Sunday, August 14, 2011

Johannesburg, South Africa: Uncertainty over missing planes. George’s Valley.

Johannesburg - Search and Rescue SA on Monday denied reports that the wreckage of two light aircraft that went missing in George's Valley, Limpopo has been found.

"The search is still on," said spokesperson Johnny Smith.

"The weather is getting better so air rescue will resume shortly."

SABC radio news earlier reported that the wreckage had been found.

"I'm getting breaking news right now that they have found the wreckage and there's a suggestion there may have been a mid air collision at this stage," SA Flyer magazine editor Guy Leitch told the broadcaster.

The Albatross planes, carrying six people each, were presumed to be in the George's Valley area, between Polokwane and Tzaneen.

Source:  http://www.news24.com


Bear paws found in man’s luggage. British Columbia.

A B.C. man is facing charges after being caught trying to smuggle dismembered black bear paws out of Vancouver International Airport.

The 39-year-old man was attempting to board a flight to China at around 2 a.m. when airport security officials found three bear paws in his possession.

“They discovered it in his carry-on luggage, likely when it went through the x-ray machine,” said B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Dave Jevons.

The furry paws were still attached to a portion of a leg and came from at least two different black bears, he said.

The man was arrested by the RCMP. The B.C. Conservation Office has taken over the investigation and is trying to determine where the bears came from.

Jevons said B.C. allows the hunting of black bears during season, but it is illegal to import, export or trade in bear parts in Canada.

The man, a permanent resident, was detained and then released on a promise to appear. He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 6.

He faces charges under the federal Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA) and the B.C. Wildlife Act.

Bear paws are one of the most-trafficked bear parts, along with bear gall bladder and genitalia.

The paws are in demand in China, where they are prized as an exotic delicacy and used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various illnesses from cancer to arthritis to impotence.

Coulter Field Airport (KCFD) Bryan, Texas



Coulter Airfield in Bryan was closed Saturday morning before it officially opened after a pilot crash-landed his lightweight aircraft there.

The crash occurred at 7:15 a.m., just 15 minutes before the airport opened, said Dale Picha, director of transportation for the city.

"The best we know, the engine failed and he had to come back or was already landing here," he said. "We know he took off from Coulter, but we're not sure where he was going."

The pilot, he said, was transported to St. Joseph Regional Health Center with non-life threatening injuries to his lower body.

Picha said the airport remained closed until about 1 p.m., when Federal Aviation Administration officials finished their investigation into the crash.


Pilot escapes injury when plane crashes into Aziscohos Lake. Lynchtown Township, Maine.


The Maine Warden Service says that a pilot who crashed his plane into a lake in Northern Oxford County will survive.

Edie Smith, the spokeswoman for the Maine Warden Service tells the Sun Journal that state police are looking into what caused the plane to flip over last night.  

No other information is available at this point in the investigation.

Sources:




http://www.westport-news.com

Alaska State Troopers: 4 die, 2 survive in plane crash. WEATHER DELAY: Two teachers, two kids wait 14 hours for rescue.


A longtime teacher and a veteran bush pilot died Saturday evening in a plane crash on a flight from McGrath to Anvik, while four others on board survived, Alaska State Troopers said Sunday.

Killed were teacher Julia Walker, 52, of Anvik, and pilot Ernest Chase, 66, of Aniak, troopers said Sunday night.

The plane was carrying all three teachers from the Anvik school in the Iditarod School District, including a husband and wife new to the village who had been set to begin their first year of teaching, said Karen Ladegard, district superintendent. The couple's children also were on the plane.

That family -- parents Don and Rosemarie Evans, both 32, and children Donny, 10, and McKenzie, 8 -- survived the crash, troopers said. Don Evans was in good condition at Providence Alaska Medical Center Sunday evening and the rest of the family was in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Troopers initially said four people died but that report was incorrect, trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.

Alaska Air National Guard crews led the rescue and recovery effort, which was hampered by bad weather, according to troopers and the Air Guard.

Troopers said they first learned the plane was in trouble at 8:45 p.m. Saturday but rescuers didn't reach the crash site until more than 14 hours later, around 11 a.m. Sunday.

Relatives and work colleagues of those on board said they were frustrated by difficulties in getting solid information as well as the slow pace of the rescue.

POOR WEATHER

The plane was a single-engine Cessna 207 operated by Aniak-based Inland Aviation Services, Ipsen said. Chase was an experienced pilot with years of flying in western Alaska, according to Inland Aviation co-owner Steve Hill.

"We've been scrambling all night to get the rescue planes out there," Hill said Sunday afternoon.

The teachers, along with others from around the Iditarod district, were in McGrath for six days of training before the start of classes on Wednesday, Ladegard said.

They were initially supposed to return to Anvik Friday on Tanana Air Service, but were socked in by poor weather Friday and into Saturday morning, Ladegard said. Tanana canceled the flight around 2 p.m. Saturday.

Later that afternoon, the weather improved, and the district chartered the Inland Aviation plane, the superintendent said. It took off around 7 p.m. for a flight that was supposed to take an hour and 15 minutes, she said.

Hill flew to McGrath at the same time as Chase to pick up a separate group headed to Grayling, just up the Yukon River from Anvik.

"On the way up, it looked beautiful to the west," Hill said.

Then low clouds came in. Hill said he had to fly low to avoid the rough patches. "It was just squalls," he said. The weather behind them looked worse than what they were flying into, he said.

Chase was more familiar with the terrain and took a different route than Hill to the village.

"He went on one side of a mountain and I went on the other, and we lost radio contact," Hill said.

The plane crashed about 37 miles west of McGrath on the side of a small mountain.

CHALLENGING RESCUE

Inland Aviation was alerted through an emergency messaging device that the plane was in trouble and notified troopers around 8:45 p.m. Saturday. The 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center said it heard from troopers about 9:45 p.m. Around the same time, the center received reports of a signal from the plane's emergency locator transmitter.

Just before 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the center launched an HC-130 plane with Alaska Air National Guard pararescuers and officers from Joint Base Elmendorf- Richardson.

But the rescue plane couldn't get below the cloud cover. It returned to base a little after 6 a.m.

Around 9 a.m., the Air Guard launched a rescue helicopter and another HC-130 plane.

From the air, the rescue crews spotted the crash site in steep, wooded terrain, according to the Air Guard.

Rescuers got to the scene around 11 a.m. Two were lowered down by a helicopter hoist. Three more jumped from the plane and landed in a nearby field, where they were picked up by the helicopter and taken to the crash site to reach the victims.

The four survivors were flown to McGrath, then to Providence Alaska Medical Center.

School officials went to the McGrath airport to try to get more information when the Air Guard's helicopter and plane came in, but couldn't, Ladegard said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. Investigator Clint Johnson went to the crash site Sunday with troopers and a Federal Aviation Administration inspector. He said he needed to talk to the survivors and analyze the wreckage before making any determination as to what caused the crash. The plane crashed into heavy brush on a 30- to 40-degree slope at about the 1,700-foot level.

TRAGEDY FOR A SMALL SCHOOL

Classes are supposed to begin Wednesday in the Iditarod district. Blackwell School in Anvik has 18 students, counting the teaching couple's children. Ladegard said the district's management team assembled Sunday evening to figure out what to do.

The Evanses had intended to share a position teaching fourth through eighth grades.

Walker taught kindergarten through third grade. Her brother, Carl Jerue of Anvik, said she had taught in the district many years. He spoke by phone on Sunday afternoon before authorities had released information on who was killed in the crash. He said it was especially hard getting conflicting reports on how many had died.

"We're all pretty much in the dark here, just waiting," Jerue said.

The flight path from McGrath is treacherous and the weather was bad Saturday night, he said.

State Rep. Alan Dick, R-Stony River, represents the area and taught in the Iditarod district for 10 years.

Dick said in a statement that he had contacted the offices of Gov. Sean Parnell and Education Commissioner Mike Hanley "to ensure that all available resources, potentially including emergency, experienced school personnel and counselors are made available to the district at this time."

Read more: http://www.adn.com

Strategic Airlines to fly to Hawaii

Michael James, chief executive of Strategic airlines, with his aircraft at Brisbane airport.
Picture: Annette Dew

NEW Australian carrier Strategic Airlines says it will fly two new routes between Australia and the Hawaiian islands.

From this week the airline will operate services between Brisbane and Honolulu and Melbourne and Honolulu.

It will use Airbus A330 aircraft with a seat configuration of 30 business class and 244 economy class seats.

Strategic Airlines' chief executive Michael James said from December the airline would also launch domestic flights between Melbourne and Brisbane.

Strategic says it has been granted approval to operate between Australia and the United States and approval to operate services between Australia and China.

The company currently operates services for the mining industry in Western Australia, Queensland, Indonesia and Thailand.

Ohio woman, 94, wakes up to find runaway blimp crash-landed in her yard.

Lillian Bernhagen talks about being shocked that a blimp broke free of its moorings at an airport and landed in her backyard on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011, in Worthington, Ohio.
(AP Photo/Kantele Franko)

WORTHINGTON, Ohio (AP) — A 94-year-old Ohio woman who woke up to discover that a breakaway blimp from a nearby airport had landed in her backyard said she heard a bang during stormy weather but didn't realize what happened until police knocked on her door about seven hours later.

The 128-foot-long blimp broke free of its moorings at a Columbus airport during strong winds early Sunday, then drifted to the sky, headed eastward and landed in Lillian Bernhagen's backyard in Worthington, less than two miles from Ohio State University's Don Scott airfield. No one was aboard and no injuries were reported.

The remnants of a battered blimp were draped over Bernhagen's picnic table and birdfeeders, covering half her backyard.

"I looked out the window and I said, 'Wow!'" she said.

Storms had limited the options authorities had to find the blimp until it was spotted in Bernhagen's yard. The Federal Aviation Administration tried to locate it via radar, while its owners tried to see it from the ground, said state police spokesman Lt. Rudy Zupanc.

As crews dismantled and inspected the blimp Sunday morning, Bernhagen snapped photos to share with relatives and talked about the surprise that forced her to miss her church service.

"It really is quite an occasion to have a blimp land in your yard," she said.

Bernhagen said it appeared the blimp toppled a small tree and slightly bent a corner awning along her roof but didn't do any major damage to her home.

"I didn't expect to see one on the ground," she said. "I've only ever seen one in the air."

The blimp advertises Hangar 1 Vodka and is on a tour of about 20 cities under the direction of an Orlando, Fla.-based airship advertiser called The Lightship Group, said Toby Page, the group's marketing director. The blimp won't make its next planned stop in Detroit on Thursday.

"TLG will investigate what happened, but at this time there's nothing to indicate that it was anything more than a freak thunderstorm," Page said Sunday afternoon, noting he had no concerns about how the blimp was tethered at the airport.

Asked whether she might try the vodka, Bernhagen joked that she might need a drink after such a ruckus.

September 11 changed everything . . . about air travel.

Five-year-old Frank Allocco is 37,000 feet above America, face pressed against the window.

"Cool," he says to his 6-year-old sister. "Francesca, look."

It's their first flight. They ignore a Harry Potter DVD and video games. Instead, there are rivers, mountains and tiny cars below.

Francesca chimes in: "Wow, Frank, look at that cloud."

For Frank and Francesca, soaring high above the country is magical. The kids from Park Ridge, Ill., are treated like stars. A flight attendant gives them wing pins. Mom and dad snap photos.

For most of us, though, the romance of flight is long gone — lost to Sept. 11, 2001, and hard-set memories of jets crashing into buildings.

We remember what it was like before. Keeping all our clothes on at security. Getting hot meals for free — even if we complained about the taste. Leg room.

Today, we feel beaten down even before reaching our seats. Shoes must be removed and all but the tiniest amounts of liquids surrendered at security checkpoints. Loved ones can no longer kiss passengers goodbye at the gate. And airlines, which have struggled ever since the day terrorists used airplanes as missiles, are adding fees, squeezing in passengers and cutting amenities to survive.

In interviews conducted during a week flying around the country — nine flights totaling 8,414 miles — many passengers expressed anger with air travel, which they said left them feeling like second-class citizens. Generally, the terrorism fears that prompted most of the changes were a distant afterthought.

"Anytime I walk into an airport, I feel like a victim," said Lexa Shafer, of Norman, Okla. "I'm sorry that we have to live this way because of bad guys."

Despite the aggravations, America's skies are busier than ever. Airlines carried 720 million passengers last year, up from 666 million in the year before the attacks.

There was little concern about terrorism even on a flight that was almost identical — same route, airline, plane type and departure time — to United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11 after passengers fought the terrorists for control.

Instead, passengers were jockeying for position at the gate as if they were waiting for the doors to open on a day-after-Thanksgiving sale. They glanced at each other's tickets and mumbled complaints when somebody boarded before they were supposed to.

"Passengers have lost civility," said Karen McNeilly, of Gold Hill, Ore.

And it's not just the boarding process that would make Emily Post cringe.

On a flight to Houston, an oversized man stole a window seat. Why? Because in his assigned seat he would have spilled into the aisle. The rightful occupant couldn't really object since the seat-stealer was already firmly planted, tray table down, Burger King cup out.

It's easier now for passengers to get annoyed with each other. We're simply getting packed in more tightly by airlines that are reining in costs more than they ever did before the terror attacks.

A decade ago, an average of 72 percent of seats per flight were occupied. Today, 82 percent are. Passengers once had a shot at an empty middle seat. Now that rarely happens. Airlines have added rows, meaning less leg room. Smaller, regional planes now carry a quarter of all passengers, twice that of a decade ago.

"It is a dismal experience that you simply put up with because you have to get from point A to point B. It used to be the part of the trip you looked forward to," said Virgin America CEO David Cush. "As an industry, we've found a way to beat that joy of flying out of people."

In another effort to balance their books, airlines have added fees for once-free services. Last year, $8.1 billion in fees were collected, more than three times the $2.5 billion collected before the attacks, adjusted for inflation.

Checked-luggage fees accounted for $3.4 billion of the 2010 total. Without them, major airlines would have lost money last year rather than reporting a combined $2.6 billion in profits.

It's no wonder that for shorter trips, Americans now avoid flying. New inter-city buses have popped up and Amtrak now carries 37 percent more riders than a decade ago. Buses and trains don't have the security checkpoints that make it necessary for air passengers to arrive at the airport about an hour before domestic flights and two hours in advance for trips out of the U.S.

The days of arriving minutes before a flight are a distant memory, and lines are inconsistent. While one Transportation Security Administration checkpoint took four minutes to clear, another involved a 27-minute wait.

Frequent fliers know the ever-changing set of security rules. Most others don't.

Some people worry about radiation-emitting, modesty-eroding full-body scanners, although their use is still sporadic.

At Newark Liberty International Airport, the machines were shut down during the Monday morning rush. In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., two lanes were open. One had a full-body scanner. One didn't. Passengers could pick.

"I'm not really convinced that any of this security is doing anything other than making people feel safe," said Matthew Von Kluge, of Chicago. He was wearing a shirt created by his former boss, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, saying: "I am not a terrorist. Please don't arrest me."

But Diane Dragg, of Norman, Okla., said: "I'd rather do it than be blown up."

Not everything has been bad for fliers. Many planes now have individual TVs and Wi-Fi. Kiosks and websites make checking in easier. And with travelers arriving earlier and earlier at the airport, there are better shops and restaurants.

It's been harder for airlines to find a silver lining. They're out $54.5 billion in the U.S. over the last decade, having lost money in seven of the past 10 years.

At least 33 airlines have filed for bankruptcy protection, including Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways. Some, including ATA and Aloha, stopped flying.

It's not just Sept. 11 that hurt airlines, which were hit hard by spikes in oil prices and a drop in travel during the recession. But after the terror attacks, just getting passengers to fly again was a challenge.

In the first year, traffic fell nearly 8 percent. It took three years to return.

"People were just scared to fly," said F. Robert van der Linden, a curator at the National Air and Space Museum.

To keep planes in the sky, airlines burned through their cash reserves and borrowed heavily, said Jim Corridore, an airline analyst with Standard & Poor's. Fares were dropped to unprofitable levels to lure back passengers.

It worked, but vacationers now expect rock-bottom prices. Airfares today are 20 percent lower than they were on 9/11, when adjusted for inflation.

Airlines now operate on razor-thin margins, with fewer employees.

More than a quarter of the industry's 620,000 full-time jobs pre-9/11 were eliminated. Those that remain are less lucrative: The average pay for a pilot with 10 years of experience is now $145,000, down 13 percent when adjusted for inflation.

For passengers, the real legacy of the attacks might not just be more invasive security checks, new fees or other things we never had to worry about before — like whether the name on our ticket precisely matches the name on our driver's license. It might just be losing our ability to relax in the skies.

Though children like Frank and Francesca can still feel the joy of flying, Ethan Estes of Louisville, Ky., could well speak for most adults.

"If the airline does everything perfect," he said, "the trip is just bearable."

New Air India boss aims to revive airline, morale

Mumbai: Boosting employee morale and turning Air India around financially top the agenda of the carrier’s new chief.

“My challenge would be bringing back smiles to the face of Air India employees and (restoring the) financial health of Air India,” Rohit Nandan, 54, who assumed charge as chairman and managing director of the carrier on Friday, said in an interview. “This change of management will be done through a participative and consultative process.”

Nandan replaced Arvind Jadhav, who had been heading Air India since May 2009.

“I do not want to comment on anything about what happened in the past. I have taken up this challenge with a positive outlook,” said Nandan, who was joint secretary, ministry of civil aviation, till he took up this assignment.

“I have had many challenging assignments in my career and turning around Air India will not be the most challenging one,” said the Uttar Pradesh cadre Indian Administrative Service officer. He will head the national carrier for at least three years.

The government is considering a series of proposals to back the airline by infusing equity in excess of the Rs. 5,000 crore originally envisaged.

Air India had debt of Rs. 42,570 crore on its books and accumulated losses of Rs. 22,000 crore as of 31 March.

The cash-starved airline could pay April and May salaries to its employees only on 28 June, according to Air India executives. It’s yet to pay productivity-linked incentives, accounting for around 70% of pay in some cases.

“The new chairman will bring new energy to the entire organization that will boost the morale of employees and motivate them to work as a team. Certainly, he will try to reduce losses,” said Nasim Zaidi, secretary, ministry of civil aviation.

Zaidi said the government is examining a turnaround and financial restructuring plan for Air India. A group of ministers is closely monitoring the airline’s turnaround measures that are currently under way.

According to Zaidi, the government is examining a three-way proposal to help revive the carrier.

“There are three elements in the new proposal—an upfront equity infusion for immediate relief, fund infusion for covering current operating losses, and payment for meeting aircraft loan requirements. The government will take a decision on these proposals in a month,” Zaidi said.

From the current Rs. 5,000 crore bailout, Air India got Rs. 800 crore in 2009-10, Rs. 1,200 crore in 2010-11 and ad hoc equity infusion of Rs. 710 crore in the current fiscal. The cabinet committee on economic affairs has approved another equity infusion of Rs. 1,200 crore.

The airline is now seeking Rs. 6,600 crore as an upfront payment. Apart from this, it wants an additional Rs. 5,736 crore infusion of equity over the next 10 years to fund cash deficits.

Air India has made an after-tax loss of about Rs. 6,994 crore and Rs. 5,552.44 crore in the last two fiscal years, respectively. It has also seen multiple industrial disputes in this period, with a loss of Rs. 200 crore due to a pilots’ strike in May.

“I am going to talk to the unions regularly and share the problems and prospects,” Nandan said.

Employees of all ranks are demoralized and frustrated due to the past policies of the management, said J.B. Kadian, general secretary of the Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU). Kadian was sacked by Jadhav for leading a strike in May 2010 and later reinstated.

“We hope the new chairman and managing director will initiate steps to make Air India a viable and profitable organization for which the ACEU has extended its fullest support and cooperation,” Kadian said.

Air India needs strong private sector talent, said Craig Jenks, president of Airline/Aircraft Projects Inc., a New York-based air transport consulting and advisory services firm. Air India had hired private sector executives to head the airline’s operational functions during Jadhav’s tenure, but the move didn’t succeed. “It was the right concept but not well implemented,” Jenks said.

Nandan’s immediate focus should be to ply the Boeing 787 planes that Air India is getting on certain routes and marketing these exceptionally well, Jenks said. Air India had made losses after using new Boeing 777 planes on US routes two years ago.

The carrier was scheduled to get the first of its 27 Boeing 787s, popularly known as Dreamliners, in September 2008, but delivery has been pushed back to the second quarter of calendar year 2011.

Air India is at an irreparable stage and Nandan and his team can only minimize the damage, said Kapil Kaul, chief executive officer (Indian subcontinent and Middle East) of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, an international aviation consulting firm.

“Nandan has to give his people the healing touch and bring them back to the purpose. Then he will have to make a genuine and credible turnaround plan,” Kaul said.

According to the latest plan submitted to the government, Air India is seeking a total equity support of Rs. 42,920 crore till fiscal 2021. It also wants government guarantees for aircraft loans worth Rs. 30,584 crore till fiscal year 2021.

Nandan is confident about getting government support. “Give me some time. I am setting the agenda for the turnaround of the airline,” he said.

Report: Pakistan gave China access to 'stealth' chopper in bin Laden raid. Chinese military allowed to take photographs, samples of aircraft's 'skin', despite CIA objections, Financial Times reports

ISLAMABAD | Sun Aug 14, 2011


* Helicopter crashed during raid that killed bin Laden


* Pakistan spy agency ISI denies report


* China major investor in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Pakistan gave China access to the previously unknown U.S. "stealth" helicopter that crashed during the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May despite explicit requests from the CIA not to, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

The disclosure, if confirmed, is likely to further shake the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, which has been improving slightly after hitting its lowest point in decades following the killing of bin Laden.

During the raid, one of two modified Blackhawk helicopters, believed to employ unknown stealth capability, malfunctioned and crashed, forcing the commandos to abandon it.

"The U.S. now has information that Pakistan, particularly the ISI, gave access to the Chinese military to the downed helicopter in Abbottabad," the paper quoted a person "in intelligence circles" as saying on its website.

It said Pakistan, which enjoys a close relationship with China, allowed Chinese intelligence officials to take pictures of the crashed aircraft as well as take samples of its special "skin" that allowed the American raid to evade Pakistani radar.

Continued ... Read More: http://www.reuters.com

http://www.ft.com

Van's RV-6, N16DD: Accident occurred August 13, 2011 in Conroe, Texas

NTSB Identification: CEN11LA573A 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 13, 2011 in Conroe, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/28/2012
Aircraft: STEVENS R P/MCCRIGHT D W VANS RV-6, registration: N16DD
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


The RV-6 collided with the RV-8 from below while maneuvering during day visual meteorological conditions. The RV-6 descended uncontrolled to ground impact, and the pilot of the RV-8 made a forced landing in a field. The two airplanes were part of group of seven airplanes practicing formation flight maneuvers for an upcoming airshow. According to the pilot of the RV-8, the RV-6 and another airplane were instructed to move into trail positions behind the RV-8. He saw the two airplanes drift back and out of view. About 5 seconds later, the pilot of the RV-8 heard a loud bang and immediately his airplane's engine stopped operating. He did not see the RV-6. The pilot of the other airplane that was moving into the trail position with the RV-6 said that the RV-6 was supposed to be the last airplane in this formation, but instead it moved directly behind the RV-8. The pilot thought that maybe the RV-6 pilot forgot which slot he was supposed to take, so he let the RV-6 have the position and moved behind the RV-6. Shortly after, he observed the RV-6 drift beneath and then climb up and collide with the RV-8. The collision was not violent. He then saw the two airplanes separate, and the RV-6 slowly nosed over into a 60-degree nose-down descent toward the ground. He reported that the pilot of the RV-6 "didn't seem in control of his airplane" before the collision and might have been incapacitated. However, he did not observe anything unusual with the pilot of the RV-6 that would have indicated a possible medical condition before or during the flight. Autopsy and toxicological testing of the RV-6 pilot revealed no evidence of impairment or incapacitation. Although incapacitation or impairment of the RV-6 pilot could explain why he failed to maintain clearance from the RV-8, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether this occurred.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The failure of the pilot of the RV-6 airplane to maintain clearance from the RV-8 airplane while practicing formation flight.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT


On August 13, 2011, approximately 1130 central daylight time, N16DD, an experimental-amateur built Stevens/McCright Vans RV-6 airplane, was substantially damaged, when it collided with N189DK, an experimental-amateur built Douglas Knab Vans RV-8 airplane, approximately 15 miles north of Lone Star Executive Airport (CXO), near Conroe, Texas, while practicing formation flight. The airline transport pilot flying the RV-6 was fatally injured and the private pilot flying the RV-8 made a forced landing to a field and sustained minor injuries. Both airplanes were registered to and operated by the respective pilot. No flight plan was filed for the flight that departed CXO at 1100. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Both the RV-8 and RV-6 pilots were members of Freedom Flight (also known as the Freedom Flight Aviators), which includes seven pilots and their low-wing,experimental-amateur-built Vans RV aircraft. According to their website, Freedom Flight pilots are all professional aviators, either former military or current and retired airline pilots. All are extensively trained in formation flying, discipline and safety. The Freedom Flight mission is to,"...Foster community pride and patriotism through precision formation flight exhibitions in support of community events, and through missing-man demonstrations to honor all those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have given their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy." The pilot of the RV-8 stated the team was practicing for an event that was to take place the following weekend. He said all seven pilots met for a 30 minute brief prior to the flight, during which time, the formations were discussed and positions/numbers were assigned to each pilot.

After the pre-flight briefing, all seven pilots taxied their airplanes out to the runway and departed around 1100. The pilot of the RV-8, which was colored silver, and the pilot of the RV-6, painted red, were the last two airplanes to depart. After reaching altitude, the pilots began to practice their flight routine. At one point, the lead pilot instructed the pilots to enter their assigned fingertip or V formations. The lead for the fingertip formation then instructed the pilot of the RV-8 to enter the slot position to make a diamond formation. The lead pilot then instructed the other pilots in the diamond formation to "go trail." Since the pilot of the RV-8 was already in the trail position, he observed the other two airplanes, which included the RV-6, move into their trail positions. He observed the RV-6 and the other aircraft drift behind him and out of view. The pilot of the RV-8 said, "After about 5 seconds I heard a loud bang and immediately the engine stopped dead. Fire shot into the cockpit through the fresh air vent and burned my left arm and stomach area. I saw the orange flames on my left arm. The flame went out almost as fast as it came." Another pilot asked him if he was okay, and he responded that someone had hit him although he never saw anyone or anything hit him.

The pilot of the RV-8 still had control of his airplane despite losing all engine power, and immediately began to look for a place to land. He circled down over a field and landed. During the forced landing, the pilot could see a pillar of smoke rising from a wooded area nearby, where the RV-6 had crashed.

The pilot that was moving into the trail position along with the RV-6 was the only pilot to witness the collision. He said that he and the pilot of the RV-6 were moving into the trail position behind the RV-8 and were approximately 2,000 to 2,500 feet above ground level (agl) in level flight. The RV-6 was supposed to be the last airplane in this formation, but instead moved directly behind the RV-8. The pilot thought that maybe the pilot in the RV-6 forgot which slot he was suppose to take, so he let the pilot of the RV-6 have the position and then he moved behind the RV-6. Shortly after, from a distance of about 30 feet away, he observed the RV-6 drift right under and then climb up into the RV-8. The collision was not violent, even though it caused a large gas explosion/fireball in the RV-8's engine compartment. The other pilot was unsure if the collision was hard enough that it would have injured the pilot of the RV-6. He saw the two airplanes separate and the RV-6 slowly nosed over until it was in an almost 60 degree nose down descent toward the ground. The pilot said the damage to the RV-6 was minimal and it appeared to be "flyable." He said the pilot of the RV-6 "didn't seem in control of his airplane" prior to the collision and thought he might have been incapacitated. However, he did not observe anything unusual with the pilot of the RV-6 that would have indicated a possible medical condition prior to or during the practice flight.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot of N189DK held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land. His last FAA Third Class Medical was issued on March 4, 2010. He reported a total of 1,918 total flight hours; of which, 178 hours were in the RV-8.

The pilot of N16DD held an airline transport pilot rating for airplane single-engine and multi-engine land. He was also a certified flight instructor for airplane single and multi-engine airplane, and instrument airplane. His last FAA Second Class Medical was issued on November 9, 2010. At that time, he reported a total of 37,150 total flight hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Weather at Lone Star Executive Airport at 1153, was reported as wind from 240 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 4,900 feet, temperature 33 degrees C, dewpoint 22 degrees C, and a barometric pressure setting of 29.99 inches of HG.

WRCKAGE INFORMATION

Several Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors responded to both accident sites, which were approximately .3-miles apart. According to one of the inspectors, N16DD impacted wooded terrain and a post-impact fire consumed most of the airplane. Examination of N189DK revealed that the propellers blades were scarred at the tip and exhibited red paint transfer. There were also red paint transfer marks on the lower left side of the engine cowling along with impact marks. The right elevator had been impacted from the front and below. The leading edge of the right wing exhibited impact marks, scrapes and red paint transfer about a quarter of the way down the wing from the fuselage. Both of the main landing gear was spread, and the right gear exhibited dark red paint transfers.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was conducted on the pilot of N16DD by the Montgomery County Forensic Services Department, Conroe, Texas, on August 16, 2011. The cause of death was determined to be "multiple blunt injuries sustained as a pilot of an aircraft that crashed with a subsequent fire." The thermal injuries occurred postmortem and did not cause or contribute to death. Their toxicology report indicated a positive reading (4%) for carbon monoxide.

Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and was negative for all items tested, including carbon monoxide.


 .



.


WALKER COUNTY, Texas – A pilot is dead after two planes collided over Lake Conroe in Walker County on Saturday.

Authorities said seven home-built, single engine planes were flying in formation near FM 1375 and Little Loop Road around 11:30 a.m. when two of the planes collided.

"I saw the airplanes flying in formation like they do every weekend. I heard a pop, louder than normal," said witness Lonnie Upton. "I saw one of them break out, turn around. He was losing altitude."

Authorities said one of the planes crashed into Sam Houston National Forest, starting a fire that was quickly extinguished. The pilot onboard was pronounced dead at the scene.

Late Saturday, authorities identified the victim as Dennis McRight, 69. He was flying a single-engine RV-6

He was a retired Continental Airlines captain and a member of the Freedom Flight Aviators, a group of retired military and commercial pilots. According to its website, the group's mission is "to foster patriotism through precision flight exhibitions" and to honor fallen soldiers who have given their lives.

Fellow pilots were too distraught to speak publicly Saturday as they mourned their colleague.

"It's very sad. This is someone who has a family," said Erik Burse with the Texas Department of Public Safety. "This is someone who's part of our community and now we no longer have them."

The second aircraft involved in the crash landed in a small pond and the pilot, Douglas Knab, suffered burns on one of his arms, according to officials. He was flying an RV-8.

The rest of the pilots landed safely at Lone Star Executive Airport in Conroe.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating this crash. Tony Molinaro, an FAA spokesman, said once preliminary results are gathered, that information will be forwarded to the National Transportation Safety Board.


Authorities have identified the pilot who was killed when his home-built airplane crashed early Saturday over Lake Conroe in Walker County.

Dennis Williams McCright, 69, of Montgomery, died about 11:45 a.m. after his single-engine RV-6 collided with another home-built aircraft over the northern part of the lake off FM 1375 at Stubblefield Lake Road, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.

The other pilot was able to land his damaged plane and suffered a burn to his arm.

The pilots were part of a Conroe-based flight club that practices formations each week.

Sex scandal forces airline Cathay Pacific to review ads

From: AFP
August 14, 2011

A SEX scandal has forced Cathay Pacific to review a marketing campaign that bills the airline as "the team who go the extra mile to make you feel special", a company spokeswoman said.

The Hong Kong carrier launched an investigation last week after photos were published on the internet of a woman in a red outfit resembling its cabin crew uniform performing oral sex on a man, reportedly her boyfriend, on board.

Two Cathay employees subsequently left the company, but the embarrassing episode - which reportedly took place in the cockpit - has caused the airline to consider postponing its "People and Service" campaign.

"We are thinking of holding the campaign back for a little while because the timing doesn't suit us at the moment," said a spokeswoman today, noting that the "extra mile" slogan was launched in 2010.

The emergence of the sex photos is considered to have compromised the advertising campaign, where cabin crew and staff are to be featured on billboards and newspaper and magazine slots, a newspaper report said.

"The timing of this scandal really could not have been worse in marketing terms," a Cathay management source was quoted as telling the Sunday Morning Post.

"The scope for the slogan and the campaign to be misinterpreted, or ridiculed and lampooned, in light of the cockpit incident, is obvious."

The slogan was being used in online adverts on Sunday, although the spokeswoman, citing confidentiality reasons, told AFP she could not disclose if it would subsequently be used on billboards or other advertising.

Cathay chief executive John Slosar said in a statement released late on Friday that two members of crew "shown in compromising situations" in the photographs "are no longer employees of the company".

It was not clear whether the pair were sacked or resigned voluntarily, as the airline said it would not disclose details.

The airline also refused to say whether the incident took place in the plane's cockpit, but said the investigation found no evidence to suggest the act happened on any of its flights while airborne.

Sex scandal kills ad campaign. (Cathay Pacific)

Hong Kong - A sex scandal has forced Cathay Pacific to review a marketing campaign that bills the airline as "the team who go the extra mile to make you feel special," a company spokesperson said on Sunday.

The Hong Kong carrier launched an investigation last week after photos were published on the internet of a woman in a red outfit resembling its cabin crew uniform performing oral sex on a man, reportedly her boyfriend, on board.

Two Cathay employees subsequently left the company, but the embarrassing episode - which reportedly took place in the cockpit - has caused the airline to consider postponing its "People and Service" campaign.

"We are thinking of holding the campaign back for a little while because the timing doesn't suit us at the moment," said a spokesperson, noting that the "extra mile" slogan was launched it 2010.

The emergence of the sex photos is considered to have compromised the advertising campaign, where cabin crew and staff are to be featured on billboards and newspaper and magazine slots, a newspaper report said.

Bad timing

"The timing of this scandal really could not have been worse in marketing terms," a Cathay management source was quoted as telling the Sunday Morning Post.

"The scope for the slogan and the campaign to be misinterpreted, or ridiculed and lampooned, in light of the cockpit incident, is obvious."

The slogan was being used in online adverts on Sunday, although the spokesperson, citing confidentiality reasons, told AFP she could not disclose if it would subsequently be used on billboards or other advertising.

Cathay chief executive John Slosar said in a statement released late on Friday that two members of crew "shown in compromising situations" in the photographs "are no longer employees of the company."

It was not clear whether the pair were sacked or resigned voluntarily, as the airline said it would not disclose details.

The airline also refused to say whether the incident took place in the plane's cockpit, but said the investigation found no evidence to suggest the act happened on any of its flights while airborne.

Philippines: Senator Arroyo’s absence won’t stall Senate probe on helicopters.

SENATOR Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said Sunday that hearings on the anomalous purchase of police helicopters will continue even without former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's husband.

"There are many others who also have to answer for this anomaly," he told Sun.Star in a text message.

He said Mike Arroyo himself said, through his lawyer, that he is ready to help the Senate in its investigation on the helicopter purchase.

Mr. Arroyo missed the Senate hearing last week, citing poor health, as assessed by Dr. Mariano Blancia, head of the Senate clinic.

Blancia met with Arroyo's cardiologist Thursday and said that based on medical records, Arroyo is too sick to testify.

Guingona said, however, that it will be up to Dr. Manuel Chua Chiaco, executive director of the government-owned Philippine Heart Center, to determine if Arroyo's dissecting aortic aneurysm should keep him out of Senate hearings.

Senator Franklin Drilon, a member of the committee, said testimony and documents submitted to the Senate have established "beyond reasonable doubt" that the second-hand helicopters sold to the Philippine National Police belonged to Arroyo.

Archibald Po, owner of Lionair Inc., has tagged Arroyo as the owner of the helicopters. At the hearing Thursday, Lionair Inc. general manager Rene Sia presented documents showing Arroyo's company, LTA Inc., paid the down payment for five helicopters, including the units the police bought, through a wire transfer in 2003.

Lionair collections agent Edith Solano-Juguan also testified that she collected maintenance fees for the helicopters from LTA. She said she picked the money up at the LTA building in Makati City.

Lionair pilots and a dispatcher have also confirmed that they took orders from Arroyo and from his son, then Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, before the police bought the helicopters.

“In my view, there is no way that Mike Arroyo could disprove the fact that he was the real owner of the choppers. If he would insist that he disowns the choppers, then he should execute an affidavit holding Archibald Po and Lionair free and harmless of any liability in the event that Mr. Po donates the helicopters to the PNP,” Drilon said in a press statement Sunday.

Arroyo has charged Po with perjury while his lawyer Inocencio Ferrer has said that Arroyo sold his shares in LTA Inc. since 2001.

The hearings were prompted by a resolution filed by Guingona and Senator Panfilo Lacson calling on the Senate to investigate a P105-million purchase of brand-new helicopters by the PNP in 2009; two of those helicopters had flight logs dating back to 2004.

Pilots of Alembic Ltd Ashit Patel: Bag stolen after breaking car window. Alkapuri , Vadodara, India

VADODARA: Thieves stealing bags and valuables from cars struck in the busy Alkapuri area of the city and broke the glass of a car to steal a bag from it on R C Dutt Road even during heavy traffic movement on Thursday afternoon.

The theft took place between 2 pm and 3 pm when the chief pilot of Alembic Ltd Ashit Patel had gone for lunch with two other pilots of the company - Mankaran Singh and Scott Lentz. The car was parked on the road opposite a petrol pump adjoining Hotel Express, where the pilots were having lunch, when the theft took place. Patel said he had handed over the keys of the car to a hotel staffer as the hotel provides valet parking facility. Since there was no parking space in the hotel or in front of it, the car was parked opposite the petrol pump.

VIDEO Full HD: Lufthansa Airbus A380 contrails over London.

Video by Tunika Jonas - Augsburg, Germany on Aug 2, 2011

My first Lufthansa A380 contrails :)

Flight information:
Flight: LH455
Airline: Lufthansa
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800 (A388)
From: San Francisco (SFO)
To: Frankfurt/Main (FRA)
Date: 2 July 2011
Location: London Heahtrow Airport
Camera: Sony HDR-CX550E
Music: Thomas Bergersen - Illusions

Jaime: We're going to miss seeing you at W29! Town of Ocean City announces new airport manager. Ocean City Municipal Airport (KOXB), Maryland.


Town of Ocean City Press Releases
by Public Relations

Ocean City, MD – The Town of Ocean City announces that Jaime Giandomenico will be the new manager of the Ocean City Municipal Airport. He will begin his duties on August 29.

The Annapolis resident has been serving as Manager of the Queen Anne’s County Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville since 2007. Prior to that, Giandomenico was an Aviation Systems Planning Officer at the Maryland Aviation Administration for seven years. He has also served as a three-term President of the Maryland Airport Manager’s Association. Giandomenico holds an FAA Airman Certificate with Private Pilot, Airframe and Power Plant, and Inspection Authorization Privileges.

“Mr. Giandomenico’s historical background of employment with the Maryland Aviation Administration, coupled with his recent employment as the Airport Manager at the Bay Bridge Airport, provides an excellent foundation of hands-on experience that the Ocean City Municipal Airport was searching for,” said Hal Adkins, Ocean City Public Works Director.

“I have enjoyed visiting the Town of Ocean City with my family for many years and I am looking forward to becoming a permanent resident and member of the community,” Giandomenico said.

Giandomenico has a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a minor in history from Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg.

Victoria Airport Authority ... Viscount Aero Centre, Canada: Airport an economic engine.

George Maude stands in front of his Second World War fighter plane at the Viscount Aero Centre.
Photograph by: Adrian Lam, Times Colonist, Times Colonist


AERO CENTRE FOUNDED IN '95

Businesses within businesses have set up shop on Victoria Airport Authority lands.

The Viscount Aero Centre is home to several businesses and houses about 30 planes in its hangars, said centre manager Matt Peulen. Companies lease airport land and own their buildings.

On the north side of the airport, "The whole industrial park is really taking off," Peulen said.

Examples of VAA tenants are Thrifty Foods, which has started work on its new distribution warehouse, and Slegg Lumber with a wall panel and truss operation.

Viscount, owned by local resident Jim McLaren, was founded in 1995. That company has 26,000 square feet (2,415 square metres) of office space, plus 60,000 (5,579 square metres) square feet of hangars, Peulen said. Pilots have access to services such as an aircraft mechanic, fuel, and a washing station for aircraft.

Company tenants include Island Pacific Flight Academy, Advanced Subsea Services, a diving and ocean technology firm, restaurant RC Grillhouse and Lounge, and financial advisors.

Altogether about 30 employees and another 10 pilots can be found in Viscount buildings on any given day, Peulen said.

The interior of a Viscount hangar is spotless. A staffer was mopping the floor recently, surrounded by gleaming, immaculate planes.

Owners of these aircraft are not only local but are based in Alberta, California, Eastern Canada and the Eastern U.S., and the Bahamas, Peulen said.

The company has with 11,000 square feet (1,022 square metres) of office space available for lease. Tenants get the advantage of direct access to the airport, and proximity to the ferry terminal as well as Sidney.

"It's very much a community," Peulen said. "We have a really close-knit group." Viscount stages fundraisers for charitable causes on a regular basis.

LONGER RUNWAY A YYJ GOAL

Launching trans-ocean flights at Victoria's airport would be a major step towards fostering regional economic growth, advocates say.

It was 65 years ago this month that Maj. H. Cuthbert Holmes, then chamber president, talked about how Victoria's economy would prosper with such flights. He was unhappy that Vancouver had been chosen over Victoria as a terminus for service across the Atlantic and to Australia.

As B.C.'s capital city and as a community poised to grow quickly, Victoria was entitled to that service, Holmes said.

He spoke frankly, leaving no doubt that flights spanning the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would benefit Vancouver Island.

Holmes said in an Aug. 30, 1946, story in the Victoria Times that "Growth of a city was largely dependent on transportation facilities, and air transport would play a large part in city development in the future. Victoria, as a terminus for trans-oceanic air travel, would be bound to benefit."

The Victoria Airport Authority agrees. Its goal is to extend its main runway by 444 metres to allow for direct flights to Europe.

And today, this is the top federal issue for the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

Bruce Carter, chamber chief executive officer, said this week that the runway expansion is a "pivotal piece" of transportation infrastructure that would bring economic benefits to the region.

A longer runway would help our tourism and technology sectors, Carter said. "More direct connections will lead to more business."

Direct flights between Victoria and San Francisco have led to business development through financing and partnerships in the capital region's economy, said Carter.

The aim is to lengthen the main runway to 2,577 metres from 2,133.6 metres.

A longer runway would allow a fully loaded aircraft to take off with enough fuel to get to England, and would also open the possibility of direct flights between here and China, said Terry Stewart, airport director of marketing and community relations.

Now that the final design is complete, the project's budget is $32 million, reflecting "full knowledge of all the construction challenges as well as the lower post recession bids that are coming in," Stewart said.

VAA is proposing costs be split equally among the authority, the province and the federal government. The job is "shovelready," Stewart said.

Economic benefits would spread beyond the capital region and through Vancouver Island, immediately and for the long term, Stewart said.

He raised the prospect of one of China's airlines buying a longrange Boeing 787 Dreamliner, now in production, to carry passengers between Victoria and China, which has granted Canada approved destination status.

FIRM BIG ON RESTORATION

Going to work for Mike Ingram can mean flying to such far-off spots as Italy, Croatia, Germany and Switzerland.

"I'm all over the place," he says cheerfully. Ingram, president of Victoria Air Maintenance on Hurricane Road in North Saanich, travels to service and repair Canadianregistered aircraft. "We do annual inspections that have to be signed off by a Canadian licensed mechanic."

These aircraft perform a variety of jobs and are used in tourism, military and by the United Nations.

Victoria Air Maintenance, founded in 1983, is located on leased Victoria Airport Authority land. Customers come from the local airport and also fly in from locations such as Calgary, Edmonton, and the Yukon. Attractive landing fees for aircraft make Victoria a desirable destination for customers, Ingram said.

The company has been long known for warbird (old military aircraft) restoration. Look on its website ( http: //vicair.net) for photographs of the restoration-in-progress of a de Havilland Mosquito, dating back to the early 1940s, owned by a Vancouver collector.

When finished, "It will be the only flying original Mosquito," Ingram said.

Waves of bright blue hues cover a Chinese Nanchang airplane, another project. A gleaming silver body of a Cessna 182 is one of five such aircraft the company is overhauling to be used in the air cadets program in B.C. to tow gliders. The first will be finished in December, Ingram said.

About 25 per cent of Victoria Air Maintenance's work is devoted to restoration, while the rest is on general maintenance of a variety of aircraft. It has 18 employees, Ingram said. The company is the local Cessna authorized service centre.

When the U.S. economy was shaken in 2008, much of the warbird restoration slipped away. The proportion of general aviation work grew, helped keep the company going, and is key in its future growth strategy, Ingram said.

VARIETY KEY FOR PLASTICS FIRM

Scott Plastics Ltd. is nearly 60 years old but the family-owned firm situated on leased Victoria Airport Authority land is going strong thanks to innovation, diversification and keeping an eye on trends.

"We are doing a lot now with kayak fishing. It is becoming incredibly popular," said Robin Richardson, vice-president of operations.

Scott manufactures fishing equipment for kayaks, such as rod holders, fish finders, and stabilizers. The company has even received footage of a marlin being hauled in by a kayaker in the Bahamas, he said.

The Sidney company, a longtime manufacturer of fishing gear, is embarking on fishing accessories for stand-up paddle boards, he said. The sport of stand-up paddling is skyrocketing as more and more fans take to the water.

Scott Plastics also makes a wide range of marine, firefighting and outdoor products, sold through retail operations. The majority of production goes off the Island, Richardson said.

The firefighting division is growing. Scott sells nozzles that connect both with a container holding a fire retardant foam and with a garden hose. This allows homeowners to spray houses to help prevent fires. This is selling especially well in California where wildfires have swept over thousands of hectares.

A nylon-resin wrench, weighing less than a metal wrench, is another popular Scott firefighting product. The wrench had "800 pounds of torque on it and it didn't break," Richardson said.

"We are shipping firefighting products all over the world," he said. "There's a lot of metal replacement going on in that industry."

Scott Plastics was founded by Blayney Scott, a well-known and liked businessman and innovator, who based his company in James Bay on Erie Street. He died in 2000, shortly before the company moved to its current site.

The new location is in 65,000 square feet, up from about 30,000 in James Bay. "We more than fill this building now," Richardson said.

Since the move, sales have doubled, he said. Exports outside of Canada account for approximately 65 per cent of sales, compared with 20 to 25 per cent prior to the move. Staff numbers have grown to 95 from 60.

The location works well for the company. Lease rates are "very competitive," the site is close to major transportation terminals, such as the airport and ferry, and other businesses nearby complement each other. For example, Ramsay Group, specializing in machine works and another family-owned firm, has fashioned items for Scott.

Greater Victoria's lifestyle helps attract and retain employees, Richardson said. "When people come here and they start working for us, or any of the manufacturing companies, they stay. That's a huge advantage as you build your company, your reputation and your product knowledge."


Read more and photos: http://www.timescolonist.com

CANADA: Airport business poised to take off. Victoria International Airport.

Once described as a "mudhole" in the aftermath of the Second World War, today's Victoria International Airport is a growing and diverse economic engine in the capital region.

Like many airports these days, YYJ is about more than just runways and airplanes.

The 465 hectares, under control of the Victoria Airport Authority, incorporates a range of enterprises that includes technology companies, yacht builders, house movers, manufacturers, office space, pilot training, aircraft mechanics, non-profit organizations and government agencies - even grazing for dairy cattle and hay production.

Billed as Canada's ninth busiest airport, its tenant mix reflects the global trend of airports establishing themselves as economic hubs with various services and uses.

"We are a gateway and an economic engine, that's clear," said Geoff Dickson, who became VAA president and CEO this year.

The importance of business is reflected in the authority's annual earnings. Last year, the authority registered $22.6 million in revenue on concession contracts - which include retail and food services, taxi and parking fees and money from advertising - bringing in the lion's share at $6.9 million and rentals of land at $2.5 million.

Landing fees delivered $2.8 million, general terminal charges brought in $2.35 million and airport improvement fees $7.4 million.

VAA land is being developed in stages, in consultation with the municipalities of North Saanich and Sidney, where its property is located.

Next month, the airport authority goes to North Saanich to discuss its next phase of potential development on 16 hectares on the southwest portion of the property.

Diversity at airports makes financial sense to Tae Oum, president of the Air Transport Research Society at the University of B.C.'s Sauder School of Business. The society issued a report this week examining airport efficiency. Victoria was not included in its evaluation although the larger Vancouver airport was, taking first place among Canadian airports evaluated.

"Our report shows that the world's most efficient airports are supplementing core income with money generated through non-aeronautical revenue streams, such as parking, office rentals, retail activity and real estate development," Oum said.

"Our benchmarking report also shows that more efficient airports tend to offer lower aircraft landing fees and passenger terminal charges, ultimately leaving more money in the pockets of travellers."

Victoria airport's landing fees are among the lowest in Canada and that's by design, said Dickson, because revenue from tenants keeps fees down and makes the airport an attractive destination for airlines.

John Kasarda, a professor at the University of North Carolina and co-author of the new book Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next, said a new "urban form" of airports is appearing around the world, sometimes stretching up to 30 kilometres from the runways, acting as a powerful engine for economic development in planned smart, sustainable growth.

"The aerotropolis consists of an airport city and outlying corridors and clusters of aviation-linked businesses and associated residential development," he wrote on www.aerotropolis.com.

Victoria's airport is obviously not of this scope, but it was set up as an independent authority in 1997 to be financially self-sufficient. And business has been booming.

During the Second World War, the airport on the Saanich Peninsula was filled with planes and personnel, activity which dropped off when hostilities ended. An April 1956 issue of the Daily Colonist showed a Patricia Bay Airport (the airport's former name) sign listing: Trans-Canada Airlines, Pacific Western Airlines Ltd., Fairey Aviation Co. of Canada, the Victoria Flying Club, Pacific Aviation Services Ltd. and Vancouver Island Helicopters.

The airport now has close to 100 businesses and operations, including government tenants, on its land.

The airport generated gross revenues of $440.8 million (reflecting direct, indirect and induced revenue) in 2003, according to an economic impact study published in 2005. A subsequent evaluation has not been done, but the current figure is estimated at about $600 million, said Terry Stewart, VAA director of marketing and communications.

About 2,000 people are employed at operations on airport land, Stewart said.

Some rents are as low as $1 per year for tenants such as the B.C. Aviation Museum, while most are at what Stewart calls "reasonable" rates. Tenants are attracted by the large chunks of land which can be leased, along with other factors such as the proximity to the airport and ferries.

VAA works on a five-year timeline to develop various chunks of land, in partnership with the community, figuring out what is the highest and best use, he said.

"It is important to us to bring on the right kind of development, ones that are going to generate economic activity to the community ... We have contrived to be real stewards of the property."

He noted environmental audits are done annually on tenants, who work collaboratively with the VAA.

Initiatives include high-efficiency lighting in the terminal building, a rainwater management and monitoring program and environmentally friendly building construction.

VAA has just developed 10.9 hectares of land on Mills Road on the north side of the airport, where Thrifty Foods' 152,000 square-foot distribution centre is under construction. The $31-million project will create 50 new jobs once it is finished.

Some of the more established operations include the Victoria Flying Club, started in the 1940s, and Vancouver Island Helicopters, which was launched in 1955 with one Bell helicopter and is now one of the largest private fleet operators in the world.

Air courier Purolator is one of the biggest and busiest tenants, taking delivery via a Boeing 727 of between 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of material daily between Tuesdays and Fridays, and with air freight trucked in on Saturdays, said Armindo Pedro, operations manager.

Nicholson Manufacturing Ltd., known for its debarking technology and other forestry equipment, moved to airport land 20 years ago.

Viking Air, owned by Westerkirk Capital Inc. of Toronto, is the most high-profile success story at the airport. It has brought the rugged and versatile de Havilland Twin Otter back into production. Buyers from around the globe have put in orders worth hundreds of millions of dollars for new models of the renowned Canadian aircraft.

The next mega-project is the $104-million base for the Canadian Forces 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron. It went to tender in May and the opening date for bids has been extended to Aug. 18. This 20,000square-foot operations and maintenance centre will house nine new Cyclone helicopters and is expected to create more than 800 construction jobs.

About 1.5 million passengers pass through the airport every year and its runways accommodate about 120 flights a day throughout North America - including new seasonal service to Phoenix, Hawaii and Las Vegas starting in the fall.

Total numbers of revenue-paying passengers dropped by 1.1 per cent in the first quarter and by 3.5 per cent in the second quarter of this year. Dickson suggested that the lower numbers could be due to concern over the economy in Canada and the U.S.