Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Flight School Less Accessible After September 11th.

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP)—  Since September 11, 2001, much has changed. One of the most significant changes since that unforgettable day includes flight-school training regulations.

In one example, every American who wants to get a pilot's license now has to show their original birth certificate or passport. Before these standards, pretty much anyone could sign up for training.

Andy Rolli, manager of TAA Flight Training in Greensboro, said the process is much more rigorous in general.

"I would think the average person would get sort of discouraged, they have to be fairly motivated if they want to go through this process," Rolli said.

Terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks received commercial flight training in the U.S. Today, there's an extensive background check that takes 30 days to complete.

The pre-training process includes fingerprinting a submitting a photo. After the training begins, instructors are required to submit a second photo of the student to the TSA to ensure that they're training the right person. "It's not as easily accessible, and it's much more expensive than it used to be," Rolli said.

Since 9/11, the TSA starting performing audits twice a year to make sure flight schools are in compliance with their training process.

Russian air travel a 'white-knuckle' experience: Ex-hockey player

OTTAWA — While chartered jets for NHL teams in North America are often luxurious aircraft that allow players to travel safely and comfortably, according to former KHL players, the planes used by teams across Russia are anything but.

Former Ottawa Senators player Jamie Rivers played for the CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League four years ago. He said every trip he took aboard the team's plane during the five months he spent overseas left him "white knuckled."

"There were a lot of flights we went on where I put in the iPod and tried to go to sleep and just figured well if we go down, we go down, I don't want to know about it," he said.

While Rivers said he doesn't know what the Yakovlev Yak-42 jet was like that crashed Wednesday killing at least 43 people — many of them members of Russia's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team — the planes he flew on while in Russia were often old cargo planes that had been modified to accommodate passengers.

"Every seat that was bolted into the floor had a different distance from the seat in front of it, so some rows were kind of normal and some rows you had to sit sideways because your knees were banging into the chair in front of you," he said.

Rivers said at times when the plane was experiencing turbulence overhead shelving would fall off and parts inside the plane would rattle.

"It really seemed like every takeoff and landing was a coin toss, really," he said.

The safety of air travel in Russia has been a hot-button issue in recent years.

A 2006 safety report from the International Air Transport Association found that Russia and members of the Commonwealth of Independent States had an accident rate 13 times higher than the global average. Statistics compiled by the Aviation Safety Network identify Russia as the second-worst geographical region for fatal airplane crashes, behind the United States.

While IATA safety reports in 2009 and 2010 show Russia and the CIS's accident rate fell well below the global average, they haven't yet calculated statistics for 2011.

The plane that crashed Wednesday was chartered by the Lokomotiv hockey team and was en route to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, when it crashed two kilometres past the runway at the Yaroslavl Airport.

The plane was operated by Yak Service, a charter airline founded in 1993.

In June last year, Russian authorities restricted the carrier's operations for nearly three months after finding deficiencies. The operating restrictions were removed in August 2010, but the European Union said in November that it was not satisfied that Yak Service's fleet was entirely fitted with mandatory equipment necessary for international commercial air transport, and as a result banned two of the company's Yak-40 trijets from flying in European Union airspace.

An investigation is under way to determine what caused the Yak-42 plane crash Wednesday, something that Rivers said he hopes will prompt the KHL to look at its travel policy.

But he's doubtful the accident will lead to any major changes since many hockey teams don't have room in their budgets for expensive travel.

"It's tough. They have NHL payrolls on some of these teams, but they certainly don't have NHL revenue to support it. When that happens, there's costs that have to get cut somewhere. So, we'll see," he said.

Thomas Cook jobs under threat at Manchester Airport

Around 250 jobs at Thomas Cook are under threat, including a number at Manchester Airport, after the travel company announced plans to reduce its fleet of planes.

The company has announced a 90-day consultation with staff over plans to cut six of its 41 aircraft by the end of the year.

The move has been partly blamed on the end of a contract with third-party operator Canadian Affair, for which Thomas Cook operates three planes, which will not be renewed for the winter season.

Of the other three aircraft, one will be transferred to Thomas Cook's Scandinavian operations, one will join its German sister airline Condor and one will be retired.

The move will affect staff including cabin crew, pilots and operations staff based in Manchester.

A company spokesman said: “We announced in our half-year results in May that we would be looking at our airline structure in the UK and yesterday we told staff that we would be reducing the fleet.

“This is about making sure our airline in the UK fits with capacity and customer demand.”

The announcement comes after a disastrous year for the holiday giant, which is merging its high street network with Co-operative Travel in an effort to save £35m a year.

In August its chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa resigned after the firm issued three profit warnings in the last year.

The group is in the middle of a strategic review of its UK business as it looks at the mix of holidays it offers and the utilisation of its airline fleet.

It is also pushing ahead with a £200m asset disposal programme to cut borrowings.

Plane missing in Bolivia with 9 aboard. Aerocon Swearingen SA-227 Metroliner, CP-2548, Flight A4-238.

LA PAZ, Bolivia—Rescue workers are searching Bolivia's eastern jungle for a missing twin-engine plane with nine people aboard operated by a small commercial airline.

The Aerocon Fairchild SA227-DC Metro went missing Tuesday evening on approach to Trinidad, the provincial capital of Beni. It had originated in the eastern city of Santa Cruz.

Authorities say two Colombians and seven Bolivians were aboard.

Aerocon official Nelson Kin says air traffic controllers did not receive an alert from an alarm aboard the plane that is designed to go off if it crashes.

A local military commander said in a television interview Wednesday that dense smoke from forest fires in the area impeded the search.

441kg of tramadol pills seized by Dubai Customs

Omar Al Mehairi, Senior Manager of the Air Cargo Operations Department, said the cargo was seized in the Flower Inspection Section at the Free Zone Inspection Centre at Dubai International Airport

Dubai: Dubai Customs inspectors at the Free Zone of Dubai International Airport foiled a drug cargo arriving from an Asian country that contains 500,000 tablets weighing 441kg of the prohibited drug Tramadol, WAM reported on Wednesday.

Omar Al Mehairi, Senior Manager of the Air Cargo Operations Department, said the cargo was seized in the Flower Inspection Section at the Free Zone Inspection Centre at Dubai International Airport. A pack which contained medicines for human consumption aroused suspicion during inspection and was transferred to the Ministry of Health, the official specialised body to check the medicine.

It was confirmed that the medicine cannot be taken for non-medical purposes as it is listed under controlled medicine Class A. Besides, the goods had no import permission and their owner hadn't fulfilled the requirements to finalise the clearance of this cargo.

Al Mehairi clarified that Tramadol is a misused drug by some people as it is normally prescribed as a painkiller for moderate and severe pain; however, when it is used in large doses it has the same effect as narcotics.

Warren County looking to fill airport manager job. Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport (KGFL), Glens Falls, New York

The Personnel Committee voted to fill the vacated position of Warren County Airport manager. Manager Don DeGraw left to take another job out of state, and supervisors said Wednesday that the position has to be filled.

The county has received about a dozen applications so far, but decided Wednesday not to advertise a starting salary for the job because it will be based on the applicant's experience. DeGraw's base salary was $70,730.

Other news

* The Finance Committee put aside $400,000 to pay for road and bridge repairs in connection with damage from Tropical Storm Irene. Jeff Tennyson, the county's superintendent of public works, said the total damage will likely cost $1 million to $1.2 million to repair, and the county has been deemed eligible for federal disaster aid.

* The Finance Committee agreed to a $16,000 contract with Aeon Nexus of Glens Falls for cost savings the company can achieve through purchasing procedures it utilizes.

* The Finance Committee agreed to spend $18,416 to make energy improvements at the county Municipal Center recommended by National Grid that should save more than $9,000 a year.

Next meeting

* Warren County Traffic Safety Board, Monday 10:30 a.m., Board of Supervisors Room in the county Municipal Center.

Director General of Civil Aviation destroys safety records before 2010, only serious records to be kept for 3-4 years as per policy

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the agency tasked with regulating air travel across the country, has destroyed most records relating to mishaps before 2010, raising fears that safety issues in the accident-prone sector are being taken lightly.

At least three senior officials of the DGCA told ET that accounts of what they call "minor incidents" such as recall of an aircraft in mid-flight, or the sudden opening of a door in mid-air, have been destroyed as the agency does not consider them important.

Incidents that happen on ground like wings of two aircraft brushing against each other are often ignored and no records are maintained, they added.

DGCA officials said this has been the policy since 2007 and only records of serious accidents are kept for three to four years.

Minor incidents, they insist, have no shelf life. But the disclosure, coming on the heels of a spate of alarming incidents over Indian skies in recent weeks, has shocked many safety and aviation experts who have slammed the DGCA for their casual approach.

"If they are destroying these records, it is a very serious. Safety records must be kept for any number of years as any incident is a source of learning. It is a poor decision and whoever has initiated such exercise must be held accountable and a lower-rung officer cannot decide on these matters," said Mohan Ranganathan, a well-known air safety and aviation expert in Chennai.

Across the world, aviation regulators tend to maintain records of all safety-related issues for a much longer period, say 10-15 years.

Such records could be important as they provide valuable data for future reference apart from revealing the inefficiencies and lapses of a system working under tremendous stress.


For instance, in India in 2007, DGCA technicians observed that the A320 aircraft was malfunctioning repeatedly. A detailed analysis of a few incidents revealed a lacuna in the hydraulic system and Airbus fixed the problem after it was brought to its notice.

Experts say planning for safety cannot happen without access to past incidents, however minor they may have been. "There is no scope for dismissing any incident, however minor it is in aviation," said a former director general.

Bharat Bhushan, the director-general of civil aviation, denied any negative approach towards safety. "Nothing is being destroyed. We are moving towards automation and paperless office at the DGCA, under this a lot of initiatives are being taken," he told ET on Sunday over phone.

Bir Singh Rai, the deputy director-general, directorate of air safety, declined comment, saying the director, civil aviation, should respond to these issues. But in a damning incident a couple of months ago, Rai let the cat out of the bag when he told a journalist from the website of a Malaysian newspaper, The Star, that government safety records "prior to the year 2010 have been destroyed".

Rai was responding to an RTI request by Rick Westhead, the Star journalist, on the number of safety mishaps in the aviation sector. Westhead wrote in an article on the Star website that Rai had made the declaration in a letter to him.

Though Rai later clarified that only paper records had been destroyed and that electronic records were still being maintained, the damage had been done. Rai rubbished the report. "What the foreign journalist is saying is not correct, whatever he said and quoted me on is also not correct. It must be a misconception," he told ET.

Growth in India's aviation sector has surged in recent years, but safety measures have lagged behind. There have been two serious incidents in the past 15 days and seven emergency landings, of which six involved national carrier Air India.

There have been at least two instances of planes skidding off runways due to wet surfaces.Bhushan said he does not overlook the incidents, but these issues emerge when there is exponential growth. "That is no argument. Only people on the defensive would give that kind of an argument," he said.

Some experts point out that there could be other reasons for the destruction. The country's regulator had lobbied hard in 2009 to avoid a Federal Aviation Administration downgrade of India from a Category I to Category II nation (rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ghana and Afghanistan) as the sector was found wanting according to the safety guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

A detailed record of every mishap (at least 1,000 of them occur across the country every year, one official said) would show India in bad light and make a downgrade a distinct possibility. FAA is the US regulator and its downgrade would have hurt Air India and Jet Airways by making it difficult for them to operate and expand in that country.

Opinion Letters: Time to ground the Air Show. (Canadian International Air Show)

Re: Out of the blue, Sept. 4

It’s time to stop using weapons of mass destruction as entertainment. Toronto is home to tens of thousands of people who have fled to Canada to find safety and peace from war and terror in their homelands. For many of them, the screeching F-16 overhead during the air show is the sound of death itself.  While you may marvel at the technology you also must understand that its sole purpose is to rain death upon the perceived enemies of the Western World.

Jeffrey Russel, Toronto

As those jets yet again did their swooping and thundering, I wondered: When was the last time they had any competition up there in the many “war zones”? Next year, let’s get with the times and have the world’s first “Chair Show.” I refer to the aptly-termed “chair force” of nameless military gamers, sitting at their laptops, remotely directing those proliferating, lethal unmanned drones, most recently in Libya, and coming soon to a border near you.

Dr. James Deutsch, Toronto

It’s 2:45 on the Labour Day long weekend and I am trying to catch up with some sleep but my heart is still pounding in my throat as a huge fighter jet, almost touching the top of the trees in my backyard, is flying over. What does it take to stop this polluting, dangerous “show” from taking place over downtown Toronto? Haven’t we learned enough about the environment yet? And what about our right to a peaceful long weekend? It seems we don’t have a choice to put up with this horrible noise.

Micky Oostra, Toronto

Jerris Riffel RV-7A, N554JR: Accident occurred September 07, 2011 in Winfield, Kansas

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA634 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, September 07, 2011 in Winfield, KS
Aircraft: RIFFEL JERRIS L RV-7A, registration: N554JR
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 7, 2011, approximately 1005 Central Daylight Time, a RV-7A experimental amateur-built airplane, N554JR, owned and operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Winfield, Kansas. The pilot, the only person that was on board the airplane, was found fatally injured. The personal flight was being operated without a flight plan under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

A witness heard the airplane just before it impacted the ground. On arriving at the airplane wreckage, he noticed that no one was in the wreckage. Local law enforcement officials located the pilot’s body approximately 3/4 mile aaway from the airplane wreckage.

Update: Cowley County Officials have identified the body as the 63 year-old pilot, Jerris Lynn Riffel, from Denton, TX. He was flying northbound in a single ignition plane when the crash occurred.

