Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jury deliberates pilot's fate in drowning case

HOUSTON – A federal jury on Wednesday deliberated the fate of a Department of Homeland Security pilot who is accused by prosecutors of lying about whether he flew his helicopter low over two would-be illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande in South Texas before one of the men drowned.

During closing arguments, prosecutors told jurors that surveillance video clearly shows James Peters flew his helicopter over the immigrants, getting as close as 100 feet to an international bridge in Laredo, in an attempt to drive them back to Mexico as they tried crossing into the United States on Dec. 14, 2005.

"Peters decides to try to push them back, force them back," said prosecutor Joseph Magliolo. "He takes progressively more aggressive action to the folks in the water."

Officials say turbulence from the helicopter's rotor blades made Carlos Delgadillo Martinez lose his grip on an inner tube. His body was found later that day.

Peters was indicted on four counts of making false statements to investigators looking into the drowning death. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted. His trial began Monday afternoon with testimony in the case lasting just over a day.

But lawyers for Peters, 41, told jurors that prosecutors presented flimsy evidence and that the video doesn't clearly show how far above the men the helicopter actually flew.

Thomas Berg, one of Peters' attorneys, told jurors that the pilot didn't lie to investigators when asked if he encountered illegal immigrants that day and whether he flew close to the bridge. Berg said Peters believed he did not fly too close to the bridge and didn't recall flying over any individuals in the river that day.

"The dangerous work (pilots like Peters) do in trying to secure our border is to protect you," Berg told jurors. "He was doing his job that day."

Berg also said there's no proof of anyone drowning on the video.

"This is not a case about killing somebody in a river," he said. "You don't see anybody die in this video. You don't know how that man drowned."

Berg said a Border Patrol agent testified that after the helicopter left, he saw two men get out of the water on the Mexican side of the river. Magliolo acknowledged in his closing statements that the Border Patrol agent said this and that from the video it can be hard to tell whether the inner tube that Delgadillo was holding flipped over. It's unclear if the individuals whom the agent saw getting out of the river were the same ones encountered by the helicopter.

But "Peters had contact with the (illegal immigrants) at the bridge. The video shows that," Magliolo said.

Peters, who is currently stationed in Maine, has worked for Homeland Security since 1997, becoming a helicopter pilot in 2003.

Airport Manager: Jet’s touch and go no big deal. Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport (KPKB), Parkersburg, West Virginia.

WILLIAMSTOWN - Although several commenters on The Parkersburg News and Sentinel website question why large jets used the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport for possible training purposes on Monday, the facility's manager is not phased.

"It's not a big deal that we were not contacted and told what was going on," said airport manager Terry Moore. "We are a public airport and it's open airspace that anyone can use at any time."

Moore added the air traffic control tower knows the flight plans of each plane using the facility, but those working in the tower do not know more than that.

"We are not told who those in the plane are, why they are here or what they plan to do," he said. "It's is like a cab driver letting a passenger out, they don't know what their plans are."

On Monday a 737 jet that circled the area caused a stir with several citizens having called the airport and newspaper to see what was going on.

Moore said that Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland often sends planes to the local airport to do "touch and goes," landings and take-offs for training purposes. Last Thursday the airport hosted a larger 757 jet for the same reason.

"This is about the third time this year we have seen planes of this size using our runway for touch and goes," Moore said. "They come here often, especially this time of year."

Moore, a retired U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, said military bases usually rotate people in the summer, and Andrews Air Force Base likely has some new pilots who need training on the larger aircraft in the fleet. He added the local airport and others of its size are used by flight schools, such as Andrews Air Force Base, for training maneuvers rather than airports closer to the Washington, D.C., area because there is less traffic.

"By flying the hour here and using our facility, they get good training because we are not busy and it's difficult to find a 7,000-foot runway with little traffic, like we have," Moore said.

A message left for the media contact at Andrews Air Force Base was not returned for the second day.

By having the larger jets use the airport for training, it is no different than helicopters from Columbus or smaller planes from larger airports using the runway. The size of the plane is the only notable difference, Moore said.

"We never hear anything when planes use our runway like this and I don't expect to," he said. "It doesn't mean anything is going on or anyone is coming here, it is just something that happens."

Original article and comments:

Ratan Tata readies plan to enter aviation biz

MUMBAI: Ratan Tata may have given up plans to get into civil aviation but the chairman of the $72 billion Tata Group is putting pieces together to be a major player in the general aviation space. Tata, a trained pilot, is working out deals with international players for business jets, helicopters as well as for aircraft management and maintenance services. Investments in this space are being driven by the group's two main holding companies, Tata Sons and Tata Industries.

The group is in talks with Florida-based Avantair to establish a partnership in India, where use of private planes by companies is on the rise. Avantair's business model is of fractional ownership, giving individuals and businesses the benefits of whole aircraft ownership at a fraction of the cost. The firm intends to emulate its US programme here, said sources familiar with the plans. "Discussions including the equity structure of the venture are at an early stage," they added. If things work out as planned, it will be the salt-tosoftware conglomerate's second investment in a fractional jet operator after Singapore's BJETS in February 2008.

The group's hospitality arm Indian Hotels (Taj chain) holds about 62% stake in BJETS, which has a fleet of four aircraft comprising of Cessna and Hawker jets. The Tata Group is also set to form a 50:50 joint venture with Hong Kong's Metrojet to offer aircraft maintenance services to the growing Indian corporate aviation market. The country has some 130 private jets, accounting for 12% of global market that analysts expect to double in the next ten years. The group plans to separate its small aircraft management services unit housed under Taj Air into the new JV company, sources explained.

Until a few years ago, the Tata Group had a small presence in air charter services. Through Taj Air it had forayed into business aviation in 1993 and had just one aircraft. The main purpose was to fly Taj guests to various Taj properties within the country.

Last year, Taj Air increased its fleet size to four aircraft comprising of Falcon and Avanti jets, and also started offering aircraft maintenance service. Ratan Tata, said sources , is himself spearheading the initiative and putting the building blocks in place for the group to emerge as a significant player in the business aviation space.

Last year, Tata Sons acquired a one-third stake in Italy's Piaggio Aero Industries, manufacturer of the Avanti II turboprop twin, marking the group's entry into aircraft manufacturing.

Though the group, that pioneered commercial airlines business in India through Tata Aviation which after nationalization became Air India, it has almost buried its desire to enter the civil aviation sector after a couple of failed attempts. In mid-1990 s, it planned to float an airline with Singapore Airlines and then it looked to buy a 40% stake in Air India, when the government was talking of divesting its stake in the national carrier.

