Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Continuing Air Zimbabwe strike hits tourism

TOURISM players in Zimbabwe say 80 percent of bookings by tourists have been cancelled because of a month long strike by Air Zimbabwe pilots

The national carrier has not been flying since the end of July due to a protracted wage strike by pilots.

The drop in tourist arrivals would affect the southern African country's chances of achieving a projected six percent growth this year.

In July, tourism authorities reported a 16 percent increase in tourist arrivals for the first quarter of 2011.

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president Emmanuel Fundira said there has been a marked decline of tourists visiting the prime resort town of Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls, which is the southern African country’s drawcard for foreign tourists is losing its prime market share to Zambia due to the absence of Air Zimbabwe.

A limited number of tourists determined to view the Falls are resorting to using chartered flights or flying via South Africa but these options are expensive.

Tourists on small chartered flights with a capacity of 12 passengers fork out between US$4 000 and US$8 000 from Harare to Victoria Falls while commercial planes charge up to US$600 per passenger via Johannesburg.

Travelling by road is not an option for most tourists as it is time consuming. It would require two travelling days.

Hotels in Victoria Falls also been hit hard with low occupancy rates.

In his mid-term fiscal policy statement Finance Minister Tendai Biti who indicated that the tourism sector had registered growth during the first half of the year, bemoaned the challenges facing the national airline saying they were having a negative effect on the sector's growth.

With Air Zimbabwe grounded, it is losing close to US$8 million per month to foreign airlines, particularly South African Airways and Kenyan Airways which are servicing the routes.

Meanwhile, striking Air Zimbabwe pilots risk having their flying licenses revoked if they continue with their industrial action.

An aviation expert said pilots were subjected to regular tests to ensure that they were still capable of performing their duties.

He said in most instances pilots’ licences are valid for six months after which they have to undergo tests.

If, however, a pilot has not flown for about 90 days, they will undergo a simulator test. “At the moment that equipment is not available in Zimbabwe.

”Pilots operating long-haul planes will have to go to Ethiopia for testing while operators of small aircraft go to South Africa,” the expert said.

http://www.zimbabwejournalists.com

Singapore Airlines May Buy Airbus’s A350-1000 Jet After Upgrade, CEO Says

Singapore Airlines Ltd. (SIA) is considering an order for Airbus SAS’s A350-1000 jet as the European planemaker plans improvements in range and payload, Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong said.

The airline is awaiting details of enhancements to Boeing Co. (BA)’s competing 777-300ER before deciding which model to purchase, Goh said today in a briefing at Airbus’s headquarters in Toulouse, France.

Goh declined to discuss how many planes Singapore Airlines might buy. It currently has 20 A350-900s on order, some of which could be upgraded to the -1000, in addition to a separate commitment for the larger model, which will receive improved Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines after the announcement in June.

“I was very glad to learn about the Airbus announcement,” Goh said. “Boeing has been talking about improvements to the 777-300ER. At this point we haven’t heard any details but we are looking forward to hearing about payload and range performance improvements.”

The A350 comes in three variants, with the mid-sized A350-900 being the most popular model. Airbus has maintained planned delivery of its A350-900 for the end of 2013, with Singapore scheduled to be the second customer after Qatar Airways Ltd., taking its first plane in 2013, Goh said today.
Range, Payload

Airbus said in June it would delay both the A350-1000 as it changed the design to offer more range and payload while also deferring the smallest version of the A350, which seats 270, to allow more time to work on the A350-900 as well as the A320neo single-aisle jet.

The changes on the A350-1000 variant included work on the landing gear and the outer part of the wing, Airbus said. The improved performance will allow the aircraft to service routes such as Shanghai to Boston.

Boeing has said it plans to offer upgrades on its 777-300ER model, the Chicago-based company’s largest twin-engine plane.

Improvements to the 777 will include the adaptation of technology used on the new 787 Dreamliner “before the A350-1000 is scheduled to enter service,” a Boeing spokesman, Marc Birtel, said in an e-mail. He didn’t elaborate and said Boeing doesn’t comment on discussions with customers.

Singapore Airlines ordered eight more 777-300ERs in August to tap growing regional and long-haul travel demand in the Asia- Pacific region.

http://www.bloomberg.com

WNY's Unknown Stories - Buffalo's 1st International Airport, New York.


BUFFALO, N.Y.- The waterfront beckons on a nice sunny day. And as Barbara Bernat watched her granddaughter splashing around at Lasalle Park, she had no idea she was standing on a spot where history took flight.

"I had no idea, I thought it was a harbor with all the ladders and stuff."

What many think is a boat launch at the south end of the park actually has a legacy of aviation.

It was June 29th, 1929, as a crowd and anticipation grew to a fever pitch, the huge Sikorsky sea plane churned into the water. It Carried 8 passengers on a groundbreaking flight. At 11:05 it took off, 45 minutes later, she touched down in Toronto, greeted by another huge crowd on the shores of Lake Ontario, completing Buffalo's first international passenger flight.

But this was by no means Buffalo's first brush with the flying boat.

Glenn Curtis had been experimenting on Keuka Lake, but wanted to go bigger and moved to Western New York to build flying boats for the U.S. Navy.

Paul Faltyn of the Ira G. Ross Aerospace Museum says, "We had the natural resources, we had the lumber, we had the aluminum, we had the workers, we had the lake and river, we had the rail transportation...the skilled labor. So it really all came together that western new york had the suppliers and the technical support at the time to develop the boats."

And it was Rueben Fleet, a former world war I pilot, who really took the industry to a new level here. He came to Buffalo to start building trainers and flying boats and founded Consolidated Aircraft in a plant on Elmwood avenue. In fact, the building is still there and until recently, housed the M. Wile factory outlet store.

In 1935 Consolidated, and for all intents and purposes the Buffalo seaplane business, moved out to San Diego where the climate is more conducive year-round, to these flying boats. But even with our winters, Faltyn says that a 45 minute seaplane ferry service to Toronto might find some appeal, even today.

"Sure it could still be a viable opportunity."

An opportunity launched 72 years ago from a now-crumbling chunk of concrete in Lasalle Park.

Gun found in man's carry-on bag at George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport (KIAH), Houston, Texas

Masoud Faraji, 43
Houston Police Department

HOUSTON – A man was behind bars Wednesday afternoon after TSA agents found a gun in his carry-on bag at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

It happened Tuesday as Masoud Faraji was trying to get on a flight from Houston to Phoenix.

