Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Video: Inside the 'Boeing Sky Interior'

by AusBusinessTraveller on Sep 18, 2011

Qantas is about to get its first Boeing 737 with the advanced 'Boeing Sky Interior' cabin. On a recent visit to the Boeing factory in Seattle, Australian Business Traveller out together this guided preview of some of the new and noteworthy features of the "BSI' design.

Tourism Revenue Impacted by Air Races Crash. (with video)

http://www.faa.gov/Accident_incident/preliminary

It is an unfortunate connection, but the horrific accident at the Reno Air Races will also have an impact on our tourism revenues. After all, the Air Races bring in as much as $85 million a year to local hotels, casinos and restaurants.

Just after Friday's crash, many hotels saw many people check outing early and going home.

At the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, the loss of business was met with a step-up in hospitality.

"We had a number of guests who sustained injuries at the site," says Kimberlee Tolkien. "We had hotel staff meeting them as they arrived back here and we have been offering help any way we can. Many checked out early and went home and we never charge fees for changing plans in an event like this."

She also said that many guests were treated at local hospitals and have returned to the hotel to rest up before heading home.

"We also have friends and family here of those who were there and a few who had surgery and are here. We have been doing all we can from picking up medicine for them to transporting them back and forth to the hospitals," Tolkien says.

The Air Races are a big revenue maker for the area. But they aren't the only one. In fact, the loss of business from the loss of the races this year will be made up by the other special events this summer.

"Hot August nights was an entire week this year," says Joe Kelley of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. "That really will help. But the Rib Cook-Off at the Nugget, the balloon races, even the Street Vibrations folks heading in now will help," Kelley says.

Official numbers won't be known until mid-October.

Watch video: http://www.ktvn.com

Plane crash may end event and century of United States air racing.

http://www.faa.gov/Accident_incident/preliminary
The very thing that makes the National Championship Air races so popular -- the thrill of vintage airplanes roaring wingtip-to-wingtip at 500 mph within yards of a cheering crowd -- is the thing that may doom the 48-year-old event.

Friday's crash so far has claimed 10 lives, left two people missing and scores of spectators injured, seven critically. Reno's oval pylon-to-pylon air race, a sport dating back to before World War I, is the last such competition in the nation.

Local and federal officials said the race should be made safer, but an air race historian, who called Friday's crash the worst accident in the history of American air racing, said that probably isn't possible.

"You can move the crowd further away, you can move the course to a remote location, but that defeats the purpose of the races," said Don Berliner, president of the Society of Air Racing Historians and a former Reno Air Races official. "But you can't have an air race without spectators. Who is going to want to see it from a distance?"

Safety could be the main issue in determining the race's future. Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority officials said Monday as owner of the Stead Airport, they will be examining the federal investigation of Friday's crash to determine whether further safety requirements can allow the event to continue. The impact of the accident on the event's insurance remains uncertain, but rates are expected to climb, further burdening an event that has been on a financial roller coaster since the 1990s.

Berliner said the race association could put a speed limit on the planes, but that would eliminate the unlimited class made up of modified World War II vintage aircraft, the event's biggest draw.

Planes are already inspected and tested, he said. Participants could be required to X-ray every part or dismantle every aircraft to check for metal fatigue, but that's no guarantee of safety, he said. In addition, the expense would be prohibitive.

"And new parts can fail, too, as every car owner knows," Berliner said.

NASCAR races can install barriers between the crowds and the autos and other sports can construct domes or glass walls between the competitors and the spectators. But air racing puts both racers and fans in harm's way. Last week's horror may end a century of the world's fastest motor sport, he said.

"After this, the sport has an uncertain future," said Berliner, who noted that the Reno event has lasted nearly 50 years without anyone but the competitors or participants being hurt.

"It's a rare thing, very rare, but now it has happened," said.

Pilots and many long-time fans said they want the races to continue, but the factors now in play are beyond tradition and emotions. In the end, the decision will come down to what is an acceptable risk and whether the Reno Air Race Association can afford the still undetermined financial losses that will follow the worst accident in the history of American air racing.

"I'm surprised that (a major accident) didn't happen sooner," said Gavin Matuzek of Reno, who said he attended some of the annual air races since in the 1990s but stopped going after three pilots died during the event in 2007.

"The crowd is so close to the action and that's the thrill of it. But if something goes wrong the spectators are right there."

The consequences of a pilot's slight miscalculation, a sheared bolt, a defective circuit, or a broken cable can be deadly.

"What's critical is (finding out) not just what caused this, but why," said Mark Rosekind, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash. "Because if we are going to make safety recommendations, it's not just what but why, so we can make recommendations so that it doesn't happen again."

The safety board can make recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has oversight for all air shows and air races in the country. Those recommendations could come at any time during the board's investigation.

In 1972, the safety board made recommendations about how far the spectators must be from the races, and the FAA responded with a rule that was in place at the time of Friday's crash.

Economic impact

In an interview with the RGJ the night before the fatal crash, Mike Houghton, Reno Air Racing Association president and CEO, said the group was very optimistic about growth. He said the association has 10-year and 20-year long-term plans.

"We feel we have an obligation, a commitment to preserve and support this tradition," Houghton said.

The races also are essential to the local economy, he said. They attract more than 200,000 total spectators per year, including about 90,000 individual visitors, generating about $80 million a year for the region's economy, according to economic impact studies.

The event, which lists about $5 million in gross revenues on its tax statements, has faced financial challenges. In the mid-1990s, attendance slipped generating heavy losses, according to race officials, but the event recovered.

The races were grounded in the days after the terror attacks of 2001, the first cancellation in their history. Last year, the association posted a $90,000 loss.

Before the crash Houghton said the races were "looking good this year. Attendance was down 4 percent last year and expenses have gone up, but insurance rates have come down.

"This isn't a money-making sport like NASCAR can be. These teams run by the seat of their pants. They do this because they love it. They are volunteers."

After the accident Houghton said the association will have "to look at everything we do" and decide whether the event will continue.

Pilots' expenses

Unlike NASCAR, it's not a money-making event for the participants.

Just before the races began last week, Steve Hinton, the pilot of Strega and the reining champion of the Unlimited Class, tore down his P-51 Mustang engine for a tune up. Hinton, the son of previous air races champ Steve Hinton, first won the race in 2009, when he was 22.

"If we win this year, we'll break even," said Hinton, an aircraft mechanic from Chino, Calif. "These races cost (plane owners) $8,000 to $10,000 a lap. No body is in it for the money."

The joke among pilots is that air racing is a great way to turn millions into thousands.