President Pratibha Patil sees copter smoke, hops out.

TAKING NO CHANCES: President Pratibha Patil comes out of the helicopter that developed a technical snag after she boarded it on Wednesday morning in Kollam.

Smoke emitted from the helicopter meant to carry the President, Ms Pratibha Patil, when it was about to take off from the Ashramam Ground in Kollam on Wednesday, triggering alarm.

The air conditioner unit in the Indian Air Force helicopter started emitting smoke soon after the President stepped into it to fly to Thiruvananthapuram.

She immediately got out of the chopper creating consternation among the assembled crowds as well as security personnel.

The IAF has ordered an enquiry by the technical board of inquiry into the incident.

Following the technical snag, Ms Patil had to wait in her car for about 30 minutes for a stand-by chopper to arrive and take her to Thiruvananthapuram where she was scheduled to attend a function.

Traffic in Kollam city also came to a halt for about an hour as the police blocked the movement of vehicles until the President left.

Sources said that the chopper that carried the VVIPs belonged to the Com Squadron of the IAF that is headquartered in Delhi.

"During all VVIP movements a stand-by craft would also be made available to meet any emergency situations," said a senior police officer.

The President later flew back to Delhi from Thiruvananthapuram after completing her three-day visit to the state.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil's departure from here to Thiruvananthapuram Wednesday morning got delayed as the helicopter in which she had to fly developed a technical problem. A problem in one of its air conditioners was detected as the helicopter was preparing to take-off.

Among those onboard was Kerala's Revenue Minister Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan, who was the Minister in Waiting for the President.

Official sources said it was a minor snag. Indian Air Force personnel did not want to take any risk and took the President in one of the escort helicopters.

Police said the helicopter did not show any problem during a trial flight earlier in the morning. They said that the actual delay at the helipad was only for about 10 minutes. This was because the President arrived at the helipad more than 25 minutes after the scheduled time.

The President was scheduled to leave Kollam by 10.10 a.m., but she arrived at the helipad only by 10.35 a.m. This was because there was a delay in her leaving the hotel where she was staying.

Enchanted by Kollam, she asked her secretary to take some photos and video-graphs of various locations in Kollam and also the hoardings welcoming her to the city. These she wanted to carry with her as memento. Completion of that task caused the delay, official sources said.

The delay in her departure gave a tough time to the police. The police cleared three routes in case an emergency alternative was needed.

One was to take her to the nearby Government Guest House. The other was to take her back to the hotel and the third was to take her by road to Thiruvananthapuram.

In fact, the police made arrangements to clear a 25-km stretch of the National Highway from here to Paripally for the purpose. But the President herself opted for another helicopter.

Meanwhile, the delay caused major gridlocks in the city as traffic remained blocked from 9.45 a.m. itself to clear the way for the President to travel from the hotel to the helipad.

The blockade was lifted by the police only after the President left at 10.45 a.m.

Police, however, said traffic flowed smoothly through the deviation points.
They noted that of the six road trips taken by the President during her three-day stay in the city, there were no serious traffic blockades except for the one on Wednesday morning. The helicopter that took the President to Thiruvananthapuram returned to carry her entourage.

CEO at Tampa International wants wine and dine airline executives

By Steve Huettel, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Aug 31, 2011 07:05 PM

In recent years, Tampa International Airport's past and current chief executives each flew to New York to brief bond rating agencies on Wall Street.

Louis Miller bunked down at the historic Roosevelt Hotel in mid-town Manhattan for $232 a night in May 2009. Almost exactly two years later, current TIA CEO Joe Lopano made a pricier choice: the Andaz, smack in the heart of the financial district. The cost for one night: $628.29.

Lopano also has embraced wining and dining airline executives to build relationships that could lead to more flights at TIA. That included a $584 dinner bill with three top AirTran Airways executives in Orlando Jan. 20.

Lopano's bosses on the aviation board so far have endorsed his "spend money to make money" approach. They say he was hired to build up Tampa International's puny schedule of non-stop flights to overseas destinations and the West Coast. Schmoozing clients, they insist, is part of the game.

"We're running a business and you've got to entertain,'' said aviation board member Joseph Diaco. He defended the big dinner bill for Lopano, AirTran CEO Robert Fornaro and two top lieutenants at the Capital Grille in Orlando Jan. 20.

"You can't go to dinner with four or five people and not pay $500,'' Diaco said. "It's a reasonable amount for anything halfway decent. That's the way corporations do business.''

In an interview Tuesday, Lopano said he and the AirTran brass spent the dinner talking about potential new international routes for the airport.

"One of the principles here is you have to have a good relationship with airline executives,'' he said.

What do regular people think about spending nearly $600 in public money for a fancy dinner?

"I'm learning about this market,'' said Lopano, who took charge of the airport Jan. 1 after working from 1996 until the end of last year in Dallas where he was responsible for attracting new flights.

"I know that I may very well need to be sensitive to that in the future.''

Likewise for his choice of hotels, although there were few other choices that night in May during Navy Week in New York, he said.

During the interview, he emphasized the bigger role of expanding a region's airline service to stimulate economic development.

"A CEO of an airline doesn't go to Hardee's for dinner,'' Lopano said. ''We're trying to get someone to commit a $150 million aircraft to our community. We're asking them to make a major commitment, and we want to treat these people well.''

Tampa International is publicly owned. The Aviation Authority runs on revenue generated by airline fees, rent from tenants and the money people pay to park in airport garages. It doesn't collect taxes to pay for operations but receives grants funded by federal and state taxes.

Miller, who headed the airport for nearly 14 years, was famously frugal when it came to his own travel and entertaining big shots. He resisted the trend among airports to pay hefty incentive for airlines to start new service. Critics argued that was a big reason he couldn't attract an airline to launch Tampa nonstop flights to Europe or Latin America.

Trudy Carson, the airport's former air service director, traveled to airline conferences and made calls on domestic and foreign air carriers. In her last year, she rarely took airline brass out to eat and spent modestly when she did. Lopano fired her in March.

Miller resigned under pressure from the authority board in March 2010. He landed the top job at Atlanta's airport, the world's largest.

Following Lopano's recommendation, board members voted in June to offer airlines financial incentives for launching new service. An airline starting daily flights to Europe with a widebody 767 jet can get nearly $2.5 million in airport fee waivers and advertising money over two years. Shorter international flights and new domestic service qualify for smaller incentives.

