Wednesday, October 05, 2011

'Sell' tower? Airport considers putting ads on control tower. Rogue Valley International - Medford Airport (KMFR), Medford, Oregon.

Medford's airport director is trying to get permission from the city to sell advertising signs on the four sides of the airport's control tower

Photo Credit:  Bob Pennell
Branding the 100-foot tall control tower at the Medford airport with a company logo would be a money maker for the Jackson County-owned facility. But first it has to get past some dubious city officials.

"Most people just get this funny look on their face and say it doesn't make sense to me," said Dave McFadden, a Medford Planning Commission member.

Bern Case, director of the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, said he is negotiating with a company interested in placing signs on all four sides of the tower, similar to the kind of corporate branding at the U.S. Cellular Community Park.

Continued... Read More:

Business jets for an austere age

NEXTANT AEROSPACE, which started up four years ago, has come up with an interesting idea for these cost-conscious times. Its 400XT business jet is not at first glance a particularly austere craft, costing in excess of $4m. But the company says the plane’s performance—its range, speed and particularly its operating economics—makes it comparable with craft costing well over twice as much.

Nextant keeps prices low by “re-manufacturing” (its own term) existing planes. As a result the company's research and development costs, which can be $500m to $1 billion to bring a plane to market, are minimal. The 400XT uses the frame of a Beechjet 400A/XP, which is stripped down to its metal skeleton and inspected. An array of whizzy new components are added on, including—for those who know their planes—a Williams International FJ44-3AP engine, more aerodynamic nacelles (the structures that surround the engine) and Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics. After more work on the interior, the Nextant 400XT emerges into the world with all the attributes of a new plane.

Jay Heublein of Nextant says his company chose the Beechjet 400A/XP as its platform because it has a proven service history and the original fuselages are engineered extremely well. It also helps that around 600 of the planes have been made, so a goodly supply exists for conversion to 400XTs. You can buy a second-hand, 20-year-old Beechjet 400A for around $1m.

The Federal Aviation Administration has just given the re-manufactured Nextant 400XT the necessary certification, and it is ready to be sold on the open market. Flight Options, a company providing fractional ownership of private jets, has already put in an order for 40. Looking forward, Nextant must sit and hope that the tribulations of the American economy don't discourage private-jet users. In the worst of times, $4m still sounds like quite a lot.

Marine fighter jets to train at Andersen Air Force Base - Guam

Beginning Saturday, 20 F/A-18 fighter jets from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, will be on island to train at Andersen Air Force Base.

Some 400 personnel including those from the Marine Aircraft Group 12 will participate in the air-to-air and air-to-ground training, according to a release from 36th Wing Public Affairs, Andersen Air Force Base. The training exercise is expected to run through the end of the month.

There may be an increase in noise from the fighters, but residents shouldn't be alarmed, Air Force spokeswoman Tech. Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio said.

"Andersen has a rotational fighter tour part of the theater security package," she said. "It's nothing new. It's just something different as far as having Marine Corps aircraft here."

Service members from Marine Aircraft Group 12 also will keep busy in various events in the local community during their stay here, Del Vecchio said. They will volunteer their time at different schools for Red Ribbon Week, participate in activities for youths at the Department of Youth Affairs, paint bus stops and volunteer during the Guam Ko'ko' Race set for this month.

Throughout the year, Andersen hosts several aircraft training events in addition to the permanently stationed RQ-4 Global Hawks, tanker, fighter aircraft and bomber training.

See how the SpiceJet Q400 NextGen Turboprop is assembled at Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. (Video)

TOUCHDOWN! Virgin Atlantic Airways Launches Talent Search to Find the Ultimate Football Fan to Serve as the Airline's Red Hot Reporter for the NFL International Series

Virgin Atlantic's Third Season as the Official Airline of the NFL International Series game, this year between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chicago Bears at London's Wembley Stadium

SOUTH NORWALK, Conn., Oct. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- To celebrate the 2011 NFL International Series game, Virgin Atlantic Airways has launched a virtual talent search to identify the ultimate football fan, who will serve as the airline's Red Hot Reporter covering the game live from Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday, October 23.

The winner and a guest will receive a VIP trip to London for the game, including round trip Premium Economy airfare on Virgin Atlantic Airways and hotel accommodations for the duration of their stay. While in London, the Virgin Atlantic Red Hot Reporter will serve as the airline's ambassador to the game chronicling the trip via Twitter and Facebook. Highlights of this ultimate gridiron experience include attending team practices and press conferences, NFL events in Trafalgar Square as well as a pregame sideline experience. For the game, the reporter will sit in the Virgin Atlantic suite at Wembley.

NFL fans 21 and older can enter by tweeting @VirginAtlantic using the hashtag #RedHotReporter. The Red Hot Reporter talent search runs through October 10, at which time Virgin Atlantic will select the NFL fan with the strongest social media presence. All terms and conditions are available at: .

"The NFL International Series offers the perfect opportunity to align our brand with one of the most recognizable sporting entities in the world," said Chris Rossi, Senior Vice President, North America at Virgin Atlantic. "This is the third year that we have partnered with the NFL, allowing both brands to further expand their reach on both sides of the Atlantic. We look forward to this year's match-up and are excited to host our guests at the game, including our Red Hot Reporter."

The Buccaneers and Bears will depart on chartered Virgin Atlantic flights from Tampa Bay, Florida, and from Chicago, respectively, arriving at London's Heathrow airport for the short journey to Wembley Stadium. The planes will feature Virgin Atlantic's award-winning cabins, including Upper Class and Premium Economy seating, ensuring that coaches and players arrive well-rested in advance of the game. During the flights, the teams will enjoy customized menus tailored to fit the players' diets and will be able to relax with inflight entertainment that includes personal screens featuring a media library with more than 300 hours of on-demand audio and video.

"We are delighted to be continuing our relationship with Virgin Atlantic as we prepare for the fifth International Series game in London," said Chris Parsons, NFL Vice-President of International. "Virgin Atlantic has consistently provided an excellent level of service for our traveling teams and we are excited to be enhancing the partnership to include new initiatives this year."

In addition to flying both teams to London, Virgin Atlantic will extend the agreement with a range of sponsorship activities in the UK. This will include reaching U.S. and UK American football fans at the NFL's public fan rally at Trafalgar Square as well as hosting a hospitality event for key customers and guests at Wembley Stadium in true Virgin fashion.

Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club loyalty program is offering its members the chance to experience the game and London by entering a sweepstakes to win roundtrip airfare, two nights hotel stay at St. Martin's Lane and game day seats in the Virgin suite. Plus the winners will be able to attend a pre-game tailgate party.

For additional information on Virgin Atlantic Airways, visit and for details on the 2011 NFL International Series, visit .

About Virgin Atlantic Airways

Virgin Atlantic Airways, one of the world's leading long-haul airlines, was founded in 1984, and currently has 38 aircraft in its fleet. Virgin Atlantic offers service from 10 U.S. cities to London and onto a range of long-haul destinations worldwide. From its main base at London Heathrow and Gatwick, Virgin Atlantic services destinations as far apart as Las Vegas, Tokyo, Delhi, Boston and Shanghai. Even with Virgin Atlantic's continued growth, the service still remains customer driven with an emphasis on value for money, quality, fun and innovation ensuring flying Virgin Atlantic is always an event. Pioneering many air travel innovations, Virgin Atlantic received a number of 2010 travel trade awards including for the third consecutive year, Travel Weekly's "Best International Airline," Global Traveler's "Best Airline for Premium Economy Class," Business Traveler's "Best Premium Economy Class in the World" and for the first time, "Best Airport Clubs/Lounges." To book travel, please contact 800-862-8621. For additional information, visit .

SOURCE Virgin Atlantic

Moscow, Russia: Minor airlines must be united or merge with giants - Deputy prime minister

Minor airlines must get consolidated or merged with leading air companies or quit the market, a deputy prime minister said during a business forum in Moscow on Wednesday.

Russia has seen an increasing number of air crashes in the past year, with the latest accident killing a local hockey team and crew totaling 43 people.

"You will never convince me that 139 air companies can be efficient," Sergei Ivanov said emphatically at the Expert-400 forum.

Ivanov said 15 major airlines were operating in Russia and covering 90% of the passenger traffic, while 120 small companies dealt with the remaining 10%.

Ivanov said the air crashes mostly involved older aircraft with outdated navigation equipment and also dummy airlines operating five to six planes.

Therefore he expressed support for the Russian Aviation Committee's plans to allow long-haul flights only to those air companies that have 10 same-type planes from next year and 20 planes from 2013. This measure will not affect charter and local flights.

The new regulation will involve about 57% of Russian airlines, said Alexander Kasyanov, the head of the Russian transport watchdog.

Russia’s Transport Ministry told to tighten aviation control, upgrade pilot training

The Russian Transport Ministry should tighten oversight of airlines and upgrade pilot training standards, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Flight safety is an overriding concern, he said, adding that this especially applies to flights in poor weather and low visibility, as well as pilot training.

“Any airline, even it has just one plane… should meet all pilot training standards, and use modern flight simulators,” Putin said, stressing that “the standards should be tough.”

Russia has seen an increasing number of air crashes in the past year, with the latest accident killing a local hockey team and crew totaling 43 people.

Earlier in the day Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said minor airlines must consolidate or merge with major operators or quit the market.

Fifteen major airlines were operating in Russia, handling 90% of passenger traffic while 120 small companies accounted for the remaining 10%, he said.

The air crashes mostly involved older aircraft with outdated navigation equipment, Ivanov said.

He backed the Russian Aviation Committee's plans to allow long-haul flights only to those airlines that have 10 same-type planes from next year and 20 planes from 2013. This measure will not affect charter and local flights.

The new regulation will involve about 57% of Russian airlines, said Alexander Kasyanov, the head of the Russian transport watchdog.

Petaluma Municipal Airport (O69), California: Copper Wire Thefts.

Police are asking anyone with any information about the incident to contact Officer Pat Gerke at 707-778-4372.

Sometime between Friday night, Sept. 30, and Saturday morning, Oct. 1, thieves stole electrical wire and damaged several electrical boxes at the popular park on East Washington Street.

Police said six poles that provide lighting for the athletic fields had the wire removed. Wire that connected the poles was also taken. Police estimate that between 1,500 and 1,800 feet of wire was stolen.

Prince Park is one of Petaluma's few parks with lighted playing facilities, and is home to the Petaluma Parks and Recreation's popular softball leagues. The lighted fields are also used by youth soccer teams.

Scott Brodhun, Petaluma's assistant city manager, said it is unknown how long it will take to repair the damage. City maintenance workers have estimated the cost for repairs at around $5,000.

The wiring theft also caused two red beacon lights to stop functioning. The beacon lights, located on top of 85-foot poles, are used to warn aircraft approaching the nearby Petaluma airport that there is an obstruction in their flight path.

Police have said that copper is an especially attractive target for thieves because it has rapidly escalated in value, is relatively easy to dispose of, and is difficult to trace.

Brodhun said copper theft has become a big problem for the city.

“This is the first time I've heard of a park being hit, but we've seen wiring stolen from street lights and other areas,” he said.

“The money it takes to fix the damage is money we could be putting into park maintenance.”

In recent months, copper wiring has been taken from street lights, park trail lights, and copper piping has been stolen from rooftops.

In July, copper wire was stolen from the PG&E yard on Corona Road. It was the eighth time the PG&E site had been targeted in the last two years.

The theft of nearly 2,000 feet of copper wire from Prince Park have put a temporary halt to softball games at the Eastside park.

Last Friday, someone made off with up to 1,800 feet of wire taken from six light poles in the park, according to Assistant City Manager Scott Brodhun. That means games for the city's adult softball league will be cancelled until the lights can be repaired, hopefully as soon as this Thursday, although the rains may push the repairs into early next week.

Over the past year, the city has experienced an increase in copper thefts, but this is the first time a city park has been targeted, Brodhun said. Police estimate the value of taken wire at $5,000.

The theft also caused two red beacon lights on top of the light poles to shut down. Nearby Petaluma Airport had been using the beacon lights let aircraft know that there was an obstruction in their flight path and have yet to be repaired, said Bob Patterson, the airport manager.

However, there is no danger to planes that are taking off and landing, according to Patterson.

Police are asking anyone with any information about the incident to contact Officer Pat Gerke at 707-778-4372.

Florida: Head of Tampa International Airport (KTPA) Joe Lopano in line to get $25,000 raise on top of $300,000 salary package. (With Video)

TAMPA, Florida - A $25,000 raise is in the works for the executive director of the Hillsborough Aviation Authority, Joe Lopano, who already has a $300,000 salary package. The chairman of the Aviation Authority, Steve Burton, told the 10 News Investigators he plans to propose at least a 10 percent raise for Lopano at Thursday's Aviation Authority meeting.

When Lapano was hired, Aviation Authority members like former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said the contract he was offered was fair. Some might call the contact more than fair as Lopano is receiving a $250,000 salary, plus $49,000 each year toward his 401K and a $500/month car allowance. The $300,000 package is $29,000 more than what former TIA Director Louis Miller is getting to run Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, the world's busiest airport.

When Lopano was hired, former Aviation Authority Chair Al Austin said, "We feel like we have an excellent new executive director."

Austin, who negotiated the contract, said it was fair, but the new board chair Steve Burton says Lapano exceeds expectations and deserves a raise. Burton will propose at least a 10 percent raise when the board meets Thursday. However, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says this is not the time to be giving at least $25,000 more to Lopano, who he says has a fair contract that he willingly signed.

While Lopano isn't asking for the raise, this is the second incident involving the Aviation Authority executive director that has raised eyebrows and he hasn't been here a year. You may recall earlier this year he proposed executives and board members fly business class instead of coach, but backed down when several said it was wrong in this economy.

And while Lopano has helped spearhead flights to Cuba and is bringing in a direct flight to Switzerland that he is predicting will bring in $32 million a year to the local economy, some in Tampa Bay who would be delighted to earn $25,000 say a raise of that amount is something that they would tell those who run the airport is plain wrong.

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REDjet to help stem regional visitor fall-off in Grenada

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Wednesday October 5, 2011 - Grenada is hoping the December 1 introduction of REDjet flights will help stem a significant fall-off in Caribbean visitors.

Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Peter David said the country has lost in the region of 20 000 visitors over the past years, though he did not specify the exact period. “We saw a decline over the last few years in regional tourism. We’ve lost over 20, 000 visits because of the cost of regional travel. It is extremely expensive at the moment to fly,” he said.

Minister David told a media conference Tuesday that Grenada’s air transport license board has approved REDjet’s application to service the Barbados and Trinidad route.

This followed approval by the Antigua-based Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority.

Minister David said the low-cost airline plans to operate three weekly return flights to both countries.

He also explained that the government plans to boost its regional tourism marketing to regain its market share.

“We will continue to market heavily in Trinidad, not only for Carnival but throughout the year because we believe Trinidad is a good market. Similarly, Barbados is an excellent market, not only for Grenadians coming back but for regional tourism,” he stated.

“Many persons, because of the decline in their own economies are staying closer to home for their holidays and we hope for Barbadians, for Trinidadians, for Antiguans and for Vincentians, we can market heavily in those islands and have more regional tourism.”

Regarding the possible impact this could have on the Antigua-based LIAT, David stressed that both airlines can service the Spice Isle.

“I have always held the position that LIAT must be treated, in some cases, as a public utility for the region. We need LIAT. But, at the same time, we need to ensure that there are more available flights through the region and particularly more affordable flights in the region,” he added.

Grenada will become the second OECS state to be serviced by REDjet, which plans to begin flying between Antigua & Barbuda and Guyana late next month.

Rusk County (KRFI) Henderson, Texas: County names new airport manager .

Rusk County has hired David Dumas as its airport manger, County Judge Joel Hale announced Monday.

“We felt he was the best fit for the job,” Hale said. “He has a background in aviation and was interested in the job and energetic about trying to do things that will generate activity at the airport.”

Dumas, 47, is a graduate of John Tyler High School and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He worked in air field management in the Air Force and also spent five years working at Pounds Field in Tyler. He as been a resident of Rusk County since 2001.

“We wanted to hire someone who had a background in aviation and wanted to work with people to make it what the court feels it can be; a showplace and an economic activity generator,” Hale said.

Dumas said he’s experiencing a bit of information overload as he tries to learn all about the airport, which has hangars for about 40 private planes. No commercial flights use the airport.

“I’m very excited about taking on this position,” Dumas said. “I enjoy being in air field management, but I didn’t want to have to leave East Texas to take a job in this field, so this is exactly what I was seeking.”

Dumas said he looks forward to working with county officials to maintain and improve the airfield, but no major projects are planned for the near future.

“The airport is a real asset to our community and we want everybody to be aware that it’s here and help them understand ways it can benefit them,” Dumas said.

Dumas will be paid an annual salary of $27,124. In addition to his salary, his benefits include retirement and insurance, Hale said.

The airport also employs a full-time grounds keeper.

Auburn Municipal (KAUN): Airport manager ousted. City not seeing level of progress it wanted, city manager says. (California)

Former Auburn Municipal Airport manager Ivan Karnezis said his understanding of why his contract was cancelled is different than what the city of Auburn is saying.

Auburn City Manager Bob Richardson said the city was not seeing what it would have liked to in all areas of the airport.

“He was a contract employee and the contract was cancelled,” Richardson said. “We weren’t seeing the level of progress that we wanted to see in all levels of airport operations. He did an excellent job in certain areas and other areas we needed him to move forward as well.”

Richardson said Karnezis’ contract began in June 2010 and from that time until September, when his contract was cancelled, the city paid him $54,104, including $50 a month cell phone reimbursements and reimbursements for things that were purchased for the airport.

Karnezis didn’t receive any benefits on top of his billings and is not receiving a severance package from the city, Richardson said.

Richardson said the city’s Public Works director is working with the airport in the interim between managers.

“Bernie Schroeder, Public Works director, has been charged with moving all capital efforts forward with the airport, and once we have regained compliance with the FAA and Cal Trans Aeronautics Division and have completed all anticipated capital projects, we will begin recruitment for a new manager,” Richardson said.

Richardson said the future manager would still be a contracted position and he doesn’t anticipate any changes in payment.

Richardson said Karnezis’ main duties were dealing with the day-to-day operations of the airport, user services and maintaining the capital program of the airport.

Capital projects could include things like repaving, new lighting and new avionics.

Richardson said the city has received a full range of reactions from people at the airport in regard to Karnezis’ contract being cancelled, including people having the understanding certain areas of the airport were falling behind to others having the understanding it was doing well.

Karnezis said he was not given the same reason when he was told his contract was being cancelled.

“I was not told that when I was let go,” he said. “I was told that I was difficult to get along with.”

Karnezis said his concerns about construction at the airport led to the cancellation.

“The sequence of events that led up to it was that work started occurring on the airport without my notification that could possibly have interfered with flight operations,” he said. “It was construction work, and when I called to meet with the city manager about it, I was terminated.”

Karnezis said several of the duties that would have been his at the airport, such as administrative control, maintenance, capital development and coordination with sub-contractors were handled by departments in City Hall, and he did the best with the tools he had.

“I actually had little or no authority out there,” he said.

Karnezis said he felt good about his time at the airport.

“I felt like I was really responsible to all of the people on the airport, and that I had made some great improvements on their behalf,” he said. “However, some of those might have been contrary to some of the goals of the city.”

Tom Brady, who has a hangar at the airport and flies with the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles Program, said he thought Karnezis was doing fine at the airport.

“Ivan was doing one hell of a good job,” Brady said. “The airport had not looked this good in the 22 years that I have been around here.”

Brady said he is not happy with the city’s decision and doesn’t think it will be able to find someone with Karnezis’ credentials.

“Are we disappointed around the airport … yes we are,” he said. “I do not believe they will be able to replace him with anybody as qualified as he was.”

Brady said those at the airport were “absolutely in the blind” to what was going on between the city and Karnezis.

Tom Dwelle, who owns Nella Oil at the airport, said the decision was confusing for everyone at the airport, but he didn’t want to speculate about what happened.

“I honestly don’t know, that’s not my call,” Dwelle said. “I have a business on the airport and we are very grateful for that. We have a number of airplanes there, and things are running smoothly. And Bob Richardson is our city manager, and the buck stops there. And if there is one thing I know about being in business is the guy who signs the checks gets to make that call.”

Dwelle said Karnezis is a “good guy” and still feels he will be very involved with the airport.

Councilwoman Bridget Powers said the cancellation of Karnezis’ contract is not having an impact on any of the goals of the Airport Business Park Association.

The association has helped get broadband at the airport, worked on setting up monument signs at both entrances to the airport and has improved government relations between the city and Placer County.

Original article and comments:

WestJet planes less full in September, Porter Airlines sets records

MONTREAL — WestJet Airlines says its planes were less full in September as passenger traffic failed to keep pace with its increased capacity despite higher purchases of discounted fares.

The Calgary-based carrier reported Wednesday a load factor of 74.7 per cent for September compared with 75.5 per cent a year ago.

WestJet's traffic or revenues passenger miles, increased 6.9 per cent while capacity grew eight per cent in the period.

Overall, the airline flew 76,000 more passengers this September compared to last year and said its forward bookings remain healthy as it begins to transition to the winter schedule.

For the third quarter, WestJet's load factor was 80.1 per cent, compared to 79.6 per cent a year earlier. Traffic grew 7.7 per cent while capacity was up 7.13 per cent.

Porter Airlines reported that it flew a record 212,000 revenue passenger miles in September as its load factor increased 12.2 points to 68 per cent.

Traffic from its hub at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport increased nearly 47 per cent while capacity grew 20 per cent.

September is typically a slower month so the ability to maintain its load factor close to August's level is a good sign as it enters the final quarter of the year, said CEO Robert Deluce.

Air Canada  is expected to report its September traffic numbers later in the day.

Nearly 10,000 Airline Job Cuts Likely If Taxes Imposed

To increase awareness and educate consumers and Congress, ATA launched a website,, where visitors can urge Congress to reject punitive taxes against airline passengers and save American jobs and air service to their community.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2011 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, warned that nearly 10,000 airline industry jobs could be cut within one year if two new proposed passenger security and airline departure taxes are implemented. More broadly, nearly 181,000 jobs could be lost across the economy related to reductions in aircraft manufacturing, airports and supporting businesses, according to a new study.

"The job-killing equation is simple - add taxes and lose jobs. Tripling the passenger security fee and creating a new $100 departure tax will have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy and our customers, who already pay more in taxes for air travel than they do for alcohol, tobacco and firearms. The proposed new taxes will impact fares and reduce service, which equates to a one-way ticket to the unemployment line for thousands of Americans," said ATA President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.

Economists from the Oliver Wyman management consulting firm estimated the potential job loss based on the cost of these taxes on the industry and expected capacity cuts to accommodate the additional costs. The study notes that airlines have limited ability to pass through cost increases due to the elastic relationship between pricing and demand.

If Congress approves the two taxes, according to the Oliver Wyman calculations, passenger carriers could reduce capacity by 2.3 percent, which would lead to 9,700 jobs eliminated compared to 2011 employment levels.

The airline industry is the third greatest contributor to the U.S. economy after energy and farming, yet it is among the least profitable, Calio said. "The President is proposing a huge new tax on the least profitable and most highly taxed industry in the economy while all its competitors are left untouched. Airlines and their passengers should not shoulder the burden to pay for the country's security, or even worse, to pay off the national debt," Calio said.


Annually, commercial aviation helps drive more than $1 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. ATA airline members and their affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic. For more information about the airline industry, visit and follow us on Twitter @airlinesassn.

SOURCE Air Transport Association of America

New Jobs Coming To Hard-Hit Wilmington, Ohio. Aircraft repair company to add about 250 jobs.

WILMINGTON, Ohio --  This time last year, then-candidate John Kasich appeared in a campaign commercial featuring the economic plight of Wilmington. The city had lost more than 9,000 jobs when the package shipping company DHL pulled out of the Clinton County airport.

Standing amid a group of people in Wilmington, candidate Kasich said in the commercial, "What we've seen here at DHL, really we've seen all over Ohio. My message to people here is - the sun's going to come up again."

Tuesday, Kasich brought a little bit of sunshine with him when he returned to Wilmington to announce the expansion of Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services, an aircraft repair company and the addition of 259 new jobs.

The governor’s message on this visit was that his administration is working hard and making progress.

"We're going to work with you," said Kasich. "We're going to be as creative as our human minds will allow us to be. But I want you to know we're starting to win."

Unemployment in Clinton County remains among the highest in the state at 12.8 percent.

Nigeria: New Aviation Chiefs, Challenges Ahead.

As new aviation chiefs take over from their predecessors, myriads of gargantuan challenges await them.

Yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan sacked the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun, his counterpart at the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Mr. Ibrahim Auyo and the Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, NCAT, Captain Adebayo Araba.

FAAN is now headed by Mr. George Uriesi, an ardent critic of the former MD, who was until his appointment the Director of Operations in FAAN.

The new Managing Director of NAMA is Mr. Nnamdi Udoh, an engineer, who was until his appointment the Director of Engineering and Electronics at NAMA, while NCAT will be headed by the first Nigerian female pilot, Mrs. Chinyere Kalu.

The removal of these men and their replacement by technocrats with cognate experience must usher the aviation industry into a new era of productivity, accountability and innovation, not stagnation as it has been the case in recent years.

At FAAN, the old culture of inefficiency must give way. The tired-and-empty argument that government-run institutions or agencies can never be run efficiently in Nigeria must be jettisoned.

FAAN each year receives billions of naira from the Federal Government for infrastructure development, training and salaries of its staff. It also receives billions of naira from Maevis Nigeria Limited, its revenue generating concessionaire at international airports. Yet, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, the country’s busiest airport which generates almost 80 percent of revenue for FAAN, has not seen any major improvement in terms of facelift in the last four years.

The Schiphol International airport in Amsterdam which MMIA was modeled after in 1978 when it was built, has witnessed tremendous improvements over the last decades but MMIA and other 20 airports in the country under FAAN have continued to degenerate to an abysmal level.

The lingering crises between FAAN and Maevis Nigeria Limited, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services and other concessionaires have also contributed to the slow pace of development in the industry. It does not have to be that way.

At the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, the only school of aviation in Nigeria was allowed to rot for many years. Some years ago, a tour of the institution left one bewildered. For instance, the hangar, built in the 1960s, was the only one for aircraft maintenance. The second one built with several millions of naira years after to replace the decaying hangar was never completed and was abandoned. The simulators, necessary to train pilots, were either not functional or partially in use. The college was neglected so much that there was no expansion and the local community started encroaching on their land. This must stop.

At NAMA, there was a sense of vacuum in terms of leadership. On 25 July, it was Harold Demuren, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, who unveiled a roadmap for satellite navigation in the country’s airspace known as PBN.

Satellite-based navigation boosts efficiency in aircraft trajectory and increases airspace capacity. It also enables reduction in aircraft fuel consumption, improves air safety and eliminates flight delays and cancellations.

Nigeria’s airspace is under the supervision of NAMA, but the project was stalled for close to a decade until Demuren stepped in and began work. NAMA was rudderless. This must not be allowed to continue.

While we welcome a change in leadership in the aviation industry, we call on the new aviation chiefs to sit up and usher the industry into a new era of development and prosperity. What they do today, will determine their legacy.

Qantas is not slowing down, says chief executive Alan Joyce

QANTAS sees no need to slow its growth at this stage, but has the flexibility to do so if needed, according to executives.

The International Air Transport Association warned this week that global passenger growth was slowing and the freight market shrinking as the industry "shifted gears downward".

But Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said he saw no need to push the button on slowing the airline's growth.

"I don't think there are enough signs for us today to say that the market has gone into recession or decline," Mr Joyce said.

Airbus chief operating officer customers John Leahy said growth was flattening.

"The recovery out of the last recession overshot in 2010," Mr Leahy said.

"We see it pretty flat (at) the end of 2011, maybe the beginning of 2012, but no double-dip recession."

Mr Joyce was also confident that the airline's fleet plans had enough flexibility to cope with the precarious economic times.

Qantas has just ordered 110 Airbus A320 aircraft, including 78 of the re-engined neo versions that offer an 8 per cent improvement in operating costs.

He said the airline had always been conscious of managing risks and during the global financial crisis had cancelled or delayed the delivery of $7bn of list price aircraft as well as scaled back capacity across the board.

Mr Joyce said a mix of operating leases and owned aircraft meant the group could opt for either adding planes or replacing older aircraft.

He said Qantas was also now a diverse group, with more than 300 aircraft, and had the flexibility to operate in a range of markets from regional and domestic flying, to fly-in fly-out and international markets in Asia. "There are plenty of ways for us to be able to cope with a range of different scenarios that could occur," Mr Joyce said.

Eleven of the new A320s will be used to start up a new premium carrier likely to be based in either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur while others will head to Jetstar operations in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Asia.

Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan said the extended-range neo would allow new routes such as Melbourne and Sydney to Bali as well as Singapore to Shanghai and Beijing.

It also extended the range of the present operation to make routes such as Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to Australia's east coast a reality in a premium configuration.

Mr Buchanan said the premium airline would allow Qantas to service Asian destinations it could not service today with one-stop flights similar to those offered by its opposition.

Airports Leverage Yardi Voyager for Lease and Concession Management. Benefits include increased financial visibility, enhanced revenue collection

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Oct 05, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Yardi announced today that airport managers are using Yardi Voyager(TM) for Airports for automated, efficient collection of lease and concession revenues and for managing their maintenance responsibilities.

Yardi Voyager allows airport managers to process receivables from tenants and concessions with the same automation and database integration leveraged by thousands of public, private, and nonprofit organizations around the world.

"In considering the requirements for managing our leases, we saw Voyager as a system that could handle both our aviation services and the flight schools, maintenance shops and other tenants that comprise our onsite leases," said Deena Mecham, property manager for Santa Monica Municipal Airport in California. "Along with ensuring revenue collection in a timely manner, Voyager provides visibility, and therefore accountability, into our finances that wasn't possible with our previous Windows(R)-based system."

"Many municipalities that own airports are under heavy budget duress and need to maximize revenue opportunities. Voyager can replace stopgap property management systems with a powerful, affordable property management and concession management solution. Voyager can help airport managers obtain all potential value from their resources," said Dan Campbell, vice president of government services for Yardi.

Campbell added, "We provide the only middle-tier software in the marketplace for general aviation through medium-hub airports in the U.S."

About Yardi

Yardi Systems has been committed to the design, development and support of real estate investment management and property management software for nearly 30 years. With its Yardi Multifamily Suite(TM), Yardi Commercial Suite(TM) and Yardi Investment Suite(TM), the Yardi Voyager(TM) system is the most comprehensive single real estate management platform on the market today. Yardi serves clients around the world from offices in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. More information about Yardi products and services is available at .

SOURCE: Yardi Systems

Boeing Awarded 'Greener Skies' Contract by Federal Aviation Administration. International industry group to maximize precision navigation benefits across United States

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Boeing today announced a research task order award from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to maximize performance-based navigation capabilities across the United States. The FAA initiated a $3.1 million task order for "Greener Skies Initiative 2." The Boeing team will evaluate current precision navigation procedures and analyze new procedures to advance the use of flight deck and air traffic control capabilities in the national airspace system for an improved air traffic management system.

The Initiative builds on the success of the Greener Skies Over Seattle project, which demonstrated Alaska Airlines' ability to cut fuel burn and reduce emissions by 35 percent compared to a conventional landing using precision navigation called Required Navigation Performance (RNP).

"The Greener Skies 2 initiative represents another critical milestone as Boeing helps to drive implementation of NextGen, the FAA's program to transform the national airspace system," said Neil Planzer, vice president, Air Traffic Management, Boeing Flight Services. "This research and development initiative supports Boeing's strategic focus on maximizing the capabilities of Boeing aircraft and implement RNP globally."

Required Navigation Performance (RNP) is a GPS-based navigation technology that enables aircraft to fly precise and predefined paths to closely spaced parallel runways. The result is more efficient departure, en-route and approach profiles and a reduction in fuel usage, emissions and noise. The research will help create new procedures in flight deck and air traffic control ground-based systems, which will lead to new reduced separation criteria and increased safety margins.

The procedures will be tested at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Seattle's Boeing Field for future implementation at capacity-constrained airports across the United States.

The contract is a task order award under the FAA's Systems Engineering 2020 (SE-2020) contract. Boeing will lead an industry consortium consisting of SE-2020 team members Adacel, Airbus, Cessna and Honeywell. Boeing's Air Traffic Management team draws on expertise from across Boeing, including Commercial Airplanes, Flight Services, including Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen, Boeing Research and Technology and Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Boeing, Alaska Airlines, the Port of Seattle and the FAA began the Greener Skies partnership in 2009. In 2010, the FAA approved Greener Skies as an official FAA project.


Australian Army: Chinooks grounded over control issues

The army's five twin-rotor Chinook helicopters have been grounded because of a serious technical fault.

The Defence Department provided only scant details of "possible issues" with the aircraft's Advanced Flight Control System in "certain flight conditions".

The AFCS assists with the stability of the aircraft and helps the pilot to maintain control by reducing the workload and keeping the machine where the pilot wants it.

It is understood that the investigation of a Chinook crash in Afghanistan in late May, which claimed the life of army pilot Lieutenant Marcus Case, triggered possible concerns about the flight control system.

The machine, designated "Dark and Stormy", turned on its side before crashing into the ground during a familiarisation flight.

The concerns were raised by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation and the army's airworthiness branch.

The AFCS is a vital piece of kit in inherently unstable aircraft such as the CH-47D Chinook.

During the cruise phase of a flight the system can hold a fixed altitude, speed and heading.

Director-General of Army Aviation, Brigadier Neil Turton, said the flight suspension was to ensure the helicopters' safety and that it was consistent with army operational airworthiness procedures. "The precautionary suspension will remain in place pending technical analysis of flight data by Defence and Boeing," Brigadier Turton said.

The suspension applies to the two CH-47D Chinook aircraft deployed to Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan in support of International Security Assistance Force operations.

Brigadier Turton said ISAF was well supported by a range of military and contracted helicopters, and the grounding "is not expected to have an impact on the conduct of operations".

Of the remaining three, one is deployed in Papua New Guinea, one is on Horn Island in the Torres Strait and the final aircraft at home base in Townsville.

A source said the grounding was nothing out of the ordinary and the length of the suspension would depend on how long it took for army and Boeing technicians to study the data.

The Chinook is the workhorse of the military's rotary wing fleet and is capable of lifting huge loads and carrying a large number of troops and cargo.

Ski crowd may fly easyJet from Southend. (UK)

SKI resorts could replace summer sunspots in Southend Airport’s list of destinations next winter.

Budget airline easyJet, which is due to start flights to nine overseas cities in April, has revealed it is considering a new schedule for the colder months.

Traditional sunshine destinations such as Malaga, Alicante, Mallorca, Faro and Ibiza are already on easyJet’s list of routes until next September.

Andrew McConnell, corporate affairs manager, said: “All our tickets for all our announced routes are now on sale until September 2 next year. We have not made a decision on what our schedule will be after that, but we could well have some routes to areas which might be more popular in the winter.

“So we might swap some of the destinations for ski resorts, or something like that.”

The company announced it had signed a ten-year deal to operate flights from Southend Airport earlier this year.

As well as the sunspots, it will also have flights to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast and Jersey, offering more than 2,500 flights and 300,000 seats in total.

Although the list of destinations for Southend is limited by the length of the runway, routes to existing winter resorts, such as Grenoble in France and Geneva in Switzerland, could be within range of the type of planes which can use the airport.

The final schedule is expected to be announced early next year.

However, Mr McConnell said the airline had been encouraged by the early sales for the summer routes.

He added: “We’ve been really pleased with how Southend is performing.

“Customers really seem to have taken a liking to it.”

Orlando Sanford International (KSFB), Florida: Airport wants to buy land from homeowners to expand runway.

SANFORD, Fla. —  Orlando-Sanford International Airport wants to buy land from more than a half dozen homeowners so it can expand its runway.

The airport just got a federal grant of more than $10 million to buy 33 acres of property around the airport. That comes to about $320,000 per acre.

One property owner told WFTV he's happy to accept the money because the airport already stopped any chance he had of selling his home to anyone else.

“Right now we are basically held prisoner until the airport moves forward to take our land,” said James McDonnell.

Other property owners said they don't plan on selling and will go to court if they have to.

The airport is trying to buy land from eight property owners.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International (KAVP), Pennsylvania: Vote to remove names from airport plaque fails.

Commissioner moved to replace names of 3 ex-commissioners and 3 firms with other wording.

PITTSTON TWP. – A bid to alter the plaque bearing the names of three convicted former county commissioners and three companies tied to the ongoing public corruption probe that’s led to more than 30 arrests in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties fell one vote short on Tuesday.

At the end of the monthly meeting of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport’s Bi-County Board of Commissioners, Luzerne County Commissioner Thomas Cooney went off the agenda and made a motion to have the plaque, on the wall near the escalators on the ground floor of the terminal, altered in a way that no names appear on it. The marker was installed when the $41.5 million glass and steel structure opened in 2006 and listed the county commissioners from Luzerne and Lackawanna at that time, the airport’s director, assistant director, the construction company and the engineers and architects that designed the facility.

Among the names are Robert Cordaro, A.J. Munchak and Greg Skrepenak, all of whom have been found guilty of varying crimes regarding public corruption.

Cordaro was found guilty of 15 counts including money laundering and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. The federal jury found Cordaro not guilty of 15 other counts.

Munchak was convicted of about half of the 21 counts against him including extortion, theft or bribery, and conspiracy to commit theft or bribery. He was found not guilty of mail fraud and racketeering. Both Cordaro and Munchak await their sentences, which are scheduled to be handed down on Oct. 31.

Skrepenak was sentenced to 24 months in prison and a $5,000 fine after pleading guilty to corrupt receipt of a reward for official action. Federal prosecutors said he accepted $5,000 from a real estate developer as a reward for voting to include a housing project in the Tax Increment Financing Program, which allows developers to delay paying real estate taxes so that the money can be used to fund infrastructure.

Also on the plaque are the names of Highland Associates, Michael J. Pasonick Jr. Inc. and Acker Associates. All of which have had past employees involved in the corruption scandal.

Pasonick pleaded guilty in May to paying a bribe to an area school board member who promised to help him obtain future contracts with the district.

Acker Associates, of Moscow, allegedly made monthly $10,000 payments totaling more than $360,000 to Cordaro between 2005 and 2008, according to prosecutors.

Highland Associates, a Clarks Summit-based engineering and design firm, was allegedly extorted into making payments to Cordaro. The company, among other projects, was also given a no-bid contract to build an intermodal transportation center in Lackawanna County.

Cooney said all the names on the plaque should be removed and new wording should be placed on the marker simply thanking all of those companies and individuals that played a role in making the terminal a reality. He was quickly supported by the two other Luzerne County commissioners on the board, Maryanne Petrilla and Steve Urban. Lackawanna County Commissioner Bruce Smallacombe opposed the idea immediately while his two county colleagues mulled it over, stating the reasons to keep the names on and reasons to have them removed.

“You know history’s not always pretty,” said Mike Washo, a Lackawanna County Commissioner who served as minority commissioner when Cordaro and Munchak served as the majority. “To have an accurate record of what happened, I think you need to consider living with those people on the plaque.”

Washo said he understood Cooney’s concerns, “but we can’t rewrite history. We can’t sanitize history.”

Urban noted that their names were part of the record in meeting minutes and media archives, but to have it publicly displayed on a plaque “does a disservice to the people of both counties.”

Corey O’Brien, the third Lackawanna County Commissioner, noted that names of those convicted for crimes remains on other buildings including former Congressman Dan Flood, whose name is on a high-rise apartment and a school. Flood pleaded guilty in 1980 to one count of conspiracy to violate federal campaign laws by taking payoffs from five people.

“There’s two sides,” O’Brien said. “There’s the historical aspect of it … and a more public take here … People are upset when they see these names.”

O’Brien decided to vote in favor of redoing the plaque making the vote 4-2. But since board rules require at least two “yes” votes from each county’s three representatives for a motion to pass, the motion failed.

“I think we’ve got better things to do,” Washo said. “Most people walk by that (plaque) without even knowing what’s there.”

Air New Zealand backs Skycouch with quirky videos

Air New Zealand has launched a series of online videos in the United States, featuring sheep twins, Playboy girls and David Hasselhoff.

In March, Air New Zealand extended its relationship with Albion, the incumbent agency on its pan-European ad business, to include North America and Canada.

The campaign marks the first launched by Albion West Coast for the airline.

The quirky ads focus on Air New Zealand’s Skycouch concept, which allows a trio of seats to be moved together to create flexible space options.

Spots feature ‘Mason and Jason, the inseparable sheep twins’, along with cameos from Playboy Playmate twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon, and David Hasselhoff.

The campaign is to debut in the UK later this month.

Albion London, which has worked with Air New Zealand since 2008, last year launched a press and outdoor campaign that showed consumers how Air New Zealand had "redesigned" the long-haul travel experience.

This article was first published on

Flybe shares slump on latest profits warning

Following in the wake of a sales warning by Germany's Lufthansa, the Exeter-based carrier said traffic on its British domestic routes had slumped

 Shares in Flybe have slumped by more than 35% after the regional airline issued its second profit warning in five months.

Following in the wake of a sales warning by Germany's Lufthansa, the Exeter-based carrier said traffic on its British domestic routes had slumped. As a consequence, Flybe said, first-half revenues will miss targets. The airline, which operates routes such as Manchester to Norwich that are not profitable enough for the likes of Ryanair and easyJet but potentially lucrative for airlines with smaller planes, said it did not know whether the domestic downturn is part of a prolonged malaise.

"It is too early to determine whether the September slowdown in sales on our UK domestic routes is a short-term reaction to the turbulent macroeconomic environment, or whether this is a longer-term market adjustment," said the company. Investors appeared to bank on it being a prolonged slump, marking the shares down more than 37% to 63.5p at lunchtime in London, far below the flotation price of 295p last December.

Analysts at Royal Bank of Scotland said the slowdown indicated a fall in demand from Flybe's business customers, who sustain the so-called "thin routes", such as Manchester to Norwich, that cannot generate enough demand to support the use of 150-seat aircraft but can build a market for regular flights on smaller jets. RBS said: "The company says the volume slowdown has come in higher and medium fare categories, implying that it is business traffic rather than leisure traffic that is weakening."

Cherry Capital (KTVC), Traverse City, Michigan: Airport sees passengers increase.

More traffic went through Cherry Capital

TRAVERSE CITY — Summer air travel took flight at Cherry Capital Airport, and those numbers could help the airport break a five-year decline in passenger traffic.

The Traverse City airport handled 54,068 travelers in August, a 2.7 percent increase from the same period in 2010 and the fourth consecutive month the airport handled more travelers than a year ago.

Year-to-date passenger traffic through August passed the quarter-million mark to 250,883, a 4.7 percent increase from 2010.

Passenger counts at Blacker Airport in Manistee soared this year thanks to regional air service to Milwaukee through Frontier Airlines, though those increases may be short-lived.

Summer air travelers in Manistee increased to 9,000-plus for June through August, more than triple last year's summer total of 2,626. But Frontier told Manistee airport officials last month it will end air service to Milwaukee by late winter, as it phases out smaller, regional jets in a cost-cutting move.

Summer air travel is down at Pellston Regional Airport in Emmet County. The June-to-August passenger count of 20,847 is off more than 5 percent compared to last summer.

New Jersey: Tewksbury hearing on helistop continues November 2

TEWKSBURY TWP. — A public hearing before the Land Use Board regarding a proposed helistop will continue on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at the meeting hall in Mountainville. James L. Johnson, a Johnson & Johnson family member, wants to add a “restricted-use helistop” to the family’s Cedar Lane Farm on Homestead Road.

The hearing has extended over four previous meetings, and a demonstration of a helicopter landing and taking off was held at the farm.

On Sept. 21 a noise expert testified that the helicopter is less noisy than sounds generated by other activities common in the area. During testing, a tractor mowing a farm field produced twice the decibels that the helicopter did. The expert’s written report is available online at under the Land Use Board section.

Many residents are opposed to the application and are actively campaigning against it, but the Land Use Board is making them wait until after all testimony has been completed to state their opinions. More testimony from expert witnesses is expected in November.

Residents will also be allowed to present their own expert witnesses after the applicant’s witnesses have testified.

Johnson now lives in Florida full time but would like to occasionally access his property by helicopter, according to a letter he wrote to the editor.

The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

For a previous story on this issue, follow the link below.

National Geographic to air first film on Taiwan's Air Force exercise

Taipei, Oct. 5 (CNA) The first documentary on Republic of China Air Force exercises made by the National Geographic Channel (NGC) will be aired in Taiwan Oct. 9, the eve of the country's National Day in its centennial year.

After obtaining permission from the Ministry of National Defense (MND), a NGC crew were given access to the Hankuang 27 Road Runway Exercise in April at Mado, Tainan, to make the nearly 45-minute film titled "Inside: Highway, Runway."

"We're very proud of this opportunity to bring the program about highway landing exercises (to the screen)," said Ward Platt, president of Asia-Pacific and Middle East of Fox International Channels -- which operates NGC in Asia -- at the film's premiere in Taipei Wednesday.

The drill, on one of five remaining sections of the No.1 Freeway on which emergency runways have been established for use in case of war, involved six F-16 A/Bs, Mirage 2000-5s fighters and locally made Indigenous Defense Fighter jets.

A total of 1,500 military personnel from air force bases in Hsinchu, Hualien and Tainan participated in the exercise.

Nine high-definition cameras were set up to catch all the action of the military personnel practicing landings, air resupply and take-offs, Platt said.

Through the program, the NGC brings a unique insight into some of the best aspects of the ROC Air Force, he added.

He also took the opportunity to thank the pilots who did much of the filming from inside their aircraft to offer splendid aerial views.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu said the documentary presents a complete record of the Air Force's unwavering efforts to protect the country.

After the first screening in Taiwan as part of NGC's ROC centennial special, an English-language version of the program will be aired in other parts of the world, Platt said.

Google rules out travel industry competitor

Google’s UK head of travel Nigel Huddleston told delegates at the convention: “We have no intention of entering the booking space” and stressed that online travel agents such as Expedia were “really important partners”.

However, new Google products such as Flight Search that are currently in the experimentation phase and only available in the US did prompt concern.

Flight Search allows users to see which airline choices are available between destinations and shows price, schedules and flight travel time alongside maps of the relevant area.

The tool is designed to serve up answers in three seconds.

Huddleston said that Flight Search did provide a link to the airline web page where a booking could be made but this was no different from any search term served up by Google.

He made clear that airlines did not pay for a priority listing via Flight Search but the results were served based on a combination of flight travel time and price.

He also demonstrated other products on trial in the US that may have implications for the travel industry, such as the Google Goggles Android app, which when presented with a photograph of a building identifies it and serves up a search page of results.

FAA’s plans to modernize air traffic control face problems that could throw program off course

WASHINGTON — The government’s program to modernize the nation’s air traffic control system has run into serious problems that threaten to increase its cost and delay its completion, a government watchdog said.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s program to replace the current air traffic control system with a system based on satellite technology is being held back by software problems that have delayed full deployment of a critical flight tracking system, Transportation Department inspector general Calvin Scovel said in prepared testimony to be delivered at House hearing Wednesday.

The agency also hasn’t set deadlines for when key aspects of the new air traffic control system will be in place, Scovel said. Nor has FAA made clear to airlines and other air traffic system users exactly what benefits they can expect and when they’ll be achieved, he said.

As a result, airlines and others are being discouraged from spending money on cockpit equipment necessary to take advantage of the new air traffic system, Scovel said. Many of the new system’s benefits hinge on airlines equipping their planes with expensive new equipment to communicate with air traffic controllers and broadcast their location to other planes and controllers.

The Associated Press was provided with a copy of Scovel’s testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. FAA officials had no immediate comment when contacted late Tuesday.

FAA officials have predicted the agency’s NextGen modernization program will be as revolutionary for civil aviation as was the advent of radar six decades ago. It’s actually a collection of new programs aimed at moving planes faster and more efficiently that will markedly change almost every major aspect of today’s air traffic system. Those changes are considered critical to enabling the system to absorb substantial predicted increases in air traffic without becoming paralyzed by congestion.

The troubled $2.1 billion software program is the main tool air traffic controllers will use to identify and track aircraft, except when planes are immediately approaching and departing airports. It was supposed to have been completed by the end of last year, but the FAA now doesn’t expect to be finished until 2014, at a cost overrun of $330 million, Scovel said.

Those estimates may be optimistic. A Mitre Corp. study and an analysis by the inspector general’s office estimate the added cost of the computer system, called ERAM, could be as much as $500 million, with potential delays stretching to 2016, Scovel said.

David Grizzle, the head of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, described ERAM to an air traffic control conference earlier this week as “the chassis on which all the NextGen functionality will be bolted.” He said the system is expected to increase the number of planes controllers can handle by nearly two-thirds.

“We’ve got to get it right, and we’ve encountered some significant challenges in delivery,” Grizzle said.

Some of ERAM’s problems have previously been made public, including glitches that incorrectly identify planes and interfere with the ability of controllers to pass along responsibility for tracking a plane from one control center to another.

But the problem may be more extensive than the FAA has previously acknowledged. Scovel said his office has found similar problems in another critical FAA computer system that shares the same aircraft tracking software. That system is used by controllers to track planes as they approach and depart airports.

“ERAM’s persistent problems have raised concerns about the overall design of the system,” he said in his testimony.

Cost overruns in ERAM will affect the FAA’s budget for other major elements of NextGen and could “crowd out other critical programs,” Scovel said.

The FAA has focused much of its initial NextGen efforts on improving the flow of air traffic at congested airports in 21 major metropolitan areas. However, the agency has been slow in developing the flight procedures that will allow airlines to save fuel and time by flying shorter, more direct routes, Scovel said. The FAA did a study that identified ways to streamline the process for deploying new procedures, but agency officials estimate it would take five years just to put the streamlining initiatives in place, he said.



Federal Aviation Administration:

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: