Saturday, October 08, 2011

David Kuo: Shares fly on a wing and a prayer. Investors need a leap of faith to put their money into airlines – even national carriers

Richard Branson once quipped that the best way to become a millionaire is to start out a billionaire then go buy an airline.

Warren Buffett said something similar. In his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders in 2008, he wrote that the worst sort of business is one that grows rapidly, requires significant capital to engender the growth, and then earns little or no money. He said an airline's durable competitive advantage has proven elusive ever since the days of the Wright brothers. He mused that if a far-sighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favour by shooting Orville down.

We don't have to go quite that far, but as investors it is worth heeding the danger signs emitted regularly by airlines. Just consider the airlines that have faced financial ruin over the years. They include Pan Am, US Airways, Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines, Swissair, Sky Europe and XL Airways. It doesn't matter whether you are a large flag carrier or a small-time operator, the same rules apply.

The issue is high operational gearing, which is another way of saying that airlines need to fill as many seats on each flight as possible simply to recover the high overheads. Once they have succeeded in doing this, then even very small improvements to turnover can provide a huge boost to profits. It is worth bearing in mind, though, that high operational gearing is a double-edged sword: any deterioration in sales can swiftly wipe out profits, too.

Low-cost operators have long since identified operational gearing as the main culprit that undermines any airline's performance. So, to avoid the pitfall, budget operators have worked hard at keeping a lid on costs, almost to the point of being unpleasantly frugal. They also aim to fill their planes as near as possible to capacity, even if it means selling tickets at seemingly giveaway prices.

However, the latest caution from the airline industry association IATA is a chilling reminder that the fortunes of some airlines may only be hanging by a thread. It said airline profits, which were set to total some £18bn in the three years through to 2012, may be unsustainable. It appears that overcapacity and impending regulatory costs concerning pollution could weigh on margins.

IATA also pointed out that an economic slowdown could see airline profits slump by more than 30 per cent. In an even more distressing revelation, it said the industry has lost money in seven of the past ten years even as global sales doubled to almost £340bn.

The shock waves sent shudders through AMR Corporation, which owns American Airlines. Shares in AMR, which has lost 70 per cent of its value this year, slumped further last week on worries that it may be forced to seek bankruptcy protection. Flybe, Europe's biggest regional airline, tumbled by over 30 per cent last week after it missed first-half revenue targets. The shares are down almost 80 per cent since flotation last December. Elsewhere, Lufthansa could not even provide a profit estimate for the full year. The best it could do was to say that operating profit would be at the "upper end of the three-digit-million-euro range".

There is too much capacity, which in turn means that yields are too low for operators to make money. However, this has not stopped Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of easyJet, from revealing plans for a new airline, FastJet. Whether this will take off remains to be seen. On the face of it, there appears be little merit in another airline. But this is an industry that is wrapped up in misguided entrepreneurial spirit and national pride. And we all know what comes after pride. Investors should beware that airlines can be a long-fall flight.

Air tanker crash - Beziers, France

An air tanker crashed in France Saturday while it was fighting a wildfire about 18 miles northeast of Beziers. The aircraft crashed at around 11:15 a.m. while it was making a drop, apparently driven to the ground by a strong gust of wind, according to reports. The pilot injured with a head wound and the air tanker partially burned. The main fire consumed about 370 acres.

Pilot And Passenger In Plane Crash OK. Elizabethton Municipal Airport (0A9), Tennessee

Saturday morning the wreckage from Friday night's crash still lays near the runway at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport.
Photo by Laura Halm

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. -- Scarey moments Friday night for those taking part in a Fly-In at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport. One of the planes plunged to the ground moments after take off. Officials tell News 5, the plane was about 100 feet in the air when something went wrong and it crashed.

The buzzing of airplanes taking off or landing is normal at any airport. But there were two questions runnign through Jay Pratt's mind the second he heard a loud crash Friday night. "Who is it? Was it one of my friends?," he said. Turns out, it was. "Then I found out of course he was OK and his passenger was fine. They just had bumps and bruises. Even though the plane looks like a big crumpled mess," said Pratt.

Inside that crumpled mess were Dennis Wittenberg and Greg Campbell, according to Dan Cogan with the Elizabethton Municipal Airport. Cogan tells News 5, Campbell and Wittenberg are both pilots taking part in the Super Cub Fly-In that's taking place at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport this weekend. "This is our fourth year int he Super Cub Fly-In and we've never had any incident before," said Cogan.

News 5 WCYB'S Laura Halm did some digging and found the plane is a 1960 single engine piper cub registered out of Oklahoma and Campbell is a part owner. As of right now, cogan says it's unclear who exactly was flying the plane. Cogan says both pilots are experienced and very safe conscious.

Both Campbell and Wittenberg were able to escape the wreckage by themselves. But they were taken to Johnson City Medical Center as a precaution. Saturday morning other pilots stopped by to inspect the site. "The look of the wreckage tells me that the wing took the brunt of the damage and maybe one of the landing gears," said Pratt.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will be out in the coming days to investigate what exactly went wrong. Airport officials tell News 5, there are no safety issues surrounding the crash site, since the fuel from the plane has been removed

Matinicus, Maine: Islanders remember pilot; air service back in operation after fatal crash. Cessna 207A, N70437

MATINICUS, Maine — The crumpled wreck of a green and white Cessna 207 marks the spot in the spruce forest where Penobscot Island Air pilot Don Campbell crashed and died Wednesday on Matinicus Island.

The bright flowers strewn nearby and a wooden cross decorated with a tiny plane and the words “We Miss You Don,” are small symbols of just how much islanders cared about the longtime air service pilot, who was 57.

Ann Mitchell, who drives the island taxi, came to the crash site Saturday afternoon with her family. Tears came to her eyes easily as she talked about Campbell, who had been about to land with a load of groceries when a sudden gust of wind appeared to come up. He was alone in the Cessna when it went down in the woods.

“It’s how unexpected and quick something can happen to someone who’s the most careful person you know,” she said. “And how we’re at the mercy of so many things out here. Especially the weather.”

After the crash, owner Kevin Waters decided to voluntarily ground his fleet while federal officials began investigating the crash, which is the air service’s second in three months near Matinicus. In July, a plane crash-landed on the ocean near the island, with the three passengers and pilot able to escape.

But Friday night, Waters and others at the air service decided to start flying again Saturday morning. The news came as a relief to islanders, who described the air service as a “lifeline” that connects them to the mainland.

“We can’t exist without it,” said Bill Hoadley, who runs the island’s only bed and breakfast.

Pilot David Bellows made the first flight back to Matinicus on Saturday. He has been with the air service for 2½ years.

“It doesn’t seem real yet,” he said of Campbell’s death. “I’m sure it’s going to.”

Islanders said the pilots deliver groceries, medicine, mail and more in all months of the year. In the winter, the state ferry makes just one trip to Matinicus each month.

“The flying service, they are like family to us,” said lifelong islander Natalie Ames. “I put my children on that plane by themselves. I have total trust in them. They’re part of our extended community. They might be on the mainland, but they feel like they’re part of Matinicus.”

When her son, Gardner, was a baby, he got sick in December, when the weather “did not look good.”

“Don came out to get us, and I knew that he would never put our family at risk,” Ames said, her voice suffused with emotion. “I always felt so safe flying with Don. This is just so hard.”

Many islanders were planning to attend the pilot’s funeral Sunday afternoon in Waldoboro.

Waters said air service pilots would perform a missing man formation at his interment.

“It’s very sad, for sure,” he said Saturday afternoon in the Penobscot Island Air headquarters at Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head. “We’re now looking out for [Campbell’s] family. Taking care of some of their issues.”

The office was full of flowers, fruit baskets and cards sent after the pilot’s death.

“It’s unbelievable,” Waters said. “A lot of people have shared love and thoughts and prayers when they didn’t have to.”

Robyn Campbell, the pilot’s widow, said this week that her husband was a retired U.S. Army aviation mechanic who was her best friend and a devoted dad to their daughter, Elizabeth.

Islanders described him as always having a smile on his face.

“He was always so upbeat and positive,” Ames said. “And you just knew he wasn’t going to take any chances.”

Close escape, police inept. Accident occurred September 25, 2011. Beechcraft 1900D, Buddha Air. Nepal

Posted on 26 September 2011 by NepaliKuire

Flying out of KTM last night just hours after an arriving plane crashed, killing all on board, ensured a strange feeling amongst those leaving the country. [UPDATE] Today’s accusations against Nepali police sound shockingly believable.

The only survivor of the crash, who died later while undergoing treatment at the B & B Hospital, was Niranjan Karmacharya, 36, a resident of Kusunti in Lalipur. Local villagers tried to enquire about the family of Niranjan and other passengers, who were already dead. However, instead of telling the locals about his family, he just pleaded: “Take me to hospital. I want to live.”

Local villagers including Bijay brought down Niranjan from the tree. They managed a stretcher. When they were ready to take him to hospital, two policemen, who reached the accident site riding a motorcycle after about 10 minutes, stopped them. “They asked us if we could take responsibility if something goes wrong.”

The question raised by the policemen deterred the villagers. “I am feeling a terrible pain in my stomach,” Niranjan was crying, literally. “I can survive. Please, take me to hospital immediately.” After almost one and a half hours, the villagers decided to defy the policemen´s order. They started rushing him to the hospital.

Around 200 meters from the accident site, Bijay, accompanied by other villagers, in taking the injured to hospital, encountered with three police vans. They asked the police to provide one of the vans to take the injured to hospital. They were denied. “They said they are instructed to reach the accident site,” Bijay said. “So, we kept on walking. After walking for almost an hour, we reached Bisankhunarayan temple, some 800 meters from Kotdanda. An ambulance was there. We sent the injured by that ambulance.”

Sadly, by the time the ambulance reached the hospital, Niranjan was already dead. “Had he been brought on time to the hospital, chances of his survival would have been higher,” a doctor at B & B Hospital, requesting anonymity, told Republica. According to him, Niranjan died of multiple fractures and internal bleeding.

Locals also feel that they could have saved Niranjan had the police cooperated with them. “The police prevented us from taking him to hospital only on the grounds of legal procedures,” said an angry Bhawani Puri of Bisankhunarayan-2. “Legal procedures are not important than a human life. Police made a huge mistake by trying to follow unimportant procedures in such a critical condition.”

Niranjan´s wife Sharada and elder brother Dr Jagjan Karmacharya were also in the plane. They died on the spot. Dr Karmacharya, probably Nepal´s first vascular surgeon, now based in Florida, the US, had come to Nepal with his American colleague, Natalie Neilan, after attending a conference in Hong Kong. Dr Karmacharya, who holds a U.S. citizenship, has his wife and a son in the US. Niranjan has two sons, Aryan and Sourya.

Air chief concerned over highrises - Indian Air Force

Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne has reportedly expressed concern over construction of highrise buildings near Pune’s air force base. The Air chief’s comment on Lohegaon airport, while talking about the Srinagar airport earlier this week in New Delhi, is not the first time that concern over highrises around the Indian Air Force (IAF) station, Lohegaon, is being raised. The matter being taken at the highest level in the IAF has highlighted it yet again.

The IAF Lohegaon Station that houses two squadrons of Sukhoi-30 MKI and a Base Repair Depot is an important airbase. The IAF authorities have been raising the issue of growing construction around the station, besides stress on the Air Traffic Control (ATC) from civil airlines traffic.

While IAF authorities at Lohegaon were unavailable for comment, an official earlier associated with the Air Force Station, Lohegaon, said, “There are a number of norms laid down by the Air Headquarters as far as construction around IAF bases is concerned and they involve civil authorities as well as the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Air HQ and the Defence Estates Office (DEO). We take up matters with civil authorities when violations occur.”

MiG crash blame on training gaps

New Delhi, Oct. 8: The Indian Air Force chief today said the crashes of the MiG-21 fighter jets this year was largely because of the “inexperience of young pilots”, a consequence of gaps in training.

Cadets at the Air Force Academy, from where pilots graduate, were being trained without a basic trainer aircraft for more than a year now since the HPT-32 aircraft were grounded after the IAF found that its technical defects were costing lives.

There have been four MiG-21 crashes this year — the last was yesterday when a jet went down near Uttarlai in Rajasthan.

The MiG-21 is a demanding fighter jet with landing and take-off speeds much greater than the other aircraft in the IAF inventory.

“As far as the two-three accidents we had of the MiG-21s, unfortunately, except for one case, the other cases are pointing towards inexperience of young pilots who have not been able to handle the (high-speed) landing,” Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said after inspecting a parade to mark the 79th anniversary of the IAF in Hindon, near Delhi.

Some fighter pilots are trained on MiG-21 aircraft after passing out from the Air Force Academy but with the expansion of the IAF’s fleet of the Hawk advanced jet trainers, the trainees will not be flying in the MiG-21 from January 2013.

“This is the last (pilot-training) course which will be flying the MiG-21. After this, all pilots will be trained on the Hawk (advanced jet trainer). This course will finish in December next year. So this is very crucial period. We have to be very careful,” Browne said.

The IAF has nearly finalised an order for 75 Pilatus PC-7 basic trainers (made in Switzerland) that will be used in place of the HPT-32.

“If the base (first-stage training) is good, solid... then you will not have this problem (of inexperience causing crashes). The basic trainer aircraft case is in the final stages and this is with ministry of finance, and we hope that by the end of this month... we will sign the contract for Pilatus PC-7,” the air chief said.

Unmanned Aircraft From New Mexico Air Force Base Crashes

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. -- An unmanned aircraft from Holloman Air Force Base has crashed in Alamogordo.

Officials with the 49th Wing said the MQ-9 Reaper went down on base property at 6:45 p.m. Friday as it approached for landing.

Base officials said the cause of the crash is being investigated although the Alamogordo Daily Times reported that the Reaper may have hit a power line.

The aircraft is assigned to the 29th Attack Squadron, which is a remotely piloted aircraft flying training unit. The accident occurred at the end of a training mission.

Five previous Holloman-based unmanned aerial vehicles -- two MQ-1 Predators and three MQ-9 Reapers -- have crashed since Sept. 11, 2009, when the base declared the UAV's initial operational capability.

Protesters Force Closing of Air and Space Museum -Washington, D.C.

Protest at Air and Space Museum:

For most of this week, the growing crowds of the "Occupy D.C." movement have carried out their demonstrations peacefully. But matters threatened to spin out of control on Saturday afternoon when a group of protesters tried to enter the Air and Space Museum.

According to Smithsonian spokesperson Linda St. Thomas, a crowd of "about 100 to 200 people" tried to enter through the museum's Mall entrance.

"They were carrying signs and a lot of protest materials," St. Thomas said in a statement. "You cannot bring that stuff into the museum under any circumstances."

According to St. Thomas, the crowd tried to shove its way into the museum after being denied entry by security.

"One security guard was grabbed and pinned against the wall. He could not extract himself," the spokesperson said. "Another security guard came over to help him and ended up pepper-spraying one person."

Videos quickly circulated online showing Smithsonian security telling protestors to "get back" while protesters and bystanders covered their faces to shield themselves from the pepper spray. At least one person was seen writhing on the ground in apparent agony.

The museum was closed at 3:00 p.m. and one woman was taken into custody by police.

Grounded: Bulldogs Banned on Many Airlines Due to Death Risk. These Bulldogs Fly Private . . . .

With a face so cute, who could resist a bulldog? The airlines can, apparently. 

That's right, the pups are the latest in the no-fly zone. Along with knives and toxic liquids, bulldogs and other snub-nosed pets simply won't fly with the airlines.

Their short noses supposedly give them breathing problems, especially when flying in the cargo hold of airplanes. And the numbers prove why man's best friend is not a friend of the airlines: between June 2005 and June 2011, 189 animals died on commercial flights, according to the U.S. Deparment of Agriculture. More than half that number, 98 animals, were of the snub-nosed (brachycephalic for the more technical among you) variety, the New York Times reports.

Earlier this year, Delta banned bulldogs from flying, along with a number of other pets with noticeably short noses: pugs, chow chows, boxers, pit bulls and even Himalayan and Persian cats are not allowed to fly as cargo. United forbids those breeds during the hot summer months. And American won't even accept mutts of snub-nosed breeds. Most airlines don't allow on-board pets weighing more than 20 lbs. So what's the owner of a cute bulldog to do?

Naturally, enter the old staple of America, capitalism. A number of pet-friendly airlines have cropped up to solve the pooches' travel woes. Pet Airways will fly those kept grounded by the airlines' restrictions – they say they'll even take pigs! Each animal is cared for in the main cabin as a ticketed “Pawsenger” (their words, not ours) and checked on every 15 minutes.

A fair warning to furry flyers: the price can be much more than the average human would pay. The Times notes a cross-country flight cost $840 each way. But at least they probably get better snacks on board.

Warrensburg, New York

Pilot Paul Van Brunt used to take short fly-overs of the area as early as 5 a.m.

His neighbors said he would fly in a red-colored aircraft, which had canvas wings, a sling-like seat and three wheels, taking off from a runway on his Schroon River Road property.

The 56-year-old Warrensburg resident died Friday after his ultralight craft crashed when he was attempting to land, police said.

"I can't see why he would be that low that far from the runway unless there was some sort of problem," said Gary Herbert, a Monte Vista Drive resident.

The aircraft crashed in a field east of the intersection of Pucker Street and Schroon River Road next to a Virgin Mary statue. The crash was several hundred yards south of the runway.

Herbert said he saw one wing was bent upward and another damaged after the crash.

Van Brunt was initially assisted from the wreckage by a passing motorist and neighbors, Warren County Sheriff's Lt. Steve Stockdale said.

Van Brunt's property had previously been used as an informal Christmas tree farm, Pucker Street resident Mike Dipietro said.

A sheriff's officer at the scene of the crash told Herbert that Van Brunt was conscious and talking after the aircraft went down. Van Brunt later died at Glens Falls Hospital from injuries sustained in the crash.

Stockdale said it was unknown if the aircraft hit any tree tops before it crashed. The cause is still under investigation by the sheriff's office and Federal Aviation Administration.

An FAA spokeswoman said Saturday afternoon there was currently no information about the cause of the crash. An Albany inspector may finish the case in several days, she said.

Van Brunt was a licensed pilot with several years of experience, although the FAA does not require a pilot's license to fly unregistered ultralight aircraft.

Neighbors Keenan Havey and Mae Haynes said Van Burnt was a family man, who built an elaborate treehouse for his children and held fireworks shows even when it wasn't a holiday.

"He would always wave," Havey said.

Lake Cumberland Regional Airport (KSME) Somerset, Kentucky: Two charged with helping inmate escape to see his girlfriend

Somerset police have charged two men for allegedly helping a work-release jail inmate escape Thursday.

Pulaski County jail inmates Jason Cannon, 31, and Cortney Slusher, 33, were on work release Thursday at the Lake Cumberland Regional Airport.

Airport employee Clyde Derrell Collett, 39, of Somerset, was driving them back to the jail. He told police that he had car trouble and pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot to try to fix it. He and Slusher told police that Cannon then escaped.

However, after reviewing surveillance videos, "we found their story wasn't holding water," said Lt. Shannon Smith of the Somerset Police Department.

Det. Larry Patterson discovered that Collett drove Cannon to Danville yesterday to see his girlfriend, and Cannon then fled. He said Collett and Slusher came up with the story of breaking down at Wal-Mart to throw off police and help Cannon remain free.

On Friday, Patterson arrested Collett and Slusher on a charge of second-degree complicity to escape. Collett was being held in the Pulaski County jail. Slusher was being held there on a probation violation for previous drug charges.

Cannon remains at large. He is white, 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. He was last seen near Danville.

Police said anyone with information about Cannon's whereabouts should call 911 or the Somerset Police crime tip line at (606) 676-8477.

Madison County, Tennessee, Sheriff's Office helps locate Brooks County, Georgia, plane crash

A plane crashed in Brooks County, Georgia this afternoon and was found with help from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, said Sheriff Ben Stewart.

Stewart said the call came through Madison County’s 911 center between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. At least one person in the crash is incapacitated and cannot leave the site, Stewart said. Another passenger is involved, but Stewart did not know that person’s condition.

Stewart said the victim thought he might have been in northern Madison County, but when deputies honed in on his cellular phone signal, they found he had crashed in Brooks County near Quitman, Ga. The plane, Stewart said, was on its way from Thomasville to Bell, south of Live Oak, when it went down.

The Brooks County Sheriff’s Office is working the crash. A spokesman from BCSO could not be reached for comment.

Plane crashes into Lehigh River. Franklin Township, Carbon County - Pennsylvania.

A small plane has crashed into the Lehigh River and it appears at least one person was injured. 

The Federal Aviation Administration confirms the plane took off from Carbon County Municipal Airport Saturday afternoon. It later crashed into the Lehigh River in Franklin Township, Carbon County.

The plane is completely submerged under the water.

Whitewater rafters on the river had to rescue one person trapped inside the plane. Another person was also in the plane but was able to swim to safety.

The FAA says they are responding to the scene.

At this point, there is no information on why the plane went down.

American Airlines to outsource work, Tulsa union told

American Airlines has notified its Transport Workers Union in Tulsa that the company will outsource heavy maintenance on four Boeing 757 aircraft by Nov. 1, company and union officials said.

The 757 work will be performed by TIMCO Aviation Services, an independent aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul provider in Greensboro, N.C.

The 757 heavy maintenance, or “C checks,” normally are performed at American’s Maintenance & Engineering Center at Tulsa International Airport, company and union officials said, and the work takes from three to four weeks to complete.

American executives said a backlog of maintenance work at the Tulsa base compels the company to outsource the 757 maintenance as a temporary solution.

“American Airlines takes a very strategic approach to its maintenance planning needs,” said American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely. “At this time, a short-term solution is required to address a large number of heavy maintenance checks for a portion of American’s fleet.

“Over several years, we have outsourced a very few, specialized projects, usually on a short-term basis. That work is a miniscule fraction of our overall maintenance operation.”

Spokesmen for the TWU’s Local 514 in Tulsa, however, said American management knew about the 757 heavy maintenance requirements more than a year ago, failed to plan for the work and refused to consider TWU proposals for performing the maintenance in-house.

Read the complete story in Sunday's World.

Surya Kirans to fly again with Hawk aircraft: Air Chief marshal N A K Browne

HINDON (Ghaziabad): The disbanded nine aircraft Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) of the Indian Air Force will once again take to the skies in another three years with British Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers (AJTs).

"This year, we had to take the painful decision of disbanding the nine aircraft SKAT. But we owe it to the nation to resurrect the team again and I assure you that in three years, the team will rise again in national colours on the Hawk AJT," Air Chief marshal N A K Browne said here addressing the 79th Air Force day parade here.

He said in their new machines, the Surya Kirans will "rise over the skies in Hindon and perform across the length and breadth of India."

The SKAT, which was formed in 1996 with HJT-16 aircraft, is now being used for training of pilots and therefore could not be there for the aerial display this year at the Hindon air base.

The team was formed to serve as the "Ambassadors of the IAF" and to "showcase the professionalism, the calibre and the mettle of the Indian Air Force".

The aircraft of the team have been provided for training the rookie pilots for the basic and intermediate stage of their syllabus in absence of the HPT-32 basic trainers which have been grounded for the last two years now.

At successive IAF day parades on October 8, the SKAT team was the last to perform its aerobatic skills.

Port Columbus International Airport (KCMH), Columbus, Ohio: Whitehall director steps down after airport arrest.

Whitehall Development Director Dan Lorek resigned his post with the city Wednesday, Oct. 5, following his arrest Friday, Sept. 30, at Port Columbus International Airport.

Lorek, 52, of New Albany is charged with misdemeanor counts of assault, obstructing official business and resisting arrest, stemming from his Sept. 30 arrest by Columbus Port Authority police.

Lorek was arraigned Saturday, Oct. 1, in Franklin County Municipal Court, where Municipal Court Judge Eric Brown set a $2,000 recognizance bond on each of the three counts against him. Lorek was released on bond and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing at 9 a.m. Oct. 19 before Municipal Court Judge Michael Brandt.

Attorney Joseph R. Landusky II represents Lorek, according to Municipal Court records.

Columbus Port Authority police arrested Lorek after he allegedly refused to move his car from a no-parking zone at the airport, then assaulted an officer when police attempted to take him into custody.

Columbus Port Authority police reported Lorek was asked to remove his car from the no-parking zone at the flight arrivals area of the airport at 5:40 p.m. Sept. 30.

Lorek repeatedly refused, challenged officers' authority,and attempted to strike officers who removed him from his vehicle, police said.

According to reports, Lorek told police his wife was inside the airport, then refused to provide police with identification.

Lorek said to police, "(They) were not legal and had no right to tell him what to do," according to reports.

Police forcibly removed Lorek from his vehicle, a 2011 BMW.

Lorek also is accused of spitting at an officer, according to reports.

Among the five officers listed as victims on the Municipal Court complaint is Larry Meade, a former lieutenant with the Whitehall Division of Police.

Meade was the first officer to contact Lorek and called for backup after Lorek refused to get out the car, indicating a physical confrontation likely was necessary, according to reports.

Police obtained the identity of Lorek from his wife, who told police he had "anger issues," reports said.

Lorek could not immediately be reached for comment Oct. 5.

Whitehall Mayor John Wolfe on Oct. 5 accepted Lorek's resignation.

Wolfe said while he suggested it might be in the best interest of the city that he resign, the decision to do so was of his own accord.

"He resigned this morning and it was his own decision," Wolfe said in response to whether Lorek had been fired or if his resignation had been requested.

Wolfe said Lorek cited "personal reasons" for his resignation.

In his letter to Wolfe, Lorek wrote, "Due to personal reasons, I have decided to resign my position as development director for the city of Whitehall, effective immediately."

Wolfe did not expound upon those personal reasons, but said Lorek always had created a "good work product" and was a "loyal employee."

Lorek had been development director for the city of Whitehall since 2008, but also had served a stint as development director for Whitehall for about a four-year period in the late 1990s and early 2000s. His salary upon his resignation was $89,000.

Between his two stints in Whitehall, Lorek was development director for the city of Bexley and worked in the private sector.

During his tenure in Whitehall, Lorek worked to bring several businesses to the city, including FedEx Ground Package and the OhioHealth East Side Medical Center, as well as establishing five new or expanded overlay districts in the city.

But his tenure also marked with some discord. Lorek walked out a council meeting in October 2010 after council members rejected a proposal he had supported.

"And another development fails in this community," Lorek quipped from the audience before walking out of council chambers.

Last year, Whitehall resident Gerald Dixon on several occasions complained Lorek had behaved rudely toward him and appealed to Wolfe to address the matter.

Wolfe said he would advertise the open position.

Kingfisher Airlines launches three new international routes

Bangalore: Kingfisher Airlines, on Friday, announced the launch of three new international routes from key south Indian cities to Colombo over the last weekend.

The new routes are, Tiruchirapalli-Colombo-Tiruchirapalli (from October 1), ATR 72-500; Kochi-Colombo-Kochi (from September 30), ATR 72-500; Thiruvananthapuram-Colombo-Thiruvananthapuram (from October 1), ATR 72-500.

Manoj Chacko, Executive Vice President, Commercial, Kingfisher, said, the addition of these new routes further strengthens our route network and we now offer enhanced connectivity especially into and out of South India.

WestJet emergency landing at Kelowna International Airport, British Columbia, Canada.

Tense moments in the skies above Kelowna on Saturday as the pilot of a WestJet flight makes an emergency landing.

Police met the plane on the tarmac at Kelowna International Airport just after 9:00 am after getting reports of an unruly passenger.

"There was a passenger behaving strangely; he seemed to be quite agitated and he thought he had either lost or someone had stolen his money," says Airport spokesperson Jenelle Hynes.

Hynes adds the passenger refused to sit in his seat and was being very loud.

"He must have been fairly vocal in order to cause so much concern so, at that point, the pilot chose to divert."

Mounties interviewed the man after taking him off the plane and searched his luggage.

They later allowed him to book another flight out of town.

The diverted plane was able to take off and resume its trip to Vancouver from Toronto shortly after landing.

There is no word on who the man involved in the incident is or whether he will face charges.

San Bernardino International Airport: Apply to be executive director by October 17

Applications to be the next interim executive director of the agencies overseeing development of San Bernardino International Airport will be accepted through 5 p.m. Oct. 17.

The Airport Operations and Performance Compliance committee will then review the applications the next day at noon at the airport’s offices and bring a short list of candidates to the full boards of the Inland Valley Development Agency and airport authority on Oct. 26.

The members of the committee said they hope to choose a new leader by a special meeting on Nov. 2. At the same time, the agencies plan to search nationwide for a more permanent replacement.

Donald L. Rogers, 71, who was the executive director of both agencies for nine years, a large portion of it spent as an “interim” director, resigned Sept. 28 exactly a week following an FBI raid of the airport’s offices. The agency has already received unsolicited resumes from those interested in the job

Gonzales urged that time not be wasted and that a new leader start work within 30 days.

“It better not be anybody’s friend, or someone’s uncle,” she said of interim director candidates. Throughout the meeting she said she was frustrated and “beyond angry,” by the lack of communication with board members such as herself and the airport’s management.

“I no longer believe we were on the right track,” she said.

San Bernardino International Airport Authority: Thursday’s meeting included demands for fixes.

Despite there being only one item up for discussion at Thursday’s inaugural meeting of the Airport Operations and Performance Compliance Committee of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, there was plenty to discuss.

Sure the three members – San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, San Bernardino County Sup. Josie Gonzales and Highland city councilman Sam Racadio – were there to discuss how to go about picking a new interim executive director and they did, emphasizing that they must do it swiftly, and “it better not be anybody’s friend, or someone’s uncle,” Gonzales said. But somewhere along the way, the discussion turned to Gonzales’ growing frustration with the way things have been handled at the airport.

“I no longer believe we were on the right track,” she said at Thursday’s sparsely attended 1 p.m. meeting at Loma Linda City Hall. She said decisions had been made in a vacuum by a select few and not the full board.

“I am beyond angry,” she said.

Here is some of what Gonzales demanded Thursday:

Post agendas online (“And I mean now,” Gonzales said)

The page has long been “under construction” and anyone wanting a copy of the full agenda complete with staff reports would have to stop by the airport’s offices for one. Staff said they would start posting the agendas online starting today, Friday, with the Oct. 12 agenda. As of 3:06 p.m. the page was still “under construction.”

Answer the phone

Anyone calling San Bernardino International Airport’s offices would undoubtedly get a recorded voice that would recite the hours of operation and prompt the caller for the extension of the person they wished to reach, or else they’d be forced to leave a message in the general voicemail box. Gonzales said she left several voice messages in the general box and none were returned. She said it represented deplorable customer service. Gonzales said there should either be a live person answering the phone Friday morning or she’d answer the phones herself. Staff said it would fix that starting Friday. As of 3:10 p.m., the airport’s main line was still being picked up by recording.

Respond to public records requests

Gonzales said the airport staff’s inability to provide documents and information in a timely manner to the media would lead to distrust, “like we’re hiding something.” She said it was embarrassing that Press-Enterprise columnist Cassie MacDuff was forced to contact each of the boards members after multiple attempts to secure public documents from the agency. Gonzales suggested the agency could create its own “Sunshine Law” much like San Bernardino County did. Morris suggested hiring an outside public relations firm. Racadio said the agency needed a “culture change” more than to hire a PR firm when it came to media relations.

“Never again take direction from any one member,” for policy decisions

Gonzales said that every policy decision would need to come before the full board from now on and action could only be taken based on the votes in full meetings. She said she’s come to learn that there were “omissions” and abridged versions of what staff had presented her and others in the past.

Gonzales took responsibility for the present situation the airport was in, acknowledging that she like others sits on numerous boards and it’s a lot of information and responsibility to balance.

Racadio tried to reassure staff toward the end of the meeting.

“As staff, you’re probably feeling down,” he said addressing assistant director Mike Burrows and clerk of the board Kelly Berry. “We appreciate the work you have to do.”

FAA plans to discipline any pilot who drops turkeys in Yellville on Saturday

No one in Yellville will say if they expect wild turkeys to fall from planes for this year's annual Turkey Trot Festival, but the Federal Aviation Administration says it will be watching.  An FAA spokesman says the agency will track any pilot who drops wild turkeys over the tiny town in north Arkansas.  Offenders could lose their pilot licenses.

The spokesman, Lynn Lunsford, says no one in town will tell them who flies the planes.  Fans of the drop say it doesn't hurt the turkeys, which float to the ground.  Lunsford says he's seen video of a turkey falling straight down and bouncing off the roof of a building.

Turkey Trot to PETA: ' Leave us alone'

YELLVILLE — By late afternoon Friday, no turkeys had come hurtling from the skies at Yellville's Turkey Trot, although plenty of people were on hand to see it if it happened — and to enjoy the other offerings of the festival. Actually, an animal rights group's opposition to the "turkey drop" and its offer of a reward for anyone involved in it may have helped spark the large turnout.

Turkey Trot continues today.

Along with focusing attention on Yellville from across the country, the $5,000 reward offered by People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals may have backfired, with positive economic consequences for the small north central town and turned the unknown pilot of the turkey drop plane into a local folk hero.

This year marks the 66th annual Turkey Trot festival. The event is marked by many ordinary non-controversial events such as a parade, pizza- eating contest, music, entertainment, arts and crafts, the Miss Turkey Trot and Miss Drumsticks pageant and the National Wild Turkey Calling Contest.

The event draws people from across the Twin lakes Area and from across the nation.

This year's festival also has drawn controversy since PETA offered a $5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the person who drops turkeys on the festival from a plane.

'Phantom Pilot'

Several years ago, when the turkey drop had been canceled, an unidentified pilot in an unmarked airplane conducted drops any way. The Bulletin dubbed the person "The Phantom Pilot" in a news story, and the name stuck.

With the PETA-induced controversy, the appeal and the legend of The Phantom Pilot has grown significantly.

The Phantom Pilot has a motto, a Facebook page, a theme song sung to the tune of Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" and a fast-selling T-shirt.

The Phantom Pilot's Facebook page showed 293 people liked the nameless flyer as of Friday evening. Several tongue-in-cheek comments on the page have generated multiple comments of support for the hunted flyer.

Kala Evans, a 24-year-old Yellville resident, said her friends had been discussing the controversy and decided they wanted to show support for The Phantom Pilot.

"Everybody was Facebooking about it and saying they wanted to show support for our town," Evans said. "I just happened to know the T-shirt lady, so I called her."

That call went to Crossfire Tees owner Deanna Burleson.

"She (Evans) called with the idea, and we were up past midnight making the T-shirts," Burleson said Friday. "I've probably sold 50 of them. I'm running home to make more because we had no idea they would be so popular."

Those fortunate enough to have bought the hot-selling tee often were questioned as to where they purchased the shirts.

"People are coming in with their own designs, and they're not very flattering towards PETA," Burleson said. "They're not very happy with PETA. I'm thankful, though. PETA's given me a lot of business."

'Leave us alone'

A random sampling of festival attendees revealed overwhelming support for the turkey drop and The Phantom Pilot.

From Yellville Chamber of Commerce president Travis Doshier to a high school junior, a man in his 40s, a 24-year-old woman and an 83-year-old man who attended the first festival 65 years ago, all say they like the turkey drop and most had little love for PETA.

"There's a group of people that like the turkey drop, and there's a group that doesn't," Doshier aid. "It's a tradition. Personally, I like it, but I can understand why some people don't."

Doshier stressed the chamber of commerce is not involved in and does not sanction the turkey drop.

Cierra Gregory, a 16-year-old junior at Yellville-Summit High School, said she has been coming to the festival since she was born.

"I think it's stupid that PETA is protesting this," Gregory said. "It's been a tradition in our town for years, so why break it? PETA should just leave us alone."

All of those questioned say the main reason they come is to see people they haven't seen in some time, like 40-year-old Yellville resident Jess Tudor.

"I like to come and see people, people I haven't seen in 20 years," Tudor said.

Tudor said he enjoys watching the turkeys drop from the plane and chased them when he was younger. Tudor does not agree with PETA's stance on the event.

"PETA is wrong. Does PETA think it's wrong to keep fish in hatcheries until they're old enough to be shot through a hose into a lake or a river? PETA said something about puppies. Well, if puppies had wings and could fly, it'd be pretty cool to watch that."

Lester Gibons is an 83-year-old native who attended the first Turkey Trot when he was 17 and says he likes to visit with old friends. He also likes to see the turkeys drop.

"People come here to see that. I come here to see that," Gibons said.

One of those who came from very far away to attend Turkey Trot and see the turkey drop is Scott Field of Keller, Texas. Field said he came with his family to relax and attend the festival as a little fall break. Field said he likes the turkey drop and thinks PETA goes too far.

"It makes my blood go cold to see someone abuse a pet," Field said. "PETA needs to get a life, they go too far."

Barbara Allen, president of the North Arkansas Kennel Club and a self-proclaimed animal lover, agreed with Field.

"We don't support PETA," Allen said. "They are a radical group. We're animal lovers and we have no problem with turkeys being dropped from the plane."

PETA responds

PETA did not have a visible presence at Turkey Trot on Friday. When asked if PETA had people at the event, Gemma Vaughan, an entertainment specialist for the organization, told The Bulletin, "We can't disclose that."

Vaughan said PETA has received local support for their effort to see The Phantom Pilot grounded and jailed.

"Since we've offered the reward, we've had a couple dozen Yellville residents call us and express their disdain for this event," Vaughan said.

"The practice breaks Arkansas state law. We have reached out to local law enforcement and Gov. Beebe," Vaughan said. "We will not stop until the participants are jailed."

"We have a video on our website of the 2010 drop," said Vaughan. "It clearly shows birds fatally colliding with buildings and cars and making a horrendous thud. Some people have claimed it's a tradition, that doesn't make it right, or legal. Tradition is no excuse for cruelty."

The festival kicks off at 8 a.m. today with a 5K run with the parade scheduled to start at 10 a.m. The evening will be capped off with a 7:30 p.m. street dance.

A main festival event, the National Wild Turkey Calling Contest begins at 11 a.m. at the Fred Berry Conservation Education Center on Crooked Creek, just west of Yellville off U.S. Highway 62/412. Admission is free as callers compete in five categories from those younger than 16 to previous champions.

Turkey dinners, presumably not comprised of the controversial turkeys, are scheduled to be available at the Yellville-Summit cafeteria 4:30-6 p.m., followed by the Miss Turkey Trot and Miss Drumsticks pageant and a rodeo.

Grounded Mexicana to offer charter flights-report

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Troubled airline Mexicana, which stopped flying over a year ago because of financial troubles, will start offering charter flights, the head of the union told a Mexican newspaper.

The airline, one of the oldest in Latin America, got the green light from the transportation and labor ministries to offer charter flights from Monday through to mid-November, union leader Miguel Angel Yudico told El Universal newspaper.

"We're in talks with travel agencies to offer the service, as well as with airport and hotel people and everyone says they're very interested in the project," he told the newspaper.

Yudico could not be reached and a spokesman for Mexico's transport ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Mexicana de Aviacion, once one of Mexico's two biggest airlines, is under creditor protection in Mexico and the United States.

The airline's chances of resuming operations look dim after a string of plans to relaunch have failed since it stopped flying last August, swamped by its financial liabilities.

Last month, Mexican airline Interjet said it opted against taking over the operations of Mexicana.

Bombardier CRJ200: De-icing truck clips wing of plane at Denver International Airport (KDEN), Colorado

DENVER - Officials say passengers were taken off a plane and bused back to the terminal after a deicing truck clipped the wing of the plane on Saturday at Denver International Airport.

Airport officials say United Flight #6478 was headed from Denver to Colorado Springs when it was clipped by the truck while waiting to be deiced. No injuries were reported.

DIA says there is no impact on the airport, and the passengers are being loaded onto another flight to their destination.

Suspicious Package Evacuates Plane, Summons Bomb Squad. Port Columbus International Airport (KCMH), Columbus, Ohio.

A Delta Air Lines flight was evacuated at Port Columbus International Airport because of a suspicious bag Saturday afternoon, a federal official told Upfront News.

Flight 5977 from New York to Columbus was “directed to a remote area after landing … because of a suspicious package found on board,” Delta said in a statement. The plane was carrying 59 passengers, according to Angie Tabor, Manager of Communications for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority.

The bag was examined by a K9 stationed at the airport and no explosives were found. Tabor said, out of an abundance of cation the bomb squad was contacted.

Employment: Airport Operations Specialist, The City of Boise, Idaho.

Airport Operations Specialist
Location:  Airport Terminal 3rd Fl
Reference:  002161
Opening :Friday, October 7, 2011
Closing Date:  Friday, October 21, 2011
Who May Apply:  This position is currently open to all interested persons age 19 and older
Hours per Week:  40 hours per week including nights, weekends, holidays, and rotating shifts
Position Type:  Regular, Full-time

Provides a full-scope of operational airfield and terminal related services including safety and security inspections; documenting medical emergencies; airfield and aircraft incidents; snow removal assessment and coordination; wildlife management and control; monitoring airfield access; monitoring and enforcing FAA security regulations and ensuring airfield integrity; crowd control and management, responding to traveling public complaints; providing information, assistance and direction to the traveling public and airport visitors.

Essential Functions of The Job
Represents the Airport in contacts with tenants, other agencies and the general public to ensure safe and efficient operation of the airport; coordinates and monitors airport security program; provides security training to employees, tenants and other users; enforces duly established rules and regulations pertaining to operations, security and use of airport; staffs a centralized communications center which includes monitoring and operating multiple computer systems such as two-way radio and voice communication consoles, runway surface sensor system, CCTV (closed-circuit television) system master controller, fire alarm, etc.; monitors, operates and controls computerized weather reporting systems to access, monitor and interpret weather conditions, and initiate airport-wide response; monitors and patrols all traffic flow in front of the terminal; utilizing good public relations skills requests all vehicles at the curbside be moved unless loading or unloading passengers; issues citations in accordance with Airport and City parking regulations; pages owner to return to vehicle and when necessary arranges for vehicle towing; ensures traffic movement is free from double parking delays; monitors and enforces parking regulations for commercial vehicle and taxi lane; provides answers to various questions from the public; inspects and observes vendor product delivery of large and small quantities; monitors, inspects and performs routine patrol of airport terminals, airfield property and facilities to identify operational issues and hazards, security and compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) and federal, state and local laws; conducts checks of tenant activity for compliance with lease agreements; acts as the central coordination and communications center during airfield emergencies and snow removal activities to coordinate airport-wide and external emergency responses; provides escorts for aircraft during low visibility conditions; inspects SMGCS (Surface Movement Guidance Control System) assets at the onset of low visibility conditions to ensure operation and usability; reads, prepares and recommends issuing Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) to report status of airfield conditions; receives calls in emergency, routine and non-routine operations and notifies and dispatches appropriate personnel; monitors and controls a centralized security system to enforce Transportation Security Administration regulations and receives alarms and initiates appropriate airport response; issues notice of security violations; processes security applications and criminal background checks, and issues security badges to employees and tenants; assesses and collects aircraft landing fees; provides daily wildlife management on airport property; utilizes numerous forms of available technology to repel, manage and control wildlife;  receives training and educates others in aircraft ground control, gate  management, and facility management; inspects airport and airfield for safety and operational problems; maintains accurate and complete log book entries and manual records of airport events; trains others in  the day to-day-procedures.

One (1) year experience in airfield management, airline ground operations, or airport operations including conducting FAR 139 and TSA 1542 compliance inspections. Working knowledge of federal, state and local laws, regulations, policies, and procedures related to the operations of an airport; of airfield and terminal operations, procedures and technical aviation issues, equipment, and administration; of safety practices and precautions sufficient to recognize and correct hazardous situations; of basic aviation and airport control procedures sufficient to provide safe coordination of various areas of the airport and aircraft. Knowledge of business office and telephone etiquette and equipment and general office  practices and customer service techniques; of radio communication  techniques.

Ability to exercise sound judgment in stressful situations; to establish and maintain effective working relationships with others; to communicate effectively, orally and in writing; to develop and use empathetic listening skills; to handle customer concerns skillfully and respectfully; to remain calm under public criticism; to prioritize work and dispatch information during emergency situations; to accomplish multiple tasks accurately with frequent interruptions; to use a PC, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint software; to interpret regulations, policies and procedures; to effectively patrol work areas for several hours at a time; to work in all types of weather  conditions; to work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays.

Ability to pass a criminal history background check, a post-offer drug test, and successfully complete Transportation Security Administration 10-year employment background investigation; possession of a valid Idaho driver's license.

Superior Candidates
Two (2) or more years experience in airfield management, airline ground operations, or airport operations; working knowledge of Homeland Security protocols; airport-specific systems such as SMGCS (Surface Movement Guidance Control System); CCTV (closed-circuit television) system master controller, and issuing NOTAMs.

Starting Salary Range
$13.21 - $15.40 per hour

The City of Boise offers excellent benefits to full time and part time employees, including health insurance and retirement. For a complete  listing of benefits visit: id=benefits&MID=004Y

How To Apply
Please complete our online employment application at our web site: Resumes are not accepted in lieu of our  application form, but may be submitted with your application.

You may apply online by using the CLICK HERE TO APPLY! link
provided below.

Please DO NOT send your resume and/or supplemental documents in a  zipped format; we will not be able to view them and your application  may not be considered. Acceptable document formats include: .doc .html .htm .pdf .txt .rtf

Selection Procedure

All applications will be reviewed and screened based upon their  relevant knowledge, abilities, skills, experience, and training. The  selection process varies according to the position and can include  such things as screening of applications, written or skill tests,  ability or fitness tests, interviews, etc. Background investigations  and fingerprinting are mandatory for all positions, and employment is contingent on successful completion of these processes. This position  requires successfully passing a post-offer drug test.

Applicants selected to continue in the process will be notified  approximately three weeks after the posting deadline. Due to the  volume of applications received by the City, generally, only  applicants selected for further consideration (testing, interviews) will be contacted.

Physical Requirements
The physical requirements described here are representative of those  that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to  enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential  functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently  required to sit, occasionally required to stand; walk; reach with  hands and arms; climb or balance; stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl and  talk or hear. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include  close vision.

Working Environment
The working environment characteristics described here are  representative of those an employee encounters while performing the  essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be  made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential  functions.

Light physical effort. Intermittent sitting, standing & walking.   Comfortable working conditions. Regular exposure to stressful  situations as a result of human behavior and the demands of the position. Occasionally working outdoors near noisy aircraft; exposure to chemicals, fumes, and exhaust; working around moving belts/machines  or operating large vehicles; occasionally exposed to risk of electrical shock; working in adverse weather conditions, especially during winter. The noise level in the work environment is usually  quiet to moderate indoors, but occasionally can be very loud outdoors. Working hours will vary including evenings, nights, weekends, and

Equal Employment Opportunity
The City of Boise is committed to providing equal employment  opportunity for all persons without regard to race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity,  disability, veteran status, or any other applicable legally protected  status. Applicants may request accommodation by calling (208) 384-3850 or TTY (800) 377-3529.

Qualified veterans will receive preferential treatment in accordance with Idaho State Law.

Employment Eligibility
As required under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), any  person wishing to work for Boise City, regardless of the nature of the job or the number of hours or months employed, will be required to  show proof of identity and work eligibility.

Please apply before:  10/21/2011

Fallen F-15 fuel tank may have broken apart in flight: Air Self-Defense Force

Police and Self-Defense Forces personnel inspect part of an auxiliary fuel tank that fell off an F-15 fighter while it was flying over Ishikawa Prefecture on Friday morning.

A fuel tank that fell from a Japan Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) F-15 fighter may have broken apart in flight, with parts of the tank, including where it attached to the plane, still remaining on the fighter, ASDF sources said.

On Oct. 7, parts of a fuel tank and dummy missile from an F-15 fighter fell on areas near the ASDF's Komatsu Air Base. No injuries were reported. The ASDF has set up a commission to investigate the incident, and a group of 15 officers have been dispatched to the area. It is believed the tank may have ruptured after being exposed to pressure of some sort.

According to the ASDF, the tank was made in 1981 by a Japanese firm. The tank fell as the fighter was approaching Komatsu Air Base to land after drills. The plane was around 500 meters above the ground at the time, in the midst of a right turn.

The pilot reported hearing an explosion and seeing flames in the rear-view mirror. A traffic controller at the base also claims to have noticed fire coming from the plane just before the tank fell. Although the tank was designed so that it could be intentionally separated from the plane with an explosive charge, this charge was not used.

Fins from a dummy missile on the plane and other debris were later found at locations in and around a waste water treatment facility in the city of Nomi. One piece of debris was some four meters long, and one piece landed only about 30 meters away from residences and a factory.

The ruptured tank, one of three on the plane, had been fixed under the fighter's left wing. The number of fuel tanks had been increased to allow the aircraft to fly long distances during practice flights ahead of demonstrations at Hyakuri Air Base on Oct. 16. Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa has ordered that F-15 drills be suspended until the cause of the accident is discovered. Furthermore, F-15s will not be allowed to participate in the demonstrations at Hyakuri Air Base.

In June 2004, a fuel tank attached to the wing of a T-4 practice plane from Komatsu Air Base fell into the ocean as the result of a problem with the plane's electrical system.

Why this helicopter's being investigated by Maharashtra Police: Suspicious helicopter lands at Konkan coast

Mumbai: A suspicious helicopter on Saturday landed at Harne-Palde in coastal Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra and two unidentified persons allegedly conducted recce of the area after disembarking from it, police said.

The Mumbai and Goa Air Traffic Control and Navy have been alerted after the incident, they said.

According to locals, the chopper landed near beach of Harne-Palde at Dapoli in the afternoon, they said.

"Two persons moved around in the area for about 5-10 minutes after alighting from the helicopter. They then boarded it and flew towards an unidentified location," Ratnagiri SP Pradip Raskar told PTI.

"We took the matter seriously and have informed the ATC of Mumbai and Goa and also Navy officials," he said.