Lopano has proposed increasing the marketing department's travel budget nearly three-fold to $150,000 for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

His top staff has already hosted a couple big-ticket nights out for guests, including:
• A dinner on May 3 for eight airline employees and four aviation authority executives at Tampa's Mise En Place restaurant to celebrate the launch of JetBlue's first Tampa-San Juan flights. Cost: $1,033.
• Dinner for two authority vice presidents and Robert Hancock, who directs a conference that brings together airline planners and airports. The event, Network USA 2012, is scheduled for Tampa. The bill from Armani's: $315.

Seaside Airport still a work in progress

Seaside Airport improvements
Fast FactsSeaside Airport ImprovementsCost: nearly $300,000Project: Drainage work, security fencing, helicopter parking

SEASIDE - A nearly $300,000 fix up at the Seaside Airport is underway and the project is likely not going to cost the city a dime.

"There should be virtually no cost to the city for this project," said Neal Wallace, Seaside Public Works director.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airport improvement grant money will cover 95 percent of the costs; the other five percent will come from the Connect Oregon III lottery-backed transportation-funding program, according to Wallace.

The Seaside Airport improvements include new security fencing and gates, drainage improvements, helicopter parking and removal of tie-down anchors.

"Last year we conducted an evaluation of the airport's drainage system and found that the system has basically failed, with collapsed pipes and other factors causing water to flood the airport more than normal and also back up into the mobile home park next door," said Randall Henderson, Seaside Airport Commission chairman. "This improvement project involves replacing several pipe runs, fixing and adding some catch-basins, and general improvements such as increasing some of the slope angles."

The airport fencing is an ongoing project that was partly completed last year.

"The FAA likes doing security improvements for Homeland Security reasons, and while I'm frankly not as concerned about that, I do feel that people are a lot more likely to fly in and stay overnight if they have a secure area to park their planes," said Henderson.

The helicopter pad is simply a matter of marking out an area on the ramp, to ensure that helicopters such as Life Flight, Coast Guard, and others have a designated spot to park without conflicting with fixed-wing operations.

The tie-down improvements are a loose end left over from the hangar construction and parking lot relocation.

"After those projects we wound up with some empty fence-post holes and obsolete tie-down pads that need to be removed and filled so they don't cause problems for planes taxiing over them," Henderson said.

The City of Seaside and its airport commission decided to split the project into two phases, launching the first phase improvements this year, and applying for another FAA grant next year for the second phase.

"It's getting late in the season to start such a project but it's going out to bid now," Henderson said. "We'll just have to see how much of the improvements can actually be accomplished this year."

According to Henderson, the Seaside Airport's primary use is as a landing strip for private flyers to come and enjoy the amenities that Seaside has to offer.

"Folks just coming in to shop at the stores, eat at the restaurants, and stay in the hotels remains its main economic benefit to the area," said Henderson. "The hangar construction and infrastructure improvements have all contributed to the local economy by using local contractors."

He pointed out that the airport hangars bring in some income from the lease on the land and there are tentative plans for another bank of hangars. Henderson remains hopeful that aviation-related businesses will locate at or near the Seaside Airport.

"Like just about everything else, general aviation has suffered in the current economic climate so we aren't seeing as much benefit as we have in the past," said Henderson. "But I'm sure we will see some more opportunities once things turn around, even if it's just more people flying in to visit our city.

Wallace also remains hopeful that new businesses would locate at the airport, but said the hope and reality are two different things.

"The reality is that with the number of trips generated at the airport, the size of the runway and adverse weather during the winter, I don't see a high level of investment at the airport."

Coast Guard aircrew available for media interviews regarding Hurricane Irene deployment.

Media Advisory
Date: August 31, 2011
Contact: Ninth Coast Guard District Public Affairs Office
(216) 902-6020
Coast Guard aircrew available for media interviews regarding Hurricane Irene deployment

CLEVELAND — A four-person aircrew assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., that deployed to South Carolina in support of the federal government's response to Hurricane Irene are scheduled to be available for interviews with the media Thursday regarding their deployment.

Lt. Ryan Allen of Camden, N.C.
Lt. j.g. Conor Madison of Lawrenceville, N.J.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Rob Rendon of Joshua, Texas
Petty Officer 2nd Class James Saleeby of Clemmons, N.C.
WHAT: Available for interviews regarding their deployment in support of Hurricane Irene response efforts
WHEN: 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011
WHERE: Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, 1175 Airport Access Road, Traverse City, MI 49686

The Coast Guardsmen met nearly 50 other Coast Guard aviators from around the country at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C., Friday afternoon in preparation for the hurricane's landfall.

Once there, the Traverse City aircrew assisted with planning and logistics, flew through 70-mph winds Saturday evening to relocate a helicopter to Wilmington, N.C., flew post-hurricane assessment flights from Wilmington to Elizabeth City, N.C., and stood by to respond to potential search and rescue cases.

They were released Tuesday morning and returned to Traverse City Tuesday night.


Trump dumps airport suit, satisfied that runway expansion is off and noise-monitoring, on

By Jennifer Sorentrue
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 5:13 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011

Donald Trump has dropped his lawsuit to stop the potential expansion of Palm Beach International Airport.

In a letter sent to Palm Beach County officials this week, Trump's attorney, John Marion IV, said the real estate mogul decided to withdraw the suit after airport managers agreed not to disband a series of noise monitors around PBIA and the advisory committee overseeing them.

The airport has shelved plans to build another commercial runway because of a significant drop in air traffic.

Trump filed suit in 2010 asking that the runway plan be blocked and that airplanes be prevented from flying over his Mar-a-Largo residence and club. A judge rejected the bulk of the suit in December, but said it could be refiled, which Trump's attorneys did.

In his letter to the county, Marion warned that another suit may be filed if airport mangers resume their pursuit of an airport expansion.

"Since the reason Mr. Trump filed this lawsuit in the first place was to protect the citizens of Palm Beach County affected by unreasonable airport traffic and noise, and since it is now apparent that the county has abandoned or put the very things that threatened those citizens on indefinite hold, Mr. Trump has decided to dismiss the case for now," Marion wrote. "However, he will not hesitate to file a similar action in the future should the county again take action which threatens county residents with unreasonable airport noise and traffic."

PBIA Spokeswoman Casandra Davis declined to comment on Trump's withdrawal.

In February the Federal Aviation Administration said that traffic at PBIA would have to increase dramatically before the county could move forward with a runway expansion. Officials said they would consider approving the runway's construction only when air traffic at the airport reaches levels that would cause "unacceptable" delays.

Meanwhile, County Airports Director Bruce Pelly last month withdrew his recommendation to dismantle the airport's noise monitoring system and the county's Citizens Committee on Airport Noise. After hearing from a crowd of angry residents, Pelly said it was clear that he would not have the support of the county commission.

ExpertFlyer's Seat Alerts® Feature Wins 'Traveler Comfort' Category in Annual GBTA Business Traveler Innovation Awards Competition

Seat Alerts Automatically Monitors Airline Carriers Worldwide and Notifies Passengers When Occupied Seats Become Available.

(PRWEB) August 31, 2011®, the premier air travel information website, announced that its exclusive Seat Alerts® feature has won the "Traveler Comfort" category in the annual Business Traveler Innovation Awards competition sponsored by the GBTA and The Wall Street Journal. The competition identifies and honors products, services, and ideas that help make business travel easier and more productive.

Chris Lopinto, President and co-founder of ExpertFlyer, presented a live demonstration of Seat Alerts during the Global Business Travel Association's (GBTA) annual conference held in Denver, Colorado last week.

"We are very happy that business travelers see the value in Seat Alerts and the service is providing them with a better experience each time they travel," said Chris Lopinto. "Since January, we have helped travelers find more than 4,000 seats that were previously occupied at the time of booking, with many moving out of middle seats and into a preferred aisle or window."

How it Works
Today, securing seating assignments for flights requires passengers to have a ticket and restricts seat selection to only unoccupied seats. Passengers hoping to find a different seat would typically wait until check-in at the airport and hope a more desirable seat is available. ExpertFlyer's Seat Alerts changes all that.

Seat Alerts now allows ticketed and non-ticketed passengers to set up an automatic alert that notifies them when occupied seats become available. Using ExpertFlyer's Seat Alerts feature, passengers can select "Any Aisle" or "Any Window" and will automatically be notified by email when any aisle or window seat becomes available on selected flights. In addition, passengers can identify an unlimited number of specific seats by selecting desired -- but currently occupied -- seats such as Exit Row and Bulkhead seats or if you want to sit with business associates, friends or family on the same flight, for example. In addition, Seat Alerts provides the option of selecting "Premium" seats when setting up an alert. This designation automatically allows ExpertFlyer subscribers with Elite status to be notified when seats specifically reserved for them become available.

Subscribers to ExpertFlyer's Premium service currently enjoy the benefits of Flight Alerts, the company's automated search engine for finding Award and Upgrade tickets. Now, with the added service of Seat Alerts, subscribers will have the benefit and added convenience of viewing both services simultaneously. When a Flight Alert and a Seat Alert are requested on the same flight, both queries will appear on a single screen for easier management of travel requests and itineraries.

About was conceived and created by an eclectic team consisting of a veteran elite tier frequent flyer, an airline captain and corporate travel manager, and information technology professionals to deliver a 24/7 real time powerful air travel information service. The company provides its subscribers and corporate travel managers alike with a complete, concise and efficient way to access the ever-changing details of worldwide air travel information. For more information, please visit

Making Money On Good Eats At The Airport

Frequent (and not so frequent) air travelers have been increasingly challenged over the past few years. Planes are packed from stem-to-stern as airlines cut back routes and increase load factors.

In fact, although the airlines have struggled with higher fuel costs, bad weather and a recessionary environment for business travel, airlines such as JetBlue Airways Corporation (JBLU), Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV), and United Continental Holdings, Inc. (UAL) have seen their passenger traffic increase.

Of course, then we have incremental fees tacked on to everything, from your last bag of luggage to your first bag of nuts. Security lines are getting longer and the TSA rules and procedures seem to change with the seasons.

But one aspect of air travel is changing for the better — the food. Not those $10 dollar boxed sandwich and snack sets sold on board (though I must admit, those are a marked improvement over the micro-waved mystery meals of the past). I’m referring to the food in the airport, from the grab-and-go quick fare to comfortable, casual restaurants to, increasingly, high-end fine dining establishments.

Airport dining, which once conjured up images of heat lamps, stale pizza, overpriced coffee, and terrible service is undergoing something of a renaissance. And there is a good chance it’s coming to a concourse near you.

Slowly but surely, airport managers and authorities (typically an extension of the city or county government) are starting to pay attention to the “experience” travelers have when they depart, arrive, connect, or delayed at the local airport. Executives who run airports are recognizing the terminal experience can be a “window” into their local community, and they are taking steps to improve the experience of the tens of thousands of passengers who pass through their gates every month.

“Airports do want to improve travelers’ overall experience, and dining is a key component of this experience,” says Rick Lundstrom, editor in chief of PAX International, a trade magazine that covers airport dining trends. “We are now beginning to see the effects of these changes as facilities bring in restaurants serving fresher, local foods,” Lundstrom says. “Airports want to create an atmosphere that emulates the actual city they’re in and make the airport more of a destination for shoppers and diners.”

That means great barbeque at DFW in Dallas (the main hub for AMR Corporation (AMR), Southern comfort food at Hartsfield in Atlanta Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL), or a raw seafood bar at Boston’s Logan airport.

The local airport executives who are driving the change are turning to a handful of major companies that contract to develop and manage the food and beverage facilities at the airports. Within this narrow sector, there are a couple of major international players, including two privately-held companies: HMS Host International (formerly part of Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. (HST)) and SSP Group Ltd., and a few smaller US based firms, including Delaware North Company in Buffalo.

The barriers to entry to this category are high. The requirements to win a long-term concession contract from a major airport are significant, requiring not only financial strength (to develop and sustain capital intensive airport properties and hit revenue and profit targets set by the airport) but also an ability to develop and deliver a product that the traveling consumer wants.

As the standards get higher for choice, quality and service at airport restaurants, the players in the sector are raising their culinary games. One of the emerging leaders in the category here in the US is a company with a long heritage of success in Europe and Asia, SSP America. A regional operating unit of England-based global food service provider SSP Group Ltd., SSP America operates food courts and concession facilities (a total of more than 200 restaurants) at more than 40 airports in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean.

In the U.S., SSP facilities are located at Toronto, Houston, New York’s JFK Airport, Dallas-Ft. Worth and fast –growing airports such as Milwaukee and Raleigh-Durham.

