just 227 passengers flew out of Ely while the airline got $1.8 million in subsidies. The travelers paid $70 to $90 for a one-way ticket. The cost to taxpayers for each ticket: $4,107.

Ely is one of 153 rural communities where airlines get subsidies through the $200 million Essential Air Service program, and one of 13 that critics say should be eliminated from it. Some call the spending a boondoggle, but others see it as a critical financial lifeline to ensure economic stability in rural areas.

Steve Smith, executive director of the Jackson, Tenn., airport authority, also has seen empty or near empty flights take off, since the airlines get paid per flight, not per passenger. The subsidy amounted to $244 for each of the 2,514 people who flew out of Smith's airport last year, though few if any passengers knew that.

"They fly the empty plane so they can still get the money," Smith said.

The fight over the subsidies was a key sticking point that led to the recent political standoff in Washington that temporarily shut down the Federal Aviation Administration, putting thousands out of work for nearly two weeks. There were other disputes as well, such as a GOP proposal that would make it more difficult for airline workers to unionize.

Republicans got the EAS cuts they were looking for in last week's agreement — but with a major caveat. Subsidies to Ely, Jackson and 11 other communities are set to end, but Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has the authority to continue them if he decides it's necessary.

Rep. David McKinley, a Republican who came into office with tea party support, sided on the issue with Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a fellow West Virginian who has used his position as chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to support the current funding.

Flights out of Morgantown, W.Va., were among those targeted by other Republicans. A $1 million subsidy amounted to about $52 for each of Morgantown's more than 10,000 passengers last year.

McKinley describes himself "as a small government, free-market focused owner of a small business," but said airports that receive subsidies "serve as crucial engines of job creation for many small towns and rural areas."

The EAS was created to ensure service on less profitable routes to remote communities when airlines were deregulated in 1978.

A spokesman for the Department of Transportation did not respond to a request for comment about the program, which has grown in scope and cost. In 1999 the EAS served 89 communities — 68 in the continental United States, one in Hawaii and 20 in Alaska. Today, it serves 45 in Alaska and 108 elsewhere, and over the last 10 years the budget quadrupled from $50 million to $200 million.

The subsidies go to about a dozen airlines, but in 2010 almost one-third of the entire budget — $67.8 million —went to Great Lakes, which is based in Cheyenne, Wyo. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Ely is an extreme case. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said it is one of just three cities in the program that have subsidies higher than $1,000 per passenger. The others are Glendive, Mont., and Alamogordo, N.M.

Republicans targeted flights out of other cities such as Morgantown because they are relatively close to major airports.

Mike Coster, Ely's airport manager, said the location between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City is the most remote airport in the continental United States.

"We have no bus service here of any kind, no Greyhound or similar company," Coster said. "It's a small town."

Severin Borenstein, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who helped design the EAS program, said Congress originally intended for the program to end after 10 years. He said the subsidies are a "big problem" in place like Ely, which averages one or two passengers per flight.

"I can see the argument for making some of them permanent, but the standards should be higher," Borenstein said.

"The real story with this program nationwide is that nobody is watching it," said Smith, the Tennessee airport official. "If there is a problem with airports and airlines not carrying enough passengers and not doing what they said they would do, it's because once the contract is issued, it's like nobody ever asked a question about it again."

Contracts are awarded through a competitive bid process, and generally last two years.

The program has plenty of defenders who point out the cost is tiny compared with other transportation subsidies.

According to a 2009 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, highways got 76 percent of subsidies, mass transit 16 percent, aviation 6 percent and rail and maritime 3 percent. Pew estimates that transportation subsidies in 2008 came to about $45 billion, or $367 for every household in America.

Faye Malarkey Black, a vice president for the Regional Airline Association, said she believes few federal programs accomplish as much for $200 million as EAS does.

"They call it essential for a reason," she said. She said her industry group supports "common sense adjustments" for eligibility, but added that rural communities already struggle to attract and keep doctors and other professionals.

"If you take away air service, who wants to live in those communities?" she said.

Chadd Williams, a computer science professor at Pacific University, was flying back to Oregon from Morgantown after visiting family. He said a ticket to Morgantown typically costs him $75 to $100 more than one to Pittsburgh, about 75 miles away, but this time it cost about the same.

"It's very convenient to have this place," Williams said. He said his family sometimes drives to Pittsburgh, to pick him up, but "that's a stress on them, and it's difficult to get up to Pittsburgh on time with all the road construction. So it would be terrible to have this go away."

Flower shop owner Jim Coombs has been to the Morgantown airport seven times so far this summer to shuttle high school foreign exchange students to their host families. He'll be there seven more times to send them home.

The nearest international airport is about an hour and a half's drive north in Pittsburgh, but traveling there means time wasted in traffic and in Interstate 79 construction zones, not to mention the cost of gas and pricey parking versus free. Coombs says the fact that the northern West Virginia city has its own airport is a selling point for people considering jobs there.

"I think the people in Washington are the types that just think if it's not in a big area, it's not worth anything. They don't know what it's like here. They don't know what goes on here," Coombs said.

In Alamogordo, officials said number-crunching doesn't explain the full value of access to air transportation.

Saddled between southern New Mexico's Sacramento Mountains and the desolate Tularosa Valley, residents don't have any options for air travel other than twice daily, federally subsidized round-trip flights, said airport manager Parker Bradley.

"It doesn't have to do with airports closing. It has to do with the availability or lack of availability of transportation. That can be a very important thing for a community," he said.

Begos reported from Pittsburgh and Sainz reported from Jackson, Tenn. AP reporters Joan Lowy in Washington, Vicki Smith in Morgantown, W. Va., Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, N.Y., Cristina Silva in Las Vegas, Matt Gouras in Helena, Mont., and Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, N.M., contributed to this story.

Original article:

Indian Air Force to go in for sophisticated radar to tackle bird hit menace

NEW DELHI: IAF is going in for a new kind of sophisticated radar but it will not be used to monitor Pakistani fighters or Chinese missiles. Instead, it will locate, track and monitor birds.

With bird hits causing 9% of the over 1,000 aircraft crashes recorded by IAF since 1970, plans are afoot to equip 41 airbases with "avian radars'' over the next couple of years.

Compared to the other reasons for crashes, mainly technical defects (39.5%) and human errors (39%) due to aging aircraft and inadequate pilot training, the risk from birds may be relatively small but it's still a crucial flight safety concern.

Avian radars will ensure data on birds like height, number, collision course and the like is streamed to aircraft in real-time for necessary evasive action. "Military aviation, with its intricate combat manoeuvres, is inherently dangerous. Pilots have to manage many risks at the same time while flying. Even a sparrow can cause a mighty fighter to crash. Avian radars will go a long way in bird strike mitigation,'' said a senior officer.

Avian radars are not all. IAF also has an "ornithology cell'' at the directorate of aerospace safety and conducts regular bird surveys, some by the Bombay Natural History Society, to manage the bird menace. A "bird lab'' is also now being established in collaboration with the National Centre for Cell Science, Pune, for DNA bar-coding of different bird species of the Indian sub-continent. "A barcode library of 26 Indian species has already been developed, with another 50 species to be added to it soon,'' said an official.

Moreover, IAF also wants to procure 72 microlites for carrying out survey of bird activities, monitoring of high-rise structures, garbage and carcass disposal sites which attract birds. A road-map for "environment management of airfield areas (EMAA)'' is also being formalized for bird, wildlife and vegetation management.

With many of its airbases situated in and around cities and towns like Agra, Bareilly, Gwalior, Srinagar and Tezpur, among others, IAF has for long undertaken several bird hazard control measures. These range from `zone guns', automated scarecrows and special frequency transmitters to proper garbage disposal, solid waste management and "risk awareness campaigns'' among the citizenry. "Environment cleaning is also conducted within airbases to deny a habitat for birds and animals. But bird hits still remain a very serious problem,'' he added.

Raw Video: US Chopper Crash Site in Afghanistan

Published on Aug 11, 2011 by Associated Press

Debris remains at the site where a U.S. helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan, killing 38 people, after being shot by a Taliban insurgent Saturday. This video was obtained and distributed by The Associated Press today.

Plane makes emergency landing in Clarington

CLARINGTON -- Officials are still investigating after what appeared to be a Second World War-era fighter plane crashed in Clarington.

Fire and police responded to a call of a downed plane in the area of 3239 Concession Rd. 8 in Orono just after 1 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11.

"We currently have a plane down, it appears to be an older original or replica of a Spitfire-type war plane," said Clarington Fire Chief Gord Weir at the scene, describing the plane as green with army markings.

"We don't know if the plane stalled or what happened but the pilot had to make an emergency landing and landed fairly hard, it was a bit of a nosedive into the field."

Fire crews from Bowmanville and Orono responded after early reports that the downed aircraft was a bomber, which is a much larger aircraft. Fire crews remained on the scene for about 25 minutes, confirming that there was no fire and no fluid leaks before leaving the site to Durham Regional Police.

Inspector Mitch Colling said the pilot received only minor injuries, describing them as a "bump on the head," but he was taken to a hospital to be checked out.

"He was very lucky," he said.

Police remained on scene to await representatives of Transport Canada, who will be conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the crash. Although police couldn't confirm where the pilot or the plane were from, Insp. Colling said the aircraft "appears to be from a private airfield nearby."

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Economic Downturn Spurs a Mini-Boom in Aerial Banners. (With Video)

Bad economic news has been good business for one entrepreneur who runs an aerial advertising company.

Justin Jaye, owner of, said he's had 50 to 60 more requests than usual today after Lucy Nobbe, a St. Louis mom and investment banker, paid his company to fly a banner over Wall Street on Tuesday. That banner read, "Thanks for the Downgrade. You Should All Be Fired."

Nobbe's sign inspired a second banner over Wall Street today -- this one from a believer in the U.S. dollar, someone who wants to promote a website he owns.

"Downgrade hurts but USD no ruble. Always be frugal," was the message on the banner over the Financial District at lunchtime, paid for by Jon Lal, 43, a Boston-based businessman who runs, aimed at consumers who want to save money.

Nobbe, who was furious over politicians' dithering on the debt ceiling, originally intended for the banner to soar over Washington, D.C., but discovered that there's a no-fly zone over the capital.

"She obviously has some strong feelings about what's happening on Wall Street and the country as a whole," said Lal. "We have our own take on that topic." He characterized his banner as "a more measured way of looking at the situation."

"At the end of the day, it is a little scary to have this dire event that's never happened before," Lal said of the Standard and Poor's downgrade of U.S. debt last week. "I think some perspective would be helpful to everybody. There is no need to panic."

Jaye, whose company is based in LA, said on Wednesday that reaction to the first banner was overwhelming. He's flown thousands of banners in 20 years in the business, and "not one has struck a much as this one," he said.

Lal's two-year-old company offers discount coupons and cashback deals as well as what he called "tools to help you be frugal," like fly/drive calculators for travelling.

Dulles Drug K9 Finds 18 Pounds of Cocaine. Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD),Washington, District of Columbia.

A routine inspection by a drug-sniffing dog on Wednesday at Dulles International Airport turned up a large stash of cocaine -- 18 pounds, 3.5 ounces to be exact.

Rex the Customs and Border Protection K9 picked up the scent in the cargo hold of a commercial plane from Bogota, Columbia. His hit led to officers recovering seven taped packages behind a cargo hold panel.

The packages had a street value of about $580,000. Sounds like Rex will be getting some extra Beggin' Strips in his paycheck this week...

Federal officials continue to investigate who placed the cocaine on the plane.

"Nefarious narcotics organizations continue to leverage all means to smuggle their deadly poison to the United States, even placing narcotics aboard unsuspecting commercial aircraft," said Christopher Hess, CBP Port Director for the Port of Washington, D.C. “Customs and Border Protection officers remain committed to intercepting these smuggling attempts through the use of detector dogs and routine compliance inspections on international aircraft, particularly those arriving from narcotics source nations.”


India: Strict action against pilots who fly under pressure: panel.

New Delhi : A parliamentary committee has asked the government to come up with penal provisions against those travellers, including VIPs, who force helicopter pilots to operate in hostile conditions.

"Some kind of penal provision may be considered against those putting pressure on the pilots to fly without proper clearances," said the Parliamentary Standing Committee on transport, tourism and culture report, tabled in parliament Thursday.

The committee headed by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) member Sitaram Yechury also recommended that pilots and other technical personnel should be provided with legal and administrative rights to decline flight operations in the absence of technical clearance.

"The committee recommends that technical personnel, pilots be provided adequate legal, administrative protection to decline to fly in the absence of mandatory technical, weather and other clearances," the report said.

The report observed that undue pressure is put, including for commercial reasons, on technical personnel, including pilots, to ignore key safety related clearance to operate flights.

"It happens mainly in the cases of chartered helicopters and those under the state governments, flying VIPs," the report said.

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Pilots hit sound solution for Joint Strike Fighter

AS RESIDENTS plotted court action over Williamtown’s Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jets, Wing Commander Matt McCormack was in Texas with a brief.

In the bowels of Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics division in Fort Worth, he was to find out if the jets could fly more quietly over Port Stephens.

The wing commander and Squadron Leader Jordon Sander spent hours strapped into flight simulators.

‘‘I was fully immersed in the issues at home prior to going over,’’ Wing Commander McCormack said.

‘‘Being pilots, our overriding concern was safely operating the aircraft.’’

The brief offered unfettered access to the world’s top experts on acoustics, aeronautics, noise modelling and engines.

At stake were property values that had sagged with the initial noise forecast for the jets, which are louder than the current F/A-18 Hornets.

The breakthrough came when the pilots grasped the JSF’s power, and that it needn’t exert itself to take off and land. They found a quieter, low-power setting for Williamtown pilots to use over houses, and enjoyed a carbon copy preview of aviation’s future.

‘‘It’s like a hot knife through butter,’’ Wing Commander McCormack said.

The pilots returned with a playbook for flying a $120million piece of machinery over houses without ruining property value and lifestyles.

Defence Secretary David Feeney announced the results, a revised noise exposure forecast for RAAF Base Williamtown, on Wednesday to overjoyed residents.

Hundreds of houses in and around Raymond Terrace, Salt Ash, Medowie were instantly freed of jet noise limitations.

Wing Commander McCormack will return to Williamtown in January to train Hornet pilots.

Commercial Aircraft Corp of China: 20 more orders for the C919 jet

COMMERCIAL Aircraft Corp of China has signed a letter of intent with an aircraft leasing company to sell 20 C919 jets.

The deal with Hong Kong-based China Aircraft Leasing Co brings Commercial Aircraft Corp's total orders for the jet to 120.

China Aircraft Leasing targets domestic airlines as potential clients of the 150-seat jets, and will also seek to lease them overseas, a marketing official surnamed Zhao of the company told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

She didn't disclose the list price or delivery schedule for the C919 jets. China Aircraft Leasing, founded in 2006, added China Everbright Ltd as a strategic investor in June in a bid to expand its fleet size from the current 12 aircraft to 100 within three years.

China Everbright and Friedmann Pacific Asset Management Ltd each own a 40 percent stake in the company, and state-owned companies will be introduced later this year to take the balance.

Commercial Aircraft Corp had already received firm orders for 100 C919 jets from six companies.

China's four biggest carriers, Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines, as well as China Development Bank Leasing Co and GE Capital Aviation Services have all ordered the jet.

The C919 aircraft is expected to make its maiden flight in 2014 with deliveries scheduled for 2016.

Airport manager loves her job. Pecos Municipal Airport (KPEQ),Texas.

You might expect the manager of the Bill Hubbs Airport in Pecos to be a big, rough-talking guy wearing a leather jacket and chomping on a cigar. This is hardly the case. The manager is a woman who weighs about a 100 pounds and is dressed like she's on a picnic.

Actually, that's what she considers her job: a picnic. She loves it. Her name is Isabel Blanchard. She is not from these parts.

"Across the pond and then some," she said. "I was born in Tanzania and raised in Kenya, on the east coast of Africa. I came to the states because of opportunity. They say go west, so I did and here I am 30 years later."

She still carries that lilting accent common to people who speak the King's English. She got interested in flying about the time she was learning to drive.

"When I was 18, I took my father to the airport in Mombasa, Kenya. While we were waiting for his flight, just out of the blue I told him I would really like to learn how to fly. He sat down his newspaper, looked at me and said, 'we'll have to organize that.' I learned to fly in Kenya, got my private pilot's license and the instructor suggested I do further study in the U.S. if I wanted to make a living flying."

She learned about a flight school in South Carolina that had an intensive course that lasted six months. She did class work in the mornings, flew in the afternoons and was certified in several levels of flying. When she finished the school she sent out 200 job applications.

"I got an answer from somebody in Beaumont that had a flight school. So I got on a Greyhound bus and went there. They hired me and I worked there for a while. A friend of mine from El Paso told me there were good opportunities in West Texas, so I put out some feelers and ended up in Monahans to teach flying. I arrived with my blue Samsonite suitcase and $113 to my name. After working awhile I started freelancing. I leased an aircraft, then bought an aircraft. I was a flight instructor and pilot for hire. Anybody who needed a pilot, I was there."

An older couple had been managing the airport in Pecos for 13 years. She helped them for a couple of years, then they retired.

"I put in my bid to manage the airport, along with 14 other people. I think the city council took a big risk. I was all of 23, a foreigner, a young girl and they gave me a chance. This was in 1985."

Isabel has developed all sorts of programs for young people with the intent of one day getting them in the pilot's seat.

"I have some 300 kindergarten children out here every year. We put every one of them in the cockpit of a small Cessna. They sit in the airplane, use the controls, look around the airport and visit the hangars. Years later, some of those kids who are graduating from high school come out here to learn how to fly."

Bad flight? Nigerian authorities seize a Bombardier CRJ-900 operated by Arik Air Ltd. full of passengers over a court case.

KANO, Nigeria — Federal aviation authorities in Nigeria say a Bombardier CRJ-900 airplane operated by Arik Air Ltd., filled with passengers in the northern city of Kano, was seized by authorities to fulfill a judgment in a civil lawsuit.

The seizure late Wednesday left passengers stuck at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport as aviation authorities took over the plane to satisfy a roughly $1 million judgment against the company.

Arik Air is considered Nigeria’s top commercial airline. Company spokesman Banji Ola told The Associated Press on Thursday he could not comment on the seizure as it was a legal issue.

A number of airlines service domestic flights in Nigeria, home to 150 million people. However, constant disputes breakout between airlines, contractors and the government over fees and taxes allegedly going unpaid.

Gulfstream: G650 On Track for Certification This Year

(Savannah, GA) Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. says additional milestones have been met in the test flight program of its G650 aircraft. The G650 is the company's "ultra-large cabin, ultra-long range" jet.

A news release says the company anticipates certification later this year by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It also says Gulfstream anticipates deliveries in 2012.

The company says as of mid-July, the four aircraft in the test-flight program have accumulated more than 1,760 hours over more than 535 flights "We're on track and moving steadily toward certification later this year," according to Pres Henne, senior vice president, Programs, Engineering and Test, Gulfstream. "We've accomplished a great deal in the past two months. The aircraft continue to perform extremely well."

In early April, the test flights were suspended after a G650 crashed on the runway at an airport in Roswell, New Mexico. All four people aboard were killed. The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the cause of the crash.

According to Gulfstream, the four aircraft which are now in the test-flight program have accomplished several rounds of company testing in preparation for the FAA evaluations that are part of the certification process.

Gulfstream announced the G650 program more than three years ago. Despite the fact test flights were suspended for two months, company officials still say the aircraft remains on schedule for 2012.

FAA tower work could resume 'soon' at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport (KAZO), Kalamazoo, Michigan.

KALAMAZOO — Airport Director Cliff Moshoginis said Thursday he didn't know when construction would resume on the new tower at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, but he expected it would be very soon.

Moshoginis gave the update during Thursday's Kalamazoo County Aeronautics Board of Trustees meeting.

The federal government issued a stop work order on July 25 in Kalamazoo — and at other airports across the country — after the Federal Aviation Administration was partially shut down.

Congress failed to reach an agreement to fund airport projects, such as building new airport towers and modernizing air traffic facilities.

But the Associated Press reported Congress struck a deal last week that gives the FAA temporary operating authority. However, none of the aviation projects that were stopped have gotten the green light to start up again.

Moshoginis said many of the FAA employees returned from furloughs and are now prioritizing what projects will get funding again across the nation.

Kalamazoo's tower is partially completed on the east side of the airfield by Kilgore Road — which means there is a good chance it will be a "high priority" to get FAA funding, Moshoginis said Thursday.

The $14.4 million tower construction project began in late 2010. So far, the tower's base is completed.

Construction is scheduled to be finished in 2012 although it will take an additional year for the FAA to commission it and have it running, officials have said.

Moshoginis said he did not believe the stop work order has been long enough to cause a significant delay in the tower's timeline.

On Aug. 5, about 20 local union members picketed outside the airport to protest Congress' bickering. Between 50 to 60 people were out of work because the tower project was red-lighted. 


Air Zimbabwe seeks $7m for debts

Air Zimbabwe is seeking over $7 million to pay salaries and clear debts, a move that will allow the embattled national carrier to resume operations while seeking lasting solutions.

The national airline has been grounded for two weeks now after its pilots downed tools on July 29, demanding payment of their June and July salaries and leaving over 300 passengers stranded.

The pilots have vowed to continue with their industrial action until their salaries have been paid.

Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive officer Innocent Mavhunga confirmed over 300 passengers locally and abroad remained stranded until a solution to the problem was found.

“We are re-routing some of our passengers whom we can. Some are still in hotels and those who have places to stay, we continue to talk to them to stay home while we try our best to get the flights back on,” said Mavhunga.

NTSB says pilot involved in fatal collision didn't see other plane until last second. Float-equipped Cessna 206, N756MP, and a float-equipped Cessna 180, N5214E. Accident occurred July 30, 2011 in Talkeetna, Alaska.

A pilot involved in a midair collision that killed four people southwest of Talkeetna last month told investigators he didn't see the other plane approaching until moments before the crash, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.

The preliminary report, released Tuesday, detailed the lethal collision.

One pilot, 56-year-old Kevin Earp, had just taken off from Sister Lake the afternoon of July 30 and was about to land his floatplane -- a Cessna 206 -- at Amber Lake, about a mile away, the report says.

Earp then caught a glimpse of another plane coming at him from his right, according to the report.

Earp, a veteran pilot for Alaska Airlines, steered his plane up and to the left, the report says. It was too late. The planes struck, damaging Earp's floats and sending the other plane to the ground where it burst into flames, the transportation safety board reports.

Inside the crashed Cessna 180 were pilot Corey Carlson, his wife, Hetty Barnett Carlson, and their two young children, 5-year-old Ella and 3-year-old Adelaide, according to family members.

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Airport's Closure Will Halt 60 Daily Flights Until Monday. Runway resurfacing project will prevent planes from taking off and landing from Friday at 11am to Monday at 11am. Springfield-Branson National Airport (KSGF), Springfield, Missouri.


SPRINGFIELD, Mo—  It's still a summer travel weekend for some in the Ozarks, but all air traffic will be grounded starting Friday morning at Springfield-Branson National Airport.

Crews are laying down concrete 15 inches high, replacing asphalt that was first put there in 1994.

They're only doing work on one of the airport's two runways, but because the crews will be working close to where the runways intersect, safety concerns will ground all flights from 11am Friday to 11am Monday.

That will halt some 60 daily flights and affect some 6,000 passengers.

Airport officials say three days of work and no flights will be valuable for passengers in the long term.

"You don't want to worry about this pavement," explains Brian Weiler, Director of Aviation at SGF Airport. "You want it to perform and not have issues with rutting or anything like that. This is the most important part of this airport - having a good, safe, long runway."

The project costs $8.4 million, but airport officials say the FAA is covering most of the cost, and no general tax funds are being used.

Luxury Ads to Appear on Southampton Helipad ... Village takes 55 percent cut of advertising revenue. Southampton Heliport (87N), Southampton, New York

The Southampton Village Helipad.
Credit BrendanJ.O'Reilly

Photo credit: Jake Bliskin

Come Sept. 1, East End visitors descending onto the Meadow Lane helipad will see more than just asphalt.

They’ll see luxury advertisements, under Southampton Village’s recently inked deal with New Jersey-based Roaring Thunder Media. Executive Vice President Brad Dyer said Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley signed the two-year contract last week.

Dyer has already started speaking with a few potential clients interested in advertising before Labor Day, but said he could not share their names. Many of Roaring Thunder’s accounts are high-end tourism and automobile companies and jewelers, he said. Mercedes-Benz and Swiss watch company Audemars Piguet are pictured as advertisers on Roaring Thunder’s website.

The village has the right to refuse any clients Roaring Thunder finds, though Dyer doubts that would happen, he said. According to the contract, the village can also revoke the deal if Roaring Thunder is unable to find any advertisers within six months.

As part of the deal, Southampton Village will receive 55 percent of the revenue from advertisements painted at the helipad. According to the contract, rates for a 20-foot-by-50-foot ad are between $15,000 and $20,000 for the months of June, July and August. During the shoulder season months of May and September, Roaring Thunder Media charges between $10,000 and $15,000, and the price drops to as low as $2,500 during the late fall, early spring and winter, the contract states.

“Expenses come out off our end,” Dyer said, adding that his company hires professional artists to paint the advertisements on the slab.

Dyer approached the village about monetizing their helipad at the beginning of the summer. The board authorized the mayor to sign the contract at a late July work session. Epley did not respond to requests to comment on the deal.

Roaring Thunder has an extensive advertising program with Audemars Piguet at the 34th Street heliport. Roaring Thunder facilitated a “domination” campaign at the Manhattan heliport, allowing the watch company to wrap a building with advertisements and install tarmac signage on five of the heliport bays, among other features.