Friday, September 09, 2011

Piaggio P180 Avanti: Aspen airport gets earful about noisy airplane.

ASPEN — It has been described as sounding like a lawn mower whining across the sky or a rusty table saw passing overhead.

On Thursday, a handful of Woody Creek denizens asked Aspen-Pitkin County Airport officials what can be done about it. The focus of their complaint was the Piaggio P180 Avanti, an aircraft flown in and out of the local airport by Avantair, an aircraft fractional company based in Clearwater, Fla.

The unique turboprop features a canard, or horizontal stabilizer, beneath its nose, giving it the look of a hammerhead shark. Its propellers are situated behind the engines — a design that apparently contributes to the sound that makes it instantly recognizable to those on the ground below.

“It sounds like a table saw — that's rusty,” said Woody Creek resident Robert Pew.

Operation of the P180 has climbed onto lists maintained by the airport, which tracks noise events and noise complaints, though the aircraft is actually quieter, in terms of decibels, than some private jets, according to Paul Dunholter, noise consultant for the airport. It's the pitch that's noticeable.

“The Piaggio may only be in the 70s (decibel range), but irritation-wise, it really spikes up,” Dunholder said.

“It's a unique noisy. It's grating,” agreed resident Don Lemos.

What the airport can do about it, however, is very little, officials said.

The Santa Monica Airport banned the Piaggio in the wake of a 1984 lawsuit settlement, but the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 prohibits the noise policy that Santa Monica was able to enact.

“We don't have any legal authority to ban an aircraft the way Santa Monica did. Even if we wanted to, we couldn't,” said Francey Jesson, assistant aviation director of operations at the local airport.

If a rock band played a concert in downtown Aspen, the event would have to comply with the city's noise ordinance, said resident Buddy Ortega. “How is that different than what we're doing here?”

Transportation, including vehicles and airplanes, is exempt from such local ordinances, Dunholter explained.

Residents also suggested hiking the landing fees for noisy aircraft or limiting their daily operations.

“To tell you the truth, I could live with two flights a day,” Ortega said. But on Labor Day, there were five arrivals and five takeoffs by 11 a.m., he said.

Airport officials were not optimistic that they can take any action to alleviate the situation, but developments involving Avantair and the airplane's manufacturer may provide some relief, Jesson said.

The chief pilot for Avantair was only recently made aware that Piaggio noise was an issue at the local airport. Pilots will be instructed to reduce the plane's engine power from 2,000 rpm to 1,800 on approach in clear weather — a protocol the company uses at other noise-sensitive airports, Jesson said.

In addition, a new propeller design that reduces the aircraft's noise is in the testing stage now. Avantair is committed to retrofitting its fleet if and when it becomes available, she reported.

“I'm hoping this 1,800 rpm shift makes a noticeable difference to you on the ground underneath the aircraft, said Jim Elwood, aviation director.

So far this year, the airport has seen 500 to 600 flights in and out by various Piaggios in Avantair's fleet, he said. It amounts to about 5 percent of overall operations by private aircraft at the airport annually, Jesson said.

The aircraft began local operations four to five years ago, but they've roughly doubled in the past couple of years, she said.

Avantair sells fractional shares in its aircraft among its flight options for clientele.

“Apparently, a fairly significant number of locals have bought into the airplanes,” Elwood said. One fractional owner expressed regret after finding out how noisy the planes are, he added.

Airport officials urged residents who live in the airport flight path to let them know if the situation improves as Avantair takes steps to reduce its noise impacts. Call 429-1868 to log a noise complaint with the airport.

Kolkata, India: Aircraft snag, poor visibility disrupt operations at city airport.

KOLKATA: Flight operations at Kolkata airport were suspended twice on Friday, first when an aircraft was stranded on the runway and again when heavy rain reduced visibility.

While the shutdown caused by aircraft snag could not be averted, the rain-led disruption occurred because the primary runway that is equipped with instrument landing system was shut for maintenance. A notice to airmen had been issued, alerting pilots that the primary runway would be shut from noon till 2.45pm and that the secondary runway would be in operation during this period.

Though the secondary runway has category-I ILS that allows flight operations till 550-metre visibility, pre-commissioning procedural delays has prevented its use. Airport officials said they were hopeful of completing the procedures before November to commission it before fog sets in.

The first disruption in operation took place between 12.42pm and 12.56pm when an Air India flight arriving from Guwahati got stranded on the runway after touchdown. The pilot noticed a problem in the nose wheel hydraulic system and alerted the ATC before landing. After the plane landed, it could not steer off the runway and had to be towed along the taxi track.

Since it wasn't a particularly busy time of the day, only a Kolkata-Imphal IndiGo flight ready for takeoff was held back for 14 minutes.

Operations at the airport were suspended again at 2.28pm when rain reduced visibility below 2,800 metre. That is the cut-off mark till which flight operations are allowed for visually aided landing. According to Met office, the visibility dropped till 1,500 metre.

At that time, a flight from Agartala was approaching to land while three flights were preparing for takeoff. Had the CAT-I ILS system that is installed in the secondary runway been operational, the flight disruptions wouldn't have happened.

Though the system was installed over four months ago and was tested and calibrated by Airports Authority of India aircraft soon afterwards, its commissioning has been held up because the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been sitting over the matter. It is only on Wednesday that it gave a go-ahead for commercial airlines to test the landing procedures and submit its report.

"Air India and Jet Airways will now carry out test flights to check the calibrations. If they are satisfied with the system and submit a favourable report to DGCA, the ILS will be commissioned. We are hopeful that it will happen within a month," said AAI regional executive director (east) Gautam Mukherjee said.

With fuel running out for the IndiGo flight from Agartala that was hovering over Kolkata, airport authorities decided to wind up maintenance work on the primary runway and open it for operations. The plane finally landed on the primary runway at 2.42 pm. Three flights that were set for takeoff-Druk Air flight to Paro, SpiceJet flight to Chennai and Kingfisher Airlines flight to Mumbai-were delayed.

India won't give landing rights to Lufthansa's A-380 aircraft - report.

FRANKFURT, Sept 9 | Fri Sep 9, 2011 2:00pm EDT

(Reuters) - India has refused to grant landing rights for German airline Lufthansa's A-380 aircraft in the capital New Delhi, a German daily said on Friday.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported in a pre-release of its Saturday edition that the Indian government's decision was made apparently because the Lufthansa-led "Star Alliance" network of airlines had rejected Air India's request to become a Star Alliance member.

It said Star Alliance last month decided to turn down the request of state-owned Air India to become a member because of the latter's weak financial situation.

The report said the denial of landing rights would be a blow to Lufthansa's ambition to expand its flight offers to India.

A spokesman for Lufthansa said the landing rights issue should not be linked to Star Alliance's decision on Air India, saying other airlines have also been unsuccessful so far in obtaining the right to land some of their aircraft in New Delhi.

Star Alliance was formed in 1997 and has 27 airline-members which cooperate on flights and codes.

Bolivian found alive in Amazon 3 days after crash. Swearingen SA.227BC Metro III, Aerocon.

LA PAZ (Reuters) - A Bolivian salesman was found alive in the Amazon jungle on Friday nearly three days after a small plane crashed, killing everyone else on board.

Nine people were travelling on the Fairchild Aerospace Metro when it went missing near the city of Trinidad on Tuesday, but when rescuers only found eight bodies in the wreckage they kept searching deeper into the forest.

"From several kilometres (miles) away, we saw a man on the river bank signalling to us. When we got closer, he knelt down and thanked God," said Naval Captain David Bustos, who led the rescue operation.

"He said he'd been trapped in the plane for more than 15 hours and that when he finally escaped he began to walk and survived by drinking his own urine and water from a lagoon," Bustos added.

The man, named as Minor Vidal, a 35-year-old cosmetics salesman, had head and rib injuries but was out of danger, Bustos said.

"Thank God he's alive, it's a real miracle," his sister, Rosario Vidal, told reporters.

The plane took off from the eastern city of Santa Cruz for a 90-minute flight, flying into thick smoke caused by the burning of forests for grazing.

FAA Approves East Hampton Town's Airport Layout Plan. East Hampton Airport (KHTO), New York.

Photo Credit: Doug Kuntz

The Federal Aviation Administration has accepted East Hampton Town’s Airport Layout Plan, paving the way for the possible installation of a seasonal control tower and a 10-mile zone of federal control around East Hampton Airport, town officials said on Friday.

The FAA sent a letter of approval to Supervisor Bill Wilkinson on Tuesday, according to a press release from Mr. Wilkinson and Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the Town Board’s liaison to the airport. The last layout plan was approved in 1989, they said.

“This fulfills a campaign promise—to get our airport into a more safe and secure position within professional aviation and just as important, to be a better neighbor,” Mr. Wilkinson said in the release. “Now we can move on a seasonal control tower.”

The layout plan depicts the airport in its current form, according to Mr. Stanzione, but is necessary for the town to install the temporary tower, put 10 miles of airspace around the airport under “direct FAA supervision,” and receive certain federal grants, according to the officials.

“For the first time, East Hampton can have effective control of our airspace,” Mr. Wilkinson said. The town would need additional FAA approval to install the tower and create the controlled airspace.

The Town Board approved the layout plan and a separate Airport Master Plan last year. In February, at Mr. Stanzione’s request, the Town Board untethered the layout plan from the master plan, and submitted them separately to the FAA for review.

Six residents who live near the airport, which is located in Wainscott, sued East Hampton Town last year, claiming it did not adequately address the issue of airport noise in its environmental analysis of the master plan update. The lawsuit has not been resolved.

In the press release, Mr. Wilkinson hailed the layout plan’s approval as a step toward better noise mitigation.

“While the FAA approval of our ALP is a milestone achievement, it is part of a more comprehensive approach to managing the airport as a business and community asset, and to creatively and practically mitigating impacts of aviation activity, efforts that Councilman Stanzione has diligently pursued,” he said.

The FAA has not yet issued a ruling on the master plan.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson announced a federal stamp of approval has been given for the town-owned airport that makes way for a seasonal control tower.

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved an Airport Layout Plan for East Hampton Airport in Wainscott.

In a Sept. 6 letter, the FAA’s New York Airports District Office reported the recently-submitted town plan is “acceptable.”

“This fulfills a campaign promise—to get our airport into a more safe and secure position within professional aviation and just as important, to be a better neighbor,” Wilkinson said in a statement on Friday. “Now we can move on a seasonal control tower.”

Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the liaison to the airport, said the approval enables the town to obtain FAA’s authorization for such temporary seasonal control tower and designation of 10-miles of airspace around the airport under FAA supervision.

“For the first-time, East Hampton can have effective control of our airspace,” Wilkinson said.

He said the airport hasn't had an approved layout plan since 1989.

“This is a historical moment in modern town history,” said Wilkinson.

Passenger gives account of plane landing in Carlyss instead of Lake Charles. Colgan Saab 340B, Continental Airlines, N352CJ, Flight 3222 landed 8 miles short of destination.

According to a passenger on Colgan Flight 3222 that landed in Carlyss Wednesday night instead of Lake Charles, it was 90 minutes before they were able to leave the plane after landing.

CARLYSS — When Southland Field built it’s new state of the art T-Hangar here this past summer, it wanted to attract larger planes to the airport. Officials never envisioned having a Continental Connection plane land here though.

Colgan Flight 3222, a Continental Connection flight bound from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Lake Charles Regional Airport, mistakenly landed at the much smaller Southland Field — a freak occurrence that has happened at least two other times in the last 20 years. According to Sam Larsh, Southland Field Airport Manager, it happened twice in the mid 1990s.

“This is the third time it’s happened,” Larsh said. “An airline pilot is flying by an instrument flight plan and they are supposed to land on runway 15 in Lake Charles. On a crystal clear night like last night (Wednesday), it’s the first runway lights they come upon after being in pitch black between Houston and here.

“It’s an easy mistake to make, but it’s one they probably should never make,” Larsh continued. “It’s only eight miles from our airport to Lake Charles Regional with virtually the same coordinates.”

Joe Williams, Director of Corporate Communications with Pinnacle Airlines Corp., released a statement Thursday afternoon.

“Colgan Flight 3222 from Houston to Lake Charles, landed safely at Southland Field Airport last (Wednesday) night. Southland Field is approximately eight nautical miles west of Lake Charles. At no time was passenger safety in question. The crew had visual contact with the field and was cleared by air traffic control for a visual approach. The plane with 23 passengers and a crew of three landed safely at 10:21 p.m. central time. Passengers were transported to Lake Charles and will be accommodated on other flights. Per standard procedure, the crew is relieved of duty pending an investigation,” Williams said.

David Haegele, his wife and four kids — all residents of Lake Charles — were aboard the flight. The Haegele family was returning from Orlando to Lake Charles and were completely shocked when they learned they were in Carlyss instead of Lake Charles.

“After we landed, we were told we couldn’t get off the plane right away, but we really didn’t know why,” Haegele said. “They told us we couldn’t get off until police showed up, which I understand is standard procedure.

“We sat there for about an hour and a half,” Haegele continued. “I didn’t know where we were. I assumed we were in Lake Charles. It was pitch black out there, so you couldn’t see a thing. My first thought when I heard we had landed in Sulphur was that there must have been some guy out there with a flashlight directing us.”

According to Haegele, the pilot and co-pilot finally alerted the passengers as to what was going on and they actually unloaded the luggage for the passengers.

“A few limousines and a van showed up and they told us they were going to transport us to Lake Charles unless we could find our own ride,” Haegele said. “We piled my family into a packed limo and made it to the Lake Charles airport some time around 12:40 a.m. I think the most frustrating part is that we didn’t know we landed at the wrong airport all that time we sat on the plane. It’s also sort of scary to know that can happen. But ... thank God we’re all fine and made it home.”

According to Larsh, the last employee at Southland Field leaves for the day at 8 p.m., so the airport was completely empty. Continental Airlines called Larsh at 11:30 p.m. to make him aware of the situation.

The plane remained at Southland Field until a different flight crew can transport it. The plane was still at Southland Field as of 9 a.m. Thursday.

Alaska Airlines faces $590,000 fine for maintenance error

The Federal Aviation Administration Friday said it has proposed a $590,000 civil penalty against Alaska Airlines for allegedly operating a Boeing Co. 737-400 on more than 2,100 flights when the plane wasn't in compliance with regulations.

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Aviation Administration proposed a $590,000 penalty against Alaska Airlines on Friday, saying it operated a Boeing 737 on 2,107 flights with a defect that caused a cockpit fire.

The FAA said a hose clamp had been installed improperly and caused wiring to chafe, leading to the fire in the cockpit ceiling of the jet parked at the gate at Anchorage International Airport on Jan. 18, 2010.

It said the maintenance manual for the 737-400 includes an explicit warning about installing the hose clamp properly. The airline then found the same problem on nine other planes in its fleet and fixed them. The FAA said there were no other fires.

An airline spokeswoman did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Shares of the airline's Seattle-based parent company Alaska Air Group Inc. fell 85 cents to $53.86 in afternoon trading.

Air India plane forced to land under emergency conditions

Press Trust of India, Updated: September 09, 2011 23:20 IST

Kolk: An Air India plane from Guwahati, landed under emergency conditions at Kolkata's NSCB International airport here on Friday due to a technical snag. The plane had 105 people on board,

Airport sources said while preparing for routine landing, the pilot of AI 730 found there was a snag in the front wheel and immediately alerted the air traffic control.

After landing with all emergency safety measures in place, the aircraft remained static on the runway for eight minutes as per procedure before being towed away to a nearby spot, they said.

All the passengers and the crew safely disembarked around 12:55 pm, they said.

The same aircraft later left for Bengaluru.

Air France-KLM eyes catch-up with Lufthansa, IAG

PARIS (Reuters) - Franco-Dutch carrier Air France-KLM plans extra cost cuts to close the competitiveness gap with European rivals and will scale back air cargo operations to reduce its exposure to economic cycles.

"Our competitiveness is not on the level of that of our major European competitors," Chief Executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said on Friday, citing Lufthansa and IAG, formed by the merger of British Airways and Spain's Iberia, as examples.

He told reporters first-quarter results were disappointing but the airline was keeping its target of achieving a full-year operating profit and would give an update on cost plans with its quarterly results on Nov. 9.

Air France-KLM is the worst-performing stock on Paris' broad SBF 120 index this year, down some 55 percent, as it is seen weighed down by high staff costs, a large debt pile and tough competition.

The airline, which is 15.7 percent-owned by the French state and 9.8 percent-owned by employees, spends about a third of its revenue on staff, its biggest expense, compared with about a quarter for Lufthansa and IAG.

Some analysts have said Air France-KLM could suffer if the economic environment worsens while others have questioned whether it could achieve an operating profit this year.

The group said on July 25 it was halving its planned winter long-haul capacity growth to 2.7 percent from 5.1 percent and pushing some of its short-haul operations out to provincial French cities to help drive down costs.

Gourgeon said cost cuts this year would go over the planned savings of 470 million euros but refused to give a precise figure. Les Echos reported on Monday that the airline was eyeing cost savings of 700-800 million euros per year.

Shares in Air France-KLM were down 2 percent at 6.16 euros by 1222 GMT.

"The recent share price falls suggest the market is starting to assume a renewed economic downturn," Espirito Santo Investment Bank, which has a "sell" rating on Air France-KLM, wrote in a research note.

Gourgeon told an industry breakfast the air transport industry was better placed than in 2008 to weather a potential recession.

"In 2008, after four or five years of prosperity, the air transport industry was caught by surprise," he said. "This time, the industry is better prepared."

He added that Air France-KLM would not pursue efforts to rank amongst cargo transport leaders in the future, an area where it competes with airlines such as Cathay Pacific.

"This business is very exposed, and when we see how it is doing, we are encouraged by our decisions to reduce capacity," he said.

International passenger traffic rose 5.9 percent in July year-on-year, while freight traffic fell 0.4 percent, mainly due to weakness in the Asia-Pacific region following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the International Air Transport Association said on Sept. 1.

Asked about a possible multi-billion-dollar order to renew Air France-KLM's long-haul fleet, Gourgeon said a decision was likely after a board meeting slated for Sept. 15.

The airline is looking for around 100 lightweight, fuel-saving aircraft in the mid-sized 250-300 seat range and is weighing up Boeing's 787 Dreamliner against Airbus' planned A350.

Unsure whether to go ahead with Boeing purchase: Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi

NEW DELHI: Even as the official auditor attributed Air India's massive fleet expansion plan as one of the major reasons for its financial woes, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi said the national carrier had no money to pay for the 27 Boeing 787 aircraft expected to be delivered by year-end.

Of the 68 Boeing aircraft ordered in 2005-06, 27 were long haul B787s. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), which reviewed this deal and another order for 43 Airbus planes for the erstwhile Indian Airlines termed the acquisition process ill-timed and driven from the top.

When asked about the deal, Ravi said the airline's finances were in a mess and the government had not decided yet whether to confirm the deal or call it off as it could not pay for them. The delivery of these planes has also been delayed for over three years.

"I don't have the money to pay. I cannot beg the finance minister all the time for the money. It is difficult, this is the position now," Ravi told television channels.

"The government cannot say we are confirming or we are rejecting, the workers also know that now... but it is not delivered so far, we have not paid so far. I don't have the money to pay for it also," the minister added.

Air India and Indian Airlines were merged in April 2007 into the National Aviation Company of India Ltd. (NACIL), which has since been renamed as Air India.

The CAG said the initial proposal to acquire aircraft was made in 1996. But soon after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government assumed office in 2004, the procurement process picked up and the deal was wrapped up in seven months.

The deal also saw Air India altering the acquisition plan, at the behest of the civil aviation ministry, from buying 18 small capacity short-range aircraft and 10 medium capacity long-range planes in January 2004 to 50 medium capacity long-range aircraft in November 2004, taking the total requirement tally to 68.

The CAG's report deals with the period the Nationalist Congress Party's Praful Patel was the civil aviation minister. Patel is now the heavy industries minister.

Reacting to the report, Patel told reporters on Thursday: "In 2004, Air India and Indian Airlines had 93 aircraft, most of which were 20 years old. There was no way the airlines could have withstood the global competition with these planes."

"Whatever the government did in its wisdom was to make the airline commercially viable. We had to decide immediately as to whether new planes should be bought otherwise the airline would have closed down," Patel had said.

CPI-M demands CBI probe into role of MoCA in Air India mess

The CPI-M today demanded a CBI inquiry into the decisions of the Civil Aviation Ministry since 2004, saying the policies had converted the state-owned airlines into loss-making, debt ridden units while benefiting aircraft manufacturers and foreign airlines.

The party also demanded a probe into the roles of the former Civil Aviation Minister and the former Finance Minister who had given a green signal for the purchase of 111 aircraft by Air India.

"The CPI-M demands that this whole matter be investigated by the CBI. The role of the former Minister of Civil Aviation and the former Finance Minister, who chaired the Empowered Group of Ministers that cleared the proposal for acquisition of the aircraft, should be probed," the CPI-M) Politburo said in a statement.

"It is evident that the policy decisions taken by the MoCA from 2004 onwards converted the state-owned airlines- AI and IA- which were making profits till 2005, into a loss making debt-ridden entity.

"Moreover, major aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus, as well as major foreign airlines like Emirates have benefited from the Civil Aviation Ministry''s decisions at the cost of the national carrier," the party said.

Also, the CAG report on Civil Aviation in India clearly indicts the Civil Aviation Ministry for the state of affairs of Air India, whose accumulated losses since 2006 have crossed Rs 20,000 crore and its current debt burden amounts to over Rs 46,000 crore, the statement said.

The CPI-M said the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has held the Ministry responsible for increasing the number of Boeing aircraft to be acquired by erstwhile Air India from 28 (proposed earlier) to 68 in 2004 in a hasty manner.

"The purchase agreement was signed with Boeing in December 2005 for Rs 33,197 crore. This arbitrary expansion of the acquisition plan, financed by loans, has been a significant factor behind the sharp increase in AI's debt burden," it said.

Holding Civil Aviation Ministry responsible for pushing erstwhile Indian Airlines for acquisition of 43 aircraft from Airbus for Rs 8,399 crore in February 2006 with undue haste, it said the large acquisition was clearly driven by influence of the MoCA, ignoring the concerns of several officials on the financial viability of such large-scale acquisitions.

Had the merger taken place before the separate acquisition of aircraft, a common acquisition process would have saved significant revenues for the airline, it said.

The policy on bilateral entitlements for international operations was substantially liberalised from 2004-05 onwards, the CPI-M said, adding it benefited big international airlines like Emirates to access the Indian market without any reciprocal benefit to AI.

The CPI-M said the CAG report confirms the findings of Parliamentary Committee on Public Undertakings (CoPU) which noted in its March 2010 report that "the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India was an ill-conceived and erroneous decision...

CoPU also called for a review of route and slot allocations to airlines in the backdrop of reports "about the public carriers being disadvantaged by the allocation of prime commercial routes to private airlines such as Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Emirates and also the allocation of time-slots on common routes in such a way that the private carriers would get the bulk of passengers on such routes," the party said in the statement.

Air India to review orders for Boeing planes in wake up poor finance

New Delhi: Air India may review the delivery of 30 aircraft, including 27 Boeing and 787 aircraft which are yet to be delivered, in the wake of its poor financial condition.

“So far, only 20 of 50 wide-bodied aircraft have been delivered to Air India. The issue of remaining 30 wide-body aircraft for acquisition will be assessed in light of current financial situation of the company,” an official said here.

An unnamed official said," The ailing airline does not have the money to pay and we cannot go begging all the time".Reuters

The ailing airline does not have the money to pay and “we cannot go begging all the time. It is difficult”, the official, who did not wish to be identified, said. There were 27 Boeing 787 aircraft to be delivered but it has been delayed by three years. So, the government has not confirmed (the orders) as of now, officials said.

The statement came in the backdrop of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, which castigated the government for placing big aircraft orders, the merger of the two state-owned airlines and on other issues.

Air India had ordered acquisition of 111 aircraft, of which 27 were Boeing 787s long haul wide-bodied aircraft. The American aircraft manufacturer was supposed to have delivered the 787s by 2008, but due to delays caused by several factors including a strike by Boeing workers, the first of these planes are likely to be inducted by Air India this year-end.

As of March, Air India has accumulated a debt of Rs 42,570 crore and an operating loss of Rs 22,000 crore.

The CPI-M said the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has held the Ministry responsible for increasing the number of Boeing aircraft to be acquired by erstwhile Air India from 28 to 68 in 2004 in a hasty manner.

“The purchase agreement was signed with Boeing in December 2005 for Rs 33,197 crore. This arbitrary expansion of the acquisition plan, financed by loans, has been a significant factor behind the sharp increase in AI’s debt burden,” it said.

Holding Civil Aviation Ministry responsible for pushing erstwhile Indian Airlines for acquisition of 43 aircraft from Airbus for Rs 8,399 crore in February 2006 with undue haste, it said the large acquisition was clearly driven by influence of the MoCA, ignoring the concerns of several officials on the financial viability of such large-scale acquisitions.

Had the merger taken place before the separate acquisition of aircraft, a common acquisition process would have saved significant revenues for the airline, it said. The policy on bilateral entitlements for international operations was substantially liberalised from 2004-05 onwards, the CPI-M said, adding it benefited big international airlines like Emirates to access the Indian market without any reciprocal benefit to AI.

The CPI-M said the CAG report confirms the findings of Parliamentary Committee on Public Undertakings (CoPU) which noted in its March 2010 report that “the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India was an ill-conceived and erroneous decision.

CoPU also called for a review of route and slot allocations to airlines in the backdrop of reports “about the public carriers being disadvantaged by the allocation of prime commercial routes to private airlines such as Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Emirates and also the allocation of time-slots on common routes in such a way that the private carriers would get the bulk of passengers on such routes,” the party said in the statement.

AĆ©rospatiale AS 350BA Ecureuil, VH-RDU, Heli Charters Pty. Ltd: Fatal accident occurred September 08, 2011 in Double Mountain,96 km north of Rockhampton, Queensland

Rough terrain: Rescue workers had to battle through dense bush to reach the helicopter crash site. 

EMERGENCY workers will today face the grim task of recovering the bodies of two men, one of them believed to be a Cairns pilot, who died in a helicopter crash in an isolated pocket of dense bush near Rockhampton yesterday.

Another man on board the helicopter, owned by Cairns company Heli Charters, was rescued from the site.

Investigators are expected to interview the crash survivor who, incredibly, escaped with minor injuries.

The 55-year-old man, who had been a passenger in the helicopter, was treated in Rockhampton Base Hospital last night for shoulder injuries and his condition was described as stable.

RACQ CQ Helicopter Rescue Service spokeswoman Leonie Hansen said rescuers were amazed at the survivor’s condition.

"They said considering the horrendous wreckage, this man had an incredible escape," she said.

The men were on a routine flight conducting maintenance on radio communications towers on Defence Force land at Shoalwater Bay, 90km north of Rockhampton, when the six-seat AS350 Squirrel helicopter crashed just after noon.

The mangled wreck is believed to be at the base of a steep 40m embankment in a remote location near Double Mountain.

Paramedics were winched down to the crash site by the RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter to treat and retrieve the injured man about 2pm.

A Cairns pilot is feared to be one of the two men killed, but the identities of the deceased will not be released until the bodies are recovered and their identities confirmed.

Queensland Police said a recovery team would be sent to the crash site today, along with three Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators and two Department of Defence personnel.

Rescue helicopter pilot Brad Nagy told ABC Radio it was "extremely vegetated and wooded" terrain.

"From the pinnacle where I dropped them off on the winch down to the crash site which is only about 150m away, it took them at least 15, 20 minutes to get there – it’s that heavily vegetated," Mr Nagy said.

In a brief statement, Heli Charters yesterday said it could not comment on the accident because no official details of the crash were available.

It is believed to be the third incident involving a Heli Charters aircraft so far this year, including the crash landing of a joy-flight with three tourists on board near Machans Beach in January.

"The company understands that there have been injuries but no official confirmation has been received and at this stage, we are waiting on a police statement," the company said.

Pilot lived for adventure story. AĆ©rospatiale AS 350BA Ecureuil, Heli Charters. Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia.

Deceased pilot Haydn Redfern was an adventurer who had survived an encounter with a saltwater croc.

Adrian Taylor | 10th September 2011

AS air crash investigators continue to piece together the cause of a helicopter crash which claimed two lives on Thursday, The Morning Bulletin can reveal that the dead pilot was an adventurer who had survived an encounter with a saltwater croc.

Haydn Redfern was at the controls when a six-seater AS350 Squirrel carrying two passengers plunged into dense vegetation deep in the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, 80 kilometres north of Rockhampton.

It is believed he was killed instantly as the chopper came to rest upside down in mountainous terrain. His front seat passenger, Wayne Schofield, also died in his seat, but a 55-year-old Canberra man survived and was able to speak with police yesterday about his terrifying ordeal and the four hours or so he was trapped in the wreckage with two corpses awaiting rescue.

Mr Redfern, from Cairns, narrowly escaped with his life about 18 months ago when a saltwater crocodile launched at him when he stumbled into a creek on a fishing trip to Cape York.

The giant croc's jaws snapped within a metre of him and had a second attempt at biting him before chasing Mr Redfern into scrub.

Two friends who were with him on that trip said the pilot had laughed off the encounter as just another of his "close shaves".

Mr Redfern was an experienced helicopter pilot who had been involved in forced landings and crashes and just a few months ago he survived a crash in Papua New Guinea.

His friend, Don Little, flew to Yeppoon with Mr Redfern last Tuesday.

"He always lived life the fullest," he said. "We had a great time down there and when I spoke to him the night before the crash he was talking about how rugged the country was," he said.

"He had many close shaves, but even when he was nearly taken by the croc, he just laughed it off.

"The only reason he wasn't taken is that he was so fit and agile. Anyone else probably wouldn't have reacted so quickly.

"The chopper he was flying is one of the safest machines around, especially if you lose power, so to see the wreckage of it must mean something went seriously wrong for it to end up on its roof like that."

He described Mr Redfern as the most generous of men.

"If there was any way to save a life, he would've done it."

Relatives of the two dead men were in Rockhampton yesterday afternoon to formally identify their remains.
Mr Redfern worked for the Cairns based company, Heli Charters which yesterday evening released a short statement.

"At this stage, we are assisting police and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau with all investigations and would like to express sincere condolences and support to all relatives and friends during this painful time.

"The loss of two friends and colleagues is deeply felt by Heli Charters management and staff."

Wayne Schofield was a senior consultant for PS Management Consultants and lived in Canberra providing services to a range of defence projects.

He was carrying out routine maintenance inspections on communications towers, under contract from the Department of Defence.

Prior to joining the consultancy he had 26 years as a technician in the RAAF and is described on the company's website as the singular expert on the ADF's aircraft maintenance management logistic information system.

His colleague, so far un-named, was a rear seat passenger who survived relatively unscathed and was able to raise the alarm by mobile phone.

Police are working to prepare a report for the coroner and Australian Transport Safety Bureau officials will prepare a separate report on the tragedy.

All passengers safe after China Airlines Boeing 747-400 tire blows out. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport .

Saturday, September 10, 2011 11:31 pm TWN, The China Post 

A China Airlines (CAL) Boeing jet is seen after one of its 18 tires failed during landing at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday. No injuries or other damage was reported the incident, which occurred at 4:14 p.m., yesterday, after the passenger jet landed after a flight from Hawaii via Tokyo. (CNA)

All passengers and crew members aboard a China Airlines (CAL) jumbo jet were safe and sound after one of the airplane's tires blew out during landing at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday afternoon.

Carrying 212 passengers, the Boeing 747-400 jet landed at the airport at 4:14 p.m., half an hour ahead of schedule. It took off from Honolulu, Hawaii, and returned to Taiwan with a transit stop in Tokyo.

Some passengers aboard were shocked by a sharp sound when the plane landed on the runway.

The captain of the CAL CI017 flight identified the blowout of the No. 13 left rear tire, one of the 18 tires of the large plane, through the electronic monitoring system in the cockpit.

Emergency rescue crews and trucks rushed to the scene after the captain informed the traffic control tower about the incident, which created a thick and long white smoke streak from the damaged tire's abrasion with ground.

Detecting no other damage, he gradually taxied the plane off the runway.

The captain also immediately told the passengers about the minor incident and put them at ease.

Following an inspection by the technical and maintenance team, a tow truck pulled the plane into the hangar for passengers to disembark.

All 212 passengers and crew members on the plane were unharmed. Some passengers said they heard a loud noise when the aircraft landed, but others said they did not feel anything unusual.

But they all gave thumbs-up to the captain and flight crew for taking them home safely. CAL is Taiwan's largest international air carrier.

The flat tire was immediately replaced. There were unconfirmed reports that the incident as caused by a puncture in the tire by an unspecified sharp object on the runway.

Air transport officials said they will carry out a thorough investigation to find the cause of the blown tire.

Man dies after yobs stop air ambulance landing in Calne. (UK)

The Wiltshire Air Ambulance was stopped from taking a dying man to hospital last night after laser pens were shone at the pilot as he tried to land.

The man later died on the way to hospital in a road ambulance.

The pens were shone at the air ambulance as it tried to land in Calne, responding to calls of a man dying of a heart attack.

The helicopter had landed but took off again to burn off some fuel to carry the man to hospital. But, as it tried to re-land near King Edward Close, the pilot was faced with yobs shining laser pens and was forced to abandon.

The man was taken to Great Western Hospital, in Swindon, by road ambulance but is believed to have died before they arrived.

Police are now investigating the incident, anyone with information should call (0845) 4087000. 

Laser pens aimed at air ambulance

An air ambulance was prevented from taking a dying man to hospital after a group flashed laser pens at the pilot as he tried to land, police said.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance went to the aid of a man who had suffered a heart attack shortly after midnight yesterday.

The pilot was attempting to land the helicopter in the town of Calne to pick up the casualty when laser pens were shone at the aircraft, forcing him to abandon the landing.

The patient later died in a land ambulance as he was taken to Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

Police said they do not believe the helicopter being unable to land affected the outcome for the man but described the actions of the people involved as a "serious offence" that could have had "catastrophic" consequences.

A Wiltshire Police spokeswoman said: "The Wiltshire Air Ambulance was responding to requests from ambulance crews on the ground in Calne who were dealing with a patient suffering chest problems.

"Whilst over the location it was forced to abort a landing and police are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding this as there is evidence to suggest that a laser pen was being directed at the aircraft.

"The casualty, who had been receiving treatment from paramedics for a considerable time, was instead transported to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon by land ambulance but was pronounced dead on arrival.

"At this stage we are satisfied that the helicopter not being able to land did not affect the outcome of this incident."

Police are appealing to anyone with information to contact them.

"Endangering an aircraft is a very serious offence and any incident where lasers or bright lights are shone deliberately could have catastrophic consequences for the aircraft crew and those on the ground," the spokeswoman said.

"Shining a laser pen at an aircraft can potentially distract or block the pilot's view from the cockpit and this is why it is so dangerous and foolish.

"Laser pens do work both ways though. The air crew can identify where a laser has come from and we have provided information to officers who are now conducting a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident."

High fives for Cathay's new business class

CATHAY Pacific is rolling out a new business-class product and the verdict from the airline's regular flyers seems to be a resounding thumbs-up.

The former seating configuration was herringbone-style (Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand have similar zigzag seats) but now it's a format of one pod seat at each window and two in the centre, each with concealing wings and angled for privacy (making it rather hard to talk to the next-seat neighbour, if you are travelling together, without leaning forward) and all with direct aisle access.

I seem to be among the minority that loved the earlier configuration; it felt like being tucked into a filing-cabinet drawer and was utterly private.

But I concede that big-shouldered businessmen vetoed the slender seats (which were almost 5cm narrower than the new generation) and my spies tell me the cabin crew didn't care much for leaning in at awkward angles to serve passengers.

Now things feel very linear, there are fresh orchids, a calm colour palette of pewter blue and beige, and an airy spaciousness. The seats are terrific, much more intuitive to use than many business-class equivalents, with pod-side controls at head-height and everything clearly labelled. There's even a how-to manual in the pocket with the inflight magazine and duty-free catalogue.

If you are working during the flight, there's an expandable table and a multi-port connector for all known devices, and it's simple to recharge mobile phones.

Hooray, the entertainment system is a breeze to navigate as well, and while the offerings are not as comprehensive as, say, Emirates' bumper ICE system, there's a broad selection of television series, latest-release cinema and Asian and Bollywood hits, plus interactive arcade games, even that addictive Sudoku stuff at various levels of competence.

Little details have all been covered, from a shoe stowage cupboard, laptop storage and two levels of angled reading light brightness to replenished bottles of water and copious rounds of refresher towels. The headphones are permanently plugged in a side cabinet so there's no fooling around trying to fit the plugs into minuscule jacks; the cabinet also has a mirror, another business-class first for me.

The remote controller includes a read-out telling you how much time is left to landing; if you start watching, say, a feature film towards the end of the sector, a warning pops up that it won't be "fully viewed" before landing.

A light breakfast is served just after take-off (including a delicious pear, ginger and chamomile smoothie) and a four-course lunch follows midway through the journey.

There are no fancy chefs in charge of the menus on Cathay Pacific but the food always has a satisfying oriental twist -- congee with abalone and mushrooms for breakfast, for example, or roasted duck in noodle soup as an anytime snack. There's always a vegetarian main course as well; on this flight, it's goat's cheese tortellini with cherry tomato and basil ragout and parmesan.

Drinks? Champagne is by Deutz, there's a Mountadam Vineyard Eden Valley Riesling 2009 (said to go especially well with Asian cuisine), vintage port and Hine cognac, as well as other wine choices (Australian and French) and all the expected spirits and a jazzy-sounding Pacific Sunrise (sparkling wine, Drambuie, and lemon and orange zest).

Then it's time to test the flat-bed position, with a decent pillow and feather-light duvet. The retractable armrest goes down to increase the width of the seat and a further bed extension can be deployed across the end, from about knee-level.

Everything is push-button-smart and the bed feels comfortably bouncy.

Cathay Pacific's Agnes B amenities kits are themed for day or overnight flights so it's a refresher spritz for me before landing -- the captain has made up the time lost due to our late departure from Sydney and, way below, Hong Kong looks lightly bronzed with mid-afternoon sunshine as we descend to Chek Lap Kok.

Tip: Cathay Pacific's chief executive John Slosar has announced the airline will introduce a premium economy cabin in the second quarter of 2012.

The product will be fitted on long-haul routes and medium hauls such as Australia and the Middle East.

"It will be more like a regional business class," Slosar says. "We'll have great [seat] recline and plenty of leg space."

The new business-class cabin is available on 18 flights a week from Sydney to Hong Kong and is being progressively rolled out across the Cathay Pacific network.

Tragedy averted: Plane lands safely after bird-hit. Air India flight AI 633.

Bhopal: Passengers of Air India flight AI 633 travelling from Mumbai to Bhopal had a miraculous escape when the airplane was hit by a bird while it was about to land at the Raja Bhoj Airport here on Friday.

No casualty was reported in the incident.

According to reports, the flight from Mumbai via Indore was scheduled to land at the airport at 8.35 am. At the time of touchdown, pilot reported a bird hit due to which one of the engines of the aircraft developed some technical snag.

The flight, which was to proceed to Delhi, was subsequently cancelled due to the engine failure.

Continental Connection Plane Lands At Wrong Louisiana Airport. Colgan Saab 340B. Lake Charles bound plane lands in Sulphur by mistake. N352CJ Performing Flight 9L-3222, CO-3222.

SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) -   It happened again. Passengers aboard a Continental Express plane bound for Lake Charles were delayed after the plan landed outside of Sulphur by mistake Wednesday night.

The aircraft landed at Southland Field outside Sulphur instead. Sam Larsh, airport manager tells 7News the plane, coming from Houston, was scheduled to land at 10:30 p.m.

"This has happened here three times in the last 15 years or so," Larsh said. "It's an easy mistake to make."

The Lake Charles and Southland Field runways are the same layout and both Lake Charles Regional and Southland Field are the same latitude, but different longitudes according to Larsh.

"The runways again are based on prevailing winds, so airports in this area all have similar runway headings," he said.

The air traffic control tower at Lake Charles Regional is not staffed after 10 p.m., which may have added to the confusion, officials said.

The aircraft was still parked at Southland Field Thursday morning and was returned to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston Thursday afternoon.

India wants to restrict Gulf flights to help Air India

India's national auditor yesterday launched a scathing attack on Emirates Airline, recommending it and other Gulf airlines should be forced to reduce services to the subcontinent.

The comptroller and auditor general of India said in a report to parliament that Air India's business was being damaged by the freedom of Gulf carriers and that liberalisation in 2004 of air entitlements to foreign carriers "left much to be desired".

"Clearly, the Gulf sector was [Air India's] most profitable international segment before the liberalised policy on entitlements," the report said.

The Indian recommendation is the latest in a long line of disputes between the UAE and other countries over the dominance of Emirates and Etihad Airways.

Both Air Canada and Lufthansa have sought to restrict landing rights of UAE carriers in the past year. The Canadian dispute escalated into a full-blown diplomatic spat.

India is one of the largest markets for the UAE's carriers, helping to feed traffic into the long-haul networks of Emirates and Etihad as well as direct travel for the budget carriers flydubai, Air Arabia and RAK Airways.

James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad, said India was an important market for the airline. "We have been operating their since 2004," he said. "Today we operate services to eight destinations in the country providing a vital route for travellers between India and our global network. We look forward to serving this market in the short, medium and long term."

India embarked on a deregulation process of the aviation market in 2004, which produced an average annual growth of 27 per cent until 2008, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in India.

But the national auditor said yesterday the ministry of civil aviation had ignored "the interest of the Indian carriers including that of Air India" after allowing Middle East airlines to add flights.

The auditor said that until India had its own "effective and efficient" hubs and Air India and other carriers were able to "exploit them effectively", services for Gulf airlines should be restricted.

Emirates Airline declined to comment.

The Indian auditor's report said Air India had "repeatedly expressed strong reservations" to the aviation ministry against the proposals and requests from Gulf countries for an increase in seat entitlements, as well as additional points of call at interior locations in India.

The state-controlled carrier is losing 6 billion rupees (Dh477 million) a month, Vayalar Ravi, the minister for civil aviation, said last month.

The report added that freedom of access for foreign airlines, predominantly Emirates Airline, had led many to tap the vast Indian market and funnel traffic over hubs such as Dubai to various destinations in the US, the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

It may not be possible to cut Middle East carriers' rights because of diplomatic issues, the auditor conceded.

Carriers from Dubai provide more than double the amount of seats per week on routes between the emirate and India than Indian carriers.

Emirates flies 185 weekly flights to 10 destinations in India.

Both Ghaith Al Ghaith, the chief executive of flydubai, and Adel Ali, the chief executive of Air Arabia, recently made clear that the subcontinent was a key pillar of growth for their short-haul strategies.

Indian airlines that operate services into the UAE include Jet Airways, Air India, Air India Express and Kingfisher.

No immediate need for DC-10 in Central Texas fire

BASTROP, Texas (AP) — A fire official now says there's no immediate need to use a DC-10 jetliner to drop thousands of gallons of retardant on a Central Texas wildfire that's destroyed nearly 1,400 homes and killed two people.

Texas Forest Service incident team manager Bob Koenig said Friday that the plane is ready and can now be used anywhere in the state if necessary.

Officials had said the DC-10 would be launched Friday over Bastrop County, the site of the most devastating of the nearly 180 wildfires ignited across the state this week.

Fire retardant is dropped to help make flames shorter and smaller, allowing firefighters on the ground to make headway. Crews in Bastrop have said they've managed to tame the biggest flames and are focusing on hotspots with ground crews.

Uni Air purchases turboprops with cockpits of enhanced technology

Taipei, Sept. 9 (CNA) Uni Air, a subsidiary of major Taiwanese carrier EVA Air (EVA), signed a contract to buy 10 ATR72-600 airplanes Friday as part of its aircraft procurement plan.

EVA President Chang Kuo-wei said during the signing ceremony that aircraft procurement is an important policy this year as the airline celebrates its 20th anniversary of operation.

Chang said Uni Air, a major domestic operator, plans to spend NT$7 billion (US$239.6 million) in buying new aircraft this year. Although the budget is not a lot, it marks the airline's resolution to expand in the domestic market, he said.

According to the France-based manufacturer, the new aircraft is equipped with integrated LCD advanced functions and a paperless pilot cabin that has fingertip-moving maps and various aviation data. The 72-seat planes also have larger passenger space.

Chang said EVA is the first Taiwanese airline to introduce digitized pilot cabins. The planes will replace eight 56-seat DH8-300s and some of the existing MD-90s.

Uni Air chairman Tony Su said these planes are scheduled to start providing services September next year mainly for flights to Taiwan's outlying islands of Kinmen, Penghu and Matsu.

Chang further revealed that EVA Air will complete the purchase of 15 to 20 Boeing 777s and 18 narrow-bodied passenger planes by the end of the year.

As for the plan to replace the long-haul Airbus A330s, Chang said the time frame will be decided next year.

The £1.5m fuel mix-up: Royal Air Force admits filling its helicopters with ANTI-FREEZE

As many a driver knows to their cost, putting the wrong thing in your petrol tank at the local garage is an embarrassing business.

But when it's military aircraft you're dealing with instead of a Ford Focus - such a mistake can be very expensive indeed.

That's what red-faced air chiefs have discovered after de-icer was wrongly added to £1.5million of aviation fuel – rendering it unusable.

The contaminated fuel was stored in a giant tanker at the Mount Pleasant RAF base on the Falklands.

Now a multi-million pound clear-up operation has been launched, as the military investigates how the accident happened.

Critics have said there was 'no excuse' for such a basic mistake - the latest in a string of expensive defence blunders.

Last month it emerged the MoD paid £2.4million for rescue and repair after the nuclear submarine HMS Astute ran aground on a training exercise.

Another £1.7million was paid out when a warhead crashed during testing in California.

It paid £1.7million to a company in an out-of-court settlement after it cancelled a furniture contract, and it emerged the same amount was spent on helmets and body armour for Ugandan soldiers.

It comes at a time when the department is having to slash its £34billion budget by 8 per cent, as an estimated 17,000 jobs are expected to go.

Matthew Elliot chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: 'Taxpayers can’ t afford the cost of any wasted fuel let alone the millions that his MOD’s blunder has wasted.

'There’s already a huge black hole in the defence budget, it doesn’t need basic, avoidable mistakes like this adding to it.

'There’s no excuse for wasting such huge quantities of expensive aviation fuel, precautions should have been taken to ensure this could never of happened.'

Following the mistake, understood to have taken place within the last few months, a number of aircraft have had to undergo expensive repairs.

They include two military supply helicopters which have had full engine changes. Officials said this was a 'precautionary' measure and there was no danger of the aircraft failing mid-flight.

They also insisted the Typhoon fighter aircraft, which are stationed on the island in case of an Argentine assault, were not affected.

The fuel will not be thrown away, and will undergo an expensive cleaning process.

An MOD spokesman said: 'We can confirm that part of the aviation fuel stock held on the Falkland Islands has been contaminated.

'Aircraft affected by the contaminated fuel have been identified and any necessary repairs have been undertaken.

'Falkland Islands air defence has been unaffected by this incident. An investigation into the cause of the contamination is underway and it would be inappropriate to comment further until this process has concluded.'

Royal Air Force fools put anti-freeze in fighters’ fuel

BUNGLING RAF ground crew were facing a rocket last night after contaminating £1.5MILLION of aviation fuel used by warplanes with anti-freeze.

They were meant to treat the 2½million litres with a special chemical to combat sub-zero temperatures.

But instead they used heavy duty anti-freeze meant to de-ice the tarmac at their Falkland Islands base.

Sources said the storage tank blunder meant at least two helicopters had to have their engines stripped and replaced after filling up at the RAF Mount Pleasant base.

And two £125million Typhoon fighters had their tanks drained and checked to ensure they had not suffered damage.

A source revealed: "It was a very simple error, but could potentially have been very serious. You can rest assured that someone's had a serious kicking over it."

Ministry of Defence officials last night confirmed the blunder. But they stressed the security of the isolated South Atlantic islands — snatched back from Argentinian invaders in 1982 — was not compromised because alternative fuel sources were available.

A probe into the cock-up was underway last night at the windblown base, about 30 miles from the Falklands capital, Port Stanley.

Technicians were also trying to treat the tainted fuel so it could to be used, possibly for ground vehicles.