While some of SSP’s food establishments operate under national chain brands licensed from such companies like Panda Express and Chick-fil-a, SSP is something of an industry pioneer in creating innovative partnerships with independent and local restaurant operators and brands, with menus based on local cuisines, tastes and preferences and local “celebrity” chefs lending their names. SSP has also established its own branded concepts, such as bakery cafe Upper Crust, wine bistro Le Grand Comptoir and healthy market Camden food co.

SSP’s operation at New York’s JFK (serving nine million passengers annually) is a good example of how the company is pursuing innovative concepts that are a reflection of the local community. At JFK, SSP introduced renowned New York steakhouse The Palm to its very first airport location, and just opened the Stadium Club in Terminal 4, a sports bar concept that pays homage to the legendary sports teams of New York City.

According to the CEO of SSP Ltd, Andrew Lynch, this new emphasis on going local and on raising the culinary stakes stems from years of studying consumer behavior and addressing the unique dining needs of the air traveler.

“We have spent million of pounds mapping and understanding consumer needs and preferences,” Lynch explains. SSP canvasses airport travelers and extensively surveys them for feedback. “We found that consumers’ ‘need state’ changes based on their traveling experience at the moment, but their ‘mind set’ of what they like and prefer does not. We have to accommodate those preferences with a broad variety of dining options.”

For SSP America, those options range from traditional US brands that have a special global appeal (even with their American flavor) such as Starbucks (SBUX), Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. (BWLD), Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. (BAGL) to local brands that reflect a particular market, community or region such as Peet’s Coffee & Tea Inc. (PEET), Tim Hortons Inc. (THI) (the Canadian based donut chain) to what Lynch calls “bespoke” custom concepts designed specifically to give travelers a diversity of options and serve a variety of price-points and palates.

“Airport executives are wanting a sense of identity that align with their local markets,” Lynch says, “and that enables us to get more adventurous in proposing new solutions.” But, Lynch explains, it’s not simply a matter of re-creating the bricks and mortar of a downtown restaurant out at the airport.

“We have to ‘travelize’ the concept to accommodate the different needs and desires of every air traveler, which vary based on day parts (morning through evening) and dwell times,” Lynch says. That’s where the company’s extensive investment into research on consumer attitudes and preferences has paid huge dividends for SSP.

SSP has also partnered with some of the world’s leading chefs to design specific regional dishes, including Chefs Nicolas le Bec in France, Michael Karlsson in Sweden and Gilles Dupont in Switzerland. The company has even established a Food Lab where their global network of food experts is supported and inspired by a close collaboration with Chef Olivier Pichot. In his Le Mans kitchen, SSP food experts work with Pichot and his team to develop new products and design solutions.

SSP America President and CEO Leslie K. Cappetta explains that SSP is “consumer centric – with the emphasis being on the sights, sounds textures, and aromas of the dining experience. We are first and foremost in the restaurant business, and our focus is on creating an environment of hospitality that entertains people, even when they are at the airport,” Cappetta says.

SSP is a company on the move, with continued steady growth projected through securing new contracts at major international airports in Europe and Asia. SSP recently landed a major new contract to run over 30 food-and-beverage outlets at Oslo Airport. The five-year deal means the company will remain the sole food and beverage operator throughout this airport facility.

Oslo Airport’s Director of Business Development and Real Estate Espen Ettre stated “SSP offered an outstanding range of bars, caf├ęs and restaurants that are ideally suited to our passengers here at Oslo. They really understand the travelling consumer, and how to operate within the travel environment.”

Last year the company won a major contract at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) for a range of new food-and-beverage units. SSP has managed operations there for over 10 years, developing 29 outlets and over 40 percent of the facility’s food-and-beverage business, which was already well known as a top airport dining location.

HKIA has been named the world’s best for dining now four years in a row according to the SkyTrax survey. HKIA Deputy General Manager, Retail and Advertising Christina Cheng emphasized the strengths that SSP brings to the travelling experience. “SSP’s sound operational and commercial performance, their strong international and local experience, together with their reputation for outstanding customer service made them front-runners in this latest tender, and SSP will undoubtedly help our airport retain its global lead in airport food and beverage.”

Continued growth is also projected for SSP in the North American market, where the company is a relative newcomer (SSP America was established in 2007) but has already notched numerous industry accolades for ‘best new concepts’, ‘green practices’ and ‘customer service and impressive contract wins in markets like Vancouver, Sacramento, and Houston. The company is in the thick of bidding on new dining contracts in Atlanta and Phoenix.


30 bricks of cocaine, totaling 70 pounds were hidden in suitcases seized from airplane in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Two Mexican Nationals Plead Guilty to Cocaine Conspiracy Charges.


AUG 26 -- BOWLING GREEN, KY – Two Mexican Nationals pled guilty in United States District Court on August 26 to charges of possession and conspiracy to possess five kilograms or more of cocaine, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

Dagoberto Garcia-Guillen, age 21, and his brother, Jesus Garcia-Guillen, age 27, were arrested by the Bowling Green, Kentucky Police Department (BGPD) on October 1, 2010, after 70 pounds of cocaine was found during a search of their aircraft. The brothers were indicted by a federal grand jury on November 3, 2011.

According to court records, the BGPD were asked by federal law enforcement authorities to assist in identifying the occupants of a Piper Seneca II aircraft scheduled to land at the Bowling Green airport. That request was based on the alleged suspicious behavior of the brothers while purchasing fuel the same day in Cushing, Oklahoma. BGPD officers met the Garcia-Guillen brothers at the Bowling Green airport as the plane was being refuelled. Dagoberto Garcia-Guillen identified himself as the pilot and told law enforcement officers that he was coming from Phoenix, Arizona, that he had no particular destination and was flying from airport to airport to get flight time on his pilot’s license. After consenting to a search of the aircraft, a BGPD officer found two suitcases. A total of 30 bricks of cocaine were found hidden within zippered pockets of the suitcases.

“This is an outstanding example of cooperative law enforcement, with extraordinary contributions from the Bowling Green Police Department, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” stated David J. Hale, United States Attorney. “This collaborative effort successfully thwarted the transportation and sale of a significant cocaine shipment.”

Dagoberto Garcia-Guillen and Jesus Garcia-Guillen face a maximum sentence of life in prison, supervised release of no less than five years, and a fine of up to 8 million dollars.