"The attraction is the race itself, the people that gather here once a year," Hinton said. "This is the only place you can see these aircraft still flying€» We'll keep doing this as long as we can do it."

http://www.rgj.com

Modified Planes too Dangerous to Fly? (With Video)




http://www.faa.gov/Accident_incident/preliminary

A lot of first-hand accounts and witness videos could help as the NTSB starts their investigation - expected to take up to nine months.

Among the many considerations - the race, the pilot, the plane itself and its modifications will all be a huge focus.

Planes like the P-51 Mustang often go through complete overhauls to become race ready.

So the question now - is did those changes interfere with safety?

An aircraft mechanic down in Las Vegas says it's a possibility that could play a role. "They do a lot of testing on these aircraft and these air frames, to make sure that they work and they fly properly. So if I modify any of those things, that could change. So in my opinion, if it's been tested, and if they weren't, I'm not touching it," says Story Airways owner David Story.

Story says a number of things can go wrong when you modify any aircraft especially one this old.

But not every expert shares that opinion, citing intense testing before hitting the air. "We have to maintain the airplane, it has to be air-ready. Every year you have to have an annual inspection, and that has to be done by a qualified mechanic," says Brian Bile, Aztec Aviation Services owner.

A total of 11 people, including pilot Jimmy Leeward, died when Leeward's Galloping Ghost P-51 Mustang crashed nose-first into a section of VIP box seats late Friday afternoon at the Reno-Stead Airport.

Missing Aerospatiale A350, C-GJUP helicopter found near Princeton, pilot confirmed dead - British Columbia.

PRINCETON – After four days of searching, the wreckage of the helicopter that went missing on its way to Kelowna Friday night has been found near Princeton. The body of the pilot, who has been identified as Rod Phillipson, was found without vital signs.

The Aerospatiale A350 was found in the Tulameen area, near Coquihalla mountain by a resupply helicopter doing unrelated work in the search area.

Another helicopter was dispatched to the area and a SAR tech was hoisted down to confirm the discovery.

“We would like to thank the communities for their support through phoning in with search tips and for their respect for the family’s wishes for privacy during this difficult time,” said Searchmaster, Captain David Burneau, 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 19 Wing Comox in a press release.

VANCOUVER — A helicopter pilot who went missing near Hope, B.C., last Friday has been found dead.

The Aerospatiale A350 helicopter piloted by Rod Phillipson was spotted Tuesday by a Wildcat Helicopters Kelowna pilot near Coquihalla Mountain, about 190 kilometres east of Vancouver.

Canadian Forces search and rescue technicians were brought to the scene, and found Phillipson without vital signs.

"We would like to thank the communities for their support through phoning in with search tips and for their respect for the family's wishes for privacy during this difficult time," Capt. David Burneau, of 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 19 Wing Comox, said in statement.

"The thoughts and prayers of the entire search team are with the family right now."

Phillipson, 61, is believed to have taken off from Langley, B.C., about 6:30 p.m. Friday en route to a Kelowna, B.C., residence.

Four RCAF aircraft and 14 Civil Air Search and Rescue Association took advantage of good weather throughout Tuesday to search the corridor between Hope and Kelowna.

Inside the large search area, specially trained spotters been employed in aircraft required to fly low through mountain passes.

Low clouds over Hope at the time of the man's last recorded cellphone signal indicate he might have tried to fly close to the ground for safety.

The experienced pilot, said to have been flying out of Langley for at least 15 years, didn't file a flight plan but did have a flight itinerary.

The pilot who found Phillipson was manning a resupply helicopter that was doing unrelated work in the search area.

California: Northstate Community Plans On Attending Redding Air Show Despite Accident In Reno

REDDING, Calif. -- With the Redding Air Show just days away we asked around to see if people in the Northstate still plan on going.

We asked a dozen people about it and almost everyone told KRCR they are not concerned about safety issues and will definitely be going to the air show.

That includes Yvette Norden who was at the Redding Air Show in 1991 when a plane crash killed the pilot and injured nine spectators.

“Air races are the dangerous ones and the air show is entirely different and its safe, not always for the pilots, but safe for spectators,” says Norton.

George Knte agreed.

“I love the air show, I think it's a neat event for Redding and I would go back.”

When asked if the Reno crash is having an impact on sales, the air show's chairman, Bill Wagner told KRCR that he hasn’t noticed anything yet, although the next couple days are usually the busiest and so they won't really know until after that.

Tickets are still available and are on sale all week for $10 and $16 at the gate.

Children under 11-years old get in for free.

You can buy your tickets at any Raley’s Supermarket in Redding, Chico, or Red Bluff.

For more information visit: Redding Air Show Website

http://www.krcrtv.com

New Century Aerosport Radial Rocket, Bearcat Aviation Inc., N91TX: Fatal accident occurred September 19, 2011 in Socorro, New Mexico

http://registry.faa.gov/N91TX

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA652

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 19, 2011 in Socorro, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/26/2012
Aircraft: CONCANNON MILTON RADIAL ROC, registration: N91TX
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot had purchased the airplane the day before the accident and had performed a 30-minute flight with the previous owner. During the purchase inspection, the pilot reportedly expressed concern about the electronic flight display, the autopilot, the mixture control operation, and the boost pump systems. No additional transition training was accomplished in the airplane before the accident flight. Just before the accident, a witness heard abnormal engine sounds (“popping”) and observed the airplane flying erratically in the traffic pattern. While maneuvering toward the airport, the airplane's wings were rocking back and forth, which was consistent with a near stalled condition, before the airplane pitched up then entered a nose-down descent into terrain. The previous owner stated that proper mixture control position and boost pump position was critical during landing, or the engine may stumble or experience a brief shutdown. A postaccident examination of the wreckage did not reveal any evidence of preimpact anomalies. It is likely that the pilot, due to his limited training (30 minutes) in the airplane make and model, was unfamiliar with the unique characteristics of this airplane and its avionics, and that contributed to his failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering.

In a 2012 safety study on "The Safety of Experimental Amateur-Built Aircraft," the NTSB concluded that "purchasers of used [experimental amateur-built] (E-AB) aircraft face particular challenges in transitioning to the unfamiliar E-AB aircraft. Like builders of new E-AB aircraft, they must learn to manage the unique handling characteristics of their aircraft and learn the systems, structure, and equipment, but without the firsthand knowledge afforded to the builder." Thus, the NTSB recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration and the Experimental Aircraft Association "complete planned action to create a coalition of kit manufacturers, type clubs, and pilot and owner groups and (1) develop transition training resources and (2) identify and apply incentives to encourage both builders of experimental amateur-built aircraft and purchasers of used experimental amateur-built aircraft to complete the training that is developed."

Postmortem toxicology testing for the pilot indicated positive results for ibuprofen, lorazepam and tramadol. The pilot had not reported any medication on his most recent medical application about 10 months before the accident. Although such medications can have sedating and/or impairing effects, it was not possible to determine to what extent the pilot may have been impaired.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed during the visual approach to the runway, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident were the pilot’s lack of experience in the airplane make and model and the possible sedating effects of medication.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On September 19, 2011, at 1310 mountain daylight time, a Concannon Radial Rocket experimental amateur-built airplane, N91TX, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near the Socorro Municipal Airport (ONM), Socorro, New Mexico. The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight departed Dallas Executive Airport (RBD), Dallas, Texas, at 0939 central daylight time.

According to the previous owner of the airplane, the pilot and passenger arrived in Mississippi to purchase the airplane on September 17th. On September 18th, the pilot, passenger, and previous owner spent several hours examining the airplane and reviewing its systems. The previous owner and pilot then performed a flight for approximately 30 minutes in which the pilot completed various basic flight maneuvers. The previous owner stated the pilot was very smooth and coordinated on the flight controls. The previous owner then gave the pilot-rated passenger a ride for approximately 10 minutes. For another couple hours after the flights, the group continued to review the airplane. During that time, the previous owner discussed items relative to flight and engine operations during critical phases of flight. The previous owner stated the pilot had concerns with the complexity of the electronic flight information system (EFIS), autopilot system, use of the mixture control, placement of switches, and use of the boost pumps (The pilot owned a Yak 52 with a similar engine, other than there was no mixture control on his Yak 52). The previous owner also stated the pilot had difficulty focusing on where the airspeed and altitude readouts were located on the EFIS display. The previous owner felt the pilot was attentive, asked appropriate questions, and demonstrated an understanding of what was discussed during the day.

The pilot and passenger then departed Mississippi approximately 1535 central daylight time en route to the Dallas, Texas, area to stop for an overnight before proceeding to Arizona.

The previous owner mentioned he originally planned to spend approximately 10 days with the pilot to perform a detailed inspection and several flights. The pilot indicated he was comfortable and decided to depart from Mississippi on September 18th.

The pilot and passenger then flew the airplane to RBD, and spent the night in the Dallas area. After the arrival at RBD, the pilot had the airplane fueled with 16.5 gallons of aviation gasoline. In addition, the pilot asked one of the lineman at the fixed based operator (FBO) for some tools. The lineman observed the pilot and passenger perform some type of repair to the left main landing gear.

The airplane departed RBD on the morning of September 19th. Prior to the flight, the passenger contacted flight service and requested the winds aloft along the planned route from RBD to Arizona. When asked what type of airplane, the passenger stated a Cessna 172.

Data extracted from a handheld global positioning system (GPS) unit recovered from the wreckage showed a departure from RBD and a descent towards ONM. The recorded flight track ended approximately 2 miles prior to the accident site.

One witness, who is a mechanic for a emergency medical services company based at ONM, observed the airplane prior to the accident. He heard a loud pop which brought his attention to the accident airplane. The mechanic saw the airplane heading from east to west toward ONM. As the airplane approached Interstate Highway 25, which runs north and south on the east side of ONM, the airplane turned to the north. During the turn, the airplane appeared to be waving with its wings rocking back and forth. As the airplane continued to the north, the wing waving increased. The witness stated it seemed as if the airplane was losing power and it was getting difficult for the pilot to maintain altitude. As the airplane turned to the west, the airplane was struggling to maintain altitude, wobbling, and waving. The airplane then turned to the south, lost lift, and nosed down. He lost sight of the airplane and observed black smoke a few seconds later. The witness did not see any smoke from the airplane during the flight; however, he heard popping noises from the engine.

Another witness, located near the accident site, observed the airplane prior to the impact with terrain. The witness reported observing the airplane in a low altitude which he described as a “crop duster” type operation. The witness observed the airplane briefly pitch nose up and then impact the terrain.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The commercial pilot, who was seated in the front seat position, held single-engine land airplane, multi-engine land airplane, and glider ratings. The pilot reported 4,000 total flight hours on his Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate dated November 15, 2010. The pilot reported no use of medications on his medical application. No personal flight records were located for the pilot.

On September 16, 2009, the pilot's commercial certificate was suspended for 100 days, and the suspension period ended on December 24, 2009.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Concannon Radial Rocket was a two-place composite airplane with fixed conventional landing gear. It was powered by a 400-horsepower supercharged M-14P nine-cylinder radial engine. The airplane was issued an experimental, amateur-built airworthiness certificate on November 10, 2006. The last conditional inspection was completed on June 4, 2011, at a tachometer time of 183.2 hours. The tachometer at the accident site was destroyed; as a result, the total airframe and engine times could not be determined. The aircraft maintenance records, builders log, and other information were partially consumed by the postimpact fire. Portions of the engine records and builders notes were recognizable.

According to the previous owner's notes that were recovered from the accident site, the owner recorded, in part:

1. Boost must be on...(remaining words not recognizable due to fire damage).
2. Boost 2 must be on for takeoff and landing (5 minutes).
3. Mixture must be full rich for takeoff, landing, rapid throttle movements.
4. Failure to do #2 and #3 may result in engine stumble or brief shutdown.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1315, the ONM automated weather observing system reported the wind from 140 degrees at 9 knots, clear sky, temperature 28 degrees Celsius, dew point 5 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.24 inches of Mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located on a rocky embankment adjacent to an interstate highway on/off ramp approximately 1 mile northeast of ONM. Postaccident examination of the accident site revealed the airplane impacted the lower portion of the embankment and came to rest on the upper portion of the embankment next to the on/off ramp roadway. The wreckage debris path was orientated on a 185 degree heading. The airplane was consumed by a postimpact fire.

The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, both wings, engine, and empennage. Portions of the main landing gear and the underside of the fuselage were found between the initial impact point and the main wreckage. The cockpit/cabin area was destroyed by fire. The instrument panel was destroyed, and the instrument face plates were unreadable.

All of the flight control surfaces were located with the main wreckage. Flight control continuity was not established due to fire damage. All flight control surfaces remained partially attached to their respective airframe positions. No flight control anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction were noted. The left flap actuator was extended, which was consistent with the flap control surface extended, and the right flap actuator was consumed by fire.

The three-bladed wooden propeller hub remained attached to the engine. Two of the blades were separated at the hub and were found splintered into several pieces within the debris field. The outboard section of the third blade was separated and splintered. The leading edges of the blades displayed gouges and large dents.

The engine remained attached to the mount, and the mount remained attached the firewall. The engine and components displayed thermal damage, and the fuel lines were consumed by fire. The propeller governor, right magneto, fuel pump, and fuel servo remained attached to the engine. They sustained thermal damage. The starter, starter ring gear, and the left magneto were separated. The fuel servo valve was found in the full throttle position and free to rotate. The cockpit to engine controls remained attached to the propeller governor, mixture and throttle levers. The fuel servo was removed, and the fuel screens were clear of debris. The fuel servo mixture valve was not free to move. The fuel pump was partially removed, and the fuel pump drive shaft was intact. All fuel lines were found attached to their respective components.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The University of New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator completed an autopsy on the pilot and passenger. Cause of death for both was listed as multiple blunt force and thermal injuries. Toxicology specimens of the pilot were retained for testing by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The Bioaeronautical Research Science Laboratory, FAA, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed a postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot and passenger.

Review of the toxicology report for the pilot revealed the following drugs:

Ibuprofen detected in Urine
2.203 (ug/mL, ug/g) Lorazepram detected in Urine
Blood (Heart) unsuitable for analysis of Lorazepam
2.293 (ug/mL, ug/g) Tramadol detected in Blood (Heart)
Tramadol detected in Urine

Review of the toxicology report for the passenger revealed the following drug:

Lorazepam detected in Urine

No carbon monoxide, cyandide, or ethanol were detected in either occupant.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

In a 2012 safety study on "The Safety of Experimental Amateur-Built Aircraft," the NTSB concluded that "purchasers of used [experimental amateur-built] (E-AB) aircraft face particular challenges in transitioning to the unfamiliar E-AB aircraft. Like builders of new E-AB aircraft, they must learn to manage the unique handling characteristics of their aircraft and learn the systems, structure, and equipment, but without the firsthand knowledge afforded to the builder." Thus, the NTSB recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration and the Experimental Aircraft Association "complete planned action to create a coalition of kit manufacturers, type clubs, and pilot and owner groups and (1) develop transition training resources and (2) identify and apply incentives to encourage both builders of experimental amateur-built aircraft and purchasers of used experimental amateur-built aircraft to complete the training that is developed."


 NTSB Identification: CEN11FA652 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 19, 2011 in Socorro, NM
Aircraft: CONCANNON MILTON CONCANNON RADIAL ROC, registration: N91TX
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On September 19, 2011, at 1310 mountain daylight time, a Concannon Radial Rocket experimental amateur-built airplane, N91TX, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near the Socorro Municipal Airport (ONM), Socorro, New Mexico. The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight departed Dallas Executive Airport (RBD), Dallas, Texas, approximately 0945.

According to preliminary information, the pilot and passenger purchased the airplane the day before the accident in Mississippi. The pilot and passenger then flew the airplane to RBD, spent the night in the Dallas area, and departed RBD on the morning of September 19th. A handheld global positioning system (GPS) unit from the accident airplane was found at the accident site. The unit displayed a flight from RBD with a destination of ONM.

One witness observed the airplane prior to the impact with terrain. The witness reported observing the airplane in a low altitude which he described as a “crop duster” type operation. The witness observed the airplane briefly pitch nose up and then impact the terrain.

The accident site was located on an embankment to an interstate highway on/off ramp approximately 1 mile northeast of ONM. Postaccident examination of the accident site revealed the airplane impacted the lower portion of the embankment and came to rest on the upper portion of the embankment next to the on/off ramp roadway. The airplane was consumed by a postimpact fire.

The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, both wings, engine, and empennage. Portions of the main landing gear and the underside of the fuselage were found between the initial impact and main wreckage. The 3-bladed wooden propeller remained attached to the engine, and two of the wooden blades were separated and fragmented. The cockpit/cabin area was destroyed by fire.

At 1315, the ONM automated weather observing system reported the wind from 140 degrees at 9 knots, clear sky, temperature 28 degrees Celsius, dew point 5 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.24 inches of Mercury.


 Seth Lundell (left) and Dr. Mark Lundell, from October 2010.





Jackie Schlotfeldt/El Defensor
Chieftain Emergency personnel responded to the scene where a small plane crashed into the embankment on the north side of I-25 overpass at Exit 147 into Socorro.
~




 


Seth Lundell liked to tell folks that he had never met a stranger. "They were just friends he hadn't met yet," his sister Betsy Lundell recalled. 

 Seth, 20, and his father Mark, 60, died on Sept. 19 in a plane crash outside of Socorro, N.M.

Mark, a vascular surgeon who owned Scottsdale Vein Center, was an experienced pilot. The Paradise Valley resident and his son, who also had his pilot's license, were flying back from Louisiana after picking up a new experimental airplane, family members said. Mark and Seth were the only two on board.

A celebration of life for Seth is planned for 5 p.m. Friday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6840 E. Gold Dust Ave., Scottsdale.

A celebration of life for Mark is planned for 5 p.m. Saturday at Mesa's Falcon Field Airport, 4800 E. Falcon Drive.

Fellow pilots will honor father and son with separate missing man formations over the airport.

It was Seth's spirit, smile and grace that made his mother, Deborah, call Seth the "dessert" of her family. Seth, a 2009 graduate of Arcadia High School, was the last born of six children.

The elder Lundell instilled his love of aviation in his six children early on. As the four boys and two girls were growing up, he and his wife would pile the kids into a World War II Twin Beech AT-11 trainer and fly around the country to air shows.

In lieu of flowers, family members are asking for donations to a fund to honor the Lundells' aviation legacy. The Mark Lundell M.D. and Seth Lundell memorial fund has been established at Bank of America.

"Your donations will allow our father and both our brothers to continue to share their love of flight to future generations of aviators through the Young Eagles Project," Besty wrote on the Lundells' Facebook memorial page.

Seth was the second Lundell child to die in a plane crash.

Jacob Lundell was 21 when he died in a crash at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport in 2005.

Mark, who was observing Jacob practice touch-and-go landings, removed the body from the wreckage and drove it to his Paradise Valley home to allow the family to say goodbye.

That prompted a police probe, but no charges were filed.

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


PARADISE VALLEY - A family is speaking out just days after a valley doctor and his son were killed in a plane crash.

The two were flying to Mesa from Louisiana when their plane went down south of Albuquerque. Both Dr. Mark Lundell and Seth Lundell were killed instantly, their bodies burned beyond recognition.

This isn't the first time tragedy has struck the family.

Six years ago, Dr. Mark Lundell's son was killed while practicing touch and go maneuvers at the Casa Grande Airport.

Family members say it's hard to describe what it's like to go through this all over again. This trip was meant to be a father-son bonding trip between Lundell and another son, his youngest, Seth.

Both licensed pilots, Seth was getting ready to go on a 2-year mission for his church and wanted one last adventure with his dad.

"Mark was the most amazing the kindest sweetest the most compassionate brother you could ever have. He loved his family beyond measure, each of these children was his jewels and he loved them so much," says sister Deetta Lundell-Garner.

The founder of the Scottsdale Vein Center and his 20-year-old son Seth were headed home from a trip to Louisiana. Mark had just purchased a new plane, and his family believes he was the one flying it when it crashed in New Mexico Monday.

They say worry set in quickly when they lost contact.

"We knew they were overdue that they hadn't contacted us. I made phone calls to inquire where they were and unfortunately I found them relatively quickly," says Mark's son Levi Lundell.

Sadly, they've experienced heartache like this before. Mark's other son Jacob died in a plane crash back in 2005.

"Worse, worse than déjà vu. How can you have feelings when this is happening again," says Betsy Lundell, Mark's daughter.

Mark witnessed that tragedy firsthand. The story attracted a lot of attention because he drove his son's body home before investigators arrived on scene.

The family, very tight knit, just focused today on grieving together.

"My son Seth, his smile lit up the world, his smile his eyes his happiness, everybody loved Seth," says Deborah Lundell, Mark's wife.

Seth planned to follow in his big brother's footsteps and join the military. He wanted to fly helicopters.

The pain of losing a brother, son, husband and father is hard to describe, but this family is grateful they have each other.

"We do have strength of a family and that it holds us together it brings us together. At this time its unfortunate we have to do this but we have each other to rely on," says Kate Lundell, Mark's daughter.

Investigators believe Seth and his dad stopped in New Mexico for fuel. It's still unclear what caused their plane to go down. Federal investigators have been on the scene since Monday going through the wreckage.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - A passion for flying proved deadly for a prominent doctor and his family after two separate and fatal plane crashes.

Investigators say Dr. Mark Lundell, a well-known vascular surgeon from Scottsdale, was flying the plane that went down in Socorro Monday afternoon. His 20-year-old son Seth was also on board.

The two had just purchased the plane on Sunday in Dallas and were flying back to the Phoenix area when the plane crashed onto an I-25 on-ramp in Socorro.

Family and friends say the Lundells were passionate about flying, but it has also been deadly for the family.

In 2005 another family member was killed in a small plane crash. The doctor's 21-year-old son Jacob was practicing touch and go maneuvers at an airport near Phoenix when he crashed and died.

Dr. Lundell and another son witnessed the crash and pulled Jacob's body from the aircraft before authorities arrived. Dr. Lundell drove the body home so his family could grieve together.

Several investigations were conducted to see if Lundell should be charged for removing the body before investigators arrived. No charges were ever filed.

Federal investigators are now trying to figure out why their plane went down in Socorro. They believe the Lundells may have been planning a stop in Socorro to refuel.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (KPHO) - A prominent Valley surgeon and his adult son have been killed in a small plane crash in New Mexico.

Dr. Mark Lundell, who owns and operates Scottsdale Vein Center, died along with his 20-year-old son Seth when the small plane they had recently purchased went down in Socorro, NM, which is south of Albuquerque.

Authorities say the plane crashed at about 1:15 p.m. near Interstate 25. Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration say the pair bought the plane on Sunday in Dallas and were headed to Mesa when the crashed occurred.

Those who knew the Lundell family say flying was a passion for all of them. The reception desk in Dr. Lundell's Scottsdale office is made out of an aircraft wing. We're also told his office if full of family pictures in front of vintage World War II aircraft.

Seth Lundell was a graduate of Arcadia High School in the Scottsdale Unified School District. Several pictures on his Facebook page reflect his love of flying.

In 2005, another Lundell family member was killed in a small plane crash. Twenty-one-year-old Jacob Lundell was practicing touch and go maneuvers at Casa Grande Municipal Airport when he crashed. Dr. Lundell and his brother witnessed the crash and pulled Jacob's remains from the aircraft before authorities arrived.

Casa Grande police report finding the scene of the obvious fatality but not finding the body.

Dr. Lundell drove the body to his Paradise Valley home reportedly so his family could all grieve together. Several investigations were conducted into Lundell's behavior but no charges were ever filed.

The Lundell's were reported to have been extremely active in the Boy Scouts of America as well as their church.

Officials have released more information about Monday's fatal plane crash near Socorro.

Police said 60-year-old Mark Lundell and his 20-year-old son, Seth, both of Scottsdale, Arizona traveled to Mississippi to buy the plane.

They were on their way home to Arizona when they crashed into a ramp on Interstate 25 south of Socorro.

The plane they purchased was a New Century Aerosport Radial Rocket.

Officials are unsure if the Lundell's were trying to refuel in Socorro.

‘Country may end up with no local carrier’ -Philippines

With the Open Skies policy, the country may end up without a local air carrier like Cambodia.

Jose Perez de Tagle, Philippine Airlines assistant vice president for government affairs, said the country might end up like Cambodia, which had no local carrier since 1999, because of the unlimited air rights that the country gave to foreign airline companies.

Tagle along with other tourism stakeholders attended Monday’s briefing on the Executive Order 29 or the Open Skies Policy organized by the Department of Tourism.

“The issue is never about the access. It’s something else, it could be the marketing, promotions. It’s more of a product thing and we really have to develop our product as a nation to encourage more foreign carriers to get interested in allocating or adding flight frequencies to our country. EO29 is not the right solution,” Tagle said.

Executive Order 29 (EO29) is the order implementing the Open Skies policy in the country.

Tagle said the government should have let the airlines initiate the Open Skies agreements with the help of the government and not the other way around.

Tagle and the other local airline companies said that they supported the government’s thrust to encourage more tourists to visit the country through the Open Skies policy but the government should have done it in such a way as to protect the interest of the local airlines.

They said that this could have been done by ensuring that Philippine carriers would get equal air traffic rights in other countries.

Tagle said letting the airlines initiate the Open Skies agreements with the government’s help was a one way to do that.

Tagle said that what happened now with the government initiating the policy, the foreign airline companies got unlimited air traffic rights to all secondary airports in the country like Cebu and Davao while local airline companies would be left to negotiate for the same arrangement or even just additional air traffic rights in the foreign airlines’ country.

“The initiative should have been from the airline companies, all of the four major companies together going to destinations and asking for additional air traffic rights in that destination before we can allow them to also add flights to our destinations,” he said.

The local airlines agree with the government that the policy will decongest the Ninoy Aquino Internationa Airport by opening the secondary airports of Davao, Cebu and other key destinations in the country.

“With the government’s policy now, the concern is that the foreign international carriers can monopolize the servicing of a place. They can add unlimited flights to Cebu but we can’t negotiate for more to their country because what more can we bargain with? They are already given the unlimited rights,” he said.

Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and distribution, also said in a statement Cebu Pacific would remain hopeful that the government would use our airspace, which is a very valuable asset of the country, to further the long-term interest of our country with Open Skies agreements that would benefit foreigners and Filipinos alike.

“In some countries, Philippine carriers can no longer add flights because we are already using all our air rights. However, EO29 allows foreign airlines from those countries to operate as many flights as they want to in Cebu, Davao or Cagayan de Oro. Foreigners get unlimited rights but Filipino carriers are limited,” Iyog said.

Tagle, on the other hand, also called for the government to address as soon as possible the downgrading of the country’s air safety rating by the United States and Europe to category 2, which would imply that the government didn’t have the capacity to regulate and secure our airports and the aircrafts that come to our country.

“Because of that downgrading, Philippine carriers are not allowed entry to their major airports. Japan is not allowing us to fly chartered flights and with the EO29, what will become of the local carriers,” he said.

Tagle said that the four major airline companies –PAL, CEB, Airphil Express and Zest Air — have initially met and discussed about the implications of E029 to the industry.

“We have a unified stand on the EO29. However we have not yet issued any unified statement or position paper. We might do that,” Tagle said.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net

Roanoke Regional Airport (KROA) is big business: Air traffic is up almost 5% compared to this time last year.

ROANOKE, Va—  The Roanoke Regional Airport is busier these days.

Air traffic is up nearly 5% this year. That's 18,000 more passengers flying to and from Roanoke compared to 2010.

Many passengers say they choose Roanoke because it's local.

"My in-laws live here so we like to visit them," says Liz Krasnow who resides in Colorado, "It was definitely more convenient to fly in here."

Several passengers say their final decision often comes down to price. Sometimes Roanoke is affordable and sometimes people choose to drive to Greensboro, NC to save money.

"It's cheaper and I can ride the big jets up there," says Mark Gray, " Probably save you a couple of hundred dollars."

But other passengers say flying local pays off.

"Greensboro may be just a little bit cheaper but by the time I drive down there I have to leave my car someone can't drop me off and so it works out to be about the same," says Melanie Moore.

For leisure, the most popular flight is from Roanoke to Orlando, Florida. Business passengers are more often traveling from Roanoke to Chicago, Illinois.

A recent study done on airports across the state of Virginia found that Roanoke's airport contributes $216 million to the economy every year. Lynchburg's airport adds $109 million.

http://www.wdbj7.com

Salsa d'Haiti, Beech 99: Plane crashes outside northern city of Haiti, 3 dead.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Three people died when a small, twin-engine turboprop aircraft used by a domestic Haitian airline crashed while trying to land during heavy rain in northern Haiti on Tuesday, authorities said.

Police, a city official and the airline Salsa d'Haiti said the plane's two pilots and its only passenger were found dead in the wreckage in a sugar cane field outside the northern coastal city of Cap-Haitien.

Cap-Haitien Mayor Michel St. Croix told The Associated Press that the dead were two men and one woman.

St. Croix said one of the pilots was from the neighboring Dominican Republic and the other from Mexico.

An employee for the airline said the passenger was a regular customer from Vietnam. The employee said he couldn't give his name because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press.

Frantz Lerebours, spokesman for the Haitian National Police, also reported three killed. He said no other passengers were on board.

Earlier, local police officer Ernst Silenceuse told the AP that the plane was a Beechcraft 99. That model can carry two pilots and 15 passengers.

Silenceuse said the plane went down outside Cap-Haitien while trying to land in rain. He said it was the last flight of the day to Cap-Haitien from Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince.

An Associated Press reporter on the scene, Wendell Bataille, said he saw firefighters struggling to pull the bodies from the crumpled plane in a flooded sugar cane field. A small crowd of onlookers gathered at the edge of the site despite heavy rain.

Haiti's Civil Protection Office initially announced the accident on Twitter.

Salsa executives couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday night.

The Haitian airline was founded in 2008 and offers daily flights from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haitien, according to its website and Facebook page.
 
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Three people died when a twin-engine turboprop aircraft used by a domestic Haitian airline crashed while trying to land during heavy rain in northern Haiti on Tuesday, authorities said.

Police and the airline Salsa d'Haiti said the plane's two pilots and its only passenger were found dead in the wreckage in a rural area outside the northern coastal city of Cap-Haitien.

Cap-Haitien Mayor Michel St. Croix told The Associated Press that the dead were two men and one woman.

An employee for the airline told the AP that one of the male pilots was from the neighboring Dominican Republic and the other from Mexico. The female passenger was from Vietnam, he said. The employee said he couldn't give his name because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press.

Frantz Lerebours, spokesman for the Haitian National Police, also reported three killed.

Earlier, local police officer Ernst Silenceuse told the AP that the plane was a Beechcraft 99. That model can carry two pilots and 15 passengers.

Silenceuse said the plane went down outside Cap-Haitien while trying to land in rain. He said it was the last flight of the day to Cap-Haitien from Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince.

Haiti's Civil Protection Office initially announced the accident on Twitter.


http://www.foxnews.com

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Three people died when a twin-engine turboprop aircraft used by a domestic Haitian airline crashed while trying to land during heavy rain in northern Haiti on Tuesday, authorities said.

Police and the airline Salsa d'Haiti said the plane's two pilots and its only passenger were found dead in the wreckage in a rural area outside the northern coastal city of Cap-Haitien.

Cap-Haitien Mayor Michel St. Croix told The Associated Press that the dead were two men and one woman.

An employee for the airline told the AP that one of the male pilots was from the neighboring Dominican Republic and the other from Mexico. The female passenger was from Vietnam, he said. The employee said he couldn't give his name because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press.

Frantz Lerebours, spokesman for the Haitian National Police, also reported three killed.

Earlier, local police officer Ernst Silenceuse told the AP that the plane was a Beechcraft 99. That model can carry two pilots and 15 passengers.

http://www.cbsnews.com

Aviation disaster in Milo,Lori North of Haiti
20 September 2011 18:00 hours
From combined reports, We just learned that Avion Salsa d'haiti just crashed in the commune of Milo, Nord of Haiti.  Details are sketchy at best. Preliminary reports feared that there is no survivors and it is raining heavily in the region where the crash occurred.  Agent-Y will keep you posted as the tragedy continue to unfold
Posted by Agent-y on 9/20/11 6:19 PM
http://www.martellyhaiti.com

500 fliers suffer in oil arm-twist at Kolkata airport, India.

KOLKATA: Around 500 holidayers returning to Tehran from Thai seaside resort Phuket landed in a mess at Kolkata airport late on Monday night as Indian Oil refused to refuel the two aircraft till dues were cleared. Till the transaction took place on Tuesday afternoon, the hapless passengers remained stranded in Kolkata, a bulk of them cooped up inside an aircraft for nearly 12 hours because the airport did not have the requisite infrastructure to host them.

When the nightmare finally ended and the flights took off late on Tuesday afternoon, the passengers were famished, having had only a sparse meal in those 12 hours. Those travelling economy class were worse off with feet swollen and toes numb from the long hours in the cramped seats. The toilets also stank as they remained dirty for nearly a day. When the passengers finally reached their destination late on Tuesday, they had no fond memories of the wonderful time in Thailand's fun resort. They carried home a traumatic experience that is sure to haunt them for a long time to come.

Iranian private carrier Mahan Air, which has had a dodgy record with allegations of forged acquisition of three Boeing 747-400 aircraft and a ban within the European Union for a year, has off late been making a technical halt in Kolkata during the return journey from Phuket to Tehran. Around a month ago, the airline sought Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation's permission to refuel in Kolkata and has been doing so ever since.

On Monday, too, an Airbus 310 carrying 176 passengers touched down at Kolkata airport around 11pm. But the Indian Oil tanker did not roll out. Instead, an official from the fuel company informed the captain that fuel will not be supplied till the airline cleared its dues. Ironically, the fuel embargo was to be put in place the previous night but the message from oil company's headquarters in Delhi reached Kolkata airport late.

While IOC did hold a month's security deposit of Rs 30 crore from Mahan Air, under the no-credit policy that it adopted in 2006, it stops fuel transaction as soon as fuel dues touch the amount contracted for a month. In the past, Air India has also been at the receiving end of the policy devised to keep runaway fuel bills in check.

When it became apparent that the matter would not be resolved soon, airport officials opened the transit lounge to passengers. Even as the 176 passengers were settling down into the lounge chairs, another Mahan flight, a Boeing 747 with 305 passengers on board, touched down in Kolkata at 1.45am. Now the airport had a big problem on its hands. The transit lounge could accommodate 280 passengers, of which 176 seats were already occupied. The space crunch meant the passengers who had arrived in the Jumbo jet would have to spend the night in the aircraft.

Incidentally, the transit lounge capacity was even lesser a couple of years ago when passengers of two flights to Dhaka that had been diverted to the city due to inclement weather in Bangladesh, had spent the night in the planes. Following the embarrassment, more than 100 seats were added to the lounge so that it could accommodate passengers of two medium size aircraft. But a Jumbo load was too much to handle.

"Flights that undertake a technical halt need to have a ground handling contract in place. But there is no compulsion of signing a pact for passenger amenities. Hence, those in the flight could not be issued a temporary landing permit and accommodated elsewhere in the airport," an airport source explained.

Passengers waited agonizingly in the aircraft for daybreak. But morning did not bring much cheer as the oil company's office in Delhi and the airline's office in Tehran had to open before the imbroglio could be resolved. That meant any chance of resolution would happen only around early afternoon. Meanwhile, the airline authorities in Tehran contacted the Iranian embassy to get things moving.

Hungry and fatigued, passengers in the terminal were served breakfast in the morning. Those cooped up in the aircraft became restless and edgy as the hours rolled on. Though the aircraft initially had meals for the five-hour journey from Kolkata to Tehran, stocks were low. It was past noon when the passengers were finally allowed to disembark. While some were escorted into the transit lounge, the rest were taken to the departure hold. Food packets were distributed among the famished passengers.

It was around 2pm that Rs 28 crore was transferred to the oil company's account and the planes were re-fuelled. The Jumbo first took off, followed by the Airbus. In all, passengers had spent 13-16 hours at Kolkata airport in the most trying condition. "It is indeed unfortunate that passengers got caught up in the situation and it happened at an airport where the facilities are primitive," an industry official said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Jet fuel row stalls jumbos. Kolkata airport, India. 305 fliers spend 14 hours on tarmac, 176 wait 19 hours in lounge

A two-hour pit stop proved to be a 14-hour ordeal and more for 481 passengers aboard two Iranian jumbo jets that were stranded at Calcutta airport from Monday night till Tuesday afternoon because of a refuelling dispute.

Airport officials said many of the 305 passengers aboard the larger of the two aircraft, a Boeing 747, were taken ill after spending the entire period cooped up in the stationary plane. One of them required emergency medical attention along with a young woman from the other aircraft, whose 176 passengers were allowed to deplane and spend the night in the transit lounge.

Both aircraft were Bangkok-bound and operated by Mahan Air, an Iranian private airline that buys jet fuel from Indian Oil while flying on the Tehran-Bangkok route. The twin flights were to halt at the city airport for not more than two hours, but Indian Oil apparently refused to provide fuel unless the airline made an immediate payment.

“Planes are refuelled on cash and carry basis and credit is extended to only those airlines with whom we have an arrangement. We do not yet have a credit arrangement with Mahan Air, so we asked it to arrange for the money for the jet fuel. There was no delay on our part,” a senior official of Indian Oil said.

As the stand-off continued through the night, it was left to the director of the city airport to contact the Iranian embassy in Delhi and the Indian Oil head office in Mumbai to initiate negotiations. The airline finally paid the oil company through its official banker, sources said.

The Boeing 747, which had landed in the city at 1.05am, took off for Bangkok at 2.53pm. The Airbus 320, which was on the tarmac since 8.15pm on Monday, left at 3.20pm.

“This is the first known instance of two international flights with so many passengers being stranded for more than a night in Calcutta because of a refuelling issue. Flights suffering technical snags have been stranded here before, but this was a unique situation,” an airport official said.

Those on the Boeing were forced to spend 14 hours inside the aircraft because the transit lounge of the international terminal does not have space for so many people.

None of the passengers aboard either aircraft had an Indian visa, so they couldn’t be allowed beyond the transit lounge either.

Boeing passenger Ghabani Nargis, 56, almost collapsed from nausea, exhaustion and anxiety. Mahanazi Zani, 23, was taken ill in the transit lounge. At least 15 other passengers complained of exhaustion and general discomfort.

“They were unable to eat properly and didn’t get adequate sleep, which triggered these symptoms. The airport doctor examined the two women and gave them medication,” an airport official said.

All the passengers were provided dinner and a breakfast spread of sandwiches, muffins, omelettes, tea and coffee from the restaurant at the international terminal. Around 1pm, lunch was arranged for them through Taj Sats, the catering service provider at Calcutta airport.

Airport sources said 330 lunch packets were sent to the Boeing 747 and 230 of them were served to the Airbus passengers in the transit lounge.

An official of Mahan Air in Calcutta said the airline had been using the city airport as a refuelling halt for over a month. “Until Monday night, we did not have any payment dispute with Indian Oil,” he said.

An Indian Oil functionary said Mahan Air should have followed the protocol for “casual flights” and intimated its fuel requirement ahead of arrival, accompanied by an advance payment.

“Mahan Air had informed us that there would be three flights last week and we did refuel those. It didn’t make an advance payment for the two flights that landed in the city on Monday night,” he alleged.

http://www.telegraphindia.com

JAPAN: All Nippon Airways flight to Naha drops oxygen masks

NAHA, Okinawa Pref. — Emergency oxygen masks were accidentally deployed Monday on an All Nippon Airways flight from Naha to Tokyo's Haneda airport, officials of the carrier said Tuesday.

There were no injuries to its 363 passengers and crew members.

The incident occurred around 8:50 a.m. on ANA flight 120 as it flew over Amami Island in Kagoshima Prefecture after leaving Naha Airport in Okinawa Prefecture about 50 minutes earlier. The oxygen masks for all seats were deployed accidentally, the ANA officials said. The cause was under investigation.

In Private World, Air-Traffic Technology Soars. Commentary by Peter Orszag

 

(Peter Orszag is vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup Inc. and a former director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Without a doubt, GPS, the satellite-based navigation system that has revolutionized travel by car and truck, even by foot, could do the same for commercial air traffic.

President Barack Obama has proposed stepping up government investment in NextGen, a GPS-based air-traffic-control technology that will allow planes to fly closer to one another than they can with human and radar help alone and to follow more direct flight paths. The system is expected to reduce delays and decrease flight times by more than a third, saving billions of dollars for airline companies and for the traveling public. This would mean consuming less jet fuel, so carbon emissions would be lower, too. The change would even improve safety by making us less dependent on sleep-deprived controllers.

So it’s a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, though, the NextGen system is being rolled out in stages, and it isn’t expected to be fully operational in U.S. airports and aircraft until 2020. Even that slow timetable assumes that the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency overseeing the project, receives the necessary funding from Congress and can meet all its deadlines. 

Nonprofit Solution

We shouldn’t have to wait so long. There is a way to move faster, one that would probably also help the NextGen system work more smoothly once it’s in place: Take responsibility for implementing the new GPS system, and for air-traffic control altogether, away from the FAA and assign it to a private, nonprofit organization. (Disclosure: Aerospace clients I work with at Citigroup Inc. would benefit from faster implementation of NextGen.)
 
Almost two dozen other countries have already assigned air- traffic control to either government-owned corporations, nonprofits or other organizations outside of government, and the results have generally been encouraging. As the U.S. Government Accountability Office concluded in a 2005 review, these operators have maintained or even improved air safety, while they have lowered costs and boosted efficiency by investing in new technology.

NAV Canada, for example, is a nonprofit corporation that provides air-traffic control, along with weather reports, flight information and other services. Its revenue comes from fees charged to airlines for this work. Its safety record is excellent. And, compared with the FAA, it tends to be more responsive to innovation and better able to make improvements in technology, investing in the needs of its user airlines.

For example, NAV Canada has developed a touch-screen flight data and display system, called NAVCANstrips, which automates controllers’ work flow and reduces their need to communicate with one another verbally. It integrates tower flight data with information about departures, arrivals and planes en route, as well as radar, weather and the status of runways. This system was developed by controllers themselves, and NAV Canada has sold it to the U.K., Denmark and other countries. (It’s also being used at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.)

The public air-traffic-control system we have in the U.S. began as part of the federal government’s role in air mail, starting in the early 20th century, through the U.S. Postal Service (an agency that should also be moved out of the government, but that’s a different topic). By the 1920s, the government was licensing pilots and issuing certificates of airworthiness for planes.

FAA History

In the late 1930s, Congress explicitly assigned the Civil Aeronautics Authority (the predecessor of the FAA) the job of managing air-traffic control. That was more than 70 years ago, even before the use of radar in civil aviation. Today, air traffic increasingly relies on rapidly evolving technology, and the FAA has, for decades, struggled to keep up.

As late as the 1970s, U.S. air-traffic control was still using light beacons to guide planes at night. As a 2006 review of the agency, by Clinton Oster of Indiana University, concluded, “Concerns about being able to upgrade and expand the air traffic control system to accommodate anticipated growth in air traffic have been almost continual since the early 1960s.”

In 2004, an expert panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences likewise concluded that the FAA lacks the technical expertise needed to build and manage complex air-traffic systems.

An important reason the FAA has had trouble keeping up with technology is that its funding has been unstable and uncertain. Its money comes from two sources, an annual appropriation from Congress, and revenue from the passenger tax. The amount that comes from Congress is always at risk of being reduced, especially when money is tight. And the passenger tax, for its part, is misaligned with the costs of air-traffic control.

The tax is assessed on airlines’ total receipts from ticket sales, but what determines the amount of funding needed is not the number of passengers or the price paid per passenger (which combined determine ticket revenue), but rather the number of flights coming in and out of airports. And that is not directly reflected in the passenger count because it varies depending on size of aircraft and how full the flights are. 

User Pays

A better approach would be for users to pay the whole bill, and for the fees to be imposed based on the number of takeoffs and landings. This would ensure that those who use the air- traffic-control system pay for it, and it would keep funding outside the political process.

To be sure, there are downsides to a user-based revenue model. For example, NAV Canada experienced financial difficulties after the Sept. 11 attacks, when travel declined, diminishing its revenue base. In response, the agency raised user rates, froze employee wages and took other steps to improve its financial health. By 2005, NAV Canada’s finances had stabilized.

Perhaps the biggest objection to shifting air-traffic responsibilities to a nonprofit comes from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. It asserts that private management would create tension between safety and profits -- even though the Canadian agency has an outstanding safety record. Other union concerns could be at least partially mitigated by including protections for controllers in the legislation that would move air-traffic control out of the FAA. For example, in NAV Canada, the unions nominate two members of the board of directors. The Canadian agency also extended pre- existing job security provisions and reached a new collective- bargaining agreement with employees.

This isn’t to say all government functions would be best turned over to private operators. There are some jobs that, over the past two decades, the U.S. has unwisely moved out of government control. In the 1990s, for example, despite some strong objections within the Clinton administration, the government turned over to private operators the U.S. Enrichment Corp., which has the job of enriching nuclear fuel.

The regulation of airline safety and operation should remain the business of the government, as it would pose too many conflicts of interest to have the airlines regulate themselves. But as other countries have shown, air-traffic control can be split off into a nongovernmental entity even while the government retains regulatory oversight of air travel. NAV Canada, especially, provides a model the U.S. would be smart to follow. 

(Peter Orszag is vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup Inc. and a former director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration. The opinions expressed are his own.) 

http://www.bloomberg.com