Emergency crews are on the scene of a plane crash in Cowley County.

911 dispatchers tell Eyewitness News the plane was found near 111th and 62nd Road, northeast of Winfield, between Udall and Atlanta.

Kansas Highway Patrol says the plane is registered out of Texas but took off from northern Kansas. Officials say the plane dropped off of radar about two miles before crashing. Wreckage is about 3/4ths of a mile away.

The body of the pilot was found about one mile from the plane crash.

The plane has been described as a small fixed wing -single engine craft. It is registered to a person in Denton, Texas.

COWLEY COUNTY, Kansas – The FAA is investigating the crash of a small fixed-wing aircraft that went down Wednesday morning about nine miles east of Udall.

For a while, authorities could not find any victims. Shortly after 1 p.m., though, they announced they found the pilot's body. He has been identified as 63-year-old Jerris Riffel, of Denton, Texas.

Officials are still trying to determine how his body got so far away from the wreckage. It was found about a mile NW of the plane. They say no one else was on board.

A resident in the area tells KSN they thought it was a crop dusting plane and thought nothing of it flying so low.

Searchers have found the body of a pilot whose plane crashed north of Winfield this morning. The wreckage of the plane was discovered at about 10:15 Wednesday near 111th Street and 62nd Rd.

"I just heard a zzzZZZ, POP!," said Clyde Watt, who was out tending his ground when he realized something was wrong. "That was when he hit the ground."

Watt immediately walked toward the wreckage to see if he could help, but was surprised to find nobody.

"I couldn't see nobody," Watt said. "It went through a fence and took out about 50 yards of my fence and I expected to find somebody, but there wasn't anybody there."

Investigators searched for two hours before finding the pilot of the 1-seat plane about a mile north of the wreckage along 52nd Rd.

The Federal Aviation Administration arrived at the scene at about 2:00 Wednesday to begin investigating the crash, but emergency management officials at the scene were left to wonder if the pilot somehow bailed out of the prop plane when he realized he was going to crash.

The name of the pilot has not been released, but the airplane appears to be registered out of Denton, TX.

Alan Joyce’s Record Pay Rise ‘Rubs Salt' in Qantas Pilots' Wounds

Qantas Airways' long-haul pilots described the unprecedented 71 percent package increase for Qantas CEO today as “rubbing salt in the wound.”

The Australian and International Pilots Association, which represents Qantas staff says Alan Joyce’s record pay rise is a disturbingly typical display of hypocrisy.

Mr Joyce has increased his annual take home pay to $5 million, with other key executives have increased their multimillion dollar packages by similar ratios.

“The 71 percent increase comes despite the Qantas share price dipping 16 per cent in the last financial year,” AIPA said.

It also comes at a time when Qantas has announced it will be sacking 1000 Australian workers and shifting local operations to Asia to avoid employing Australians.

AIPA Vice President Captain Richard Woodward said the mammoth pay rise for the CEO, in spite of the current climate, was indicative of Mr Joyce's approach to managing the iconic Australian airline.

"I doubt it will surprise many Australians to see Mr Joyce managing Qantas with a focus on his paypacket and the paypackets of his senior management team," Captain Woodward said.

"What may surprise, however, is the sheer extent of this CEO's hypocrisy.

"To hand yourself a 71 per cent payrise, while simultaneously sacking a thousand Aussie workers, smacks of breathtaking arrogance.

"To bump your pay up to $5 million as a reward for shifting a cherished Australian company to Southeast Asia gives a good indication of exactly where this particular chief executive’s priorities lie.

“Qantas is one of the great Australian companies, which, unfortunately, has been the victim of woeful mismanagement in recent times.

“To see this eye-watering amount of money bestowed upon one of the chief architects of the deconstruction of Qantas – well, it just rubs salt into the wound, frankly.”

The new pay bump makes Mr Joyce one of the highest paid airline chiefs in the world.

Air Tanzania Company Limited lacks efficient management

By Alawi Masare
BusinessWeek Reporter

One may think that state-owned Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) has failed because governments have poor records of managing companies unlike private operators who strive to run businesses effectively and efficiently as the Precision Air has done.

ATCL has no flying aircraft. However, the Ethiopian Airlines, which is wholly owned by the government, is doing well.

Aviation stakeholders say the ownership of an airline has nothing to do with its performance. What count are the management and partnerships.

Speaking during a conference on the aviation and allied business leadership in Dar es Salaam recently, the stakeholders said the Ethiopian Airlines was a good example of the best management while the partnership between Precision Air (PW) and Kenya Airways (KQ) was an example of sustainable cooperation in Africa.

“We should learn from the Ethiopian Airline and the PW/KQ partnership,” said Mr Ibrahim Bairu, an aviation expert.  Mr Bairu, the chief executive officer of the Dar es Salaam-based Bairu Aviation Services, has worked in the aviation industry for over 40 years.

He bemoaned unprofessionalism for hampering the sector’s growth. The chief operations officer of the Ethiopian Airlines, Mr Mesfin Bekele, said the management was carried out in an open manner.
The recruitment is conducted without political interference.
Although the government wholly owns the airline, no subsidy is given to run it. What is done is leave professionals to operate it profitably.

The government only appoints the board of directors and gives the airline autonomy to recruit top managers including the chief executive officer. “The CEO can be recruited from within the airline management but if there is no qualified person we also go outside the airline and find someone who fits in that position as long as he/she meets qualities and can deliver what the airline wants,” said Mr Bekele.

The top official may stay in the office for even more than 10 years as long as he/she delivers. For example, he noted that in the last 40 years, Ethiopian Airlines had seven managing directors who stayed in the office for three to 10 years.  The recruitment for other staff is done through hiring university graduates who studied engineering, accounting, management and other fields. They are then trained to have relevant skills required by the airline in their respective disciplines.

“The graduates may be from any field but we have our management development training which equips them with relevant knowledge and skills,” he added.

“The quality of leadership determines either the success or failure of a business,” he said.

On the other hand, the Precision Air/Kenya Airways partnership was cited as a sustainable cooperation required among airlines on the continent.

The tie-up started in 2003 when Kenya Airways bought a 49 per cent stake from Precision Air under a local investor, Mr Michael Shirima, who still owns 51 per cent of the shares.

Precision Air has benefited from the deal through increased frequencies and aircraft. Both have a joint training programme.

Although the exit windows are there, Precision Air and Kenya Airways are not planning to do so. “We do not focus on divorce. Our marriage is for life,” joked Precision Air CEO and group managing director Alfonse Kioko.

He also reminded the stakeholders that PW would soon float an initial public offering (IPO) and invited them to buy shares.

Mr Kioko informed delegates that in 1987 Mr Shirima started a crop spraying company.

But when drought scorched crops in 1992, he transformed it into a schedule and charter air company the following year. It grew to become Precision Air, which now has 14 routes including those to the Comoros, Entebbe, Johannesburg, Mombasa and Nairobi.

Lufthansa may face government ire over Air India’s failed Star Alliance bid

Star Alliance said in August that Air India​’s membership bid was being put on hold as it hadn’t met conditions

New Delhi: The government, upset by the rejection of Air India Ltd’s bid to become part of the Star Alliance grouping, may choose to take its ire out on Germany’s Deutsche Lufthansa AG​, which has, in turn, expressed the concern that carriers from West Asia will gain market share at the expense of European ones.

The German carrier’s application to allow its jumbo Airbus SAS A380 to fly to India has not been cleared by the ministry since last year and continues to be held in abeyance, said a civil aviation ministry official who did not want to be identified, although it wasn’t clear whether this is related to the rejection of Air India’s bid.

Lufthansa, one of the lead carriers in the Frankfurt-head-quartered Star Alliance, was the designated mentor for Air India’s bid to join the club. Star Alliance said in August that Air India’s membership bid was being put on hold as it hadn’t met conditions.

“This is completely unacceptable,” added the civil aviation ministry official, maintaining Air India’s position on its rejection as reported by Mint in a 2 August story. “Air India has met all the requirements and honoured all its agreements with the alliance.”

A communication from Lufthansa that sought to explain Air India’s rejection has also raised hackles at the ministry.

“In spite of numerous attempts by Star Alliance (Services) GmbH and mentor Lufthansa to convince AI (Air India) of the necessity to fulfil all prerequisites and contractual obligations, AI unfortunately has not honoured its contractual commitments as set forth in the conditional agreement to the Star Alliance of 13 Dec 2007,” Christoph Franz, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Lufthansa, said in a letter to civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi last month that was reviewed by Mint.

A Lufthansa spokesperson declined comment on the letter on the grounds that it was confidential.

The aviation ministry plans to take steps through direct and diplomatic channels to communicate its views to Lufthansa and Star Alliance, said the ministry official. “The claims made by Star are a way of misleading the ministry with the intention of not having to pay back the joining fees and any damages that AI would like to seek for expenses incurred in meeting the Star requirements and for loss of image,” he said.

Air India has paid a total €10 million (Rs. 65 crore today) since May 2008 as part of joining fees. It terminated relationships with Air France​ and Royal Jordanian​, besides refraining from signing any new code share agreements with other airlines as part of the process.

An Air India official close to the developments on the issue said key questions weren’t being asked by the government.

“I see nobody from the ministry or the airline asking the basic question: Which of the minimum joining requirements have not been met? Please specify. You can’t hang someone without telling him the charge,” this official said, asking not to be identified.

Star Alliance spokesman Markus Ruediger said the stand on the membership remains unchanged. He declined to specify which requirements Air India did not comply with.

Not unnaturally, there isn’t much sympathy on the part of the government for Franz’s view that West Asian airlines will benefit from Air India’s membership rejection. He also indicated that Air India may have missed the bus on joining the alliance in the foreseeable future, although the tone of the letter appears to be sympathetic to Air India’s plight. “I am very disappointed about this unfortunate development. This unsatisfactory outcome is indeed a setback for Air India as well as for AI’s mentor Lufthansa,” Franz said in the letter. “We have missed a great chance to exploit synergies and to strengthen the competitive position of Air India and Star Alliance in the marketplace.”

Air India has categorically denied the contention that it couldn’t meet the conditions, citing letters written by Star Alliance to the carrier that show otherwise, as Mint reported in the 2 August story.

The entry of Air India into Star Alliance was seen by European carriers as a way of leveraging its network and reducing the growing market share of West Asian carriers, including Emirates, Qatar Airways​, Etihad Airways​, Air Arabia and FlyDubai, in the fast-growing Indian air travel market.

In his letter to Ravi, Franz raised the concern that West Asian carriers will now make a dent in the market for flights to the US, having made gains in the India-Europe market.

“The members of the Star Alliance family continue to be deeply concerned about the ever-increasing competitive threat posed by the Gulf carriers,” he said. “They had hoped that India’s worldwide air transportation network could have been improved considerably by the alliance... The Gulf carriers have been able to exploit this development at their benefit.”

The CEO expects this process to escalate. “Emirates has become the leading carrier in air passenger transportation between India and Europe and vice-versa—neither Air India nor Lufthansa,” he said. “Sooner or later the same will be the case between India and North America.”

A former Air India official said the government felt betrayed over the Star rejection.

“In the wake of the membership invitation to Air India, Lufthansa had been given numerous benefits by way of enhanced frequencies to Mumbai and Delhi, and permission to fly to other points in India,” said Jitender Bhargava, former executive director of Air India who was closely associated with the process until his retirement last year. “It will be only legitimate for the government to withdraw some of these benefits,” he said.

India: Country's fog-landing pioneer grounded

NEW DELHI: One of India's finest and most experienced pilots of the Airbus A-320 family of aircraft became a victim of the powerful blast outside Delhi High Court on Wednesday. Captain Ron Nagar, a former director with Indian Airlines who is now senior vice-president (operations) with Kingfisher and an active pilot, along with his brother Dr John Nagar, was outside gate no. 5 of the court when the bomb went off.

Ron Nagar received shrapnel injuries on his right eye, some part of the face, right arm and legs. Both the brothers were rushed to RML Hospital. After getting first aid, their family members decided to take them to Max Hospital, Saket. Ron's wife, who was present in the government hospital, said both brothers had gone to the high court for a personal matter. She said Dr John Nagar also sustained serious shrapnel injuries on his face and legs. Sources said Rahul Gandhi especially visited Ron in the RML hospital due to the victim's closeness to the Gandhi family.

Ron Nagar, an examiner on the A-320 family of planes that include the A-319, 320 and 321, had started flying in the erstwhile Indian Airlines when late Rajiv Gandhi was still a pilot in the airline and the two often flew together. He then rose to become director of important divisions, such as operations, training and flight safety, in the erstwhile IA before moving on to Kingfisher. Most recently, his expertise was acknowledged by the government when he was made part of an expert team to probe last year's Mangalore crash.

Sources in Max Hospital, Saket, said Ron was being operated upon and the operation could last a while. "He is suspected to have sustained two fractures. He has shrapnel in his face and legs. Also, glass pieces have pierced the skin. Doctors are trying to remove those foreign particles that are still feared to be inside," said a doctor, who did not want to be named. The doctor, however, said Ron was not going to lose his vision due to the eye injury. Sources also informed that Ron's brother also had similar injuries and he was also being treated.

Nagar shot to fame when, about six years back, he became the first pilot to land in foggy Delhi under the category III B conditions. "Take off in the virtually blind Cat IIIB conditions had become common by then as aircraft tail a follow-me jeep to the runway and then take off. But touching down in this condition using the instrument landing system had never been done in India before, as that is an almost blind approach. It took a pilot of Nagar's calibre to make the first IIIB landing in Delhi," said a senior IA employee.

A former airline CMD described Nagar as an "ace pilot, thorough gentleman and exceptionally fine human being". "I just wish he can fly again," the former CMD said while echoing the sentiments of almost everyone in the aviation industry who know Nagar.

Nagar's current boss, Kingfisher owner Vijay Mallya, shared the same concern for his ace pilot. Mallya is learnt to have made several calls to senior airline officials who rushed to Max Saket to be with Nagar's family. "We are all very worried for him and hope he gets well and back in the cockpit," said a colleague.

Porter Airlines opens crew base in Halifax, plans 40 hires, including pilots

HALIFAX - Porter Airlines has opened a crew base in Halifax and plans on hiring 40 new employees, including flight attendants and pilots.

The new crew base is the first outside Porter's headquarters at Toronto's Billy Bishop airport and the move will double the airline's current workforce in Halifax to 80 people.

It currently has customer service, ground handling and maintenance crew in the city.

Porter said it is opening the new base, which is expected to create operation and economic efficiencies, because of company growth.

The Halifax crew will be mainly responsible for routes that include Halifax, Moncton, N.B., St. John's, N.L., Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.

Regulator wants Delhi International Airport Ltd non-core joint ventures scrapped

AERA says airport operator must go on its own to avoid revenue-sharing.

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) wants Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), which runs airports in the capital, to scrap its 11 joint ventures for non-aeronautical operations.

The regulator wants DIAL to directly provide non-aeronautical services. In a letter sent to the civil aviation ministry, AERA has asked the ministry to ensure DIAL runs the operations by itself. Non-aeronautical revenues at Delhi airports constitute 60 per cent of total revenues. They include revenues from food outlets, duty-free operations, parking, cargo and others.

“AERA has written to us the airport operator’s revenue has come down because of the formation of joint ventures for non-aero services, where there is a revenue share. It has said the fall would lead to an increase in airport charges,” said a senior ministry official, who did not wish to be named.

For fixing charges that airlines are required to pay (like for landing and parking), the regulator takes into consideration the total aeronautical revenue and 30 per cent of the non-aeronautical revenue earned by the airport. As DIAL has most of these operations through JVs, it has to share revenue with partners. As a result, the revenue accrued in the airport operator’s account is much lower than what would have been if it ran the operations on its own.

DIAL has formed 11 JVs to manage food outlets, duty-free shops, advertising, parking, ground handling, cargo and information technology. The equity shareholding of DIAL in the JVs ranges from 26 to 56 per cent and the revenue share agreed ranges from 10 to 61 per cent of gross revenue generated.

DIAL, in its reply, said it was a global practice for airport operators to participate in JVs with concessionaires due to certain inherent advantages such as business continuity and the desired quality. “Considering these facts, the bidding document had a provision in respect of the airport operator’s right to participate in the JVs formed for the purpose of carrying out any aeronautical, non-aeronautical or essential services,” the airport operator said in an email.

The reply explains the revenue share of 45.99 per cent, quoted by the GMR-led consortium for the privatisation of Delhi Airport, took into consideration its capability to sub-concession non-core activities. “DIAL has concessioned out non-core activities on a competitive basis and on the terms most beneficial to DIAL (and thus to AAI as well), which has resulted in a significant increase in DIAL’s revenue and AAI’s revenue share,” the reply said.

AERA, while confirming it had written a letter, said the onus was on the government to act. “We have raised the matter with the government and it should do something about it. There is nothing we can do on it,” said an AERA official.

An aviation ministry official, however, said there was nothing the ministry could do. “AERA is the regulator and it should directly issue orders to ensure revenue is not impacted,” the official said.

Ministry ignored red flags in aircraft deals: Comptroller and Auditor General

New Delhi In its bid to acquire 111 aircraft for two national carriers — Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines — for nearly Rs 44,000 crore, the civil aviation ministry ignored red flags raised by several evaluating agencies, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report is said to have concluded.

Not only was the deal fraught with anomalies, it also failed to incorporate concessions worth $350 million exacted by an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) in a time-bound manner, in the final agreement, thus making them ‘non-enforceable’.

During the acquisition process, the ministry led by Praful Patel then, failed to adequately address initial concerns raised by the Planning Commission, the Public Investment Board (PIB) and its own then financial advisor. In 2005-06, erstwhile Indian Airlines (domestic and medium-haul international carrier) and Air India (international carrier) ordered 43 Airbus and 68 Boeing aircraft, respectively, to replace their ageing fleet.

When contacted, officials in the ministry said it clarified its position to the CAG in four drafts of the report sent to it so far. “The 111 aircraft acquisition was a collective decision of the government, vetted by an independent committee and taken at the level of the Prime Minister’s Office. It is easier to comment (referring to CAG report) having advantage of hindsight. The decision was immediately followed by a global recession, which changed the aviation scenario. It is not necessary for the ministry to address objections of all evaluating agencies, which can sometimes be superfluous. These objections were appended with the proposal sent for the Cabinet’s consideration which took the final call,” an official told The Indian Express.

The final CAG report is said to have removed references to any monetary losses arising out of the deal unlike its draft versions. Sources in the government said the report is likely to tabled in Parliament on Thursday. The report is said to have held the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs and the PIB, too responsible for approving the acquisition that was to be funded largely through debt. The ministry’s proposal backed 97 per cent debt financing and 3 per cent government equity against normal practice of 80:20. The deal — CAG is said to have concluded — pushed the national airline, Air India Limited, formed after Indian Airlines was merged into it, into a “debt trap with its deteriorating financial performance”.

In the case of Indian Airlines, given its losses in last three years, the Planning Commission, in a PIB meeting in November 2004 raised an alarm, cautioning against capacity increase. In the same meeting, the then financial advisor (FA) to the ministry also advocated that at least 15 planes be ordered on an optional basis, providing room for a rethink later. In March 2005, the FA said the order may not be financially viable.

The observations were overturned by the EGoM chaired by then finance minister P Chidambaram. While recommending 43 plane purchases, the PIB asked the ministry to furnish additional information — related to allowing domestic carriers to fly abroad, economic viability of the proposal and benchmark pricing for further negotiations — when it takes the proposal to the CCEA. The auditor is said to have blamed each of these evaluating agencies for just forwarding their concerns and imposing conditions, while none of them ensured compliance.

It observed similar discrepancies in the Air India 68 aircraft purchase deal. It has questioned the wisdom of the ministry for ramping up the original 28 aircraft order to 68 — despite objections from the then financial advisor in the ministry. The report is said to take to task the ministry for failing to ensure that the concessions exacted by the EGoM from the two plane suppliers — French manufacturer Airbus and US’ Boeing — during final price negotiations were included in the final agreement. The EGoM had negotiated — separately with the two suppliers — concessions like investing in training facilities, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and warehouse in the country, amounting to $175 million each.

The report, said sources, has called these concessions ‘meagre’ and pointed towards non-inclusion of a time frame for their implementation in the final agreement. Till date, CAG has noted, these investments have not been concluded, more than five years after the deal was signed.

New Directorate General of Civil Aviation rules for pilots, crews to be implemented from February

NEW DELHI: New rules restricting the duty timings of pilots and cabin crew have been framed and will have to be implemented by all airlines from February next year.

The rules framed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) were initially expected to come into force earlier this year but will now have to be implemented from February 15, 2012, the aviation regulator said in a latest directive.

The need for new flight duty timing limitation (FDTL) for pilot's arose after last year's crash of Air India Express flight at Mangalore that claimed 158 lives. During investigations, it came to light that the commander was sleeping for most of the flight hours.

The new rules would take into account a pilot's "duty time" rather than just their "flight time", which means his duty timing would also include his flight hours as passenger when flying to other city to operate a flight.

Airlines have been blamed for increasing flights but not hiring pilots and cabin crew proportionately with the growth of India's domestic airline passenger market.

According to the civil aviation ministry, the country's aviation sector has witnessed 18 per cent growth last year and is expected to witness a double digit growth over the next five years.

The delay in implementation of new FDTL will allow airlines to hire more pilots to maintain current level of operations.

The airline operators are required to prepare the scheme specifying the limitations for flight time, flight duty periods, duty periods and rest periods of flight crew members which had to be approved by DGCA.

Air India replaces official accused of safety breach

The national carrier Air India has replaced a top executive heading the airline’s in-flight services department less than 15 days after a section of its cabin crew accused the official of rampant safety violations. On August 17, a section of the cabin crew has sought the airline’s  chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan’s written approval to file a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the arrest of captain AS Soman, for allegedly jeopardising passenger and crew safety. On September 2, Soman was stripped of the charge and replaced by the airline’s former human resources head Anup Srivastav.

An airline spokesperson confirmed the move. “It is a routine administrative change,” said the spokesperson. AI crew claimed that the PIL is likely to be filed in the Bombay high court (HC) next week.

The petition alleges that during Soman’s tenure the airline operated 148 international flights between April and June with cabin crew below the count decided by the safety regulator. It also alleges that cabin crew was not provided the stipulated five-hour rest on board on most long distance international flights.

Shortage of crew or depriving them rest can endanger passengers’ safety.

Sources added that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also questioned Soman for the violations. On March 18, AK Sharan, joint director, DGCA had warned Soman that the regulator might take action against him as per the Aircraft Rules, 1937, for putting passengers’ lives in danger.

Under the Rules, a person found guilty of a safety violation can get a prison term of six months and a fine of up to Rs2 lakh for each violation.

Bomb threats ground two Pakistani flights. Pakistan International Airline planes, headed to the UK and Malaysia, land safely after email threats.

Two flights belonging to Pakistan's state-owned airline have recieved bomb threats but both have landed safely, the airline said.

The first Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight was bound to Manchester, United Kingdom, on Wednesday and was forced to make an emergency landing in Turkey.

The second flight, on its way to Malaysia, landed safely in Kuala Lumpur.

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said the threat was delievered by email.

"The first plane took off from Lahore and was on its way to Manchester," he said. "The authorities evacuated the passengers and brought sniffer dogs."

The flight crew was notified of the threat near the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, and contacted the control tower in Istanbul to seek permission for the landing, Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported.

Laser 'attack' on police helicopter in Chard (UK)

A POLICE helicopter pilot flying over Chard in the early hours of the morning was left dazzled after being targeted in an alleged laser-pointer attack.

The Western Counties Air Operations unit visited the town at around 1.40am last Tuesday – with a helicopter helping officers investigate reports of vehicle crime when the pilot became ‘dazzled’ by a green laser being shone at him.

Police were in pursuit of two men allegedly seen breaking into a car near Sainsbury’s and leaving the area in a stolen Suzuki van.

Sgt Andy Lloyd said: “We pursued and caught up with the vehicle in Catch Gate Lane where they ran away. We arrested one of the suspects nearby.”

The police helicopter was called from Filton to help with the pursuit of the second suspect and was covering ground near Bradfield Way before the laser attack took place.

PC Richard Simms, one of the observers on the helicopter from the Western Counties Air Operations Unit, said: “There was a powerful green light on the pilot’s side of the aircraft and we had to back off from our search task.

“Using our camera system we located where the light was coming from and with a combination of our equipment we were able to identify the property and direct officers to the location.

“The response of the officers in Chard to our call was exemplary and we are grateful to them for their efforts.”

Following the laser incident a 45-year-old man was arrested and charged with directing or shining a light at an aircraft so as to dazzle the pilot. He will appear at South Somerset Magistrates Court in Yeovil on Friday, September 16.

Sgt Lloyd added: “Subsequently at about 4.30am in the morning we arrested the|second suspect from the Sainsbury’s theft at his address in Chard and he is currently on bail.”

The two men charged with the vehicle theft will also appear at South Somerset Magistrates Court on Friday, September 16.

Ireland considering sale of Aer Lingus stake

DUBLIN, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Ireland is considering the sale of its 25 percent stake in airline Aer Lingus which it no longer considers a strategic asset, the transport minister said on Wednesday.

The government has committed to raising around 2 billion euros ($2.8 billion) from sales of state assets to reduce high public debt, but it had indicated that it saw its stake in Aer Lingus as a lever to maintain competition in the sector.

"It's certainly under consideration, it's definitely one of the candidates," Leo Varadkar told state broadcaster RTE.

Aer Lingus is no longer seen as strategic because the airline's prized slots at London's Heathrow Airport had become less important due to the increase of direct flights from Dublin to other European hubs, Varadkar said.

"That stake in the past was held for strategic reasons," Varadkar told Newstalk radio. "I don't think that really stands any more."

A government-sponsored report published in April recommended that the state sell its 25 percent stake in the airline as soon as is opportune. It also named the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) and the Irish Aviation Authority as possible privatisation targets.

The sale of one of the terminals at Dublin airport could be complicated by the Dublin Airport Authority's debt pile, Varadkar said.

The government has indicated its priority is to maintain competition in the aviation sector, making a sale to rival airline Ryanair which already holds a near-30 percent stake unlikely.

Britain's Office of Fair Trading is currently investigating whether Ryanair's ownership of the stake hampers competition in the sector.

Ryanair said in a statement it would not bid for the stake if the government indicated that such an offer would be unwelcome. It said it would work with any new investor and would consider selling its own 30 percent stake.

One argument against a quick sale would be Aer Lingus' low share price, which has lost more than 80 percent of its value since early 2007.

Concerns that Aer Lingus may have to contribute to cover a 400 million euro deficit in a pension fund for staff has weighed on its share price in recent months.

"I can't see an institutional investor coming forward until there is clarity over the pension deficit," said Stephen Furlong an analyst with Davy Stockbrokers in Dublin.

It may be difficult to find a trade buyer as there is a queue of medium sized airlines that may come on to the market soon, he said. The governments of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Portugal have all publicly expressed interest in selling their flag carriers.

The government is also considering the sale of equity stakes in state-owned Irish energy companies, Varadkar said.

"What you can expect in some cases is partial privatisation, where there will be the sale of an equity stake in a state company, and that could raise a lot of money in the case of the energy companies," Varadkar said.

A government report in April called for the sale of parts of former monopoly energy provider ESB and gas provider Bord Gais. The chief executive of ESB told Reuters in February that the government could raise between 6 and 8 billion euros from privatising the entire company. ($1 = 0.713 Euros) 

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle) 

Wed Sep 7, 2011 10:26am EDT
By Conor Humphries

Canada: Airline seat percentages soar on growing passenger demand.

Canadian airlines said Tuesday strong passenger demand during the month of August resulted in more seats filled last month than for the corresponding period last year.

Air Canada reported a record August load factor - or average amount of seats occupied on its planes - of 87.8 per cent, up a percentage point year over year, as traffic improved 3.5 per cent on capacity increases of 2.2 per cent during the month.

WestJet said its load factor hit 83.3 per cent last month, up 1.1 per cent from a year ago, as its traffic improvements of 7.7 per cent outpaced its capacity increases of 6.2 per cent year over year during the month.

The Calgary carrier said it flew 1.49 million passengers in August, a record monthly high.

"We are pleased with the improved August load factor, and forward bookings remain healthy as our capacity increases continue to be absorbed by the market," said Gregg Saretsky, WestJet's chief executive.

Porter Airlines said its August load factor rose to 68.7 per cent, up nearly five per cent from a year ago, after its traffic improved to 28 per cent and its capacity increased about 19 per cent.

Yakovlev 42D, YAK Service, RA-42434: Accident occurred September 07, 2011 near Yaroslavl-Tunoshna Airport (IAR), Russia

Ice hockey team Lokomotiv. 
Photo from the website of the KHL.

Pavol Demitra, a former Kings forward and a three-time NHL All-Star, was reportedly among the players killed in Wednesday's crash of a jetliner carrying a Russian hockey team.

New coach was man of vision
Former Flyer Brad McCrimmon Confirmed Dead in Russian Plane Crash

Lokomotiv head coach, 52-year old Canadian Brad McCrimmon, has been confirmed dead in the tragic plane crash outside Yaroslavl that took the lives of at least 43 people. Drafted by the Boston Bruins at the age of 20, Canadian Brad McCrimmon had 18 NHL seasons under his belt, and was considered an outstanding defenseman. As captain of the Calgary Flames, he helped his team win the coveted Stanley Cup in 1989. His impressive 1,222-game total was marked with 81 goals and 341 assists.

The 52-year-old native of Saskatchewan was an assistant coach to the Detroit Red Wings for the last three seasons. McCrimmon accepted the position of head coach for three-time Russian champions Lokomotiv only four months ago, in May 2011. It was not his first time in the Russian city – eight years ago, the then-coach of the Canadian junior hockey team won gold in the Golden Ring town and was later more than happy to make Russia his home. This would have been the first game of the hockey season that McCrimmon’s team would play, and he was certainly ready for it. In an interview given just a few months before his tragic demise, he said his motto was “looking forward” – and that is exactly what he and his team were planning to do.

(Misha Japaridze/The Associated Press) 
Rescuers work at the crash site of a Russian Yak-42 jet near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011.

In what's become a summer of tragic human loss, news outlets have caught onto the latest story in which a chartered plane carrying the KHL's Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team crashed on the Volga River northeast of Moscow.

According to CTV news bulletin, Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry says a passenger jet carrying a local hockey team has crashed while taking off in western Russia, killing 36 people. It says at least one person has survived but is injured.

Yahoo! Sports' Dmitri Chesnokov added some clarity through translation Tweeting (@dchesnokov), SovSport is reporting that the lone survivor (at this point) is a crew member. No news about any survivors from #Lokomotiv.

The plane carrying Lokomotiv crashed only 2km from the runway; caught fire, broke off in two.

Rescuers work at the crash site of Russian Yak-42 jet near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011.

Among those on board were three players with Ottawa Senators connections - Karel Rachunek, Pavol Demitra and Vitaly Anikeyenko (drafted 70th overall, 2005). Former Red Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon was also on the plane. If you'll remember, Paul MacLean's former colleague left the Red Wings during the summer to pursue a head coaching position.

There are 26 players listed on Lokomotiv’s roster on the team’s Web site. As of July 9, former NHL players on the team included: Pavol Demitra, Karel Rachunek, Rusland Salei, Karlis Skrastins and Josef Vasicek. Brad McCrimmon, a former Red Wings and Flyers defenseman was listed as Lokomotiv’s head coach. 

Former Washington Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov, who was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in July, was rumored to join Lokomotiv this summer, but remained with the Avalanche instead. Varlamov played for Lokomotiv from 2004-08.

Rescuers seen at the crash site of Russian Yak-42 jet near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011.

At least 40 people have died in a Yakovlev Yak-42 passenger plane crash near the city of Yaroslavl in Central Russia. The majority of victims were members of the local ice hockey team Lokomotiv.

The plane went down and caught fire shortly after taking to the air. Preliminary reports say it had insufficient lift and hit a beacon tower. The crash site is between 500 and 1,000 meters from the runway, according to different reports.

Some reports say the incident happened just next to the Volga River and that some fragments of the aircraft and bodies of the victims fell into water.

The Yak-42 was on its way to the Belarusian capital Minsk, aviation authorities reported. Emergencies Ministry reported there were 42 people onboard. Two of them survived the crash.

Several of the victims were foreign players for the club. The squad includes players from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Sweden.

The two survivors are in a serious condition and have been taken to hospital. A police source told Interfax news agency that one of the survivor is a crew member. He is a flight engineer, reports Life News website.

It is the first-ever fatal crash involving a sports team in modern Russia. Soviet Union’s worst incident of this kind was the 1979 mid-air collision of two Tupolev Tu-134s in Dniprodzerzhynsk, Ukraine. Seventeen players and staff of the then-Soviet top-division Pakhtakor Football Club team died in the crash.

The Yaroslavl HC Lokomotiv were Russian Champions in 1997, 2002 and 2003. The squad was to play a match against Mink HC Dinamo on Thursday.

The heads of the KHL are currently in an urgent meeting to discuss the measures to be taken following the tragic crash and death of the Yaroslavl team. The Salavat Ulaev versus Atlant match, which is the opening battle of the league season, was cancelled by the KHL.

President Dmitry Medvedev is to visit the crash site on Thursday. He offered his condolences to the relatives of the victims and to fans of the club over the tragedy.

Visitors of the International Political Forum, who are visiting Yaroslavl at the moment, held a minute’s silence to commemorate the victims of the crash. The Russian Hockey Federation voiced its condolences to the Lokomotiv club, the families of the victims and the entire ice hockey community.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched a criminal investigation into the incident and sent a team of forensic experts from Moscow to Yaroslavl, according to the spokesman for the committee, Vladimir Markin.

The Interstate Aviation Committee, a regional regulating body, has launched its own probe into the cause of the crash.

Prime Minister Putin ordered Transport Minister Igor Levitin to organize the initial part of the investigation at the scene.


Yakovlev-42 Plane: Fact sheet

The Yakovlev Yak-42 plane series was first designed in the 1970s in the USSR to replace obsolete mid-range Tupolev passenger jets. The Yakovlev plane in its various modifications can carry up to 120 passengers, while the maximum take-off weight is 57,500 kg.

Numerous Yak-42 planes have been sold to other countries, such as Macedonia, China or Cuba. During the Soviet-Afghan war, Soviet troops employed a number of Yak-42 vehicles.

One of the most recent Yak-42 crashes happened in May 2003 on a flight from Kyrgyzstan to Turkey, when a plane crashed into a mountain, taking the lives of all 75 people on board.

Tunoshna Airport: Fact sheet

The Tunoshna airport is located 17 kilometers from Yaroslavl (some 260 kilometers from Moscow) and was previously a military aerodrome. It can serve fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters of all types, including super-heavy planes. Tunoshna can receive 15-17 jets a day, and register up to 150 passengers an hour. The hub is widely used by local sport clubs Lokomotiv ice-hockey club, Shinnik football club, as well as by their guest rivals.

YAROSLAVL, Russia (AP) — A Russian jet carrying a top local ice hockey team crashed while taking off Wednesday in western Russia, killing 36 people and leaving one critically injured, officials said.

The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the Yak-42 plane crashed immediately after leaving an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow. It said one person survived the crash with grave injuries.

There was no immediate word on weather conditions.

The ministry said the plane was carrying the Lokomotiv ice hockey team from Yaroslavl.

The team was heading to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where it was to play Thursday against Dinamo Minsk in the opening game of the season of the Kontinental Hockey League. The league is made up of several ex-Soviet nations.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin immediately sent the nation's transport minister to the site of the crash, 10 miles (15 kilometers) east of Yaroslavl.

President Dmitry Medvedev has announced plans to take aging Soviet-built planes out of service starting next year. The short- and medium-range Yak-42 has been in service since 1980 and dozens are still in service with Russian and other airlines.

In June, another Russian passenger jet crashed in the northwestern city of Petrozavodsk, killing 47 people. The crash of that Tu-134 plane has been blamed on pilot error.

A passenger plane carrying a Russian ice hockey team crashed shortly after takeoff Wednesday, leaving only a single survivor and killing 36 others on board.

The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the plane crashed immediately after taking off from an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, 240 kilometres northeast of Moscow.

It said one person survived the crash but has critical injuries.

The ministry said the Yak-42 jet was carrying the Lokomotiv hockey team from Yaroslavl.

The team's roster includes former NHLers Pavol Demitra and Ruslan Salei as well as Canadian coach Brad McCrimmon. But it was not known whether they were on board the plane.

McCrimmon, 52, is a native of Saskatchewan. He played for six NHL teams in his career and was an assistant coach with the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and Detroit Red Wings.

The team was heading to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to play against Dinamo Minsk in the opening game of the season of the Continental Hockey League. The CHL is a league of several ex-Soviet countries.

The Yak-42 is a Soviet-built three-engined mid-range passenger jet that has been in service since 1980. Dozens remain in service with Russian airlines and other airlines around the world.

President Dmitry Medvedev has announced plans to take aging Soviet-built planes out of service starting next year.

The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, or Emercom, published the full list of the 45 passengers on board a plane that exploded mid air and crashed in the Volga River on Wednesday afternoon in central Russia.  The Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team, ranked No. 3 in the Russian KHL hockey league last year, lost all but one member. Their forward, Alexander Galimov, remains in critical condition with burns on 90% of his body. Nearly all of the passengers on board died in the crash.

News of the tragic accident of a mid-sized Yak-42 Russian aircraft sent shockwaves throughout the global ice hockey community. NHL stars lamented the loss of former Detroit Red Wings assistant coach, Brad McCrimmon, age 52.

“This is the darkest day in the history of our sport,” International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel told Fox Sports. “This is not only a Russian tragedy. This is a terrible tragedy for the global ice hockey community.”

McCrimmon was on his way to make his head coaching debut at the start of the KHL season. One of his former US players in Detroit, Ruslan Saley, also died in the accident.

McCrimmon, aka “Beast” in NHL circles, leaves behind his wife Maureen, and children Carlin, 20, and Liam, 14. Saley, known as “Rusty,” leaves behind his wife, Bethann, and three kids — Alexis, Aleksandro and Ava, who was just born in March, the NHL said.

“It happens in the world, but when it happens in our small hockey community — it’s unbelievable how many NHL franchises were touched today,” Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told senior writer Dan Rosen. “But the people that were really touched are the families that are left behind. We’re going to mourn for a few days; those families are going to be affected forever. I can’t even imagine a young child losing their dad. I don’t know what else to say than that.”

Russia Today, a 24 hour news network based in Moscow, said the accident was the worst in the sport’s history.

One crew member, along with Galimov, remain in critical condition early Thursday morning in central Russia. The last reported crash of a Yak-42 in Russia was in June 1982 about an Aeroflot flight. All 132 passengers perished when the aircraft went down over Moscow.

Yak-42 planes are made in Russia. The series of jets were grounded on Wednesday.

The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder of the ill-fated plane are yet to be recovered, Ria Novosti reported at 02:15 local time on Thursday.

Passenger list:
1.Vitaly Anikeyenko
2.Yury Bakhvalov
3.Aleksandr Belyayev
4.Mikhail Balandin
5.Aleksandr Vasyunov
6.Josef Vasicek
7.Aleksandr Vyukhin
8.Aleksandr Galimov – in critical condition
9.Robert Dietrich
10.Pavol Demitra
11.Andrei Zimin
12.Marat Kalimulin
13.Aleksandr Karpovtsev
14.Aleksandr Kalyanin
15.Andrei Kiryukhin
16.Nikita Klyukin
17.Igor Korolyov
18.Nikolai Krivonosov
19.Yevgeny Kunnov
20.Vyacheslav Kuznetsov
21.Stefan Liv
22.Jan Marek
23.Brad McCrimmon
24.Sergey Ostapchuk
25.Vladimir Piskunov
26.Karel Rachunek
27.Evgeny Sidorov
28.Karlis Skrastins
29.Ruslan Saley
30.Pavel Snurnitsyn
31.Daniil Sobchenko
32.Ivan Tkachenko
33.Pavel Trakhanov
34.Igor Urychev
35.Gennady Churilov
36.Maksim Shuvalov
37.Artyom Yarchuk
1.Andrey Solontsev
2.Igor Zhevelov
3.Sergei Zhuravlev
4.Vladimir Matyushkin
5.Aleksandr Sizov – in critical condition
6.Yelena Sarmatova
7.Nadezhda Maksumova
8.Yelena Shavina