Sentencing is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr. on November 30, 2011, at 9 a.m., in federal court, Bowling Green, Kentucky.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mac Shannon. The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Bowling Green Police Department.

Ultralight Plane Crashes After Takeoff; Pilot Injured. Fayette County Airport (I23) Washington Court House, Ohio

Credit: Ryan Carter, Washington Court House Record Herald

WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE, Ohio -- A pilot is hurt when the ultralight plane he is flying crashes after takeoff Wednesday morning.

Tom Esper, Fayette County Airport manager, told NBC4 the crash happened at about 9:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Esper said the ultralight plane, which he also called a "trike," crashed after some problems and a stall after takeoff.

It crashed into a cornfield adjacent to the airport, near the airport's north end.

MedFlight transported the pilot to a Columbus hospital. The pilot's condition is unknown.

Esper told NBC4 he believes the male pilot is licensed and he and his father own a conventional plane. He also said he thinks the father and son recently purchased the ultralight in Florida and were learning how to fly it.

The plane has an ultralight wing with a framework body and an engine, Esper said.  The Fayette County sheriff's office said it was called to the scene but wouldn't confirm any additional information with NBC4.

Commercial aviation safety audit scheduled this December - Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines

THE PHILIPPINES is preparing for a fresh audit this December to be conducted by a team of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the country’s commercial aviation safety systems, in hopes of regaining the "category 1" status it lost in 2008, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said on Friday last week.
A rating upgrade, in turn, will open the door for Philippine air carriers either to mount or expand operations to the United States. Currently, only Philippine Airlines (PAL) maintains such routes.

The Philippines’ downgrade has been blamed for lower-than-expected visitor arrivals from the US, with the Philippine Travel Agencies Association saying last month that the tourism industry had foregone more than P66.3 billion since 2009 due to a lack of additional visitors from the US.

"[The] FAA technical review [is] scheduled [in] December," CAAP Director General Ramon S. Gutierrez said via text.

The FAA downgraded the Philippines’ civil aviation rating, citing policies and systems that were below standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the United Nations, including a lack of qualified safety personnel.

"A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority -- equivalent to the FAA -- is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures," FAA had explained in January 2008 in announcing its action on the Philippines.

Mr. Gutierrez added that "preparations are being made to address [FAA’s] findings and corrective actions are made to close open items [sic] until the scheduled visit."

He did not elaborate on measures.

FAA downgraded the Philippines to "category 2" from "category 1" in 2008 after a safety audit in November 2007. The Philippines had been in "category 1" since 2002 prior to the downgrade.

CAAP preparations since early this year have included training of safety inspectors which has been a key issue for the downgrade, Mr. Gutierrez told reporters last May.

PAL financed this training that was conducted by US-based aviation consultant Tim Neel & Associates, LLC, which CAAP had hired.

At present, only PAL flies to the US, connecting Manila to Las Vegas in Nevada, San Francisco and Los Angeles in California, and Honolulu in Hawaii.

Moreover, budget carrier Cebu Pacific, which is operated by listed Cebu Air, Inc., has financed CAAP’s joint initiative with Airbus to enhance airport navigation systems in local hubs like Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga.

In response to the FAA downgrade, the government enacted into law on March 4, 2008 Republic Act No. 9497, or the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008, replacing the deficient Air Transportation Office (ATO) with the CAAP.

Mr. Gutierrez had said in interviews last March and May that, after the FAA, his agency aims to invite teams from ICAO and the European Union (EU) in hopes of getting similar favorable action.

ICAO had designated the country as a "significant safety concern" in December 2009, while EU blacklisted the Philippines in April last year.

Last year, ICAO’s Coordinated Validation Mission scrapped its planned Dec. 7-10 audit, citing "operational concerns" -- in apparent reference to the change then in CAAP leadership.

Leaked diplomatic cables posted on the Internet last week by WikiLeaks recalled that an executive of Boeing Co., acting as an aviation consultant, told the US Embassy on March 19, 2008 that "in his opinion, regaining Category 1 would take at least one year after…three critical elements are in place."

The document identified these factors, as cited by the Boeing consultant, as appointing a head for the CAAP, hiring "qualified aviation inspectors" and putting in place a new computer system.

Three months later, the US Embassy said in a separate report that there had been "little progress" made by the country in addressing FAA’s concerns.

"Our meetings with Philippine government officials, airline owners and managers, and other involved persons suggest that little progress has been made on the return to Category 1," the cable read.

The cable also described the defunct ATO as a "corrupt organization," noting that funds meant to hire new inspectors were used to construct a new building inside the ATO complex instead.

But reforms needed to regain "Category 1" status were still not in place more than a year later, according to another cable dated July 1, 2009.

"The progress of the Philippine civil aviation regulator towards regaining…‘Category 1’ safety rating has been stymied by bureaucratic obstacles that block essential salary increases needed to attract and retain qualified personnel," the cable read.

"There is little chance of the Philippines regaining a Category 1 safety rating unless these issues are resolved," it added.

Despite informing the US Embassy a month later that it was working to address safety concerns, the Philippine civil aviation regulator was still found lacking qualified personnel, according to a cable, dated Aug. 20, 2009. -- Kathleen A. Martin


Sir Richard Branson urges public to save Dornier Do-17 found by RAF Museum off Kent coast

Sir Richard Branson has urged the public to help save a German wartime bomber spotted submerged under the English Channel by archeologists working with the  RAF Museum.

The Dornier Do-17, a four-man twin-engine aircraft which could carry 2000lb bombs and was known as The Flying Pencil, was shot down when the Battle of Britain was as its fiercest, having been part of an enemy formation intercepted by RAF fighters 71 years ago.

Using underwater imagery off Goodwin Sands on Deal coast in Kent, experts report the bomber is in “remarkable condition” and largely intact, but say they need £250,000 to recover and restore the plane, which is being damaged by tidal waves, salt water corrosion and potential looters.

Branson, who is a supporter of the museum, said the discovery was of “international importance”, imploring supporters to back the “unique aircraft” as “a tribute to the loss of life on borth sides” of the conflict.

The Dornier will be carefully moved from the wreck site to the museum’s conservation centre at Cosford and prepared for public viewing at the Royal Air Force Museum's proposed new Battle of Britain display at Hendon if the campaign succeeds.

“Our long term plan is to conserve it for display at the Museum,” said Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, the Director General of the museum.

“We very much hope that this exciting project will receive support from the public and become the focus for a collaborative effort by apprentices from across the world.”

