Sunday, October 09, 2011

FAA investigates close call between Cessna, giant C-17. AIR SAFETY: Private pilot calls for military planes to fly at higher altitudes

BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

Flight instructor Heidi Ruess and student pilot Devon Copple, who was flying the Cessna 150 at the time, said they had a near midair collision with a C-17 that passed approximately 100 feet beneath them while they were on a training flight in the "practice area" near Point MacKenzie on Sept. 16. Ruess said, "It was kind of a scary thing for a four-hour student.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A flying instructor has sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, contending a military cargo plane overtook her and a student pilot and passed within 100 feet near Wasilla last month.

Military officials deny the C-17 cargo plane passed closer than 500 feet but the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the Sept. 20 incident.

Student pilot Devon Copple, 22, told the Anchorage Daily News she took off in a blue-and-white single-engine Cessna with instructor Heidi Ruess of Arctic Flyers and spent the morning practicing maneuvers and training landings. On the flight back to Anchorage, the Cessna was at an altitude of 2,200 feet to 2,250 feet when she glanced at Ruess and spotted something through the side window - the wing of the 174-foot cargo plane.

"All I saw was gray," Copple said.

The C-17 had approached from behind.

"I thought it was the end, really," Ruess said. "I t was pretty close."

The airplane from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was on a practicing mission to drop heavy equipment. The aircraft can drop supplies or paratroopers.

Cargo planes fly in a loop from the Anchorage base north toward Wasilla and then south toward a training area at altitudes of 300 to 2,000 feet. Base spokesman Bob Hall said the planes must fly at 2,000 feet to begin an approach to the drop zone.

A C-17 must be stable for 60 seconds for paratroopers to jump, said 3rd Wing Operations Group Commander Col. Derek France said in a statement.

"We have been asked in the past if we could fly at 3,000 (feet) over the Big Lake/Wasilla area," France said. "In doing so, we are only able to give the paratroopers 15 seconds of stability time for them to prepare to exit the aircraft."

Ruess and her son, pilot Richard Ruess, said the military planes fly too low and fast in areas shared with small airplanes. The turbulence they create could cause a fa tal accident, they said. They want the cargo planes to stay at 3,000 feet as they fly through uncontrolled airfields and practice areas.

Heidi Ruess in a letter to the FAA said the C-17 overtook her plane and passed from below.

"I understand that the crew of the C-17 when contacted by approach told the approach controller that they had my aircraft in sight, but the C-17 continued to pass under my aircraft anyway," Ruess wrote in the letter.

The military pilot, she said, was required by regulations to give the smaller plane the right of way.

Base spokesman Hall said the C-17 was on a correct path and did not deviate. Hall by email said the C-17's onboard traffic collision avoidance system did give an alert.

Hall said the C-17's electronic collision avoidance system showed the Cessna more than 500 feet from the cargo plane.

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Survivor describes July plane crash off Matinicus, Maine. Cessna U206G, N910TA. Accident occurred July 17, 2011.

MATINICUS ISLAND, Maine — As the small plane rose into the clear blue sky above Matinicus Island on Saturday afternoon, passenger Eva Murray clenched her husband’s hand in the back seat.   

“You okay?” Paul Murray asked her.

It was the first time they had flown with Penobscot Island Air since pilot Don Campbell crashed and died Wednesday evening in the woods near the island’s gravel runway. The Murrays were heading to the mainland for his funeral, but it wasn’t the easiest trip. Although the Cessna’s engine roared confidently as it climbed higher, Eva, 47, still held tightly to her husband.

Just three months ago, she had been on a flight to the mainland with the same flying service when something went wrong shortly after takeoff, leading to what she later would call “one bad minute.”

The engine didn’t sound right, the plane couldn’t gain enough altitude, and pilot Robert Hoffman’s demeanor changed as he worked intensely to safely land the single-engine Cessna 206 and its three passengers.

“He never panicked or took his hands off things, even for a second,” she said.

Eva, a freelance writer, baker and emergency medical technician, recalled earlier Saturday how she moved the microphone of the headset that the passengers and pilot normally wear in order to communicate aboard the noisy plane.

“So if I screamed, or said anything, I wouldn’t disturb the pilot,” she said. “I had an instant where I wondered if it was real.”

Then the plane “ditched,” or made an emergency landing into the Atlantic Ocean about 150 meters off the island, the force of which may have caused her to black out for a few moments.

“I have no recollection of going down,” Eva said. “We went from hitting the water to me being in the water.”

When she came to, she was underwater in the downed plane. She couldn’t see anything, and had to grope her way to the pilot’s side to escape the plane. It was cold and frightening and she was bleeding profusely from deep gashes on her face, but Eva doesn’t remember those things.


User fees return to haunt operators

By Rose Jacobs
This July, when Washington was absorbed in the drama of whether Congress and the White House would reach agreement over raising the US debt ceiling, the policy team at the National Business Aviation Association began to hear unsettling rumours.

It seemed the idea of charging aircraft operators fees for their use of federally regulated airspace had resurfaced – a troubling development for the biggest US business aviation lobby group. The NBAA and many of its peers advocate sticking with a long-running policy of funding the system through fuel taxes. The appeal of the method is two-pronged, they argue: it is efficient, as charging fuel tax requires little bureaucracy, and it is fair, as the money paid through fuel taxes is directly related to an operator’s use of the system.

Add to that the environmental benefits, as the tax discourages meandering flight paths and encourages investment in technology to improve planes’ fuel efficiency, and the argument seems airtight.

“Congress has repeatedly looked into this issue,” says Dan Hubbard, head of communications for the NBAA. “They have held committee hearings on it. They have reviewed studies about it. They have looked at possible legistlative proposals on it. And over the course of several years, when they have proposed long-term FAA [Federal Aviation Authority] reauthorisation legislation they have resisted using fees.”

But to the aviation lobby’s dismay, that resistance crumbled this summer. “As some in Congress were saying, ‘we’ve got to have revenue-raisers in order to help erase the deficit,’ and others were saying, ‘we don’t want any new taxes at all,’ what became discussed over time was the idea of user fees,” says Mr Hubbard. “[They] said ‘well, maybe a fee isn’t really a tax.’ ”

Whatever the reasoning, when President Barack Obama’s deficit reduction plan was published lin September, it included a proposal to introduce a $100 per flight fee for operators flying in controlled airspace. Revenue raised from the fuel tax paid by general aviation operators “does not cover their fair-share use of air traffic services,” says the White House, citing the example of a big commercial jet that would pay $1,300 to $2,000 in taxes for a flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco, compared with the approximately $60 a corporate jet would pay.

Should the measure pass – an outcome far from certain – it would be the biggest policy-driven blow that US business aviation has seen in recent years. “We can’t ignore that this administration is using general aviation as a political tool,” says one industry expert.

Nor are user fees the only cloud on the regulatory horizon. Washington has yet to determine a long-term funding plan for the FAA; it is dawdling over concerns that new wireless broadband technology interferes with aviators’ navigation systems; and it is moving to shift the cost of aviation’s national security apparatus to users of the system rather than the general public.

All of that means operators in the world’s biggest market for general aviation face added uncertainty over costs and safety.

On FAA funding, a small hurdle was recently overcome with the passage of a bill extending federal highway and aviation funding through the start of 2012. It may not sound a lot, but in the context of a partial shutdown of the FAA in August because of battles over funding, it is a victory. “We would like to see that final, multi-year bill,” says Mr Hubbard. “That said, boy, you need them to pass that final extension so that people can go to work.”

The challenge remains, however, of modernising the infrastructure – a long-term project without the comfort of a long-term budget. This was the 21st time the government passed short-term extensions since the FAA’s last budget expired in 2007.

Meanwhile, the industry is waiting for another government agency, the Federal Communications Commission, to decide what to do about the telecoms company LightSquared, which aims to build a national high-speed wireless network with technology that critics argue interferes with global positioning system navigation equipment used by pilots and road-users alike.

The FCC is expected to complete its interference tests in November, but no deadline has been set for a decision about whether the company can push ahead, and under what circumstances. If it does, aviators and other groups are demanding the company pay for any necessary revamping of GPS technology.

Will all these concerns curb private flying? The NBAA hesitates to make predictions about the scale of the impact of user fees, arguing there is no precedent from which to work. But speaking anecdotally, Mr Hubbard cites the worries of one member, the owner of a small recycling operation in upstate New York, over the administrative hassle. “He told us, ‘We don’t have a whole accounting division with legions of people who can go through this all day.

“ ‘We have one person in my office who opens all the mail and she’s also the accountant and she’s also the office manager and she wears a couple of other hats as well. This is one more burden. Why do we need that when this other system has worked so well and for so long?’ ”

Canadian business aviation hits turbulent times

By Bernard Simon in Toronto

Canadian business aviation leaders are fuming over new government rules that, they say, produce precisely the opposite result of the flexibility and efficiency that corporate aircraft are supposed to deliver.

The ruling Conservatives – normally staunch advocates of private enterprise – earlier this year reversed a decade-old policy of loosening Ottawa’s involvement in aviation. Under that regime, a previous Liberal government transferred control of many airports to local authorities, set up an autonomous agency to handle air traffic control, and allowed the business aviation industry itself to decide whether a company or individual could operate an aircraft.

The new policy, implemented in April, has again put issuing private operator certificates, known as POCs, in the hands of the federal transport department. “We’ve gone full circle,” says Sam Barone, president of the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA), which previously issued the POCs.

Mr Barone and others claim that operators now have to wait up to four months for their certificates, and that some are so fed up that they plan to register their aircraft across the border in the US. The government doesn’t have “either the understanding or the manpower”, says John Hopkinson, chief executive of Alberta-based John Hopkinson & Associates, the country’s biggest aircraft broker.

Mr Barone adds that “the regulatory framework may be so burdensome that it negates the benefits of business aviation”.

The association estimates that 1,000-1,100 aircraft are used for business purposes in Canada, the second highest number for any country after the US. (Transport Canada says that only about 600 aircraft are registered for business use.)

Several companies operate planes as big as Bombardier’s CRJ regional jets, seating 70-90 passengers, and the 76-seat Q400 turboprop, using them to ferry workers to remote mines and oil and gas fields. Pratt & Whitney, the aircraft engine maker with a big factory in Montreal, is among a handful of companies that operate regular services between their Canadian operations and US head offices.

Three companies dominate Canada’s charter and aircraft management market: Skyservice and Chartright, both based in Toronto; and Execaire, a subsidiary of IMP, an industrial group headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Adam Keller, Chartright’s chief executive, says that his company’s business has rebounded sharply from the 2008-09 recession, surging by 25 per cent a year. John Hopkinson & Associates was sufficiently confident of the business outlook this summer that it bought 25 seven-passenger Cessna Citation jets.

“We thought we’d sell them at a rate of one a month,” Mr Hopkinson says. Yet, by mid-September, he had already taken orders for seven of the aircraft.

“We have a stronger economy and that generates more requirements,” Mr Hopkinson explains, citing in particular an upsurge in traffic to Fort McMurray, centre of Alberta’s oil sands industry. Furthermore, he said, east-west traffic across Canada has returned to almost pre-recession levels.

The strong Canadian dollar and low prices for used aircraft have helped pull in buyers. According to Mr Keller, a plane with a price tag of C$13m in 2005-06, when the Canadian dollar was worth less than 80 US cents, can now be picked up for C$4m-5m (including depreciation). The Canadian dollar has traded as high as US$1.06 this year, but retreated below parity as the global economic outlook darkened in September.

“I don’t think we’re actually tied to the economy,” Mr Keller says, adding that “every time they pat someone down at an airport my business goes up”.

Not everyone is quite so sanguine. Kirk Rowe, CEO of Execaire, the number-three charter operator, says: “I think we’re in turbulent times. It’s a very challenging industry.”

Mr Rowe draws a distinction between what he describes as the “ultra-rich”, who continue to buy large aircraft such as Bombardier’s Challenger 604 and the Gulfstream V, and the merely “moderately rich” who are more likely to cut back in tough times.

Execaire’s large aircraft charters and management business have grown over the past 18 months. “Everything else is bumpy,” Mr Rowe says.

Meanwhile, the government has no plans to revert to the old system of the industry issuing its own POCs. “Building on existing resources and experience, and with the support of the CBAA throughout the transition period, Transport Canada is confident in its ability to deliver the POC programme,” the department says. It plans to publish new draft regulations later this year and in 2012.

As Mr Barone sees it, the decision to end self-regulation was at least partly caused by pressure from opposition parties, which held a majority on the relevant parliamentary committee during the years when the Conservatives formed a minority government. Although the Tories won an outright majority in elections this spring, other factors also appear to be at play.

The industry’s reputation took a knock after high-profile crashes between 2007 and 2009. Two of the accidents, in Alberta and British Columbia, took a heavy toll on the senior management of an Edmonton-based family-owned engineering company.

The third crash involved a Bombardier Global Express jet landing in high winds near a golf resort in Nova Scotia. No one was seriously injured, but the incident attracted considerable publicity because the founder of Canada’s biggest coffee-shop chain, also the aircraft owner, was on board.

Explaining its new stance, the transport department says it is “committed to developing a strengthened POC programme and service standards that allow the business aviation community to operate effectively and efficiently while respecting our accountability to the Canadian public”.

Potsdam Municipal Airport (Damon Field) KPTD, New York: Potsdam Town Board would face lots of decisions if voters dissolve village on November 8.

POTSDAM – If voters decide to abolish the village on Nov. 8, should the town take over operation of Damon Field Airport?

Should the town hire a town administrator? Create a police force? Continue maintaining parks within what is now the village? Pay for Christmas lights downtown?

Those are just a few of the dozens of decisions the town board will have to make in 2012 if they are forced to take over operations now handled by the village.

Road maintenance, local courts, fire department coverage, building permits, building code enforcement and tax collection would continue because both the town and village currently provide those functions, and the town would be required to absorb the extra workload.

The town would almost certainly take on some optional village services including a police force in some form.

But the town board would have to make scores of decisions on which village services to continue, and at what funding level. And town residents might be surprised to learn they currently benefit from a number of village services.

Here’s a look at some of the services “at risk” if the village were dissolved, recommendations to the town from the village Dissolution Study Committee and issues town councilmen may wish to consider:


The Dissolution Study Committee recommends continuing to operate the airport in the same manner, but spreading costs town wide.

Currently, the village shoulders costs of snowplowing, maintenance, hangar rental and administration at the airport. It is unlikely the town would close the airport because of the hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in it by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The airport allows for critically ill or injured patients to be airlifted to advanced-level hospitals in Burlington or Syracuse. If the airport were shut down, employers such as UPS, which require extensive use of the airport, might have to move from Potsdam to another community with an airport.

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Private Jets Stay Grounded As Sales Continue To Slump

6:48 pm, October 9th | by Hillary Reinsberg

Houston, we have a problem. The jets are not ready for takeoff. Because no one’s buying them. To no one’s surprise, sales of business jets are down.

Business jet deliveries are expected to be down at least 11% this year, as global demand decreases, The Wall Street Journal reports. Gone are the days of suited businesspeople boarding slick jets, we suppose. As we’ve noted, corporate executives are even being asked to fly coach nowadays. These are tough times.

The firms that track these business jet trends are also touting the benefits of simply remodeling the cockpit and other parts of the jet, rather than buying an entirely new one. In an economic downturn, it’s a convincing argument.

Bureau of Land Management told to answer allegations over helicopter incident. (With Video)

BLM Roundup of Wild Horses in Ely Nevada 2011
More information

A judge has left open the option for injunctive relief in a case filed against the Bureau of Land Management over an incident in which the skids of a helicopter purportedly touched a wild horse.

Last week, Judge Howard McKibben ordered that the motion for injunctive relief in wild horse advocate Laura Leigh's case against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar addressing "humane treatment" be answered.

The case centres on alleged inhumane conduct at bureau roundups.

Late in August, the parties met in a federal courtroom in Reno Nevada.

Judge McKibben granted Leigh a temporary restraining order over pilot conduct at the Triple B roundup in Eastern Nevada on August 11.

Included in documentation shown to the court was video footage taken by Leigh that was purported to show a bureau-contracted helicopter pilot coming into contact with a horse with his aircraft.

At the hearing for the temporary restraining order, Judge McKibben left the matter for injunctive relief open, saying that the ruling would stand identical unless new information was presented to the Court.

The complaint itself is left active.

Making Blue Angels fly is a dream come true for maintenance pro

Perfect condition: “The maintenance team has a very vital role,” said Sammy Holmes, who maintains the Blue Angels’ planes.

It was 1986 when a young Sammy Holmes first witnessed the Blue Angels soaring above Andrews Air Force Base in his native Maryland.

“It was a childhood dream of mine” to work with the Navy’s premier flight demonstration squad, he said. Holmes gets to wear the traditional blue-and-gold garb donned by members of the Blue Angels, but he realizes his job is one that Fleet Week air show attendees will likely overlook.

As part of maintenance control, Holmes, 33, directs and manages maintenance on the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. In layman’s terms, he acts as the trainer in the corner, assuring that his fighter is in peak condition before answering the bell for the next round.

“The maintenance team has a very vital role,” said Holmes, who has spent five years in the Navy. “The public is usually not aware of the maintenance aspect of flying. However, everybody in our command, as well as our officers, they understand the vital role we play in making sure that they are able to fly their show, and they are very grateful for that.”

But despite accomplishing his boyhood dream, the future looked uncertain after Holmes graduated from high school.

“I was pretty unsure about what I wanted to do with myself,” he said. “I had a couple of dead-end jobs and finally landed myself a position working at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.”

After a six-year stint there, Holmes opted for a “change” and decided to continue his education in aviation.

“I felt that the Navy was the best career path for me to do that with,” he said. “I have been blessed in my Navy career in a very short time to make it to this level of perfection.”

Luscombe 8A, N41907: Accident occurred October 08, 2011 in Dixie, Georgia

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA017
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 08, 2011 in Dixie, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/18/2013
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8A, registration: N41907
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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

The pilot reported that he noted the engine oil temperature rising during cruise flight. He elected to reduce power and fly to the nearest airport. While en route, at an altitude of about 1,000 feet above ground level and a distance of 4 miles, the engine experienced a catastrophic failure. The pilot landed the airplane on an open field; however, he could not stop the airplane on the remaining surface and it impacted two trees in a wooded area beyond the field. 

A postaccident examination revealed that the No. 2 cylinder piston connecting rod had separated from the crankshaft. One of the bolts securing the rod cap was missing. The bolt and nut were recovered from internal engine debris; however a safety cotter pin necessary to secure the bolt was not located. About 20 engine-operating hours before the accident, all of the engine’s the piston connecting rod bearings and their respective bolts and nuts were replaced. Thus, it is likely that at that time one of the two nuts was not properly secured with a cotter pin on the No. 2 cylinder piston connecting rod, allowing the nuts to slowly unthread over time.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
Maintenance personnel’s improper installation of the No. 2 cylinder’s connecting rod, which resulted in the disconnection of the rod and a subsequent loss of engine power.


On October 8, 2011, about 1450 eastern daylight time, a Luscombe 8A, N41907, sustained substantial damage when it impacted trees during a forced landing following a total loss of engine power near Dixie, Georgia. The pilot received serious injuries and the passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91 personal flight. The flight originated from the Thomasville Regional Airport (TVI), Thomasville, Georgia, earlier that day, about 1420.

The pilot stated that he and his passenger departed from Flying Harness Farms Airport (37FL), Bell, Florida at about 0830 that Saturday for the TVI fly-in. The flight was unremarkable. He checked the weather and noted the unfavorable weather conditions were going to develop and decided to depart TVI early. The planned return flight to 37FL departed around 1420. About 20 minutes into the flight while cruising at 1500 feet above ground level (agl), the pilot noted the engine oil temperature was rising. It was increasing above the normal operating temperature that he was accustomed to. Once the engine temperature passed the 200 degree point, he checked the onboard GPS for the nearest airport to land and elected a direct course to Jefferson Landing Airport (74FL), Monticello, Florida (15 miles away from their present location). The pilot reduced engine power to curtail the rising oil temperature. He noted the engine oil temperature continued to rise and reached 240 degrees. He recalls telling his passenger that they may have to do a forced landing. When they were about 4 miles from 74FL, the engine started knocking and increased in intensity until it “Blew Up.” A white cloud of smoke came out of the engine cowling area and into the cockpit and the engine stopped producing power.. He switched the magnetos off and turned the cockpit fuel selector valve to the off position. The airplane was about at a 1000 feet agl when the engine blew up. He maneuvered the airplane to an open field that he saw below. The airplane had too much energy to land on the remaining surface and he flew between two trees at the edge of the forest, in the hope of reducing speed and energy. 

The airplane impacted the trees, separating the right wing and the airplane came to rest on its right side. The pilot and passenger remained in the wreckage. The pilot was able to call for assistance with his cell phone and directed the emergency personnel to their location. 


The pilot, age 71, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on March 03, 2011, with limitation of must have available glasses for near vision. He documented 1400 total hours at that time. 


The Luscombe 8A was built in 1941, serial number 1868, and was issued a standard airworthiness certificate and registered in the normal category. The airplane is high wing, two place, side-by-side seating, design, and incorporated a tail wheel gear configuration. The airplane was equipped with a Continental A-65 engine, which was converted to 75 horsepower with a McCauley fixed two bladed propeller. A review of the airplane’s maintenance records revealed the airplane had an annual inspection on the airframe, propeller, and engine on November 12, 2010, at which time the airplane had accumulated a total of 2,289 hours.


The closest official weather observation was at the Valdosta Regional Airport (VLD), Valdosta, Georgia, 21 miles east of the accident site. The VLD October 8, 2011, 1453 automated weather observing system (AWOS) was wind from 060 degrees at 6 knots; gusting 17 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; scattered 3800; broken 4700; temperature 27 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 17 degrees C; altimeter 30.17 inches of mercury. 


The airplane’s right wing separated from the fuselage, ripping open the cockpit roof section when it impacted a tree. The right side of the fuselage impacted the ground. The left wing buckled at the wing root to fuselage section and bent forward, coming to rest parallel and on top of the left side of the fuselage. The main wreckage came to rest about 30 feet forward of the impacted trees.

A post recovery wreckage examination was conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). A 6 inch diameter section from the top crankcase flange area, between the number 2 and 1 cylinder, had separated exposing the piston rods and crankshaft section. The engine teardown examination discovered that the number 2 cylinder piston connecting rod and cap assembly had separated from the crankshaft. On one side of the cap, a fractured section of the rod that was still attached by the bolt and nut, with the safety cotter key installed. On the other side of the cap, the bolt and nut were missing, which were located among the fragments and engine debris pieces recovered from the engine’s oil sump. The safety cotter key for that bolt and nut assembly was not located. The damaged number 2 cylinder piston rod assembly and an exemplar piston rod assembly from the same engine were sent to the NTSB Material Laboratory for further examination.


The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Division of Forensic Sciences in Decatur, Georgia, conducted a postmortem examination of the passenger. The cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma. 


The airplane’s engine maintenance records reflected that on November 12, 2010, the engine was removed due to aluminum particles found in the engine oil screen and that the number 2 cycler piston pin plug haddisintegrated. All the crankshaft bearings were replaced with new bearing and “replaced all rod bolts and nuts” among other components replaced before the engine was re-installed on the airplane. The maintenance entry showed that the engine had a total of 32 hour since major overhaul (SMOH) at that time. The pilot stated that the engine had accumulated about 20 hours of operation since November 12th repair. 

The NTSB Material Laboratory examination revealed the damaged piston connecting rod assembly was deformed and had sustained considerable damage to the crankshaft attachment end. The microscope examination revealed a region with a flat fracture surface exhibiting crack arrest fronts consistent with a fatigue fracture. The mating fracture surface attached to the cap had a similar flat fracture region with the crack arrest fronts. The fracture origin areas were diffuse with no apparent defects and were consistent with fatigue fracture. 

A Lowrance AIRMAP 1000 GPS was recovered from the wreckage and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for data retrieval. The unit only captured latitude and longitude data, which was recorded in chronological order. The accident flight was recorded as it circled onto an opened field and stopped in a wooden area.


A 31-year-old man has died in a plane crash in Brooks County.

Officials with the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office got the call around 2:50 Saturday afternoon.

71-year-old Larry Boiven from Bell, Florida was flying a 1941 Luscombe 8A Silvaire with 31-year-old Jared Willis Shilling.

Sheriff Mike Dewey tells Fox 31 the two took off from Bell, Florida for the Thomasville Fly-In.

Shortly after taking off from Thomasville, they had engine problems and crashed near Dixie Road south of Quitman.

Shilling was pronounced dead at the scene, Boiven is in stable condition at Archbold Memorial Hospital.

Central Idaho residents blast airport expansion. South Valley: Don’t expand airport. Residents opposed, but board says expansion may be necessary

Southern Wood River Valley residents spoke in a united voice during the Tuesday meeting of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority: An expanded airport is not needed, is not wanted, and will be vehemently opposed.

A standing-room-only crowd packed the Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey as Bellevue and Hailey property owners weighed in on options to help the airport retain commercial air service.

None of the options were deemed satisfactory by most participants, least of all expansion at the existing site.

Bill McMahon, Bellevue resident, said expansion was unnecessary because the county would otherwise be perfectly economically viable—a sentiment seconded by most of the attendees.

"There's no assumption that we have to meet [Federal Aviation Administration standards] to ensure the viability of the county," he said. "To suggest that it (failure to meet standards) would destroy the county is absurd."

Many of the commercial flights already coming into the valley have empty seats, argued several participants, which surely proves that the airport does not need to expand. Passengers already forsake Friedman flights for cheaper trips out of Boise or Twin Falls, they said, unconvinced that a Friedman expansion would actually bring more commercial travelers to the valley.

What's more, those travelers might not be welcome, according to some residents.

"Why are we talking about bigger hotels and more people coming here?" said Kate Woods, owner of the Mountain School in Bellevue. "It doesn't seem to be needed or wanted."

Bellevue resident Lloyd Barnes said he's been coming to the valley from Los Angeles since 1975. At the time, he said, he drove from his home in L.A. to the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. From there, he'd catch a flight to Twin Falls and drive up to Sun Valley.

"I don't know why the hell we can't fly in and out of Twin," he said.

The meeting was called as airport and county leaders seek ways to keep long-term air service in the region. Friedman has been determined to be too small for certain types of regional aircraft, and a plan to relocate the airport to southern Blaine County was put on hold by the FAA because of concerns about funding and environmental impacts.

For some, the issue focused more on general aviation. Without a replacement airport, Friedman Memorial Airport could remain open to private pilots who are not constrained by the same FAA regulations as airlines. Private planes larger than allowable commercial aircraft can land at the airport and approach at lower altitudes, as pilots are given more discretion.

Hailey resident Keith Roark called for a replacement airport because the level of general aviation at the current airport is "burdensome."

"Every improvement, every expansion was an expansion that was brought under the guise of commercial air service," Roark said. "The problem is the uncontrolled, toxic presence of so many private jet operators who have no regard for anyone but themselves."

The entire valley relies on the commerce brought from those jet operators, argued Sun Valley Mayor Wayne Willich. He cited the annual Allen & Co. media conference as one example, adding that in one night at CK's restaurant in Hailey, one table of 11 people who had flown in on private jets paid a $1,100 tab.

"Each time you're thinking about the flow of commerce in the whole valley, you have to keep those things in mind," he said.

For Roark, the exchange of quality of life in return for possible economic development wasn't a fair trade, he said, adding that he'd approve of an expansion of air operations under one condition.

"If this airport is in Wayne Willich's backyard, I love it," he said.

The authority board responded with mixed feelings and little consensus.

Blaine County Commissioners Tom Bowman and Angenie McCleary said they'd be willing to consider expansion outside the current airport's footprint, but only a slight expansion.

"We wanted expansion with the least amount of impact to the area," McCleary said, adding that commissioners were looking at options that would have "the least impact to the community and improve safety and reliability."

Martha Burke, authority vice-chair and Hailey City Council member, said she understands the plight of Hailey and Bellevue residents in the flight path, as she's lived under the flight path since the 1970s.

"I understand the frustration of waking in the night when a plane has just hauled over your house," she said. But she also said that commercial air service is vital to area commerce, while admitting that if she were in the place of the Hailey and Bellevue residents at the meeting, she'd oppose an expanded airport as well.

"I guess if you were sitting here and thought about the well-being of the entire community, you might need to put your personal views aside," she said.

The discussion will continue at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 in the gymnasium at Bellevue Elementary School.

Bellevue Mayor Chris Koch said the meeting was organized to allow south valley residents more time to comment, and the public comment period will be prefaced with what Bowman called an "Airport 101" overview of what is and isn't possible at the current site.

But Bowman warned residents not to expect any definitive decisions or a perfect decision-making process.

"We've never built an airport before," Bowman said. "We're going to make mistakes in this process, but we're going to get through this together."

Smith County Sheriff's Office unveils new aircraft

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The Smith County Sheriff's Office has a new tool to help enforce the law.

In fact, they have been using their new aircraft for the last six months.

But on Thursday, they rolled it out and showed it off.

It has already helped law enforcement catch a sex offender and a burglar.

Combine a go-kart- like contraption with an airplane engine and parachute, and you get the "Powered Parachute."

You may think it looks a little funny...but the plane is very sophisticated.

"It's much like an aircraft. It's got the digital cockpit, the digital readouts for your engine instruments, engine temperature, air speed, altitude from the ground, it's got a transponder so you can communicate with air traffic control and they can track you on the radar," explained Pilot Joe Rasco.

Sheriff JB Smith says, "We can use it to seek out Alzheimer's patients. We've used it to find drowning victims because you can cruise very slowly over the lake and over the woods looking for victims."

Or suspects on the loose. They can also fly over people's property to see if any stolen goods are outside, giving authorities probable cause to obtain a search warrant.

Sheriff Smith says the best part was the cost.

"It cost the taxpayers of Smith County nothing. It was gotten through a grant through the Sheriff's Association of Texas," Sheriff Smith explained.

The pilot, Joe Rasco, who has flown for 26 years, says it's like riding a bike.

It has everything a regular plane has except here you're not inside a cockpit

The Powered Parachute can go as high as 10,000 feet in the air.

Sheriff Smith says all law enforcement agencies in East Texas will be able to use the plane to assist them in cases.

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Rough weather behind white chopper’s ‘mystery’ landing

MUMBAI: The "mysterious" white helicopter which sparked off an air alert on Saturday after its brief landing along the Ratnagiri coast has been identified as one belonging to a private firm. The chopper had sent officials in a tizzy as two men had alighted and inspected the area during its seven-minute stay on the shore near Dapoli.

Ratnagiri police said investigations have shown the helicopter belongs to Global Vectra Helicorp Ltd (GVHL) which offers offshore transportation services to the oil and gas sector.

Superintendent of police (Ratnagiri) Pradeep Raskar said, "Based on the information and with the help of the air traffic control (ATC), we traced the helicopter. It was in Ratnagiri for 10 minutes due to bad weather and then it flew to Mumbai. The chopper was from Belgaum in Karnataka and was heading towards Juhu aerodrome."

The helicopter, VT-AZX, was conducting an aerial shoot in Karnataka. "A camera had been mounted on the chopper's nose for the shoot. The pilot decided to land in Ratnagiri due to bad weather. Technicians on board the helicopter dismantled the camera from the nose while the aircraft was on ground. It landed in Mumbai at 5.30 pm,'' an investigating officer said .

After a preliminary inquiry, GVHL was given a clean chit. The Mumbai police, however, have asked the ATC to submit a report by Monday.

A GVHL spokesperson said, "The aerial shoot was being conducted only after obtaining clearance from the ministry of defence and the directorate general of civil aviation with a nominated security officer on board. After completion of the shoot, the chopper was on its way back to its base in Juhu via Belgaum. There were four passengers on board, including a helicopter engineer and the film crew. After take-off from Belgaum, the weather turned bad. It was drizzling and visibility was poor. To be on the safe side, the pilot diverted the helicopter towards the west to come out of the hilly terrain and flew towards Ratnagiri. He made a precautionary landing along the Ratnagiri coast."

A passion for flight

A well-liked 31-year-old pilot who died in a helicopter crash near Drayton Valley last week had a passion for flying ever since he was a young child, said the man’s little sister.

“He always loved flying and he always dreamed of doing it,” said 26-year-old Randa Edmond about her older brother Wade Kinch who died inside a Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter that crashed last Wednesday.

He was the only one on board the aircraft.

“It was so nice that he actually reached his goal,” said Edmond.

During Kinch’s childhood, Edmond says, the pilot would always get excited about family vacations to the Okanagan Valley where there were helicopter tours.

Kinch, who grew up in the Cremona area and lived in a condo in Cochrane, recently hauled his RV to Whitecourt to work alongside his mentor to fly oil workers to remote job sites near Drayton Valley, said Edmond.

After high school, he spent years training to get his pilot’s licence along with doing odd jobs to fulfill his training, said Edmond.

By doing that, she said Kinch was able to get more endorsements and connections to get more work -- something that’s hard to come by for the average pilot.

Edmond said he was looking forward to working in Drayton Valley “because there is demand there.”

“He would work several days a week and he would always fly back and forth,” said Edmond.

During the Thunder In the Valley Drag Race -- an annual event in Drayton Valley -- during the Labour Day long weekend, Edmond offered helicopter rides to children, said Edmond, as a way of making some quick cash.

Edmond said Kinch had some doubts about those plans because he was worried he would only do five rides during the entire weekend.

“We probably did 10 to 15 rides a day,” said Edmond who added the ride attracted long lineups.

“The kids just loved him and they had so much fun.”

Edmond, who is expecting a child, said Kinch was “looking forward to being an uncle.”

Kinch, who was single and had no kids, leaves behind his parents, along with a younger brother and a young sister.

Funeral services are being planed for Wednesday in Cremona.

Chris Krepski, a spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board, said the helicopter suffered a severe impact and was “quite destroyed.”

Witnesses reported heavy fog in the area when the chopper crashed.

Although the investigation is ongoing, Krepski says investigators believe there was nothing wrong with the aircraft’s engine.

Investigators were going to look at the chopper’s flight instruments for further examination.

El Al Israel Airlines retires 1984 Boeing 767. The plane operated on El Al's routes to North America, Europe, South Africa, and the Far East.

El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. today retired its oldest plane, a Boeing 767, which acquired 95,000 flight hours since entering service in 1984. The plane operated on El Al's routes to North America, Europe, South Africa, and the Far East. The plane was sold to another airline.

El Al is due to retire its remaining 767s and 757s soon. El Al currently operates 40 planes, 14 of them through leases.

El Al CEO Elazar Shkedi said, "As part of this policy, El Al decided to retire its older Boeing 757s and 767s, which have served it for many years. The airline will invest in the newest planes for its passengers. We recently bought four new 737-900s, which will soon join the fleet."

Pilots make a beeline for IndiGo

KOLKATA: Four city-based senior pilots and 44 other commanders and co-pilots have quit Air India in the past few months. For most of those who left AI, IndiGo has been the airline of choice as it has the best financial health as well as on-time performance among airlines operating in the country.

With the carrier set to expand majorly on the international front over the next three-four years as Airbus delivers a new fleet of A-320 aircraft, the company is offering a lucrative bonus of Rs 22-23 lakh to woo pilots with international flying experience.

"The offer is obviously targeted at ICPA members. The bonus more than adequately takes care of the amount due to pilots," said a commander, who is negotiating with another carrier and may resign next month. "The erstwhile IA pilots are the only ones who don't have a fixed pay in the industry," he alleged.

Though the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had mandated that pilots serve a six-months notice so that flight operations are not affected, AI has had to issue no objection certificate much sooner. "The rule is not applicable as the company has defaulted on pay, and hence, has no authority to enforce the stipulated notice period on pilots," an airline source said.

Flight operations have not been affected yet with the airline switching the home base of many flights. But if pilots leave in groups in late November and early December, it will begin to hurt. "The situation will get more difficult if there is another round of exodus," said a pilot, who is now clocking 57-58 flying hours a month, up from 50 hours two months ago when there were more pilots.

While the exodus has given an opportunity for the remaining pilots to fly more, stricter DGCA restrictions on flying hours to be imposed soon may further hit the airline.

T'way Air enters Bangkok-Seoul race

The skies between Thailand and South Korea are getting busier with the entry of a Korean budget carrier whose name raises eyebrows: T'way Airlines.

With daily flights starting on Oct 15 between Suvarnabhumi and Incheon airports, T'way will be the third Korean low-cost carrier (LCC), after Jeju Air and Jin Air, on the Bangkok-Seoul route, one of the most competitive in Thailand.

Bangkok is one of the first international destinations T'way has chosen, following cities in Japan and China, after establishing itself on its home turf.

T'way will compete with airlines including Thai carriers Thai Airways International (THAI) and Business Air, with what it calls the "most reasonable" fares.

Its initial round-trip fare is about 17,000 baht, undercutting its South Korean LCC rivals.

Nawinee Hengnalen, the general manager of BuyNow Co, T'way's general sales agent in Thailand, said most of its October tickets were snapped up by Thai agents organising package tours for Thais in South Korea.

The ticket price, which includes a snack and beverage as well as a 20-kg baggage allowance, will go up by about 1,000 baht next month as T'way takes advantage of high-season demand.

T'way expects a load factor of 80% on its Bangkok-Incheon route with about 70% of its passengers being Koreans and 30% Thais, Ms Nawinee said.

Air travel demand between Thailand and South Korea has been robust, mostly due to leisure on both sides. Tourism Authority of Thailand figures show South Korean tourist arrivals to Thailand in the first eight months of this year rose 45% to 507,592, representing 6% of Thailand's total arrivals.

T'way Air is a reincarnation of a carrier originally formed in 2004 and known as Hansung Airlines. It was formally relaunched Aug 8 last year when Shinbo Investment and Tomato Savings Bank took a controlling stake in the financially troubled carrier.

T'way's maiden flight was between Seoul's Gimpo Airport and Jeju, the popular Korean tourist island, on Sept 10, 2010, five days after it took delivery of its first new Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

The airline is to take delivery of three more new B737-800 jets this year to increase its fleet to five before expanding to nine next year.

The twin-engine, single-aisle jets will have 189 seats for the flights to Bangkok.

T'way has also set up an office in Bangkok and named B.M. Choi as its regional manager. THAI will provide ground handling and maintenance services for T'way at Suvarnabhumi.

The airline says the letter T in T'way stands for "Tomorrow, Today and Together", though industry observers say it could also reflect the identity of shareholder Tomato Savings Bank.

IndiGo ready to soar: India's best-known low-cost airline likes what it sees in Thailand and pursues more Asian markets.

Aditya Ghosh (right), the president of Indigo International, joins cabin staff on the inaugural flight to Bangkok recently.

As Thailand becomes a hot destination for Indian tourists, Indian airlines are looking at the country in ways they have never done before. Some plan to use the country as their regional hub while also plotting routes now dominated by Thai Airways International.

The latest to enter the skies in Thailand is IndiGo Airlines, India's best-known low-cost airline, which started operations to Bangkok last month after five years of domestic success.

The inaugural flight to New Delhi from Bangkok on Sept 8 had the president of the airline onboard to welcome his first guests from Thailand.

The airline will start flights from Bangkok to Mumbai this month, followed by new routes from India to Singapore, Kathmandu and Muscat.

“We're looking 100% at the Asian market,” said president Aditya Ghosh in an interview at his office in Gurgaon, New Delhi. 

Excerpts follow:

Why is the Asian market so important to your airline?

That's where the business market is, as also the passenger capacity, and the growth in the airline business. There are not too many low-cost, high-quality airline in the Asian region.

What about AirAsia?

They're a very good airline, very successful, and I respect them. But our reach in India is unbeatable. We fly to 29 destinations in India, and we will offer all these to our Asian travellers.

How have you fared in your five years of domestic travel in India, which is a very competitive market?

Yes, it's a hugely competitive market, but we have flown nearly 33 million passengers in five years. Our market share today is 19.7%, making us the second largest airline in the country. Our technical dispatch reliability is 99.91%. These are pretty outstanding records, which is why we are sure of being as successful in Asia as in India.

What are your airline's strengths?

Our strengths are our new, efficient aircraft, multicultural staff and superb timing. Our flights almost always reach destinations 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. Our philosophy is to make travel as hassle-free as possible — low-cost but high quality — and that's why we are popular both with budget travellers and high-level corporations.

Is it true that you have tie-ups with many companies?

Yes, we're the preferred airline of well-known companies like Tata, Wipro, and others. Some of our frequent flyers are bigwigs such as R.P. Goenka and Vikram Oberoi. Our record for impeccable punctuality has been responsible for our success with corporations.

Your airline is buying a huge number of new, state-of-the-art aircraft.

For our Asian routes, we will use 42 of our Airbus A320 aircraft, which are all less than two years old. By the end of the year, we'll have 48 aircraft, and by 2015 we will have 100. These will include the new Airbus A320 Neo, for which we are the global launch customer. Between 2015 and 2025 we'll acquire as many as 180 A320 Neo jets, making us one of the largest purchasers of the aircraft in the world.

How important is the Bangkok route?

Extremely important, because it's our gateway to Asia. We have great support from the Department of Civil Aviation and hope to increase our flights to Bangkok, not just from Delhi and Mumbai, but from other destinations in India. There are huge numbers of Indian tourists coming to Thailand.

Will your current fares remain the same?

Our current fare of 6,727 baht return is not promotional but consistent. When the flying time from Delhi or Mumbai to Kerala is the same as to Bangkok, why should the passengers pay more? That's why our Bangkok fare is the same as some of our domestic fares.

Do you have plans to launch any low-cost holiday-packages, together with low-cost airfares?

We already have. IndiGo recently started a new Get Packing website where we offer holiday packages, of varying categories, depending on the budget of the traveller. These include airfare, road transport, hotel and sightseeing. We target our customer database of one million a month and have already sold 1,000 packages in the low season. Our current packages are to Indian destinations, which I hope will bring more Thai tourists to India.

Which are your Indian routes that will appeal to Thai tourists?

Our inaugural flight had a big group of Thai tourists going to Srinagar, which I hear is very popular with them. We have three flights a day to Srinagar from Delhi, which will excite them. They can choose 28 other Indian destinations too.

Will Indigo Airlines try to fly to other destinations in Thailand?

Yes, we are trying to promote other Thai destinations to Indian tourists. Thailand is not just Bangkok and Pattaya. We are in talks with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and also with the Singapore Tourism Board, as we plan flights to Singapore next month.

Are your bookings done online?

We have very user-friendly website and we plan to start a Thai-language website soon. But bookings can also be done through travel agents.

Do you plan to fly to the holy Buddhist city of Gaya?

Yes, we are keen to start flights to Gaya from Bangkok next year. This will connect us to other Buddhist destinations in the region, such as Japan, Korea, and we can spread our wings in Asia.

Tell us about your parent company InterGlobe Enterprises.

InterGlobe Enterprises, where I'm one of six people on the executive committee, manages 13 international airlines in India. Recently it entered the hospitality industry, through a joint venture with the Accor group. By 2015, we hope to have 95 hotels in India. The company has more than 8,000 employees in India and annual turnover of $2 billion.

The airline has various charity-projects as well, is that right?

We believe in corporate social responsibility, and have various children's foundations, especially for cancer. Our best-known is the Good Karma Foundation. IndiGo Airlines is about chasing dreams, and we want to give a chance to everyone to chase their dreams.

Air India flight delayed as co-pilot refuses to fly with captain

Flight delays due to bad weather, fog and technical problems are common. But when it comes to Air India (AI), reason for delays could be the most absurd. Believe it or not, an international flight of the state-owned carrier was delayed for more than an hour and forty minutes on Saturday after the co-pilot refused to fly with captain Sandeep Marwaha, who is senior to him by more than 15 years.

There was chaos inside the flight as the 169 passengers, who boarded by 9.45 am, protested even as the airline scrambled to arrange for a replacement as co-pilot, Adarsh Kumar, refused to board the aircraft. Finally, a first officer was woken up in his hotel room and asked to rush to the airport. The Calicut-Dubai flight (AI 937), scheduled to depart at 10 am, finally left at 11.40 am.

Kumar refused to fly with the captain citing an ICPA (Indian Commercial Pilots Association) directive asking its members not to fly with Marwaha, who was Officer on Special Duty to former CMD Arvind Jadhav. ICPA is an association of airline pilots.

Sources said an internal inquiry had been initiated. "Thanks to its internal politics, AI's reputation has taken yet another hit," said a company official. AI spokesperson did not respond to calls from HT.

Terming the ICPA directive "illegal", Marwaha told HT from Dubai, "Some of the ICPA boys are highly indiscipline lot. They are a cause of embarrassment to the whole community. Most of them are back door entries and have no sense of responsibility towards the company and the nation."

He hinted at a conspiracy by some ICPA members as Supriya Tripathi, a co-pilot, was originally rostered for the flight but Kumar replaced her knowing fully well who the captain was.

"He even filled the customs, immigration and general declaration forms along with me but backed out at the last minute," Marwaha said. A Bhinder, ICPA president, did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his mobile phone.

JetBlue flight forced to return to Bermuda

A female passenger caused this afternoon’s JetBlue flight from Bermuda to New York to turn around in mid-air after she caused a disturbance.

According to an eyewitness who was on the plane: “She was acting weird, trying to break into a bathroom and tampering with the food carts.”

The jet, which had been in the air for around an hour, returned to Bermuda where the woman was led away in handcuffs by police officers.

JetBlue spokesman Sebastian White said: “JetBlue flight 1732 from Bermuda to New York City, with 89 customers on board, returned to the airport in Bermuda after reports of a customer disturbance. The flight was met by local authorities and a customer was taken into police custody. The flight continued to New York with everyone else after about an hour on the ground.”

Mr White was unable to provide further details about the passenger who caused the disturbance and no information has been issued as yet by Bermuda Police Service.

Philippine Airlines: Unsafe flights claim part of ‘black propaganda’

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines reassured passengers on Sunday evening of the safety of its flights as it belied insinuations that overworked staff and untrained personnel are endangering its operations since it spun off three of its non-core businesses last Oct. 1.

In a note on its Facebook account, PAL dismissed as "black propaganda" allegations that it said came from some former PAL employees. It said it expects more black propaganda to come.

“We assure our passengers that all aircraft utilized in our flights are released only after thorough assessment and safety checks," PAL president and COO Jaime Bautista said in the Facebook note.

Over the weekend, Gerry Rivera, head of the PAL Employees Association (PALEA), called on the Tourism Congress for an investigation of passenger safety issues at PAL.

“We ask the Tourism Congress to take up the cudgels for the riding public by inquiring about safety and service concerns at PAL given that overworked and untrained replacement workers are now servicing passengers. If the Tourism Congress is anxious about the impact of the labor dispute on the influx of tourists, then it should also be worried about any possible accidents due to unsafe work practices by contractual workers," he said.

PALEA cited news reports that two Danish tourists backed out of a PAL flight to Cebu over safety concerns. It said the two reportedly questioned PAL’s replacement workers at the check-in counter including a supervisor about safety issues but were left unsatisfied with the answers.

PAL is working to normalize its operations after spinning off three non-core businesses, which its then ground crew union had claimed would render 2,600 workers jobless.

Over the weekend, it claimed it had normalized its international flights.

More "disinformation" expected

Bautista said they expect "disinformation" to escalate especially since some disgruntled employees are getting "desperate by the day."

“We hope our passengers will carefully discern fact from the fiction being peddled by those out to destroy the flag carrier’s good name and reputation," he said.

He cited as one example of "black propaganda" the allegations that "overworked" PAL staff and untrained personnel were compromising airline safety.

“Former PAL ground workers are so used to working less than their 7.5-hour daily shift for five days, such that they consider our volunteers’ eight-hour shifts, six days a week as ‘overwork,'" he said.

“Even claims that an airstep bumped and caused damage to one of PAL’s Airbus A340s is a fabrication concocted by (PAL Employees' Association president Gerry) Rivera and his cohorts. All our aircraft undergo regular checks and no such damage has been found by PAL’s Aircraft Engineering Department and Lufthansa Technik, PAL’s maintenance provider," he added.

Bautista reiterated that safety is the cornerstone of PAL’s operations, adding the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has a surveillance inspection team especially assigned to PAL.

He said all PAL aircraft are maintained by Lufthansa Technik Philippines and other reputable maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies abroad.

All safety regulations are likewise complied with particularly those enforced by CAAP, US Federal Aviation Administration and US Transport Security Administration, as well as regular safety checks under the stringent IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), he said.

PAL is the only IOSA-certified Philippine carrier, he added.

“Apart from strict security checks, PAL flights also undergo a final safety check by our highly-trained and experienced pilots. A PAL plane will not take off until pilots are fully satisfied with the aircraft's airworthiness and only after they have determined the safe load of passengers and cargo," he added.

Bautista said PAL’s current corps of admin volunteers, former union members who joined the service providers and new hires all underwent proper training and certification prior to handling official ground duties. — KBK, GMA News