TSA workers said they found a pistol in Faraji’s bag during the screening process. The gun was not loaded.

Faraji said he accidentally left the weapon in his bag from a previous trip.

He was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon – a misdemeanor.

His bond was set at $1,000.

38 families moving due to plane noise: Waterbury-Oxford Airport (KOXC), Oxford, Connecticut

Middlebury, Conn. (WTNH) - The FAA is giving The Waterbury-Oxford Airport $5 million to buy up nearby homes impacted by plane noise.

About 38 homes in Middlebury's Triangle Hills neighborhood will be bought out, but it won't happen quickly.

One home demolished, another on it's way, and another home with people wondering day to day, "Will I be next to move because of the air traffic at Waterbury-Oxford Airport?"

Albert King said, "A couple of these homes are empty. Everything's dying on this street."

For 65 years, 87 year-old, King, has called this place home. Over the last few years he's seen a lot of changes as more and more planes fly in and out of Waterbury-Oxford Airport.

His daughter-in-law, Linda King, has kept up with all the project phases as the FAA has been buying homes and demolishing others that are in the runway protection zone. While State Senator Rob Kane is thrilled that the FAA came up with another five million dollars to move another 38 families, he knows the emotional toll it's taking on everyone and frustration for people like the Kane's.

Kelly Ecsedy says if she knew what she did nine years ago, she would have never moved here.

There are other loud noise she hears too, as people break in and steal from the vacant homes.

Senator Kane says this project is far from over. Sadly, people will continue to see more homes demolished and neighbors come and go for for another ten years or so.

http://www.wtnh.com

Fake moustache makes flyer crash: Paris-bound Surat man caught with fake passport and a false moustache

Ahmedabad: He was carrying with him a phony passport, a fake visa and he sported a fake moustache in order to assume the identity of another man! But the intended journey to Paris of this 25-year-old from Surat crash landed at Ahmedabad airport itself, in the wee hours of Wednesday.

Joint commissioner of police Shamsher Singh, special branch of the city police that looks after the immigration cell at the airport said this was a one of its kind case.

Immigration officials at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (SVPI) say they apprehended a person identified as Abdul Rashid Saiyed, 25, a resident of Rander in Surat. He intended to go to Paris via Doha by a Qatar Airways flight (QR-283) to be with his father and mother. Officials said that Saiyed had got his boarding pass cleared. However, immigration officials suspected something amiss.

"We found that his accent did not match his claims of being a Hindu. When we began questioning him he broke down and confessed to travelling on a passport and visa belonging to a Hindu in Gandhinagar. He had a fake moustache which was not glued properly and this was enough for us to arouse our suspicio," immigration sources said.


AHMEDABAD: For imposters, this was a favorite way to disguise themselves in Bollywood films. However, a Surat resident made an unsuccessful attempt to fly to Paris with a fake moustache on Wednesday afternoon as immigration officials soon removed his moustache, and uncovered his illicit plan.

Immigration officials caught Abdul Rasheed Saiyed from the international terminal from where he was about to board the Qatar Airways 283 flight Ahmedabad-Doha-Paris, which takes off at 5.25 pm. Saiyed was found traveling on Gandhinagar-resident Kamleshkumar Prahladbhai Parekh's passport. He was handed over to Sardarnagar police station officials for further investigations.

"After taking the boarding pass when Saiyed came for immigration clearance, the official on duty raised doubts while verifying the photo in passport. Saiyed looked nervous when the immigration officials told him that the photo in the passport is not his, but he maintained that it's an old photo. However, officials were sure that the moustache in the photo and the one on Saiyed were completely different," said a Sardnarnagar police station official. However, what came next was a shocker to other fliers at the airport on Wednesday afternoon.

"Not convinced with Saiyed's replies, the immigration officials pulled his moustache and found that it was only an imitation. During his quizzing, Saiyed said that Surat-based agent Raju Soni had given him Parekh's passport for traveling to Paris. He said the agent took Rs 3 lakh for giving the passport," the official said.

Immigration officials at Ahmedabad airport said that Parekh's photo in passport and Saiyed's face have resemblances, but a closer look narrates the difference.

"Since the time he came to the immigration counter he had put his hand on the face as if he was trying to cover his moustache. But when asked he maintained that he was going to Paris for a job and that the photo on passport was an old one," said an immigration official. Police officials have seized the passport and will now record statements of the agent and Parekh.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Aviation Institute Of Maintenance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Kidney Donor Scared To Take Job Back.


Claudia Rendon tells Fox 29 she’s been offered her old job back, but she’s afraid of retaliation after taking a leave to give her kidney to her son.

Rendon spoke with our Claudia Gomez on Wednesday after the owner of the Aviation Institute Of Maintenance said Rendon could return as soon at Thursday at full pay.

“Even if he offers me the same position with the same salary, I know I’ll be treated differently. I know they will try to make my life a living hell while I’m working there, anything to make it impossible to work there,” Rendon said.

Earlier, Gomez said the company’ owner said Rendon is back on the payroll, and they will welcome her back on Thursday, if she decided to return.

Fox 29 first brought you the story of Rendon, a Philadelphia mom who lost her job after giving a kidney to her son.

On Tuesday, Rendon’s immediate boss says the decision was a mistake, and the company would start paying her with a catch.

Rendon told Gomez on Monday that she had used her vacation time to care for her terminally ill mother, and then had to take a leave to help her son with the kidney donation.

Rendon needed time to recover from the surgery, so she took a leave of absence from her job at the Aviation Institute Of Maintenance.

When doctors cleared her to return to work last week, her boss, Kyle Berry, told her he had filled her job.

On Monday, we asked Berry why the company made the move. He had no comment and asked Fox 29 to leave. We also spoke with the company, which said it was within its legal rights to let Rendon go.

A day later, Berry told Fox 29 he was wrong.

We asked Berry why the change of heart. “We had time to reconsider. It was simply a mistake."

Berry then read from a prepared statement, which said Rendon would be paid her full salary until another position opened at the company.

Fox 29 asked Berry if the Aviation Institute Of Maintenance would pay Rendon until she can reapply, and then decide if they would give her the job back after it received her application.

The Rendon story put new attention on the federal FMLA rules, which don’t apply to people working at companies with fewer than 50 employees, and also not to employees at some larger companies.

25-year-old woman drank pint of whiskey before groping Virgin Airways steward and demanding sexual intercourse, it was alleged.

Katherine Goldberg leaving Uxbridge Magistrates Court 
Photo: National News and Pictures

4:00PM BST 14 Sep 2011

Katherine Goldberg, who works in education, was on a flight from South Africa to Heathrow when she drunkenly assaulted the crew member by grabbing his penis, it was claimed.

She consumed the whisky on the August flight when the assault happened, Uxbridge Magistrates Court was told.

Stella Waata, prosecuting, said: "The circumstances are that Miss Goldberg was on a flight from South Africa to Heathrow and she was drunk whilst on the airplane.

"She proceeded to sexually assault one of the crew members by demanding to have sex with him and grabbing his penis and crotch area. She was believed to have drunk at least 50 centilitres of whiskey."

She added: "I understand what representations are to be made in relation to the charge of sexual assault."

Ms goldberg's lawyer applied to adjourn the case to make representations in relation to the charge of sexual assault and asked that Ms Goldberg receive a caution.

Mr Brennan said: "The purpose of my application is so that we can raise our representations with the Crown.

"I wish to raise representations in relation to one of the charges, that matters are dealt with by way of a caution rather than continuing with the court proceedings.

"It is a serious allegation but there are good reasons why it would be in the public interest for the Crown to deal with her by way of a caution.

"I have told the court that admissions were made in interview and if matters are not deal with by way of a caution there will be a plea of guilty at the next occasion.

"She was charged immediately, without any representation being able to be made to the CPS as to whether diversions would be appropriate."

Agreeing to the adjournment, Miss Waata said: "I understand what representations are to be made in relation to the charge of sexual assault.

"Given the circumstances, I understand Miss Goldberg works in education, a short adjournment of one week would not be disagreeable."

Miss Goldberg, of Ealing Common, west London, is charged with one count of sexual assault on a male and another of being drunk in an aircraft.

Wearing a white shirt and light pink trousers and appearing tearful in the dock, she spoke only to confirm her name, address and date of birth and was granted unconditional bail until her next appearance at the same court on 22 September.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Tropical Storm Maria causes flight cancellations


Several flights to and from Bermuda have been cancelled as Tropical Storm Maria continues to head towards the Island.

American Airlines has cancelled this afternoon’s flights from New York and Miami. As a result, flights scheduled tomorrow morning to the two cities have also been cancelled.

JetBlue meanwhile has cancelled flights to and from Boston and New York scheduled for tomorrow.

The airline is however offing to waive booking fees and fare differences for travellers who were scheduled to travel to or from Bermuda tomorrow by calling 1-800-884-9616 (or 1-800-538-2583, if outside Bermuda).

The Department of Marine and Ports also announced this afternoon that it would be cancelling ferry service between Hamilton and St George’s today and tomorrow due to the storm.

The tropical storm is expected to pass 134nm to the Island’s west-northwest at around 1pm tomorrow, bringing wind, rain and rough seas.

http://www.royalgazette.com

Director General Civil Aviation probe into opening of emergency doors

The Director General Civil Aviation(DGCA) has ordered investigation into opening of emergency door of the Delhi bound IT-4660 flight of Kingfisher on Tuesday night at Amausi airport. The emergency door of the aircraft was suddenly opened when the flight was on runway for take off.

Taking serious note of the incident an official of DGCA said on the condition of anonymity, "These sort of incidents cannot be taken lightly, it is a serious error. Had it been in mid air the story would have been different."

Even as 62 passengers expressed anger over the incident the airlines staff holding a passenger responsible for the opening of the door deplaned and detained him at the airport. The airlines staff action further infuriated the passengers.

Highly placed sources at the airport told HT that blaming the passenger for opening of the door was wrong, as opening was not possible after taking over of the command of cockpit by the pilot. Sources said that the engineering staff had cleared the flight before take off. The aircraft was fit to fly and nothing unsusual was noticed, said the sources. The flight was delayed for nearly two hours.

RK Singh, one of the passnegers on board said, "the passenger ( name withheld) , was de-planed and handed over by the Kingfisher staff to the authorities alleging that he was the one who had opened the latch on the emergency door. He was treated like a criminal."

The airlines authorities said that the passenger was de-planed and handed over to the authorities. It is learnt that seven of the passengers withdrew from the flight due to insecurity and the plane went with only 55 passengers.

The Airport Authority of India has taken up the matter with the airlines. "We are told that the emergency door was opened but beyond this AAI would not like to comment," said director airport, Atul Dixit.

An airline spokesperson said when the passengers were being boarded on flight IT-4660, scheduled for 10.45 pm a passenger on board opened one of the emergency doors. While the passengers said that plane was ready for take off when the emergency exit gate was opened, the airline spokesperson claimed that the aircraft was stationary at the time of the incident. However DGCA officials said that the real reason for opening of emergency exit gate would come to fore only after the inquiry was over.

http://www.hindustantimes.com

Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field (KAGS), Augusta, Georgia: Soaring To New Heights

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Augusta Regional says while most airports are losing business during this down economy, they are thriving.

Since 2006, there's been an 80 percent increase of passengers boarding from Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field. The 60-year-old airport saw its heaviest traffic ever last year with 250,000 passengers boarding.

An Augusta Regional spokesperson says they're predicting 285,000 passengers by the end of the year.

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Safe as United Airlines Boeing 757-200, N534UA Evacuated at Washington Dulles International Airport Washington (KIAD), District of Columbia. Flight UA-586

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An engine problem forced passengers -- including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- to evacuate a United Airlines flight at Dulles International Airport on Wednesday, officials said.

Flight attendants shouted "everyone get out" after passengers spotted smoke coming from the plane's right engine and notified the crew, according to one passenger who was onboard. Passengers slid down the plane's emergency slides onto the airport's tarmac, officials said.

"I am shaking ... People were screaming," passenger Jodi Gersh wrote in a Twitter post after evacuating.

"Attendants opened (the) rear door to see where smoke was coming from," she wrote in another post. "They then very loudly started yelling 'everyone get out.' Very scary."

Ginsburg was on the flight and was not injured, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said.

Passengers evacuated from the Boeing 757 onto the tarmac just after the aircraft left the gate, said Rob Yingling, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. There were 179 passengers and six crew members onboard, United spokesman Mike Trevino said.

Yingling said an engine problem caused the evacuation. The Federal Aviation Administration said there was a report of a fire onboard. Trevino said the airline was investigating the incident, but did not confirm whether there had been an engine problem or a fire.

Video from CNN affiliate WUSA showed firefighters at the scene.

Flight 586 was scheduled to fly to San Francisco, Trevino said. Passengers will head to San Francisco on a different plane scheduled to leave Dulles later Wednesday, he said.

Dulles is located in Chantilly, Virginia, about 25 miles from downtown Washington.

http://www.wibw.com

Former Caribbean Airlines communications manager threatens legal action

(Trinidad Guardian) Dismissed by letter and without a reason, Caribbean Airlines’ former communications manager Laura Asbjornsen intends to pursue legal action against the national carrier.

Asbjornsen told the T&T Guardian that her termination letter was signed by CAL’s vice president of Human Resources, Charmaine Heslop- Da Costa to which acting chief executive Robert Corbie was simply copied. Corbie, the T&T Guardian understands, did not approve Aabjornsen’s dismissal. He was out of the country and returned yesterday afternoon but the T&T Guardian was unable to contact him. “I don’t know the reason for being fired. I have not been given one for the termination. I do know that the termination was not authorised by the chief executive,” she said.

Questioned whether the action was provoked by the Sunday Guardian’s story in which the CAL’s executive management had called for Transport Minister’s Devant Maharaj’s intervention into the airline because of micro-management by CAL chairman George Nicholas, Asbjornsen refused to speculate. “Again, I am not sure as to the reason. I don’t want to make connections but I don’t believe that I have done anything wrong. I plan to take the matter further,” she said. The Guardian understands that following the publication of last Sunday’s story, which was critical Nicholas’ leadership and his vision for the organisation, that Da Costa was directed to terminate Asbjornsen’s services. Asbjornsen, a permanent employee, worked at CAL for just under three years. She is the third high-profile dismissal initiated by Nicholas—former chief executive Captain Ian Brunton was fired by Nicholas two weeks after he was appointed chairman and corporate secretary Nerine Small was dismissed in July.

Brunton, who had pursued legal proceedings for wrongful dismissal, had his matter settled out of court.

Nicholas had resigned, via email to Maharaj and the board, on August 16 over a disagreement on the acquisition of two additional aircraft for CAL but Transport Minister Devant Maharaj had refused his resignation. However, nine days later a letter signed by the executive management of CAL wrote to Maharaj, and copied to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Finance Minister Winston Dookeran, expressing their reservations about Nicholas and sought to indemnify themselves should the Government fail to act. Maharaj told the Guardian he was unaware of the details of Asbjornsen’s dismissal. He said he awaited the board minutes to discover the rationale for her removal.

http://www.stabroeknews.com

Nellis Air Force Base: Military training brings more aircraft over Nevada

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AP) — Southern Nevada residents will be seeing more military aircraft flying overhead for the next two weeks as the Air Force begins a series of battle exercises known as Green Flag West.

Missions start at Fort Irwin, Calif., and fly over the Las Vegas Valley, to and from Nellis Air Force Base, near Mount Charleston, and north of Pahrump. The exercise runs from 1 p.m. to 10:40 p.m. this week and 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. next week.

Officials say Green Flag West provides a realistic training environment for airmen and soldiers preparing to deploy in Southwest Asia. It replicates irregular warfare conditions like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Robert Chavez of 549th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis calls it the premier training exercise for airmen preparing for combat.

People living around Nellis Air Force Base will notice more military aircraft for the next two weeks as pilots take part in Green Flag West.

The exercises started September 9 and will go through September 23. During the first week, training will be conducted from 1 p.m. until just before 11 p.m. The second week, training will be from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The flight paths include the Las Vegas Valley, the National Training Center, Mt. Charleston and Pahrump.

Green Flag West provides realistic training for airmen and soldiers. It provides troops with real-world conditions experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is conducted by the 549th Combat Training Squadron out of Nellis and the 12th Combat Training Squadron at Fort Irwin, California.

"Green Flag is an invaluable asset," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Terry Ferrell, NTC commanding general. "The aspects of Green Flag--from fighter to jammer to air-refuel capability employed--ensure they can achieve the training objectives they need to reach, and we see how they are going to employ in various conditions."


Post-plane crash, lawmaker requests F-16C/Ds on 'humanitarian' grounds

Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) After two military jets crashed in northeastern Taiwan Tuesday, a legislator urged the United States Wednesday to sell F-16C/D fighters to Taiwan as soon as possible so that the Air Force can take the old aircraft out of service.

The twin-seater F-5F, along with an RF-5E reconnaissance plane, crashed into the mountains near Dongao in Yilan County during a training drill late Tuesday. Body parts of the three pilots aboard the two aircraft were discovered early Wednesday.

The U.S.-built F-5F fighters began operations in Taiwan's Air Force in 1974, but they were later relegated to training and intelligence gathering missions after the Air Force acquired a new generation of jet fighters, such as F-16s and Mirage 2000-5s, in the 1990s.

Besides further investigations and clarifications, the accident also placed the need for F-16C/D fighters back under the spotlight.

With the U.S. expected to make a decision soon, Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang urged China not to protest the sale, and the U.S. to sell the fighters to Taiwan as soon as possible.

"We hope Beijing and Washington can think it over on humanitarian grounds," Lin said. "If Washington can sell F-16C/Ds to us, we can let old, grandfathered aircraft retire and use newer fighter jets, such as the Indigenous Defense Fighter, in training."

In addition to maintaining the military balance across the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. now needs to take this accident into consideration, he said.

He added that the aging F-5 fighters can only retire if new F-16C/D fighters can join the fleet.

The accident on Tuesday was the sixth flight mishap involving F-5F fighters in seven years, according to military figures. 

http://focustaiwan.tw

Taiwan: Lawmakers spar over military crash of Northrop F-5 Tiger II. Taiwanese Air Force.

FINGER-POINTING: The KMT said it was not to blame for blocking the budget to upgrade the nation’s aging fleet of fighters, despite claims to the contrary from the DPP

A crash of two military aircraft on Tuesday night, in which three pilots lost their lives, sparked a fresh round of accusations between legislators over the government’s failure to modernize its air force in recent years.

An F-5F jet and a RF-5 reconnaissance aircraft crashed into the mountains near the Suhua Highway along the east coast at 7:52pm on Tuesday, after taking off at 7:39pm. The two planes deviated slightly from their flight paths before the crash, but the cause of the accident remained unclear, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.

Chief inspector of the air force Caleb Po told a press conference that the pilots were in constant and normal communication with Hualien Air Force Base and that the control tower warned them to change their altitude — 610m at the time — but the aircraft did not comply.

“There are various factors that could have caused the accident,” Po said.

He said the aircraft were on a nighttime training mission and that weather and visibility were good at the time.

Air force commander General Yen Ming boarded an S-70 helicopter with other air force officials at 5am to inspect the crash site on Dongao Mountain in Suao Township, Yilan County, at an altitude of 640m.

Body parts found near the site were taken to a hospital for examination.

The air force identified the pilot of the RF-5 as Captain Hsiao Wen-min and the crew of the F-5F as Lieutenant Colonel Chang Chien-kuo  and Major Wang Hung-hsiang confirmed that the two aircraft crashed separately and did not collide during flight, as was initially suspected.

The air force has grounded all F-5 aircraft as an investigation is being conducted.

This was the sixth mishap involving F-5s in the past seven years. The air force now has 32 F-5Fs in its fleet.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang--liang said the crashes were “more than just another accident” and that President Ma Ying-jeou’s, administration should be held accountable for its failure to upgrade military hardware.

The air force has lost 11 pilots and eight fighters to crashes since Ma took office in 2008, Tsai said.

He described the aging F5s, which are scheduled for retirement, as “flying iron coffins.”

Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have blocked the procurement budget of 66 F-16C/Ds from the US in the legislature 69 times since 2007, he said, adding that if not for their resistance, Taiwan would be able to have three squadrons of F-16C/Ds ready for operation in 2014.

The KMT’s stance on the procurement is why Taiwanese -military aircraft cannot be upgraded and replaced, Tsai said.

Tsai also questioned management at the air force, which expects 75 percent operational availability for all aircraft.

Despite this requirement, operational availability for F5-Fs is only 26 percent, while it is 66 percent for T-34C trainers, he said.

This situation was highlighted after the 2009 crash of an F5-F off Penghu, but “the Ma -administration and the ministry have not paid any attention to the matter,” Tsai said.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang denied his party was to blame for the failure to acquire F-16C/D aircraft.

“The DPP should not capitalize on the tragedy for political gain. It should instead join efforts with the KMT and the ministry in urging the US to approve the [F-16C/D] sale,” Lin said.

http://www.taipeitimes.com

Akron-Canton Regional Airport (KCAK), Ohio: Airport gets nearly $9 million for projects.

The Akron-Canton Airport on Tuesday was awarded nearly $9 million dollars in federal funding for projects, including expansion of the security checkpoint and a new aircraft rescue and firefighting building.

In a news release, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said the award was made by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Ohio businesses and visitors depend on safe and efficient operations at Akron-Canton Regional Airport,” Brown said. “This funding will ensure that the airport can provide first rate safety services in Northeast Ohio.”

Airport President and Chief Executive Officer Rick McQueen said the airport requested the funding, but wasn’t sure until Tuesday that it was receiving it.

The biggest part of the $8,976,092 grant is to build an aircraft rescue, firefighting and snow removal building, said McQueen. The current building that houses those units is attached to the terminal and not centrally located since changes have been made to extended runways during expansion projects, he said.

“That building is no longer located in an ideal position on the airfield to responding to aircraft emergencies,” said McQueen. The new building will be free-standing on existing airport property near the 356th Fighter Group restaurant and will be accessible to Mount Pleasant Road, McQueen said.

The new facility will cost $7.5 million.

“We really need to thank our senators and Congressional delegation for helping to push that through. That continues with CAK 2018,” McQueen said, referring to the airport’s long-term expansion plan project. “It sets us up for future terminal expansion that will be critical.”

Bids will go out for the new project on Monday and McQueen said he hopes to have ground broken by October with completion by the end of next year. The old building will be repurposed, perhaps for a future custom and border patrol facility. Having that type of facility would attract future international travel, he said.

Other projects included in the grant are an expansion of the security screening area in the airport and repaving of taxiways that have not been paved since 1978, which is a long time, said McQueen. The taxiways have held up well, he said.

The airport screening expansion began about a month ago with the relocation of the food court and gift shop area within the airport toward the south side of the main concourse. That will make room for the security area to be nearly doubled, said McQueen. It will have room for six lanes, but will start with four lanes for $1.3 million.

The airport is responsible for paying for 5 percent of all of the projects, which will be $475,000. The money will come from airport revenues from airlines and passenger facility charges, said McQueen.

Said airport spokeswoman Kristie Van Auken: “The $9 million will go directly to putting hardworking Northeast Ohioans to work immediately. More jobs, a dream airfield – it just doesn’t get any better than that.”

http://www.ohio.com

One-time fastest woman on Earth - who flew planes upside down and drove a red Corvette into her 80s - dies aged 85.


Betty Skelton Erde, an aviator and auto racing pioneer who became the fastest woman on Earth in 1965, has died. She was 85.

Erde set female speed records at Daytona Beach and Utah's Bonneville salt flats more than half a century ago.

In 2008, she was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in suburban Detroit.

Dozens of firsts are attached to her name: the auto industry's first female test driver in 1954; the first to set a female world land speed record in 1956 (145 mph at Daytona Beach); and the world land speed record for women in 1965, hitting 315.72 mph at Bonneville.

Erde began drawing attention as a female stunt pilot as a teenager in the 1940s.

'To me, there's hardly any feeling in the world that can equal the feeling of an airplane when the wheels leave the ground,' Erde said in 2008.

She mastered dozens of tricks.

Her signature move was cutting a ribbon strung between two fishing poles with her propeller, while flying upside down just 10 feet off the ground.

In 1948, she bought a rare Pitts Special - a lightweight, red-and-white biplane suited for aerobatics.

But while Erde was soaring in popularity, she also was a rarity because she was a young, beautiful woman in a male-dominated world of death-defying stunts.

In 1953, the man who began the NASCAR race circuit asked Erde to fly some auto racers from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.

She and Bill France became fast friends.

In February 1954, France invited Erde to Daytona. She climbed into a Dodge sedan, went 105.88 mph on the beach and set a stock car record.

Read more and photos: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Angolan Armed Forces Embraer aircraft crashes in Central Huambo. Twenty-six people, including four Angolan army generals killed in plane crash.

Twenty-six people, including four Angolan army generals died on Wednesday following a plane crash at the airport of the central Huambo province, witnesses near the airport told Xinhua by telephone.

Six people survived in the crash which took place soon after the military transport plane took off from the airport, and the military confirmed that four lieutenant generals were among the people killed in the crash, the worst air disaster in the African country in recent memory.

A military source who demanded anonymity said neither the victims nor the reasons of the accident have been identified as yet.

The source said the members of the crew also died in the crash.

Luanda - Three general officers of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) died on Wednesday, following a plane crash at the airport of the central Huambo province.

A military source said to Angop neither the victims nor the reasons of the accident were identified yet.

In addition, he said the members of the crew also died in the referred crash.

An Angolan military plane has crashed after take-off from the central city of Huambo killing at least three generals, the state news agency Angop says.

A Huambo-based journalist told the BBC that 30 of the 36 passengers had died - but no official toll has been released.

It is not clear what caused the accident, but most of those on board are believed to be air force officers.

Correspondents say the aircraft was an Embraer jet recently purchased by the army to transport top officials.

Journalist Manuel Vieria told the BBC's African Service that there were six survivors. Portugal's Sol newspaper is also reporting that 30 passengers were killed.

The paper quotes a survivor in hospital as saying that the accident happened so fast it was difficult to know what the problem was, but the pilot seemed to be aware that there was a technical fault.

Portugal's news agency Lusa said the accident happened at about midday local time (11:00 GMT).

A military plane has crashed in central Angola, killing at least 30 people, including three Angolan army generals.

Portuguese-language news outlets say the plane crashed Wednesday while trying to take off from the airport in the central city of Huambo.

The Angolan Air Force jet, built by Brazilian aircraft-maker Embraer, was carrying a delegation of high-ranking Angolan military officers.

At least six people survived the crash. The cause of the crash is unknown.



http://english.cri.cn

New Zealand Air Force fighter training aircraft arriving in pieces

Ashburton Aviation Museum members will be avidly watching the assembly of their latest exhibition highlight, a Skyhawk aircraft, later this month.

The New Zealand Air Force fighter training aircraft is arriving in four truck loads from Woodbourne Airbase on September 21.

Airforce personnel from the airbase will accompany the aircraft, and will spend at least four days assembling it on-site.

Museum member Owen Moore said the museum would be operating for extended hours throughout the assembly, so members of the public could come and see it if they wished to.

Acquisition of the aircraft had been a highlight for the museum.

The museum was one of the successful bidders from museums nationwide to provide a home for nine unwanted New Zealand Air Force fighter training aircraft. They have languished at Woodbourne since they were pulled out of commission in 2001.

Officially, the museum has the aircraft on long-term loan, and has paid $30,000 for its disassembly at Woodbourne, transport to Ashburton, and on-site assembly.

http://www.ashburtonguardian.co.nz

Caribbean Airlines fires one of its vice presidents

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad--Laura Asbjornsen, vice president communications Caribbean Airlines (CAL), has been terminated from her position at the State carrier.

She was relieved of her duties with immediate effect Monday, sources confirmed to the Express. Asbjornsen received a letter from CAL's Piarco offices late Monday afternoon. No reason was given for her termination.

Asbjornsen joined CAL in early 2009. She was brought to the airline to head up its corporate communications department by former Caribbean Airlines CEO Philip Saunders. Asbjornsen led the company's corporate communications during its acquisition of Air Jamaica earlier this year.

Asbjornsen could not be immediately reached for comment Monday. The Express understands that three more senior positions at CAL are expected to be terminated in the near future.

Acting CAL CEO Robert Corbie was said to be out of the country and could not be reached. CAL chairman George Nicholas' phone went to voice mail when contacted by the Express Monday.

Asbjornsen fired from Caribbean Airlines

Laura Asbjornsen, vice president communications Caribbean Airlines (CAL), has been terminated from her position at the State carrier.

She was relieved of her duties with immediate effect yesterday, sources confirmed to the Express. Asbjornsen received a letter from CAL's Piarco offices late yesterday afternoon. No reason was given for her termination.

Asbjornsen joined CAL in early 2009. She was brought to the airline to head up its corporate communications department by former Caribbean Airlines CEO Philip Saunders. Asbjornsen led the company's corporate communications during its acquisition of Air Jamaica earlier this year.

Asbjornsen could not be immediately reached for comment yesterday. The Express understands that three more senior positions at CAL are expected to be terminated in the near future.

Acting CAL CEO Robert Corbie was said to be out of the country and could not be reached. CAL chairman George Nicholas' phone went to voice mail when contacted by the Express yesterday.


http://www.thedailyherald.com

UAE air traffic movements up 4.8 percent in August.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) announced that air traffic movements in the UAE grew at a rate of 4.8% in August 2011 compared to the same month last year. The GCAA monthly report indicated that total air traffic movements in August 2011 were 56100 with an average of 1810 air traffic movements per day.

GCAA's Air Traffic monthly report for August 2011 showed the number of air traffic movements in each UAE airport. Dubai ranked first with 24934 traffic movements. Over flights stood next at 12959 air traffic movements. Abu Dhabi ranked third with 8443 air traffic movements. According to the report, air traffic movements in Sharjah International Airport ranked fourth with 5124 movements. Local flights between UAE airports were in the fifth position with 3516 movements. Al Maktoum International Airport witnessed 406 movements, Fujairah International Airport witnessed 328 movements, while Ras Al Khaimah International Airport had 223 air traffic movements and Al Ain Airport had 167 air traffic movements.

The report indicated that as far as air safety is concerned, the GCAA renewed 2 Air Operator Certificates (AOC), completed 34 licensing transactions for aircraft maintenance companies. Further, GCAA conducted 6 inspections and audits, issued 18 simulator certificates, and renewed one license for aircraft Design Company. In terms of (ROSI) system, 68 aviation incidents were reported. In addition, the GCAA conducted 12 inspections and audits for Air Navigation and Aerodromes operations.

As for licensing, GCAA issued 240 new crew licenses, renewed 289 licenses, conducted 18 crew examinations. Further, it issued 4 new aircraft maintenance engineers licenses, and conducted 10 aircraft maintenance engineer examinations. Concerning air traffic controller transactions, the report showed that GCAA issued one new license, and renewed 24 licenses.

Regarding Aeromedical activities, the report indicated that GCAA issued and renewed 1352 medical certificates in various qualified categories, appointed 9 medical committees. As such, licensing related transactions in August 2011 stood at 3144.

As for Aviation Security Affairs, one license for dangerous goods cargo agency was issued and renewed 4, and renewed 2 certificates for dangerous goods training centers, and conducted 3 inspections and audits.

In terms of International Affairs, the UAE initialed in August one Air Transport Agreement and signed a memoranda of understanding with Sierra Leon.

The GCAA signed in August a cooperation agreement with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), for search and rescue between UAE and African countries.

It also managed to obtain the ISO 1002 management system for customer complaints, after successfully passing the audit.

http://www.albawaba.com

NASA is Looking for a Few Good Students for Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program: Seeks Undergraduates To Fly Research In Microgravity.

Students interested in working on these projects are encouraged to apply for the Systems Engineering Educational Discovery (SEED) flight week opportunity. Proposals are due by Oct. 26, and selected teams will be announced Nov. 30. The SEED flight week will take place in April 2012.

NASA is offering undergraduate students the opportunity to test an experiment in microgravity as part of the agency's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program. The program is accepting proposals for two different flight experiences in 2012.

Teams interested in conducting student-driven research should submit a letter of intent by Sept. 14.

This step is optional, but serves as an introductory notice that a team plans to submit a proposal for the competition. Proposals for student-driven experiments are due Oct. 26, and selected teams will be announced Dec. 7. The actual flight experience will take place in June 2012.

The initiative, managed by the Education Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, provides future scientists and engineers an opportunity to design, build and fly an experiment aboard a microgravity aircraft.

The aircraft is a modified jet that flies approximately 30 roller-coaster-like climbs and dips to simulate micro- and hyper-gravity. The overall experience includes scientific research, hands-on experimental design, test operations and public outreach activities.

"This program leverages NASA's unique resources and allows students to determine what it takes to be a real world scientist or engineer," said Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program Manager Doug Goforth.

NASA personnel also have indentified student opportunities related to ongoing systems engineering projects that are pertinent to future agency research and missions.

Students interested in working on these projects are encouraged to apply for the Systems Engineering Educational Discovery (SEED) flight week opportunity. Proposals are due by Oct. 26, and selected teams will be announced Nov. 30. The SEED flight week will take place in April 2012.

All applicants for these programs must be U.S. citizens. Full-time students must be at least 18 years old. Selected teams may invite an accredited journalist to fly with them to document the experience.

For more information about the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, or the application process, or to submit a proposal, email jsc-reducedgravity@nasa.gov.

France: Helicopter crash claims 4 lives in Vallorcine, Barbarine/Emosson region.

A fatal helicopter crashed claimed the lives of 4 people this morning in the Barberine region of Vallorcine.

The accident happened at around 10am this morning when the pilot and three passengers were making a reconnaissance flight over the Emosson dam. Apparently the pilot was making a descent to drop off 2 of his passengers at the foot one of the pylons of the EDF maintenance cable car when the tail rotor clipped the cable. According to local press the helicopter immediately caught fire; 2 people were ejected but 2 remained trapped inside the cabin.

The helicopter was an "Ecureuil" (squirrel), owned by Chamonix Mont Blanc Hélicoptères and piloted by local mountain guide Jacques Fouque.

Jacques Fouque is the only victim to have been named so far but the other 3 are thought to be the son of the director of Chamonix Mont Blanc Helicoptere, the director of the Emosson dam and a former employee of the Compagnie du Mont Blanc.

Four injured in midair turbulence. Austrian Airlines Boeing 777-200, OE-LPB, Performing Flight OS-88

Four people were seriously injured when an Austrian Airlines (AUA) flight suddenly lost in height shortly after takeoff on Monday evening, it was confirmed yesterday (Tues).

The Boeing 777 flight operated by AUA experienced difficulties due to the weather around 20 minutes after it had left John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) near New York City in the United States.

Several passengers who did not wear seatbelts despite a recommendation to do so were hurled against the ceiling of the cabin. Three of them sustained significant injuries, the airline announced, adding that a steward was harmed as well. A doctor, who was among the uninjured passengers, looked after them before a team of emergency medics and paramedics took over after the plane had touched down safely at Vienna International Airport (VIA or VIE).

AUA said 276 passengers were on board of the aircraft in all. The company explained troubles in midair of such extent were "happening every now and then." The Viennese firm – in which Germany’s Lufthansa holds a majority stake – pointed out the plane was not in danger of crashing at any time.

Only last month, an AUA flight en route to VIA from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in the United States carried out an unplanned landing at Shannon Airport (SNN) in Ireland after a passenger started attacking cabin crew and passengers.

"He behaved badly – to use polite terms to describe his actions," the airline said. AUA may call for financial compensation from the man whose name and nationality have not been revealed. He was put in preliminary custody at SNN.

http://austrianindependent.com

Bulgaria Air Wants Alma Tour Operator Declared Insolvent

Attorneys for Bulgaria Air, Bulgaria's national airline carrier and heir to Balkan Airlines, are still considering what are the exact legal steps to undertake in the dispute with tour operator, Alma Tour.

The statement was made Wednesday by Plamen Atanasov, CEO of Bulgarian Aviation Group, owner of Bulgaria Air.

Some 700 Russians, 200 Finns and dozens of persons from Lithuania waited for days to get home after their flights were canceled Friday and Saturday, due to an alleged EUR 3.6 M debt to carrier Bulgaria Air from operator Alma Tours.

It was also reported that Alma Tour Fly is collateral for a loan amounting to EUR 1 M from Emporiki Bank and for two loans from Bulgaria Air – of EUR 5.9 M and USD 21.3 M. A check of the Trade Register had revealed that, according to the contract, Bulgaria Air has the right to acquire Alma Tour Fly and take over its management if the latter fails to make payments on the loans.

When asked by the Bulgarian Dnevnik daily if the national carrier can demand declaring Alma Tour insolvent, Atansov replied that this was standard procedure. The CEO of Bulgaria Air, Yanko Georgiev, on his part, declined to comment on the dispute over the still-ongoing negotiations.

The two attended Wednesday the ceremony for the announcement of joint flights between the Bulgarian airlines and the Dutch KML.

Atanasov explained the annulment of the flights happened at this precise moment because Alma Tour's debt had reached the critical point – Bulgaria Air had worked with the tour operator for three years already, and payments have been often late, but the debt had now become staggering to the point it would affect Bulgaria Air remittances for deliveries of fuel, airport services and other fees.

The Commercial Director of the carrier, Maria Stoyanova, is quoted saying that the planes booked by Alma Tour had been full during the entire summer, but money from and for these tourists had never been submitted.

"We must resolve this issue and see how we will take the remaining tourists home; we are looking for a solution, including in partnership with the cabinet," Atanasov is quoted saying.

According to him, the tourists whose flights were cancelled did not have tickers, proving they were customers of Bulgaria Air and their names were missing from the list of reservations. He pointed out that the carrier only had the commitment to transport passengers with regular tickets.

The CEO also explained that Alma Tour has the right to issue tickets for regular flights, not only for charter ones, and it was unclear while it failed to do so.

Atanasov reiterated that the national carrier continues to service its 18 regular flights with 5 000 Russian customers per week from the Bulgarian Black Sea cities of Varna and Burgas to Moscow and St. Petersburg and would continue to do so until the end of the summer season.

http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=132084

Russian Media: Bulgarian Tourism Is Dead

The problem with Russian tourists, who were stranded for days at the Black Sea airports of Varna and Burgas, has earned a number of negative comments in Russian media, saying Bulgaria is sloppy and its tourism is dead.

Under a headline "Rotten in Bulgaria – Russian Tourists Ended Being Hostages of Bulgarian Sloppiness," Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes that Bulgaria slowly, but securely is sticking its reputation as a tourist destination.

The article points out that the end of summer season 2011 will become a nightmare for Bulgarian tour operators next year when the majority of Russians will turn their backs to Bulgarian beach resorts. It further talks about a "memorable anti-publicity."

"In the last five days, all Russian media begin and end their news broadcasts with information about Bulgaria – the reports, reminding those from the war and the front lines, announce daily how many Russians still cannot return home from their Bulgarian vacation," writes Rossiyskaya Gazeta, stressing that the reaction of Bulgarian authorities had been too slow to allow them the excuse that they have applied all possible effort.

According to the article, if these had been German or British tourists, not Russian ones, the issue would have been resolved in hours or no more than a day.

"But the Russian brothers can wait. This is the psychology of most Bulgarians, regardless of what officials in Sofia say," the daily stresses.

Meanwhile, the Russian Federal Tourism Agency banned tour operators from sending Russian tourists to Bulgaria through the Alma Tour – St. Petersburg company if the latter cannot guarantee their return home.

Some 700 Russians, 200 Finns and dozens of persons from Lithuania waited for days to get home after their flights were canceled Friday and Saturday, due to an alleged EUR 3.6 M debt to national carrier Bulgaria Air from operator Alma Tours.

85 Russian tourists remain in Burgas as of Wednesday from a total of 175 in Bulgaria with the majority being residents of St. Petersburg. The Russian Federal Aviation Agency is negotiating with Russian carriers to take them home.

The Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office and the business police are probing both Alma Tour and Bulgaria Air. Chief Prosecutor, Boris Velchev, is quoted saying this is no longer a dispute between two companies because Bulgaria's reputation is at stake. Transport Minister, Ivaylo Moskovski, stated that in case the crisis deepens, the cabinet will sanction both companies and could even revoke Bulgaria Air's license.

On Tuesday, Bulgaria Air announced it had started legal actions to collect the EUR 3.6 M owed to it by Alma Tour.

After the staggering criticism, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, announced that the country is already "a failed tourist destination."

"Bulgaria crashed in the very eyes of thousands of foreigners – incompetency is just one of the symbols of the rule of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, party," former Interior Minister and BSP Member of the Parliament, Rumen Petkov, declared from the parliamentary tribune.

BSP are also demanding the resignations of the Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, Traicho Traikov, and his Deputy for Tourism, Ivo Marinov, over their failure to deal with the crisis.

In order to rescue the otherwise very strong tourist season, hotel owners in Bulgaria's largest summer resort Sunny Beach decided to accommodate, free of charge, the tourists stranded in Burgas. They are also considering inviting the tourists who spent days at the airport of the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Burgas on a free vacation in June next year.

http://www.novinite.com

Alleged underwear bomber shows up for jury selection in foul mood: Man charged in airline attack complains in court.

The 24-year-old Nigerian student who is accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas Day 2009 showed up for jury selection today in a foul mood.

“Osama’s alive,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab shouted as he entered a courtroom in Detroit this morning. “I’m forced to wear prison clothes.”

Abdulmutallab, wearing khaki prison pants, a white t-shirt and black skull cap, refused to stand when U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds, who was another room with prospective jurors, asked him to stand with others in her courtroom several floors away.

While Edmunds briefed jurors about the allegations against him Abdulmutallab hollered “jihad” and stared at the ceiling when she told jurors about the alleged plot to blow up the plane with a bomb in his underware.

During most of the 25-minute jury instruction, Abdulmutallab sat at the defense table with his standby lawyer, Anthony Chambers, leaning back in his chair with his hands clasped under his chin. At one point, he put his foot on the defense table.

Federal marshals stood over him while he misbehaved. The prospective jurors could observe his antics on a two-way closed circuit television monitor.

During her presentation to jurors, Edmunds said: “We are not trying to find people for this jury who have never heard of this case… We are looking for people who… are fair, objective and impartial.”

The trial is to get underway Oct. 11 and take about two weeks. Edmunds planned to address a second batch of prospective jurors at 1 p.m. today. All told, 250 prospective jurors will show up for court today.

After instructing the jury and leaving them to fill out a questionnaire, Edmunds planned to return to her courtroom to hear Abdulmutallab – who is representing himself ­– argue for his release, claiming he’s being unlawfully detailed by the U.S. government, and that he’s been subjected to excessive force while being held at the federal prison in Milan.

In court documents filed last month, Abdulmutallab asked the court to release him from prison, arguing that "all Muslims should only be ruled by the law of the Quran."

But Edmunds denied his request.

After all the questionnaires all filled out, jury selection will resume Oct. 4. Notified prospective jurors will report in small groups for individual questioning, known as voir dire. This is when the defense and prosecution question each individual, looking for possible biases or red flags, and pick the actual jury.

The trial is expected to run Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will be open to the public with limited seating.

Au­thor­ities have said that Abdulmutallab is an al-Qaida op­erative who trained in Yemen for the sui­cide mis­sion, which was foiled when a pas­sen­ger subdued Abdulmutallab. He is fac­ing nu­mer­ous crim­inal charges, including con­spir­acy to commit terror­ism, and faces life in prison if convicted.

In September, Abdulmutallab fired his govern­ment-ap­pointed lawyers and suggested that he wanted to plead guilty to some charges. He has said noth­ing about a plea since.

Chambers has said that a plea is unlikely.

"We will challenge everything," Chambers said earlier this year, noting his client "has a full understanding of his situation."

http://www.freep.com