Working with Wessex Archaeology, English Heritage, Imperial College London and the Dornier Museum in Germany, the museum’s survey of the site has revealed that the main undercarriage tyres of the wreckage are still inflated, with the propellers showing the damage inflicted during its final landing.

The fundraising bid has already been boosted by a £7,500 donation from the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company and a £6,000 contribution from the museum’s Society of Friends.

Cessna 414, N53DJ: Missing Plane is at the Center of a Federal Lawsuit. Accident occurred August 31, 2009 in Unknown, Mexico.

MCALLEN- A plane that went missing two years ago is now at the center of a federal lawsuit.

The accident happened on August 31, 2009 as the plane made it's way to Torreon, MX. Andy Howard was the chief pilot of the aircraft at McCreery Aviation in Mcallen. He hasn't been heard from since.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS caught up with Andy Howard's sister about a week after his disappearance. Liz Howard says her brother flew off course towards San Fernando because of bad weather. She thinks he ran out of gas.

"The air force was tracking the plane because when planes deviate from flight plan it's protocol that they track them. They did see the airplane near San Fernando." Liz says.

The Mexican military, U.S. forces and friends in private planes spent days searching the rugged mexican countryside but came up empty.

The plane was owned by Dunn Aviation,a company out of Georgia. The company is now suing the Valley company that maintained the aircraft. Dunn alleges the McCreery company of breach of bailment contract because he never returned the plane.

Bob McCreery of McCreery Aviation says his insurance company is handling the lawsuit.

NTSB Identification: CEN10WA072
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 31, 2009 in Unknown, Mexico
Aircraft: CESSNA 414, registration: N53DJ
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

On August 31, 2009, a Cessna 414, N53DJ, was reported missing when the airplane did not land at its destination. The airline transport pilot was the only person on-board the airplane. The airplane was owned by a private individual and operated by McCreery Aviation Co, Inc, McAllen, Texas. The flight was operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 repositioning flight. Approximately 1100 central daylight time, the airplane departed the Torreon International Airport (MMTC), Torreon, Mexico with the intended destination of McAllen International Airport (KMFE), McAllen, Texas.

A search was conducted by both Mexican and American agencies. At the time of publishing, no trace of the airplane has been discovered. The airplane is presumed destroyed and the pilot is presumed fatally injured.

Jurisdiction of the investigation will be determined when the airplane wreckage is discovered.

Police find downed pilot near Gorst after two-hour search. Near Bremerton National Airport (KPWT), Bremerton, Washington.

BREMERTON — Police have located a pilot whose aircraft went down and crashed Tuesday night in the Bremerton Watershed.

Around midnight, officers found the man in the expansive 3,000-acre Watershed, an area west of Gorst. He was taken to Harrison Medical Center and treated for non-life threatening injuries, said Bremerton Police Lt. Pete Fisher.

Bremerton officers, with help from Kitsap County Sheriff's deputies, Kitsap County Search and Rescue volunenteers and crews from Bremerton Fire Department and South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, were aided by King County Sheriff's Office's Guardian One helicopter overhead in locating the man.

The search began when a 911 call around 10 p.m. told dispatchers of a "sputtering" plane that didn't sound like it was going to make it to Bremerton National Airport, according to Bremerton Police Sgt. Bill Endicott. Shortly thereafter, a man called 911 claiming to be a pilot of a plane that had gone down and was lodged in the trees, Endicott said.

Police mounted an initial search effort using lights and sirens in an attempt to see whether they were close to the downed pilot. Fisher declined to say how the man got out of the helicopter and to the ground. He was alone in the plane. His identity has not yet been released.

The crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, Fisher said.

Plane crashes near Bremerton National Airport (KPWT), Bremerton, Washington.

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The pilot of a small plane that went down near Bremerton airport called 911 to report he had crashed.

Rescuers searched the wooded Bremerton watershed for about two hours Tuesday night before finding the wreckage around midnight.

Police say the pilot was taken to Harrison Medical Center and he is expected to recover from his injuries.

BREMERTON, Wash. -- The pilot of a crashed plane is now at Harrison Medical Center for evaluation and treatment.

Lt. Peter Fisher of the Bremerton Police Department said someone reported a plane in distress just before 10:00 P.M. last night near the Bremerton National Airport. The pilot of that plane then called 911 to confirm that he crashed.

Search and rescue teams eventually found both the pilot and the crashed plane in a wooded area just west of Bremerton. The pilot is believed to have non-life threatening injuries.

It's still unclear what caused the crash. Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

I Found Jim! VIDEO: A Pristine View from the TOP in a DeHavilland Beaver

Ambulance service spins off air ambulance as independent charity. (UK)

The Wiltshire Air Ambulance Appeal, which has always been under the control of the NHS-funded Great Western Ambulance Service, is to become a separate charity next month.

The ambulance service had come under increasing pressure to relinquish its sole trusteeship of the appeal from air ambulance campaigners who felt there was a conflict of interest in its dual role as treasurer and user.

A year ago the ambulance service appointed air ambulance specialist and consultant David Philpott as chairman of the appeal with a remit of turning the air ambulance arm into an independent charity. Now he hopes to secure charitable status from the Charity Commission in September.

The new charity is to be called Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust and a new bank account will be opened in order to collect donations. Eight new trustees have been appointed and one of these will eventually be elected as chair.

The creation of the new charity has been partly prompted by the forthcoming expiration of a five-year contract between Wiltshire Police and the ambulance service for the helicopter. The helicopter has always been shared by the police and the air ambulance service, but the increasingly technical specification of the air ambulance equipment and personnel has rendered the joint arrangement inappropriate.

The £1.2m currently held in the Wiltshire air Ambulance Appeal’s reserves will be earmarked for Wiltshire Police for the remainder of the contract, which runs until December 2014. These reserves will cover 31 of the remaining 42 months so the new charity will have to raise the remaining £440,000 needed to cover the contract until then.

From 2015 the new charity will have to fund the cost of a standalone helicopter. Fundraising income will need to increase from £750,000 a year to £2m to cover this, but Philpott said that changes to police helicopter services should mean there will be no shortage of discounted aircraft available to lease.

Two full-time and one part-time employee of the air ambulance service will transfer to the new charity and new IT and accountancy suppliers will be sought, as these are currently provided by GWAS. Philpott has already signalled his intention to resign from the chairmanship once charitable status is obtained.

Philpott said he had scoured the memoranda and articles of association of the other 18 air ambulance charities for the "best bits". The new charity’s constitution will allow trustees to serve for one three-year term with one more if they bring exceptional skills, though chairs can only serve for up to three years.

“In my experience one of the things that blights charities is that you end up with an entire board that have been in post so long they have lost sight of what it’s all about," he said.

“I wanted to ensure that this charity truly belongs to the people of Wiltshire and that the trustee board is fluid to ensure new people constantly become involved.”

Jetcraft Corporation Finds Stability In Global Business Jet Market Despite Recent Economic Uncertainties

PR Newswire
Aug. 31, 2011

Strong demand for new long range/large business jets has stabilized prices accordingly, while compelling opportunities exist for buyers of select pre-owned aircraft

RALEIGH, NC, Aug. 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ - Jetcraft Corporation, a provider of business aircraft sales, acquisitions, trading and brokerage services, today commented on the state of the international business jet market.

"Fundamentally, Jetcraft's market outlook remains unchanged - despite recent financial uncertainties in Europe and the US," says Chad Anderson, President, Jetcraft Corporation. "Specifically, we are seeing two trends that we believe are representative of the international business jet market at this time. First, prices at the top of the market - new long range to large business jets - have stabilized significantly. This good news for sellers has largely been driven by strong demand from emerging markets in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America. In parallel, we continue to see demand recovery in North America, from both public companies and high-net-worth individuals. Second, there remains a healthy supply of 'legacy' business jets models on the market - approximately 15% of the total of these fleets worldwide are currently for sale - which creates attractive opportunities for buyers. It is worth noting that 'legacy' aircraft such as the Bombardier Challenger 604, the Gulfstream GIV or the Dassault Falcon 900B may offer exceptional value," adds Mr. Anderson.

"We believe that confidence in the business jet market is holding because the volume of transactions has remained quite stable," continues Jahid Fazal-Karim, Co-Owner and Board Member, Jetcraft Corporation. "Business jet purchasers are generally acquiring aircraft based on anticipated lift requirements six to 18 months from today. This trend illustrates continued confidence as globalization of business continues, the need for long range business jets - particularly in emerging markets - is here to stay. Furthermore, access to credit and financing has not been noticeably impacted by recent macroeconomic events. Jetcraft is guardedly optimistic and we continue to monitor risk. On balance, we expect our sales results to remain very favorable through year end," concludes Mr. Fazal-Karim.

About Jetcraft Corporation

Jetcraft Corporation is an international leader in new and pre-owned business aircraft sales, acquisitions and trades. Headquartered in Raleigh, NC, Jetcraft has sales offices/representation in five US cities; Basel, Switzerland; Dubai, UAE and Moscow, Russia. The company's 49-year track record in aircraft transactions has earned it a world class customer base and one of the strongest global networks in the industry. Jetcraft Avionics LLC, a subsidiary of Jetcraft Corporation, provides distribution of Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS) for aftermarket business and wide body aircraft using Elbit-Kollsman's state-of-the-art EVS-II and AT-HUD. For more information, please visit

Visit Jetcraft at NBAA 2011, October 10 - 12, Las Vegas, Nevada. Jetcraft will be present at the NBAA static display, with several aircraft available for public viewing.

To schedule an interview with Chad Anderson or Jahid Fazal-Karim, please contact:

Mark Lowe
PRagmatic Communications
For Jetcraft Corp.
Mobile: (514) 576-2519

SOURCE Jetcraft Corporation

Virgin America Airbus A320: Flight From Orlando International Airport Diverted To Houston

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A Virgin America flight that departed from Orlando International Airport on Tuesday night was diverted to Houston.

According to, Virgin America flight No. 315 took off from OIA for Los Angeles just before 7:30 p.m.

About two hours later, the Airbus plane landed in Houston.

A passenger aboard the flight tweeted a picture and said there was a smell in the cabin, although the reason for the unscheduled landing is not yet known.

Emergency crews were waiting for the plane when it landed.

No other details were immediately known.


Virgin America: Flight From Orlando Makes Emergency Stop. Plane Stops In Houston After Possible Fire.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A nonstop flight from Orlando to Los Angeles made an emergency stop Tuesday night when the crew feared there could have been a fire on board.

The Virgin America flight made an emergency landing in Houston.

Former Orlando radio personality Jayde Donovan tells WESH 2 she had a friend on the flight.

Donovan said the passengers did not see any flames, but emergency vehicles did meet the plane on the Houston runway.

A flight from New York was re-routed to take those passengers to California.

The airline has not commented on the incident. No one was hurt.

Singapore Airlines Invests S$283 Million In New Low Cost Airline's Equity Capital

SINGAPORE -(Dow Jones)- Singapore Airlines Ltd. Wednesday said it invested S$283 million in cash to build the equity capital of its proposed new low-cost unit.

Singapore Airlines has subscribed to 282,999,999 new shares of New Aviation Private Ltd. at an issue price of S$1 per share, the company said in a statement to Singapore Exchange.

After the issue of the new shares, New Aviation will remain a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, according to the statement.

Arkansas man catches two buglers stealing from his home while flying over the scene in an airplane. (With Video)

ARKANSAS - "We got real lucky."

Arkansas man Steven Lynn was already taking video with his cell phone while he was sight seeing in the sky when his pilot friend noticed an unusual sight.

"Someone's at your house, man, look, the yard."

Sure enough, Lynn saw two men loading up air conditioners and other scrap metal items onto a trailer. They had broken into his house.

"I kinda felt helpless, watching someone from an airplane, stealing from ya," Lynn said.

But he did help. Lynn called his uncle first, then 911.

By the time sheriff's deputies and state police arrived on the scene, the two men had taken off. But from the air, Lynn was still right on their tail.

"I mean it was wild," Lynn said. "One the most wild things I've every experienced seeing someone rob my house and the whole chase. It was like being on COPs."

Giving deputies turn by turn directions, the plane tracked the suspects for two miles.

Cornered, the alleged burglars Joseph Peel and Roosevelt Smith were arrested and charged with theft.

Now, Lynn says he'll keep tracking the case in court, and even though it was a wild ride, he says he wouldn't hesitate to take another.

"Absolutely, I loved it. Just hope no one is stealing stuff out of my house the next time," Lynn said.

The sheriff's office says this was definitely a first for them -- not only to have eye witnesses from the sky, but to also have it all caught on camera.

Peel and Smith pleaded not guilty to the crimes in court and are being held on bond.

Watch Video: