Thursday, September 22, 2011

Seaplanes: Flying high ... A bird's-eye view

Pilot Edgar 'E.T.' Tello lands his 1947 SeaBee on Lake Norman. When SeaBees were first produced in post-war America they came with a price tag of $3,500.

Trees dot much of Lake Norman’s shorelines. Thick, dense forests often not noticed when boating on the lake or sitting in traffic beside it.

But trees are the first things you notice flying 500 feet above the lake at 100 mph in a refurbished 1947 Republic Seabee seaplane.

The second amazing fact is that you can tour the lake’s 520 miles of shoreline in merely 20 minutes. The third observation is knowing that the plane is supposed to head toward water – when you land - and water sprinkling your feet inside is par for the course, as this amphibious sports aircraft suddenly transforms from plane to pontoon. There’s even an anchor to moor up to an island. The entire experience is like being in a James Bond film.

And that’s when seaplane pilot Edgar Tello turns and smiles. “Have you ever seen the movie “The Man with the Golden Gun?”” he asks, referring to the 1974 Bond flick. “I watched that movie when I was 14 years old. When I saw the scene with the seaplane, I knew someday I had to own one.”

Tello, or “E.T.” as his friends call him, resides with other seaplane enthusiasts in Long Island Airpark, a community of 42 people in Catawba County about 17 miles west of Mooresville. Many residents are current or retired commercial airline pilots, while others are families who enjoy both flying above the lake and boating on it. In this subdivision, planes literally have the right of way. Roads provide cars with areas in which to pull over, and street signs peak no higher than a car door. “Cars must yield to planes, and the street signs can’t be any taller or the plane’s wings would clip them.” explains Tello. Hearing planes venturing from driveways to the neighborhood runway is common.

Having served in the U.S. Air Force for 14 years and currently a 20-year veteran pilot for United Airlines, Tello is completely at home in the air. He and his family moved to the Lake Norman area 10 years ago and have called Long Island Airpark home since 2010. He flies his plane at least once a week. “It’s the way I relax,” says Tello, whose job takes him on weekly international and domestic flights. “I’ll call friends in South Carolina to see if they’d like some company and we share drinks at the dock when I land.”

For those who own seaplanes, flying is just one of many aspects where the passion bubbles over. Like antique car enthusiasts, many pilots purchase old planes that sell for $50,000 (compared to new ones that start at $400,000), tear them apart, and restore them. Tello purchased his Republic Seabee in 1997 and spent countless hours rebuilding it. Akin to boating, seaplane flying is a family affair. Tello’s wife Melissa is pursuing her pilot’s license. Their sons Erick and Austin, who attend college and high school, also share the family’s enthusiasm (the minimum age requirement to obtain a pilot’s license is 16).

But the seaplane pilot family extends beyond spouses and kids. “Seaplane pilots and their families are a close-knit community,” says Tello. “I once brought a friend who’s not a pilot to a fly-in event. He commented how fun it is for our interest to bring us so close together.”

Fly-ins are akin to family reunions: Events held at plane-friendly venues throughout the country where pilots and families gather for a weekend or week of food and fun. Long Island Airpark hosts its annual fly-in every fall. “Fly-ins are all about friendships and having fun,” Tello remarks. “We love sharing our passion for flying.”

Tello embraces opportunities to help others experience – or relive- the joy of flight. “Recently I had the privilege of flying with a former member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a select group of women pilots who flew military aircraft in World War II,” recalls Tello. “She emailed me to say the flight made her feel young again.” Another passenger who accompanied Tello was an Afghanistan War veteran who lost both legs in combat. “I was happy to take him for a flight,” Tello says. “Knowing the sacrifices he made, I was honored to fly with him.”

As the local representative for the Seaplane Pilots Association, an international organization representing the interests of seaplane pilots, Tello hopes to enlighten pilots about the seaplane-friendly communities in the Carolinas and Virginia. “I spend a lot of time flying to events and plane-friendly establishments in other areas of the country, especially the northeast,” says Tello. “Seaplane pilots need to know about Lake Norman, Lake Wylie, and other bodies of water that welcome them.”

Another component of his role is educating the non-flying public about seaplanes. Some resist embracing seaplanes in their lake communities, citing concerns about noise and safety. “Many seaplane pilots have years of professional flying experience, and all must possess a pilot’s license,” Tello says. “How can they be unsafe compared to someone operating a boat for the first time, under the influence of alcohol?”

Seaplanes have come a long way since the first U.S. flight in 1911. “Back then, seaplanes were very flimsy,” Tello says. “You’d sneeze and they would fall apart. Today’s planes are sturdy and sophisticated.”

Long Island Airpark’s grass-carpeted runway makes for a soft takeoff. During an early morning or early evening departure, you might spy a fox sprinting into the surrounding woods. On that same flight the lake shines smooth as glass, making it easy to spot fish jumping in the water below. What a unique way to appreciate the lake surrounding us.

Not to mention all of those trees.

4 Emergency Landings at Guam International Airport Within Past 2 Weeks: United/Continental Says "Safety is Our Top Priority"

Guam - In reaction to the recent rash of emergency landings at Guam International Airport, United/Continental issued a statement today [Friday] saying that the airline "never compromises on safety - it's our top priority."

The statement was issued in response to a request for comment from PNC News following 4 emergency landings by inbound Continental flight to Guam International Airport within the past 2 weeks.

United/Continental's Director of Corporate Communications for the Asia-Pacific Region, Koji Nagata, goes on to state in his release:

"We treat any issue aboard our aircraft seriously and our pilots will not hesitate to declare an emergency, when the situation warrants, in ensuring landing priority and returning our passengers and crew safely to the ground as quickly as possible. Typically a declaration of an emergency is precautionary in nature, as was true with both cases in question, and the situations were effectively managed without incident."

The string of 4 emergency landings began last week, on Sunday September 11th, when the Fiji flight reported a malfunction with its air-speed indicator.

Two days later a flight from Fukoda Japan had to make an emergency landing under Alert-2 conditions [the second highest level of alert]. It reported problems with one of its landing gear. A similar landing gear problem was reported on a flight from the Marshall Islands, also last week.

And yesterday morning [Thursday] Airport Fire & Rescue Units scrambled once again for an Alert 1 emergency landing [Alert 1 is the lowest level of alert]. A continental flight from Cairns that they were experiencing air speed and altitude equipment failure.
All 4 of the flights landed safely and without incident.

READ the statement from United/Continental's Koji Nagata in FULL below:

"United/Continental never compromises on safety – it’s our top priority. We treat any issue aboard our aircraft seriously and our pilots will not hesitate to declare an emergency, when the situation warrants, in ensuring landing priority and returning our passengers and crew safely to the ground as quickly as possible. Typically a declaration of an emergency is precautionary in nature, as was true with both cases in question, and the situations were effectively managed without incident," stated Koji Nagata, Director of Corporate Communications for United / Continental Airlines. "We are proud of our more than 40 years of reliable service to the Guam and Micronesia community. As we go forward to complete the merger, we remain committed to providing our community with safe, clean, and reliable service."

Moncton hoping to become Atlantic air cargo hub

One of Europe's top air cargo hubs has agreed to promote the Greater Moncton International Airport.

The airport has signed an agreement with Liege Airport in Belgium. At the end of 2009, Liege was the eighth biggest cargo airport in Europe. The two airports will work together to set up a direct air link between them.

Rob Robichaud, the head of the Moncton airport authority, said the partnership could lead to a huge jump in traffic.

Liege handles several hundred cargo flights a day from around the world.

Luc Partoune, who speaks for Liege, said Moncton could be part of that international hub, especially in sending seafood to Europe.

He's already working on at least one flight.

"We'll start operation with Icelandic Air from Moncton to Liege via Iceland because it's a main operator in fresh products, fishes and so," said Partoune.

Partoune said the deal will focus on getting planes to bring goods such as fresh fruit to the Maritimes or goods that could be trucked to the United States.

Robichaud said Moncton handles less than five per cent of the air cargo that Liege handles. However, with this deal he hopes some of the big international carriers will give Moncton a try.

"This is going to be huge for us, just having Liege recommending Moncton over any other airport in Atlantic Canada, I believe is going to be very, very beneficial."

Robichaud said an airline almost scheduled a stop in Moncton last week, but the airport's new longer runway still wasn't complete.

He said now that it is, it shouldn't be long before big jets start arriving.

Entrepreneur gets 12 years for fraud: Ohio man claimed to run as many as 20 small businesses, including a charter air service, but admitted in federal court that he devised a fraud scheme to keep them afloat.

Cincinnati entrepreneur Richard T. Brunsman spent much of the $62 million he cheated out of banks on an extravagant lifestyle, according to federal authorities.

And he’ll spend 12 years in prison for it, Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott decided Thursday.

The 45-year-old Green Township man claimed to run as many as 20 small businesses, including a charter air service and several technology start-ups, but admitted in federal court in January that he devised a fraud scheme to keep them afloat.

Brunsman applied for the loans between 2004 and 2010 to pay off other loans he owed, creating false documents including bogus financial statements to obtain the loans.

As part of his sentence, Brunsman must pay back roughly $49 million to 18 banks he cheated.

Brunsman’s bank records show he enjoyed entertaining and spent the money on a home in Cincinnati, a waterfront condo in Florida and a large yacht, according to the federal investigation, which also revealed numerous trips, including some to California and Las Vegas.

“In the end, (Brunsman) left an unparalleled trail of devastation through the Cincinnati banking community,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Mangan wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.

Brunsman’s sentence also demands he forfeit all assets he purchased with fraudulent funds. He is ordered to report to prison Nov. 28.

Helicopter crash simulation at airport training facility

Emergency responders from nearly every agency in Helena were at the Airport Training Center Thursday, simulating a disaster. Beartooth NBC’s Ryan Whalen reports, when a real disaster strikes they all need to work together.

Here's the situation. A Montana National Guard helicopter's gone down with more than twenty people on it. Some are dead, others injured and the aircraft's gone up in flames.

"It's very, very unusual that there's an aircraft where there's a fire,” says Helena Regional Airport Director Ron Mercer. When such an extraordinary disaster happens, multiple agencies will respond. On this day many of them are practicing that scenario. "About 11 different agencies here combined, working together and training so that if an accident happens, you do what you're trained to do when there's an accident, so we have to continue that training,” Mercer.

From the airport to the military, from law enforcement to fire – these agencies are training all the time.

"We train every month, just like the city and others do, but getting everybody together is difficult,” says Mercer.

"Everybody has their little area of specialization that they go on, but when you take that and you put it into an exercise like this or an emergency, you've got to make those rough edges fit,” says Helena Fire Department Chief Steve Larson.

Everyone working well together is vital to proceeding efficiently and safely.

"It's not only cooperation but it's coordination and having that coordination both through, the hands on stuff on the ground but also through the radio communication,” says Chief Larson. When disaster strikes responders have to be ready for everything thrown at them. "We have to train for disasters like this so that unfortunately when they do occur, and they do occur in our community, that we're prepared and we know how to handle it the best we can,” says Chief Larson.

The agencies even held a mock press conference Thursday with media to get a feel for what kind of questions might be asked of them and who to defer to for answers.

Helena Air Service Survey to track interest in low-cost carrier. Helena Regional Airport (KHLN) and Montana Business Assistance Connection

The Helena Regional Airport and Montana Business Assistance Connection, or MBAC, is asking for everyone to take the Helena Air Service Survey.

The survey looks to gauge interest in bringing a new flight opportunity to the Helena Airport. The flight would be from Helena to Billings.

Airport director Ron Mercer says there is great opportunity to bring in the low-cost carrier with the amount of corporate and personal flights in and out of the city. Mercer says Gulfstream currently flies into Billings and he's hoping both Missoula and Helena get on board.

"So, you know if we can show that there's enough interest in the community, then people might fly that.  We're hoping that Gulfstream would take a hard look at putting service into Helena,” says Mercer.

Mercer and members of MBAC highly encourage corporate executives and state agencies to take the survey within the next two weeks.

More flying between Kota Kinabalu and Manila

KOTA KINABALU: An additional flight between Manila and here resulted in an increase in the number of passengers in the first six months of this year as compared to a similar period in 2010.

The thrice weekly connection between the two destinations saw the number of passengers grow from 12,800 between January and June in 2010 to 16,200 passengers during the same period this year, an increase of 27 per cent.

According to Cebu Air Inc. corporate communication specialist Michelle Eve De Guzman, the number of passengers from Manila to Kuala Lumpur (KL) also saw an increase of 31 per cent, from 58,000 in the first six months last year to 76,000 during similar period this year.

“Realising the increase, Cebu Pacific, the largest national flag carrier in the Philippines, decided to increase its direct flights between Manila-KL to 14 flights weekly beginning January 8 next year. This means there will be two flights daily between the routes,” she said.

To date, Cebu Pacific has 10 flights between Manila-KL.

Speaking during a media briefing at the Sabah Tourism Board here yesterday, she added that there was no plan to increase flights or introduce new destinations between Manila and Sabah yet.

“However, eight representatives from top media organisations in the Philippines are currently in Sabah for the Cebu Pacific Backpackers Adventure Challenge. There are four teams, comprising two persons per team, who are going around Sabah to try to do the most activities within five days with a budget of RM1,000. The team with the most activities wins the challenge,” she said.

The participants will then write on the experience here and that it will be like a ‘blueprint’ for Filipinos who wish to spend their holidays in Sabah.

“We hope, through the programme, we will be able to help promote tourism in Sabah and boost our flights,” she said.

Also present at the briefing was STB chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin.

On another development, De Guzman disclosed that Cebu Pacific had ordered 30 new Airbus A321neo and seven A320 aircrafts, all estimated at around USD3.8 billion (RM11.9 billion), the largest single aircraft order ever made by a Philippine carrier.

The order is expected to be delivered between 2015 and 2021, and these are on top of the firm orders for 18 Airbus A320 aircrafts which will arrive in the second half of this year until 2014.

“This increases Cebu Pacific’s total firm orders of Airbus aircraft to 55,” she said.

Budget airlines may revive Macau International Airport

As the local aviation industry begins to claw back some lost ground, low cost carriers may be the solution to revive the airport, said the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation

If a few months ago the Macau International Airport was heading for a ‘perfect storm’, the future now looks less gloomy as interest in Macau is picking up again, said the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), a provider of aviation market intelligence, analysis and data services.

According to the latest report, low cost carriers (LCC), especially those emerging in North Asia, particularly Korea and Japan, may be the answer officials have been looking for to revive the local airport.

“Foreign LCCs and Macau-China Mainland traffic is now driving traffic. The Jetstar Group has even identified Macau as a potential hub option,” CAPA says, adding that “2011 is expected to be a year of stabilisation for Macau, as it begins to claw back some of the lost ground of the past few years”.
“However, growth will likely remain moderate for the foreseeable future,” it warns.

Five months ago CAPA had said the local airport would face “more serious challenges” this year, amid a timid recovery of the aviation industry after a downturn. In the April report, the centre stressed that these challenges were out of Macau International Airport Company’s (CAM) control, calling it a ‘perfect storm’ of external events and strategic shifts in the industry.

“Macau’s aviation market has struggled since 2007 under a strategic, political and operational stalemate, which has seen the collapse of one [Viva Macau] of its two airlines and a sizeable contraction in air passenger and cargo numbers,” CAPA says in this week’s report.

But air traffic is picking up again as for the third consecutive month the number of passengers handled by the local airport increased on a year-on-year basis in August. “The three-month rising trend follows 10 consecutive months of year-on-year declines between August 2010 and May 2011.”

Optimistic forecast

While exact figures are yet to be released, the airport handled around 396,000 passengers last month, an 8.8 percent year-on-year increase.

The comeback began last June, when passenger traffic increased 5 percent to 343,000, with growth of 6.3 percent in July to more than 379,000 passengers.

However last month’s figures are still a far cry from the highs recorded in April 2007, the only month in which the airport handled more than 500,000 passengers.

Macau International Airport reported a 16.8 percent year-on-year decline in revenue in 2010, handling 4.1 million passengers (-4% year-on-year), 52,000 tonnes of cargo (stable) and 37,000 aircraft movements (-8.7%) during the year.

According to CAM, the airport expects to handle 4.2 million passengers, 53,000 tonnes of cargo and 39,000 aircraft movements in 2011.

“Passenger levels are down by 5 percent in the first seven months of 2011, so the full year target could be optimistic,” CAPA said.

“If achieved, it would represent a return to passenger levels last seen in 2005, though freight levels are expected to be around half of the volume handled in 2002.”

The airport’s Master Plan, finalised last July, includes an expansion project slated to accommodate 5.6 million passengers in 2015 and 15 million in 2030, amid plans to further integrate Macau in the Pearl River Delta.

But former airport director José Carlos Angeja, who left the post on September 11, called the project “extremely ambitious”, questioning whether it is really essential, since “the majority of tourists, 80 to 85 percent, don’t use the airport and come to Macau by land.”

He also said he believes that the MSAR airport may not survive regional integration. “Macau’s air space is small, congested and I think these factors can be taken into consideration and that may radically change the plans for the airport,” Angeja said.

Challenges ahead

The most significant and most permanent factor affecting traffic to Macau has been the liberalisation of cross-Strait services between Mainland China and Taiwan.

“Over the past 12 months, there has been a further 19.5 percent slump in weekly capacity between Taiwan and Macau,” the report pinpoints.

Japan-Macau capacity has also declined heavily, by 37.4 percent year-on-year, as a result of the overall decline in demand following the March earthquake and tsunami.

Services between Macau and the Mainland have meanwhile increased strongly, by 35.7 percent, with China overtaking Taiwan as the largest aviation market for Macau.

Within this plan, Air Macau has expanded strongly to the Mainland, as it diverts capacity away from Taiwan.

Capacity to Singapore has expanded over the past 12 months, by 25.1 percent, and also to the Philippines by 13.7 percent, according to the report.

While the outlook is improving, “the challenge - and opportunity - for aviation interests in Macau, is to attract more visitors to the city from outside the day-trip catchment that can access its leisure/gaming facilities by the ground-transportation network,” the report said.

Tourism experts have said Macau should invest more in family-oriented facilities in order to become a global tourism and leisure centre and increase visitor’s length of stay.

Foreign pilots reach for the sky in China

Job opportunities soar as airlines expand, Shi Yingying reports in Shanghai, Xin Dingding and Jiang Xueqing in Beijing.

Roy Weinberg, once a pilot with US Airways, is now a captain for Spring Airlines in China.
[Photo by Gao Erqiang / China Daily]

After spending much of his career with the same airline, Roy Weinberg was, not to put too fine a point on it, bored.

So, about a year ago, the 48-year-old quit his job with US Airways and moved to Shanghai to work as a captain for Spring Airlines.

"I had been doing the same job for 20 years and have another 15 years to go," said Weinberg, who moved to Shanghai before bringing his family of four along.

"I said to myself, 'It's too boring. Let's do something else for a few years and then come back'."

He is not alone. Many of his aviator friends are now flying for airlines in Chengdu and Beijing, he said.

The companies, he said, have a strong demand for foreign pilots, especially younger ones. Spring Airlines, for example, employs a team of 30 foreign pilots, and Hainan Airlines has 46.

By the beginning of 2011, China was home to at least 1,300 foreign flight captains, according to Li Jiaxiang, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

With the expansion of Chinese airlines, a serious shortage of talent has arisen. By 2015, China's aviation industry is expected to need 18,000 more pilots, according to China Business News.

"One of the chief reasons why we are desperate for foreign pilots lies in the long amount of time it takes to prepare our own aviation workers," said Zhang Wu'an, spokesman for Spring Airlines. Training a flight captain in China takes about 10 years, he said.

"Water that's far away doesn't do you much good if you are thirsty now," he said. "The quickest way to supply our needs turned out to be to hire foreign pilots."

A senior manager of a mainland cargo airline, who did not want to give his name, said that when the company was faced with a shortage of flight captains, it quickly began to recruit foreigners.

At a time when more and more air cargo is being transported in China, planes keep being added to the company's fleet and the demand for flight personnel continues to increase. In 2006, the company recruited eight foreign captains.

Between 2009 and 2010, when a group of Chinese flight captains retired, the company found itself without enough personnel to fly its planes. Its demand for foreign workers increased accordingly.

China's system for training pilots requires student to spend about 10 years preparing to become a captain permitted to fly a wide-body plane such as a Boeing 747 or 777, the manager said.

"Even if we had begun to train pilots when the company was founded, we still would not have as many captains as we need," he said.

So the airline went out looking for pilots from other countries. During the recent economic downturn, airlines in Japan, the US and other places cut jobs, giving Chinese airlines an opportunity to recruit large numbers of personnel.

Without much trouble, the company signed contracts with airline captains from more than 10 countries and regions, including Japan, South Korea, Europe and South America. Now more than 50 foreign captains work for the airline, making up 50 percent of the captains and 25 percent of the pilots there. The company plans to keep expanding its fleet in the next four years and eventually hire as many as 120 foreign captains, he said.

Because of the need for pilots, Chinese companies are willing to pay foreign airline captains "more than what they're worth", Weinberg said.

According to Zhang Wu'an, spokesman for Spring Airlines, Spring Airlines offers foreign pilots from $150,000 to $160,000 a year after taxes. The salaries of Chinese pilots, in contrast, usually come to between $93,250 and $108,800 a year.

The anonymous senior manager said Japanese and South Korean airline captains find their after-tax earnings in China are higher than they would be in their home countries.

"Foreigners are willing to come (to China) in part because they believe there will continue to be a strong demand here for air transport, which will give them a stable job," he continued.

What's more, the price of food and many other goods remains fairly low in China, which makes life easier for foreigners. And they often enjoy better terms of employment.

Unlike their Chinese counterparts, who usually sign a 15-year contract with an airline, foreign pilots can sign agreements obliging them to work from one year to three years with a company.

He said foreigners are valued because they can help Chinese pilots learn more about international flight routes and English.

"Even if we will have enough Chinese captains one day, foreign captains are still likely to amount for 20 percent of the total (we employ)," he said. "Such a workforce composition will help to improve the whole team."

In the US and most of the Western world, the oldest pilots and those with the most seniority at a particular airline are given the greatest amount of leeway to pick their own schedules, Weinberg said. That system used to be a cause of annoyance to many of his younger friends who now fly for Chinese airlines.

"Back in the US, their schedules weren't so good," he said. "That's why they took a leave to fly in China until they get better pay."

Chinese airlines prefer to hire young pilots in part because the country's retirement age in that profession is 60, five years in advance of what the age is in most other places in the world. The youngest foreign captains at Spring Airlines are in their 30s, said Xiao Fei, who works for the airlines' foreign pilot and student pilot management office.

Despite the increasing number of foreign pilots in China, the public had not paid much attention to them until a recent incident involving a South Korean caught its notice.

On Aug 13, the captain of a Juneyao Airlines flight ignored instructions coming from air traffic controllers at the Shanghai Hongqiao airport and refused to delay his own landing to give another aircraft time to make an emergency touchdown. The pilots of both planes said they were about to run out of fuel.

But an investigation by the Civil Aviation Administration of China found that the Juneyao Airbus 320-200 contained enough fuel to stay in the air for another 42 minutes, while the Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER could only remain in flight for 18 minutes.

Found to be in the wrong, the captain of the Juneyao flight was banned from continuing to work as a pilot in China. Among other punishments, the company is now prohibited from pursuing its expansion plans or hiring foreign workers.

Weinberg said the incident should be taken as a sign that China should improve the system it uses to ensure the safety of passengers and flight crews, rather than simply as something the captain should be punished for.

"This incident is a perfect example to show that more than one person needs to take responsibility," he said.

"There were lots of things that happened that created the situation. It wasn't one person making one decision at one time. It was a large event. In China, a captain is always the one who gets in trouble, while in America, everybody takes responsibility."

Why, Weinberg asked, isn't anyone looking at the part played in the incident by the air control officer who spoke to the pilot? He knew the person he was speaking to was a foreigner yet still spoke only in Chinese.

"It happened to me before," he continued. "They always speak Chinese to me. My first officer has to interpret for me since I don't know Chinese."

Zhang Qihuai, an aviation law expert with the Beijing-based Lan Peng Law Firm, later verified Weinberg's statement by saying "language turned out to be one of the chief causes of the incident".

Even though English has been designated as the official language to be used in communications about international flights, as well flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in China, Xiao said air controllers still speak Chinese to foreign pilots during peak flight hours.

"What happened to me many times is that everybody around me is getting commands in Chinese, and I'm the only English-speaking (pilot) in the air," Weinberg said. "They speak to me in English, but speak to everybody else in Chinese. I don't know what's happening since I don't know what other airplanes around me are doing."

If even one pilot is speaking English on airline radios, air traffic controllers should speak English to everyone else who is flying nearby, he said.

To prevent an incident like the one involving the South Korean from occurring, he said China should review the system it uses to ensure the safety of flights.

"Punishing one pilot doesn't solve any problem," he said.

Alaska Air National Guard HH-60 Pavehawk and HC-130 King search for 2 hunters northeast of Fort Yukon.

Two hunters are missing and believed to be stranded in northeast Alaska after an unknown problem with the boat in which they were traveling, according to the Alaska Air National Guard, which searched for the men Thursday.

Four hunters were traveling in two boats when one of the boats was damaged, sunk or somehow became otherwise inoperable, said Guard spokesman Maj. Guy Hayes. The problem occurred Saturday on the Sheenjek River, said Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.

The Sheenjek flows into the Porcupine River, a tributary of the Yukon River, about 15 miles northeast of Fort Yukon.

After noting their location with a GPS device -- about 80 miles northeast of Fort Yukon -- two of the men took the remaining boat to Fort Yukon while their hunting companions stayed behind, Hayes said.

The two men reached Fort Yukon and called home Wednesday, Peters said. Their family members contacted Alaska State Troopers later the same day while U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel searched by air and water for the two hunters still in the field, Peters said. That search turned up no sign of the missing men, but troopers think they might be farther upriver than initial reports indicated, Peters said.

Troopers asked for help Thursday from the Guard's Rescue Coordination Center, Hayes said. The Guard sent an HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks and an HC-130 King fixed-wing plane from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage to look for the missing men, Hayes said.

"Our guys went up there to specific coordinates where we thought they were going to be, and they weren't in that location," Hayes said. "The Guardsmen are doing a search of the area to see if we can locate them."

The search will continue by boat and by plane Friday, Hayes and Peters said. "We suspect the two hunters in the field are running out of supplies, which is why we are going up after them," she said.

Tina Boren -- the wife of Chris Boren, one of the two missing hunters -- said she heard they had minimal supplies. "They left my husband with a sleeping bag, a gun and a piece of meat on the side of the river," she said.

Thomson Airways Boeing 737-800 landed on Cyprus taxiway instead of runway

Cyprus Civil Aviation officials are investigating how a Thomson Airways Boeing 737-800 from England failed to land on the runway at Paphos airport and landed instead on the parallel taxiway.

Flight BY-3351 had departed from Doncaster with a delay of three hours and with 192 passengers and 7 crew on board was cleared to land on the runway when the aircraft aligned with the parallel taxiway and touched down on that taxiway on Wednesday afternoon.

The aircraft rolled out safely and taxied to the apron. As result of the incident a replacement crew was flown to Paphos and returned to Doncaster with a delay of 10.5 hours.

Paphos airport underwent a major overhaul in 2008 and the taxiway had no clear markings.

In a statement to the Cyprus News Agency, operator Hermes Airports spokesman Adamos Aspris said “this was surely a development no one expected. It is a serious incident and the authorities are conducting a thorough investigation.”

Boeing 737-800: Incident occurred November 02, 2015 in Nicosia, Cyprus

NTSB Identification: DCA16WA016
Incident occurred Monday, November 02, 2015 in Nicosia, Cyprus
Aircraft: BOEING 737, registration:
Injuries: 185 Uninjured.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The Accident Investigation Board of Turkey (AAIB) has notified the NTSB of an incident involving a Boeing 737-800, which occurred on November 2, 2015. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the AAIB investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13 as the State of Manufacture and Design of the airplane.

All investigative information will be released by the Accident Investigation Board of Turkey.

Pan Am Worldwide Reunion to Visit Only Surviving Division - Pan Am International Flight Academy

MIAMI, Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Pan Am International Flight Academy is a scheduled stop for the much anticipated "Worldwide Family Reunion" of former Pan Am Employees being held October 20 - 23, 2011 in Miami, Florida.

Former employees, friends and family of Pan Am International Flight Academy's founding airline, Pan American Airways, affectionately known as Pan Am, together with aviation aficionados from all over the globe and every division of the company, are expected to attend the reunion being held in the Dinner Key/Coconut Grove area of Miami. Attendees will be celebrating the Centennial of Aviation in Miami as they honor the enormous part the airline played in shaping aviation history while also marking 20 years since the close of one of the country's most iconic pioneering companies.

Interest in "Pan Am" is at an all-time high. Along with the noteworthy rise and continued success of the former airline's only remaining division, Pan Am International Flight Academy - providing training solutions worldwide, there is the much-anticipated ABC network television series "Pan Am," and the musical "Catch Me If You Can" is now running on Broadway.

Pan Am International Flight Academy president Vito Cutrone enthusiastically welcomes former fellow employees: "...In many ways we are all part of a very special family with an aviation legacy second to none..." Speaking of his own personal experience as a former Pan Am Airways pilot, managing director and head of its training division, Mr. Cutrone said: "...Working for Pan Am was an amazing experience! It wasn't unusual to be treated as if you were the U. S. Ambassador to the country you happened to be in.... such was the respect the airline had throughout the world." PAIFA intends to receive this special group with open arms and provide tours of its facilities and operations, which include over 19 different types of full-flight jet simulators.

The Pan Am Airways Memorabilia Store located within Pan Am International Flight Academy campus at the Miami International Airport, features a combination of original items, reproductions and new products adorned with the Pan Am logo that are difficult to find anywhere else. The staff of the Pan Am Store are all original Pan Am employees and have a wealth of knowledge about the airline.

Other reunion events include a "Hangar Party," to be held in the historic Coast Guard Hangar on the shores of Biscayne Bay in Dinner Key which the original Pan Am Clippers once called home during the pioneering days of aviation, as well as tours of the special exhibit "Aviation in Miami: The First 100 Years" at HistoryMiami in downtown Miami.

For complete reunion schedule and registration details visit:


Pan Am International Flight Academy website:

The link to the memorabilia store can be found at:

Press Release images can be downloaded at:

Image list includes: 1) Pan Am heritage illustration 2) Pan Am store 3) PAIFA World headquarters exterior at Miami International Airport 4) PAIFA lobby 5 PAIFA logo 6) B737 NG full flight simulator at Miami training center 8) old Pan Am Airways logo 9) Pan Am Airways planes in 1970s

Press Release Note: Pan Am International Flight Academy is willing to provide additional information and interviews to support editorial interests relating to this release or any other subject pertaining to our operations. We welcome inquiries.

SOURCE Pan Am International Flight Academy

VIRGINIA BEACH: Stunt pilots tout safety record ahead of Oceana Air Show

Bob Carlton squeezed into the cockpit of his tiny glider – a fragile-looking, 450-pound craft he outfitted with a jet engine. He was all smiles when describing how he’ll fall out of the sky at the Oceana Air Show this weekend, flip, roll and stop hearts by skimming just 10 feet off the ground at 150 mph.

Mention “the deadly weekend” and his hackles rise. It doesn’t matter that Carlton didn’t personally know either of the veteran pilots who crashed within 24 hours of each other last weekend. Air jockeys may be an independent bunch, but they’re united by a love for aerobatic flying, an experience that would terrify most of us.

“We’re proud of our safety record,” said Carlton, a 51-year-old rocket scientist from New Mexico who’s been doing air shows since 1993. “But when there’s an accident, the Jerry Springers come out of the woodwork. It’s disrespectful.”

Still, it’s one thing for a pilot to go down in flames; it’s another when spectators get killed. Medical examiners are still sorting out the body parts in Nevada, where an air race last Friday left 11 dead in Reno and dozens injured.

In the face of such carnage, the air show industry and its performers are worried that fans will stay away. They’re anxious to draw a distinction between shows like Oceana’s and races like Reno’s.

Air show regulations put more distance between aircraft and audience – at least 500 feet – and direct a plane’s “aerobatic energy” away from the crowd.

“You cannot point your plane at the crowd while performing an aerobatic maneuver,” said John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows in Leesburg, Va.

All stunts must take place within what Cudahy described as an invisible box measuring 2 miles long, 15,000 feet high and 3,000 feet wide: “Nobody else can be under or inside that box during a performance.”

Those precautions were put in place after a disaster in 1951, when 20 people – including 13 children – were killed at a show in Colorado. One spectator died the following year, but none have been killed at a North American show since, a safety record that extends to the 300-plus shows held every year in the United States and Canada, which draw up to 12 million fans.

In other countries, where the action roars closer to the crowds, casualties occur more often: 38 people were injured and one killed at a show in Germany last year. In 2002, 77 people died and 100 were injured in the Ukraine.

“In Europe, the set-back distances are not as great,” Cudahy said. “When the Europeans come here, they laugh at how far away our jets are. They say, ‘You guys are a bunch of sissies.’ And I say, ‘Yeah? Well, we’ve never killed spectators.’ ”

Not so with the performers. Years pass with no fatalities, but last weekend brought 2011’s death toll to three pilots and two wing-walkers.

“They try to mitigate the risks,” Cudahy said, “but accidents will happen.”

The Oceana show, one of the biggest in the country, has just one dark spot on its 58-year history. A pilot with a skywriting team died during a practice session in 2007.

“The Oceana crash is a tragic but excellent way to make my point,” Cudahy said. “The pilot crashed inside that aerobatic box. No one else was killed.”

The same goes for Saturday’s crash at an air show in West Virginia:

“The pilot impacted the ground more than 1,000 feet from the audience,” Cudahy said.

At the Reno air race – the only one of its kind in the world – pilots are locked in a high-speed, wing-tip-to-wing-tip scramble for a finish line. Stretches of the oval course carry planes much closer to the audience.

Bill Leff, a precision flier from Ohio and one of Oceana’s headliners, was in the racing pits at the Reno show, about 100 yards from the crash.

“The odd thing was, there were only seconds of exposure where it could have happened,” Leff said. “There were miles of the course where it would have been away from people. It was a fluke.”

Investigators still aren’t sure what caused pilot Jimmy Leeward to lose control.

“I’m an eyewitness,” Leff said, “and I cannot tell you what went wrong. I can speculate, but that wouldn’t be fair to Jimmy.”

The pilots are sensitive to reputation. The days of “circus acts” and seat-of-the-pants “barnstorming” are long gone.

“Air shows are flown by professional people, not stunt pilots,” Leff said. “Everything is programmed, choreographed and practiced to the nth degree.”

As for its death-defying image: “That’s the illusion of it,” Leff said. “It’s not like NASCAR, where you’re bumping each other, trying to make the other guy lose control. We demonstrate precision flying in an entertaining way that gives the illusion that what we do is dangerous, but it’s really not. That’s why there’s such a big headline when someone gets killed. It’s rare.”

After 14 years with the air show council, Cudahy said he’s still awed by the skill of aerobatic pilots. True, it’s hard to top military pilots, who land jets on pitching aircraft carriers in the dark of night.

“But people who have done that look at air-show pilots and say, ‘What we do is tough, but what they do is every bit as tough.’ To see an airplane spin tail-over-propeller is unnatural. It’s amazing that they can control those forces.”

Leff, who specializes in low-attitude maneuvers, including his signature roll on take-off, has been flying air shows for 35 years. He says it’s all a matter of what a person gets used to:

“You couldn’t get me on a roller coaster for anything.”

Colleagues killed in fiery crashes won’t cause Leff or Carlton to give up the cockpit.

“No more than you’d give up driving if your friend died in a car wreck,” said Carlton.

Besides, “The person who died in that plane crash doesn’t want you to stop flying,” Leff said, “because they loved it.”

Oceana’s commanding officer, Capt. Jim Webb, said the recent accidents won’t bring changes to the local show, which starts this evening, runs through Sunday and is expected to attract 300,000 spectators.

“There will always be people who’ll make the decision not to come,” Webb said, “but by and large, the American public loves watching a good air show.”

Last weekend’s casualties were “a real tough thing for everybody in the industry,” Cudahy said. But its members will do what they always do when their professsion turns deadly:

“They’ll honor the memory of a friend by paying close attention to what happened, so they don’t repeat it themselves.”

Helicopter catches on fire after making an emergency landing - Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture - Japan.

Smoke alarm: A helicopter catches fire Thursday after making an emergency landing in Higashikagawa, Kagawa Prefecture.

TAKAMATSU, Kagawa Pref. — A helicopter made an emergency landing and caught fire Thursday in Higashikagawa, Kagawa Prefecture, but the three men onboard escaped injury, police said.

After departing Takamatsu airport around 9:25 a.m., the pilot saw smoke coming from the aft end of the aircraft, which was chartered by Shikoku Electric Power Co. to check for typhoon damage to power cables, police said. The pilot made the emergency landing in a baseball field around 10:20 a.m. The aircraft went up in flames after the pilot and the two power company employees got out.

The Eurocopter-made aircraft operated by Shikoku Air Service Co., based in Takamatsu, was scheduled to return to the airport around 11:25 a.m. The Transport Safety Board dispatched two investigators to the accident site.

Mississippi: Transportation Security Administration Official Charged In Woman's Stabbing Death. (With Video)

[Ruben Benitez]
D'Iberville Police Dept.

D'IBERVILLE, Miss. -- A high-ranking TSA official has been arrested in connection with the death of 43-year-old Stacey Wright, who was found dead earlier this week inside her D'Iberville apartment.

Police Chief Wayne Payne said his department's investigation began Saturday night, when a concerned relative called to ask that police check on Wright. They were unable to locate her.

Police found Wright's body Sunday morning after building security unlocked the apartment door for them. She had been stabbed to death, Payne said.

Ruben Orlando Benitez, 45, of Jackson, was arrested in Jackson on Tuesday and is charged in connection with Wright's death, Payne said.

Investigators said Benitez and Wright both worked for the Transportation Security Administration. Benitez is second in command at Jackson's TSA.

Police said Benitez and Wright got into an altercation Saturday at Wright's apartment, which led to her death. TSA officials would not discuss the relationship between the two.

Benitez was being held at the Harrison County Adult Detention Center on a $3 million bond.

Watch Video:

John Travolta: I'm Flying My Family All Over the Globe

Most families buy plane tickets when they want to go on vacation. The Travoltas? They buy a new plane.

John Travolta recently purchased a Bombardier Challenger 601 jet that he and his family will use to travel around the globe, much to the delight of his wife and kids.

"My family fortunately loves traveling," the newly announced Bombardier brand ambassador told PEOPLE Tuesday. "Whenever I say, 'I have to go to Australia or Paris,' they say, 'When are we going? I'm there.' "

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British Columbia, Canada: Flights into Comox Valley Airport create economic spinoffs.

An economic impact study released late last week by the Comox Valley Airport (YQQ) shows that adding new flights would pump millions of dollars into the local economy.

The Comox Valley Airport released the results of a new economic impact study that demonstrates the extensive benefits to the local economy from potential new air service in the Comox Valley.

“An airport connects a community to the rest of the world and promotes economic well being within that community," said CEO Shirley de Silva. "The economic impact of a new air service is impressive and demonstrates what an important investment YQQ is for the Comox Valley as a whole. For example, establishing a once-daily service to the United States would result in more than $24 million in direct annual economic impact for this area.”

The study conducted by InterVISTAS Consulting Group reports on the direct impact a new air service would have on the airport and visitor spending in the Comox Valley.

InterVISTAS is a leading worldwide aviation consulting firm that conducts studies which document the wide ranging economic stimulus generated by an airport. The study completed for YQQ takes employment, wages, gross domestic product (GDP) and economic output into account.

“Each time a plane lands at YQQ, it generates labour hours for individuals involved in handling passengers, their baggage and the aircraft," said de Silva. "Direct impacts can also be attributed to businesses within the terminal building. The establishment of new air service at YQQ would also bring in more tourists who will spend money on food, lodging and entertainment in the Comox Valley region.”

The study looked at three potential scenarios and the associated economic benefit for each:

• A once-daily year-round domestic air passenger service operated with a 119-seat B737-600 aircraft;

• A once-daily year-round transborder air passenger service operated with a 70-seat Q400 aircraft;

• A once-weekly seasonal international air passenger service to Europe operated with a 250-seat aircraft.

The final report, which can be found at us/publications, details numerous findings, including the combined direct annual impact on the airport and visitor spending for each of the three potential new air service scenarios.

In pursuit of its strategic vision to expand air service, the Comox Valley Airport has been working for the past 10 months to identify and build business cases for possible new routes.

Following the release of this economic study, YQQ will now work to finalize an incentive program that will help strengthen its business case for airlines.

“Airlines must invest substantial upfront costs to initiate a new service," said de Silva. "As airlines face more and more pressure to decrease their costs, incentive policies are growing in popularity and magnitude around the world. Successful airports need successful and profitable aviation partners, and without them, we would be unable to justify our existence.”

YQQ will work with its community partners to obtain marketing support for any new service that is established in the community. This ensures a commitment for the airline that the airport and the community will work co-operatively to ensure the service is promoted within the community and that the Comox Valley is promoted as a destination for inbound tourists.

The airport will also look at its own fee structure and other incentive possibilities for airlines looking to establish new service at YQQ.

— Comox Valley Airport

Former Transportation Security Administration manager at Chicago O'Hare International Airport (KORD) charged with murder in Mississippi.

A top federal Transportation Security Administration official who until 2008 worked at O’Hare Airport is being held in a Mississippi jail, accused of murdering a co-worker.

Ruben Orlando Benitez — whose family still lives in Chicago — is charged with the murder of TSA worker Stacey Wright, 43.

Mississippi authorities allege the 45-year-old stabbed Wright to death at her home in D’Iberville.

He began as a screener at O’Hare but was promoted to transportation security manager before he was transferred to Jackson, Miss., where he was assistant federal security director, according to the TSA.

Benitez had worked with Wright at Jackson Airport and had a relationship with her, D’Iberville Police spokesman Clay Jones said.

Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (KEWN), New Bern, North Carolina: Expansion Unlikely For Runway That Couldn't Accommodate Honor Flight.

Brices Creek borders the main runway at Coastal Carolina Regional Airport

CRAVEN COUNTY -- The runway at Coastal Carolina Regional Airport wasn't long enough to accommodate the Wednesday night landing of the Honor Flight.

The flight took a group of veterans to Washington, D.C. and was scheduled to return to New Bern.

With the plane on the tarmac in the nation's capital, the pilot announced that the plane was too heavy to land in New Bern; the flight ended up diverting to Cherry Point.

Coastal Carolina's runway, at 6,000 feet, isn't likely to be extended, according to Tom Braaten, the airport's director.

The runway is hemmed in one side by Williams Road, and on the other side by Brices Creek.

But those limitations don't pose a problem to the airport, Braaten said.

"Right now we don't need a real long runway for the aircraft that we handle on a regular basis," he said.

If growth necessitated the question of expanding the runway, options would include filling Brices Creek or building a bridge over the waterway.

"Either way, it would be real hard" and likely encounter opposition, Braaten said.

The runway will, however, expand at its fringes.

A 150-foot paved safety zone will soon be added to the Williams Road side of the runway, Braaten said.

Another short section will be added to the creek side, along with a stretch of crushable concrete meant to stop a plane in the event of an emergency.

County leaders voted this summer to accept approximately $200,000 in federal grant money towards the project.

Australia battling to keep fighter contract

More than $40million worth of work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter due to have been carried out by a failed Melbourne firm may leave Australia.

Lockheed Martin vice-president Stephen O'Bryan stopped short of guaranteeing work contracted to Production Parts would be reallocated to other Australian suppliers yesterday.

Asked if the work would definitely stay in Australia he said, ''We are doing our best to make sure that happens. There's still work to be done in making sure we do best value.''

He said Lockheed Martin was talking to Marand, a Victorian-based JSF contractor currently developing an aerostructures manufacturing facility near Geelong. Mr O'Bryan was in Canberra to deliver an upbeat briefing to Australian media on the current status of the JSF project.

His visit is part of an international effort to get the word out the program is tracking well against new schedules adopted at the start of the year.

With testing of all three variants of the plane now on schedule, Lockheed Martin was further buoyed yesterday by news the United States Government had submitted an F-35 proposal to the Japanese Government for consideration.

Tokyo is expected to make a decision on an order for 40 to 50 planes by December.

Production Parts also held contracts to make parts for the alternate JSF engine, the F136 that had been under development by General Electric and Rolls Royce.

The cancellation of that engine was one of the reasons given for the company's collapse.

It went into liquidation, with the loss of 85 jobs, earlier this month.

Asked if GE and Rolls Royce were still working on the second JSF engine Mr O'Bryan said that was a question for them.

''The F136 is not funded,'' he said. ''[As far as Lockheed Martin is concerned] there is only one engine on the F-35 project - the F135.''

There are concerns other small Australian aeronautical firms may go to the wall with speculation mounting the US Government may cut or defer its JSF order.

The president of the Australian Industry Defence Network, Graham Priestnall, said the collapse of Production Parts was symptomatic of problems across the industry.

''At least 10 of our members in the last six to eight months have either closed their businesses altogether or moved out of Defence,'' he said.

The loss of Production Parts had been a significant blow.

''It is very sad to see an Australian small to medium enterprise that has developed a lot of capability come on these hard times,'' he said. ''AIDN will be keeping a close eye on how the JSF program goes in relation to our members' participation.

''Any reduction in the number of planes ordered or delays in schedule does have the potential to adversely affect Australian [small to medium enterprises] that have signed up for the [JSF] project.''

Lockheed Martin's Mr O'Bryan said the company had taken pains to ensure suppliers - such as Production Parts - were given the information they needed.

''We have done a lot of work, and we continue to work with our suppliers, on the profile giving them a lead time with the help of the US Government and the [international] partners to understand when the quantities will come so they will invest smartly,'' he said.

Airbus ready to support squeezed buyers if needed

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus said on Thursday it stood ready if needed to help its customers overcome growing fears of a squeeze on aircraft financing as the industry suffers a knock-on effect from Europe's debt crisis.

French banks that specialize in bankrolling the $80 billion annual jetliner market have scaled down their lending amid problems in securing access to dollars, as U.S. investors withhold deposits from those perceived as exposed to Greece.

Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders told a French newspaper that he did not yet foresee the need for drastic action, but expressed some concern over the dwindling supply of funding.

"In the short term we are worried to see that access to bank credit could once again become scarce, in particular long-term financing in dollars from some European banks," Chief Executive Tom Enders told Le Figaro in an interview.

However, he stressed that other sources of finance including U.S. and Chinese banks and capital markets remained available.

Asked whether Airbus would offer support to its clients, he said, "We did it in 2008-2009, and if needed we are ready to do it again."

Enders' comments were published in early editions of Friday's Le Figaro and released late on Thursday.

Shares in Airbus parent EADS fell 7.9 percent to 20.89 euros earlier on Thursday as European shares slumped to a 26-month closing low.

Airbus also said earlier it would buy a majority stake in a German parts supplier hit by liquidity problems.

Despite record numbers of aircraft leaving Airbus (EAD.PA) and Boeing (BA.N) to meet demand from rising economies, doubts are spreading as to how the growth will be financed.

Lenders and airlines were warned earlier this week that the global aviation industry could be hit by Europe's debt crisis and worries surrounding French banks, which took part in 30 percent of aircraft transactions in 2010.

French banks are fighting to restore confidence after suffering a sharp summer sell-off, driven by fears they are too dependent on wholesale market funding and would be ill-equipped to cope with the fallout from a Greek debt default.

On the business outlook for Airbus, Enders said the France-based company was heading for one of its strongest years in 2011 as it raises output, despite the recent market turmoil.

He did not see any sign of a recession.

He said he would a few months' delay in starting the final assembly of the first A350, due late in 2011, if that meant assembly lines were fully prepared, than risk a repeat of bottlenecks that plagued the A380 superjumbo a few years ago.

Mama's Voodoo Magic Can't Save Drug-Trafficking Son From Getting Busted At JFK. John F Kennedy International Airport (KJFK) New York, New York.

Who do the voodoo? (via

Here's a little tale of motherly love gone awry. When a baggage handler who worked at JFK was busted for running a drug-trafficking ring, his mother flew to Africa to hire a shaman to put a voodoo curse on the prosecutor's handling the case. Kind of sweet, isn't it? But now they're both in some legal hot water that even a mystical hex can't fix.
Spirited ‘drug’ defense
Ma hired witch doc to ‘curse’ prosecutors